Paul Adair is a 21-year Germantown resident, retired scientist, writer, and lecturer.
When voting, we usually pick the candidate whose views most closely match our own. Often, we don't fully agree with either major party candidate, so we select the perceived lesser of two evils. Democracy might be better served if we had a wider selection of candidates, from across the ideological spectrum. For November's election, there will at least be a third viable option for Wisconsin voters. The Libertarian Party is running candidates in each of the five statewide races.
According to the national Libertarian Party Platform, the group believes that "all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others ... " The party has a credo of minimal government, minimal governmental power, and minimal governmental interference. For more information on Libertarian beliefs, see the above link to the party platform.
Personally, I have mixed feelings about Libertarian ideals. I, as well as most Democrats, strongly believe in the civil liberties part of their philosophy. Government should not restrict the rights of people as long as those rights do not infringe on the rights of others.
Libertarians also believe in limiting US intervention in the affairs of other countries. For example, an article on the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin website states, "The U.S. government's war on Iraq has worsened the lives of both Americans and Iraqis. What should the U.S. military do now? Nothing. No air strikes, no drone attacks, no "military advisors." ... further intervention will only prolong and aggravate the current problems." I, and many other Democrats, also support this non-interventionist stance.
However, I diverge from the Libertarian advocacy of a very weak role for government. I feel that government needs to have a strong role in supporting the infrastructure (roads, sewers, water, bridges, etc.) to allow the economy to grow. Government has a role in promoting growth by investing in vibrant public schools, universities, and scientific research. Government has an important role in protecting us through publicly- funded military, prisons, police, fire fighters, and smart workplace and environmental laws. And there should be a strong social safety net to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Because of their common stated belief in limited government, Libertarians are often lumped together with Republicans. However, they are two very different political species. In stark contrast to Libertarians, Republicans try to legislate morality on issues from reproductive rights, to marriage equity, to recreational drug use. And unlike Libertarians, large segments of the Republican Party are for a very interventionist foreign policy. Many in the GOP leadership have never met a war they didn't like.
Although Republicans tend to talk a good game about limiting the role of government, their actions speak much louder than their words. For example, Wisconsin Republicans have increased state government spending by 11% from the FY12 to FY15.
Libertarians promote government at the local level. However, on issue after issue, including the establishment of charter schools, regulation of sand mining, overturning living wage laws, and ending worker residency requirements, Republicans have assumed statewide hegemony over areas that were once subject to local control.
Clearly, there are big differences between mainstream GOP policies and Libertarian aims. These differences are so great that I can't understand why a Libertarian-leaning person would ever vote for a Republican candidate.
This year, they won't have to. A full slate of Libertarians is running for statewide office. Robert L. Burke (not to be confused with Mary) is running for Governor. Robert is a former private-sector manager from Hudson. He graduated from UW-River Falls in 1997 with a degree in marketing communications.
Looking through Robert Burke's campaign Facebook page and website, and listening to a radio interview, several of the issues that he mentions includes nullification of hemp laws, support of local control, and abolishment of Walker's scandal-ridden WEDC. He also wants to eliminate the state income tax, replacing it with a sales tax.
There are also Libertarian candidates for the other statewide races: Lt. Governor (Joseph Brost), Secretary of State (Andy Craig), State Treasurer (Jerry Shidell), and Attorney General (Tom Nelson) . Candidates are running in six other Wisconsin races, but these folks will not be on the ballot in Germantown.
The Libertarians are pretty strong for a third party. Their recent high water mark in Wisconsin was in 2002, when the Libertarian candidate for Governor received a respectable 10.5% of the statewide vote. The showing was also strong that year in Washington County, where the party got 9.1% of gubernatorial votes, including 427 votes in Germantown.
So if the Libertarianism philosophy floats your boat, you should not have to settle for candidates whose policies are so often antithetical to your own. You don't have to vote for the GOP candidates. You have other options. There is a viable slate of Libertarian candidates on the ballot for you.