Portland: Looking Back and Looking Forward

It’s been almost a week since my red-eye flight back from Portland following the Libertarian National Convention. I wanted to take the time to see the various reactions before writing again about the convention.

Congratulations to Chuck Moulton on his election to Vice Chair of the LNC. I’m sure he’ll do a good job for the entire Party over the next two years. Thank you to all of the Party members and activists who made it out to Portland; I know it’s a long flight and a busy time and I appreciate the dedication of those who made the sacrifice.

Now, this next is going to seem a little harsh. To all of you who are either bitching about how the platform was gutted, or about how you weren’t able to eliminate the pledge, or other complaints about how much stuff got screwed up in Portland: Please shut up. Most of the loudest complaints are coming from those who couldn’t be bothered to attend; watching Monday morning quarterbacks interpret the goings on halfway across the country from blog entries and news stories is kind of entertaining, or would be if it wasn’t so damn destructive.

While I’m on the topic of asking people to shut up, everyone who’s been starting their comments with “We’ll never be politically successful until we _______,” please stop. While scrapping the pledge/watering down a plank/cleaning up our candidates/raising dues/dropping dues/being radical/being moderate may all be necessary conditions (or not), I assure you that not a single one of them are sufficient conditions for political success. Political success comes from credible, charismatic candidates speaking to the voters about issues that matter to them and doing so in a way that resonates better than their opponents. I would argue that that can be done no matter what’s in the platform or the pledge or any of this other wonkery that seems to fascinate “Internet libertarians” so much.

Here’s my take on the convention, as one of the most active participants in the floor debate: It was neither a victory for the “reformers,” nor a victory for the “purists.” Rather, it was a victory for the Libertarian Party. The delegates who came together in Portland were able to share their sometimes conflicting viewpoints and make the decisions they thought would be best for the Libertarian Party and for the people of this country. While there was conflict, it was mostly civil. I saw little gloating or personal attacks, something I wish I could say about the blogosphere in the days after Portland.

Someone pointed out that we should always remember when at Libertarian conventions or meetings that “the enemies of liberty are outside the room.” That was taken to heart in Portland, but has been forgotten by a lot of “libertarians” in the psedonymity of the Internet. As I said above, I wish those people would shut up.

I am not a “reformer.” I believe in the Arizona model, where principled libertarianism can yield real-world political results. That said, I think that the modifications to the platform are good ones. The revised planks speak the same message in much better words. As to the “gutting,” we’ve had few (if any) deletions of platform planks in the 35 years of the Libertarian Party’s existence. While I might not have deleted as many planks as the convention chose to do, it’s good to clean house once in a while. We still have our statement of principles and we’re still able to form libertarian positions on any issue for a campaign or a candidate. As long as we don’t lose sight of that core belief, that individuals have a right to be free, I think we’ll do just fine.

I’m not a “purist.” I believe that it’s more important to make progress towards Liberty than continually rant about how great things would be in a mythical “pure Libertarian society.” I don’t think that the LRC is a bunch of neo-con Republicans trying to infiltrate the LP to destroy it from the inside. While the “purists” have some incredible rhetoriticians, they should save their verbal barbs for the people “outside the room,” rather than using their energy on intra-Party warfare.

In summation, we’re all Libertarians and we all have value to the Party. We all want to do what we think is best for advancing the cause of liberty, and sometimes we disagree about what that is. However, the real Libertarians don’t take their ball and go home, they stick with the Party and the cause despite losing one convention battle, because they care about liberty above all else. If you care more about “winning control” of the Party than winning liberty for America, I’d like to ask you a favor: Please leave and join one of our enemies. Real Libertarians don’t have time for that bullshit.

posted by nsarwark
  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    Should you decide the pursue the role, Nicholas, I have no doubt that you will be a future Executive Director or Presidential nominee. I don’t intend any cynicism here, I believe that either event would be a great thing. This post was awesome.

  • http://freestateproject.org/ Seth

    Here here… well said.
    Now get your butt to New Hampshire. We need more like you.

  • Stephen VanDyke

    Right on… this is a post that I can whole-heartedly agree with. It’s been a little disconcerting seeing that most of the comments here and elsewhere have been petty and stupid in the vein of “woe is the Libertarian Party.”

    So yeah, can we finally take our differences, put them aside and focus on doing things to advance the Libertarian Party (or just liberty if you’re so inclined). Let’s put the internal bitching to rest until the next convention, or at least take it to a site that cares.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    Let’s put the internal bitching to rest until the next convention, or at least take it to a site that cares.

    Heh! I’m with you on the rah-rah’s Stephen (see my earlier comment), but let’s be honest… this is a site that cares. :)

  • http://www.chuckmoulton.org/ Chuck Moulton

    Well said!

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Two comments. First of all, I would not make a sweeping accusation that we “could not be bothered to attend.” In fact, I doubt this is true for either the reformers and the purists who are so vocal. There are other extinuating factors, money being the primary one for many of us who were unable to afford a plane ticket or gas, three nights of hotel and food, convention entry fee, etc. which could end up totaling over $1000, especially for those who live across the country. I wanted more than anything to come, but was unable to because of my finances. Please skip the condescension.

    Secondly, the people “outside the room” are the people we need to win over in order to win elections, and the “vocal barbs” and libertarian litmus tests of the purists have helped keep the party small. This is worthy of criticism, and I would much prefer them leveling their crap at me than at some unsuspecting moderate trying to understand what libertarianism is and why they should believe in it. (cont’d).

    Finally, I agree that political success comes from real candidates. The unfortunate issue at hand is that the LP is unable to attract real candidates and the reason for this is because few “real” candidates would 1.) attach their name to an anarchistic political party or 2.) run in a race they know they are 99% likely to lose because of party affiliation alone. This does not mean all the LP candidates have not done their best, but the fact of the matter is, when a political party expects to be taken seriously when running a computer programmer with no political experience whatsoever for US president, that’s when you know there is a real problem, you know you are going to be miserably defeated and thats why the LRC was formed. The discussion we are having is needed and relevant; right now is the time to have it, not in two years when we are trying to pick the next presidential candidate. Until the party can work out its own identity, it will continue go nowhere.

    Ok, that was three comments.

  • Graham

    I believe this was a good post, but I also agree with Nick Wilson’s comments.

  • Julian

    My son introduced me to the Libertarian Party. He knew I could never be a Democrat (socialists) and I was dissatisfied with being a Republican because what they said they would do if in power and what they have done is not the same thing.

    Since I have bumbled through the process, I have been called a Nazi, Fascist, Neo-con, Republican saboteur, and many more names including personal attacks. I am none of the labels. I am now a libertarian.

    Where the hell do some of you think we will attract new members? Most must come from the Democratic Party and yes, even the Republican Party from whence I came.

    I do believe it is time to put differences aside including my purist bashing and personal battles with those that wanted me off this blog and out of the LP. As long as we can meet on common ground and advance the cause of liberty and freedom (and my passion, the least government possible with the least taxes and full support for capitalism), I am on board.

  • http://www.phillies2008.org George Phillies

    The important news is that Zero Dues, which was a catastrophic financial failure, has been put back down, and this time the minimum dues will require a Convention vote to change, because it is in the Bylaws.

    Second, we have not had large numbers of people announcing that they are leaving the party over the platform. The Boston Tea Party is launched by someone retaining his LP membership. There is a simple reason for this, namely as may be confirmed by reading the net over the past few years, very few people are very interested in most of the platform. You can find many disputes within our party, but between conventions few of them involve arguments over platform planks other than the one dealing with abortion.

    Third, the people who presided over our party’s membership collapse for the past half-decade elected a new chair. as I said at the chair debate: Either we change course or this may be our next to last national convention, for lack of money and members.

  • David Tomlin

    I am sick of people telling me to ‘shut up’. I don’t think people make themselves look good by doing that. I don’t think such people are experts on ‘doing politics’.

    This is my first impression of Mr. Sarwark, and it is not a good one.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    I would most certainly have attended the convention in Portland, but was unable to afford the trip.

    While I certainly acknowledge the barbs of some hard core libertarians towards the reformers, I am appalled at the tactics, behavior and rhetoric of these reformers.

    First, I don’t think anyone can deny the inflammatory and devise rhetoric used by some in the LRC, not only on blogs but in many articles as well. Even the name Libertarian Reform Caucus is devisive. Why not Libertarian Platform Caucus?

    Second, the rhetoric of the LRC sounds like something from the Neocon School of Political Discourse marked by lies, half-truths, misinformation, labeling others, name calling, personal attacks, misquoting the platform, and other methods of rather unbecoming conduct. Why not simply suggest a plank change and advocate it on its merits?

  • Pingback: steveperkins.net » History in the Making

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Third, long-time libertarians who hold to libertarian principles that are rooted in ideas that existed well before the LP are not prone to just abandon these principles based on nothing more than the speculations, unscientific data, and amateurish theories of those who seek change based merely for strategic purposes.

