This bunny was fortunate to discover Jesse Ventura's body of work (no pun intended) shortly after writing the 'Democracy Doesn't Work' series and pondering the relevant questions around representation, majority tyranny and personal liberty. Having served as governor of Minnesota as an Independent, Ventura's perpsective on party politics was worth hearing. Why not join one of the only two games in town (of course the same applies over here) and make life a whole lot easier for yourself?
The simple answer is that like ours, the American system is rotten, and Ventura wanted to serve his constituents rather a vested interest that would seek to buy and sell him. His budget for winning election was circa $300,000 which is miniscule by American standards. As for third parties (a claim that the Libertarian Party could legitimately hold across the pond) Ventura once supported them in principle, before ultimately concluding that "for a third party to survive, it would have to corrupt itself like the other two - vote for an Independent".
The record of Independents in public office stands up favourably when compared to that of smaller parties (and I'm talking genuine Independents here, not those who simulaneously claim to run Branch Davidian-esque circuses of their own). As a general rule, they are amongst the most capable and competent at local or national level - they work harder on behalf of their constituents and are less likely to fiddle their expenses. What's not to like?
Independents have many obvious advantages - even if there is a drink in it for themselves, they tend to run because they want to run in that constituency as opposed to being placed in 'safe seat' terriroty by an approving party machine. They have the freedom to speak and change their minds without being subject to the sort of party whipping that has left most MPs as little more than frightened drones. Set-piece speeches or television appearances are now mere word-for-word repetitions of what has been publicly declared to be party policy.
So when I said 'Democracy Dosn't Work', should I have qualified that somewhat and instead stated that "Democracy under the Umbrella of a predominantly Two-Party System Doesn't Work?'. Would a democtatic system free of party machines and filled instead with individuals governed by their own consciences work better than the rotten sham for representation that operates both in Europe and the States? Almost certainly yes - independents knock seven shades out of party apparatchiks each and every time.
There has been much talk of the formation of a rival to the Dead Chicken Party recently, both in this lowly hutch and on other more reputable platforms. My best wishes go out to anybody who seeks to challenge the divine authority of 'the chosen one', but this bunny has reached the conclusion that party politics is an inately filthy, unpleasant and morally bankrupt game. I may join simply so the other side can be £20 or so up on Vernon, but be assured that is the only reason
I'd already figured something out about it long before Ventura's words of wisdom and experience confirmed it to me - just as big parties become little more than enablers for vested interests and client groups, so emerging and rapidly rising ones are indentified as entities which corporate monsters, Stalinist trade unions and other grizzlies will attempt to either dig their claws into or derail. As a starter for ten, a party without reliable client groups will struggle to raise sufficient funds with which elections can be campaigned for, fought and won.
And who are 'Libertarian clientele?'.
People who, as a general rule, tend to hate those client groups that control existing parties, be they gangster capitalists, union militants, whoever.
Er, shit. Anyone got any change for the bus?
This is the problem with any potential Libertarian Party - with its policies on corporate taxation in particular, any degree of success is going to be met by 'kind offers' from wealthy individuals to donate the kinds of monies that fund effective campaigns and enable further growth. Someone at the top of the tree, perhaps seeing this as a sign of success or siezing the opportunity to become a full-time politician, takes the king's shilling and adjusts policy in line with the wishes of his paymaster.
Parties are simply made up of deeply flawed human beings like you or I, and those who actively seek power tend to have less resolve in resisting temptation than most. Watching what you once cared about becoming the thing you always hated is never a pleasant experience for those on the ground who actually believed in something.
In reality, the odds are stacked against any newcomer party getting even that far. The history of those at the fringes of electoral success would indicate that in the majorirty of cases they become the enablers not of a corporate or vested interest, but one ambitious individual seeking to step on their band of loyal disciples. To confirm this point, let's look at five of what you might call the major smaller Uk parties - UKIP, the Greens, BNP, Liberal Party and Respect.
Who can name me their leader or most prominent member? Hopefully most of you will score at least three out of five.
Now name three members?
Or six? Or ten?
This is why any attempt at a Libertarian Party will always, always fail - because most of us are too smart and possessed of sufficient self-respect not to be fawning disciples. Even in the unlikely event of ordinary members taking the Fuhrer's shit for a sufficient length of time to make inroads, there would inevitably follow a slide into realpolitik, sloppy compromise and sellout, all for the price of a couple of dozen posters. Forgive me if I'm sounding dreadfully cynical.
What's the answer? Do we ban political parties, a means by which like-minded people can meet with each other, exchange ideas and pool their resources to put one of them up for election? As much as they are either inherantly corrupt or actively allow themselves to be corrupted by the political process, no sane instinctive liberal could possibly go down that road and sleep comforably.
The key in this bunny's view is to either not vote at all (in the words of Billy Connolly - "don't vote, it only encourages them!!"), join the campaign for None of the Above on ballot papers and vote for that, or if one must vote, then at least do so in a way that kills off the zombie duopoly that has governed Britain for the last century. An Independent candidate may be turn out to be just as egomanical as all the others (or not a real Independent at all), but he has the benefit of being neither a wannabe David Korresh with his army of frightened lambs (assuming he's actually an Independent), nor the pupper of some overblown and corrupt vested interest.
In the grand scheme of things, you could do a lot worse. Take care and I'll catch you soon.