One of the things that I think has really benefited the Libertarian movement coming out of this past weekend’s Portland convention is that our platform is still intact on what many would agree are some core issues. A lot of the planks of the cumbersome old platform may have been hacked off with nothing to replace it until 2008. But if you look at what’s left, may not be such a detriment to the cause of liberty as some are claiming.
Brian Doherty over at Reason explains in a nutshell what’s left:
The current platform still commits the LP to ending all victimless crime and drug laws; any laws against porn or commercial speech; an end to the Federal Communications Commission; an end to all property taxes and all government property ownership not explicitly allowed by the Constitution; an end to all immigration quotas and laws punishing employees for hiring illegal immigrants, and an insistence that the government require only “appropriate documentation, screening for criminal background and threats to public health and national security” standards for allowing people in; that “marriage and other personal relationships are treated as private contracts, solely defined by the individuals involved, and government discrimination is not allowed.” Finally the new platform demands an end to antitrust and all corporate welfare.
While technically no planks related to foreign policy remain, the preamble to the section that would have contained them still says, “The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between governments. The United States government should return to the historic libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration.”
That’s hardly a gutting in my opinion, as it directly addresses many issues that are relevant to voters, and allows our talking heads to focus on what I think is important — issues we can actually win on.
I’ll give purists credit for standing their ground on the whole issue of platform reform, but in our 35-year history we’ve moved from fringe party that doesn’t stand a chance, to political voice that is at least heard nationally again and again, if not yet winning those same elections. Perhaps it’s right for us to have some upheaval now in our party and take this time to reexamine our platform priorities (do we really need to push into the arena of space exploration, health care and child’s sexual rights, when the unifying libertarian argument these days is privacy and government excess in power, size and spending?).
I have no doubt that our 2008 convention will adequately address the old platform and make changes that modernizes the language and is more tactful when calling for repeal of large parts of government, and I look forward to having everything put back in place in some semblance of what some argue are our principles (all 40 of them, hardly a small list that can easily be digested at once by the casual voter).
So I say to the purists: this is a starting point that we should be moving forward with, focusing on the issues we’re damned good at, and letting the old scabs that were ripped off heal for a while. It’s time to look to our core winnable positions and hold them higher than we ever have before to the voters, and let them know that we’re in a reconstruction phase that will make us stronger than before.