The Republicans and the Democrats have extensive campaign systems and staffing. The Libertarians have a small, but dedicated team doing all they can to engage in debate and attract voters. And, compared to other Libertarian parties, they're not that small.
"We have more Libertarian candidates on our ballot than any other state," said Libertarian Mayoral candidate Chris Bowen during a summertime visit to NUVO. "Really, history could be made by re-electing Ed Coleman as city county councilman as a libertarian and by voting for me."
Still the third-rail life ain't easy. Some major mayoral debates — including those organized by the Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis Recorder, WTHR, the University of Indianapolis, Butler University and a group of Midtown neighborhood associations — snubbed the party by excluding Bowen, choosing instead what organizers saw as the most efficient use of the time by focusing on who they determined were the most "viable" candidates.
Bowen bears sleight after sleight with remarkable good humor — including NUVO using the wrong first name on the cover of our Sept. 1 issue and accidentally destroying the video of our candidate profile interview.
Here's what Bowen had to say about the experience as a third-party candidate:
Bowen: It's definitely been a growth process for me.
I've always been fascinated by the founding of our nation and kind of what they used as their blueprint and their inspiration .. the Magna Carta ... the ways they were being treated by the king, and by the system É How they wanted to set up the system so that the everyday person wouldn't have to go through the same struggles that they did.
I grew up seeing both sides of the coin, not knowing really where I fit in. Growing up with Reagan being president, I thought that I identified most with being a Republican. Then .. I'd become a property owner, a dad, and I got to travel the world and see poverty and people struggling, and ... I worked in a school in the inner-city down in Fountain Square's charter school, (saw) families struggling to make it, but they still have hope.
... I saw these things, and I saw the Patriot Act and use (of) politics against you because we don't agree with your lifestyle as it comes to civil unions for same sex couples. When I saw these things I knew that I wasn't a Republican anymore. I knew that I didn't fit in with what they stood for, and so instead of continuing to just get in arguments all the time at social gatherings I decided that I would just go the independent route.
So I went to a tea party. I'm not a tea partier, but I went over to a tea party and I met some Libertarians there who were handing out literature. ... As I really looked into what Libertarians stood for, I found a political home.
I believe in a small limited government that has a very defined role and it doesn't stand outside of those rules. It's like a game ... if you step out of bounds, we stop play, we re-set the clock. Government É continues to get out of bounds and then a new out-of-bounds line is set. It's like we keep drawing the line further and further out ... The whole adage about giving enough rope to hang yourself É I think that we as voters and as a community, we've given our government enough rope, and it's going to hang itself. We're on the brink here nationally of things breaking down, and I see both sides getting more polarized.
NUVO: Do you feel, as a Libertarian, that you are blown off or that people don't take you seriously?
A: Most certainly, it's like being the red-headed step child, but ... I'm up for the challenge, and I'm up for this role. I tell people I probably have better odds of winning the Powerball then I do as getting elected as third party candidate. But what people in Indianapolis may not realize is that Indiana has the largest, most active Libertarian party in the country, more than California, more than New York, more than states that are more populous.
Indianapolis is just the perfect size, it's not too large that we can't save ourselves from the issues that we face. And it's not too large that we can't come together and really make a change on some of these issues. If something happens federally, Indianapolis is poised to survive. We really need to come together as a community, as neighbors, and again, we're not too big that we shouldn't know who our neighbors are ... to say, "Hey, let's slow down, the pace of life has gotten a little too fast here, let's take a deep breath and get our priorities and our focus."
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