From the Frontlines of the War on Statism

…comes a dispatch from R. Kenneth Lindell, another libertarian elected as a Republican, who is doing good things up in the Maine House of Representatives.

Lindell on the need for compromise and unity within and without the libertarian movement, in order to advance our goals:

The libertarian movement is driven by the fundamental principles of individual liberty and self-sufficiency so well encapsulated in the non-aggression principle. The libertarian economist Murray Rothbard best described that principle, in his essay “War, Peace, and the State”:

The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (“aggress”) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.

How does a libertarian state legislator hold true to such a principle while participating in the formulation of public policy? After all, every law must be enforced by means of aggression, or at least the threat of aggression.

The answer came to me well before I ever had to ask the question of myself. It came at a rally I attended in Boston in 1996, a fundraiser for Harry Browne’s first presidential campaign. The speaker was the late David Brudnoy, who for more than a quarter century was the voice of Boston evening talk radio. Brudnoy spoke of an allegorical “freedom train” making a journey to the perfect libertarian society “” Galt’s Gulch perhaps? The train has far to travel from the statist society we live in. Many of us may want to get off before the train arrives at its final destination, but anyone who wants greater freedom needs to get aboard right here.

Lindell on what finally drove him away from the LP:

This message resonated with me because even then I was uncomfortable with the anarchist fringe of the libertarian movement. Nevertheless I remained active in the Libertarian Party until 2000 because I believed that libertarian ideas could have an influence on mainstream politics. I also thought that the LP was the most effective means of bringing that influence to bear. It took less than a year on the Libertarian National Committee to disabuse me of that notion. It astounded me how much infighting and jockeying for position could exist in an utterly powerless political organization. The LP should have been focusing on how it might actually get more libertarians elected, but it squabbled instead over who should attend its conventions or what staff members should be hired or fired. In 2001 I resigned from the LNC and quit the Libertarian Party.

It’s a great article about how libertarians are doing politics. They have to get in there and work, sometimes hold their nose at the stench of politics so they can take out the trash. Obviously, your mileage might vary depending on your district… but as a rare example of an elected small-l libertarian, it’s a useful case study on how to maintain libertarian principles in a statist government while also pragmatically advancing the goals of our movement.

Stuart Richards

Stuart Richards is a 26-year-old land surveyor based out of Portland, OR. He is a left-leaning geolibertarian and (theologically) liberal Christian, and has been blogging on and other libertarian sites since 2004.

  1. Yup Bickering as usual. One reason membership is now down to around 15,500, or as I understand and it will continue to drop as long as there is a do nothing attitude.

  2. I dont agree with with his surmise that every libertarian principle flows from ZAP/NAP. As a practical matter, both that principle and the oath must be repudiated at once if the libertarian in question gets elected, becuase then they must take the oath of office to serve.

    It’s a laudable goal among people, a worthless goal among governments. We want to MINIMIZE force to the extent we can without unravaling the institutions that our candidates must swear to defend and protect if elected.

    income tax = too much force. 47% tax load on the average citizen = too much force. Advocating no taxation = stupid, politically impossible to implement, and not enough force.

    How about a nice middle ground that isnt politically impossible, just hard, but one that people wont dismiss out of hand?

  3. I met Ken in 1996 when he as chairman was resurrecting a dead Vermont LP. This led to Vermont electing our first Libertarian legislator in 1998. I have a lot of respect for Ken. Best of luck to him.

    Let’s hope we can turn around the LP so more people like him will return to the LP fold.

  4. Tim, I still don’t understand why you continue to believe that advocating no taxes is “stupid and politically impossible”.

    Trying to rid the government of all of its revenue sources at once may be impossible, and probably even bad policy. But your position that the LP and its candidates should back away from it’s anti-tax message for “political reasons” lacks evidence for success. The LP helped to successfully fight income tax implementation in Alabama and Tennesse, and came incredibly close to eliminating the income tax in Massacussetss. Those were pretty big political successes.

    The LP can be and has been effective without electing a Senator. And changing the platform to say that we only want to cut taxes by 3% over the next few years won’t get us that Senator anyway. There are bigger problems in the LP than the platform and the pledge.

  5. The only hope for the LP is the Libertarian Reform Caucus.

    I firsd heard of it last week when they sent me a direct mail piece. That piece 100% coincided with my view of the LP.

    My wife and I are delegates in Portland next week for the Indiana Delegation.

    We will vote for the LRC every vote.

    I have found a new home…

    Mike Sylvester

  6. Y’know, there is a vast, immense, difference between advocating the immediate cessation of all taxation, and simply not advocating taxation itself.

    Keep in mind that all the oath states is that you don’t believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means for social or political change.

