“It’s a great day for the Libertarian Party,” Robert Butler, Texas executive director for the nation’s third largest political party, said Sunday at an informational and organizational meeting held in Early.
Butler said he is traveling across Texas to help build interest in counties in which the party has identified opportunities to gain voters and elect candidates to local political offices.
His goal is also to explain what the party stands for, and what it doesn’t.
“We believe in the rights to life, liberty and property,” Butler said to a group of about a dozen people at Humphrey Pete’s. “When someone steals your life, they steal your future. When they steal your liberty, they steal your present. When they steal your property, they steal the fruits of your past.”
Butler added that the party does not stand for eliminating government; rather, it believes that government should be limited to functions related to protecting the people’s life, liberty and property.
“A limited amount of government is necessary,” he said.
Butler quoted George Washington, who observed that government is like fire. “Under control, it can cook your food or heat your home. But out of control, it can take everything you have.
“A right doesn’t come from government,” Butler added. “Some believe it’s a gift from God. But it is intrinsic. The Constitution is a listing of our rights… and just because it’s
not listed there doesn’t mean we don’t have it.”
Butler said in Texas, the party is trying to organize in mid-sized cities. While Brownwood is smaller than most of those, it is the center of a geographic region of opportunity. He said Libertarian Party supporters seem to congregate in areas where government interference is low, taxes are relatively low and support for personal freedoms is high.
“We have opportunities to elect Libertarian Party members in local races,” Butler said. Opportunities also exist in nonpartisan campaigns, such as school board and city council positions.
Butler also discussed key party positions, describing them as the “moral fallacy” – that if something’s wrong, you should pass a law against it – and the “free lunch fallacy” – that people can get something for nothing from government.
He said volunteer and church organizations could step up and assume the services of the government programs the party advocates dropping.
“Libertarian Party members are some of the kindest, most caring people there are,” Butler said. “But we’re not promising utopia.”
Butler said he worked in the campaigns and offices of Republican congressmen in the 1990s until he “saw the writing on the wall… Spending was already out of control before 9-11.”
Jeff Daiell of Houston, who will run for governor in the 2010 elections, accompanied Butler. He discussed his campaign, and said he believes he will be more successful this year than he was in 1990. Then, Daiell garnered 129,000 votes despite having to work at his job five or more days a week during the campaign season. That number was more than the 99,000-vote difference between Democrat Ann Richards, who won, and Republican Clayton Williams.
It was also the first time, Daiell said, that a Texas governor was elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.
Daiell acknowledged he has an uphill battle to win, but said a stronger showing would be a victory of sorts nonetheless.
“It would make the politicians of the two parties in the Beltway stand up and take notice,” Daiell said, and would help the lobbying position of Libertarians in turning policy in the direction of its philosophy.
Butler agreed that a stronger showing by Libertarian candidates would give him more leverage as he lobbies for the party’s positions during the legislative session.
Daiell also said having a candidate garner more than 5 percent would ensure that the party’s candidates would be on the ballot in the next general election.
The meeting was hosted by Brown County party chair Al Barrera.