This week’s issue of The New Yorker has a wrap-up on everyone’s favorite almost-candidate of the Libertarian Party, Fran Powers of Staten Island. As everyone knows by now, Fran got a ton of media attention for seeking to run against his father, Republican Frank Powers, for the 13th Congressional District seat on Staten Island. Alas, Fran lost the nomination to his very worthy challenger, Susan Overeem.
Fran’s comments to The New Yorker provide some insight into why the nominating contest went the way it did:
Since announcing his candidacy, Powers has struck a fiery tone suggesting less a party line, or even a reformist line, than an everyman’s annoyance with government in general. He says he wants to abolish tolls on the Verrazano Bridge for city residents, increase the number of hospitals on the island, and improve public transportation. “I don’t want to rag on Staten Island, but we’ve got too much development here, crap development there, mismanagement all over the place,” he said. He was pleased by the government’s role in redeveloping the fishing pier down on Midland Beach: “I love that place. They’ve got cleaning stations and everything. And, you know, the people there eat the fish. I’ve seen it myself.”
Railing against “too much [private] development” while praising government projects is, of course, no way to win a Libertarian nomination. Fran isn’t entirely off-base when he complains that “Libertarians just want to talk dogma.” More to the point, ideological parties tend to place an emphasis on ideology. Sometimes we’re human and go for the easy publicity of a high-profile libertarian-leaning candidate, but I’m proud that most of the time we make the hard choice to put our principles first.
But as free-marketeers, Libertarians also love competition. Fran says he plan “to start a new party, called the Free Party, ‘as in, the free party—get it?'” I wish Fran and the Free Party nothing but success.