NH Libertarians Lose Ballot Access – Is taking over the old two parties a viable alternative?

Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis Announces Run for NH Governor in 2018

Libertarian Jilletta Jarvis Announces Run for NH Governor in 2018

The 2018 election is over and Jilletta Jarvis, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of New Hampshire has failed to reach the 4% required for the Libertarian Party of NH to retain ballot access, which it achieved in 2016 for the first time in two decades. I want it to be clear, I really like Jilletta and she was a much better candidate than the 2016 offering from the LP, Max Abramson. Jilletta ran a good campaign and was much more active than Abramson, but didn’t even come close to Abramson’s 4%. She got 1.46%. What happened?

It’s pretty clear that 2016 was a fluke. I’d speculated then that Abramson, who barely existed as a candidate, and other “Libertarians” like Gary Johnson at the national level had benefited from people’s frustrations with Trump and Hillary being their main presidential choices. It’s pretty clear this palpable frustration benefited all third parties in 2016, with the Libertarian and Green presidential candidates getting three times their vote totals from 2012. People weren’t voting for the Libertarians and Greens, they were voting against Trump and Hillary.

Add to that the fact that major media entities WMUR and the Union Leader set their debate rules to exclude the Libertarian candidates like Jilletta, and it’s pretty clear she didn’t get a fair chance from all New Hampshire media. Shame on WMUR and the Union Leader for excluding their viewers and readers from knowing about their third choice.

Libertarians Protest Unfair Debates Outside St. Anselm College

Libertarians Protest Unfair Debates Outside St. Anselm College

Of course, the two-party duopoly has long been complicit in excluding libertarians politically. In the 90s when the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire got ballot access for the first time by getting over 3% of the vote, the Republicans and Democrats voted to raise the bar 33% higher to its current level of 4%.

Not all the blame can be placed on the media and government, however. While Jilletta is a wonderful person and a far better candidate than we had in 2016, she wasn’t the most principled libertarian. Doubt my claim? Even the Keene Sentinel knows what a libertarian is supposed to sound like. In a recent piece in the Sentinel, opinion page editor Wilfred Bilodeau said:

She seems enthusiastic and smart, but we were struck at how her libertarian vision differs from some of the party’s more orthodox candidates. She says she’s for smaller government but outlined several programs that would necessitate spending more money. To improve education, she pitched the concept of centralizing public education, with the state collecting all education taxes and determining how to best spend them. That strikes us as anything but a libertarian approach. Overall, we feel Jarvis has some worthy ideas, but her vision for the state seems unfocused, perhaps due to the pressure of trying to appeal to enough voters to garner the 4 percent of the vote needed to keep the party on the ballot.

The good news is the media, at least in Keene, has learned what a libertarian is supposed to say. A true libertarian should be advocating the non-aggression principle and applying it consistently across all government programs. That means eliminating coercion from the system, or eliminating the system entirely. That’s it. If Jilletta believes in some government coercion, she really shouldn’t be the party’s nominee. Watering down the message does not win over votes. Staying true to principles is what the LP is supposed to be about. Hopefully the LPNH will offer more principled state level candidates in the future so we can see how their vote totals compare to Jilletta and her similarly – as the Sentinel described it – “unfocused” predecessors.

NH Liberty Party + Libertarian Party of NH

NH Third Parties

Meanwhile, the Libertarians have once again lost ballot access and will need to struggle to get it again in 2020 via the difficult and expensive process of gathering petition signatures. All the while the Republicans and Democrats benefit by merely having to pay $2 to run for state rep and $10 for state senate. Plus, the duopoly parties benefit from straight-ticket voting, which appears to be what many voters do. Many voters don’t know who the candidates are, so they just vote for their party – likely the same party to which their parents were registered.

For years, libertarians in New Hampshire have been debating whether or not working within the Republican and Democrat parties is the best strategy. The LPNH folks typically say they’d be stronger if the libertarians who’d joined the major two parties would have joined the LPNH. However the libertarians joining the Rs and Ds are getting elected and have been for many years now. How many of them are watering down their views or hiding them from the big party members, I don’t know. The point is they are winning and many of them have been re-elected multiple times, like the A+ rated liberty “legislator of the year” Mike Sylvia of Belknap county, or Mark Warden, also an A+ rated liberty “legislator of the year”, as awarded by the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance.

