Print this Page


By Mande Wilkes

FITSNews – July 1, 2008 – The Libertarian Party has filed court actions in Ohio and Tennessee in a last-ditch effort for the party’s presidential nominee, Bob Barr, to make it onto the November ballot.

Both states have particularly strict preconditions for appearing on their ballots. An Ohio law, for example, mandates that candidates have to come up with a list of 20,000 supporter signatures. Of course, this law only applies to candidates outside of the two major political parties – those candidates for whom the requirement is especially onerous.

This certainly seems unconstitutional on its face, so bravo to the Libertarian Party for stepping up. The laws are obviously enacted in the face of the fear that a third-party candidate could yield undue influence over an election.

‘Undue influence’ is our way of saying it, not theirs – they wouldn’t be that straightforward – but make no mistake, that is the concern. There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the possibility for Barr to take votes from Republican John McCain, leading to a Democratic win. Not that Barack Obama needs any help, but whatever.

Barr is uniquely aligned as a third-party candidate, riding the wave created by libertarian-leaning Ron Paul. The way some people are talking, you’d think it’s downright unpatriotic to run for office on a third-party ticket.

Seriously, people are having a hissy fit about Barr’s potential to skew the election. Which is regrettable, because in this era of two entrenched political parties, we should rely on third-party candidates to shake things up. It’s good that Republicans are afraid.

In fact, Democrats should also have a spoiler to worry about. Viable third-party candidates are good for politics and for politicians; the complacency in the two major parties leads to a whole bunch of nothing getting done. Operating in a kind of political price-fixing monopoly, both parties’ complacency leads neither to be productive. There’s simply no incentive for a party to do its best when the only threat to that party is equally ineffective.

The irony is that the Libertarian Party, merely by filing suit to overturn laws such as those in Ohio and Tennessee, is already living up to its party platform. Bob Barr et. al are keeping McCain and Obama on their toes and on their games, simply by applying Libertarian economic principles to politics. A little competition is just what the presidential market needs.