    You *CANNOT* take one clause and interpret it to be the entire message. 2nd Amendment, anybody?

    — to wrap this thought up; keep the “NAP principle” by simply avowing to vote against any taxes that aren’t surcharges that are voluntarily entered by committing an optional action — like purchasing gasoline.

  7. There’s probably a bit of a vicious cycle where the LP’s lack of electoral success leads to infighting and infighting leads to lack of electoral success. I know that in my work life, when I’ve worked at companies that weren’t doing well there was a lot of infighting; when I’ve worked at places where business is going well, everyone generally got along.

  8. Ian,

    the rub is that many of us signed the pledge thinking it had another meaning. I never swore to the force pledge disavow it as any sort of politically viable message or creed for the Libertarian Party.

    The Pledge I signed said to me that I would not use violence to overthrow the government. It is impossible for Government to exist and not use some measure of force.

    The force pledgers should incorporate an organized caucus within the party and use the force pledge to enforce their membership, and leave the rest of us alone to persue actual political involvement.

  9. the infighting is self evident, even in the above posts.

    the LP needs a strong leader to push the libertarian agenda, even through his/her own party. this argument of semantics MUST stop or the LP dies.

    it’s sad that the convention will probably be 80-90% arguments over semantics and very little actual business getting done.

    What happend to the position papers that were to follow the Exit Strategy? That’s right, they were killed by the requirement to go through the “thought police”.

    The LP is so busy trying to make sure everyone walks in lock-step to the so-called principles of a select few, that they’ve forgetten what FREEDOM is all about. Goddammit, I’m a free thinker, and so are most other people!

    Get down to the business of getting people elected. The party doesn’t influence policy, the candidates and elected officials do!. Get them into office!

  10. It seems to me that the Libertarian Reform Caucus could just save themselves a lot of trouble if they simply returned to their natural home in the Republican Party, instead of trying to remake the LP as GOP Jr. It would be a win-win for everyone.

  11. I just don’t see why the pledge changes any of this. And I don’t see how there could be any conflict, so long as the libertarian lawmaker acts in libertarian ways. One, lone lawmaker isn’t going to abolish taxes. But he might be successfull is getting maybe say a 1% tax cut bill passed. That sounds like progress and is certainly no violation of the pledge. In that case, less force is being applied to people and it’s a step in the right direction! 99% to go!

    The “reformers” have nothing but a bunch of phantom issues and are so rigid in their thinking that they can’t understand the realities involved. There are a multitude of reasons why the LP isn’t achieving success and not one of them is either the pledge nor the platform. Dropping the both of those would give no voter the incentive to vote Libertarian. The reformers foolhardy idea is to have the LP look and act just like the D’s & R’s and people will then be overwhelmingly compelled to vote Libertarian.

  12. Since the electorate is so happy with them now, I’m sure that they’d consider throwing their vote away on someone who isn’t any different and bound to lose anyway.

    I sure wish you people would either get a brain, die, or go start your own party. Think about that. There would be no battle for control, because you would instantly control it. And then you geniuses are so smart and saavy, you would instantly achieve greater electoral success. PLUS you wouldn’t have the stigma of being a loser party. The media keeps talking about needing a third party blah blah while conveniently overlooking the LP. Well, go be that party smartasses. Let’s see what you can do. I’ll give you money to go start another party just because I like being proven right.

  13. All I care about is that I get a smaller government, starting right now. I don’t care which party gets me there. If it’s the LP, great. If the RLC or DFC manages to be the deciding factor, fine. What matters is that all those who believe in liberty start working together to achieve it.

    I’m pretty sure I understood what the pledge meant when I signed it. I wasn’t an anarchist then, but I’m getting closer to that position every day. The pledge can stay or go. It shouldn’t matter either way. It’s the principles of liberty and limited government that matter. That’s what got us all here in the first place.

    What matters now is that the arguing and nit-picking over words and labels needs to end next weekend if the LP is going anywhere besides the history books. I wish I could be there in Portland, but the best I can do is urge all those who are going to be there to find common ground so that we can all move forward together and finally get things done. We need all the help we can get.

  14. It’s not about the existing infrastructure for me, it’s the party name. Why should libertarians have to create a party called something else, leaving the Libertarian Party to the anarchists? It’s a misnomer. If the anarchists want their own party unencumbered by the rest of those in the libertarian quadrant of the Nolan chart, start the Anarchist Party. Or rename the Libertarian Party to the Anarchist Party, take the existing infrastructure, and let the libertarians create a Libertarian Party.

    The ideal scenario in my mind would be a single party called the Libertarian Party that encompasses everyone in the libertarian quadrant (including the anarchists). But it’s the anarchists that don’t want to work with the libertarians, not the other way around.

