After three consecutive Iowa legislative session attempts, the “Incumbent Protection Act” has finally been signed into law by Governor Reynolds. The purpose of the ballot signature and convention sections had but one target, the Libertarian Party of Iowa and Libertarian candidates. Moving forward it will be increasingly difficult to field candidates above the state legislative level and it even threatens our ballot access races for governor and president. The LPIA SCC has voted to fight that section in court even as Jake Porter has a lawsuit fighting against early candidate deadlines that have already depressed LPIA candidate filings. However, both suits could take years and not be resolved by the next cycle.
The question is, what are Iowa Libertarians to do now? Iowa Libertarians can choose to do nothing, to treat the party as a social club or as an edgy voter registration status to use to own people on social media. We can go the way of the Green Party and field one or two candidates per election and watch our voter registration totals stall and decline. We can argue about Libertarian purity on Facebook, Twitter and message boards amongst ourselves while the state inevitably increases in scope and power.
Or we can do the following:
The signature petition requirements remain at fifty for Iowa house and one-hundred for Iowa senate. Iowa Libertarians can choose to focus on running in these races, punish hypocritical Republicans and feckless Democrats by running in three way races. We can target legislators in swing districts that voted for this bill by spoiling their elections. Libertarians can make sure that districts that R/D candidates have abandoned to uncontested races are contested by Libertarian candidates, that a Libertarian message can be heard by voters rather than statist progressive and conservative ideas that embrace the state.
We can field dozens of candidates at the state legislative level. We will need to adjust to the earlier signature deadlines and get out and collect signatures in the fall and early spring. We will need to get off our computers and out hitting doors for signatures, or better yet, actual canvasing for votes. We can chose to set aside “paper candidacies” and engage with voters, be active in attending legislative forums and city/school government meetings, engage with our local media and increase our confidence and effectiveness. We can choose to support Libertarian candidates with our time and resources if we aren’t running for office.
These are choice we need to make. That you need to make. Do we move forward as a party and set us up for success in 2022 and 2024 when we can earn major party status and the ability to set aside these new laws and field more candidates? Or do we go the way of the Green and Reform Parties and others before them that crumbled before adversity?
It’s up to you.