    Some of these libertarians labeled as purists by the reformers have spent decades fighting for their beliefs against nearly impossible odds. They have spent countless hours and stacks of cash trying to advance a cause that they believe in. When people come along who were wearing diapers (or fighting against libertarianism in the case of the older reformers) and start attacking these dedicated libertarians, how do you expect them to react?

    By and large, I believe the “purists” have kept the gloves on long after the reformers took off their gloves.

  • David Tomlin

    Since taking to time to reflect on Mr. Sarwark’s post, I’m most impressed by how Mr. Sarwark pays lip service to unity, while using very insulting and divisive rhetoric.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Fourth, as Brian Doherty correctly points out in his Reason article, all of this is not just about the unprofessional method of changing the platform. All of this comes on the heels of actions at LPHQ.

    While the reformers claim the purists have been in charge of the party, they refuse to admit that between the Boortz followers, the Iraq Exit Strategy (or slow motion Murtha plan), the Estate Tax initiative, the new slogan at LP.org, the talk radio outreach action alert, the CPAC outreach, and the failure to seriously address some very big issues, there has been a drift towards conservatism by the folks at LPHQ. These are not the actions of purists, I can assure you.

    During this time, the number of contributing members has dropped. The pragmatist in me is saying that perhaps the LP is going in the wrong direction. I know many libertarians that left well before the convention because of the conservative drift and move away from libertarianism.

  • Nick

    Ernest Hancock, who ran to make sure there would be someone representing full principled libertarianism, on The Charles Goyette Show said that the convention was “unfortunately filled with compromisers” and that they are now turning the Libertarian Party into a “Republican-lite” version. Hancock is right. The party has always been about principle. If the people up at that convention were smart, they would have voted for Hancock. Hancock’s work here in Arizona has been incredible in spreading the freedom message.

    “What the Libertarian Party Should Be Doing” by Ernest Hancock
    http://www.strike-the-root.com/61/hancock/hancock1.html

    Goyette replied back that “if you want to screw something up, all you have to do is collectivize it.” So true.

  • http://freelancify.com Nigel Watt

    I’m in total agreement with Sarwark. I don’t think he was using divisive rhetoric or anything like that at all.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Fifth, the so-called reformers that are whining about being called neocons, Republican moles, etc. or have been invited to leave the party should reflect on what I have written above. They should also take a look at themselves.

    You joined a political party, took a pledge, paid dues, became active, and presumably you knew what the party stood for. I would assume you read the platform before you joined.

    Then, out of the blue, you unleash all sorts of devisive rhetoric, glib insults, unfounded accusations. You point fingers at dedicated libertarians and say they are ruining the LP. Put yourself in the shoes of the people you seem to hate (the same people you joined by coming into the LP).

    Not unlike the neocons, it seems many reformers have put their own strategic theories ahead of reality and are too arrogant to see that.

    If the LP is going to come together, some honesty is in order and a realistic assessment of what has happened. This thing could get very ugly otherwise.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    I’m not going to feed this thread. There’s a bit more than 100 days before an election where LP candidates need our help.

    Go do something to help their prospects.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Finally, I attended a LPVA state committee meeting today in my capacity as the chair of my congressional district, later I met with my LNC rep and the chair of the Richmond Libertian Party (I am vice chair).

    The goings on at Portland were discussed and I can assure you that it is just not a few “internet libertarians” that are concerned about what happened. I care about the platform and the perception by others of the LP. I am not an “internet libertarian” and I don’t appreciate the circus that the LRC has created.

    I’m going to stay and fight for what I and a lot of others believe in. Since, the NLP is not requiring dues, I probably won’t send them any until I see some improvement at LPHQ- and I do expect to see some. I am confident that Bill Redpath will bring some leadership to the LNC that has been lacking.

    I hope the LRC doesn’t tear the LP apart by trying to achieve their agenda “next wednesday”. The LRC might also consider new leadership and more civil tactics.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Tom B, double standards. By the way, I identify with the progressives more than conservatives – I think the LP should be the party of freedom and equality.

    Also, I joined the party knowing full well that I agree with the direction and the principle but not the rigid unwillingness to change or the stubborn adherence to policies that are irrelevant to the electorate. This convention was a much needed housecleaning, and now it is time to give the LP a fresh face so we can start winning elections and change the tide of failure that has marked the LP for 35 years.

    Whatever you may think of how we present ourselves, our point about the LP being a miserable failure is undeniable and the fact is that the old guard has failed at making the LP relevant party and thus have enabled the major parties to run the show without a real libertarian challenge. We need real

    Furthermore the platform is one big issue among many for the LRC; we wanted to reform the LP’s failing direction, thus the name.

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Bennett4Illinois2010USSenate/ Chris Bennett

    I have come to the conclusion that I am now an “Independent” Libertarian. I will fashion my own platform when I run for office and completely ignore the National platform. I am a Libertarian whether you think so or not. I will not let purists nor pragmatists purge me from the party in which I have dedicated 15 years to. I will show the naysayers within the party that I will succeed with or without them. So with that said, who wants to help me kick Barack Obama out of office in 2010? Click my name for future updates!

  • http://www.lpradicals.org Susan Hogarth

    Radicals of the LP:

    Please join the revived LP Radical Caucus:

    http://www.lpradicals.org

    Let’s discuss how to keep/restore the LP to its radical roots and move it forward into the public consciousness.

  • Michael H. Wilson

    Nick Wilson writes: “… our point about the LP being a miserable failure is undeniable and the fact is that the old guard has failed at making the LP relevant party and thus have enabled the major parties to run the show without a real libertarian challenge.”

    Mr. Wilson, who is not related to me, has jumped to a conclusion, but seems to have ignored one big problem. Ballot access laws which have hindered the LP’s growth. This party has done remarkably well given the barriers erected by the Ds & Rs. In fact we have done much to open the way for others. And yes we have often been our own worst enemy and part of that has been due to the decentralized way the LP is organized. We are often ignorant of the political process and it is a dirty game. And there are issues that I don’t think are properly covered, or we are late in coming to the game on, but issues like the Drug War we need to be in the lead on. Even those of us who are purist waffle at times.
    (con’t)

  • Michael H. Wilson

    Con’t from #23.
    I for one have faulted the LP for not doing enough to publicize our non-intervention stance and spell out the cost of keeping troops abroad. We are piss poor at it imho, but the the piece written by Mr. Wilson that suggest we need to keep troops abroad for years to come, but in “friendly” countries is one of a number of problems I see with his platform proposals. Simply put this is Republican Party stuff and is a no different from what they propose.
    I am willing to listen, but to suggest that we have failed is to insult many who have worked hard to advance our issues.
    And BTW I just waffled big this afternoon. Those of you who were in Portland may have ridden our transit system.
    In writting a piece for a candidate I suggested we open the marketplace to competition, but I never suggested we sell off Trimet, the transit agency. I just won’t make it in any caucus I guess. Time for a bottle of Sam Adams.
    M.H.W.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    I for one have faulted the LP for not doing enough to publicize our non-intervention stance and spell out the cost of keeping troops abroad. We are piss poor at it imho

    That’s a good point, and hopefully some platform shakeout will help. Whether you’re a “purist”, a “reformer”, or just somebody worried about polarizing labels getting too entrenched… we can ALL agree that a culture of “the platform is Scripture and can never be touched” has hindered our ability to capitalize on and help shape the evolving issues of the day.

    No matter one’s views on what the platform should say, I disagree with the notion that it shouldn’t be shaken up and refreshed more often. If we maintained the thing more frequently than once every few decades, it wouldn’t be such a monsterous fuss when we do!

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    I’d be the first one to admit that the platform is outdated, poorly written, and somewhat out of date – it is so 70s. In some areas it is too detailed and perhaps not detailed enough in others.

    I also have no problem with incrementalism, but I don’t think we need to change long-standing principles, which many have sought to do.

    I also think there is a civil process available to change the platform. Much of the resistance met by the “reformers” is a result of their own rhetoric, tactics and general approach. Their approach has been quite uncivil and radical.

    I never said the reformers are pro-conservative, although some are, but there is this element in the LP and they also have been a thorn in the side of the “old guard” as the brash Nick Wilson describes the libertarians he loves to hate.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    To put political success/failure into perspective it is instructive to look at the conservative movement that emerged in the GOP during the long years that FDR and then Truman held the presidency. The GOP was poorly organized and got lucky when Eisenhower decided he would run as a Republican rather than a Democrat – both parties wanted him.

    Ike wasn’t a real conservative in the sense that Goldwater was. Of course, Goldwater lost in 1964. The next Republican to become president was Nixon, certainly no conservative. It was not until Reagan came along that the conservatives were able to elect one of their own.

    So, it took the conservatives 30 years to get a candidate in the White House through the GOP machine. The old Goldwater conservatives are pretty much gone now and they never got another conservative in the White House.

