Indianapolis Councilman Punished for Being Libertarianby Stephen Gordon
A couple of weeks ago, Indianapolis City-County Councilman Ed Coleman jumped from the Republican Party to the Libertarian Party. From the Chicago Tribune:
Councilman Ed Coleman says he has become disillusioned by what he called the abuse of power by GOP leaders. Coleman was elected in 2007 to his first term as an at-large council member.
He’ll be the sole Libertarian on the council, which Republicans will continue to control with a 15-13 majority over the Democrats.
Coleman said Republican and Democratic leaders on the council wanted obedient followers.
I met Coleman last weekend at the LP’s State Chairs Conference in South Carolina, where we had hastily inserted him as a last minute speaker. He reiterated the same claim: both political parties demand blind obedience from their elected officials. It appears that he’s correct. Here’s a cut-and-paste of a press release just distributed by the Libertarian Party of Indiana:
Out of the political need for retribution, and to send a message that stepping outside the old ‘two party system’ monopoly will have consequences, the City County Council’s Democrat and Republican leadership decided Monday to remove Ed Coleman from all committees. With numerous supporters of Councilor Coleman present, the decision was made in an “executive session” that prevented public comment.
Coleman was appointed to the Rules and Public Policy Committee and the Economic Development Committee at the beginning of the year. Now that he has publicly changed his affiliation to the Libertarian Party, a move that represented a clear warning shot to the old two-party power structure, they are using Councilor Coleman to send a warning to others.
Coleman was disappointed in the lack of imagination and statesmanship shown by Council leaders. “They can pretend we don’t exist, but the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in Indiana,” said Coleman. “The voters deserve to have my voice heard. If the rules are not clear enough for the Council leadership, then maybe we need to change the rules. Shutting us out of the process only proves that ‘open and honest dialogue’ is not really welcomed. I left the Republican Party because they have consistently put the Republican Party above the Indianapolis taxpayer.”
LPMC Chairman Timothy Maguire also expressed his disappointment at the decision. “Clearly, Councilor Coleman was deemed fit to serve on these committees a few weeks ago but this isn’t the first time political gamesmanship has overtaken common sense,” said Maguire. “The Libertarian Party is here to stay, and Ed Coleman is guaranteed to be on this body for three more years. It would have made more sense for the Council to work on being inclusive rather than fretting about how to dissuade anyone else who might stand up against entrenched political machinery. In 2007, the Republicans promised a more fair and open City government, and this is certainly the opposite of that promise to Indianapolis taxpayers.”
“I am also disappointed that Council President Cockrum wasn’t willing to take any public comment on the matter by putting the meeting into Executive Session,” continued Maguire. “I find it troubling that the Council leadership wasn’t interested in hearing public opinion. Councilor Coleman was only allowed to defend his position after significant arm twisting. The Marion County Republican Party is showing the same hubris the Democrats exhibited in 2007, and easily explains why a two-party system is broken. The Parties and their friends win, and the taxpayer loses.”
The situation isn’t all that unique. As one example, Congressman Jeff Flake was punished by party leadership for opposing pork and he didn’t even switch parties.