I’m a Libertarian girl living in a two-party world. My background is in local government and economic and community development, so I am familiar with the local and state legislative processes. Working in local government has fueled my passion for policy craft. I was drawn to the Libertarian Party because of the ideology and my desire to run for office in order to affect policy change.
I have made a concerted effort this past year to familiarize myself with the requirements Libertarian candidates must meet to run for office and get elected in my resident state of Georgia. The potential to run Libertarian candidates for any of the state congressional offices, where policy is crafted and changed, is dismal. Georgia has biased and inequitable ballot access laws for any potential candidates not affiliated with either the Republican or Democrat parties.
There has been a big push on behalf of the National Libertarian Party to get candidates on the ballots, because the American voters are interested in having a variety of choices. The number of U.S. voters registered as Libertarian has surged by 92 percent since 2008, reports Ballot Access News in its March 2018 edition. That increase has come at the expense of both Democrats, who are down by 8 percent over the same time, and Republicans, who are down by 5 percent. The number of voters registered as independent or with other parties has increased by 19 percent.
As Libertarians, we will continue to challenge ballot access laws and petition to get our candidates on the ballot, but there is another strategy we can engage in while we are fighting for ballot access. That strategy is a bottom up approach. Most local elections are nonpartisan and are the perfect place to get novice candidates exposure to and experience with the legislative and political processes.
The Republicans and Democrats didn’t start with the presidency, they started with city councils, school boards, and county commissions, and a lot of their power is reflected in those institutions. Furthermore, having a presence in local politics would eventually lead to better qualified and groomed candidates on a national level for the Libertarian Party.
Every major American political movement has begun and remains grounded in local politics. A Libertarian candidate who performs well locally, and gains the trust and vote of their fellow community members in nonpartisan elections, is an example of how the political system can become a great force for change and influence. A good starting point is to actually understand the office and how local policy is crafted and managed. Here is an excellent resource for running for local office. https://candidatebootcamp.com/how-to-run-for-political-office-2018/
The bottom up approach is not only realistic and effective, it is sustainable because it creates an entrypoint for future candidates. This approach also helps educate citizens on the local level about the Libertarian ideology and opens the door to changing governmental processes and procedures, one ordinance at a time.
Lastly, just get involved in your community. When Libertarians begin to have positive name recognition and impact with their local citizens, neighbors, community organizers, and leaders, they are more likely to get elected and have the opportunity to influence local governmental policy.
The Libertarian Party has a tremendous opportunity in the coming year to encourage its members to grow their affiliates and groom candidates for local elections. The time is now for a paradigm shift in the Libertarian party’s approach to grooming candidates and influencing change. Bottom’s Up my fellow Libertarians!
If you are interested in running for local office in Georgia, please complete the CANDIDATE QUESTIONNAIRE.