Libertarian Candidate Connects With Pagan Volunteers

While the two major political parties garner the lion’s share of press and attention, third party candidates for President of the United Sates often struggle to garner attention, equal treatment, and the votes of individuals dissatisfied with the status quo. Many modern Pagans, already predisposed towards questioning the dominant narratives in our culture, have flocked to the Green Party or the Libertarian Party depending on where they fall on various social, foreign policy, and economic issues. In 2008, around 8% of Pagans polled by Witchvox said they were going to vote for a third party, a number that may have been depressed by the Libertarian ticket running noted anti-Pagan activist Bob Barr. This election cycle, with many voters frustrated with the lack of forward movement on a number of issues, third party candidates could see increased numbers among frustrated demographics, religious minorities included.

PNC Managing Editor, Cara Schulz with Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson

PNC Managing Editor, Cara Schulz with Presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson

One third party politician that has already made a very public splash with modern Pagans is Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who held a historic press conference with representatives of Pagan and Hindu organizations. When asked why he took the time to talk to religious minorities who have little sway over large voting blocs, Johnson said: “I am going to go out on a limb here and say that you are opinion makers. People look to you for your opinions because you take the time to be well informed.” Nor did Johnson backtrack when the mainstream press took notice, telling the Pagan Newswire Collective  that “there was no consternation within my campaign about any of the feedback that we got on that event. No consternation.” Because of this, Johnson has sparked the interest of many Libertarian-leaning Pagans, including the Pagan Newswire Collective’s Cara Schulz, who is acting as a volunteer coordinator for an upcoming speaking event at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. I quizzed Schulz about her support for Johnson, and why she’s throwing her support behind a third party candidate when the common wisdom often says such votes are “thrown away.”

“It’s considered conventional wisdom that if you vote for a Third Party you’re throwing your vote away.  I think we need to reconsider what throwing our vote away means.  We complain about how the two major political parties ignore Pagans at best and are hostile to us at worst, with a heavy sprinkling of mockery thrown in for the LULZ.  Yet we reward them by voting for them.  We need examine what a thrown away vote is. If you’re voting for someone who won’t have anything to do with you and won’t stand up for you when it’s politically chancy to do, isn’t that throwing away your vote?  I’ll be throwing away my vote for a candidate who doesn’t run away from the evil or silly Pagans and treats us with respect, like he treats any other citizen.  You can bet if he takes heat for having Pagans perform at his rally, like he took heat for the Pagan media townhall, he won’t care.”

Schulz added that “in Presidential elections I’ve voted Republican and Democrat.  Not this year.  In a video Johnson asks people to ‘be Libertarian with me for one election’ and that’s what I’m doing.” In addition to Schulz’s support, local band Murphey’s Midnight Rounders, made up entirely of Pagan singers and musicians, will be giving an opening performance . In an editorial posted to the PNC-Minnesota bureau, Brad Murphey of Murphey’s Midnight Rounders explains why he was willing to play at this event, and be seen as aligned with Johnson’s campaign.

“Why did I agree to play for the Gary Johnson Rally? Because Gary Johnson is speaking to needs and changes that affect Pagans and sub-cultures that are related to it. Because the more we stand up and address those needed changes, the more will get done. Because it’s time for us all to get up off the couch and stop barking at the TV. Murphey’s Midnight Rounders is not a Pagan Band, per se. We are a Folk Band (we like to call it ‘Power Folk’). Our music addresses what we feel and who we are. At the same time, all of us in the band are Pagan, so a big percentage of our music speaks to that subject: honoring Deity, tradition, and approaching the goddess with mirth and reverence. That being said, for a band that is all Pagan and sings about Pagan issues, it was an honor to be asked to sing at a rally for a presidential candidate. It says a lot about him, that, as a candidate, he is more open and supportive of the Pagan religions.”

Murphey also noted how he things Pagan ideals and Libertarian ideals align, saying that We, as Pagans, tend to profess acceptance (or at least tolerance) of individuality and lifestyles that we may not subscribe to” and “Paganism tends to embrace and defend many sub-cultures that have been marginalized by (dare I say it?) mainstream thought.” There has long been a trend toward small-l libertarian values among more conservative Pagans, many of whom are uninterested in fighting the Christian-fueled “culture wars,” but are interested in fiscally conservative ideas and a less interventionist foreign policy. Indeed, Republican New York congressional candidate Dan Halloran, now well-known for his Heathen faith, is also seeking to run on the Libertarian ticket, a gambit that benefited him when he won a seat on New York’s City Council.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U8hQtMpFdY

Just as the Green Party has drawn progressives unhappy with the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party seems to be a haven for conservatives that couldn’t find room inside the Republican Party’s “big tent.” These ”Ron Paul Republicans” are finding Johnson to be an alternative who speaks to their values.

“[State representative candidate Kevin] Kervick, a Republican, publicly endorsed Johnson on Wednesday, saying he thinks the country is “broken,” and he doesn’t see the national Republican or Democratic parties doing anything to fix it. He said he still supports Republican candidates for governor and other state offices, but can’t bring himself to endorse Romney.”

For many, including Schulz, Johnson is the inclusive, socially “cool,” conservative voice they have been waiting for.

“There were no questions about religion and there never is with the Johnson campaign.  They don’t care about your religion or how your religion reflects on them, they care about how well you can do your job.”

For those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the Johnson event starts tomorrow (Friday) at 12:30 CDT. Organized by the Macalester Young Americans for Liberty. You can get the details, here.

