Free The Disruptors!

In the market, unconventional competitors, or “disruptors”, such as Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon do a wonderful job of solving problems created or ignored by the status quo. Given that most Americans are dissatisfied with government, it seems reasonable to ask, “Where are these disruptors when it comes to public affairs?” In fact, political disruptors such as Ross Perot, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul have been hard at work for decades, but none have gained enough traction to pose a serious threat to established parties. The reason is simple: while legislators protect the freedom to compete in the marketplace, they erect barriers to it in the political arena.

For a statewide election in Tennessee, Republicans or Democrats need only 25 signatures for their party to be named on the ballot, while other parties must amass 2.5% of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Case in point, the Libertarian Party, the third-largest political party in the United States, must collect 33,844 signatures for its candidates to be identified as “Libertarian Party” on ballots. Otherwise, the party affiliation will be simply labeled as “Independent.” This unreasonable hurdle is nothing more than a barrier to competition, thinly disguised as an administrative necessity. It protects established parties by denying other parties the opportunity to capitalize on name recognition.

Numerous lawsuits have asserted that such obstacles violate the free and fair access clause of our constitution. Most have met with mixed results since courts generally interpret laws rather than change them. Last March, Libertarians offered HB-662, a bill that would reduce the number of signatures required, but it has been stalled until January of 2018. I urge citizens are to contact their representatives in support of HB-662 and to visit the following link on Facebook to sign a petition to grant Libertarians fair access to the ballot box.

The protected two-party system has left the country hopelessly divided, and made party power the focus of party activity--not policies, not integrity, not truth, not fiscal responsibility, not the protection of liberty. It is critical that disruptors be allowed to compete on even ground!

ArticleDavid DuBose