First things first. I’ve got nothing against Hannah Nicollet. If you go by what little she’s said in public about her political beliefs – she supported Ron Paul in 2012 – I probably agree with her 90-odd percent of the time. Indeed, now that she’s been endorsed to run for Governor, my biggest dream is that she selects a Lieutenant Governor candidate named Lyndale, Hennepin, Franklin or Lake.
So no – nothing against Hannah Nicollet.
But I do have something against the Independence Party.
The party – which started as the Minnesota unit of Ross Perot’s “Reform Party”, and gained major party status with Minnesota’s great collective self-prank, the election of Jesse Ventura, and has held onto it by the skin of its teeth ever since – has been the traditional refuge of people who like their government big, but “good”. Moderate Democrats like Tim Penny, liberal Republicans like Tom Horner, and lots of well-meaning moderates who like thinking big thoughts and playing responsibly with the gears and levers of government have flocked to the IP, if only briefly.
It’s always been the party of the moderate wonk class.
I – like most actual libertarians – have very little in common with the moderate wonk class.
And since 2002, the party has been accused of existing primarily as a spoiler. In the 2002 governor’s race, there’s a legitimate case to be made that the presence of former moderate Democrat Tim Penny siphoned center-left votes away from Roger Moe. There’s an even better case to be made that left-of-center-left education policy wonk Peter Hutchinson may have cinched Tim Pawlenty’s razor-thin re-election over Mike Hatch in 2006.
Of course, the strongest case of all is that Tom Horner slurped up the traditional “Indepedent Republican” voter, all nostalgic for Arne Carlson and Dave Durenberger and pre-conversion Judi Dutcher, just enough to tip the scales for Governor
And now, in 2014, when the headlines are jiggling with tales of fractiousness between the Ron Paul faction (not to mention the Tea Party) and the “establishment” of the GOP, into the midst of a race against a vulnerable DFL governor, comes Hannah Nicollet – who makes libertarian-sounding noises, and is being marketed directly at the “Ron Paul” libertarian faction in the GOP.
Do I believe there’s some Democrat monkey-wrenching money from the likes of the unions or Alita Messinger involved? Absolutely. I can’t prove it, but I wouldn’t be in the least surprised if it comes out at some point. There’s a precedent for it. It worked.
But that’s not really the point of this post. Not yet.
No – I’d actually like to ask (or have someone ask) Ms. Nicollet what she, personally and as a candidate being marketed to Libertarian Republicans, thinks of these bits and pieces of the “Independence Party of Minnesota” platform.
From the “Elections” section, the IP platform says…:
We support Instant Runoff Voting or another runoff process that allows us to vote our conscience and ensure that winners are supported by a majority.
So does Ms. Nicollet support a voting process that leaves ballots uncounted and, worse still for a “Ron Paul supporter”, makes the vote-counting process utterly opaque to regular voters?
We support partial public funding of elections to reduce candidate dependence on fundraising, thereby making politicians more independent and responsible to voters.
So the “Ron Paul supporter” would force taxpayers to pay for elections with the implicit threat of violence?
We support the establishment of an independent nonpartisan commission to implement legislative redistricting.
Hiding more of government in more committee rooms promotes “liberty” exactly how?
And here’s the big kahuna:
Resolved that the IP support an amendment to the Minnesota State Constitution stipulating that candidates for public office can only receive financial donations from eligible voters who reside within the jurisdiction of the office they seek.
This violates the First Amendment in so many ways it’s hard to count them all. Minneapolis gun owners and Benton county pro-marijuana activists would be cut off from campaigning with support from groups from out of district? (While any government or trade union can filter money anywhere they want via any variety of subterfuges)?
Not only does this not support liberty, it is actively hostile to it.
In the “Prosperity and Quality of Life” section, the IP says…:
We are dedicated to fiscal responsibility and insist that our tax dollars be spent with restraint and care, but our goal is also for a bright future, and so we are committed to: supporting economic growth, excellence in education, access for all to quality and affordable health care, investing in an efficient transportation infrastructure, protecting the environment, and providing efficient energy resources.