    Those who think the LP can cakewalk into office after altering the platform/pledge are living in a fantasy world.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    We can disagree, but I don’t believe it is fair to say that just because I support keeping a limited number of troops abroad in friendly countries to be able to respond immediately in the event that we are attacked means that I share a foreign policy with the Republican Party. I think the neolibertarians are too hawkish, not to mention the Republicans! This is exactly the kind of “litmus test” I am talking about when I say that the LP will never stand a chance to win over moderates, much less win elections. The LP fails miserably whether or not we are on the ballot in all 50 states, and I feel like blaming ballot access for our failure misses the point that we push an elitist program with such limited appeal that we can not even meet 5% election percentages even when we do get on the ballot! The LP may advocate reforming failing government all they want, but when it comes to reforming our failing party? Untouchable!

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Tom B., a better party stands a better chance, but that does not guarantee success. Few expect a cakewalk. But even less can expect any real future victory by continuing the LP’s failing strategies, elitistic approach towards “outsiders” and lack of credible candidates.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    I guess I’ll bite.

    I’m looking at a open letter published by David Boaz in 1981 to the LP, written 25years ago. That’s over half my lifespan of 43 years. It might as well been written yesterday about Portland. A small excerpt:

    Let me pose a question here. It is true that Clark waffled on some issues. It is also true that the campaign chose to put major emphasis on the immediate programs that a libertarian administration could implement, and I will agree that there is room for debate as to whether each transition of program was/the appropriate magnitude.

    The attempt to present libertarian ideas in such a way as to make them appealing to the American people certainly carries with it a risk that we may not present a sufficiently principled argument in some cases. On the other hand, one could go before every audience and say, “I own my own life and the fruits of my labor.

    (cont)

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Also, the only reason I “hate” purists (I don’t hate the people, just their politics, Tom) is because of the way they condescend to moderates as being less moral and thus inferior to them, calling them names and scaring them away, without recognizing the fact that the moderates are the very people we need to appeal to if we want any hope of attaining a libertarian future. If you think I (and other reformers) have been hateful and brash towards purists, it is only a culmination of frustration over the years of trying to be very reasonable and very calm with purists and being attacked every way possible as being immoral, a socialist, a nazi, anti-libertarian, Republican, Republicrat, anti-Constitution, an invader, a usurper, and loads of similar garbage. I reached a point where I decided I was not going to take it anymore, and here we are. It came to the point where either reformers get tough, or keep getting walked all over and watch the party shrivel into even more irrelevance.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    Therefore, taxation is theft and the state is evil. We must abolish the state, and if some people get hurt, that’s their problem.” That would be a morally correct approach, and in that case one would never run the risk of failing to present libertarian principles. One would also never convince anyone.

    So let me ask this: Which is the greater betrayal of the noble cause of freedom in our time — to attempt to present a reasonable, radical, libertarian program that appeals to people and occasionally to err on the side of caution; or to self-righteously throw libertarian principles in people’s faces, thus ensuring that we will remain pure and unfree?

    Keep in mind, this was written 25 years ago, and yet it might as well been posted about Portland yesterday.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Michael writes (24): the piece written by Mr. Wilson that suggest we need to keep troops abroad for years to come, but in “friendly” countries is one of a number of problems I see with his platform proposals. Simply put this is Republican Party stuff and is a no different from what they propose.

    Mr. Wilson responds: This is exactly the kind of “litmus test” I am talking about when I say that the LP will never stand a chance to win over moderates, much less win elections

    Mr. Wilson, where is this litmus test? Michael simply states his opinion. He does not say you aren’t pure enough to be in the LP, he simply disagrees with your position. Instead of defending your position with reason and facts, you accuse him of applying a litmus test to you and then claim this is why the LP will never win elections.

    This is not debate. An objective observer would be baffled by your response. This is exactly what I describe above at #17. Is this “doing real politics”?

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    I wanted to impress upon everyone how long this debate has gone on inside the LP. Does anyone else find it incredible that nothing has changed in the LP for 25 years to where a paper written 25 years ago could have been written a few hours ago?

    I am becoming convinced that the very name libertarian is a hindrance to actually attaining anything of the sort.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    Comment #18: “I’m not going to feed this thread…”
    – Timothy West

    Comment #30: “I guess I’ll bite…”
    – Timothy West

    Comment #32: I love bold italics!
    – Timothy West

    Comment #34: Oh, you get the idea…

    Chill out, guys. We’re discussing ideas and hashing out differences, we’re not raping each other’s mothers and vowing revenge for it.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    “Simply put this is Republican Party stuff and is a no different from what they propose.”

    ’nuff said.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    I changed my mind. Thought it would be a decent thing to illustrate exactly how long this has been going on. It’s one thing to view in contemporary terms, and it’s another to see it in the light of history.

    BTW, I do indeed SO LOVE BOLD ITALICS!

    Much more principled than plain letters, cause, they’re like, bold and italic and shit.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    If you think I (and other reformers) have been hateful and brash towards purists, it is only a culmination of frustration over the years of trying to be very reasonable and very calm with purists and being attacked every way possible as being immoral

    A good way to look at it is this, Tom… they way you feel about the State is similiar to how many libertarians have felt about the LP since the mid-80’s. I’m not defending personal attacks or boorish behavior… but asking reformers to take an incrementalist approach on platfrom change is JUST LIKE hardliners being asked to take an incrementalist approach to government change!

    They are both wise arguments, but they both play against the frustrations that are important in driving people. The two sides have more in common in that regard than either has recognized. Rather than get defensive, we should reflect on that for a minute see if we can find a deal with that constructively without diminishing people’s drive.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Tim & Nick: I think all libertarians, from anarchist to mainstream, are frustrated. I am and you guys are obviously frustrated too. I disagree with Nick’s idea to keep troops abroad also. There are paleoconservative traditionalists that would also object. Because I object doesn’t mean I am an anarchist or even a purist.

    If I point out my objections based on the libertarian principle of nonintervention, I am accused of holding the party back and called names. I have been called a socialist because I object to the Iraq war – go figure.

    The LP has its share of wingnuts – every party does. The LRC also has its share of oddballs. Look at Overstreet’s website – this campaign is nuts.

    Let’s put the LP ahead of egos – you guys are going to need a thicker skin to do real politics. The LRC needs a new way of presenting its ideas and you aren’t going to sell everybody. You are making the same mistake Boaz highlights – in reverse. And who is Boaz quoting? Sounds like Mr. Strawman.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    By the way Timothy, I was trying to find an email address for you earlier but you’ve done a pretty good ninja-stealth job of concealing that thing. I’ve spent the past week doing just what you’re talking about, reasearching and cataloging a historical piece to provide context and spark conversation (http://steveperkins.net/blog/history-in-the-making).

    Tom Kn@ppster’s given it a look-over from the “purist” side, and I was hoping to get you to check for any mischaracterizations or bad facts from the “reformer” side. I want to be sure I haven’t included any major factual blunders before I start linking to it from various places.

    Err, of course I AM linking to it from HoT right now I suppose, so could you look fast? :)

  • http://www.usconstitution.net/xconst_Am1.html nameless

    i give up.

    there’s no place in the LP for a man who simply wants to be free.

    too much infighting and name calling, even in a post such as this.

  • Rob D.

    “You are making the same mistake Boaz highlights – in reverse. And who is Boaz quoting? Sounds like Mr. Strawman.”

    Boaz sets up a, strawman? What part of what he said, would be considered a strawman? That’s called an observation, and an educated one at that considering what his position was in the LP all those years ago. After seeing 100’s of Cato vids, and maybe 20 or so with Mr. Boaz…I assure you he doesn’t need to make up shit to win an argument.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Steve writes: but asking reformers to take an incrementalist approach on platfrom change is JUST LIKE hardliners being asked to take an incrementalist approach to government change!

    How very true. This is a point I have been trying to make. The LRC is also not without its smug self-righteoous intellectually superior advocates. And as they often point out, one must realize and accept political reality as it exists on the ground. I’m not so sure they take their own advice. So, Nick can talk about double standards but he has failed to look in the mirror.

    And just as the LP may need a new way to present its principles, so too does the LRC. The LRC has stirred up a hornet’s nest that I don’t think is completely apparent yet. To continue with a radical transformation of the LP using the tactics they have been using may destroy what they say they are trying to save.

    When the neolibertarian war hawks are added to the mix, the “purists” are up against the wall and many have had it.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    “I own my own life and the fruits of my labor.Therefore, taxation is theft and the state is evil. We must abolish the state, and if some people get hurt, that’s their problem.”

    The point is Boaz is quoting nobody. And because he is quoting nobody, this is somewhat of a strawman argument because this is not something that LP candidates routinely say.

    I voted for Clark and I thought he was sufficiently principled. Boaz is defending Clark against accusations of being insufficeintly principled. He is asking his audience essentially, what would have had him (Clark) say? Then he rattles off what no candidate in his right mind would say (the quote above). The imaginary candidate he “quotes” is the strawman used to illustrate how absurd a statement such as that is.

    The irony is that Clark would probably be considered too radical by the LRC. The LP was far more youthful and radical in 1980 than it is today. What is even more ironic is that it was also more successful.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Tim uses the Boaz quote to illustrate how there were purists in 1980 who thought Clark was waffling and unprincipled and how this type of argument has been going on so long. This is true.

