Category Archives: Election ’10

Open Thread: Successes and Setbacks for Liberty in 2010/Hopes for 2011

Was 2010 a good year or bad year for liberty and why? Like most of you will likely respond, 2010 was very much a mixed bag IMHO.

On the positive side, the mandate section of ObamaCare was found unconstitutional, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, Wikileaks exposed the federal government for the corrupt organization it is, the Democrats took a beating on election day, and the Bush era tax cuts were extended (though with the return of the death tax, extension of unemployment benefits, and other compromises in the bill, I’m not yet sure if this was a good or bad thing).

On the other hand, Republicans gained ground on election day (I’m not optimistic that they have changed much since the last time they ran things), the vast majority of incumbents in both parties were easily reelected, government spending is way out of control, the Fed wants to pump some $600 billion into the economy by printing more counterfeit money, unconstitutional invasive searches continue to take place at airports in the name of safety, both Democrat and Republican politicians consider Wikileaks to be a “terrorist” organization, and President Obama believes he can assassinate American citizens where they stand with no due process whatsoever.

On the criminal justice front, The Innocence Network (part of The Innocence Project) exonerated 29 individuals in 2010 for crimes they did not commit. Back in March, Hank Skinner came within an hour of being executed when SCOTUS halted the process. Skinner’s case continues to wind its way through the courts. In other death penalty news of 2010, Kevin Keith’s death sentence was commuted to life by Gov. Strickland, Anthony Graves became the 12th death row inmate to be exonerated in Texas, a key DNA sample was determined to not be a match for another Texas man, Claude Jones who was executed in 2000, and Texas continues to stonewall inquiries into the likely wrongful 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. As these questionable death penalty cases pile up, hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the death penalty in Texas and elsewhere.

In a couple of other cases we never quite got around to at The Liberty Papers but deserve to be mentioned: Cory Maye was granted a new trial by the Mississippi Supreme Court because the trial judge failed to give jury instructions to consider a “defense of others” defense and in Arkansas, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a new hearing for the so-called “West Memphis 3” to consider newly discovered DNA evidence and juror misconduct from the original trial (if you are not familiar with this case, I urge you to follow this link as a starting point. The more I have looked into this case the more disturbing I find it to be…a perfect example of what is so terribly wrong with the system).

Hopes for 2011
Rather than offering predictions for 2011, here are some of my hopes:

– I hope that the justice will be served in the above cases.

-I hope I am wrong about the Tea Party Republicans and that they will actually be a force of positive change for more liberty and smaller government

-I hope that Ron Paul decides not to run for president for the 2012 campaign but instead puts his support behind former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (I’ll get into my reasoning in a future post).

-I hope by this time next year, I’ll have far more successes than setbacks for liberty to report.

Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about the state of liberty in 2010 and how do you feel about the year ahead?

R.I.P. David Nolan, Founder of the Libertarian Party

I’m saddened to report that Libertarian Party founder David Nolan is no longer with us.

From the Libertarian Party website:

We have received news that David F. Nolan, a founder of the Libertarian Party, passed away this weekend. The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 in Mr. Nolan’s living room. He had remained active with the Libertarian Party including currently serving on the Libertarian National Committee and running for U.S. Senator from Arizona in the recent elections. He is survived by his wife Elizabeth. He will be dearly missed by the Libertarian Party and the liberty community. We’ll have more information about David Nolan soon.

Back in September, I praised Nolan’s performance in his debate with Sen. John McCain.

Nolan died just two days before his 67th birthday.

UPDATE: Press Release From the Libertarian Party on David Nolan’s Passing

WASHINGTON – David F. Nolan, one of the founders of the Libertarian Party (LP), died unexpectedly on November 21 in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 66.

Mr. Nolan was also a member of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC). He is survived by his wife Elizabeth.

Mr. Nolan founded the Libertarian Party with a group of colleagues in his home in Denver, Colorado on December 11, 1971.

Mark Hinkle, Chairman of the LP, said, “I am saddened by the news of David Nolan’s death. He not only helped found the Libertarian Party, but remained active and helped to guide our party for the last forty years. We are now the third-largest political party in America, and one of the most persistent and successful third parties in American history, thanks in large part to David Nolan. We will feel this loss.”

Mr. Nolan ran this year as a Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senator in Arizona, against incumbent John McCain. In 2006, Mr. Nolan ran for U.S. Representative in Arizona’s 8th District, against incumbent Gabrielle Giffords.

Mr. Nolan was also well known for his invention of the “Nolan chart,” a two-dimensional chart of political opinion that was designed to get past the more familiar but deficient liberal-conservative paradigm. Marshall Fritz, founder of the Advocates for Self-Government, refined the Nolan chart into the popular World’s Smallest Political Quiz with its diamond-shaped chart.

The Advocates for Self-Government provides more information about David Nolan’s contributions here:
Visit site.

