By Josh Moniz
---- — MANKATO — The Libertarian Party of Minnesota is hoping to take advantage of the public opposition to increasingly partisan politics in Washington in Minnesota's 1st Congressional District race this year.
The 1st District chapter held an organizational meeting Wednesday in Mankato.
Olga Parson, the party's field development representative, said the party is about the “non-aggression principle” opposed to any force against a person or his/her property. The party seeks to maximize personal freedom while minimizing government interference or regulation.
The party platform also:
■ opposes proactive or "nation building" military intervention in other countries;
■ opposes nearly all forms of taxation, preferring funding through a voluntary or contractual basis:
■ opposes limitations on same-sex marriage and access to contraceptive procedures;
■ opposes welfare programs, preferring encouraging charitable organizations or the free market to address the issues;
■ opposes limiting gun rights;
■ supports legalizing "victimless crimes" as personal responsibility of the individual, a stand that includes legalizing drugs, prostitution and truancy;
■ seeks to eventually entirely separate business and government.
Parson said this broad platform has allowed the Libertarian Party to legitimately pull voters from both parties and is more specific than the Independence Party. She said the party draw a good portion of its followers from supporters of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, but it also draws from the LGBT community and from small business owners frustrated with the Republican Party.
The Wednesday event drew a few notable political figures, including former GOP Sen. Al DeKruif, St. Peter mayor candidate Joel Brinker, St. Peter City Council candidate Roger Parras and Minnesota House 24B Libertarian candidate Deb Salonek.
A poignant counterpoint of the party's challenges ahead occurred during a debate between Brinker, who wants to consider himself a Libertarian mayor if elected, and DeKruif, who was in office during the Republican control of the Minnesota Legislature in 2012.
DeKruif said he has Libertarian leanings, but he takes issue with the party targeting Republicans that share their ideals and accusing them of not being committed enough in their votes. He said he also seriously worries that voting for a third party only helps the opposing party. He said he blames Tom Emmer’s gubernatorial loss in 2010 entirely on Independent candidate Tom Horner siphoning off votes.
Brinker said he understood DeKruif’s concerns but feels neither major party is actually making legitimate progress on important issues like the federal debt. He said voting out of this concern has not progressed the issues nor help to get the prefered candidates in office.
“Getting people not to vote with fear is our biggest challenge,” said Parson.
She said the party’s top goal for 2014 is to capture 5 percent of the votes in a statewide race, the threshold for "major party" status in Minnesota, which guarantees access to the Minnesota ballot. She said she expects the criticism in wake of the federal government shutdown to help grow their members.
The 1st District chapter plans to hold its next district meeting on Nov. 12 in Mankato. More information on the Minnesota chapter is available at www.lpmn.org.