Brian Howey: Time to Take Over the Indiana Libertarian Party

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“Oh, my dear little librarian. You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you are left with nothing but a lot of empty yesterdays.”
- Harold Hill, The Music Man

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

NASHVILLE, Ind. - So long, Andy Horning! May the good Lord bless you, your family and your vocal cords.

As most of you know, the oft Libertarian candidate Horning is leaving Freedom, Ind., for Houston and a new job.

This probably means the Indiana political process will get a little quieter. Andy Horning loved to run for office. He ran for governor twice, 7th District Congress and mayor of Indianapolis. He espoused Libertarian principles and much common sense. He was an ardent and pure defender of the U.S. Constitution. He often acted as a buffer - often comically - between Republican and Democrats.

Govs. Mitch Daniels and Frank O’Bannon professed to like Andy. Daniels has even acknowledged his admiration for Libertarian principles and concepts.

Thus, this is where Andy Horning and pussycat Indiana Libertarians have simply piled up a bunch of empty yesterdays. Everywhere I go - and quite often - I hear Hoosiers pronounce their admiration for Libertarian principles. These are the guys that understand that government should provide public safety, education and build roads (well, maybe not all the roads). Government shouldn’t be building stadiums or concert halls. Government should get out of our bedrooms, our personal lives, our marriages.

Libertarian Andy Horning has left Freedom, Ind., for Texas. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)

Libertarian Andy Horning has left Freedom, Ind., for Texas. (HPI Photo by Brian A. Howey)

All the time I hear conceptual admiration for Libertarian thought from the most unexpected sources.

Which brings us back to all the empty yesterdays and a quieter Indiana. Indiana Libertarians seem content just to get that 3 or 4 percent in a secretary of state race every four years so they can qualify for the gubernatorial ballot. This gives candidates like Horning and Kenn Gividen a conspicuous stage on which to talk and talk and talk and talk.

They talk far more than they get votes.

Now, why is that? Why can’t the Indiana Libertarians stop playing political party and actually become one? Actually recruit candidates, amply fund them so they can get their message out and begin to inch their way up the polls so that they might some cycle soon pull 15, 20, hey, perhaps even 33.4 percent of the vote? And once that threshold is reached, perhaps even win an election?

There is an emerging opening in Indiana politics. The progressive wing of the Democratic Party is completely under the thumb of House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer, an absolute pillar of inertia and the status quo.

Republican moderates are in greater numbers tiring of the gay bashing and other intolerances, the abortion litmus tests and the adoration of guns.

This represents prime territory for a vigorous Libertarian Party to patch together a new coalition, fill a void and create the third way or a new middle ground.

I gave the keyote address to the Indiana Libertarians shortly after Jesse “The Body/The Mind” Ventura stunned the nation, Minnesota and Garrison Keilor and won the governorship. Ventura spent around $300,000 and combined it with an aggressive grassroots campaign that featured a statewide bus tour, pioneered use of the Internet for political purposes, and aired quirky TV ads designed by adman Bill Hillsman, who forged the phrase “Don’t vote for politics as usual.”

I urged Hoosier Libs to go to St. Paul, study the strategies, the communication model (which since has greatly been enhanced by the Dean campaign in 2004 and the Obama campaign in 2008), apply the emerging internet, put the reefer advocacy on the back bong, and recruit candidates in Indiana’s business and law schools. Find sympathetic big money donors who might fund emerging third way candidates.

None of this happened as far as I can tell and I probably watch the political process here as intensely as anyone. The Indiana Libertarians continue to talk and play politics, providing fodder for piles and piles of empty yesterdays.

On a national level, there are signs that money can follow a Libertarian. During the fourth quarter of 2007, Paul was the most successful Republican fundraiser, bringing in approximately $20 million, according to Wikipedia. Paul’s campaign set two fund raising records: the largest single day donation total among Republican candidates and twice receiving the most money via the Internet in a single day by any presidential candidate in American history.

Not necessarily because of Horning’s exit, but because the GOP faces an unknown future in the post-Mitch era, and because Democratic progressives are timid and  fearful of confronting the Little Giant from South Bend and the junior senator from Shirkieville, perhaps the third way is a coalition to begin plotting a takeover of the Indiana Libertarian Party.

It probably wouldn’t be hard to do, given the minuscule numbers of active Libertarian Party participants. Particularly if moderates and progressives picked up a chapter from Homer Capehart’s 1938 Cornfield Conference which plotted a return of the GOP from New Deal oblivion.

Andy Horning, Godspeed! Perhaps Texas really is the perfect place for your big heart.

And to the rudderless, inert Hoosier Libertarians: How about some urgency and simple speed to those who have the audacity and wit to forge a hospitable takeover and a truly viable third way?

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This entry was written by BHowey and posted on June 18, 2009 at 10:00 am and filed under HPI Weekly. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.
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