Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Libertarians Should Campaign

This year 13 Libertarians won elective office... all in nonpartisan races.

However, I'm interested in two Libertarians in Virginia who, although they lost, performed much better than average.

First, Arin Sime, who polled over 7% in a three-way race for the Virginia State Senate. His campaign tax platform:

I have signed the American's for Tax Reform “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” promising voters I will not vote for tax increases.

. . .

A Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) would limit increases in the state spending across the whole budget to the rate of inflation plus population growth. If the tax rates or economic growth lead to a surplus of revenue for the state, then the state would be required to return that to taxpayers unless the public voted in support of allocating that surplus revenue to some other purpose.

. . .

That's why I support an amendment to Virginia's Constitution that would require all new tax increases passed by the General Assembly to incorporate a date that tax will end automatically on, also known as a "Sunset provision." If the tax is still necessary, the General Assembly can always renew it. But this will force our politicians to continue to justify the existence of any particular tax they impose on us.

. . .

Under a bill considered in the 2007 General Assembly (and killed by a Republican House of Delegates committee), your tax assessment would be limited to increases of 1% per year plus the rate of inflation. If your local government feels they need more money than that, they will have to be more open in their desire and raise your tax rate, instead of claiming they are cutting the tax rate even though your tax bill is going up.

. . .

Real leadership is not defined in terms of how much money a politician can take from the taxpayers, and then dole out to whoever asks the nicest. The hard part of real leadership is setting priorities on our spending, and the General Assembly has failed to do this for many years. We should fund the core responsibilities of government first, and only then look at the rest of the budget.

. . .

We do have a Transportation crisis. But we don't have a Transportation funding crisis. The problem is a lack of proper priorities. If we are experiencing such a true crisis in transportation funding, why not freeze spending on all other programs until our roads are fixed?

. . .

Please notice the utter lack of "Abolish taxation NOW" rhetoric, and the open door to those who believe government has legitimate functions.

The other candidate I'd like to look at is Donald Tabor, who got 28% of the vote against a Republican incumbent for the Virginia State Senate- better than I did, especially considering the larger district. His platform:

Taxes - Taxes should be simple, visible and no higher than required to fund the limited functions of government. But taxes and the growth of government are out of control in Virginia. Like many of you, I cheered when the Republicans gained control of the General assembly, but to my dismay, in their brief time in power, they have more than doubled spending, growing government even faster than the Democrats ever hoped to accomplish. With the assistance of two Democrat governors, the Virginia Senate has forced record tax increases on the House of Delegates and eroded our standard of living with tax increases that far exceed anyone's salary increases and impoverished our elderly on fixed incomes. Now, with the regional Transportation Authority, they have added yet another unaccountable government with taxing powers to further add to our burden. The RINO's in the Senate have betrayed our trust and must be sent home.

Transportation - The Regional Transportation Authority created by the passage of House Bill 3202 is unaccountable to the people and in many aspects, unethical and unfair. It should be rejected by the people and the General Assembly should return with an honest, straightforward and understandable plan. At the very least, the so called "Third Crossing," which is really little more than a glorified, 4.3 BILLION dollar driveway for the Port should be removed from the plan and financed separately by the port and trucking interests which will benefit from it. Further, the so called "Remedial Abuser Fees" are really taxes in disguise and are unfairly and unevenly applied. They are a disgrace and the next General Assembly should repeal HB 3202 in its entirety. The current plan will do little to actually improve traffic flow and will bankrupt Hampton Roads.

There are ways to relieve congestion that will work and are less expensive. The simplest and least expensive way to ease traffic congestion on the Southside of Hampton Roads would be to open the Southside Reversable Roadway to all traffic at all times.

Education - There is no more important purchase we make than the education of our children, and we should make use of the free market to assure we get the highest quality at the lowest cost, just as we do with every other important purchase we make. Competition can make our public schools grow stronger, or provide us with alternatives if they do not improve.

Property Rights - Eminent Domain should be used ONLY to obtain property for true public uses where precise placement is necessary, such as forts, roads and rights-of-way. Otherwise, government should purchase property at market prices from willing sellers, just like anyone else. Eminent Domain should never be used to take property from one citizen for the benefit of another.

Firearms and Self Defense - Honest interpretation of the Constitution establishes the right to bear arms as an individual right. We all have the right and the responsibility to defend ourselves.

Freedom - If we are to be truly free, that must include the rights to make bad choices so long as they do not harm or create burdens on others.

Donald Tabor is a former Republican, yes. He believes there are legitimate reasons for government, for taxes, and for eminent domain, among other things. But he also believes that government must be limited in its powers. His platform calls for a freeze on current tax rates- not abolition. He calls for better, more sensible highway and transportation policy- not for the privatization of all streets and roads. He calls for school choice- not public school abolition. He defense the right to bear arms as a self-defense measure, not an absolute and unlimited right to own any sort of weapon. And most fundamentally, he opposes victimless crimes- one of the cornerstones of Libertarian policy- but he does not propose immediate repeals of anti-drug or anti-prostitution laws, but rather a careful rethinking of current policy.

Both Sime and Tabor treat principle as it should be treated- a guideline to influence decisions rather than an ironclad rule never to be deviated from. They promoted their campaigns to the public as rational Libertarians- perhaps radical, but certainly not insanely anarchist. True, they didn't win... but they demonstrated yet again that moderate Libertarian candidates do better than anarchists or purists.

Sime and Tabor are examples our entire party should emulate.

Sime's website- read it while it lasts:

Ditto Tabor's website:

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