Posts Tagged: ‘Libertarian Party’

Why I am A Libertarian Who Is Leaving the Libertarian Party

June 22, 2021 Posted by zachary

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wasn’t a Republican or a Democrat. My first real exposure to the idea of parties outside the dominant parties was Ross Perot and his Reform Party in 1992. As a kid I was excited to see what a three candidate race for President was like. Even though I expressed preferences based on what my parents felt, I still thought his run was history in my lifetime. I had no idea why when it came to the Clinton/Dole election in 1996 that we only had two candidates. This dulled my interest in elections. It wasn’t until the Bush/Kerry election in 2004 that I took interest in elections again. This came about in my college years and I felt I had an obligation to at least see who was running, but I didn’t take much interest at that time. I don’t even remember who I ended up voting for aside from that it wasn’t Kerry.

During all this time, I never really felt at home in the two dominate parties in the US. When I started voting, I registered Independent and stuck with it until 2012.

Because of that lack of home, I was always curious about what other parties were out there. I read about the rise and fall of political parties with keen interest and thought I might one day start a party. In 2006, I returned to Oklahoma and looked up the procedures in state law to find out what it would take. I was astounded by the high signature count needed to form and even higher electoral burden to stay recognized. I read about how few parties formed in Oklahoma and how none ever survived their first year on the ballot.

Around 2010, I found a group of like minded people at Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform who were fighting to make it easier to form a new political party. I learned that prior to 1968, all it took to form a new party was 5000 signatures. But due to the success of a third party presidential candidate Oklahoma, a Democratic stronghold at the time, the election ended up with Nixon as the winner of the state’s electoral votes. So the Democratic majority in the state legislature increased the petition to 5% of the last vote for President or Governor, and increased the percentage of the vote that a party would need to stay recognized to 10% of the vote. Ridiculous.

I immediately got to work in the fight to change these laws. I worked every legislative session, calling legislators, visiting them in their offices, writing emails and letter campaigns, and writing a ballot access brief. 4 years I worked to get a bill passed to reduce that petition burden. Finally in 2014, we succeeded. After nearly 50 years, Oklahoma’s laws for forming a new party was eased. While not the 5,000 signatures it once was, the new 3% of the last vote for Governor was a huge improvement.

During this time, I worked on other efforts to expand electoral options for Oklahoma voters. In 2012, the American Elect party spent considerable money and effort to get on the ballot under Oklahoma’s old law. But when it came time to follow through with that ballot access success, they failed to organize and nominate a candidate for President. So a small group of American Elect supporters convinced me and others to join in nominating Gary Johnson for the Americans Elect position on the Oklahoma ballot. So I joined the party and registered to be an official Elector for Gary Johnson. We filed the necessary paperwork and immediately the Republican controlled state government challenged the nomination and sued to remove Gary Johnson from the ballot. They were successful in making up law on the spot and convincing the Oklahoma Supreme Court to rule in their favor and Gary Johnson was no longer a candidate for President in Oklahoma in 2012.

Back to 2014, during my time at Oklahoman’s for Ballot Access Reform, I met many people who were members of the Libertarian Party. As I learned more about that party, I was sure that I finally found a political home. Even before we were successful in getting the laws changed in Oklahoma, I joined the Libertarian Party and was elected as Secretary for the OKLP in 2012. Once the laws to form a new party were changed in 2014, I joined the effort to petition for party recognition. That petition was successful in time for the 2016 Presidential election.

Even during that time, I was still working to ease Oklahoma’s laws regarding the recognition of political parties. I knew that even if a party was successful in petitioning to form, they would have a severe uphill battle meeting the 10% vote requirement to stay recognized. So I convinced a handful of legislators to introduce a bill to lower that vote test to 2.5% of the vote for Governor or President. That bill passed in time for the 2016 election. That year Gary Johnson won 5.76% of the vote in Oklahoma, surpassing the new 2.5% requirement. Had that 10% requirement stayed, the Libertarian party would have failed to stay recognized and they would have had to petition all over again.

I wasn’t done yet. In 2017, I wrote a new bill that changed the vote test so that it applied to any statewide elected office as well as allow for a party to remain recognized for 4 years rather than 2. I convinced legislators to introduce this bill and pass it in 2018. This new bill again helped the Libertarian Party to stay recognized in Oklahoma. At that same time, I wrote and succeeded in getting passed a law that reduced the signatures needed to get an Independent Presidential candidate on the ballot as well as provide for an optional filing fee. Because of this, 3 Independent presidential candidates were on the 2020 ballot along with the Democratic, Republican, and Libertarian nominees.

During this time, I maintained some activity in the Oklahoma Libertarian Party. I still felt that they would be a home for me. However, due to the actions of some members of the party and the way they treated founding members of the modern OKLP, people who I considered to be friends, I reduced my activity to casual observer. I maintained my voter registration but stopped paying dues and attending conventions.