  15. I think Devious Dave is right about one thing: we “reformer” libertarians should just form another party. It’s obvious there is a deep split. Might as well make it official and start some friendly competition with each other at the polls instead of wasting time on infighting.

    If I understand correctly, if things don’t go well at the upcoming LP convention the Libertarian Reform Caucus will start the split the day after? Or was that in 2008? Please don’t wait until 2008 to make the decision to split.

    I wouldn’t get hung up on the name of the new party. We can come up with a good name.

  16. The idea that the term libertarian does not include “anarchists” (i.e. private law advocates) is just plain silly. Tell that to Murray Rothbard.

  17. Otto. The term libertarian does include anarchists, but is ALSO includes people who believe in other paths to maximizing liberty.

    Rothbard had a great deal of problem grasping this, which is why he spent much of his time attacking other libertarians. Through his tireless efforts the LP managed to expel the “Crane Machine” and end its years of exponential growth. He also did a masterful job of bashing Objectivists, “Lumpenproletariot Libertarians” (who now get called “povertarians” by some) and the entire LP of New York.

    He eventually gave up on the LP and became a “Paleoconservative.”

  18. I’m confused. Are anarchists keeping “reformers” from running for office? Are they going down the membership lists and striking off the names of reformers?

    I’m sure there are some anarchists in the party that are mean and accuse well-intentioned reformers of advocating “statism”. But there are reformers who accuse anyone who calls for the abolition of the income tax, for example, “stupid”, “purist”, “anarchist” and uninterested in political success. Both are wrong.

    Most Libertarians are probably much like myself. I read several of the blogs, but I don’t contribute much to the conversation, because it’s a pretty stupid conversation (at least when the topic is internal politics). I support the LP with money and my vote. Do I care that there is a pledge or that I have some minor disagreement with the platform? Not really. Do I care that some anarchist who I don’t even know calls me a “statist” because I disagree with Rothbard or on what the pledge means? Nope. (cont.)

  19. (cont.) I send money and support to people like Badnarik, Jeffers, Nall, and whoever else I think is running a solid campaign that can generate some buzz.

    If the LRC is so interested in “doing politics” then RUN FOR OFFICE! If you want to run on a platform of 10% reduction in taxes rather than 100%, that’s fine. Anarchists may get huffy, but screw them. Show that you can get at least a couple of percent of the vote, and I (and others) may send you some money.

    Arguing about the pledge and the platform is almost a complete waste of time and energy. And it sure as hell isn’t “doing politics”.

  20. People are running for office, and they’re getting ambushed by our platform. Even when the candidate has his own more moderate incremental platform, his opponent still has the national platform as cannon fodder. It isn’t an issue unless the candidate gets high poll numbers… that’s when the gloves come off. I’ve talked to many former candidates put in that situation.

    And Libertarians who aren’t 100/100 on the Nolan chart often are driven out of their state party by cries of the NIF pledge (depending on the character of the state party). I’ve seen several good activists leave the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania that way. If someone wants to volunteer or donate money, I say let them help.

    I’m much more concerned about the pledge than the platform though.

  21. Blah-I was hoping we’d move past the infighting and debate what was actually done once we GOT into office.

    But if Portland’s the last year of major infighting before the reformers take over, fine, whatever.

  22. Chuck, I would have to maintain that any party member who is getting “ambushed” by the truth and the correct stance is probably a weak candidate. It’s easy to say you disagree on some part of the platform or part with your party on an issue. Badnarik does it masterfully. And I (non-gay) LOVE Badnarik.

    Nall made a good example of what happens when you stand for the TRUTH and do the right thing when she had the SHERIFFS candidates 180 on drug policy on the spot! Think about that. Truth is a remarkable thing. I think candidates would do well to embrace the platform, but make it clear that those are ultimate goals worthy of reaching… “but in the meantime”. Use the train analogy etc etc. There are a lot of ways for the non-lazy candidate to get around this and stay germane to the real immediate issues at hand. The more this happens, the fewer lame attacks will take place. In fact, the platform could become FEARED by the opposition!

  23. re: “Anarchists may get huffy, but screw them.”

    True. When I ran for office, I had a few incidents where anarchists got huffy. I ignored them and they went away.

    When I was running for office, I had a great avenue for expressing a rational, moderate libertarianism. (Actually not that moderate at all, but too moderate for many Libertarian purists.)

    It was all the times I wasn’t running for office that I was embarassed by incivil or anarchist communications to the public (e.g. ballot arguments), whacko candidates, and misbehavior of the LP of California executive committee.

  24. What in the platform is being used against Libertarian candidates? Legalization of prostitution and drugs? Defaulting on the national debt?

