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Is there hope for a Green/Libertarial alliance?

In a lengthy article, J.E. Robertson discusses what s/he sees as a coming rift in the Republican Party between “big tent” Republicans who want the party to be a majority party and “intolerant” Republicans who want a pure party.

As s/he develops the argument, s/he turns eventually to the idea of a Green/Libertarian coalition.

…there is significant overlap between the policy goals of the Green party and those of the Libertarian party, despite deep philosophical differences on the role of government. A multi-state coalition among representatives of these two parties could forge a path for viable opposition to the two-party stranglehold on power. The effects would likely see one of the two major parties pushed into third place.

The stage is set for all sorts of arguments now, but I would ask but one thing. Before adding your comments, read the entire piece to understand the concepts in full, and then give us the benefits of your thinking. If we are to break the stranglehold the corporate parties have on the American electorate, we must take some risks. As Congresswoman McKinney said, If we are to get something new, we must do something new.

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26 Comments

  1. There can only be an alliance in terms of ballot access and related electoral reform.

    On matters of policy, since Greens are watermelons and Libertarians are Liberty Blue, and have diametrically opposed views on government, FUHGEDDABOUTIT!

  2. Here, in WV, LP is not a ballot option anymore. A few people that ran in the most recent election on the Mountain Party (GP State Affiliate) ticket were former LPs that decided to run as Greens just because we have ballot access. Given, the MP was more or less created as an opposition to the Big Coal parties (both major parties) in the area. As far as I know, the LPs in the state are less vocal if not neutral to those concerns, at least the ones I’ve met. I’ve met a few concerned about the influence of Big Coal in controlling state politics. But really when it comes to issues like Pro-Choice, in WV, even the democrats claim to be Pro-Life. Libertarians and Greens in the state agree on those issues locally.

    I think in general, “third” parties should group together to work on ballot access issues. Particularly with the way new voter registration has been lately, new voters more so than previously have a vested interest in more options. They are registering either as non-affiliated or with minor parties.

  3. A few candidates have built alliances between Greens and Libertarians, Kevin Zeese in particular in his 06 race for the US Senate. He was endorsed by both parties as well as the Maryland Populist Party.

    I think this shows there is a great opportunity for such an alliance, well beyond ballot access alone.

  4. Well such an alliance would be possible if we had instant runoff voting. The Greens could make a deal with Libertarians for their 2nd preference votes.

  5. As Libertarians seem to have no voice on global warming I sort of doubt any alliance beyond helping on ballot access issues would be useful. Individuals may cross lines, but the parties disagree over fundamental things like tax the rich and ending pollution. It is a non starter.

  6. I am reposting my comments from IPR:

    Kimberly Wilder // Sep 6, 2009 at 7:41 am

    Okay, I admit, I didn’t read the whole article and I only skimmed the comments.

    But, still, I want to comment!

    I see the whole argument here about people thinking that the Greens and Libertarians have such philosophical differences that they could not form an alliance.

    Though, I have always thought the best way to overcome that is to go straight to bottom line goals.

    As third party activists, we want things to be more fair.

    As third party activists, in order to succeed, we need the system to be open and accountable. So, that there is hope for change of the incumbents.

    I think the easiest way to do a Green/Libertarian alliance, is to support candidate for positions that are less about details and social policy, and more about getting things done correctly.

    So, someone might run for Town Clerk. Where, the Town Clerk can campaign simply on the idea about open and transparent government. Or, run for Secretary of State and run on the issue of being fair to third party and independent candidates.

    I tend to think that people who take a suggestion and start shouting communist! and socialist! or statist! are people who talk a lot and do very little real work.

    I care about the deep, philosophical issues. But, I know that in order to create change and be effective, you have to get something moving in the real world. That means not shouting ideology back and forth every time someone suggest a concrete action, or a joint campaign.

    Peace,
    Kimberly Wilder

  7. I think we should have a Libertarian president, but only for one year. It would be like a forest fire…getting rid of the worst government programs so that a Green president can be remake government in a better, more efficient way.

  8. In Wisconsin we’ve had a good relationship with the Libertarian Party, and have issued joint press releases in the past. The last one was calling for our Dem Governor to return our Guard units home from Iraq and refuse to send more there based on legal precedent (which I don’t have on the tip of my brain at the moment).

    Both our parties also share an opposition to the criminalization of marijuana and other civil liberties issues.