Libertarian Party Logo 2016

The sad, unprincipled Libertarian Party

It’s hard to argue with success. Also, in any other state besides New Hampshire this takeover-the-major-parties tactic would be near impossible due to the small number of libertarian activists elsewhere. In NH, we have the largest (and growing) contingent of libertarians, voluntarists, and liberty-loving anarchists on the planet.

Political takeover is a reality and the reason why I resigned from the national Libertarian Party in disgust in 2008. The national LP had been infiltrated by a bunch of Republicans and sure enough they took control of the party’s presidential nominations in 2008, 2012, and 2016.

However, if the Republicans and Democrats refuse to treat the LPNH fairly by making ballot access difficult and excluding us from debates, then they shouldn’t be upset when we join their parties instead. Now that the state is going to eliminate Libertarian from the registration options, I can be “undeclared”, or declare as Democrat or Republican. I was a Democrat previously (and ran for governor in the Democrat primary in 2012 and 2014). Perhaps it’s time for a new approach and… join the Republicans? What would you do in my position?

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14 Comments

  1. She lost because she wasn’t a good candidate and NH voters didn’t feel she confident in her platform. You can’t blame the media for her down fall. Libertarians are a farcical small group of people with outrageous ideas which are not in any reality.

    Don’t forget, the average age of NH is around 43 y/o. In 2016, the average voter’s age was 45-65 years old. I doubt that has changed much in 2 years. That particular group of people are not idiots. They see Democrat or Republican because over the years the two political sides is what these people grew up with. Adding another outside group with ideas contrary to their beliefs will never fly.

    Sure, you could change political parties but as soon as you start campaigning the people will know who you really represent. Don’t forget, a number of you freekeeners have poor reputations in New Hampshire. As many times as you people have been arrested, trying to shove your ideas down people’s throats not to mention banned from a number of places, and all your criminal records of misdemeanors and felonies are against you. You dug yourselves in a hole you can’t get out of.

  2. You guys are wasting your time with politics. You’re not going to accomplish or fix anything. Some day the Free Staters will figure this out. If I had known the FSP was mostly a political movement, I would have never wasted my time up there. Unfortunately Free Keene has become mostly a political movement too. You will fail.

  3. The cure for the disease is to boycott the system and encourage others to do the same.You’re not going to vote the tyranny away. You’re not going to change the tyrannical regime from the inside.

  4. Jacks my sweets, if you’re going to tell a lie, at least make it a credible one. Just whose ideas are being shoved down whose throats, pookums?

    Yours? Mandated violently by an armed government worker?

    Or ours? Spread peacefully from our many blogs, tweets, and Facebook pages?

    You already know the answer, pookie bear. You’re just not courageous enough to admit it publicly, now are you?

  5. I did good on my run; I got 15% ..I did better than everyone … Obvio there a zillion reasons why I did so well … The young ppls voted for me bc they are the best

  6. “You can’t blame the media for her down fall.”

    Sure, not entirely. It’s the combination of tactics that the Republican and Democratic parties utilize that are at fault which includes the refusal to debate on television libertarians.

    Democrats and Republicans are weak and utilize emotional retrick to win elections. They have no fundamental principles or foundation. It’s retrick does nothing other than pander to the crowds at any given time.

    David (Jurist) Freeman: It’s not primarily a political operation. You just can’t organize a revolt with 2% of the population on your side. It’s easy to talk, but the reality is such efforts require the public support- or at least an organization and funding thereof. The reality is there are two things that need to happen right now. 1. We need to continue to publicize the migration movement because without it there is no freedom. 2. Do whatever it takes to demonstrate that coming together can have an impact.

    Giving up and whining about how New Hampshire’s libertarians aren’t doing what you want isn’t going to work either. Leading by example on the other hand will. If you want to start a violent [defensive] revolution, be my guest. However don’t be surprised when the powers that currently be squish it.

    To end on a side note. The libertarian migration movement is just getting started. Twice as many people moved this past year as the prior. That’s just of those who have been counted too. Not everybody is volunteering the fact they are free staters nor is everybody telling the FSP inc that they have moved.

