By Greg Stempfle, Political Director
In an effort to promote our candidates and party in the upcoming fall election, we have developed an outreach campaign known as “The Libertarian Promise to Michigan”. Working with a group of eight candidates for the Michigan Legislature, we outlined some of the legislative priorities Libertarians will address if elected in the fall. We selected ten campaign issues and drafted statements on how Libertarians would deal with them. All of the issues and explanations in the Promise are consistent with the Libertarian Party of Michigan platform. The Promise was created to help candidates explain issues, and to create campaign material for the party and candidates to use. To that end we created a tri-fold brochure and slate card listing all of our candidates based around the Libertarian Promise to Michigan. We will be making some copies available in addition to both documents in .pdf form to print on your own.
During the luncheon at the August 25th LPM State Convention, a group of ten Libertarian candidates for the State Legislature introduced the Libertarian Promise to Michigan. Each spoke for a few minutes about one of the planks and how they are addressing that issue in their campaign. Members of the committee included; Chad McNamara, State Senate District 17, Mary Buzuma, State Senate District 30, Matt Kuehnel, State House District 22, Benjamin Carr, State House District 27, Norman Peterson, State House District 64, Jason Rees, State House District 65, Jamie Lewis, State House District 72, and Tyler Palmer, State House District 93. Additionally, the following candidates participated in the convention luncheon and helped provide feedback: Gregory Creswell, State House District 1, Patty Malowney, State House District 77, Jeff Pittel, State Senate District 12. Thanks to everyone who helped on this project!
Candidates are, of course, not obligated to take these positions and can speak on any issue they choose.
The text of the Libertarian Promise is below:
The Libertarian Party, America’s third largest political party, supports a reduction in the size and power of government and a return to individual rights. Libertarians believe the purpose of government, when it exists, is to protect individuals from force, theft, and fraud committed by others. Libertarians seek a society in which people are free to live their lives as they see fit, provided they are not violating the rights of others. While Libertarians sometimes agree with conservatives on certain issues, and liberals on others, we bring a unique view that is not represented by either of the two major political parties: government in service of individual rights.
As voters are increasingly dissatisfied with the two major parties, libertarian ideas are gaining in popularity, and the Libertarian Party is running a slate of candidates at the Federal, State, and Local levels this election. If elected, these are some of the legislative priorities Libertarians will address.
Libertarians have supported the legalization of marijuana for almost 50 years. Despite broad public approval for legalization, the Republicans and Democrats have worked for decades to keep marijuana on the black market.
Libertarians believe that ending the war on marijuana will save the taxpayers millions of dollars by not arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning marijuana users and manufacturers. This will reduce our overpopulated prison system and free-up law enforcement to focus on actual criminals, those who violate the rights of others. Libertarians also support releasing from prison and expunging the criminal record of anyone convicted of a non-violent marijuana-related charge.
Michigan drivers face some of the highest insurance rates in the country, so high that thousands must forgo insurance entirely. Libertarians support repealing no-fault insurance and returning to a tort-based auto insurance system. Repealing no fault insurance will create reasonable prices while giving drivers more choice in their coverage options.
The special interests that fund our politicians want mandatory insurance to force drivers to buy their services, even if they do not want them. A tort system allows the victim to recover damages from those responsible and is less expensive as medical providers are more likely to bill health insurers rather than the auto insurance providers whom are typically billed at inflated rates.
Since insurance rates are determined by where a driver lives, those living in low-income, high-crime neighborhoods face the highest costs. This policy makes it difficult for the underprivileged to afford insurance, and forces many to drive uninsured.
Libertarians believe that everyone who can work should have the opportunity to do so. One way we can help create jobs and cut consumer costs is to drastically reduce the number of jobs which require a license to perform.
