Republican, Democratic voters ruled by fear of the other

The most important factor in the 2016 presidential election won’t be the candidates but the fact that the American electorate is now divided into two warring partisan camps. Moreover, this blind party allegiance won’t be based on support for “their” candidate, but on fear of the “other “ party – and its members.

That is the conclusion of an essay “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is the Other Party,” by Alan I. Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University.

“In the seven decades since the end of World War II, Democrats and Republicans have never been as divided as they are today,” they wrote. “Intense dislike of the opposing party and its candidates by supporters of both parties means that party loyalty and straight-ticket voting are much more prevalent than in the past.”

Abramowitz and Webster discount the 10 percent of Americans who identify as independents, concluding that their vote will almost evenly divide between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Their essay notes that the rise of “negative partisanship” has drastically altered the nature of electoral competition in the United States. This is part of “a vicious cycle of mutually reinforcing elite and mass behavior” and negative views of the other party “encourage political elites to adopt a confrontational approach to governing.”

This essay reinforces some of the points made by political analyst John Davis in his “Strike While the Ire is Hot” presentation to the 2015 Libertarian Party of North Carolina Convention.

Voter suppression or voter apathy?

Progressives, and the News & Observer, are up in arms again over another alleged attempt at voter suppression. This time they claim the Republicans have deliberately prevented people from registering to vote. The basis for the charge is that the number of people registering to vote while applying for public benefits or a driver’s license has decreased.

Under the federal National Voting Registration Act of 1993, state agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to boards of elections, must give anyone who uses their services the opportunity to register to vote.

Groups including Democracy North Carolina, Action NC and the A. Philip Randolph Institute claim applications at these agencies have dropped more than 50 percent in the last two years.

While admitting that the reason for the drop was unclear, a May 17 News & Observer editorial concluded, “The likely explanation is that when the McCrory administration took over, new leaders at DHHS, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the State Board of Elections simply overlooked the requirement.

Oddly, the editorial notes this has happened before – ten years ago when Democrats controlled state government. So it appears such manipulation of the electoral process may be a bipartisan practice – like gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access barriers.

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Libertarian gubernatorial candidate speaks out on Baltimore violence

The recent violence in Ferguson, Mo. and Baltimore may be setting the stage for another summer of civil unrest, similar to 1968, a candidate for the Libertarian nomination for N.C. governor said in a statement.

While Ken Fortenberry, a former investigative journalist and newspaper editor, condemned the violence he said our nation and leaders have learned nothing from the past.

ken-web-12-19“Instead of solving the problems of nearly 50 years ago, they have created laws and policies that have woven those very same problems into the fabric of our social, economic and political system,” he said.

“As a teen-ager in the summer of 1968, I watched the evening TV news in horror and read the morning headlines in shock as our nation seemed to be coming apart at the seams,” he recalled. Back then he said rioting mobs were angered by an unwinnable war in Vietnam, joblessness, ugly racial discrimination, and police who took the law into their own hands and injured and killed at whim.

Fortenberry said the Ferguson and Baltimore unrest is similar. Politicians have created an weak and unsustainable national quilt, “where the fibers of the citizenry itself are disconnected instead of bound together for the common good.”

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Show Up. Be Nice. Win!

The formula for Libertarian candidate success is rather simple: Show up. Be nice. Win. That will be the message of Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark in his keynote address to the Libertarian Party of North Carolina State Convention April 11.

sarwark_nicholas.pngSarwak said that when Libertarians run for office consistently, it shows people who aren’t libertarian that we’re a political party that’s here to stay, and will be here when they need us.

When we do show up, we should be nice. The means focusing on finding areas of agreement with people, rather than trying to win arguments. This builds relationships that will last long after the election.

“If we do these two things, and keep at it, we can win in the short and long term.” he concludes.

Join us April 10-12, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn on Miami Blvd (just off I-40), Durham.

Libertarians should ‘Strike While the Ire is Hot’

A confluence of factors may present an opportunity for electoral success for Libertarians and the party needs to be prepared to “Strike While the Ire is Hot.” That will be the message renowned political analyst John Davis will present to the Gala Banquet attendees at the 2015 State Libertarian Party Convention April 11.

John-Davis-Pix-e1420343258854Davis will argue that the American political system is undergoing a demographic revolution which is disrupting the status quo. The dominant voter profile is no longer an older, white male. Hispanics, Asians, women, and millennials are becoming significant factors in most elections.

Davis says that the demographic revolution is occurring at the same time voters are increasingly frustrated by dysfunctional government caused by the polarization of the two major parties. To illustrate the polarization of the two parties, Davis’ presentation includes the results of a study by the National Journal showing that the nation’s “political middle” has all but disappeared.

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Keeping North Carolina a one-party state

“There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters”― Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster could have been talking about the Republican majority in the 2015 N.C. General Assembly. Not only do they mean to govern, they also mean to insure that only they can govern. Having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation isn’t enough. Nor is gerrymandering electoral districts to guarantee Republican victories.

The Republicans want to make GOP stand for Grand Only Party. They’re perfectly content with keeping North Carolina a one-party state, as it was for many years under the Democrats. They just want it to be their party. Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev would be proud.