    There has been talks of splitting up the state wide constitutional races (State Treasurer and Secretary of State) so as not to compete for the independent vote in races critical to ballot access for both parties but nothing has happened in that area. In the Governor’s race though it serves both parties for both of us to run candidates as it increases the chances of our being permitted into the debates by the corporate media as in 2002, whereas in 2006 when only the Greens ran for Gov we were forced out.

  9. Ron, so since you were not able to agree that the Libs would run for one congressional district and Greens in another, of one for Sec of State and another for Sec of Treasury, does that mean you think it hopeless, or just not in the cards this time?

    For example, I absoultely believe, for example, that we would nominate most any candidate from the Libertarian Party for Attorney Journal that would agree to establish a code of conduct that fully trains his subordinates in ways to protect our constitutional rights, would be open to ways to question corporate “person hood”, who might also explain how s/he could refuse to assist in the prosecution of deserters, if s/he mighht actually be able to do so, so long as the agreed to list was sacrocanct.

    For example, if the nominee is asked about their opinion on a subject we have a disagreement on, the candidate could say “My supporters are not of one mind on this topic, and I would guess I will have to listen carefully to the people and make up my own mind” and *hopefully* mean it.

    But let’s be fair, except when lightening strikes, a-la Angus King in Maine,

    Lincoln Chaffee, a former Senator, is running as an Independent in Rhode Island, as is former Senator Lowell Weiker of Connecticut. Chris Daggett is an independent in New Jersey, in a race that echoes Whitney’s. His race is interesting because it is one qualified and honest political party nominee from a small party and two major parties with questions either about his ethics or ideas that will move the state forward. It is possible to imagine that their campaigns, if givenr the sort of coverage Governor Ventura got, could lead to election after all the votes are counted.

    I think the real challenges are at the local level in the Green Party, and may be at the state or national level. For example, if a Green Party candidate in South Carolina wanted to run for Governor focusing on making sure that the state’s prisions evaluate each prisoner with the goal of getting them to the point where they can be sure of having a job, the training to do a job, and the opportuinty to get a job that pays all his or her bille and leaves a little bit more so they can see their lives getting better.

    That is a lot cheaper than jail, and we might find a lot of people in jail on exceptionally small charges. People sent to jail for six months for writing a $350.00 bad check to cover rent or a utility bill or grocery bill cost way too much to use that as a tool to keep people from doing that. The cost to the taxpayer would be in the tens of thousands, plus the prisoner paying with time in jail and the loss of a shot at a good job once out of jail.

    Most Libertarians I have spoken with are less than enthusiastic about their police force. The idea of a candidate who espouses finding ways to reduce the percentage of a nation’s citizens rotting in jail seems to me to be a scenerio most Libertarians and Greens would like.

    But we would have to know where we disagreed, and agree on what the candidate will say when asked for a position on something the parties don’t agree on.

    In the South Carolina Green Party we allow anyone running for a non-partisan office to ask for the party’s endorsement, and if someone got our endorsement, and they joined the Green Party, we would consider them a Green Candidate, and work for them, even if they also were nominated by the Libertarian Party. If they were also a member of the Libertarian Party, that would preclude them appearing in the national party database, and they could not attend the annual national meeting as a representative of the state, even if he is our nominee.

    In South Carolina I have been told that the state party is not interested in fusion. They believe it is a tactical error, or at least that is what I understand. We could most certainl;y co-nominate a full compliment of candidates for County Council in many counties and replace that county’s leadership in one election, as all arte re-elected every two years.

    The point I guess is, are the parties willing to ignore their policy differences, and the candidate as well, ands focus only on things both parties can agree are vital enough to only address them, or would they insist on having their candidate say “Well, I don’t agree with the Greens on abortion rights” in a city council race, and the Green Party candidate agrees to avoid talking about tax hikes on the rich or rent controll options when running for Sherriff.

    I also think we Greens and Libertarians could do a LOT more actual in-the-streets cooperating. If, for example, we were to see every Libertarian Party chapter so inclined set to do a protest at their local post office on October 5th. The War in Afganistan began two days later, on October 7th in 2001.