    But the fact remains, no LP candidate I know of says things like what Boaz “quotes”.

    That type of rhetoric isn’t and has never been mainstream in the LP. Like Boaz says, it is all about presentation. The principle may be mainstream, but there are better ways to convey this principle.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    What “tactics” are you referring to? Calling out the fact the purists tend towards condescension and self-righteousness in addressing moderates as morally inferior, socialistic and sheeplike? Calling out the fact the purists are unwilling to change the LP’s perpetually failing course? Pointing out that the LP wants to reform the failing government when it refuses to reform itself? Giving purists a taste of their own medicine? Growing balls for once and standing up for what we believe in instead of being weak-kneed? Positing that there are more principles besides just liberty? Calling for better candidates? Positing that the platform was a predominantly irrelevant document in modern politics? Shifting blame inward instead of continually scapegoating the media and major parties for our lack of success? Pointing out that our most successful presidential candidate was also the most moderate, or that purists have built barriers to a “big tent” libertarian party? Be more specific.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    The irony is that Clark would probably be considered too radical by the LRC. The LP was far more youthful and radical in 1980 than it is today. What is even more ironic is that it was also more successful.

    Come ON, now. Ed Clark ran a campaign targeted at the progressive peace movement, and once famously summarized libertarianism as “low-tax liberalism”. Murray Rothbard went apesh*t, and the Libertarian Radical Caucus (is there an echo in here?) raised such an uproar two years later that the entire moderate wing walked out for good… and that’s Party history for you.

    Ed Clark was the greatest Presidential candidate our Party has ever had… if any reformer doesn’t consider him a good example, they deserve to fail. Of course, part of Clark’s success was having a well-connected multi-millionaire for a running mate… a good history lesson for the brilliant delegates who passed on an Aaron Russo’s nomination in the last race.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    I can continue:

    Pointing out that most purists admit being anarchists? Pointing out that most purists in my experience want change overnight and believe any sustinence of government is the sustinence of evil? Positing that if “government is force,” then any non-anarchist in the party is violating the pledge? Pointing out that the LP’s own platform violates the pledge repeatedly? Suggesting that different aspects of the platform contradict each other? Trying to pose better planks before they were distorted by the platform committee? Being “thicker skinned”? Suggesting that a political party is not the place to be uncompromising and expect purity?

    I can promise there has been no intentional misrepresentation (at least on my part) of my beliefs or of anyone in the party. My thoughts are simply based upon own experiences in the party and its members. If I overgeneralize, I apologize, but it is not very hard for me to prove all of these points.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    I don’t consider Ed Clark, David Boaz or anyone who advocates policy along the lines of the Cato Institute as being unreasonable. They sold me on libertarianism, not the LP.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Ed Clark was the greatest Presidential candidate our Party has ever had

    Absolutely right, Steve. And the LP platform was radical and by prevailing standards, so was Clark.

    Let me digress. I was brought up in a Goldwater household with a mom who was a big GOP activist. We watched Milton Friedman’s Free To Choose series on PBS as a family. My dad was a hugh H.L. Mencken fan (me too). Even then, I didn’t like the GOP or the Dems. In 1978, when I was 21, I got my hands on some of Roger McBrides 1976 LP campaign stuff and was instantly transformed into a libertarian. This was the stuff for me.

    I can’t tell you how excited I was in 1980 when I found out Clark was running. I cast my first LP vote and never looked back. Clark was reasonable and radical, hardly a “moderate” by mainstream standards. The LP platform was radical and I loved it. I was energized and ecstatic. Clark got almost a million votes.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Rothbard never ran. I never heard of Rothbard until later. I’ve read his stuff and it is worth a read. I’m not sure why the “moderates” jumped ship – I’m not so sure Rothbard can be blamed for that entirely.

    One thing is for sure, Rothbard is gone. But if the LP could only generate in young people the excitement and energy I had in 1980 when Clark won, it would be a significant thing.

    Today, someone made a motion at the LPVA SCC meeting to charge $25 dues for the state party. I motioned to add an amendment to charge students only $5 remembering 1980, the thing passed. I sat screw Rothbard, the GOP and the Dems – we need to go after young people before the others get them and we need to go after the people who have given up voting.

    Quit beating the dead horse and forget converting policy wonks from the GOP and the Dems. The platform and the pledge aren’t the big problems.

    Nick – check yourself, man. Are you not uncompromising. Talk about a double standard.

  • David Tomlin

    Telling people ‘shut up’ is divisive. Don’t you feel divided from people who won’t listen to anything you have to say?

    Telling people their discussions are ‘destructive’ is, of course, just another way to say ‘shut up’. (IMO these have been fairly constructive discussions, even if they’ve gotten ‘a little harsh’.)

    ‘I’m not a “purist.” I believe that it’s more important to make progress towards Liberty than continually rant about how great things would be in a mythical “pure Libertarian society.”’

    Accusing ‘purists’ of being people who would rather ‘rant’ than ‘make progress’ is divisive and insulting.

    ‘If you care more about “winning control” of the Party than winning liberty for America, I’d like to ask you a favor: Please leave and join one of our enemies.’

    Both sides want control of the party because they sincerely believe their way is the way to ‘winning liberty’. Mr. Sarwark declines to give his opponents the benefit of the doubt and accuses them of bad motives.

    (Cont.)

  • David Tomlin

    (Continued from #52)

    Sorry, just one more point.

    Someone please explain to me how ‘please leave’ is not divisive.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Nick writes: What “tactics” are you referring to? Calling out the fact the purists tend towards condescension and self-righteousness in addressing moderates as morally inferior, socialistic and sheeplike?

    Remove the word socialist. Then deny the same attitude doesn’t exist among the “reformers”.

    Nick writes: Shifting blame inward instead of continually scapegoating the media and major parties for our lack of success?

    To deny these things are a huge part of the problem is shortsighted. And where do you point the finger? It seems to me you point at everyone who doesn’t agree with you. Like Michael above (see #33).

    You ask what tactics am I referring to. Don’t play coy (see #11 and #12 above).

    Nick writes: I apologize, but it is not very hard for me to prove all of these points.

    And it is not very hard for me to prove all of the points I make above either. Read these boards. Read the LRC website.

    Neither the purists or the LRC has a monoply on truth – get real.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Ha – in #51 I said “when Clark won”. Of course I meant “ran”. But it almost felt like he won just by running.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    I am not uncompromising because I am willing to admit when I am wrong or when someone else brings a better point than me. I am willing to change directions if my direction is failing – after all, I planned to leave the party if our reform efforts failed. I am not always right, but I believe I am right in the points I have made regarding the LP, its history and the purists. Most objective viewers would agree with the points I am making. I have also invited you or anyone else to prove me wrong.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    By the way, your student dues rate was a great idea, and I think all state parties should have a similar policy.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    “Remove the word socialist. Then deny the same attitude doesn’t exist among the ‘reformers.'”

    No, I’d say we refer to purists as stubborn, which they tend to agree with, and their proposals as unrealistic and ineffective. Maybe a bit cultish, but I would not say “morally inferior” or “sheeplike” because they are being true to themselves and refuse to follow anything different.

    “To deny these things are a huge part of the problem is shortsighted.”

    They are, but we have little control over them. To capitulate to them by making ourselves an easy target is something we can control.

    “You ask what tactics am I referring to. Don’t play coy”

    I was addressing your earlier points. I agree we may come off as angrily demanding immediate change to a moderate platform because we are sick of losing as government worsens, but we aren’t being dishonest or intentionally misrepresenting anyone or the platform, although we are interpreting it through our own lenses of experience.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Nick, when reformers say the platform “calls for” defaulting on the national debt, citizen ownership of nukes, immediately ending taxation, privatizing roads, etc., it is hyperbole and it is not accurate. Go read some of Milstead’s articles. Then tell me these diatribes aren’t over the top. Perhaps a lot of his material calling for changes without specifying exactly what it is he wants also puts people off. Articles that claim the party is anarchist because of the pledge is really stretching things when the platform does not call for “anarchy next wednesday”.

    This stuff is pure spin, propaganda. It is not entirely accurate by a long shot. I call this misrepresenatation at best, lies at worst. A lot of it is damaging to the LP. When someone from the LRC spins the platform worse than the most vitriolic opponents, what does a nonlibertarian political neophyte make of this stuff? This isn’t helping the LP. From where I sit, it looks like a lot of this stuff is about egos, not the LP

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Tonight, I have tried to get some reformers to reflect as well as some of the vitriolic purists. I am considered by some to be a purist because I believe in libertarian principles. But I also think these principles can be presented in reasonable ways that doesn’t turn people off. I know it can be done because I’ve done it. I also know you can never sell some people. I know that no matter what you do or say, political opponents will attack you.

    We all will fight for what we believe is right, but everyone needs to be honest about what they say and realize that the name calling doesn’t help.

    I had a thing with Tim on the LP blog where he misquoted what I said – I lit into his ass. He was dead wrong and wouldn’t admit it. Once he admitted he had read my statement wrong, then there was fair communication. Apology accepted and lets move on.

