Thursday, June 29, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Third Party

It isn't just that the schools teach "two-party system". It isn't just that the legacy of third parties is scary to some voters because the only ones they knew of were communist. A lot of what makes it tough to be a third party is that the Republicans and Democrats like their duopoly, and collude to protect it. Ballot access laws in Indiana are difficult for new parties to overcome.

The old ballot access threshhold was a 0.5% statewide result in the Secretary of State's race. Once the Libertarian Party topped this level in the 1980s, the Republicans and Democrats conspired to raise the figure to 2%. Through perseverance, the Libertarian Party of Indiana has maintained continuous ballot access since 1994, despite losing access thanks to the colluding parties raising the bar.

It's nice to see some sympathy in the media for the Green Party. Many outlets, including NuVo and the Indy Star have covered the plight of the Green Party in their attempts to earn the necessary signatures to get a Secretary of State candidate on the ballot in the hopes of earning 2% for four-year automatic ballot access. It is curious, however, that the Libertarian Party, which has successfully leapt the hurdles, barely gets mentioned in the same sympathetic passages.

Observe the Indy Star's coverage today:
Stant, the Green Party candidate for secretary of state, was holding out a sliver of hope Wednesday that he would clear the hurdle, one of the highest in the nation. He and volunteers around the state had collected 20,000 to 25,000 signatures, tantalizingly close to the goal he'd been striving toward for more than a year.

"We still have a fighting chance," Stant said, before wearily adding that, really, the chance was "highly unlikely."

The truth, Stant said, is that "it's not easy being a political candidate when you're not a Democrat or a Republican. You're made to feel like a criminal. You're made to feel like someone who doesn't belong. That's very, very depressing."

I can appreciate this very much. But, we soldier on, and do what needs to be done until we can gain sufficient positioning to change the laws. More:
Leaders of the state Republican and Democratic parties think the 2 percent threshold is reasonable and fair.

Of course they do. It means they never have to worry about it, but others do. Also:

"The reason it's there is to make sure only credible candidates reach the ballot," said Mike Edmondson, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party.

In other words, every Republican or Democratic candidate is credible. The Republicans have a candidate who espouses public flogging. Good thing only the credible candidates are on the ballot! Mr. Edmondson better not issue another complaint or comment about candidate Walker. Per Edmondson's quote above, Walker is credible.

In other words, any candidate who runs on a Green or other 4th party ballot is not credible, but should they merely run as a Democrat or Republican, they suddenly become credible. That's nonsense. More:

Murray Clark, the former state senator who is chairman of the Indiana Republican Party, said he thinks requiring signatures equal to 2 percent of the vote in the last election for secretary of state is "pretty low."

Secretary of State Todd Rokita, the Republican Stant hopes to challenge in November, said the state should have a discussion on where the bar should be set but added: "We have to have some parameters, or we'd be like some country in West Africa with 18 different parties on the ballot."

I'd like to set the bar thusly: If a political party in Indiana does not run a candidate for US Senate, it is automatically declared a minor party in Indiana, because only a real loser of a political party can't find someone to run for US Senate. If a party does not run a candidate in every State Senate and every State Representative race on the statewide ballot, it is automatically declared a minor party. If a political party fails to run candidates in at least 50% of the races in any given county, they are declared a minor party in that county. Hey- what's good for the goose... I get tired of the Republicans and Democrats crowing about being major parites, when they fail to meet these low threshholds. No excuses!

The real losers are the voters on Indiana, who are robbed of choices that would best represent their views. Rs & Ds really don't represent the views of the people very well. Look no further than the turnout numbers for the proof. 21% statewide for the Primary? That's embarrassing.

So what if there are 18 parties on the ballot? So what if there are some nut jobs on the ballot? You mean to tell me you think that government is devoid of nut jobs, and that the restrictive ballot access laws have made it so? Well, I want to step into your Wonderland, then, Alice.

If a candidate is not credible, the voters won't vote for him. Nothing lost by giving the voters the choice. Plenty is lost by restricting choices and low turnout. We end up with dissatisfied, disinterested citizens who become uninformed voters.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lunch With Steve Keltner

I just had a terrific lunch with Steve Keltner, Libertarian candidate for Indiana House in District 88.

Steve is a very positive, solutions-oriented person, so I have no doubt that he will do well in his attempt to unseat Republican Brian Bosma.

