Why Libertarians Lose

This was originally published on BrettBittner.com before being re-published at United Liberty.

“Libertarians will never win.”  “Why don’t you just join the Republican Party?”  I’ve heard all the reasons I’m “doing it wrong” from people outside the Libertarian Party.  “We don’t have ballot access.”  “We aren’t able to raise money, because we aren’t bought by special interests.”  I’ve heard every excuse inside the Libertarian Party about why we do not win elections.  Aside from the ballot access issue and joining the Republican Party, what you’re about to read is also valid for “small L” libertarians, grassroots campaigns of either the Democratic or Republican variety, and nearly any recently “off the couch” activist-turned-candidate.  There are obvious exceptions in the case of independently wealthy individuals or celebrities or athletes cashing in on their fame, but these are generally the “rules.”  Also, there are “wins” that can be achieved without actually having more votes than the others running, but that is for another day.

The “mistakes” I outline below are not the fault of the candidate, their staff or their volunteers.  It is my opinion that they are just unaware of the “mistakes.”  The first and most devastating mistake that Libertarians make is that they are not involved in government until they are ready to run for office.  They have not attended a single City Council, County Commission meeting, or visited their state legislature to watch them in action, let alone been involved enough to know the players or the game.  At the local level, there are many opportunities to get involved without winning an election.  This mistake hurts potential candidates for two reasons: no one knows who they are, and they do not have any record on which to run. [Read more...]

Smile! You’re on Camera, Atlanta

This was originally published on September 30, 2011 in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Jonathan McIntoshWith great fanfare, Atlanta officials unveiled a new video surveillance center at a news conference last week.

Atlanta police Chief George Turner expects the “cutting-edge technology” of the cameras to allow police to “stay one step ahead of lawbreakers.”

But it does not appear that city leaders who approved this “video integration center” in July did their homework on costs or supposed benefits of the cameras or the accompanying surveillance.

A grant of $2.6 million of taxpayer funds from the Department of Homeland Security paid for the center, which integrates approximately 100 city-owned cameras, as well as several private groups’ and companies’ security systems.

An additional $500,000 of Atlanta taxpayer dollars and $1.2 million from Georgia taxpayers brought the total cost to taxpayers to $4.3 million — not to mention a reported half-million more raised by the Atlanta Police Foundation.

At the time of City Council approval, costs to operate, staff and maintain the center were unknown and unreported. Also unclear is whether this figure includes the city-owned surveillance cameras or merely the surveillance center. Worse, it covers only one of 131 square miles within Atlanta’s city limits.

[Read more...]