We have reached a point in this country where Libertarians have a real shot. Granted, we’ve always had a shot, but now more and more people are ready to hear what we have to say. Here’s a quote from a Rasmussen poll article someone passed along to me earlier today.
“A solid majority of voters (62%) continue to prefer a government that offers fewer services in exchange for lower taxes. Twenty-eight percent (28%) want more services even if it means higher taxes.
In previous surveys, those who say they favor lower taxes and fewer services have ranged from the high 50s to the mid-60s. Those who want more services and higher taxes have run from 24% to 31%. ”
So, we have almost two thirds of the American public wanting something very similar to us. They’re ready for smaller government if it means lower taxes. Essentially, that’s what we’re in favor of as well. What’s particularly telling is the date. That’s right. April of this year!
Americans are ready for the next step. Most polls seem to show Americans in line with the Libertarian Party’s position on a great many things including abortion and the war in Iraq. So then, why don’t two thirds of the country vote Libertarian? After all, this should be a slam dunk, right?
Normally, you would think so. But it’s important to realize what many voters believe the Libertarian Party represents. “Oh. You’re the guys who want to legalize pot,” is a common understanding of our platform. The vast majority of people don’t agree with us on this. According to Gallup, 60% of the American people don’t support legalization. They’re not on our side in this, our defining issue. Granted, this is from 2005, but there’s little evidence that number has increased significantly. In fact, a March 19, 2009 CBS News poll shows that only 31% favor legalization.
Now, we can argue until we’re blue in the face about the cost of the drug war. We can point out how there are far better uses of law enforcement resources than to arrest people who are either selling a product or using a product that does nothing more in and of itself than screw up the health of the person ingesting it and offending the sensibilities of a significant number of people. It doesn’t matter, because we’re in agreement.
However, it’s imperative to bump the pot question to the back burner. Yes, to some I’m speaking of Libertarian heresy, but I’m really not. I’m not saying we should change our platform, nor should we back away and pretend we’re not in favor of ending prohibition. Instead, we should focus on the many other issues we can win voters with. People want less taxes, we want to give them no income tax at all. People want to be free to do as they wish, and that’s all that we want to give them! The hitch is that you have to let others do the same, so long as neither of you hurt another.
In time, the drug issue will shift completely in our favor. Trending at Gallup shows that from the time they first started polling on legalization of pot in 1964, those who favor legalization has increased from 12% to 36% in 2005. It took 40 years, but the percentage tripled. In time, we’ll have them on our side on this issue as well. Until then, let’s put this on the back burner, shall we.
Instead, we need to reach out. We need to spend more time discussing what we offer as a party. Find the “Ron Paul” Republicans or the libertarian Democrats (those who are democrats because of their social stances, not their fiscal ones). We need to show them that while their party marginalizes them and their thoughts, we do not. We are their party, they just didn’t know it until now.
Reaching out is vital. Until we do, we will never amount to anything more than an “also ran” party. No Libertarian is satisfied with that.
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