COLUMN: Libertarian candidates for Ninth District U.S. representative not viable

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

On July 14, the League of Women Voters of Boone County held a series of debates for candidates and issues appearing on the Aug. 3 ballot.

We heard from the Democratic candidates for the presiding commissioner of Boone County, the Republican candidates for Missouri’s House District 21, and candidates vying for Boone County associate circuit judge.

The debate in which I was most interested was the two Libertarian candidates for Missouri’s 9th Congressional District, the seat Blaine Luetkemeyer now occupies.

The Democrats did not put a name on the ballot to challenge Luetkemeyer this cycle for various reasons. The reason I heard most was that Missouri may be losing one congressional seat, the 9th, and no one wanted to be a one-term representative. Undeterred by this prospect, the Libertarians are fielding two candidates.

Steven Wilson and Christopher Dwyer sat at the dais with 80 sets of eyes staring their way. Both nervous and excited to have this opportunity, both looking like witnesses at a McCarthy Anti-American Activities Committee hearing.

I have some personal rules about whom I shall support in any election. One rule is the candidate must sound, look and act like a candidate. Neither Wilson nor Dwyer met the criteria.

Mr. Wilson, who I am sure is a fine and intelligent man, did something that took him off my radar early. His only political material was a two page proposed “Citizens Equality and Sovereignty Amendment” of his own design. A 23-point manifesto, the handout does mention his name but not party affiliation or contact information, and it does not ask for your support or vote. In fact, there is no information about Mr. Wilson at all. As I listened to him, carefully and critically, I am still not sure why he is running for Congress.

Mr. Dwyer, on the other hand, had a full-color, postcard-size handout with at least a portion of his platform: enact a term limits amendment, pass a balanced budget amendment and repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution.

The 16th Amendment allows the federal government to “lay and collect taxes on incomes” on the citizens of the United States. Yes, we all hate taxes. However, the Constitution has always permitted the federal government to collect taxes. Article 1, Section 8 says, “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises…”

The 17th Amendment corrected a troublesome deficiency of the Constitution. Senators were not elected directly by the people. Prior to its ratification in 1913, state legislators selected senators. If one thinks that the return to the old method of selection would resolve the current campaign contribution problems and that senators will no longer be beholden to corporate mandates, it won’t.

Neither candidate gave me the feeling of authority or knowledge expected of a United States representative. Though the Libertarians have two persons interested in the federal seat, they really have no viable candidate. Yet, one will be selected and run against Luetkemeyer or his Republican rival, James O. Baker, who does not appear to be running a campaign.

Dan Viets, the voice of KOPN’s “Sex, Drugs and Liberty,” had a suggestion for frustrated Democrats: vote Libertarian. I think not. Crossover votes only work when your candidate is all but guaranteed to win and only then to split the opposing party.

The Libertarian Party has never appeared to be “organized” with a true standardized platform. Like the GOP, they argue as to who is more anti-federalist. That disorganization was never more evident that during this debate.

On Aug. 3, I will ask for a Democratic ballot, as you should ask for your own party’s ballot. Vote with wisdom and determination. It is up to us to determine who will run in November.

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at and New York Journal of Books.


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John Schultz July 21, 2010 | 1:35 p.m.

Seems to me, the big-name Democrats are more afraid of Blaine's ability to self-fund his race than being limited to two years in Washington D.C.

David, what was the obscure question you asked at the forum? I don't recall it exactly, but I'm guessing neither Robin Carnahan or Blaine Luetkemeyer could answer it much better than either Chris or Steven attempted to. At least they felt the need to agitate for a little change in Washington, unlike members of what I perceive to be your party.

As for the Libertarian Party's platform, it has been available at, for several years at least, and is updated every two years by party members at convention. We do that bit just like the Democrats and Republicans, but try to get our points across without a need for 50+ and 60+ page PDF files. Oh, and the multi-million dollar convention subsidies provided by government.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith July 21, 2010 | 2:21 p.m.

If appearances and mannerisms were actually paramount in politics, Calvin Coolidge would not have gotten elected President. Granted, Coolidge initially assumed office on the death of Warren Harding, but Coolidge should, by Rosman's reasoning, not have managed to get elected in 1924.

Harding was a real piece of work! The top reason he became the Republican candidate in 1920 was that, according to party movers and shakers, he LOOKED Presidential. Wow! Historians today put him at the bottom for performance.

Coolidge may in one respect have been our greatest President: he knew when to keep his mouth shut, which for him was most of the time. It's hard to say the same for some recent Presidents (no names mentioned).

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