At the core of the Federalist Party’s platform are two extremely important concepts: reining in federal government overreach and defense of individual freedoms. The Libertarian Party holds these two concepts in extremely high regard as well; we believe in protecting freedoms which is essentially the same idea as the Libertarian Party’s primary goal of protecting liberties.
The reality for nearly every party with roots based upon the Constitution, including the Libertarian, Constitution, and to some some extent Republican Parties, is that we all believe in the idea of balancing powers between the state and federal governments. We also all believe in the primacy of individual freedoms as a fundamental principle. Many in the GOP have abandoned these ideas as talking points to bring up during campaign season while promoting big-government policies that oppose these core beliefs. As for the Libertarian and other conservative third parties, their flaws a more strategic. They want smaller government. They want to protect our freedoms. They’ve failed at achieving these goals because they haven’t positioned themselves properly to succeed.
Let us look at the three areas in which the Federalist Party will differentiate itself. It’s in these differences where we’ll find success where others have failed.
The very first piece of practical advice I received when exploring the concept of a new party came from a disenfranchised Libertarian leader. For the sake of his standing, I won’t quote him directly, but we anticipate he will come on board as a Federalist once his commitments to the Libertarian Party are completed. The advice was this: “Keep the platform simple.”
One of the biggest challenges the Libertarian Party faces is that their platform often precedes them. The majority of the platform is pretty solid, but there are challenges that are constantly brought up, particularly by the media. Drug legalization, for example, is a small part of the platform but it’s invariably the first thing that comes to mind when the party is discussed. That part is relatively easy to overcome in interviews, but it doesn’t change the narrative that drug legalization is the first thing that comes to mind to the average voter when the topic of the Libertarian Party is broached.
What is much harder to overcome are the potential contradictions. For example, the platform discusses eliminating income tax and a balanced budget amendment in the same paragraph on their platform without offering reconciliation or linking to an explanatory memorandum, let alone a plan. Take a quick look:
All persons are entitled to keep the fruits of their labor. We call for the repeal of the income tax, the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution. We oppose any legal requirements forcing employers to serve as tax collectors. Government should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, provided that the budget is balanced exclusively by cutting expenditures, and not by raising taxes.
Individually, all of these concepts are idealistic but doable. The problem is in the math. There needs to be a comprehensive plan to make it all work. Repealing the 16th Amendment, disallowing government debt, and passing a balanced budget amendment are all defensible within a proper framework. Cramming all of them into a single paragraph in the platform is tomfoolery. Expenditures need to be massively reduced first; we’re in the middle of a huge budget deficit despite the largest budget of all time. That means that cutting income taxes, which account for half of the federal government’s revenue, requires over $2T in annual spending to be eliminated BEFORE a single penny of taxes can be eliminated if we’re wanting a balanced budget amendment. That doesn’t take into account halting the national debt growth. Interest alone would need to be paid at the very least to appease the Libertarian platform, which means that much more of the government budget would have to be eliminated.
At this point the staunch Libertarian supporter would say, “Yes, that’s what we want to do.” Realistically, it needs a lot more than acknowledgement of the issues.
Let us look at it in practice. For this exercise, we’ll use the Department of Energy as an example of a government program that we can eliminate in order to achieve our goals. With it’s current budget of $32.5 billion annually, it employs around 100,000 people, both government employees and contractors. We’ll assume that the elimination of personal income taxes will not be replaced by other measures that circumvent a repealed 16th Amendment (a federal consumption tax, for example). To meet the balanced budget requirements in this scenario, we’d need to eliminate around $600 billion to account for the budget deficit and another $1.75 trillion to account for the income tax. That means we’d need to completely eliminate the Department of Energy and all it employees 73 times. To put that into perspective, there are only 15 executive departments.
There is a solution. It requires an actual plan. More importantly, it requires a keen focus on the core issue. The Federalist Party believes (and can clearly demonstrate) that nearly every problem caused by the government can be solved by transitioning the bulk of federal overreach to a combination of state, county, city, and local governments as well as a huge proportion of government actions to the private sector. This is the first and longest step if we’re ever going to truly solve problems.
Today, the majority of solutions that come from Washington DC are bandaids or stink bombs. Bandaids are temporary solutions that can easily fall off if the problems resurface or get bigger. Stink bombs are dispersing techniques that move problems away from one particular area by pushing them to another area.
We cannot truly solve problems until a balance can be achieved between the state and federal governments. We cannot achieve that balance until the budget, bureaucracy, and powers of the federal government are dramatically reduced. The 10th Amendment has become something that the federal government easily circumvented in all three branches. They need to be brought back down to an equal footing with the states. We must privatize most of what Washington DC does today. With the bulk of the rest, we hand responsibility back to the states. Then and only then can we start truly solving all of the other problems.