Comments from friends and colleagues:

Sharon Harris, President of the Advocates for Self-Government: “I am so shocked and saddened by Dave’s death — what a loss for the cause of liberty!”

Wes Benedict, Executive Director of the LP: “While I’ve admired David Nolan for years, this year I finally had the pleasure of working directly with him. He was an enthusiastic and principled activist doing the hard work right alongside newer members.”

Jack Dean, longtime friend and political associate: “David was the conscience of the Libertarian Party. He was always there to remind us what the party was about.”

Mr. Nolan had submitted a resolution for consideration at the November 20-21 LNC meeting in New Orleans. Unaware of Mr. Nolan’s death, the LNC adopted the resolution, which reads as follows:

“WHEREAS the Libertarian Party can grow only by attracting new members and supporters, and

“WHEREAS libertarianism is a unique political philosophy, distinct from both contemporary liberalism and contemporary conservatism, and

“WHEREAS we need the support of both former liberals and former conservatives who have come to realize that libertarianism and the Libertarian Party offer a better path to achieving a just, humane and prosperous society,

“The Libertarian National Committee hereby reaffirms that the Libertarian Party welcomes individuals from across the political spectrum who now accept the libertarian principles of self-ownership and non-aggression.”

View a biographical article about Mr. Nolan here.


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.

Not Too Bad for an Amateur Prognosticator

Two years ago today, in a post I wrote entitled One Libertarian’s Advice for Republicans and Republican Leaders, I made the following observation and prediction:

This is not to say that you [the Republican Party] will continue to lose every election until you return Goldwater/Reagan conservatism. There is a good chance that you will regain one or both houses of Congress in 2010 and perhaps the presidency in 2012. But if you wish to win elections and stay elected, you will need to return to these philosophical roots.


[5th Footnote]
Due to the unrealistically high expectations Obama set for himself, many of his supporters will be sorely disappointed when they learn he is a mere mortal. I also believe the Democrats will overreach and try to take the country further to the Left than a majority of Americans are prepared for.

Okay so maybe I’m not exactly Kreskin. I did hedge quite a bit by saying “one or both houses” and we have another 2 years before we know the outcome of the 2012 race. Anyone who has followed politics or has spent any amount of time objectively studying U.S. political history would have likely made that same prediction.

None of us should be surprised that voters wanted to purge the House after Obama failed to meet the high expectations of his supporters (however unrealistic). The Democrats were the ones who benefited with electoral gains in 2008 as a result of President Bush’s 8 years of big government growth, spending, two wars with no end in sight, debt, bailouts, complete rejection of free market principles, and a McCain/Palin presidential ticket (just to name a few). All this coupled with support of these policies by Republicans in congress plus the real and perceived corruption of its members created a perfect opportunity for Democrats to take control.

This did not mean, however; that Americans decided they preferred the big government policies of the Left to big government policies of the Right. Election ’08 was a rejection of the Republicans’ irresponsible actions just as ’10 election is a rejection of Democrats’ overreaches and failure to improve the economy.

As any quarterback can attest, when a team isn’t performing well, it’s the backup quarterback who gets all the love from the fans. But once that quarterback becomes the starter, that support fades very quickly whenever he fails to lead his team to more victories than his predecessor. The same is true in politics.

Republicans in the House should bear this in mind: the very same forces* that swept you back into power in 2010 can sweep you right back out in 2012.

*Assuming that the Tea Party is serious about principle and will hold their candidates accountable if the Tea Party candidates fail to do as they promised. I’m still skeptical.

High Stakes Handicapping

I’mna keep this relatively simple, since I’ve done detailed breakdowns on this subject (as to why I think these are the numbers) a couple times over the last few months.

So here’s my line on tomorrow (revised at 2200, because I was working off old numbers):

+8 Republican, -0/+4 to the senate

+63 Republican, -0/+16 to the house

I predict zero Republican senate seats lost, and the following as gains, or *strong maybes:

Arkansas – Boozman
*California – Fiorina
Colorado – Buck
*Connecticut – McMahon
Illinois – Kirk
Indiana – Coats
*Nevada – Angle
North Dakota – Hoeven
Penn – Toomey
* Washington – Rossi
West VA – Raese
Wisconsin – Johnson

I’m not really sure about CA, CT, NV or WA. I’m predicting Republican pickup of West VA, even though polls are a tossup to a slight Dem hold. I don’t trust that poll data, and I don’t think it’s a tossup. I’m leaning strong towards Rossi picking up. I’m leaning strong against Fiorina picking up. Right now, I’m completely split on Angle and McMahon.

The house picture is a lot fuzzier of course, since there’s so many close races.

First thing, there will probably be two losses of Rep seats:

Delaware AL – Carney
Louisiana 2nd – Richmond

I don’t see either as iffy right now; but I’m pretty sure those are the only losses.