    If every Green Party and every Libertarian Party member were to agree to go to a post office carrying a sign against the war, and the media were told that a 51 year old garnada will be protesting at this post office, and a 32 year old teacher over here, and two students here, etc, and each media outlet knows of dozens of places where real people will be protesting the eight year of war in Afganistan, it will get into a lot of media. Both the issue of war in Afganistan and increased exposure to the Libertarian and Green “brand” will benefit both groups, essentially as much as they participate.

  10. “Ron, so since you were not able to agree that the Libs would run for one congressional district and Greens in another, of one for Sec of State and another for Sec of Treasury, does that mean you think it hopeless, or just not in the cards this time?”

    We just haven’t had those talks yet, but I certainly don’t think it is hopeless. I don’t think it requires “cross-endorsing” or anything.

    I think a Third Party Pow-Wow would be interesting in Wisconsin where the Constitution Party are resurgent this year, and the Libertarians and Greens remain fairly constant. However a discussion would surely be on issues of ballot access and independent choices on the ballots only.

  11. Greens and Libertarians should form a national united front for democracy, focused on ballot access and election reform issues that we can both agree on. I think our demands have added weight in the public eye when people see us working together. And of course, there is strength in numbers. Greens, Libertarians, Constitutionalists, independents and other parties can surely find broad agreement on these points:

    -instant runoff voting for single-winner elections
    -proportional representation for legislative elections
    -no restrictive and/or discriminatory ballot access laws, or “Trojan Horse” measures like the top-two primary

    As for deeper alliances with Libertarians, I am of two minds, because I see two currents in the libertarian movement, which are usually called left-libertarianism and right-libertarianism. Left libertarians are anti-war, pro-civil liberties, oppose the centralization of power, tend to oppose out-of-control corporate power, oppose the drug war, and generally oppose forcing people to do stuff with the threat of violence. Right libertarians tend to focus on laissez-faire economics, guns, taxes, and other things they consider the Republicans too soft on; their definition of “liberty” usually comes off as meaning the liberty of wealthy, healthy white males to make and hoard money.

    I think there is much potential for Greens and left libertarians to work together, and we should work to make our party appealing to them. But it seems to me that the Libertarian Party has more of a right libertarian bent, and many of their candidates (like 2008 presidential ticket Bob Barr and Wayne Allan Root) are of a right libertarian orientation. Considering that money talks in the Libertarian party and they like it that way, this turn to the right is likely to continue.

    So I have doubts about the potential of Green-Lib fusion, and I don’t think it makes sense to pull Green candidates in favor of libertarian candidates unless those candidates actually share our values. But we should definitely partner with them to make our system more representative and democratic – once that is accomplished, both parties will have more of a chance to prove themselves to the voters.

  12. I have high hopes for the LP becoming more green, but I have little hope for the Greens becoming less anti-liberty and less neophobic.

    The LP needs to support a Green Tax Shift, using market means to achieve green ends.

    The LP needs to move toward geolibertarianism and EcoLibertarianism, of the sort expressed in the Free Earth Manifesto.

  13. Neophobic? Anti-liberty? Exactly what policies and positions of the Green Party support these descriptors?

    Please be specific and include citations.

    Thanks in advance.

  14. As I write at http://knowinghumans.net/2006/07/fear-neophobia-not-police-state.html:

    The last seventy years have seen an enormous erosion of our economic freedoms: minimum wage, maximum hours, plant closure notice, family leave, “equal pay for equal work”, numeric goals in minority hiring, union exemptions from antitrust, growth controls, urban planning, rent control, monumental intergenerational inequity through a socialized retirement pyramid scheme, massive regulation of healthcare, socialized health insurance, farm subsidies, socialization and federalization of education, environmental regulations based on bureaucratic rules instead of market incentives, etc. […]

    Neophobia manifests itself in so many powerful ways: anti-globalization, growth limits, protectionism, eco-pessimism, opposition to biotechnology, opposition to private (i.e. corporate) data processing of voluntarily-given information, restrictions on media-related technology, opposition to population growth, ham-handed market-dumb regulations on pollution-emitting products, etc.

    As of the last time I read the Green Party platform, the Greens supported most — and perhaps all — the items I list above.

    Still, I think the Free Earth Manifesto shows that there is a lot of potential common ground between green libertarians and Greens who are willing to think outside the socialist box.

  15. Mr. Holtz,

    Your uninformed opinion don’t mean squat.

    If you’re for the freedom to be unemployed, poor, sick and subject to corporate rule, then you’re not willing to think outside the fascist box.

    Good luck to you sir.

