Do Libertarians make a difference?

Curing the post-election blues

by Nick Smith

We went through two intense election cycles in 2018. With the noteworthy exception of Sup. Jeff Hewitt’s victory in Riverside County, neither cycle produced good results for liberty in San Francisco or California.

LPSF 2018-11 election activism graphic
Image courtesy of LP San Francisco

Facing the ballot results can be discouraging, to say the least. Measures that we had devoted many days of work to oppose, passed with ease, and candidates that we spent our free nights and weekends supporting, came in last in their contests. It would be easy to throw in the towel and give up on defending liberty, conceding that our efforts don’t make any difference after all.

Although … don’t they?

It’s impossible to know what would happen if the Libertarian Party (LP) were not here to stand up for liberty.

Here in San Francisco, Measure A passed with a whopping 82.7 percent of the vote. So its call for $425 million in bonded indebtedness for up to three decades — for the Embarcadero seawall and infrastructure — moved far more voters than the two-thirds’ majority it needed. It was supported by the local Democratic and Republican Parties.

Measure E, to redirect a portion of existing hotel-tax collections to arts and cultural services, also easily surpassed its two-thirds’ requirement, garnering more than 75 percent of the vote. It, too, had support from the Democrats, and no recommendation from the GOP.

LP San Francisco logo, red blue golden gate bridge graphicOn both of these measures, the only opposition that voters saw came from the LPSF. We were the official — and only — opponent of both of these measures. We certainly don’t deserve all the credit for those “no” votes, but if we had not been here, the voters would have heard only one side of the story. Doesn’t the public need a voice to oppose wasteful government spending?

We may have lost these battles, but we continue fighting for liberty. And with each stand we take, we gain more recruits. I have watched the LPSF grow substantially over the past year, with new activists showing up at almost every meeting. We have learned many lessons and picked up new skills that will help us be more effective in the future.

To put it simply, the work we do does make a difference. Maybe not yet in the way we want it to — election outcomes — but in gained momentum. With a sustained effort, we might just see San Franciscans and Californians begin to realize that individual liberty is worth fighting for.

Nick Smith is chair of the Libertarian Party of San Francisco.

The original version of this article was published on Nov. 29, 2018, at Reprinted with permission.