Friday, January 28, 2011
Now that my time as Chair is passing, I wanted to share some thoughts on the way out.
On Strategy. In the previous several years, the Libertarian Party was getting beat up locally on issues we share with the Left- opposition to the War in Iraq, and especially to the War on Drugs. My strategic approach in 2003 was to recognize that Hamilton County is one that is predisposed to the Right, so let's outflank the Republicans to the right on economic issues.
I do not lament this course. The economy is today's top issue, and if our policy recommendations were heeded, such as our calls to cut the budgets from 5-10% beginning in 2004, we might have the budgetary discomfort we have today. See today's Indy Star, for Commissioner Steve Dillinger's place on the hot seat as he tries to make savings now, here, and here.
But the sands have shifted. People are beginning to see more clearly the folly of Iraq & Afghanistan, and the War on Drugs. Funny how a change in Administrations can do that. But when even Pat Robertson questions the War on Drugs, and the Indiana legislature is poised to explore marijuana issues, the time has come for the Libertarian Party to push the envelope, and not just on these relatively mothballed issues.
The time is right to call for much larger cuts. The people in our area know how screwed we are. They're ready to hear honest assessment, and to take the 'medicine' of cutting back significantly on this extravagant government. If Dillinger is calling for layoffs, we can call him committed to preserving government and further for the scaling back on benefits to remaining employees and elimination of departments. If Rand Paul is calling for a 30% budget cut, let's call that a nice start and call for a 50% cut. Let's expand the conversation in our direction step by step.
On Candidates. We need candidates for office in this municipal cycle. Yes, Federal offices are sexy and get talked about on the Sunday TV shows, but the mayors in our Hamilton County cities spend huge money on pet projects, and the voters need a November choice for smaller government in Carmel, Noblesville, and Westfield. Libertarian politics is all well and good for discussion, but the candidates on the ballot make it meaningful. It's nice for the County Chair to take issue with arts palaces with a press release and some time on an AM talk radio show, but a candidate for office who pledges never to do anything like that again and to freeze bonding is a clear choice for voters who don't want a tax & spend mayor, and the possibility of unseating that mayor.
Farewell. It has been a pleasure to serve as Chair on and off since 2003. We've had some fine candidates in our county during this time, and we've made the case to the voters on a number of important issues. I'm so delighted at the growth of our base this year that I can scarcely express it. There is an opportunity for the Libertarian Party to continue to grow. We need to tap into those voters who showed up for us this past November. We need to transition more fully from a discussion outlet to an action committee. There's no reason we can't run as many candidates as the Democrats in 2011- or more! There's no good reason why we can't get someone elected in Sheridan or Cicero. Whatever the Libertarian Party of Hamilton County does, I'll be cheering it on, as I develop a business plan and possibly complete that MBA.