Now, the iffys…

* Alabama 2 – Roby
* Arizona 7 – McLung
* California 47 – Tran
* Colorado 7 – Frazier
* Conn 5 – Caligiuri
* Idaho 1 – Labrador
* Indiana 1 – Walorski
* Kentucky 6 – Barr
* Minnesota 8 – Cravaack
* Missouri 4 – Hartzler
* North Carolina 2 – Ellmers
* North Carolina 7 – Pantano
* Penn 12 – Burns
* Rhode Island 1 – Loughlin
* Virginia 11 – Fimian
* Washington 2 – Koster

And the likely pickups

Arizona 1 – Gosar
Arizona 5 – Schweikert
Arizona 8 – Kelly
Arkansas 1 – Crawford
Arkansas 2 – Griffin
California 11 – Harmer
California 20 – Vidak
Colorado 3 – Tipton
Colorado 4 – Gardner
Connecticut 4 – Debicella
Florida 2 – Southerland
Florida 8 – Webster
Florida 22 – West
Florida 24 – Adams
Georgia 2 – Keown
Georgia 8 – Scott
Illinois 11 – Kinzinger
Illinois 14 – Hultgren
Illinois 17 – Schilling
Indiana 8 – Buchson
Indiana 9 – Young
Kansas 3 – Yoder
Louisiana 3 – Landry
Maryland 1 – Harris
Mass 10 – Perry
Michigan 1 – Benishek
Michigan 7 – Walberg
Mississippi 1 – Nunnelee
Mississippi 4 – Palazzo
Nevada 3 – Heck
New Hampshire 1 – Guinta
New Hampshire 2 – Bass
New Jersey 3 – Runyan
New Mexico 1 – Barela
New Mexico 2 – Pearce
New York 19 – Hayworth
New York 20 – Gibson
New York 23 – Doheny
North Carolina 8 – Johnson
North Dakota AL – Berg
Ohio 1 – Chabot
Ohio 6 – Johnson
Ohio 15 – Stivers
Ohio 16 – Renacci
Ohio 18 – Gibbs
Oregon 5 – Bruun
Penn 3 – Kelly
Penn 7 – Meehan
Penn 8 – Fitzpatrick
Penn 10 – Marino
Penn 11 – Barletta
S. Carolina 5 – Mulvaney
S. Dakota AL – Noem
Tenn 4 – DesJarlais
Tenn 6 – Black
Tenn 8 – Fincher
Texas 17 – Flores
Texas 23 – Canseco
Virginia 2 – Rigel
Virginia 5 – Hurt
Virginia 9 – Griffith
Washington 3 – Herrero
W. Virginia 1 – McKinley
Wisconsin 7 – Duffy
Wisconsin 8 – Ribble

I’m very iffy on CA 47, CT 5, and RI 1. I’m pretty solid on Labrador taking over Minnicks seat in Idaho (my congressman); as Minnick has been desperately robocalling my house every few hours, AND I got a personal phone call from a staffer. I’m pretty solid on Grijalva losing Arizona 7. The rest… who knows.

UPDATED with new data at 2200.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Colorado Republican Party Could Lose More in the Governor’s Race than the Election

In an election year that seems to favor Republicans nationally, there’s a whole different story unfolding here in the Centennial State in the gubernatorial campaign. The Republican candidate Dan Maes has lost support even among the party faithful due largely to being caught in a lie about his law enforcement background in Kansas back in the ‘80s. Most of the grass roots support among conservatives has gone to former Republican congressman turned American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo.

I’m by no means a fan or supporter of Tom Tancredo but I do find this turn of events to be quite amusing. Conservatives have been pleading with Meas (the Republican) to withdraw from the race as he stands to spoil Tancredo’s (the third party candidate) chances of beating the Democrat, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper (and recent polling suggests that if Tancredo takes more votes from Maes, Tancredo stands a decent chance of actually winning).

But it gets even better. The Denver Daily News reports:

A poor showing for Maes Nov. 2 could have serious implications for the Republican Party in Colorado. If the candidate fails to garner at least 10 percent of the vote, Republicans could be relegated to minor party status for the next two election cycles, meaning they would appear lower on the ballot and could only receive half as much in donations as Democrats.

The Republican Party to become a “minor party” for the next two election cycles? How great would that be: one of the two major parties having to see what life is like for third parties and their candidates? With the polling as it stands now, it appears that no candidate will win more than 50% of the vote. If Hickenlooper wins, maybe it will be conservatives who will champion the ideas that third party candidates have been championing for some time like range voting or instant runoff voting.

The article continues:

“In a telephone interview, Colorado GOP Chair Dick Wadhams said he does not believe the Colorado Legislature would allow Republicans to become a minor party.

Whether Maes makes the 10 percent mark, Wadhams said he expects Colorado leaders to change to rule.

“That’s something I’m not too worried about right now,” he said.

Isn’t that just like our two party system? When they don’t get their way they work to change the rules?

Hopefully whatever happens, third parties will be better able to compete in future elections in Colorado as a result of this wildly entertaining campaign.

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