The Duke Political Union hosted Mike Munger, chair of the political science department and professor of political science and economics, at its third Super Tuesday Meeting Tuesday night.
Munger, the 2008 Libertarian candidate for governor of North Carolina and keynote speaker at the 2008 Libertarian National Convention, discussed the Libertarian platform and the challenges facing third-party politics.
North Carolina has the third most restrictive ballot access law in the country, which Munger said presents several challenges for third parties trying to enter elections. The law requires third parties to raise a minimum of a $250,000 dollars and to acquire upwards of 70,000 petition signatures from registered voters—a number equal to 2 percent of the previous gubernatorial election’s voter turnout. A third party candidate must also receive at least 2 percent of votes during the election for their party to qualify to take part in the next election cycle.
“The difficulty we have in North Carolina is the state has set boundaries to protect the voters from clutter,” Munger said.
He described the state government’s fear that too many choices could overwhelm the voter, comparing the situation to a choosing a cereal.
“One thing you won’t find in a cereal aisle is dead bodies,” he said. “People can figure it out. Voters can figure out the problem of clutter, there won’t be any dead bodies in the voting booth.”
Munger opened the floor to a lengthy question-and-answer session during which he addressed his feelings on the future of the Libertarian Party and his views on American politics. He expressed his distaste for the Democratic and Republican parties, calling them “checkbooks of big corporations” and out of touch with their voter bases, and he described the contradictory nature of the Libertarian Party.
“It’s difficult to organize on the principle that you want to be left the hell alone,” Munger said. “For now, we’re a blackmail party, keeping the two state-sponsored parties in check.”
But when asked about the notion of shifting America to a parliamentary system like those in Europe, Munger was adamant about maintaining the traditional system.
“I really, really like the American Constitution,” he said. “In fact, I wish our government did.”
Although Munger said he may again seek the Libertarian gubernatorial nomination in 2012 and sees the Libertarian Party remaining as the blackmail party, he wishes see it shift into one of the mainstream party slots.
Munger also emphasized the importance of getting the Libertarian message out to students. When students are exposed to different political messages, they can make better decisions about their own politics, Munger said.
“I hope I raise questions,” he said in an interview. “If someone comes up to me after a discussion and says, ‘I have no idea why you’re wrong,’ then I know I’ve done my job.”
Students’ response at the event was also positive. Freshman DPU member Alexandra Swain, who regularly attends the Super Tuesday events, said she appreciated learning about a different political view.
“I thought he had a really interesting perspective on third-party politics,” Swain said. “It’s something I didn’t know too much about, so I thought this was really informative.”
DPU Co-president, Vikram Srinivasan, a senior, also expressed his appreciation for Munger’s insights.
“We have a pretty broad group at DPU and I think Professor Munger represents a unique voice,” he said. “Among college students, there are a number of Libertarians that are well represented, which I think was evidence of attendance tonight.”
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