Creative Loafing (Tampa)

May 29 - June 4 2014 V.27, NO 12

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Page 8 of 39 | MAY 29-JUNE 04,2014 | 9 9 F lanked by signs reading "Clowns to the left" and "Jokers to the right," the vice chair of the Libertarian Party of Florida was rev- ving up the troops. "We gotta make sure we get the message out there," urged Alex Snitker, 37, a burly, bearded firebrand in a three-piece suit who in 2010 was LPF's first-ever Senate candidate. A predominantly white, predominantly male group of about 80 people had gathered to hear him in a meeting room at the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel in downtown Tampa, where the state party held its convention May 16-18. "Because for all the good things that are going on? The media's not going to report on that stuff. They're not going to talk about you. The revolution will not be televised. It will not be written down by mainstream media. It's going to be told by people like you, the regular citizen." Then he launched into Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative on November's ballot. He claims that, because of the amend- ment, 700,000 newly registered voters will go to the polls simply because "they wanna get high." "They don't care about Charlie Crist, Rick Scott, Adrian Wyllie. They don't care if it's Lucas Overby or David Jolly...They don't care! They just wanna get high! Use that and explain to them, take that issue, which is a defining issue with this party — take that issue and tell them why all the other things we do relate the same way, explain freedom to them using that issue, because that's their issue." Freedom to smoke marijuana has been a signature issue for Libertarians over the years. Wyllie, the party's gubernatorial candidate, jokes that when he used to tell people he was a Libertarian, the response generally was, "Oh, you mean a Republican who likes to smoke pot?" But LPF officials say it's Americans' continued disgust with the two-party system that has opened up more voters to their message. That's debatable, but the Libertarians do seem to be enjoying some blowback from the country's alienation toward both Republicans and Democrats. According to LPF Secretary Lynn House, Florida's Department of Elections said there were 22,655 registered Libertarians as of January of 2013. A year later, she says, the DOE's list had 24,000 names, a 7 percent increase. In just the past two months, election officials in Democrat-majority Palm Beach and Orange counties have reported that there are now more voters registered with no party affiliation (NPA) or minor parties than with the Republican Party. And in this fall's gubernatorial campaign, the Libertarian candi- date might actually pull in enough votes to make a difference in the outcome. Libertarians believe in limited government, free markets, individual rights, and more recently, end- ing the Federal Reserve and opposing foreign wars. And most have a seri- ous thing for Ron Paul, the now-retired Texas Congressman whose cult-like following (he ran for president on the Libertarian ticket in 1988) went a bit more mainstream in 2007 when he pursued the Republican nomination for presi- dent, and increased in 2011-2012 when he ran for a second time. Paul was the Libertarian gateway drug for many of the convention delegates. William Alexander Copps of Hallandale Beach, a cherubic-faced 30-year-old, said Paul's 2008 cam- paign led him to realize how attuned he was with the party's philosophy, especially post-Iraq. LPF's current chair, Dana Moxley Cummings, was a huge Obama supporter in 2008 while living in Tallahassee. But early in his tenure she decided the president was not who she thought he was, leading to a crisis of confi- dence in the FSU poli-sci major's belief system. Then a friend who worked with Students for Sensible Drug Policy asked her about Paul. "That crazy Republican?" was her first thought. But after researching the Texas Representative's record, she came away impressed by both his opposition to the war and his opposition to the war on drugs. Cummings — blonde, stylish, 35 — sounds a bit starstruck when talking about Paul. "The more I learned about Ron Paul, it was like, 'Oh my gosh, he's right about everything.'" Along with a group of former Obama disciples who called themselves "the Blue Republicans," she traveled the state in 2011-2012 on Paul's behalf. Although there are Libertarian candidates running for Florida gov- ernor, attorney general, and in two Congressional races in Florida, Cummings' philosophy is that the party needs to build itself up by running — and winning — in smaller races. "Start with your neighborhood, start with your city, try to get people involved with city politics, then move from the county." She says the party has had an influence in Tallahassee on issues like medical marijuana and red light cameras, allowing the party to break through to the mainstream an issue at a time. "It's insane to think we can take over the federal government," she says. "It's too big. We don't have that type of influence." POLITICS ISSUES OPINION POLITICS continued on page 10 "THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED": The Libertarian Party of Florida's Alex Snitker. CHIP WEINER WINNING & LOSING: LPF chair Dana Moxley Cummings is a former Obama supporter; delegate James Ray says as a Libertarian he can't used to "this winning thing." CHIP WEINER CHIP WEINER Party up The Libertarians are making noise — and this fall in Florida, they just might be heard. By Mitch Perry "The more I learned about Ron Paul," says Cummings, "it was like, 'Oh my gosh, he's right about everything.'" 2013 winner 216 S. 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