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Shawn Hallman December 2, 2012 Mitchell Political Communications Should the Democratic Party Use its Resources to Appeal to Libertarian Voters? Much to the dismay of the Republican Party, Barack Obama has been reelected for another four years. Four more years of Democratic leadership of the executive branch is now guaranteed. Many Republicans now find themselves lost and discouraged, but Democrats also face a tough challenge in finding a replacement candidate once their charismatic leader can no longer run for president. Although Obama’s second term has not even started yet, both parties have to be looking ahead to plan a strategy to further their agendas and either maintain or regain executive power in 2016. The Democrat Party has been widely praised for gaining a strong majority of the youth vote under Obama’s leadership (Jackson). With the trend increasing, Republicans find themselves struggling to relate with a more socially-tolerant youth. Evidence suggests that the Republicans are at the moment losing an entire generation of voters to the socially liberal Democratic Party (Kingkade). While the god strategy has worked wonders in keeping the Republican Party strong the past few decades, it is the same strategy responsible for turning off so many youth. As social issues take more importance in the political climate, Republicans suffer. Republicans can hope for one of two things, to maintain their values and hope issues switch focus to the economy in future elections, or to adapt to and involve their youthful core. While

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opening up socially may hurt the favoritism Republicans hold over evangelicals and hardcore conservatives, it opens up the field to many more moderate voters that they party needs in order to be able to stand a chance in the future. It seems obvious that Republicans would target the same youth that Ron Paul has been able to rally, but doing so may hurt their core support, so they may be a little more reluctant than they should to target this market. This gives democrats a chance to strengthen their lead. The upcoming election will be an important one and both parties will have something to prove. The Democrats must continue to motivate their diverse and youthful base under a new face, and the Republicans must find someone able to counter this trend. An important subdivision of the youth vote is the young libertarian vote. Ron Paul has often been credited for his ability to motivate youth. He has become an important figure in gaining the youth’s attention within the Republican Party, something other candidates have been able to do as evident by John McCain and Mitt Romney’s weak youth turnouts only gaining less than 40% of the youth vote (Brown). It seems like it would make sense for the Republican Party to go after this market in some form or another. Ron Paul’s son Rand Paul, seems to be picking up a lot of his father’s attention by uniting libertarian and tea party members under the Republican Party. As libertarian principles slowly become more and more common, especially in the non-religious right, it would seem to be political suicide to continue to ignore this portion of their supporters during the 2016 campaigns. The gradual growth of libertarian ideals should spark some concern within the Democratic Party. To maintain their political edge, democrats must continue to appeal and reach out to youth with the same passion and dedication we’ve seen over the past four years. While it does not make much sense for Democrats to abandon their core values to appeal to a niche

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market, it is important to try to make your political beliefs relatable to as many voters as possible. By using their core beliefs on civil rights, personal freedoms, immigration, and foreign policy, the Democratic Party could gain support from libertarians with those same values in future elections. When creating a political strategy it can be easy to become bogged down with marketing demographics of voters, but to understand the Libertarian vote requires knowledge of who makes up the vote. Libertarians, as we learned through our guest speakers in class, generally value freedom and liberty with passion. Put into more simple terms, the Libertarian Party, as their old slogan stated, was “fiscally conservative, socially tolerant” (LP.org). This third-party has acted as an alternative between two opposite ideologies and mentalities. The Libertarian party has failed to make a large impact on gaining power, garnering only 1% of the national presidential vote in 2012, however they continue to improve upon their previous elections, The Johnson/Gray ticket more than doubled Libertarian turnout the Bob Barr/Wayne Allen Root ticket of 2008 brought in. (Libertarian National Committee). This trend is still statistically insignificant, but it shows hope and a trend that should not be ignored. America’s political climate is changing, and the gap that Republicans are losing in our generation are up for competition. If democrats don’t take advantage of the Ron Paul inspired youth, they may eventually find themselves competing in a three party system. It can also be argued that many libertarian-minded people decided to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney in the general election for their vote to have more of an impact. It can also be argued that at least some of these people simply did not vote, feeling apathetic and disenfranchised. The Libertarian market of voters may not be the number one priority for either major party’s Get Out The Vote strategy, but it is likely a large enough to crowd to not simply ignore.

