Because politics isn’t meant to be easy

In Australia, libertarian candidates are rarely ranked highly on voters’ ballots.

Libertarian candidates get first preferences from the small fraction of society who know and support the idea of libertarianism.

And if they are still in the race when a conservative candidate is eliminated, they tend to get a reasonable share of the conservative candidate’s second preferences.

But if they are still in the race when a progressive candidate is eliminated, they tend to get few of the progressive candidate’s second preferences.

As a result of all this, more often than not the libertarian candidate fails to win a seat.

To improve the prospects of libertarian candidates, one of the things required is for libertarian candidates to pick up more preferences from progressive voters. And they need to do this without losing votes from libertarian voters or preferences from conservative voters.

It might be that this can be done by recognising the common ground a libertarian candidate has with progressive voters, and emphasising this common ground when communicating specifically with progressive voters.

Residents of Australia’s offshore territories have a right to self-determination.

Finding common ground is not easy.  Most policies promoted by progressive parties and favoured by progressive voters are statist, illiberal, and prone to failure. But not all. Some progressive policies can be supported by libertarian candidates.

It would serve libertarian candidates well to reach out to progressive voters and let them know of this common ground. Such efforts could earn the libertarian candidate an occasional second preference on the ballots of progressive voters and might be the difference between victory and defeat.

Consider the following policies of the Greens.  By my assessment, each of these policies is good. Libertarian candidates would be well served by communicating to progressive voters their support for such policies, and their willingness to work with progressive parties like the Greens to make them a reality.

  • Each state and territory should have at least one proportionally elected parliamentary chamber.
  • Incarceration should not be a bar to voting.
  • Being a public servant or dual citizen should not be a bar to becoming a parliamentarian. 
  • Australia should become a republic.
  • Residents of Australia’s offshore territories have a right to self-determination.
  • Citizens living in territories should have the same rights as citizens living in states, including the right to make their own laws regarding assisted suicide. 
  • The captivity, transport, and slaughter of animals should be regulated to prevent cruelty and suffering.
  • The production, sale and use of cannabis for recreational use should be legalised.
  • Forced female genital mutilation should be prohibited.
  • Consensual adult sex work should be decriminalised.
  • Stamp duties should be replaced with land tax.

In Australia, libertarian candidates are rarely ranked highly on voters’ ballots.

  • There should be early parliamentary engagement in Australia’s negotiation of treaties, and agreements should be reviewable by parliament.
  • There should be no impacts on air and water quality detrimental to human or ecological health.
  • Australia’s ‘counter-terrorism’ legislation should be reformed to protect freedom of expression and association, freedom from arbitrary detention, legal due process, and the right to privacy.
  • Escaping violence on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status should be grounds for being considered to be a refugee.
  • Judicial discretion in sentencing should be upheld and mandatory sentencing legislation should be repealed.
  • The regulated sale of X-rated material should be allowed.
  • Australia should reject the doctrine of nuclear deterrence.
  • Australian Defence Force personnel should not be used in strike-breaking or policing activities which go beyond their remit.

Each of these good policies of the Greens sits alongside a raft of repugnant policies. So it can be hard, when in conversation with a Greens voter, to stick to the good Greens policies without mentioning the other policies. But this is what libertarians need to do, because when libertarian candidates start winning second preferences from progressive voters, getting elected and making real change becomes possible.

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