Steve showed me Bosma's recent puffy taxpayer-funded mailing that brags on his great works in the House. Glaringly absent was any word on cutting a budget or spending less. Steve is going to make issue of the failure of the House to cut the budget even 1% while under Bosma's leadership. Steve is also running on his firm opposition to forced annexation. Given the chance to take a position by the Geist United Opposition, Bosma offered very weak statements.

I am looking forward to working together with Steve Keltner to put pressure on the Republican majority to actually deliver smaller government, lower taxes, and budget cuts.
It's About Time

The purging of the voter rolls is finally set to happen. From an Indy Star report:
The Justice Department agreed Tuesday to an Indiana plan designed to eliminate the names of people who have died and those who are listed more than once from the state's voter registration rolls.

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita last week announced the plan to purge the rolls, following negotiations between state Republicans and Democrats. It would also target convicted felons and voters who no longer live in Indiana or in the county of their registration.

This should have happened many years ago, and then been on a regular schedule, per each four-year cycle. Many counties have had more voters on the rolls than actual population. That's absurd. Better late than never, I suppose.

Also, there is no good reason that the Libertarian Party was excluded from the negotiations. Including Libertarians has the effect of making the proceedings less partisan and more focused on the business at hand. Libertarians are on the ballot, so they should have been included. No effort was made by either party to include the Libertarian Party.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hamilton County Meet-Up Tonight

Libertarians will meet tonight in Noblesville at Barley Island brewery & restaurant, at 7:30 pm. This is not a dry business meeting, but a fun, relaxed opportunity to talk about the issues of the day with others who believe in limited government and lower taxes.

You don't have to be a Hamilton County resident to join the conversation. See you there!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

One of the Seven Signs

LPIN State Chair Mark Rutherford advised me long ago that I will know that I am gaining traction on something when someone gets personal about me or brings up the national LP's platform position on drugs.

This one is personal.

It seems that emails have been circulated to a variety of media outlets alleging that I was fired from my job with the Hamilton County Surveyor's Office for ghost employment. Among the outlets to receive the email was Abdul Hakim-Shabazz at WXNT 1430-am. Abdul has asked me to discuss the allegations on his radio show Monday morning at 7am, which I will do to clear my name.

For the record, I left on the most amiable terms with Kent Ward, Hamilton County Surveyor. I left his employment so that I could start my own business. As a courtesy to Mr. Ward, I stretched the customary 2-week notice into an 8-week period, so that he could take his time and find a suitable replacement. I even sat in on the interviews of prospective replacements. I was never disciplined for any infraction while a county employee, much less fired.

Seems the effort could be purely malicious. It certainly has nothing factual going for it as regards me or my employment history.

The email was signed "JQFR". This is an acronym for "John Q. Fishers Resident," an anonymous blogger who has posted comments on this blog many times, in favor of the Town of Fishers' attempt to forcibly annex the Geist neighborhoods north of 96th Street. I am a staunch defender of the Geist residents, and their right to self-determination.

I expect that some people will take issue with my positions. Some will even write that I'm an idiot. That's politics, and I can take that in stride. What I cannot and will not tolerate is defamation of character. Emails and website IPs are neither invisible nor untraceable. I will investigate these emails to learn who sent them. I will be eager to sue the originator for defamation of character.

Update: I appeared on WXNT's Abdul In The Morning show to respond to the allegations. I said many of the things you just read, above. A retratction statement was posted on this entry by JQFR shortly thereafter.

That was gratifying to a point, but once out of the bag, sometimes an allegation starts to take on a life of its own. My former boss Kent Ward called me this afternoon to let me know that Norman Cox of RTV6 called him to inquire about the allegations- after the retraction was posted. Mr. Ward indicated that the allegations were false, and Mr. Cox called it a non-story. It's great that this is a non-story on RTV6, but what kind of impression of me does Mr. Cox have now? Will I be treated with suspicion in the future should he interview me?

Moreover, Mr. Ward has better things to deal with than having his Office called into question. Did his reputation take a hit? I had to apologize to Mr. Ward for his having to deal with this thing. Imagine! I had to apologize!

I'm delighted that I'm having the kind of impact that makes some uncomfortable, but I'd like to see some of the other seven signs, thank you very much.