Earlier today, the Libertarian Party of Colorado announced an agreement that they would collaborate with the Republican Party of Colorado, stopping Libertarian candidates from challenging the GOP in races where they can be a “spoiler.” This statement embraces and perpetuates the false narratives of our political opposition, sells out Libertarian candidates, and helps perpetuate a political environment void of accountability. This decision violates the principles that the party is founded on, and will likely lead to violations of the LP’s and LPCO’s bylaws.
The agreement between the Colorado GOP and LPCO states “If the Republican party runs candidates who support individual liberties, we will not run competing candidates in those races. Furthermore, we reserve the right to run our candidates if you choose not to put forth strong Liberty candidates. We would prefer to work with you, and not against you, to support the Colorado that your voters believe they are supporting. We are committed to working with you to end their [Democrats] one party rule here in Colorado.”
The Libertarian Party is the Party of Principle, not the party of selling out. In a state with easy ballot access, this is little more than handing control of that ballot access to the GOP. In many states around the country, Republicans and Democrats work hard to keep Libertarians off the ballot. According to this agreement, so will the Libertarian Party of Colorado. Under no circumstances should the Libertarian party promote another party’s candidates over its own. This agreement is little more than a repeat of Bill Weld vouching for Hilary Clinton, except it would be LPCO vouching for Republican candidates.
Perpetuating the false narrative that third party candidates are nothing more than spoilers will have a devastating effect on morale and membership. Libertarians join the party to fight the duopoly and work towards liberty in our lifetime, not pander to one side or the other. Libertarian candidates aren’t spoilers in the electoral process, we are participants. Stifling Libertarian candidates’ in order to promote Republicans will never succeed in growing the liberty movement.
The agreement also doesn’t outline any process by which Republicans will be chosen for support. Will it be LPCO’s Board? Their Delegates? Their members? As we will show in the second half of this article, this agreement is completely unenforceable and likely to violate both LP National’s bylaws and LPCO’s bylaws.
Even if this process for selecting Republicans to run instead of Libertarians was clearly defined, what is not clear is how this agreement will be enforced. Refusing to run Libertarians against Republicans does not force the Republicans to adopt libertarian positions. In fact, it does the opposite. It offers Republicans no electoral penalty at the ballot box when they inevitably decide to reject libertarian values. And if Ron Paul himself couldn’t budge the Republican Party towards liberty, then why would anyone think that another GOP candidate would
For Libertarian party members, this must be a line in the sand moment. Either the Libertarian Party is going to pursue a path towards liberty in our lifetime, or will it allow the duopoly to control its message, gatekeep its candidates, and define its priorities, as this agreement does.
As we wrote last year, this kind of strategy “would turn a Libertarian vote into a truly wasted vote. The media narrative would not be about how many votes the Libertarian Party got, but how many went to which duopolist. Even if this strategy did not run the party into the ground it would merely make the party and its candidates pawns for the duopoly to toy with.” It is time to make a choice, will the Libertarian Party with the duopoly, or will it stand firmly on its principles?
For those who believe liberty comes before party, the CLC’s 2022 statement ended with this: “Duopoly incrementalism is the worst form of pragmaticism because it will never be a path to a world set free in our lifetime. The duopoly has proven time and time again that the best it can do is pander to libertarians. America needs a liberty wave, not a trickle.” Ultimately, if we want to achieve liberty in our lifetime, the duopoly will not be the path towards it. Ron Paul is the prime example of how the entrenched interests of the Republicans will never allow a true liberty movement to thrive inside of it, and the DNC is no better.
Our candidates are not “spoilers” as the Republican Party of Colorado stated in response to the letter from LPCO. Libertarians join the Libertarian Party to be an alternative to the duopoly, not to be symbiotic.
Regardless of the impracticalities of this agreement, the bylaws of LPCO prevent its enforcement. The LPCO board, who made this agreement, cannot stop people from being nominated for office as a Libertarian candidate. Candidates are nominated at assembly by the delegates, not the LPCO Board. The Board cannot stop a nomination by delegates. For this agreement to be maintained, the Board would have to tell delegates to vote against a libertarian candidate because they prefer a Republican candidate. This ignores that LPCO candidates can also make the ballot through petition, with signature requirements ranging from 400-1000.
Collins Dictionary defines endorsement as: “An endorsement is a statement or action that shows you support or approve of something or someone.” Demanding that delegates keep a libertarian candidate from being on the ballot against a preferred Republican candidate is an endorsement of that Republican candidate.
This would put LPCO in direct violation of LP National bylaws which state “No affiliate party shall endorse any candidate who is a member of another party for public office in any partisan election.” LPCO’s own bylaws state “The Party, its affiliates, and its elected Directors in their official capacities, either individually or as a group, shall endorse only Libertarian Party nominees for election to partisan public office”.
If any affiliate explicitly or implicitly endorses candidates from another party, especially over other Libertarians, they should be disaffiliated from the Libertarian Party.
Colorado election law requires that minor parties nominate their candidates 73 days prior to duopoly primaries. There will be no way for LPCO to know which candidates Republicans will win the nomination, much less if they will follow through on their campaign promises or not.
This agreement is also in direct violation with the purpose of LPCO as defined by its bylaws, which state “The Purpose of the party is to implement and give voice to libertarian principles […] throughout the state of Colorado by: […] (f) attracting, nominating, and promoting professional, serious Party candidates for political office”. This clearly is not talking about working with Republican candidates, or discouraging Libertarian candidates as a way to advance libertarian principles. Working to support Republican candidates for political office is not one of the purposes of LPCO.
The Libertarian Party is here to work towards liberty in our lifetime, not barter its principles away if a duopoly candidate virtue signals. If you want to support Republicans, you’re welcome to do so as an individual. The utilization of LP resources to support Republicans or Democrats is a betrayal of our donors, members, and voters. As it is, the Libertarian Party of Colorado does not have the influence or power needed to hold Republican candidates to any promises made. For those who want to follow the bold vision laid out in our Statement of Principles, join the Classical Liberal Caucus and hold the Libertarian Party to those principles.