Should Liberty-Minded Candidates Run Under the Libertarian Party or the GOP?

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Written by Paul Cook

As reported by Liberty Viral, recently Austin Petersen, former POTUS candidate for the Libertarian party, hinted at a Senate run here in Missouri. He also hinted that he hadn’t taken running under the GOP off of the table as an option. This started a passionate debate among his supporters and critics. As a Missouri LP member and a former GOP-er, this debate is very interesting to me, got me thinking. As someone who is passionately “Principle over Party”, is it better for libertarians to run under the Libertarian Party or the GOP? Here are a few things to consider:

1. “The Better Chance” and the contradiction of running GOP

Everything we’ve said about the GOP and breaking the Two Party system and now we want to bolster one of them? Jumping from party to party can wear on political careers over time. After everything we’ve criticized the GOP for, to suddenly “Kiss the Trump Ring” would be hypocritical at best. Not to mention, the GOP voting base has shown very little interest in liberty minded candidates. We have hundreds of representatives in the hive of scum and villainy that is Washington DC and how many liberty minded republicans are there? Maybe 4-5. A couple of those are debatable. Cue the “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” folks. Yes. But it’s not a smart bet. The biggest argument you hear for running GOP is the “Better chance to win” line. But is there really? I’m not seeing it. Just a handful out of 535? Now I understand that the alternative is a 0 out of 535 BUT what I’m talking about is the idea that it’s just soooo much easier to win as a republican. It’s a long shot at best. A slightly shorter long shot, but still a long shot. Speaking of which…

2. Populist Candidates Vs Liberty Candidates in the GOP

The federal side of this argument is too easy. Look at the results in the GOP primary between Rand Paul, a liberty Republican, and the more Populist Donald Trump. It is pretty easy to see which direction the GOP likes to go in at the moment. I get the “change it from the inside” idea, but we’re talking about if you can even get to that point. So let’s look at the more localized side of this. My home state of Missouri’s Governor race is a good example. Short summary: John Brunner was a friend of the Paul family and someone I would consider a liberty GOP candidate. Eric Grietens was a former Navy Seal and Businessman who used a lot of Trump talking points and just said “Veteran” a lot. Grietens crushed Brunner. If our statewide election this year taught us anything it’s that GOP voters in Missouri have the same view as the National GOP voters did: Populist > Liberty. So for the 2018 Missouri senate election, the idea that a Libertarian Candidate can beat a former NASCAR driver in the primary? Please…

3. Winning this will be a challenge. Winning twice? Great idea </sarc>.

The money required to win a primary race is significantly smaller in the LP. Most of the time, we don’t even have primaries. GOP primaries are MUCH more difficult and require much more money. You’re basically asking a candidate to do something difficult…twice. Back to the Missouri example, a GOP liberty candidate will have to beat a celebrity (Nascar is a big deal around here) with name recognition and then a few months later beat a democratic establishment senator? Lol, okay. Not that every state’s race would be this way. The point remains that as a GOP candidate you must win twice. LP candidate? Most likely once and with much more time to prepare and campaign.

Would I support a liberty minded candidate no matter what party they are running for? Of course. Principle over party. Will I campaign and support Austin Petersen either way? Yes. He knows that. I’ve told him that. However, the short term and long term ramifications of running GOP just for a so-called better chance isn’t really any better. It’s just too much.

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  • JS

    I believe a Libertarian could run as a Republican and win. The country has swung so far to left (the media is controlled by the left), there was no way a true Republican could have won the Presidency this time around. Trump is a populist. He was the right person at the right time. He supports reducing government in certain areas. He wants to get rid of many regulations. He isn’t perfect, but his presidency will definitely bring the country back towards the center. It took a long time for America to reach this point, and it will take some time to bring it back. If Trump is successful, I believe a Libertarian could win (as a (Rep), next time around.