Today is the 2018 CyHawk football game. Iowans have been preparing for this day since last year. Supporters of each team can be identified by the color of their clothing. Friends will gather to watch the outcome. There are only two competing teams, but the opportunity for a bowl game slot will depend on who wins other contests. Yet, less seen are the hours, days, weeks, even years of work put into researching the other team, comparing players and testing their strengths and weaknesses, and keeping an eye on what everyone else is doing.
Politics is very similar. The big game, the Election, will happen on November 6, 2018. Supporters are displaying campaign yard signs and bumper stickers. Friends are gathering to knock on doors and hang out discussing the possibilities. Coaches (also known as campaign managers) are constantly reviewing game plans and keeping an eye on what everyone else is doing.
But politics is not football. More than two teams can compete to win the game and the Libertarian Party is shaking up game plans. Only one other political organization gathered enough votes to become a political party in Iowa over the past twenty years. That organization did not remain a political party. Thus, when the Libertarians became a political party two years ago, much of the media commentary consisted of expectations that nothing would change. What those commentators did not understand was that the Libertarian Party had been preparing for years to become a political party and its game plan is to keep that status.
The media is now noticing. There have been articles recently about the full slate of statewide candidates the Libertarians have. Nobody was expecting this. It certainly is easier to place candidates on the ballot as a political party, but it still takes organization and a desire to participate
The other political parties are noticing, too. Statewide, Libertarians have more candidates than ever before. We also continue to increase our share of registered voters. In Polk County the number of voters registered as Libertarian rose 18.9% from September 2017 to September 2018. We may still be small, but our game plan is to keep growing. The older, long-established parties would prefer a different game plan.
To retain political party status, the Libertarians’ candidate for governor, Jake Porter, must receive at least 2% of the vote in the general election on November 6th. Non-scientific polls show us meeting that requirement. Hard work, including get-out-the-vote drives, door knocking, and distribution of literature, will help us meet that threshold.
The ongoing discussions between campaigns and media debate hosts could be equated to a coach challenging a referee’s decision. Who will debate, where, when, and with what formats will be decided in the weeks ahead. Most voters will be going about their daily lives while decisions are made. Then we will watch the debates and discuss them like next-day quarterbacks.
Beyond party pride, being in the debates is important to the Libertarians’ game plan. We have organization, experience, and increasing media attention. What the debates offer is a whole other level of exposure to the voting population. The debates are about reaching many more voters than we can with parades, booths, and door knocking. The debates are about letting voters hear directly from Libertarian candidates and letting the voters decide if they like the ideas, styles, and choices offered by the Libertarian candidates. The debates are about getting enough of the votes that we win elections, not just maintain party status. That is the Libertarian game plan and the opposing parties are starting to realize that future is closer than they thought.
Whether the Cyclones or the Hawkeyes win today’s game, both teams will be back to play next year. Libertarians ask for your vote on November 6th that we may return for the next game/election as a major party and ready to win.