[This article is the first in a series exploring how modern Pagans are interacting with the presidential race. Are you a Pagan who is volunteering with the Democratic, Republican, or Green Party? Drop me a line, and you may be quoted in a future installment!]

About Jason Pitzl-Waters
  • CrystalK

    I don’t know about you, but “convectional wisdom” makes me feel all warm and toasty inside. ; )

    • CrystalK

      And I might as well mention that I am voting Green for president, governor, and for my state representatives. Third party on everything but the local races in which there are no third party candidates.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Voting ‘third party’ is only a wasted vote if no one else does it. If enough people support them, then the votes will not be wasted.

    Even if they do not win, an upsurge in third party voters will be a nice demonstration of disenchantment with the current ‘binary’ system.

    • Scarabus

      Here in Washington state we have a Scott Walker clone running for governor on the Republican ticket. Not a good race in which to “make a statement,” unless we are willing to risk our educational system and public services trashed.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        I live in the UK, so I can’t vote in the US Presidential elections even though it is probably more important than the UK general election is for me.

        I don’t do to well with compromising, either, which makes me a ‘none of the above’ kind of guy.

        • Scarabus

          The UK system is much better for third parties than the US—basically the only influence third parties have in the USA is if their ideals are taken up by one of the major parties. Once only a third party established itself in the USA. It was after the collapse of the Whigs and it was the Republican Party.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Considering that it is pretty lousy for third (well, fourth) parties here, it must truly suck Stateside.

  • Scarabus

    Voting third-party for President in a reliable blue or red state is a way to send a message without too much risk. But watch the polls, and pay attention to the Congressional, state, and local elections! Congress is too important to hand over to the fundies, however tempting it is to try to make a statement there.

    BTW, consider looking into Pagans and the Justice Party, http://www.justicepartyusa.net/.

    • CrystalK

      I live in a reliable red state so, to me, voting for Obama is a wasted effort.

  • A Concerned Pagan

    In a close election, making a “statement” by voting for a third party candidate can have very negative consequences. People who made a “statement” by voting for Nader gave us Bush who I don’t think anyone would argue was good for the environment or for minority religions. While Nader might have done more regarding environmental issues than Gore, Gore would have been a tremendous improvement over Bush. By making their “statement”, people actually hurt their cause.

    While neither of the current main party presidential candidates is ideal, their history clearly shows that one of them would be much better for the environment and for minority religions. We don’t need to let “making a statement” lead to a repeat of the year 2000 election.

  • Helen/Hawk

    While I agree in principle……I’m a concerned this year. There are places where the polls are so close………..and, to be frank, any more Republican craziness frightens me. I think voting to throw out the Republicans is very important this November.

    • http://www.facebook.com/TwiceGiven Jon Ruoff

      One issue to this, both those in the Dem and GOP parties need thrown out. They both have forgotten who they work for and just keep having “pissing” contests with each other and not getting anything done. It’s both parties because the Dems are afraid to pass any kind of budget for fear of ticking people off and losing more seats to GOP like they did the last time.

  • http://twitter.com/MAPPAquerque Daniel Latrimurti

    This is sooooooo way off the mark. As well as many of the comments.
    1. A vote for Nader gave us Bush. While this is technically correct do you think anything would be different now. Obama is more Bush then Bush in terms of our aggressive, imperialistic position in the world and the erosion of our civil liberties.
    2. “More Republican Craziness?” That would be better stated as more establishment craziness. Debt, debt, debt, debt, debt….it keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and will continue to do so regardless if it is MR or BO
    3. To continue to buy into the wasted vote illusion will only mean that we will continue to get what we’ve always gotten and we’ll continue to complain about it and nothing will ever change. I’m for sound money, constituionally limited government, living within our means, respect for civil liberties and that is Gary Johnson.

  • Keith Campbell

    Setting aside the issue of whether a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote (or, worse, the equivalent of a vote for your primary opposition, as is sometimes the case), my position on the Libertarian Party is this: no matter how much I might agree with them about many, many topics, they will never get a vote from me for *anything* while they cling to the notion that corporations, left to their own devices, can be trusted to Do The Right Thing. We have a couple hundred years worth of evidence to the contrary, at this point, and very little evidence in support. And a government with even LESS control than we have right now over what huge corporations can and cannot get away with doesn’t bear thinking about. It’s literally terrifying.

  • JasonMankey

    Who nominates the next few Supreme Court Justices is such an important issue that I’d vote Democratic even if I didn’t like President Obama. With issues like gay marriage, continued access to abortion, the separation of church and state, corporations being “people,” etc etc., possibly being brought before the court in the next few years the idea of another Scalia or Alito is frightening.

  • sickofit

    The fact that Johnson will never win a presidential election is not totally the issue, it is that he will be forcing more awareness which is what is needed. Bottom line is no one will ever know the truth with any politician because politicians, ALL politicians, are bought.

  • BryonMorrigan

    It’s the end of the world as we know it…when Cara Schulz and I agree on a presidential candidate…

    • Lonespark

      Perhaps so. Time for a bright new day?

  • workingmills

    Cara Schultz is right. A vote for Gary Johnson is not a throw away. If Gov. Johnson gets 10% it will send a shock wave of political change across the country. He talks the talk of individual liberties and he walks the walk. He can certainly relate to people who have been undervalued and marginalized. Look at how the corporate media ignored him and how the GOP played dirty tricks to keep him off states’ ballots.