During Reconstruction–a euphemism for military occupation of conquered low-tariff states–a bolter was a voter who a left one duopoly party to vote for “the” other party.
People other than FORMER Atty. Gen’l. Sessions were named Beauregard, and Lysander Spooner’s post office had long before been driven out of business. Comstock laws were a way of keeping women “in their place” and low-tariff, anti-women’s-suffrage, prohibitionist candidates like Horace Greeley were cursed as “liberals” in Southern newspapers regardless of party. Karl Marx articles appeared in Yankee newspapers but Red Republicanism wasn’t gaining much traction.
Bolters were understood because jobs for the boys depended on looters betraying “the other” party and joining “ours.” But what of parties that believed with integrity in a religious autocracy (the Prohibition Party) or a communist dictatorship complete with Terror and guillotines? The closest thing to a Libertarian challenge was the Equal Rights Party organized to get women the vote. But its 1872 candidate, Victoria Woodhull, was arrested to curb the spread of shocking notions regarding the meaning of the 14th and 15th Amendments.
With “Notorious Victoria” out of the picture, only prohibitionists and supporters of European-style looter dictatorships remained as third-party alternatives. Their voters were studiously ignored at first, but later, when their tiny vote totals swung elections to change laws, duopoly party platforms, and the Constitution itself, their candidates were vilified as “spoilers” (the better to deflect attention away from their altruistic beliefs).
Bolters were good in rough-and-tumble “I-told-you-so” campaigns between virtually identical parties seeking leather seats, paychecks, bribes and boodle. Spoilers were unwavering, enigmatic, loyal to principles and unimpressed by personalities. Spoilers messed up the math, changed the laws, and displeased the duopoly. But all third-parties before 1971 were comprised of looter fanatics.
Only after prohibition and the income tax (both third-party inventions) completely destroyed the economy would women bolt to supporting liberal repeal of sumptuary laws. This culminated in the Libertarian Party victory over the last remnants of 1872 Comstockism with our plank defending females against prohibitions on birth control for at least 100 days. The Supreme Court used the LP.org plank to strike down Dixiecrat coercion of women 45 days after the 1972 electoral votes were counted. This was accomplished with fewer than 4000 individual votes, which works out to an equivalent ratio of law-changing clout of roughly 10,000 to one for a 50/50 comparison. Not bad for a passel of “wasted” spoiler votes, eh? Nowadays we rack up four million votes.
So what about carpetbaggers? Those are another story, for another blog entry.
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