There are a host of problems within the Libertarian community we all love (namely, the inability to put on a shirt-and-tie and to keep a clean-kempt face), and it is incumbent upon us Libertarians – and only us Libertarians – to fix them from within. One of those major problem areas that are keeping us as a community from being taken seriously – and getting votes – is the inability to know when and how to just take a win.
It is rare to see political action taken by our elected officials that falls either perfectly or very nearly in-line with the ideals of libertarianism. This is why it is so important to seize these rare opportunities and champion them the moment they reveal themselves. It is also why it is important in these circumstances to see past party lines and support the policies themselves regardless of whose mouth they are coming from. As the saying goes, would a rose by any other name not smell so sweet? If a Republican in the Tennessee Senate proposes legislation that would make medicinal marijuana legal, then we need to see past the “R” next to his name and support the bill, and champion his efforts.
And there’s a second half to this idea that may get missed in the aforementioned example, but Senator Dickerson’s bill is the perfect model of the effect in reality: although the goal is to have marijuana be treated like onions, anything that brings us closer to that goal is a win, and we should take the win rather than digging in our heels and watching the opportunity to improve pass us by. We also look a lot less like “radicals” by the “mainstream”, and the debate, then, to bring us more towards the Sharpe-ian model becomes a lot easier to win, and our ideas look a lot less fringe. For the record, the bill in Tennessee has left committee, is currently sitting on the Senate floor, and who knows if it will even pass the Senate. It’s also flawed in that it’s dependent upon cannabis’ demotion to Schedule II at the federal level, but condemningthe bill because it doesn’t match the model of Colorado’s Amendment 64 or California’s Proposition 64 is a fool’s errand in Tennessee, where it should be common knowledge that recreational-use bills are decades away from passing.
So when a governor comes along whose actions mirror with near-perfection the Jeffersonian prescription of libertarianism, we should count that as a win and move on.
And that’s no more true than in New Hampshire, a perfectly “purple” state on the brink of becoming blue that sent its electoral votes to Hillary Clinton in 2016 (albeit, barely) and who just elected a Democrat – whose policy prescriptions fall perfectly in line with what us Libertarians would expect from a New England Democrat in 2020 – in a New Hampshire House district with majority-Republican voter registration and which consistently votes decidedly “red”. It’s also a state whose legislature is now majority Democrat-controlled in both houses, and whose House just passed four bills restricting Second Amendment rights.
This is why liberty-lovers in New Hampshire should be endlessly thankful that they have Chris Sununu as their governor, who has wielded the veto power unlike any governor in recent memory not named Gary Johnson, effectively dismantling bills very similar to those that just passed with such regularity that it’s now become the outright expectation, and not the exception. He vetoed minimum wage, he vetoed toll fee increases, he vetoed public-sector union overreach, and he even hilariously vetoed an effective income tax by hand-writing, “No Income Tax. Not Now. Not Ever!” underneath his near-whole-page “VETO” inscription. As far as bills that have met his approval, we libertarians (big “L”’s, too) should love his approval of House Bill 480, which made sports-betting legal in New Hampshire.
Governor Sununu may have an “R” next to his name, but his record in office places him well within the policy prescriptions of any good Libertarian, and has made him by far the most libertarian governor this recent Tennessean has ever seen, and, having moved here after having spent the first three decades of my life in Connecticut, I would certainly count myself jealous of folks who live in a state under his governorship.
The thing is, you folks in New Hampshire could have Connecticut governor Ned Lamont instead, a Democrat who ran on a somehow even more Orwellian platform of leftism than his eight-year predecessor Dannel Malloy, and who won election by the slimmest of margins when tens of thousands of suspiciously “uncounted ballots” showed up in the wee hours of the morning after the local newspapers had already gone to print, declaring Republican Bob Stefanowski winner. You could live in Connecticut, a state which has still not recovered from the 2008 recession (and, as of three years ago, all but four other states had), is perpetually either second-to- or dead-last in financial solvency, has somehow managed to lose population in every year since 2014, has no jobs (check out where New Hampshire sits, on that list, by the way!), and all these factors have culminated in the state being a consistent leader in net outbound internal migration, leading the US in 2013. And with Animal Farm politics leading the way in that state, there seems to be no proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Thank God I got out.
I’ll admit that Bob Stefanowski was a terrible candidate even by Republican standards, but Connecticut – a state separated from New Hampshire by just the thin band of Massachusetts – should stand as a fair warning of what folks in New Hampshire could be facing (and we haven’t even talked about the Second Amendment in Connecticut) should Sununu lose his re-election bid in November to a typical Democrat like Dan Feltes, and should Libertarian voters in New Hampshire not be able to see past the “R” next to his name. Let us not forget, too, that Sununu only won by the narrowest of margins in 2016, and his victory in 2018 was not by an impressive margin considering he was an incumbent candidate.
It should also stand as a fair warning to Libertarians across the country who don’t know how to take a “W” and run. This is not an endorsement of the Republican Party by any means. And if Sununu’s politics weren’t almost perfectly representative of the libertarian ideal, I would never attempt to impress this point upon Libertarians in New Hampshire. And, if I may be so bold, in 2020 – and probably only in 2020 – with the state’s recent political demographical shift, Libertarians should seriously consider the future they might face; consider what principles Sununu appears to stand for; consider how well – if at all – he represents the essence of the Free State; and then seriously consider not running a candidate in opposition and cross-endorse the most Libertarian governor your fellow party-member has ever seen. And, for libertarians across the country, let’s learn to just take the win.