The IP, in other words, sees a vital role for government in economic intervention, education, healthcare, transit, environmentalism and green energy.
Which was a big part of of the “don’t”s section on any Libertarian policy checklist.
Along the same vein, under the “Supporting Economic Growth” section:
An important role of government should be to support commerce and invite corporate investment in the state by assuring reasonable taxes, a well-educated and productive workforce, good transportation infrastructure, and an excellent health care system.
OK, that one is open to interpretation; hypothetically, that could be interpreted as “by getting out of the free market’s way”.
Anyone wanna place bets on that?
Or this one here:
We believe that many rural economies are challenged by a lack of access to the highest quality telecommunications, technology and transportation. We support policies that will allow rural businesses to compete effectively in the global economy and we also support government initiatives to assure that affordable and state-of-the-art internet connections are readily available to all citizens.
Government intervention in the telecom industry is, at the very least, a matter of picking winners and losers (anathema to the liberty-minded), and a big boondoggle waiting to happen.
Not to mention the nanny-statish subsidies inherent in this…
We believe in funding the research, development, and promotion of new value-added products and processes using Minnesota farm products.
Next, we move to “Education”:
We support government funding, standards and incentives that also reward advanced achievement, improving the education of our “average” students, and realizing the full potential of all students..
So not only is the IP – the banner under which “Libertarian” Hannah Nicollet is campaigning – a full supporter of the current, one-size-fits-all, nanny-state factory education model, but it supports starting the indoctrination bright and early:
We believe early childhood programs will generate excellent returns on investment by reducing future, more expensive educational needs and developing better-educated and more productive citizens.
Even the GOP “Establishment” is smarter than that.
Onward to “Transportation”:
We support further development of a fully integrated, multimodal transportation system that could include automobiles, light and high speed rail, personal rapid transit (PRT), and High Occupancy Vehicle, high-speed bus lanes.
Even given the context of a state that has not only embraced but french-kissed Big Government for the past seventy years, Transportation policy may be the issue where Minnesota has gone to third base with complete nannystatism. The Met Council has near-dictatorial authority over local jurisdictions, and is, and has been, run by a bipartisan assortment of people utterly friendly to the idea of using transportation to take “urban planning” out of the hands of the market and give it to the bureaucrat.
And the IP – Hannah Nicollet’s party – enshrines this noxious statist ideal in its platform.
In the “Environment” section, the platform is vague enough…
We support strong enforcement of environmental protection laws.
…to mean anything to anyone; it covers everything from preventing oil spills to stifling mining in perpetuity.
What would “Doctor Paul” think?
And finally – the “Liberty, Justice and Security” section of the IndyParty platform says…
…well, stuff about legalizing pot (whatever), separation of church and state (natch) and…
Silence on government’s recent attacks on the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth and Tenth Amendments.
Because while constitutional Libertarians live and breathe these issues, they’re issues on which the IndyParty as a vested interest in strategic silence.
So the question is, Ms. Hannah Nicollet (or anyone who deighns to answer for her, the endorsed candidate of a major Minnesota political party), how does she square her endorsing party’s positions on these platform issues with her erstwhile Libertarian beliefs, and with the fact that she is being marketed to Libertarians?
And to you Libertarian-leaning GOP (and Libertarian) voters at whom Ms. Nicollet is currently targeted; you folks gotta admit, you’re long on talk about “principles”. So do your “principles” tell you that having a “libertarian” candidate marketed to you by a rankly statist party might be ever-so-slightly…
More to come.
“What Are You Getting At, Merg?” – Simple. While I approve of most everyhing Hannah Nicollet believes, I think she’s being used as a bald-faced attempt to split the GOP vote. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that there is Messinger and/or Union money (or will be after October 1, anyway).
I think that the IP, being fundamentaly sympathetic to the goals of the DFL, believe that “Libertarians” are so focused on surface-level principles that the’ll incuriously ignore the fact that they’re being played like a vintage Stratocaster.
But we’ll see, won’t we?