by Contributor Alyce Auman
I am completely convinced that the leadership of the Libertarian Party does not want to grow or become legitimate ever. Here we have our Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark telling people that the Libertarian Party growth is difficult because our struggles are comparable to women before suffrage and african americans before the ’60’s. As if his ignorance of those subjects aren’t apparent enough, we have to think of how people will take this sort of comparison. He, a person who is NOT a woman and NOT an African American compares the struggle of building a 3rd party to the atrocious experiences of maltreatment of our women and african americans in our history. The fact that there hasn’t been more of an uproar about this tells me either A. people agree with him that those things weren’t “that bad” because “we all struggle” or B. Libertarians are uneducated about these things and they don’t realize that they should be saying something in response to his statement. Here’s a piece of advice for people that want to explain something about the LP struggles in front of cameras:
- We are small and don’t have a lot of money because of that; money is needed for marketing, travel, media, and educating people on our ideas
- We have ballot access issues that are ridiculous and need to be addressed (we have the right, they just make it difficult; still not in comparison to women or black issues- we’ve never been beaten or killed because we wanted ballott access)
- We struggle to get people on board with ideas of being free from our government because the disease of Progressivism that has taken control over our citizen’s belief system
- It’s hard to educate people to beliefs of freedom when we are placing our children into government schools, in which, they teach them what they want the kids to know
- We have a hard time getting media attention, and when we do, we act like stuttering fools and say stupid shit like this.
You’re right Nick, the Libertarian growth issue is like this:
And also, like this:
I decided to do some interviews with people that are involved in the Libertarian Party that fall under the categories that Nick mentioned in order to shed some light on how this ignorant statement would make people feel that are a part of our team.
Aaron Commey, New York: activist fighting for rights of felons to vote (due to the unfair and targeted affects of the war on drugs within the African American community)/ Running for NYC mayor in 2017:
“We have to try harder because we are judged more harshly.” As a black man in America in 2017, this is something I am all too familiar with. These are the words of Nicholas Sarwark, the Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. Nick Sarwak is someone whom I do not know personally, but is someone I like from afar. You must take this into consideration when you, as the face of our party, say something to the media, who would like nothing more than to see the Libertarian Party fade into obscurity.
In the 1960’s Black people were being murdered with impunity and often with the blessing of the state. Black people were being denied basic rights and freedoms, and were facing dire situations wholly incomparable with the difficulties of the Libertarian Party of any year in it’s existence. Nicholas Sarwark’s statement equating the Party and racial minorities before the ‘60s is utterly ridiculous and I urge him to retract it because IT IS NOT AT ALL TRUE.
Unlike many media outlets, I do not wish to bash the Libertarian Party or Mr. Sarwark unnecessarily, which is why I urge people to watch the interview in it’s entirety and observe the reaction of the Salon reporter to the comparison of the party and racial minorities. I’m immediately reminded of Sean Spicer’s Hitler comments weeks ago when he is IMMEDIATELY asked to explain a comment the press found to be ridiculous. In the clip on the Salon website, Matthew Rozsa asks for no clarification and offers no challenge to this statement. Had that have happened, perhaps Sarwark could have further explained what he meant.
I do not plan to leave the party or to call for Nicholas Sarwark’s resignation because I do not believe he truly thought about the comparison he made. He may have been better served pointing out that the party could learn from the struggles of racial minorities while being clear to stress that he does not by any means intend to diminish the very real struggles faced by Black people in America.
Tarnell Brown, Member of the Georgia Board of Directors for Our America Initiative:
Libertarians face a long and difficult road; this is not even a subject for debate. The recent special Congressional election in Montana, in which libertarian candidate Mark Wicks received little media coverage despite polling well, and having widely been considered as winning the debates, highlights this. However, struggling to build a political movement is not tantamount to the codified second-class citizenship faced by African-Americans and women prior to the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage movements. Libertarians enjoy the same rights as non-libertarians. Conversely, we are subject to the same abridgement of freedoms that government force imposes upon everyone. Our political challenges are just that; political challenges. It is incumbent upon us to overcome them; a challenge made more difficult by the recent habit of tone-deaf statements made by leaders of the party that represents them. My ancestors were slaves. I don’t lose any sleep over that fact, but a fact it remains. I am a proud Southerner, and while I did not live under the horror of Jim Crow, at 41 years of age, I am not that far removed from relatives who did. I grew up listening to their stories. The recent remarks by LP Chairman Nicholas Sarwark comparing the difficulties of our movement to the Civil Rights and Women’s Suffrage struggles are, to be kind, disappointing. Look, I like Nick. I think he has done much to make the LP more of a professional party than it has been since the party split in 1984. I have often defended him in the past. This, I will not defend. I believe that he may have been trying to build a sense of solidarity with demographics that we as a party need to recruit, but he aimed badly and tragically missed. This has troubled me; it is already difficult to recruit minorities into our movement, because of the path leading from thinking as part of a collective unit to thinking as an individual is an arduous one. Yet, it is, in my view, critical to the survival of that very demographic. In playing the very sort of identity politics that we rightfully eschew, Nick has severely compromised my confidence in him.
Kimberly A. Schjang Nevada Clark County Libertarian Party Secretary/Nevada Libertarian Party A/V Director:
Even setting aside Sarwark’s woefully incorrect comparison of our party and the struggles of African Americans and women, it cannot be dismissed that his audience, with the demographic that usually pays attention to this media outlet, would not take such a statement in stride. Whether or not the chairman thought that his words would resonate with Salon’s readers, one can only speculate, but it was clear that neither Salon’s Matthew Rozsa nor the many people in the article’s comment section agreed. While the media may not have given Gary Johnson a fair shake, comparing his treatment to two groups of people in a time where liberty was not only foreign to them, but purposely withheld on account of their sex and skin tone just will not sit well with many. As a black woman, I relate much more to people who are willing to understand the struggles of the women and African Americans that came before me. It is an important part of our history that we have fought to overcome. The Libertarian Party is the largest third party and is still growing. We’ve encountered our own struggles, setbacks, disappointments, losses and also gains, wins, excitement and strong friendships. We are a party of several ethnicities, ages, genders and ideas. The only struggles we need to relate to are the ones that built this party.
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