    One thing I have to say is we need more leaders. There are a lot of libertarians here, but motivating everybody, organizing, and similar is something we could definitely do better. The libertarian political party doesn’t even yet maintain a list of the libertarians who have moved here. There is a long ways to go- but the movement as a whole has succeeded in doing the impossible: gathering a large number of like-minded persons in one region. There is nowhere that you can migrate to within New Hampshire and not bump into other libertarians [that have moved here from outside the state as part of the migration movement].

    I have to say I have always felt we have done too much politically and not enough activism. Activism is what drives people to the state. Political action merely demonstrates that we can accomplish what we have set out to achieve even if its going to be a while before we have complete control of New Hampshire.

  7. Does the LP sill believe in honest money?

    Do they still even understand its essential importance?

    If so, every Libertarian needs to know about how to best
    get back to sound money:
    http://www.ivamu.com

    And NO, the pro-Federal Reserve Brown, is not a genuine or real Libertarian.

    He is proof that the FED has taken over the party – to destroy it from within.

    The LP will distinguish itself when it becomes real again.

    Then, with a confident and assured optimism, it will attract millions of new Voters and support.
    If not, NH is what follows nationwide.

  8. I didn’t just win a record percentage for New Hampshire–the highest in over 20 years. My campaign won the highest percentage of any third party or independent gubernatorial bid in the country, despite a near media blackout. Claiming that I “barely existed as a candidate” isn’t backed up by the large amount of work done getting on talk radio, in letters to the editor, and getting signs and material out. I attended and spoke at every political event I could. In spite of being kept out of the debates in 2016 and not getting a single interview on WMUR, we were able to reach out to many different like minded groups and get people out to vote who would’ve stayed home or left their ballot blank. Recall that the LP Senate candidate only won 2% of the vote in his race in 2016.

    Around the country, there were 28 different 3-way legislative races where Libertarian candidates won more than 25% of the vote. This year, we had a Libertarian in a 2-way race who came within 60 votes of beating her Republican opponent. In other First Past the Post countries, soft libertarian parties are not only winning, but picking up enough seats to force one of the other two parties into coalition.

    And I won my re-election bid pretty handily because we ran as a team, campaigned hard, got the signs up in front yards, made great use of social media, listened to voters, and made sure that our supporters got out to vote.

  9. max u ran as a republican this time ,right?

  10. Max you keep saying “we” and stuff but you are a republican…

  11. Max, your vote total was on the coattails of the Johnson weld campaign and the disaster that was Trump V Clinton. A wet dog could have gotten 4% in that election, and a vote for you was essentially a vote for NOTA.

    As far as getting out there and being known, you were so invisible as a candidate that the Johnson Weld staff didn’t even know you existed, and they were actively looking for LPNH Candidates to coordinate with on events. Tie into the fact that the entirety of your membership in the LP was dedicated to pushing your “blue ocean strategy” and preaching about why the LP should help republicans and only go after democrats, and I really wonder what the fuck you think you’re doing here.

  12. Her campaign was about multiple issues including increasing corporate and social welfare. Both of those issues are unpopular in New Hampshire.

  13. what corperate well did she wanna do and other welly

  14. Justin, you won just 6,206 votes, despite getting interviewed by WMUR, free news media attention, and a well covered primary. You won 2.2% of the vote. In the same district, my campaign won 16,000 votes. Why did your campaign fare so poorly? Because you’ve made enemies of the very people whom you would later need to support your campaign. Trash talking Libertarians is exactly why the LP is known for its own members tearing down its own candidates. Literally every remark that you made in your comments is false and directed at tearing down people who made the mistake of helping you.

    Winning elections means bringing a team together, reaching out to voters, finding out what issues are important to them, and asking for their support. There’s an online poll asking how libertarians perceive the LP. 59% voted for “dumpster fire.” What Libertarian candidate in New Hampshire has won more than 2.5% of the vote in the last 20 years? I’ve done it twice. And it’s not by going out and tearing down volunteers who went out on their own to win the LPNH ballot access. What do we have to show for thousands of hours of volunteer time? Lots of burned out and angry volunteers who wouldn’t even consider going back to the LPNH ever.

Care to comment?