    This debate needs to be honest and civil. The spin has got to stop. The acknowledgement that opinions aren’t facts would also be helpful. G’nite

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    my email address is timothywest@NOSPAMadelphia.net – remove the NOSPAM (by force)

    I have not exactly ever been guilty of being hard to find. :D

  • Nicholas Sarwark

    If you’re more interested in fighting with other Libertarians than in fighting for liberty, I don’t see value in having you in the Libertarian Party.

    This is not about divisiveness or purism or reformism; it’s about not wanting the Libertarian Party destroyed by the “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

    David: Why do you think I was telling you to shut up? If the shoe fits, wear it, otherwise leave it for the person it was intended for.

    Tom and Nick: Might I suggest that treating each other like Tom and Nick, two libertarians, rather than Tom Purist and Nick Reformer might make this argument a little more constructive? Right now it’s looking like more heat than light.

    As to “could not be bothered to attend,” this is another “if the shoe fits” one. I know people who could have and should have attended who didn’t and I know people who wanted to who couldn’t. I’d prefer not to hear from either about what happened on the convention floor and why it sucked.

  • David Tomlin

    >Nicholas Sarwark: ‘David: Why do you think I was telling you to shut up?’

    David Tomlin: I am one of the people who has been ‘bitching about how the platform was gutted’.

    >Nicholas Sarwark: If the shoe fits, wear it, otherwise leave it for the person it was intended for.

    David Tomlin: As I indicated, the shoe does fit, and I’m proud to wear it. I am one of the people who speak their minds without waiting for the permission of Mr. Nicholas Sarwak, of whom, to repeat myself, I’ve never heard before today. The world is full of us. Billions of us. The vast majority of the human race. Have you sufficient brain cells to comprehend that? I didn’t think so.

  • Julian

    If I say Yin, you say Yang. By reading some of the comments, I get the idea that if the Democrats or Republicans promote an idea or cause, it must be bad.

    No way would a REAL libertarian support such a cause no matter how valid. Are we as libertarians the only political group that is worthy of a noble idea? Why not embrace that which is good (which is not much) regardless of the source.

    Republicans and Democrats that read this site must be laughing their asses off believing they are safe in their rape and pillage of the Constitution and treasury. What a feel good day they must have knowing the only competition they have is one other party.

    How do we get past the fighting? Do you old-timers want all the newcomers to leave? If so, can we leave gracefully or must we flee in the dark?

    I think I’ll stay.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    Julian,

    I have watched ( and noted ) your transformation over the months from being a poster mostly hostile to much of this party’s aims to calling yourself a libertarian and embracing the party as better good than bad. I think it’s been a good thing to witness. I dont agree with some of your views of the military but I’m not gonna confront you on it. There’s no reason.

    I wonder if you remember me saying to you…what, a year ago? after some family business got pushed out into the world accidently that you should be proud of your kid and that he’s doing good? I’m just wondering how you feel about things now.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    As to “could not be bothered to attend,” this is another “if the shoe fits” one. I know people who could have and should have attended who didn’t and I know people who wanted to who couldn’t. I’d prefer not to hear from either about what happened on the convention floor and why it sucked.

    I agree with the rest of Nicholas’ comments (and original post), but can’t get behind this sentiment. Surely there has to be a better way to encourage attendance and participation, rather than arguing that the opinions of those who can’t attend convention are invalid for the next two years.

    Speaking in practical terms, location IS important. I think we have to have conventions in diverse locations from time to time so that everyone feels included, but you have to count on attendance dropping the more remote you get. That’s not a “character flaw” on anyone’s part… not everyone has the background and resources of an east-coast law student.

  • http://ncway.blogspot.com Sean Haugh

    Nick, I’ve known you for years and think very highly of you. On this one though you lost me by insulting everyone who couldn’t attend. It eats me up that I could not attend and this kind of talk just rips off the scab and pours salt on the wound. I’d like to not complain about the location since I voted for Portland while on the LNC and thus have only myself to blame, but this particular bit of condescension is too much to take.

    Telling people to shut up and telling party members they have no right to have opinions about how the party is run sure ain’t any kind of unifying I recognize. “We can all get along if only you will STFU” doesn’t make much sense. I urge you to rethink your position.

    Be patient with the passions and once they die down maybe, just maybe, we will all find ourselves engaged in a productive conversation about the direction and destination of the LP. Advice I confess I should be first in line to take myself.

  • http://voteoverstreet.org Kris Overstreet

    I think you ALL have missed the primary point of the message, which was this:

    The convention is over. The campaign isn’t. SHUT UP until November. Once the election is over we can fight each other all we want until November. I said it in the LRC discussions and I’ll say it here: it is irresponsible for a party member to bolt his or her party after convention and before election. If we want to justify seeking control the party- purist, moderate, anarchist, minarchist, whoever- we must demonstrate that we’re willing to support the party, win or lose.

    I have only one comment, to Tom B.’s declaration of my campaign as a “wingnut” campaign: no one else would run, so I ran. I’m doing my part to keep the LP visible where I live. It is in no small part due to people like yourself that no more viable candidate than myself was willing to step forward here- and that’s why I joined the LRC.

    What are -you- running for this year?

    There. I’m shutting up now.

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    Nicholas,

    You do bring up one important point (and I feel that I may have been the one it was directed at), so let’s go over it:

    “Most of the loudest complaints are coming from those who couldn’t be bothered to attend; watching Monday morning quarterbacks interpret the goings on halfway across the country from blog entries and news stories is kind of entertaining, or would be if it wasn’t so damn destructive.”

    Making it to the convention would have been a financial stretch, but I might have managed it. I decided not to make the effort — indeed, I decided I didn’t want to be there — because I predicted exactly the kind of muddle that emerged from it, and didn’t see that I could do anything to prevent that outcome.

    I stood for selection as a delegate. Had there been more willing delegates than there were seats, this would have been a bad thing to do given my lack of certainty about my ability/desire to attend. (cont’d)

  • Nicholas Sarwark

    I guess I’ve not been clear. I did not mean to insult anyone who did not attend the convention in Portland. I did not say that people who didn’t attend are not allowed to have opinions about the Party and how it should be run. My criticism was specific to those who armchair quarterback the decisions of delegates who did go to Portland and the choices they made on the convention floor, based on the discussions and debates that were happening.

    I’m more than happy to engage in a productive conversation about the direction and destination of the LP. Unfortunately, that’s not what I’ve been seeing from the loudest supporters/detractors of what happened in Portland. It’s not that people who didn’t attend shouldn’t have opinions about the revised platform; it’s that people who didn’t attend shouldn’t be sniping at those who did and attacking them personally.

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    (cont’d from comment 69) However, as a member of the Missouri LP’s executive committee, I can assure you that there was no horde of willing delegates who were prevented from going to Portland due to the fact that I was one of the delegate selectees.

    The main impact of non-attendance by putative delegates was that the LNC apparently fell short of the room nights it had committed to for the purpose of securing a group rate from the hotel. I’d feel bad about that if it wasn’t for the fact that the LNC should stop trying to be a central economic planning board, committing/risking money to turning a business meeting into a carnival in the hope that doing so will boost attendance. Or, if they’re going to do so, they should consider holding the event in a more accessible city (nothing against Portland — I’ve always wanted to visit it).

    As far as interpretation goes, most of the reports I’ve seen from people who DID go are at least as “WTF happened?”ish as those from people who didn’t.

  • http://www.steveperkins.net Steve Perkins

    the LNC apparently fell short of the room nights it had committed to for the purpose of securing a group rate from the hotel. I’d feel bad about that if it wasn’t for the fact that the LNC should stop trying to be a central economic planning board

    Ehh, come on now Tom… trying to negotiate a group discount rate for a convention isn’t communism, it’s just smart business. It would be wise to use a more conservative estimate of RSVP’s when having the convention in a remote location, but I can’t fault the LNC in this situation.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Nicholas,

    I don’t think we’re talking about Portland and “Monday morning quarterbacking” very much. We are talking about the fundamental differences between “sides” when it comes to running a political party that have which have contributed to the LP’s ineffectiveness, and we are trying to see if we can work together at all (as we have tried for 35 years) or if we need to make different plans, because the power struggle, as shown last weekend, will simply continue for years to come if we don’t. And to differ from Kris and you, now IS the time to have this discussion, as we need an identity before we can expect to be effective at polls.

    Tim, Kris and I were all very active in the LRC’s efforts and helped place the LRC in the position to succeed, even though we were unable to attend because of finances, so I don’t see a problem with being a “loud supporter”: I put many, many hours into the LRC, drafting platform proposals, promoting it nationwide and planning for NatCon strategy.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Tom B:

    I agree that three of your four specific examples are not verbatim from the platform. However, they are advocated by many purists (I have heard them repeatedly) and can be easily interpreted to those meaning without much “skewing”. If we support the repeal of all taxes with no replacement (no specific timeframe) and we would rather default on our debts than raise taxes, does the party favor paying down the national debt as a priority over cutting taxes, or vice versa? I have heard several vocal purists say “China can screw themselves, let’s get rid of taxes,” and that’s one of the dumbest foreign policies we could make.

