First the good news, for those of you who like a little choice in your democracy: The Texas Libertarian Party has collected more than enough signatures to place its candidates on the November ballot and is awaiting qualification by the Texas secretary of state's office. It was touch and go, and the party had to spend $150,000 to hire professional petition takers--thanks in part to the state's thorny rules for ballot access--but Libertarians managed to gather more than 80,000 signatures. They needed only 45,540 to qualify nearly 80 county, state and federal candidates.
Now the...um...well, let's just call it news: Dallas Observer sports columnist John Gonzalez will be one of those candidates, facing incumbent U.S. Representative Jeb Hensarling in District 5. As a highly trained professional journalist, Buzz is, of course, duty bound to be fair in our coverage of the race, regardless of the fact that Gonz sits about 30 feet from us. So we won't even ask the questions we're certain most sophisticated voters are asking themselves right now: Who the hell in 21st-century America is named "Jeb"? What, did he escape from The Beverly Hillbillies? Who let this guy in Congress?
Huh? You sophisticated voters say you were in fact wondering how someone can be a candidate and a newspaper reporter at the same time? Isn't that a conflict of interest? Well, smarty-britches, that certainly would be the case except for the fact that the odds of Gonz being elected to Congress in any party, much less the Libertarian, are about as good as George W. Bush admitting a mistake. You can't make a conflict of interest without some interest.
So why run? Well, we're hoping there's an interesting political story in it for Gonz, plus, as he put it: "If you're looking for background on why I'm running or how I got into it, you can safely say that I'm a politics junkie who has less faith in the leadership around here than I have in myself. More simply, I love myself, and I love the idea of 'myself with power.'"
An honest megalomaniac running for office. That's a switch. The "honest" part, we mean.
Buzz also put a more general "Why bother?" question to Patrick J. Dixon, who likely will soon be the next state Libertarian Party chairman. The last third party to rise to national power was the GOP, and that took a civil war. Why spend $150K on ballot petitions rather than, say, beer?
Dixon says building the party is like building a small business. You start tiny, develop a following and work carefully to craft something enduring and important. "Things do change," Dixon says. "There are no unreal expectations that we're going to be in the White House and Congress tomorrow." Nevertheless, the party has managed to place 600 members in public offices nationwide, mostly county and local level. "The most important thing is to continue growth...and not move away from our principles" of minimal government intrusion in individuals' personal and economic lives.
Like the old saw says, small strokes fell mighty oaks. Or at the very least, they knocked a few nuts loose. Not that we're thinking of anyone in particular when we say that.
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