Third-party voters seek liberation.
The local paper serves as a constant reminder of Anthony Perella II’s difficulties.
The newly elected chair of the Philadelphia Libertarian Party is struggling to solicit membership in a city where Democrats far outnumber Republicans. But the Independence Hall Tea Party Association, a local affiliate of the national organization formed last year in response to the Obama administration’s initiatives, is going strong—and making headlines wherever they go.
A look at how far the Tea Party movement has come gives Perella hope. He wants his party to be heard, too.
But there’s a problem.
It’s hard to get people involved, he says. Not only do some people see a third-party vote as wasted, since support is not there in large enough numbers to be effective, but the very essence of Libertarianism is individualism, so trying to get people to gather for meetings is almost oxymoronic.
And there’s another problem.
Perrella and other third-party voters like him can’t cast their ballots in next week’s primary. Pennsylvania is a closed-primary state, meaning only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote.
House Bill 1672, first introduced in 2009, seeks to make Pennsylvania an open primary state, but lingers at the committee level.
These ostracized voters may be out of sight, but they’re certainly not out of mind.
“I think a lot of people are really tired of the two main parties,” Perrella says.
The Tea Party movement was a total grassroots effort, he says, and one naysayers might have labeled doomed from the beginning. But what has actually happened defied logic: Small gatherings of like-minded folks were able to transform into a nationwide organization with strong support, active members, some semblance of leadership and, now, name recognition.
To Perrella, there’s no reason why his group can’t experience the same fate. And it usually starts with the same thing—disenchantment with the status quo. In his estimation, many city dwellers, particularly those of a younger age bracket, are tired of the same old thing here in Philly, from entrenched politicians to overspending to ridiculous taxes.
“It’s kind of silly that in the city of cheesesteaks they’re targeting soda,” he says.
Still, while there is a core that shares this outlook, as is evident by Internet chatter, people are still hesitant to become politically involved. The Philadelphia Libertarian Party hosts monthly meetings at the Raven Lounge on Sansom Street, but only a handful of people generally turn out for the Monday night gatherings.
Much more than the five-to-10-member meeting turnout are the 150-plus who are registered with the group’s meetup site online. His group does some outreach, Perrella says, but right now word-of-mouth is the group’s biggest form of advertisement.
It’s not like this everywhere in Pennsylvania. The Libertarian Party is actually the state’s, not to mention the country’s, third-largest minority political party. And for those who are actively involved, it’s worth the time put in.
“There’s a lot more voice support and vote support than people willing to be active,” says Marakay Rogers on what’s typically found concerning third-party people. “It’s sometimes smaller areas that are much more independent in their thinking.”
Rogers, a York, Pa., lawyer, is running for Pennsylvania governor under the Libertarian ticket.
On the surface, the 48-year-old Rogers reflects what Libertarianism is all about—individual liberty.
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