Libertarians Meet the Mainstream 

Libertarians Meet the Mainstream 
Posted by FoM on July 02, 2000 at 05:50:14 PT
By Matthew Ebnet, Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
Party stalwarts, convening in Anaheim, say people now seem more at ease with their concepts.   More than 1,000 delegates gathered in Anaheim on Saturday for the Libertarian Party's eighth presidential convention, hoping to do what no third party has ever done: get on the ballot in all 50 states for the third time in a row. 
 The delegates will nominate their presidential and vice presidential candidates today. The leading contender for the top spot is Harry Browne, a handsome and charismatic man who was the party's candidate in 1996.   Party officials say this convention is a breakthrough. They've come to a state they consider a Libertarian stronghold, with a new look and mission, with savvy Web sites that cater more to the mainstream voter and a carefully worded platform that no longer seems so farfetched.   To be sure, there are those within the party offering way-out rhetoric--from privatizing the military to doing away with the income tax. One delegate wore a T-shirt that read, "I'm a Libertarian, and I'm crazy."   But as a party, the Libertarians are moving toward mainstream politics, experts said. Or, perhaps, mainstream politics is moving toward them.   "You could say the Libertarians are going mainstream, and you would be right, but if you look at the issues, the Republicans and the Democrats are moving toward the Libertarians too," said Phillip L. Gianos, a political science professor at Cal State Fullerton.   Party officials say the numbers show the Libertarians' growing popularity. This convention has credentialed about twice as many delegates as the last convention in Washington D.C. "We are trying to be more accessible to the mainstream voter," said George Getz, a party spokesman. "We feel mainstream politicians are adopting some ideas. Of course that makes us more popular."   Several issues dear to the Libertarians are receiving serious discussion. A decade and a half ago, when the party proposed privatizing Social Security, the political establishment was up in arms. This year, both major parties' certain nominees, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore, have suggested versions of the idea.   Libertarians want to do away with public schools. While neither the Republicans nor Democrats have gone that far, the issue of school vouchers has entered mainstream politics.   "We're not seeing things exactly the same as the other parties," said Scott A. Wilson of Concord, Calif., who edits the party's newsletter. "But we're closer when we see school vouchers, when we see magnet schools, charter schools."   Libertarians are all over the map when it comes to ideology. Liberals like some of their ideas. So do conservatives. Seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medical use of marijuana, and Libertarians see that as an indicator that their ideology is appealing to many in mainstream politics.   Steve Kubby, a party vice presidential hopeful from Laguna Niguel, has adopted the legalization of drugs as his main issue. Kubby, who ran for governor of California in 1998, says he'll run again in two years if he doesn't make it to Washington. A cancer patient who says he smokes marijuana on a doctor's advice and faces trial in Placer County next month on charges of possession with intent to sell, Kubby was a big force in the 1996 passage of Proposition 215, an initiative that allows use of medical marijuana in California.   The big talk around the convention was the Internet. Many see it as their ultimate unfettered medium. Libertarians and experts say the 2000 election will be the first in which the Internet will be more than just a novelty. The influx of the Internet into popular culture, Libertarians say, has made more people more aware of privacy issues and individual rights, the very fundamentals of their party.   Gail Lightfoot, the party's candidate for U.S. Senate in California, said the Libertarians' attraction is the blending of ideas. "Ten years ago, if I mentioned privatizing Social Security, people turned their backs. Today, now that 'mainstream' candidates are considering ideas like that, people don't turn their back anymore. They talk to me. And they listen. ... And it sounds good to them."  Published: July 2, 2000  Copyright 2000 Los Angeles Times Related Articles & Web Sites:The Libertarian Party AMMA To Honor Peter McWilliams Convene Kubby Enters Race for Party's VP Nomination High Office for Medicinal Pot User?
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