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.