By Brian McLaughlin, TLI

Today, I made the short walk down to the snail-mail box and sent a printout to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.

I didn’t change my address, I committed to a new, fresh political philosophy—I simply put “LPF” where I had always put “REP or NPA” all the years prior. Since I first voted in the 1996 election, I’d never broken that tradition. So, yes … that’s right, I’m now Libertarian. And actually, I’m now a “VL-LPF-FL”—which stands for “Very Loud-Libertarian Party of Florida-For Life”.

Like immigraLibertarianEmblemnts who left the “old country” to come to America, I won’t be going back to my old home—and I’m sad about how things have gone there. The political atmosphere of today is just another version of Civil War and suppression and the famine of the soul, and similarly, a Napoleonic-like figure has emerged just like he did when so many of my ancestors fled to America.

I no longer want to vote within those confines. Never again will I vote for my 5th or 6th favorite Republican after all of the good ones have been eliminated in the first few weeks of the primaries. That party doesn’t represent me, maybe it never really did.

Though I respect freedom of religion like I respect all of our freedoms, I feel as though religion has seeped too much into the Republican Party, forcing its candidates to fake their way through those sorts of talking points. I’ve gagged many times. Also, I’m frustrated with the pendulum-swing effect that has happened with Trump. Trump has appealed to people who are angry about the Obama years, just like Obama’s base was angry about the Bush years and the Bush base was angry about the Slick Willy years … need I go on? I’m tired of anger replacing reasonable thought—that “style over substance” silliness that has prevented an outstanding candidate like Ron Paul from ever gaining traction. And with the left, I’m tired of the platitudes and lack of reason replacing the answer to that simple and critical question—how are you going to pay for that?

2_1_2016_johnson8201_s878x683And by the way, voters don’t seem to understand that a pendulum isn’t stuck in endless Left-Right mode—a two-dimensional quagmire. A pendulum can swing in other directions if you just know how to change its trajectory.

This year, I don’t think a 3rd Party run is going to be dismissed by the electorate, I have this gut feeling it is going to be embraced. Am I being idealistic? Maybe. But this year, the general election is going to have three candidates who are in the double digits—I can just feel it. And maybe, just maybe, a Libertarian candidate could snag the electoral votes from half a dozen or more of those Bernie or Cruz states, or one of the purple states. It is ripe to happen if we are handed Trump-Clinton as an election option.

Admittedly, I’m a political junkie and have been since my childhood. Make that a political nerd.

Here’s one of those polls that proves this isn’t an ordinary year…..

In 4th grade, I got in trouble at school for distributing a handwritten “presidential choice” tally sheet where you could put your name under Reagan or under Mondale. I brought it on the school bus and to school and passed it around for all of my classmates to sign. And hey … it was actually a pretty accurate poll, because I think Reagan won our elementary school poll 47 to 3, which is just about the same proportion as the electoral college rear-end whoopin’ later that November. My teacher wasn’t amused and took my poll away and ripped it up and threw it in the trash, said it was like passing notes in class. I disagreed.

She must have been a Democrat.

Yep, I suffer from severe political nerdism. Don’t worry though, I take three tablespoons of Real Clear Politics a day and it helps me focus.

There’s another thing to admit to—driving my Facebook buddies crazy with political banter. Anybody else suffer from this affliction? Nestled between the 735 photos of babies and recipes for chocolate-peanut butter goo cake and selfies are posts from me begging my family and friends to “wake up”. That this circus currently going on is damaging us. But I’m pretty sure a bunch of them have muted me.

So instead of wasting my time ranting on a Facebook feed to a handful of friends and family, I decided to put my money, my mouth and my effort into trying to be a part of the solution. Any kind of tiny contribution an individual can make should be channeled into the movement.

I’m happy with the decision to leave the Republican Party, and I know I’m one of many thousands to do it. And there’s no way in scorchin’ Hades I ever would have voted Democrat.

I have found a new home, a new political beginning at 41 years of age. The potential is endless, the room for growth eye-opening. These Libertarian candidates are approachable, down to earth. The party structure lacks the collective ego of the larger, “heavy” campaigns–it consists of concerned individuals, small business owners … people who simply want to protect our guaranteed rights and want the federal government at permanent arms length.

This is the year, a Perfect Storm kind of time … things are aligning perfectly for a Libertarian to not only be on the ballot, but be in the hearts and minds of American voters who didn’t even know the party existed. Election turnout is going to be huge, record-breaking, and we must seize these new voters and convert those who are fed up with the old country ways.

It’s time, and I am beyond enthusiastic to be a part of it.