In Michigan, over 20% of workers need a license to hold a job. State requirements for licensing (often including an annual renewal) provide no added value to the public and unfairly exclude those with non-violent criminal records. Most occupational licensing is for the purpose of restricting competition in order to inflate consumer costs. If occupations believe that some sort of credentialing would be beneficial, they can create their own certification boards and exams.
Libertarians believe that no rule is just unless it protects and defends the rights of life, liberty, and property, which are rights that we all possess.
More and more, our Michigan legislative branch creates laws that allow the executive to make up rules. This often involves review panels that bypass our courts. These bureaucrats are not elected by the people, but their presence allows legislators to play both sides of the fence, taking credit for successes and distancing themselves from failures.
Civil asset forfeiture is theft by law enforcement agencies under the guise of lawful seizure. Libertarians believe that no one should be subject to loss of property, unless the owner is convicted of a crime involving the violation of rights of another person and the property is the product of that crime. In cases of civil asset forfeiture, property taken is unrelated to the alleged crime and/or taken without warrant, a violation of due process. This is a direct contradiction of the Fourth Amendment.
Additionally, law enforcement agencies force the victims of Civil Asset Forfeiture to undergo long and expensive procedures to reacquire their own property which has been appropriated unlawfully from them. This is done to guarantee that the agency realizes profit from the theft. It is an illegal and exploitative method of revenue collection by law enforcement.
Libertarians believe that the education of children is a parental responsibility and should be undertaken without interference from government. Parents should have control of and responsibility for their children’s education.
Libertarians opposes the one-size-fits-all system mandated by the Department of Education. Its failure is evident, as numerous students exit unprepared to enter the workforce, pursue higher education, or enter trade schooling. Since government schools fail to educate, and frequently indoctrinate and interfere with the free choice of parents and students, we condemn compulsory education laws and call for their repeal. We also support the repeal of tax laws that support public schools, as they place an undue burden on non-parents, who have no obligation to support others’ children.
Libertarians support lowering taxes and government spending at all levels. Rarely do either Republicans or Democrats, once elected, take any concrete measures to reduce taxes or cut spending, nor is either party actually concerned with realizing a balanced budget.
If taxation must exist, then tax favoritism should be illegal. Abatements, subsidies, credits, and other incentives to businesses based on geographical area, job creation, or any other criteria deny equal protection under the law. Adding sales tax to products already subject to specific state taxes, such as gasoline and cigarettes, should be ended. Such taxation places an undue burden on the consumer.
Many candidates for public office are elected despite most voters preferring another candidate. This is because we use a “first past the post” system where the candidate who gets the most votes (a plurality), wins. This leads to the electing of politicians who do not represent the choice of most of the voters, and reinforces a two-party system
Libertarians support adopting Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), a method where, rather than vote for a single candidate, voters rank each of the candidates. If nobody receives a majority of the vote, the last place person is dropped and the votes cast for that candidate are given to the voter’s second choice. This is repeated until a winning candidate receives a majority. This system has been implemented in Maine as well as several large US cities, and was approved by voters in the Michigan city of Ferndale in 2004.
RCV discourages negative campaigning, since each candidate has an incentive to try to earn the second choice of each voter. Further, by requiring a majority to win, it encourages the election of candidates who are more representative of the district. It also encourages voters to consider independent and third-party candidates without worrying about the “spoiler effect” or “wasting” their vote.
Police and the Michigan National Guard exist for the protection of individuals and their rights.
Libertarians support holding police departments accountable when law enforcement officers commit criminal acts against members of the public.
In the absence of a declaration of war by Congress, Libertarians oppose any use of Michigan troops by the federal government for any purpose other than natural disaster relief, including the enforcement of immigration laws.
As all individuals have the right to defend themselves and to possess the means to do so, Libertarians oppose any law that hinders the right of a law-abiding person to own a firearm or other means of self-defense.
Libertarians support the right of property owners to prohibit people from carrying weapons into their homes and businesses, but oppose gun-free zones mandated by government officials, and attempts to prohibit carrying weapons in public areas.