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Haugh: It’s time to vote for me

Libertarian Sean Haugh says “It’s time to vote for me” for U.S. Senate.

“You’ll feel a lot of pressure these last few days to pick the lesser of two evils.” Haugh said. “Stand firm and vote for me.”

“Win or lose, by voting for me you are sending a message to the Democrats and Republicans that they will have to be more libertarian and more peaceful if they ever want to win another election.”

DIY Yard Sign

Haugh won’t be producing yard signs for his U.S. Senate campaign because he’s environmentally friendly, and thinks they’re just roadside litter. But supporters can create their own DIY sign by downloading a hi res PDF file here and printing their own.

While Haugh Gives Serious Answers, Hagan and Tillis Bicker

In case you missed the debate—or just want to see a replay of Sean Haugh, Libertarian for U.S. Senate, giving serious, thoughtful answers to moderator Jon Evans’ questions while the other two mostly recited talking points and traded petty personal accusations. Here is the replay.

For most of the debate, Sen. Kay Hagan and Speaker Thom Tillis attacked each other and repeated the talking points from their campaign ads.  Only Sean spoke directly to the issues throughout the debate.

In my opinion, Sean won the debate hands down. He actually answered the questions and addressed the issues. What a concept. But I am slightly biased, since he brought me into the Libertarian Party of North Carolina and is a good friend.

Here are some notable comments on Haugh’s performance.

He was who he is. And when you are comfortable enough in your own skin, that is something that comes across as, I think, genuineness. (Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College in the Greensboro News & Record. The article also lead with a comment about Sean being included in the debate.)

The News & Observer also used this quote from Professor Bitzer in their sidebar analysis:

The interesting dynamic for the folks watching was Sean Haugh, who seemed to present both social and economic libertarianism that Democratic and Republican supporters would find appealing. In the end, Haugh may end up drawing enough votes to allow the ultimate winner to claim victory with less than 50 percent of the vote.

The Raleigh newspaper headlined their main story story “Interesting dynamic from Haugh in third debate for NC’s US Senate seat.”

The News & Observer also quoted David McLennan, Meredith College political science professor, in their analysis:

Voters who watched the debate were fortunate that Libertarian Sean Haugh was included because he broke up the relentless attack lines. I don’t think public opinion shifted as a result of the debate, except that Haugh may have created the possibility that neither Hagan nor Tillis reaches 50 percent on Nov. 4.

Not unsurprisingly, the Wilmington Star News, the major newspaper in the city where the debate was held, almost ignored Haugh in their story.

Other coverage

Asheville Citizen-Times

Charlotte Observer

Winston-Salem Journal

WECT-TV

Free the Vote Sponsors All-Inclusive US Senate Debate

AllInclusiveDebate

Free the Vote North Carolina and the Young Americans for Liberty at UNC Charlotte are sponsoring North Carolina’s only all-inclusive U.S. Senate candidates debate on Friday, Oct. 17 in McKnight Hall on the UNC Charlotte campus at 7 p.m.

All the candidates whose name will appear on the ballot, as well as those who have qualified to have their write-in votes counted, have been invited.

“With most debates this election cycle excluding at least one qualified candidate, Free the Vote NC felt it was necessary to provide the voters of North Carolina with a real debate where the voters are not shown who to vote for, but to let the voters make the decision for themselves,” said Jordon Greene, Free the Vote founder and president.

The debate will be also be sponsored by the Carolina Liberty PAC, and CAUTION (the activists arm of Charlotte TEA Party).

Candidates who have been invited include: Democrat Kay Hagan, Republican Thom Tills and Libertarian Sean Haugh, whose names will all appear on the ballot. In addition, Free the Vote has invited the certified write-in candidates: Barry Gurney, John Rhodes, and David Waddell.

Sponsoring an all-inclusive debate is in keeping with the mission of Free the Vote North Carolina, which is to eliminate eliminating barriers to participation in the electoral process. This event will help give voters the information they need to vote for the person of their choice without the debate holders making that choice for them.

The debate will be aired live online. More information will be available closer to the date.

Free The Voter Freedom Act

Free Voter Freedom Act

Free the Vote NC has issued a call to action to free HB 794, the Voter Freedom Act of 2013, from the state Senate Rules Committee. They are urging voters to call Rules Committee Chair Sen. Tom Apodaca, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Phil Berger, and the local state Senator on June 10.

“If we don’t act soon, the bill will die and we’ll have to start all over again in January 2015 to reform North Carolina’s highly restrictive ballot access laws,” said Jordon Green, Free the Vote president.

In order to keep HB 794 during the last legislative session, Free the Vote agreed to have the bill converted into a study bill. That effort was successful. The bill passed the House with a overwhelming 109-5 bipartisan vote.

But once it got to the state Senate, it was sent to the rules committee where it has languished ever since.

While the original bill would have dramatically lowered our state’s high ballot access barriers, the study bill, if passed, would task the Joint Elections Oversight Committee to look into all the restrictions on ballot access which we addressed in the original bill.

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