    On private nukes, “we further oppose all attempts to ban weapons or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe.” It can be read between the lines.

    The party DID advocate privatizing public roads. “We call for the privatization of airports, air traffic control systems, public roads and the national highway system.” from the Transportation plank.

  • Steve Dasbach

    As I understand the situation, the main reason they fell short on room nights is that the convention was cut back by one day without renegotiating the contract.

    Fortunately, there was a strong demand for hotel rooms on two of the nights, so the hotel was able to sell the excess rooms and the LP isn’t liable for them. The remaining room night liability is managable (

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Nick, I stand corrected about the privatization of roads in the Transportation plank. See, it is not so hard to admit an error. Primarily I was addressing a claim made earlier by Kris that the LP platform called for turning the road at the end of his driveway into a toll road. I don’t think the national platform pertains to local issues and I’m not so sure that privatizing the interstate highway system is such a bad idea – but that is only my opinion.

    Now, I know of one Libertarian involved with the LRC who lives in Virginia that has called for killing 100 million Muslims – the old turn the Mideast into a glass parking lot rhetoric. Thankfully, this is not in the LP platform nor does any LP candidate I know of advocate this. It would be wrong of me to attribute this position to the LRC.

    By taking the most extreme views of people you label purists and somehow equating them to LP platform positions is exactly the type of hyperbole and intellectual dishonesty I am talking about.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Tom B,

    I appreciate your willingness to be corrected, and also not equating the extreme views of one of our members with the entire LRC. Reciprocally, I have apologized and am willing to admit I am wrong if I overgeneralize about the stances of purists – I am not intentionally being hyperbolic or intellectually dishonest. Where the purists tend to have a significantly higher tendency to unilaterally defend the platform (if not, why would they be so upset at its “gutting”) than reformers who advocate turning the Middle East into a parking lot, I agree with you that it would be more productive to focus on individual arguments than making generalizations about all purists and stereotyping every single person who is a purist. I apologize. I would hope for that to be reciprocated for reformers.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    One doesn’t have to be a purist to be disturbed about the manner in which the platform was “gutted” and the fact that there exists a somewhat incomplete document that will not be cleaned up until 2008.

    What the “reformers” view as a big success just might be thought of as a rather unprofessional looking document by mainstream libertarians who would like the LP to present a coherent and complete document to the public and to the opinion makers that Tim West often refers to.

    To regard pissing off a large number of libertarians that you do not agree with as “success” seems to be putting personal egos ahead of the LP as a whole and may be regarded by outsiders as just that – an immature pissing contest between two fringe groups within a fringe political party.

    In the next few days, I intend to write something about the strategy of moderation and why it works for mainstream parties but will not and has not worked well for the LP – stay tuned.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Trust us, we don’t look at it as a “big success” so much as we see it as more of an unexpected improvement and change of direction (thus a “small success”). As I have told you repeatedly, we tried to get better alternative planks passed through the Platform Committee, but more radical committee members “adjusted” them to where they no longer fit our initial proposals. Furthermore, it requires a 2/3rds majority to pass new planks but only 1/2 to retain, so we figured a relatively clean slate on which to build a better platform was better than missing the opportunity. Unfortunately, I and most reformers agree it is neither complete nor clean, and thus have trouble claiming “total success,” especially given that goal #1 was to get rid of the pledge.

  • http://www.reformthelp.org Carl

    Something to consider: one of the common arguments that I have heard repeatedly is that “platforms don’t matter.” I have heard this from people who have gone ballistic over the changes in the platform.

    We have a bit of cognitive dissonance. Either:
    1. Platforms don’t matter. Let us wacky LRC types have our fun.
    OR
    2. Platforms do matter. Other political types care as passionately about what is in a platform as you do.

    Methinks #2 is correct. There are libertarians who care about what is in the platform just as much as those who defend the old platform. We hear them less because they had written off the LP years ago.

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    Nick,

    You write:

    “Trust us, we don’t look at it as a ‘big success’ so much as we see it as more of an unexpected improvement and change of direction (thus a ‘small success’)”

    Uh, yeah. That’s why the LRC press release is headlined:

    “Reform Caucus Finds Huge Victory at Libertarian Convention”

    … and why the LRC’s first post-convention newsletter opens with/includes:

    “Victory in Portland! … LET’S DRINK A VIRTUAL TOAST TOGETHER ON THE EVE OF JULY 4, 2006 FOR A MAJOR VICTORY IN THE LP!!! … our “perfect storm” …”

    The agitprop approach is to paint things as a “big success.” Is there any particular reason why that line should not be considered an accurate reflection of the facts?

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    “We further oppose all attempts to ban weapons or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe. We favor the repeal of laws banning the concealment of weapons or prohibiting pocket weapons.” These are the only two sentences in the plank that refer to “weapons”. All others refer to firearms.

    If you really want to be picky, this means the platform says that it is ok to ban individual ownership of nuclear weapons so long as they are not being banned because they are unsafe or risky. And if they are banned for some other reason, then the ban cannot be applied to those who conceal their nuclear weapons, especially if they carry them in their pocket.

    I too have heard LP members claim the 2nd amendment guarantees everyone a right to own a nuclear weapon. But it is REALLY stretching it to say that the old platform advocated this.

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    And, if any plank is written in a manner that obtains votes its that one.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    Carl:

    Platforms do matter AND platforms don’t matter. To the vast majority of the general public, they don’t matter. Considering a large number of people have never heard of the LP and an even larger number have never read the platform, what our platform says or doesn’t say is not relevant.

    Platforms matter to libertarians in as much it is read by opinion makers, as Tim has pointed out. However, considering that the vast majority of opinion makers are partisan Republicans or Democrats, they will spin the LP platform as negatively as possible regardless of what it says – much as the LRC does. This is why I have no objection to eliminating the platform entirely and replacing it with a more extensive statement of principles, assuming that they would be libertarian principles.

    As an internal document for the LP, the platform should be coherent and complete. It serves as a reference based on long-standing principles – not on fleeting finger-in-the-wind public opinion.

  • http://www.pnar.org Tom Blanton

    The LP has been known for sometime as the Party of Principle and I can attest to the fact that a number of people who disagree with the LP respect that. I would point out the respect that Ron Paul gets for his principled libertarian positions.

    Nobody is pointing at him yelling about cutting and running over his position on the war as they are with Murtha, who is merely calling for redeployment (like the LP IES).

    I have had a number of respectful and civil conversations with liberals and conservatives who have great respect for libertarians on many issues and they appreciate the principled approach. Many have told me they wish their own parties would be more principled.

    So, having something in writing that states the stand the LP takes on issues can be important, both to libertarians and people who are serious about looking at issues, as opposed to partisans who merely seek to spin issues.

    And don’t throw out the old canard about giving them ammo – they’ll spin anything.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Touche, Tom K.

    To clarify my own personal feelings, Portland was a big success in the pragmatism vs. othodoxy debate because the tables have finally turned against those in the LP staunchly advocating anarchy as a political end, towards a more realistic and bigger tent approach to libertarianism. As of now, candidates theoretically no longer have to answer media questions over whether they support the repeal of all taxes, privatizing roads, etc.

    However, it is a small success in the scheme of things because we were unable to get the pledge removed and to replace the defeated planks with a better platform. It IS a better platform, but is certainly incomplete. We didn’t get the abortion plank removed (one of our top priorities), and I would agree that the re-organization and rekindling of the purists may make 2008 such a contentious convention that neither side comes out ahead.

  • David Tomlin

    The usual libertarian argument for banning nukes is that they are indiscriminate, hence useless for legimate self-defense, and possession of such a weapon is intrinsically ‘aggression’.

    Whether that is the same as, or rather a subset of, ‘on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe’, seems like fine hair-splitting to me.

    What reason is there for banning nukes, other than their being, in some sense, ‘unsafe’? A religious taboo?

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    “I would agree that the re-organization and rekindling of the purists may make 2008 such a contentious convention that neither side comes out ahead.”

    Our we get it worked out before hand and have one of the best conventions in decades. Real, substantial reform that makes the LP more viable can be had without the loss of principles.

    One side need only realize that principle DOES matter, and the other side need realize that winning elections DOES matter.

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    David, my little exercise was to point out that it takes some MAJOR hair-splitting to argue that the platform calls for libertarians to oppose private nuclear weapons. It’s a claim I’ve heard repeatedly from a few LRC members.

  • http://Reformthelp.org Nick Wilson

    Well, Chris most reformers would agree principles matter, but the fact is that liberty is not the only principle, even though it is the guiding one, and that is one primary point we are trying to make. Security, equality, community, protecting the environment, access to education and healthcare, etc. are all principles and every human gives his or her own weight to each of these principles. A libertarian is a person who weighs liberty as the most important principle, but that does not mean by advocating a more moderate policy and appealing to other principles besides just liberty that reformers don’t think being principled is important. It’s all about realizing that using libertarian solutions in manners that appeal to other principles will help us be more successful in reaching the electorate we need in order to win elections.

