After being immersed in the Libertarian Party at a local level for years, I think I know the reason why the LP has little effect on anything. I was instrumental in the creation of the local Libertarian Party back in 2000 here in Sarasota, FL. I was the “membership director” and I happen to think I did a decent job. I personally funded, organized, and recruited volunteers for Operation Politically Homeless booths at the County Fair, Gun Shows, the Flea Market, Protests, Gay & Lesbian Pridefests, and more.
The reason I was successful at recruiting is because I took the initiative to just *do*. I never asked the LP for money or permission. I only asked the members to volunteer for what I was organizing.
I don’t bother with the Sarasota LP anymore. The meetings are bureaucratic and slow. Why? It’s because of the method of organization. Most LPs are run with “bylaws” in effect as well as the LP’s worshipped “Roberts Rules of Order.” Since I helped found the Sarasota LP, I was part of the bylaws creation process.
I will never be part of that process again! It took weeks of debate to hammer out the bylaws. This is time the group could have spent planning and executing outreach.
In 2005 I founded the Suncoast Free State Project Local Group. The group was totally mine. I administrated the yahoo group. I had the membership list. It was my creation. After gathering a tremendous percentage of the Suncoast area FSP members together, we started doing outreach. (By the way, one of the reasons FSP meeting turnout is so great is because the FSP members are the cream of the crop of Liberty activists.) In 2005 the FSP group easily did more outreach than did the five-year-old LP. In fact, FSP members were the ones running Operation Politically Homeless booths that the LP was paying for!
If you’re a Libertarian and you want to see your party succeed, especially at a local level, you need to decentralize. If the people in your local LP are not up to par, and your meetings are bureaucratic, throw out the bylaws and start your own group.
In short, the Libertarian Party needs competition for itself. Local LPs should be owned by an individual. If you don’t like the way that individual is running his LP, start your own group.
Competition makes everyone better, and that certainly applies to the LP. Stop the centralized decision making. Stop the bureaucracy. Private property and competition are the only things that can save the LP from a future of dreadfully slow, if any progress.
As an aside, and to the LP’s credit, the national LP has taken a step in the right direction by eliminating dues and the Unified Membership Program, which was centralized wealth distribution to the state LPs.
[Ian Bernard is the host of Free Talk Live, an internationally syndicated pro-Liberty radio show airing live six nights a week and on in 13 markets nationwide. The show is also the #1 Political Cultural Podcast in the world.]