LPNC Doctrine of Realistic Candidacy
A major goal of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina (LPNC), as stated in its Bylaws is to run candidates for election to public office in the State of North Carolina. The LPNC Bylaws also call for the party to engage in educational efforts, to make the political philosophy of libertarian better known to the public. When a candidate runs for an elective office both of these goals will be addressed by any campaign. However, a campaign for public office is not primarily an educational endeavor, but rather an appeal to voters regarding specific issues which might be addressed by someone who is in fact elected to the office in question.
Each candidate running as a Libertarian will be seeking votes from registered voters for a specific office. Each of these offices will have a defined job description and term of office. When a candidate asks for votes in that election, the candidate is asking for voters’ permission to use the powers of that office, during the term of office, to achieve things which can realistically be achieved. The candidate may favor many additional policies, consistent with libertarian philosophy, and should not deny such inclinations. But the candidate is not running for the position of lifetime dictator. The candidate is not running to establish a utopia. The candidate hopes to be able to use the specific term of office for which they are running to achieve things which are thought to be realistic goals. This and only this is what an appeal for votes is for.
Under North Carolina law, the LPNC cannot require a candidate to conduct their campaign in any specific way. But the LPNC strongly encourages each candidate to focus their campaign on the very limited possibilities which election to that office offers. Campaign promises should not extend beyond those possibilities. The LPNC encourages each candidate to be able to articulate why the specific goals that candidate has for the office are consistent with libertarian philosophy. And the candidate may wish to note that further work on the issues being discussed is desirable beyond what might be achieved by that office. But any actions beyond what an officeholder can achieve in one term, however desirable in the candidate’s mind, are not what a voter is being asked to judge. If the candidate is fortunate enough to be elected, and can actually achieve some or all of the promises made during the campaign, it may be that the candidate will come before the voters again and run for another term, or another office. And at such a future time, new campaign proposals will be appropriate.
But any one election is not about future campaigns or fully implemented ideologies. Therefore the LPNC urges candidates to avoid discussions of the distant future, of utopian ideals, and of any policy proposals which cannot be achieved by the holder of the office in question during one term. There are plenty of venues for libertarians to discuss broad policies furthering deep philosophical convictions. And voters may at times be referred to policy proposals or forums which address these. But the candidate’s campaign should not be distracted by such discussion, or spend significant time discussing them. The candidate’s primary goal is to convince voters to cast a vote for that candidate and, hopefully, to be allowed to use powers of the office, during the allotted term, to achieve what is realistically possible, and what is good for the constituency – nothing more.