  • Michael H. Wilson

    Nick Wilson: “Portland was a big success in the pragmatism vs. othodoxy debate because the tables have finally turned against those in the LP staunchly advocating anarchy as a political end, towards a more realistic and bigger tent approach to libertarianism.”

    I have been in the LP for some 25 yrs & I have seldom met an anarchist. One or two but not many. I am probably the closest to one that I know. Most people I have met are rather pragmatic in their ideas. I’ve been a candidate, an officer and put about 300 plus hours out working booths. I’ve read Rand, Rothbard, Nosick, Popper and a host of others. To the point. I don’t believe you can build a peaceful society using the coercive power of the state. Maybe that makes me an anarchist. Maybe not.

    I do think you are attempting to polorize this by labelling people whom you have not had discussions with.

    I may agree with you that the dues need to go. I think the dues are a lazy persons way of raising money (con’t)

  • Michael H. Wilson

    Con’t from 91.
    Too many do just enough to get a newsletter out and pay for a phone.

    I may agree on the pledge. If you violate it what are the consequences? There are none. So what value is it? Lie to your mom there’s a penalty. Cheat at school there is a penalty. Violate the pledge. People pat you on the back and give you more money for your next campaign.

    But take a look at the reform website. Big government Libertarians saying universal healthcare is a good idea. The U.N. is okay and they like gov. funded art? Nick you have proposed some changes that I have to question. I don’t think you have a good grasp of the Libertarian philosophy and I get the impression people are coming to the discussion on you site with little idea of whatit is all about and no one is pointing them in the right direction. Because they’ll vote a particular way that is all that is required. They are being set up for disappointment and no one is take care to steer them right. (con’t)

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    Nick,

    You write:

    “To clarify my own personal feelings, Portland was a big success in the pragmatism vs. othodoxy debate”

    I don’t thik I’ve said this before, but I really, really, really, really wish that the word “pragmatism” would go entirely out of use in the debate. The very word works like an accelerant works for an arsonist. “Purists” might (and should) be able to reach accomodation with incrementalism, because libertarianism and incrementalism are not incompatible. Libertarianism (as it has evolved in and around the LP) and pragmatism (of the type advocated by Dewey, James et al), IMO, are.

    “As of now, candidates theoretically no longer have to answer media questions over whether they support the repeal of all taxes, privatizing roads …”

    Let’s be realistic — how many years has it been since Time said that Lyndon LaRouche was a Libertarian? That hasn’t gone away yet and it won’t for a long, long time. Neither will any LP image rooted in the “old” platform.

  • Michael H. Wilson

    Con’t from 92.
    These people are being mislead and used. The public is well aware of the fact that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the major parties and in many cases they do not vote because of that. The first time I ran for office (1981) I was discussing taxes with a friend and Econ Prof sitting nearby overheard us and turned to me and said:”Michael you need to get a better understanding of the Libertarian philosophy.” Best advice I ever got.
    I am disappointed in the LPs lack of success at the polls, but I will suggest that it stems from other sources; a lack of training, lack of funds, poor planning and preparations,
    poor outreach to libertarians in general plus a number of other issues. There is one issue that is sorely ignored by us in the process of running for office. Regardless of what political stripe people may be they vote their pocketbooks.
    Not always, but often enough. And the LP has not learned how to use that to our advantage.
    M.H.W.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    I’d like some opinions on something.

    as you know I have made some videos regarding the LP by way of learning video editing, which I always wanted to learn how to do. It’s a lot of fun.

    I am getting ready to make between 6 to 8 vids on the hot button topics of campaign 2006. These will cover the gamut of issues important now, and I intend for these videos to speak pretty much exclusively to the non libertarian voter. They wont be about philosophy, they wont advance libertarianism just becuase everyone thinks we should do that.

    They are going to advocate what will the 2006 crop of libertarians do if elected on each of these issues, using my best judgement on where the POLITICAL gold is. To do some of these the way I want, I am going to advocate some courses of aion ht may not be suitable to some in the party. I’ll give an example.

    contd

  • David Tomlin

    The 2004 platform addressed the matter of nukes directly in Article IV, Sec. B, Plank 1, title ‘Military Policy’.

    ‘The potential use of nuclear weapons is the greatest threat to all the peoples of the world, not only Americans. Thus, the objective should be to reduce the risk that a nuclear war might begin and its scope if it does. . . . We call on the U.S. government to continue negotiations toward multi-lateral reduction of nuclear armaments, to the end that all such weapons will ultimately be eliminated, under such conditions of verification as to ensure multi-lateral security.’

    For nukes to be ‘eliminated’ seems to imply a ban on private possession, though this is nowhere made explicit.

    All the planks in Article IV have been dropped. The RKBA plank (I.6) has been kept. It still contains the ‘risky or unsafe’ language in the version posted here.

    http://lpradicals.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=17

    I still haven’t seen an ‘official’ verson of the new platform.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    Education:

    The best angle for libertarians on education is to promote choice, ANY choice, that empowers parents while using the angle of supporting local control of school boards as opposed to the federal power grab and federal funding lock in known as No Child Left Behind. I intend to paint local officals as being unwilling puppets of Bush and the Feds. I know from talking to some of them here that they hate NCLB but cant do anything about it becuase of the teachers union.

    In other words, I want to make a libertarian video that indirectly supports local elected control of public education becuase I think there are votes for LP Candidates in doing so.

    My question is this: I am curious to know how many here would regard this as a libertarian course of action? It is a step towards local control as opposed to federal control, which is a step in the right firection. It pits local officals in opposition to NCLB, which is also good. ( closer overnment is to the people, the better).

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    Who here believes that in doing so, I have turned the corner into a unprincipled libertarian?

    I’m just curious. If one cannot use the best angle politically to assist LP candidates becuase it runs afoul of LP principle, whats more important, not doing the video, or having LP candidates not have the tools they nee to advance their campaigns?

  • Jim Allison

    I’ve never quite understood why Libertarians, who are so hell-bent against collectivism, care so much about a centrally planned platform. If decentralization works so well everywhere else, why wouldn’t it work for a platform?

    Let National come up with a general platform, let the states further define it, and most of all, let the candidates fill in all the specifics. That way, the candidate in the Bible Belt can leave out the Gay-Marriage plank and the candidate in San Francisco can run with that plank.

    Candidates create the real platform, not conventions. No matter what the GOP may do at its convention, Bush’s policies ARE the Republican Platform.

  • Mark

    Great comment Mr. Jim Allison, I second that.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    Wow, I haven’t felt this much excitement for the LP since I first joined!

    Sorry but I’m with the LRC 110% here. The anarcho-libertarians have turned the party into a “let’s see who is most principled” contest and the first person to even think of backing down is ridiculed by the others.

    It’s identical to the Christians, Muslims, and other religious fanatics – they’re some of the most principled people on the planet. Getting a hardcore Christian to compromise his beliefs in the Bible is like getting a hardcore libertarian to comrpomise his beliefs in anarchy.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    I always chuckle when I hear a libertarian boast about the “World’s Smallest (and most overrrated) Political Quiz” results – 20% of respondants come up libertarian, yet less than 1% ever vote libertarian. How could this be?!? :rolleyes:

    Stephen (or was it Stephen?) made that simple yet brilliant online commericial the other day (the one with Badnarik on CNBC or some news station) that summed up everything so perfectly. We’ll knock America on their asses with our brilliant ideas, then we’ll knock American on their asses with our “insane” ideas.

    (cont…)

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    Every libertarian has at least one friend or family member whose said to them, “I’d vote libertarian if it was for that ________ issue.” Maybe it’s the heroin at the corner store, or the 8 month 30 day abortions, or the privatized military and police. The anarcho-libs want it all or nothing, they don’t understand babysteps – But the Dems and Reps do, they’ve been slowly taking American towards statism and socialism for years – they know how it works.

    We’re not going to have heroin in the corner stores until we have marijuana at the corner stores, we’re not going to have 8 month 30 day abortions until we have 6 month abortions etc… – It’s all about babysteps.

  • Stuart Richards

    The guy that made the video to which you refer, Phil, is Tim West. He’s been one of the most outspoken guys on the topic of LP reform since about 2004.

  • http://www.finlandforthought.net Phil

    Cool, thanks for clarifying that Stuart!

  • http://www.phillies2008.org George Phillies

    We currently in America have 8 month 30 day abortions, so there is one that was won for us by progressive liberals.

    Similarly, the teacher’s unions hat No Child Left Behind, and are our natiural allies on this issue.

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    “The best angle for libertarians on education is to promote choice, ANY choice, that empowers parents while using the angle of supporting local control … I know from talking to some of them here that they hate NCLB but cant do anything about it becuase of the teachers union.”

    Most teachers and local unions HATE many parts of No Child Left Behind. (I don’t know about the NEA. I was never a member.)

    I can’t say I would personally support ANY choice. But decentralizing education is definitely a libertarian position.

