- Having multiple liberty-oriented choices tells voters that libertarianism is too incoherent to be worth understanding.
- Having multiple liberty-oriented choices tells voters that the freedom movement is too poorly organized to be worth supporting.
- Having multiple liberty-oriented choices vastly increases the cognitive/investigative burden imposed on a voter asked to cast her single vote for liberty.
- Having multiple liberty-oriented choices tells politicians that pro-freedom voters are far from being a coherent caucus whose votes can be earned (e.g. by the party not running an opposing candidate).
- Getting liberty-oriented candidates on the ballot requires a threshold amount of signatures/fees.
- Getting a liberty-oriented party ballot-qualified requires a threshold amount of voter registration and/or votes in statewide races.
- American elections generally do not allow fusion voting.
- American elections do not allow approval voting, but instead uses plurality voting.
- Duverger’s Law suggests the natural tactical response of voters to plurality voting is to gather into two parties straddling the political center along its major axis, or into one party for each natural cluster of voters in the political space.
A party should focus on the exercises of franchise whose effectiveness is magnified when the franchisees act in concert rather than through competing organizations. There’s no interesting limit to how many liberty-oriented parties we could indulge in creating. With over 20 free variables in libertarian theory, that’s over a million potential parties even if you assume only two possible values to each variable. If two liberty-oriented parties are better than one, why aren’t 20 better than 2? Why shouldn’t every intra-party caucus be its own party?
There are at least two possible exceptions to this analysis. The first would be when the dominant freedom party has become immune to repair through caucus efforts and needs to be destroyed and replaced. I for one am nowhere near ready to make war on the LP, and I’ll gladly defend the LP from those who make war on it. Whatever the faults of the LP and its current nominee — faults I’ve never been shy about naming — they aren’t serious enough to stop telling the average voter she should always take the single choice called “Libertarian” whenever it’s available. Democracy is an incredibly blunt instrument, and we can’t delude ourselves that the ballot box is a place for making subtle philosophical distinctions. Remember, if every voter had as much political passion as we Libertarian activists, the streets would run red with blood — and plenty of it would be ours.
The second exception would be a zero-government abolitionist anarchist party. I don’t mind working with anarchists wise enough to realize it’s harder to overthrow a big State than a small State — as long as they don’t insist the party endorse their abolitionist rhetoric (and thus help the State resist the party’s efforts to shrink it!). However, having a separate anarchist party would be useful in clarifying that the LP has no official plans to abolish the state, and would siphon off radicals who fret too much about the LP’s lessarchist tent getting bloated with people lacking sufficient hatred of the state.