I think we are all in agreement that New Jersey has changed markedly in the last ten years. As an immigration gateway, our state sees a regular dynamic shift that makes defining who and what New Jersey is difficult. Our personal stories and memories may no longer be relevant. As a transplant to NJ, I can identify with the goals and challenges of an immigrant from an even more alien landscape. I was looking for progressive work options as do many others that come here. Physical safety, inflationary protection and political freedom were not significant concepts on my own note but are common among the reasons given as to why America is attractive. Finding a place to call home, a “comfort zone”, has led to ethnic pockets within our communities. The downside to this grouping is isolation – discovering the diversity of American life is undercut.
The political ramifications of this social closure must be considered in how our Party markets itself. The approach must be flexible to find communal perspectives but also reflect how we are different. The promises of our Constitution are not well understood and many immigrants come from places where their Federal documents espouse a much different worldview. Socialism, corruption, tribal structures, and more form at least part of the thought framework as one adapts to life here.
The challenge facing the Libertarian Party is how to convince such a person not to wish for the ideal version of what was left behind but to desire real freedom, those ideas of our Constitution that discuss self-determination. Language and easy political promises of safety and social security are our obstacles when we speak of self-reliance and personal responsibility. Everyone likes to feel empowered but looking away from a central authority for those choices often means introducing foreign ideas.
I feel our best approach is to cultivate and maintain a continuous mainstream media presence. Addressing issues important to a community grouping, and tying the answer back to our Party’s model, will provide common ground for discussion. The goal is to create awareness that Libertarianism is a true option in New Jersey – that there is a philosophical core, fellowship and political alternatives worthy of pursuit.
Maria is the current chair of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Northern Region. She is a long-time resident of Sussex County and a career health professional.