  16. I listed 25 anti-liberty and neophobic positions; thanks for not denying that the Green Party supports all of them.

    I generally favor the freedom to be unemployed, poor, and sick, except that I advocate a ecolibertarian Nature’s Dividend, financed by fees on people who initiate force by monopolizing, depleting, polluting, or congesting the natural commons. If you don’t agree that people should otherwise have full rights to their body, labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges, then do you have the courage to say so?

    I oppose any and all “corporate rule” that involves fraud or initiation of force. If by “corporate rule” you include a) people not offering you the transactions you want, or b) people offering you transactions you wish you didn’t want, then you should just say so.

    Of course, it makes it harder to call people “fascist” when you admit that your views are just national socialism minus the nationalism.

  17. Prof. Fred Foldvary and other geolibertarians have been pushing progressive green libertarianism for decades, and there are good prospects for the LP to become more green. Here is Foldvary in 2007 asking Does free plus green equal victory? Here is Dan Sullivan in 1992 writing Greens and Libertarians: the yin and yang of our political future. Note also the Common Ground Declaration of Third Parties ’96, a summit held that year. Even better is the platform of the Democratic Freedom Caucus. It’s only about five deletions away from being better than the LP platform.

    The Georgist single-tax-on-land movement goes back even further, and has included many prominent libertarians including Milton Friedman and David Nolan.

  18. Another rough spot in any alliance would be that a lot of libertarians seem to be quick with the labels, but slow with the reason.

    Then again, that’s pretty typical of the internet-dwelling representatives of any group, I suppose.

  19. I guess I missed the “reasoning” behind Lou’s apparent analogy that Green is to “socialist” as libertarian is to “fascist”.

    On the other hand, if as many Greens reject socialism (both concept and label) as libertarians reject fascism, then there should be much more common ground here than I’d hoped. However, last time I checked, the Green platform included heavy doses of community social control of the means of production.

  20. I’m with David, in that I also see a split between right libertarians and left libertarians. There is actually a lot of left-libertarian thinking in the Green Party, as periodic discussions bears out.

    The essence of left-libertarianism is that the means of production should not be owned by either the state or an oligarchical circle of capitalists, but by the workers themselves. There are hundreds of projects around the world that demonstrate this is a viable model over the long term. This is the kind of economic development we should be promoting, and Greens and Libertarians will find it acceptable. Because it’s rooted in the community, it naturally tends toward social justice and ecological sustainability without any regulation or other outside pressure.

    Left libertarianism is gradualist, but not reformist. That means we don’t wait for a revolution or an acceptable government to start building the world we want to see. We start right here, right now. To Greens, that looks like community activism. To Libertarians, it looks like entrepreneurialism. Either way, we don’t ask permission to do what needs to be done.

  21. Brian,

    I believe there are plenty of Greens who believe that socialism is an economic system. What do you mean when you say “reject socialism”? Reject that it is an economic model, or reject it as an acceptable economic model?

    If you must have a substantial minority of Greens, or perhaps a majority, to agree that socialism is not an acceptable economic model I fear that cooperation is unlikely.

    MY point is, if we can get Greens and Libertarians to ALL pull in the SAME direction on an agreed to issue we might see changes both party’s members would applaud.

    For example, almost all Libertarians and Greens oppose the war on Iraq, and perhaps the war in Afghanistan as well. If a candidate were to run for US Senate in South Carolina as both the Green ~and~ Libertarian nominee, and agreed to talk *only* about getting out of the war(s?), the impact might be to bring more attention to the two alternative parties *and* to show how many voters feel strongly enough about the war(s?) to vote for a Green-Libertarian Party fusion nominee.

  22. Many left libertarians distinguish between natural resources (e.g. land) and man-made capital, and do not have any problem with private ownership of man-made capital. This is probably the primary difference between left libertarians and “libertarian socialists”.

  23. By “reject” I mean “disagree with”, and by “socialism” I mean “social control of the means of production, or at least of enough sectors of the economy so as to constitute a major fraction of GDP”.

    The most promising common ground for Greens and libertarians is green pricing — using Pigovian taxes to implement a Green Tax Shift. The Green platform already supports it in principle, and I’m trying to make sure that the LP platform doesn’t rule it out.

    Greens and Libertarians should also work together on 1) radical political decentralism and 2) electoral reforms like preference voting.

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