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Bucks County Libertarians Seek to Crash the Party

The upstart organization wants to show Bucks voters who are sick of the two-party system that there is an alternative.

If you believe that the government overtaxes its citizens and interferes with the free market, then you are probably a Republican. But wait, you also believe in the separation of church and state and that the government should not impose religious standards that limit individual freedoms, so that must mean you are a Democrat.

Instead of suffering through this political identity crisis, Dr. Tom Stevens suggests that, if you generally follow the fiscally conservative/socially liberal philosophy, you are most likely a Libertarian. It's a realization that has expanded exponentially in the past, politically charged year.

"We doubled our registered members since April 2012," said Dr. Stevens. "Most people don't have the time to sit and really think about their political parties. After I speak with them for 5 to 10 minutes, they find out they agree with our 'Live and Let Live' attitude."

As chairman of Pennsylvania's Libertarian Party, Dr. Stevens travels the state establishing county committees and adding to the party's membership. 

Twenty members of the Bucks County Libertarians held their first meeting on a snowy Monday night in a conference room at the office of Doylestown plastic surgeon Brian Buinewicz. State party chair Dr. Tom Stevens sat in and watched as the group, made up of mostly college-age activists, elected Nicholas Hillman the Bucks County Chapter President.

Hillman also announced his intention to run for Judge of Election in Warminster's District 4, which encompasses the neighborhoods between Norristown Road and Henry Avenue, with Street Road bordering the north and County Line the south.

"That's a great stepping stone for getting into public office," said Hillman, a student at Bucks County Community College. "It's not a time-consuming position that will take over your life, and it gives you an opportunity to meet voters one-on-one on election day."

The past election was one of the most successful campaigns for the national organization. Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, formerly governor of New Mexico, appeared in 48 state ballots and earned more than one million popular votes, the most for any Libertarian candidate since the party formed in 1971. However, the .99 vote percentage fell way short of the 5 percent needed for the party to earn federal matching funds.

"It's hard to battle against people's fear that they are throwing their vote away if they go with a third party candidate," said Dr. Stevens. "However, voting for both major parties has given us the same outcomes year after year, how is that not wasting a vote?"

Another obstacle for Libertarians and all other alternatives, such as the Green Party, is gaining ballot access. When they are not holding fundraisers and knocking on doors, representatives from the Libertarian Party are in courtrooms fighting attempts to keep them off the ballot. In October 2012, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled against the state Republican Party's motion to disqualify the Libertarian Party from the ballot because they didn't have enough proper signatures.

The party plans to keep building off its 2012 momentum in the 2013 off-year elections for state and local offices, where third party candidates historically have more success. Currently, there are 135 Libertarians holding elected office nationwide, with 27 in Pennsylvania, ranging from mayor and city council to town treasurer and constable. Dr. Stevens is counting on the young members such as those surrounding the conference table to keep the energy going.

"They don't have a lot of political experience, but that's why I am here to coach them," said Dr. Stevens. "And they make up for it with their incredible enthusiasm. We have commitees dedicated to reaching out to youth groups at college campuses. They are very receptive to the Libertarian viewpoint."

Brad W. Cooper January 30, 2013 at 03:46 AM
@Mike Shortall let me ask a question. How would you feel if Military guys were walking up and down your street and big tanks rolling down the road. Then the military just walked right on your lawn and stepped on your flowers. What if the military just shot someone innocent just because they got scared or thought they were going to shoot you. That is what are military is doing in other countries. We as libertarians do not agree in this type of behavior. We want to be friendly with other countries and with are military all over other countries basically controlling the citizen in there is not going to make any friends. See the media make people portrayed us Libertarians as not caring about other countries and being isolationist. We care about other countries, but we do not like what we are doing to them and how we are controlling them. We are wasting tax dollars, military people, and creating blowback. See America has 17 trillion dollars of debt. We do not have the funds to keep paying for are military to be over in other countries. We need are guys home to protect us. Spend there money over in our country. Also to save more military lives. There is not one good reason we should be fighting in any of these countries. Like Nick said come to are meeting and see what we are really about. [When] Thursday, February 21, 2013 [Time] 7:00pm until 9:00pm [Location] 25 Upper Holland Road, Richboro, PA 18954)
Mike Shortall Sr January 30, 2013 at 02:38 PM
@Brad ... I get the whole military intrusion thing. I don't disagree about that to a point; but there are GOOD things the military does besides invading hostile countries from a geopolitical point-of-view. Yes, it's expensive; and yes, I think we need to disinvest some of our military commitments, like Afghanistan. The example you offer is an extreme one that applies in only ONE region right now (Afghanistan/Pakistan) where there are hostile forces trying to actively kill Americans. SHould we still be there after 10 years? No. But that's not a justification for withdrawing from EVERYWHERE and hunkering down behind our borders and beaches ... in my humble opinion. I'd be interested in attending a meeting when someone can explain to me what the libertarian view is of America's role in international relations that doesn't sound like it comes from the 1920s. BTW ... Thought you were GREAT in "Silver Linings Playbook"!! ; ^ )
That Guy January 30, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Mike, in short summary .. the LP believes in defending our country here at home instead of destroying countries overseas and rebuilding them with our tax dollars...especially with the track record America now has for lying about reasons to invade other countries..We never quite did find those WMDs in Iraq, did we? Also, now Osama Bin Laden is apparently dead, so why are we not out of Afghanistan now? Why are troop surges still happening there and why did Obama sign a contract a year or two ago stating that we will be there till 2024? I agree, though with Brad, you should come by a meeting. The January meeting was my first LP meeting and i found the atmosphere very friendly..though it's not the place for long, heated, debates (since we have much to discuss about our chapter efforts)..the LP members present are always happy to answer questions about the party's platform
That Guy January 30, 2013 at 03:37 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/21/top-defense-contractors-s_n_431542.html ....27 Million dollars lobbied....for ONE troop surge by military contractors. Not the occupation of Afghanistan. JUST...ONE.....SURGE. Corruption and loss of life like this is an example of what we at the LP are fighting to end. We believe in protecting America..but that's not what this is.
That Guy January 30, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Also, Mike, I believe Mike Falcaro will be at the meeting in February. He has multiple degrees in Communications, History and of course Political Science. He specialized in Intercultural Communications, Foreign Policy, International Relations, National Security and Election & Campaign Reform. He's a really friendly, laid back guy and is always interested in discussing the issues

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