We’ve heard from quite a few people so far regarding their opinions on Portland. VanDyke, Sarwark, and of course all the commenters. We’ve got the blogosphere weighing in pretty strongly on this. We’ve got purists and pragmatists galore.
Now though, I’m pleased to bring you the opinion of at least one elected Libertarian official on the mess o’ fun we call NatCon. Beatrice Jones has been getting her hands dirty in politics for over 20 years, and she speaks out of that experience. Naturally, your mileage may vary, but nonetheless I do feel it’s a valid opinion, and it’s about damn time that the class of Libertarians with the most to say-the elected ones-finally speak up. Her statement begins after the jump.
The reason this Party has never made any real progress – IMHO! – is because we spend more time fighting amongst ourselves over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin than by effecting any real change. We back political candidates who can spout rhetoric but who cannot debate pertinent issues with their opponents. I firmly believe that some of the membership does not WANT Libertarian candidates elected, because then they would actually have to work to prove their points – and much of what unelectable candidates espouse is unachievable in two or four years – and the electorate realizes this. It has taken over 75 years to slide down the slippery slope of socialism, and radical behavior or changes will not work. (We lament about the declining level of education in this country; yet never realize that to overcome it means that people have to be gradually educated, spoon-fed if you will, instead of making declarative statements and thinking that people ‘had better get it the first time’!)
It is for this reason that I wanted to be a part of this Bylaws Committee, because of my experience in the political realm for 20 years – getting people elected and keeping them in office, myself included – to espouse gradual political change. The electorate cannot be harangued or dragged to freedom – they must be convinced in a step by step process. Those radicals who want to leave the Party because they feel disenfranchised are responsible for their own decisions. We should not feel pressured nor desperate to keep every single Libertarian – simply because they say that they are Libertarians. The purpose of a political party is not to have a breakfast or a supper speakeasy club – it is (or should be) to espouse change, to bring people together under one umbrella, not drive them away because they (for one reason or another) are not “true Libertarians” by any criteria. Only by showing gradual progress and embracing progressive change will the Libertarian Party – or any Party – grow enough to attract membership, party loyalty, and votes for candidates to cause real change to occur.
It has taken me and my Mayor 18 years to push the changes we wanted to make here; and we have come under a lot of harassment and caught a lot of flak. The death threats have died down, and now we are able to prove that, yes, we can change the status quo and lower or even eliminate taxes by making developers and people pay their own way rather than taxing people off of their property for infrastructure and amenities that they may never use or even have access to. It was a step-by-step process with a definitive goal in sight at all times. If the membership of the Libertarian Party feels that jumping up and down screaming, “We either change now or I’ll shoot myself – and don’t laugh, you’re next!” is an effective process for change, then – again, IMHO! – they are not a political Party at all, merely a group of people, self-righteous and self-aggrandizing, who will never accomplish anything in the real political world.
We have to learn the realities of the political process or the Party will die – or be ineffective, which is worse. This is only the first step. There will be many more. There will be flak all along the way. We have to decide for ourselves if taking the flak and moving onward is worth it in the long run – or if we will give up, curl up in a corner ad go foetal in our repetitive defense against members of our own Party, or if we will quit because there is too much flak.
Sorry if that offends – but if reality bites, then maybe some folks shouldn’t be trying to pet that particular dog. My opinions devolve from real life political experiences, not a fantasy life of what should/could be.