I wish I could like the Libertarian Party. I like their platform. I agree with it more than any other platform I've seen. I've spoken to their state convention, and they liked the rubber chicken as much as anybody. And in Washington state, which has a strong live-and-let-live instinct, they could make a real positive difference.
Instead they insist on being political idiots.
What they could be is the party of principled freedom. They could emphasize things like the tax benefits of limiting government to its proper size and the economic growth that would result. They could work to explain the difference between things one has a right to do and things it is right to do and advocate personal self-control instead of government intrusion. They could run candidates in races where both candidates are in the mushy middle, to give people a clear alternative to vote for, or in lopsided races, to stimulate political debate.
What they are is the party of potheads. They talk about drug legalization until they are blue in the face, even though nobody cares. They run spoiler candidates against free-market diehards. They alienate their sympathizers (like me) without gaining anything by it.
I am particularly annoyed because they ran one against Lois McMahan, a close family friend, and the candidate that--before now--I devoted every alternate year to since I was 15. The Libertarians don't have a better friend in the state house, as far as reducing the role of government goes. It's a district exactly evenly split; party control flips back and forth almost every time. And the Democrats poured money into the race as one of their best chances of securing control of the state house. So why did the Libertarians decide to help them out?
Right now the race is just a couple of hundred votes apart, so I'm sure everyone is still waiting for the absentees. But if it weren't for the Libertarian, Lois would be a couple of hundred votes ahead instead of behind. (And it looks like they may have also cost the Republicans their first decent shot at the governor's mansion in a couple of decades.)
On the bright side in Washington, some of my personal legal heroes look like they'll be on the Supreme Court: Richard Sanders was re-elected handily, and Jim Johnson looks like he's got a strong lead.