The LP is not the only group of libertarians in the United States. Since 1990 the Republican Liberty Caucus has been making its own inroads into the system as the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. In reality it has been far more effective in getting libertarians across the line than the LP, with a significant lineup in the House and Senate. This in no way detracts from the great work of the Libertarian Party.
The election results have been a disaster for the Republican Party, and for the nation as a whole, however the RLC has its own reasons to celebrate, in that it’s influence has increased within the party owing to an increase in it’s representation and a decline in the establishment big government wing. The fact that the liberty wing was able to advance while the statists lost, is a clear indication that the RLC is on the right track.
… Yes, the party took it on Mitt Romney’s chiseled chin, but the party’s losses are not necessarily our losses and while I certainly would have liked to have done better, in comparison to the party as a whole our candidates and our issues fared remarkably well.
Perhaps the most significant victory is a sign of change to come. While the party lost seats in both houses of Congress, the balance of power shifted and liberty candidates gained seats while the party was losing them. Our endorsees and other sympathetic candidates now control a larger number of seats in both houses of Congress than ever before. We lost only one incumbent House member and gained at least two solid seats in the Senate while the party lost 3 and gained more seats in the House than the party as a whole lost, effectively doubling the significance of our wins.
The failure of the party leadership and the Romney campaign did suppress turnout and that flowed down to races at lower levels, costing some of our most promising candidates wins they might have had in better years. Yet 2014 is just around the corner and I expect many of those same candidates to run again and in an off year election we can anticipate the same kind of strong results we had in 2010 and more.
Two RLC candidates won new seats for liberty in the Senate, Ted Cruz (TX) and past endorsee Jeff Flake (AZ). Four new liberty candidates took seats in the House, including RLC endorsees Steve Stockman (TX-36), Kerry Bentivolio (MI-11), Thomas Massie (KY-4) and Ted Yoho (FL-3) who was overlooked for endorsement. Many previously endorsed candidates won reelection in the House, including Justin Amash, Tom McClintock, Walter Jones, Jim Jordan, Mick Mulvaney and others.
Perhaps most significantly hundreds of our endorsees won or held onto seats in state government, giving us a very deep bench to run for higher office going into the 2014 election. Many other great candidates ran strong campaigns and came awfully close to winning, but the weakness of the national campaign and lack of support from state and national party organizations were challenges they couldn’t overcome. With more independent funding and resources we expect them to do much better in 2014.
We also saw victories on key issues in several states. Marijuana was legalized in Colorado and Washington and decriminalized in Massachusetts, which is likely to lead to a very important showdown over state sovereignty as the Obama administration and the DEA crack down on those states attempt to form independent drug policy. In addition, Washington, Maryland and Maine voted to legalize same-sex marriage, a clear challenge to the unconstitutional federal Defense of Marriage Act, and while we prefer a non-governmental solution to the marriage issue, the passage of these propositions was at least a politically achievable step towards greater liberty for more people.
Less publicized but possibly equally important, Alabama, Montana and Wyoming voted on initiatives to nullify aspects of Obamacare within their borders, another development likely to provoke a constitutional showdown with the Obama administration. It’s not going to be an easy four years for the president or his unconstitutional abuses of power.
Finally, after the attacks on the grassroots of the party launched by the Romney campaign, party leaders and special interests, in many ways a Romney defeat is a victory for Liberty Republicans. In the long term it may benefit us more than defeating Obama would have. The party establishment and the special interests which back them placed all their bets on Romney and his failure was their failure as well. They have lost credibility with all the grassroots groups in the party and they are saddled with the blame for the abuses of power and bad choices which led to this debacle.
Now everyone knows what we have known for years. If the Republican Party is to survive it needs a substantive change of leadership and a return to principles which can win elections.
After this election it is much more likely that our next presidential nominee will have strong liberty principles and Rand Paul’s stock as a presidential contender is way up. We should also expect to see the party distance itself from single issue voters on the religious right and a deemphasis of divisive social issues. This might well be the jolt the party needs to become the fiscally conservative and socially tolerant party which it needs to be in order to win and if it doesn’t happen quickly, we’re here to give change a push. …
The obsessives who yearn for marriage control, womb control, drug control, and Mexican control, have been given a flogging while the libertarian wing have advanced. It may take a while, but sooner or later the other side of the Republican Party may begin to realize that the RLC is on to something. They may spend another decade or two, hating it and railing against it, but by then they will be an irrelevance.