    There recently was an article in Reason about San Fransisco’s public education system. Every principle decides how to spend the money they receive, they recieve money based off of enrollement, and parents can send their kids to any school they want and the money follows. It’s apparently been a phenomenal success. The fed doesn’t dictate curiculum, the state doesn’t, and neither does the city. The school does.

    From that point, you’re not too far from privatizing educ.

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    But the point is, indirectly supporting local governement control of education to remove federal control of same would not be considered by you to be a sell out? There are other angles a on other issues that could stand to benefit from this treatment.

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    “… would not be considered by you to be a sell out?”

    By me, no. But I only speak for myself.

    Decentralizing schools in the manner San Fransisco has takes power from the federal government, the state government, and even the city government and places it in the hands of educators. Are they still tax-payer supported educators? Sure. That hasn’t changed. But they become educators who’s jobs depend on the satisfaction of parents. I think it’s a good first step.

    Plus, ultimate control of education has always rested with local governments. You wouldn’t be giving them any more power. I’d argue you’d actually be giving them less.

  • Pingback: Hammer of Truth » Actual Elected Libertarian Weighs In On Portland

  • http://www.ethmar.com Ethan

    From way upthread somewhere:

    “Republicans and Democrats that read this site must be laughing their asses off believing they are safe in their rape and pillage of the Constitution and treasury. What a feel good day they must have knowing the only competition they have is one other party.”

    As a lifelong Democrat, I agree with most of this statement. However, I am becoming increasingly disinterested in the effectively binary system we have today and am seeking out an attractive “third way”. Time and time again, whatever gains the LP might make with me are eroded and/or destroyed by the ambiguity and in-fighting that is prevalent in LP circles. And they call Democrats disorganized!

    Despite the (apparent) sniping, I hope that the LP can find equilibrium and appeal to a wider audience. FWIW I voted for Libertarians in 2004 and the 2006 primary to do what I could to fan the flames of hope. I’d like to make a more informed choice next time, rather than ride the shock value. Fire away!

  • http://www.ethmar.com Ethan

    As a follow-up to 110 – the Green Party is another swiss-cheesed party (many candidates for local and national office can’t even agree on what version of the GP they belong to – embarrasing). What I am coming away with – and I am doing more research to bolster my understanding and define my ideals/goals – is that parties like the LP need something definitive to really lay down who they are and what a vote for them means. The “old” platform is not something I can support 100%. Not even 90%. As I summarized the LP platform for those of you who do not wish to click over to my site and read more about my thoughts with respect to that topic, I get the sense the ideal as expressed by LP ideology is something along the lines of Tribal Afghanistan: A country in name only, but more a loose association of individuals. I won’t hash all of this out here, but in short, idealistic yes, practical, no.

  • Steve Benton

    Hear, hear, sir.

  • Steve Dasbach

    Tim West wrote:

    “My question is this: I am curious to know how many here would regard this as a libertarian course of action? It is a step towards local control as opposed to federal control, which is a step in the right firection.”

    [Disclaimer: I teach chemistry in a public HS]

    Not only is it a libertarian course of action — it is the most effective libertarian action. And the approach can and should be applied to *most* issues where the federal government has involved itself.

    Push money and power from the feds to states, local communities, and individuals; from states to local communities and individuals; and from local communities to individuals.

    If we were to reach the point where education was entirely provided by local government, it would be much easier to take the final step and get government entirely out of the process in individual communities.

    IMO, this is a much better incremental approach than things like federal or even state vouchers or tax credits.

  • Liberty Crusader

    “I don’t think that the LRC is a bunch of neo-con Republicans trying to infiltrate the LP to destroy it from the inside. ”

    How can you say that? I think that’s terribly naive. I can’t see any way that that is NOT what is happening, and I’ve over-evaluated the situation, if anything.

  • David Tomlin

    When a neo-con foreign policy plank was proposed at LRC, it was voted down overwhelmingly.

  • http://knappster.blogspot.com Thomas L. Knapp

    Chris,

    “Plus, ultimate control of education has always rested with local governments. You wouldn’t be giving them any more power. I’d argue you’d actually be giving them less.”

    I don’t care to argue the various “school choice” options either way, but if most states are like Missouri, this is simply not true.

    In Missouri, ultimate control of education lies with the state government, through a state board of education. Local boards exist on that state board’s sufferance (the state can assume control of a district any time it decides it has a reason to), and the operations and composition of local boards are controlled by that state board. For example, local board members are required to complete a state-board-approved set of classes to teach them how to sit up, roll over and play dead for the educrats — and no, I am not kidding, I’ve attended one of the classes — and if you don’t take the classes, you’re removed from office.

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    I guess I need a discalimer similar to Mr. Dasbach’s: I used to teach physics in a public HS.

    Tom: You are right as always. I should know better, considering the disclaimer above and my own state’s (Virginia) dictated “Standards of Learning” curriculum. I think my main point is still valid, though.

  • http://freenewworld.blogspot.com Nick Wilson

    Here is the education plank I proposed to the LRC and to the Platform Committee. What do you think?

    EDUCATION
    Issues: The public school system is generally unaccountable, imbalanced and inefficient. Students are trapped in failing public schools. Our current system generally restricts students to only the public school in the specific tax district where they live. This system creates an imbalance where students are stuck in failing public schools and cannot opt out of them, thus reducing accountability for such schools. This also contributes to the disproportionately low educational quality in districts with higher populations of low income residents, further perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Education is where the cycle begins, but also provides a door for it to end. Ever since the Federal Government has gotten involved in education, we have seen our educational ratings crumble. Washington bureaucrats now control everything from the funding down to the course materials.

  • http://freenewworld.blogspot.com Nick Wilson

    Principles: We believe parents should be able choose the best education possible for their children. We support a system where parents can pull their children out of failing public schools and put them in succeeding ones. Public education should not be run by politically motivated Washington bureaucrats. Localized, choice-oriented educational solutions have been proven to improve accountability, quality and efficiency. As the freedom of expression is crucial to the educational process, we oppose any censorship of non-threatening, non-coercive and non-disruptive individual expression, including speech and religion in schools.

  • http://freenewworld.blogspot.com Nick Wilson

    Solutions: We advocate:

    1. Public school choice solutions. In making public schools compete for students, we encourage a formula for success and naturally hold failing schools accountable. In enabling the poor a way out of failing public schools, we can stop the cycle of poverty at its root.
    2. The immediate repeal of No Child Left Behind and any attempts of the Federal government to interfere with the governance and curriculum of our schools.
    3. Tax credits for child care, preschool and private schooled / home schooled students. Parents who choose to home school their children or to send their children to private schools should be able to receive tax credits for tuition and other expenditures related to their children�s education. We also support tax credits for the costs of childcare and preschool.
    4. Freedom of expression and religion in schools. Non-coercive, student-initiated prayer must always be allowed. However, we oppose abusing public school power for the purpose of religious indoctrination.
    5. The elimination of mandatory federal testing, which compromises the self-determinacy of schools and homogenizes our education into a �one-size-fits-all� mentality.

  • http://freenewworld.blogspot.com Nick Wilson

    Is this “principled” or am I selling out to political interests? Do you think this is a way of advocating libertarian solutions that could be appealing enough to Joe and Jane Voter?

    Anyone for a platform loosely based around Cato Institute’s policy recommendations?

  • http://www.ilovephysics.com Chris Moore

    I think “public school choice” could be interpreted as a voucher program, which I would never support at the federal (or state) level. But I think tax credits are a good idea, along with any effort towards decentralizing education.

    I think it could be re-worded, though, to intice an anrchist/purist crowd. Especially Solution 1, which reads like Bush’s and Kennedy’s argument FOR No Child Left Behind.

    “Anyone for a platform loosely based around Cato Institute’s policy recommendations?”

    I prefer the platform Tom has written for the BTP. But I will be working to promote a program based loosely around Cato’s recommendations, though.

    An interesting compromise for platform reform in the LP: Turn the LP platform into more of a statement of principle for the various issues. Something even “purists” can get behind. Then adopt a program that changes every 2 years. Then we can slug it out over the program. :)

  • IanC

    Chris — as to the Bush & Kerry argument “for” NCLB … well… given the mechanic directly impoverishes already poor regions, there is no excuse for this.

    I still wonder how the hell the thing got passed in the first place (excepting that I know damned well the vast, vast majority of people never heard anything but the title. Including the congressmen et al that voted it in.)

  • http://www.libertyforsale.com Timothy West

    it had a nice name. Thats he only reaqson, just like the Patriot Act. Who could EVAR be against a patriot act? If you are, you’re not patriotic.

  • blowmedown

    To all you New Libertarian grifters:

    Want to win elections at the expense of principle? Join one of the other parties (flip a coin). Oh, sorry – I forgot. The lines for all the “mover/shaker power positions” are too long, and you don’t want to wait. What you Murray Sabrins (that’s Jerseyese for carpetbagging cocksucker) should really do is dissolve and reincorporate as the Losertarian Party.

    To the Radical Caucus – my sympathies, but you will never get this particular genie back in its bottle. It’s dead, Jim…

    -BM
    Hammer of Truth, my ASS, more like Fountain of Feces.