First it was the pragmatists, getting angry about the pledge’s retention. Then it was purists, angry about the dumping of the pledge.
There’s been a lot of despair and hope felt by both sides. It’s been a wrenching, dramatic affair. However, if we all would just step back for a second and look at what’s been done, I think we all can be proud of what just happened.
The Libertarian Party just had a major upheaval without any major faction walking out of the party. Stop and think about that. This is the sign of a mature party-one that can handle its differences maturely and rationally. The clash between pragmatists and purists has produced much worse results than this. We set party precedent without upsetting party unity.
What’s more, I think that this has been the first truly cooperative convention we’ve ever had, where the various caucuses contribute to a greater whole instead of just taking whatever they can at the expense of the party as a whole. I’ll be the first to admit that the LRC isn’t always right. Yes, they are my “team” but we’re not the only ones with something to add. But the important thing is that both sides continue to add to the dialogue.
That’s just what we did, too. Traditionally, it’s been the hardcorest, purest-of-the-pure that’s dominated these conventions ever since Rothbard kicked out the moderates in ’81. They’re the ones presumably most dedicated to the party, or at least more dedicated to the social aspect of the party. Hence, their caucus has always tended to be over-represented at the conventions since then.
This year, we saw a concerted effort by the pragmatists to step up and take up their responsibilities in the party as well. People were dissatisfied, and instead of just complaining… they did something to change it. I think that both sides can agree that taking action to stand up for one’s beliefs is admirable.
We didn’t see one side or another dominate the debate. Even with the concerted effort by the pragmatists, Carl Milsted of the LRC went into the convention with only 15% of the delegates behind him. The rest of the LRC’s strength came through persuasion, convincing a crucial mass of neutral or purist delegates that their view is the right one. This is another victory for every Libertarian-another testament to our rationality, to our willingness to consider other viewpoints.
From there, yes the LRC did acheive a landmark overturn of most of the platform. But that’s not the only thing that happened. The purists held onto the pledge, demonstrating that not every delegate there was on one side or another-there’s plenty of middle ground, plenty of free-thinking yet in the party of free thinkers. The purists also managed to roll back the LRC’s Zero Dues a bit with an interesting reform-requiring voting members to be donors. It’s probably a wise step-ironically, I think the LRC might not have been, well, incrementalist enough in transitioning from the former cash-raising model to the newer pledge model. The purists enriched this debate, and in my opinion they definitely contributed something worthwhile, at least for now, with this act.
I think that’s how the platform’s going to go as well, in all honesty. The purists and the pragmatists will work out their kinks and collaborate to make a truly beautiful work of statesmanship. The pragmatists will see to it that the platform doesn’t weigh us down, the purists will see to it that we don’t abandon sight of our principles and go in the wrong direction.
Both sides have contributed this weekend, and I pray both sides continue to contribute. All we have to fear from more inputs and more ideals is a better party, crafted in the free marketplace of libertarian ideas.