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Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign can be looked at as a warning sign for the Republican Party. Paul’s support generally came from a younger audience that was very passionate about the alternative, more libertarian-leaning philosophy Dr. Paul preached. Paul’s 2008 campaign thrived on grassroots support by his young audience and four years later Paul found the support had grown enough to encourage him to run again. During Paul’s 2012 campaign, despite gaining a reasonable portion of Republican delegates in the primaries and a passionate youth following, Dr. Paul was denied a speaking role at the Republican National Convention. This decision backfired as the RNC gave the Republicans a minimal bounce in polls and was one of the contributing factors of the Republicans not being able to persuade younger generations to get out and vote (Trifunov). Paul was able to capture the youth vote because of the large subdivision between the classic Republican Party and a more socially tolerant, moderately-libertarian candidate. Youth passionately supported Paul, as evident by Paul Fest and massive college crowd turnouts. With an aging Ron Paul announcing his retirement from Congress (Sanneh) and Gary Johnson’s inability to capture anywhere near their target of 5% (Gary Johnson/Twitter), it seems as though younger libertarian-leaning republicans will be without the leader they had been following. This leaves the Libertarian Party open for picking off other parties. Paul showed just how passionate and dedicated this group of voters could be willing to become, and now it is up to a new leader to continue on his success. One of the issues with Paul’s retirement is his history. Many people loved Paul due to his integrity and commitment to fighting for what he believed in. Over the years Paul found more and more of his once heavily criticized viewpoints becoming common thought. The absence of someone with Paul’s track record leaves many followers wondering who to look for next.

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Obama’s performative success has been a huge contributing factor in his election and reelection. This success has given the Democratic Party the edge in the political process for at least the next 4 years, but in order to fortify their ideal government, power must be maintained. The performative success of the next democratic nominee will play a large role in maintaining power, however they should not rely on a personality to win and should start opening up their party for moderates, including moderate libertarian. It would be unwise for the Democratic Party to not continue their push in gaining more voters. Relying entirely on one character or personality to carry your party can be dangerous. Whoever the next democratic candidate may be needs to be able to count on their party to reach out to as many potential voters as possible. We have learned that performative success is essential to a candidate winning. Libertarian Gary Johnson did not find much success in this area. This can be attributed to Johnson’s lack of ability to connect with voters outside the passionate Libertarians, but can also be in part, as Johnson claims, to the mainstream media’s ignoring of third party and third party issues. Johnson was excluded from many debates in both the primaries and general election. Despite his lack of success, Libertarian votes still increased from previous years. If a candidate is able to successfully represent themselves to the Libertarian community The main issue stopping Democrats from targeting a libertarian-leaning youth is the issue of funding. To make a marketing push directed at those who do not normally vote Democratic may be risky in the age of Super PACs where every dollar counts and, so far, Republican money has more abundant than Democrats. Money is important and campaign workers and party officials are responsible for using it in the most beneficial way, especially during our current economic climate.

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I believe democrats should not wait until the 2016 cycle to appeal to these voters. While it is unlikely, Libertarians may find themselves with a very charismatic and well-liked candidate by this time. If Democrats really want to hurt Republicans and strengthen their potential voters, they would begin small organizations designed to appeal to Libertarian-minded citizens as soon as possible. Although the targeting may not be entirely successful and would gain only a portion of an already small group, Libertarians are generally heavily involved in politics and will be for the rest of their lives. If Democratic ideals are accepted and considered, Democrats have a better chance of gaining a future vote. Some argue that by targeting Libertarians, some hardcore Democrats may be turned off. The same could be said for Republicans, however Democrats seem to have less to lose. Not all Libertarians are neo-anarchists and many believe in government safety nets, as long as they are limited. Libertarians are generally just as compassionate as liberals, yet they want to find more efficient ways of helping. If Republicans were to target Libertarians, they may lose their faithful religious voters in favor of a possible new party creating a huge split in the Republican Party. If they do nothing however, Republicans may find the Libertarian Party slowly taking over. If Democrats were to target Libertarians on the other hand, they would have less to lose. Liberals are more likely to stay dedicated to their party and helping others, regardless of who their party goes after. If Democrats can successfully market their common ideas to libertarians without altering their platform in the least, they have nothing to lose but a few dollars in the process. Libertarian voters are idealistic voters that are potentially up for grabs each election cycle. Unless a large, rapid change occurs within the Libertarian Party, Democrats and Republicans alike need not ignore this group. While their size is small, it is growing, and it is passionate. People are becoming more and more frustrated with both parties and are looking for alternatives.

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By being able to relate to these alternatives, the two major parties should be able to maintain power. I believe the Democratic Party should use its resources, even if minimal, to help aid their efforts in votes. They should not feel comfortable with what they have, as politics is always a competition. The Democratic Party should remain aggressive in trying to persuade voters, even Libertarians.

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Bibliography Kingkade, Tyler. "Youth Vote Gap Suggests Republicans Risk Losing An 'Entire Generation' To Democrats." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 12 Nov. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Brown, Kyla. "The Mesa Press." The Mesa Press. N.p., 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Johnson, Gary. Twitter. Gary Johnson’s Official Twitter Account. 2012. Sanneh, Kelefah. "Paulish: Ron Paul Says Goodbye." The New Yorker. N.p., 16 Nov. 2012. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Trifunov, David. "RNC Bounce Modest 1% for Mitt Romney, Polls Say." GlobalPost. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Libertarian National Committee. "'A Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin On'" Message to the author. 29 Nov. 2012. E-mail. Taylor, Robert. "Ron Paul Retiring Is the Beginning, Not the End, of Libertarianism." PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Thompson, Liana G. PolicyMic. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012.