Many people in this country are fed up with the two-party system, and the division and problems that this system has created. Nothing ever seems to change.

Recently, two separate groups of people in northern Michigan decided to do something about this. Simultaneously, these two groups decided to form official affiliates for the Libertarian Party of Michigan. Bylaws were drawn up, officers were elected, and a few candidates ran in local elections with very good results. 

The energy has been contagious. With all of the interest we’ve found up here, I guarantee that you’ll be hearing a lot more from the libertarian Party — the third largest party since the 1980’s, and one that held primary party status at the last election.

Libertarian party principles revolve around freedom and limited government, both in terms of government power and government spending. Basically, this means that a Libertarian is someone who is fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

The first new northern Michigan Libertarian group to form is called the Straits Area Libertarian Party(SALP)and covers Cheboygan, Emmet, Otsego, and Presque Isle counties.

The second group, the Northwest Michigan Libertarian Party(NWMLP), covers Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Kalkaska, Antrim, Charlevoix, Wexford, Manistee, and Missaukee counties.
Both affiliates have the purpose of nominating and campaigning for candidates for political office, initiating and/or supporting ballot proposals, lobbying elected officials, and engaging in educational and other informational activities.

The Libertarian party is growing quickly because young people and many others do not like what they see in the other two parties. Right now, our national debt is over $22 trillion, or $67,000 per person, according to the United States Treasury. Republicans, who used to boast about being financially conservative, are running up the debt more quickly than the Democrats.

Veterans also make up a large part of our membership. They have seen and experienced firsthand the destruction caused by our country’s foreign policies of interfering in other countries’ affairs and conflicts.

Libertarians sign an oath to the “Non-Aggression Principle.” Simply put, most people live their lives and follow the non-aggression principle in their interactions. Libertarians take this further, and apply this principle to group actions, including government and military actions. 
We are conservative fiscally, but liberal on most social issues. For example, our party’s platform states that “sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the government’s treatment of individuals, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration, or military service laws.”

Local issues are very important to Libertarians, as citizens can often have more impact on local issues than they can on national issues. As a real estate broker in Mancelona, I run across many issues in northern Michigan involving property rights. I plan to expand on these issues in future columns.

For example, Libertarians believe that the ever-increasing number of zoning regulations are slowly eroding our freedoms. These restraints on land use stem from well-intentioned efforts to promote public safety, environmental objectives, and aesthetic goals for development. However, according to a study by the Cato Institute, in addition to taking away our liberties, “a major side effect of this growing volume of zoning rules has been to deter construction and reduce the supply of housing, including multifamily and low-income housing.”

Other local Libertarian issues involving property rights include vacation property rules, eminent domain, and the government benefitting from property tax foreclosures. Eminent domain in particular is currently being debated across the country, as Trump’s declaration of a so-called national emergency enables the government to take private property for the building of a wall.

In addition to real estate issues, Libertarians will also be watching other local issues, such as the proposed new Antrim County jail and similar expensive government projects. We will be watching how the state and local governments implement the new recreational marijuana law. We have already impacted changes in civil forfeiture, as it is wrong for the state to seize personal property before a person has been found guilty.  

In addition to affecting local policy, our new groups’ purposes involve running as many local candidates as possible in the upcoming elections. In the last election, local Libertarian candidates did very well. Robert Clark, who ran for Arcadia Township Supervisor, earned 47.2 percent of the vote, which is the highest ever for a Libertarian candidate in Michigan. 

David Holmer of Manistee and Dana Carver of Onaway also received respectable percentages as candidates in County Commissioner races. Holmer is the NWMLP’s new political director and is currently seeking Libertarians who want to help us run a full slate of local candidates in the 2020 election.

Donna Gundle-Krieg, owner and broker of DEK Realty, is the District 1 representative for the Libertarian Party for Michigan, and chairperson of the newly formed Northwest Michigan Libertarian Party (NWMLP). She writes from Mancelona.

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