by Dallas Brooks
Lily Tang Williams is running for the US Senate in Colorado on the Libertarian ticket. She and the party are making serious headway with the voters, but it seems that one group in particular is dead set on preventing anyone but Democrats and Republicans from sharing the stage.
Club 20 is a non-profit group in western Colorado that purports to be “a non-partisan coalition of individuals, businesses, corporations, local governments and Native American tribes from Colorado’s 22 western counties…to promote and protect the West Slope.” The organization hosts a series of debates that are relevant to Western Colorado, but they make a concerted effort to exclude minor parties and Independents. On September 10, the organization will host a debate with only the two major-party US Senate candidates invited.
When asked why they excluded the Libertarian candidate, they responded with the following email:
Thank you for your email. CLUB 20 bi-laws state that any 3rd party candidates must have at least 1% of their party represented as registered voters for the specific district that the candidate is running for. According to the Secretary of State’s office, there are currently 3,678,915 registered voters in the State through the end of August and 35,967 of those are registered as Libertarian voters. The Libertarian Party represents .977% of registered voters in Colorado which falls short of the 1% threshold needed to be included in our candidate debates. We understand that this may be frustrating, but we adhere strongly to these requirements to ensure our debates are truly representative of Western Colorado. I apologize for any inconvenience and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. (emphasis added)
Although it’s obvious that Club 20 is being willfully obsequious to their 1% rule, it’s also true that they are, in fact, disenfranchising their own members. Of the 22 counties on the West Slope of Colorado, the active registered Libertarians of the following counties meet or exceed the 1% number:
- Routt County
- Eagle County
- Summit County
- Mesa County
- Lake County
- San Miguel County
- San Juan County
- La Plata County
Are the Libertarian voters of these 8 western counties not worthy of having their voices heard?
While it’s true that Libertarians represent 0.977% of registered voters statewide, that doesn’t mean it’s a true reflection of where the voters stand. It does not represent the will of the voters for this election cycle. Why else would Governor Gary Johnson be at a whopping 16% among Colorado’s voters with an actual 11 point lead over Donald Trump among voters under 35 years of age? Can Club 20 claim that their debates are “truly representative” if they ignore the polls?
Also note the careful wording of the Club 20 email which states that “3rd party candidates must have 1%.” There are Independent candidates running for the US Senate, but they weren’t invited either. Independents are over 34% of active registered voters in Colorado as of August 2016. I’m one of them, and I’m supporting the Libertarian candidate for the US Senate. According to Club 20, my voice doesn’t count because of an arbitrary system of rules put in place for the specific purpose of promoting only Republicans and Democrats. If you look at the organization’s entire weekend of events, not a single politician outside of the GOP or the Democratic party has been invited.
Libertarians across the state should contact Club 20 and demand that Lily be allowed to debate. As a matter of fact, with only a handful of candidates on the US Senate race ballot, why not include them all? America won’t be able to fix the problems she faces by the same type of thinking that got her into this mess in the first place. The close-minded, two-party, 24/7 soundbite style of politics isn’t what the people want. We want to hear something new, and we want an honest debate about the policies from the candidates themselves.