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Knox Libertarian: Libertarian Party anticipates growth from election

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Some libertarian leaders anticipate unprecedented growth in new members to the Libertarian Party in the wake of Barack Obama’s election to a second term.

“We have been receiving a steady stream of interest and new members from around the entire state as well as many who are stepping up to run for local office,” said Jay Polk, Blount County coordinator for the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.

Polk, who also helps with activities in metropolitan Knoxville, said the Knox County Libertarian Party is rebuilding.

“I think we are on the cusp of a libertarian generation, considering the fact that Gary Johnson pulled in over one million votes along with the disaffected members of both [major] parties,” he said.

Polk’s local observations seem to mirror sentiments crossing party lines nationally.

During the campaign season it was almost routine to see Democrats expressing frustration on Internet discussion boards with Barack Obama’s continued war efforts and support for what many saw as infringement on personal liberties, as well as failure to carry through on campaign promises regarding relegalizing of marijuana.

On the other hand, many Ron Paul supporters and other Republicans have likewise expressed frustration with mainline party support for big and intrusive government in private lives.

“Anti-war and anti-drug war liberals have been betrayed as have fiscal conservatives,” Polk said. “It’s our turn, and I am confident that 2013 and 2014 will be a great indication that people are ready for a real change.”

Such disaffection provides opportunities for the party beyond elections. In April prior to the elections libertarian authority Dr. Mary Ruwart wrote:

As libertarians, we have tremendous power. However, we are so focused on winning elections that we tend to neglect our real strength. We’re frustrated by the “wasted vote syndrome,” but do little to counter it, even though we hold the key in our hands. That key is activism at the local, state and national level. If we have the power to roll back big government, shouldn’t we use it?

The World Smallest Political Quiz based on the Nolan chart helps demonstrate that Americans have definite opinions that don’t fit easily with either the Democratic or Republican parties. According to The Advocates for Self-Government, who house the quiz, 16 percent of Americans score as libertarian over the lifetime of their records.

However, a Reason-Rupe poll identified about 24 percent of the American electorate in 2011 as libertarian, almost the same as conventional liberals (desiring government control of the economy but not of personal choices such as marriage) and conventional conservatives (desiring government control of choices such as marriage and drug use but not of the economy), each of whom made up 28 percent of voters (the other 20 percent consist of voters who want government control in all areas).

Therefore, perhaps American voters are shifting in a more libertarian direction even as the national leadership continues in the direction of government growth.