Dan Reale serves as chairman of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut, a statewide third party that seeks to elect candidates to local, state, and national office.
The Connecticut Examiner spoke with Reale about the identity of the Libertarian Party, and how he sees the party’s prospects for this fall’s municipal elections.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
How do you see your role as chair of the Libertarian Party of Connecticut?
The main responsibility I have as chair of the party is obviously growing the party, which has been accomplished despite COVID.
As a matter of fact, if anything, the government response to COVID has helped us grow and actually start to raise serious money. The COVID response may have initially been well-intentioned, but it went well beyond “15 days to flatten the curve” and started to amount to moving goalposts. It was represented as, “if I wear a mask and get the vaccine, I will get my life back,” and unfortunately 18 months in, it’s pretty clear that no, these things will not get your life back, and there are no plans to end the restrictions.
Why has frustration with COVID restrictions been a boon for Libertarians?
People just see the writing on the wall, and realize that they’d better elect somebody other than Democrats or Republicans or they will be in a world of trouble. A lot of people are switching to the Libertarian Party after having gone back and forth between the Republican Party and Democratic Party forever.
We’ve easily seen a more than 10 percent increase in registrations, and a real increase in participation in events like rallies. Last year was the first year we had affiliates in all areas of Connecticut.
I can see why that would lead to frustration with Democrats enacting restrictions, but why wouldn’t that just lead to people supporting Republicans, who are making the same arguments against restrictions?
Republicans aren’t going to stand up and fight for your rights, they’re never going to take action. That’s when you need a Libertarian, because Libertarians have always said that there are lines you don’t cross, and this is one of those bright lines. Republicans have pretended to respect your rights, but when it comes down to it, they’re not actually taking any action. A lot of Republicans claim to be against this stuff, but why aren’t they actually doing anything? We’re filing lawsuits and making Freedom of Information Act requests for complaints about mask mandates. The Republicans are just sitting around and saying “oh, well, if we had more of us in Connecticut, maybe we could do something.”
I like to call us Libertarians a second party, rather than a third party, because the Democrats and the Republicans are one party pretending to be two.
What are some of the municipal races you’re focusing on this fall?
In Meriden, we have two candidates, and in Plainfield, we have three people running for Board of Education, including me. If all three of us get elected, we would have a very big policy say, because the remainder of the Board of Education would be Democrats and Republicans. At a local level, we’re focused on the same things Democrats and Republicans are, or should be, like making it so local governments actually live within their means.
What about for next year’s races for state legislature and the governorship?
We’re going to do everything we can for next year. We’re holding our nominating convention on January 23 for next year’s races, which is early, but we want to get a head start on petitioning, because ballot access is a huge problem.
For example, take Sterling. We don’t have ballot access there, so if I go to Sterling and I want to run for First Selectman of Sterling, I cannot form a town committee because we have no ballot access, so the town committee cannot raise or spend over $1,000. That’s a major impediment.
Still, the growth in our state party does mean that I think next year is going to be great for us. If you’re trying to build an institution, you need to retain institutional knowledge, which we’re finally starting to be able to do.
Next year, I plan on just stepping down so I can focus on being a candidate, because in the past, I have had that dual role as candidate and chair. Now, the party is big enough and things are in a place such that somebody else can handle it. If we got hit by a truck tomorrow, we’d be good, and it’s taken a lot of work to get big enough to do that.
I know the “Unmask Our Kids” campaign has been a major priority for the Libertarian Party of Connecticut. Tell me about that effort, and why stopping mask requirements in schools is such a policy priority for you.
The government took a year of our kids’ education for no practical, sound reason at all. It ended up crippling our children psychologically and intellectually by completely removing a year of their childhood. Children are going without their friends, without student-teacher interaction and emotional development.
If you pull any superintendent aside and ask if distance learning worked, they’ll admit, and everyone agrees, that no, none of this works. The people that have been pushing these ideas have gotten their way for the past 18 months, and the results have not been as they’ve stated they would be. They want you to isolate forever, wear a mask forever, and impair learning outcomes for children forever.
Why would anyone want that?
They want federal and state money. School districts are far more concerned about getting federal and state money than they are about the actual well-being of children, and the towns are afraid of the Governor.
We’re starting to see a lot of pushback at the school board level, and that’s the opening where the Libertarian party is going to make its presence heard. The Libertarian Party doesn’t believe in ideas that are so good that they need to be mandatory. We believe that anyone who wants to wear a mask can wear one, but the Governor’s policy is to let school districts force everyone to wear a mask, and then ask people for personal health records to show they are exempt from these orders.