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Bill Gelineau: Michigan has a choice. Why not a Libertarian?

Related: Gretchen Whitmer projected winner in Michigan governor race

For someone who is not a professional politician, the last two years have been quite a ride. When Gov. Gary Johnson qualified the Libertarian Party as a “major party” in the 2016 Presidential race (by earning at least 5 percent of the presidential vote), it became clear to me that this was an opportunity not to be lost.

Three governor candidates make final pitch

Read the closing arguments of the other two candidates nominated by their parties for Michigan governor in 2018:

Gretchen Whitmer: Michigan needs a get-it-done governor

Bill Schuette: I will move Michigan forward with jobs and bigger paychecks

I have served twice as chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan. But, it was a big unknown the enormous hurdles needed to face the D’s and R’s on the ballot. First there was the signature requirement (so high that an independent candidate convinced a judge to lower it).    
Having won my primary in August, I expected most of the media to provide something close to equal coverage. Since we haven’t had a third major party run for governor since 1970, I thought the novelty alone would suffice. Wow! Was I wrong. Even the taxpayers give the D’s and R’s money for their campaigns (most of them do not know this).

Despite it all – I’ve found the genuine goodness of most Michigan voters darned refreshing (the Democratic nominee has a brand on the expletive)    and with an amazing interest in our policy positions. We’ve worked hard to discuss the issues voters care about at    We’ve highlighted things we believe matter like prison reform and tax assessment foreclosures that they may not have considered.

  • I’ve made the case that we’re wasting a lot of money on prisons. Many academics agree with me – that our prison population (about 30 percent higher per capita than other Midwest states) is a drag on our budget.
  • Perhaps more than anyone, I’ve argued that programs like Pure Michigan are inappropriate investments in profitable corporations that taxpayers should not fund.
  • Nobody has talked about our service personnel as much as our campaign. From the need to invest in qualified ombudsman through the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs – to my argument that deployment of the National Guard without Congressional Approval is unconstitutional. I would take my role as Commander-in-Chief of the Guard with the sanguinity it deserves.

Michigan has a choice.    

As the recent polls seem to indicate that the Democratic nominee is a virtual shoo-in, the Republican nominee is withdrawing ads. All that’s left is counting the votes.

Or is it?

These and many other issues would not be discussed at all except for our campaign. The D’s and R’s are so busy demonizing each other that ideas about public policy rarely come through.

And the two so-called debates amounted to little more than sound bites. Is this the essence of good democracy? The Libertarian Party is low enough on the radar that the D’s and R’s have mostly slung their mud at each other. George Bernard Shaw famously said, “Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

I’m not suggesting that my opponents aren’t anything but politicians – but, the scale of negative ads has sickened most voters.

Don’t buy it, Michigan. We can do better.

If voters give the Libertarian Party 5 percent of the vote, it will be the very first time in Michigan history that ANY party that has qualified once as a major party was able to do it again. If we’re given the opportunity again in 2020, I expect that the unprecedented effort that the Gelineau-Thomas campaign has been able to accomplish will be outshined by a new generation of freedom-loving dreamers.

We know that Michigan supports a tolerant society and free markets. In the end, that’s what we’re all about. For me, it’s been the ride of a lifetime. No regrets.

Thank you, Michigan

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Ron French. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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