One aspect of Oklahoma election law that I like is the option for recognized political parties to invite voters registered as independents to vote in a party’s primaries. In 2016, the newly formed party invited independent voters to vote in the one primary election we had, for US Senate. While the primary results were not the ones the party, and even the candidates themselves preferred, I still felt it was a major reason why the party went from roughly 700 members at founding to several thousand after the 2016 election. But in 2017, the new Executive Committee chose not to allow Independent voters to vote in the OKLP’s primaries. This was primarily due to concern they had that independent supporters of Joe Exotic would nominate him for the LP place in the Governor Race. These concerns manifested themselves more broadly in 2019 and the primaries were once again closed. I felt this was a betrayal of the ideals of freedom and liberty that the Libertarian Party was meant to exemplify.

This wasn’t my only concerns with the party. For years, the Libertarian Party has had a provision in the Party Platform that allows for all sorts of restrictions on immigration so long as anyone claims that they are “reasonable”. And there are a lot of people claiming to be libertarian who believe that locking children in cages and destroying life saving supplies in the desert are “reasonable” restrictions. Despite many efforts to simply strike the word “reasonable” from that platform statement, it has failed every time. This isn’t my only concerns with libertarians. There are also many who believe that the government should be allowed to deny marriages to LGBTQ+ people. There are Libertarians who do not support civil rights in general. There are libertarians who glorify the Confederacy and hold that defenders of slavery were righteous warriors of freedom. Many libertarians also expressed solidarity with police who murder innocent civilians and who also violently break up protests against those police abuses. Not to mention the libertarians who express support or apathy towards pedophilia. It is frankly disturbing that people in the party of freedom for all would support so many anti-freedom beliefs.

Then the 2016 election came and boy was I not prepared. Trump won that election and the ensuing avalanche of support from supposed libertarians for him was mind boggling. Throughout his presidency with all his increasing of taxes, wall building, cracking down on immigration and asylum seekers and refugees; despite his effort to escalate the wars in the Middle East and start a new war with Iran; despite his terrible handling of the Covid pandemic, and so many efforts to destroy liberty and freedom in the US, libertarians flocked to him as if he was the epitome of libertarian ideals.

During his Presidency, Republican Congressman Justin Amash expressed disdain for the cult of Trump and changed his registration to Libertarian, becoming the first sitting Libertarian Congressman. He even made movements that indicated his intent to seek the Libertarian nomination for President. The 2020 nominating convention scared him off before he could even make an official announcement. Despite a deadly virus outbreak, some in charge of the convention refused to allow an online convention to take place. They fought to death to prevent it because they knew that if an in person convention was held, that their anti-immigration anti-freedom candidates would be nominated because only their Covid denying supporters would show up in person. Thankfully they failed and an online convention was held, but that whole fiasco scared off the best potential candidate since Gary Johnson.

It became quite clear to me that many active members of the OKLP and those seeking leadership roles in the party supporters were people who held the beliefs above. They fought against efforts to reject bigotry. They made it quite clear that bigots were welcome and the victims of bigotry are not. Then came the January 6 assault on the US Capitol that disrupted the counting and certifying of the 2020 Electoral votes. The OKLP refused to take a stand against it stating that it wasn’t an Oklahoma problem.

These kinds of libertarians were gaining extensive traction all over the country, but none so blatant as those in New Hampshire. The series of tweets that came from the official LPNH Twitter account were quite appalling and nary a word from the OKLP. When the national party decided to take action against New Hampshire, those in leadership and influence in the OKLP spoke out against the national party and in support of the edgelord messaging of LPNH.

All of this to say that at one time, I felt like I might have found a political home. There were so many aspects of libertarian ideology that rang true to me and influenced my line of thinking. But there are severe ideological differences between me and those who seek to control the messaging and direction of the Libertarian Party. Over the last week, so many people I admire have resigned from their roles in the party. Many people who started the Oklahoma Libertarian Party have long ago left the public spotlight. I feel it is my time as well.

I am moving soon. I will need to re-register to vote. When I do, I plan on once again registering as an Independent voter. However, I will continue to work toward a world set free. I will work for liberty and justice that is truly for all. I will be renewing my efforts with Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform. There are still so many areas of Oklahoma election law that needs reform. I feel that is where I can be of most help toward a world set free. Perhaps one day a new political party will emerge from those efforts and it will truly reflect the ideals that make up who I am.

-E. Zachary Knight

Zachary Knight Works To Break Down Barriers To Election Competition

March 25, 2016 Posted by zachary

OK_Logo_grayOn March 21, 2016, the Oklahoma Election Board announced the Libertarian Party is now an officially recognized party in Oklahoma. It had been 16 years since that was the case. In the years between, Oklahoma has had only two Presidential candidates and two parties available for Oklahoma voters. This is a horrible injustice to the people of Oklahoma.

This announcement¬†was possible¬†thanks in part to the work of Oklahomans for Ballot Access Reform a coalition of voters and candidates from all political ideologies with the common goal of expanding electoral freedom in Oklahoma. For 6 years, Zachary had taken a major leadership role in OBAR and lobbied tirelessly for reformation of Oklahoma’s ballot access laws. This culminated in a 2015 bill to lower the petition requirement to form a new party from 5% of the last vote cast to 3% of the last vote for Governor. This allowed the Libertarian party to successfully petition and gain recognition. (more…)