Most of what’s on the Libertarian, Constitution, and Republican platforms are good. The Federalist platform focuses on reducing the size of government first and foremost. Anyone who wants to achieve the platform goals of these parties should start with the Federalist Party. Think of us as the only party that truly sees the bigger problem and comes in with a plan to solve it. Once it’s fixed, the other issues can be addressed efficiently and, when necessary, permanently. This is why we keep our national platform so simple and focused. We know that it’s the only way to address the rest of the issues.
Groundswell election focus
In 2016, the Libertarian Party announced that they had 602 candidates running for various offices around the country. This sounds like a good number until you realize that it accounts for a tiny percentage of offices up for grabs; all 435 House seats alone were voted on. When you include every city council, school board, county office, state legislature… bottom line is that 602 is a small number for a party that’s over four decades old.
The Federalist Party will focus on every city, county, and state where there’s a groundswell of support. Our strategy is not focused on the Presidency or Senate seats, though they will become focal points once we feel like we’re ready to make an impact. That’s the key. We have no desire to make a statement. We aren’t going to be the home of the protest vote. We will enter elections we can win whether it’s running a county sheriff, a small town mayor, or the President.
Resources are squandered by just about every third party in America. There’s absolutely no reason to sink millions of dollars into a Presidential campaign to get less than 10% of the vote when there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of lower offices that could actually be won for the same amount of money. There’s a reason we’re putting so much effort into forming rock-solid state organizations while keeping the national organization in the background. Elections are won by the states through groundswells of support popping up in areas where incumbents are most vulnerable.
When we initiated our research into forming a new party, we were shocked to learn how splintered most third parties really were. The grassroots were screaming for support at the local level while the national parties were focused on getting TV time for their higher-office candidates. The results were predictable: very few victories. That’s inexcusable in 2016 when the angst against the status quo is at its highest since the 19th century.
To win governorships, House seats, and the Presidency, we must have Federalists in office at the lower levels of government. It’s not acceptable for a third party to ignore this fact, but it’s happening to every third party we’ve seen. It will not happen with the Federalist Party.
Barrier-breaking growth strategy
The analogy that we usually use when describing how to break the stranglehold of the two-party system pertains to going into space. To break free of the gravitational pull of the earth and leave the atmospheric barrier, an aircraft must be going at 33X the speed of sound. That takes the right design, very specific materials, and powerful fuel. Every other third party, including the Libertarian Party, is designed to achieve liftoff and reach into the sky. However, they’re not designed to achieve the velocity necessary to break the barrier. We learned that very clearly after abysmal results in a Presidential election year with the two worst major party candidates in history.
If there was ever a year made for the Libertarian Party, it was 2016. They didn’t make a difference because they’re not designed to achieve the necessary velocity. They can get very high in the air based upon history, budget, and some extremely talented individuals, but they can’t go into space. The Libertarian Party has as much of a chance of breaking the two-party barrier as a 747 has of going into outer space. Both are designed for flight. Neither are designed to break free and reach the ultimate goal. That has absolutely nothing to do with the ideology or desire of Libertarian Party members. It’s all about the party’s strategy and actions, not what they represent.
The Federalist Party will utilize modern technology and rock-solid messaging to achieve the right velocity. Even in these early stages of party formation, we’re already looking at mobile, social, and personalization technologies to reach the masses. The Democrats and Republicans are both sub-par with their use of these technologies, but they’re miles ahead of the third parties. The Federalist Party is being built with these venues in mind so we can surpass the major parties and grow. As for messaging, we’ve tested the concept of smaller government and found that it’s universal. Conservatives, liberals, and moderates are all able to embrace the concept because it can help them all achieve their political goals. That’s not to say that we’re going to be a moderate party, but when it comes to delivering our message, smaller government is a winning platform.
The real key to our success is how we are driven by the grassroots. It’s a word that is often used in campaigns. The Federalist Party won’t use the grassroots as a buzzword. We’re going to be driven by them. This is why the bulk of our platforms will be decided by each individual state rather than decreed by a national entity. We know that the way to reach the people is to empower them. We aren’t going to promise to solve all of their problems. Our promise is to get government out of the way so they can solve their own problems. This shouldn’t be unique to us, but that seems to be the case.
We disagree with many of the Libertarian Party’s actions, but we embrace much of what actual Libertarians believe. Reining in the federal government and defending personal freedoms are the core of the Federalist Party, which is why so many Libertarians are joining us. Our focus, philosophies, and strategies differentiate us as the third party that can break the two-party system. To do this, we’ll need the help of those who truly believe in the liberty movement.