    I agree the latter is a bad policy proposal. Not because it’s politically unsellable, but because it’s economically a bad idea. But it’s pretty easy to say that you disagree with it.

    If you don’t think voters “are ready” for drug legalization and prostitution, then say so. If you don’t agree at all, then say so. Although why run as a Libertarian if that is the case.

    Anything can be made to look kooky or bad. That’s how a campaign works. The other side wants everyone to believe that you’ll eat babies if elected.

    The Greens want to abolish the Senate. When Nader was asked about that in 2000 (when he was the Green candidate), he said he thought that was a stupid idea.

    The point is changing the platform and eliminating the pledge is not a panecea. Does anyone honestly think that doing these two things will result in immediate electoral success?

  25. Libertarian policy proposals are a product and they need to be sold. It’s not that the party has a bad product. It’s that it has little money for product marketing. Libertarian campaigns loose because they are outspent 100 to 1 or worse.

    As an example, I don’t know if Badnarik will win his congressional race, but give him $2 million dollars, and I bet he at least gets +40%. He’d probably win.

    Give the next LP presidential candidate $200 million, and I’m sure he/she would get all the press they wanted, be invited to the debates, and have a good shot at winning.

    If the RLC wants to elect Libertarians, it needs to raise LOTS of money and run credible candidates. It’s that simple. The pledge and platform are minor issues.

  26. I think everyone is very tired and frustrated here. It’s time to step back and think things through and stop being first class assholes to each other.

    I’ve said some nasty things, and honestly some of it is hyperbole and some of it the recipients earned and some of it I am really sorry for. There have been other nasty things said by others too, nobody is innocent so don’t act like you are.

    It seems the real issue here is that nobody is in total agreement with one another and that’s part of being in an organization. Of course I don’t appreciate being painted broadbrush as only seeing things one “purist” way – which isn’t true of course. We need to learn to accept our differences like adults and get the emotion out of the way. I think we can have things both ways, as long as people are willing to sit down and pow-wow instead of painting one side or the other with untrue, exagerrated portrayals of what they are.

  27. There are things both “sides” are overlooking, and I hope that they learn to recognize those and work around them.

  28. There are no panaceas, I’ll tell you that much. This thing is going to take a lot of time and there is no quick strategy for victory. Only time and hard work together as a team are we going to get anywhere. Teams require mutual respect amongst the members, even when they disagree (agreeably, hopefully).

    Please learn to bite your tongues, I’m trying really hard over here but I can’t do it alone.

    Sorry about the “go die” remark, BTW. Scratch that.

  29. Honestly, I look at the pledge as simply a misused tool by a specific sub-segment of the libertarian subculture. Remove that tool and they’ll find another; the ideology is not controlled by the pledge in and of itself — hell, you can remove it from national membership and they could *STILL* use the “NAP” as the “true measure of libertarian-Ism.”

    As to the platform… well, frankly, it’s a donkey in a bathtub.

  30. Murray Rothbard’s argument against taxation is fallacious, based on a misinterpretation of ‘revealed preference’.

    Rand is weaker on the subject than Rothbard. ‘Government Financing in a Free Society’ may be the weakest thing she ever wrote. It doesn’t even use the phrase ‘public good’, and circles the problem without really coming to grips with it.

    I think the best treatment of the subject is Chapter 34 of David Friedman’s _The Machinery of Freedom_, titled ‘National Defense: The Hard Problem’. It concludes that abolishing taxation completely may or may not be feasible, depending on circumstances.

    It’s not effective for ‘reformers’ to dismiss zero taxes as ‘just nuts’, rather than taking the arguments seriously enough to identify their specific weaknesses.

  31. Zero taxes tomorrow is just nuts. Zero taxes in the future may be feasible — or may not be; the issue is debatable.

    In the U.S. a political platform is assumed to be a vision for the next four years or so. To put in such long term ideas into a political platform is to scare away the masses. Since the LP is supposed to be a political party in a democratic republic, this is a prescription for losing.

    Ye anarchists need to realize that ye are in a tiny minority. Ye may be the enlightened minority; the masses may well be deluded; but ye are definitely in the minority. A $200 million advertising budget would not change this fact. 49 of 50 people exposed to Rothbardian ideas reject them.

    The only way to convince people that anarchy is preferable is to set up pilot projects. In the meantime, it would be nice to have a libertarian party that cashes in on those areas where libertarian ideas are already popular.

  32. The “masses” aren’t scared away by the current platform. The masses don’t even know the platform exists. Or care.

    Even if the LRC changes the platform exactly the way they want, the LP will still be exactly where it is. The only difference is it will probably be smaller with the loss of what you call “purists”.

    If the LRC doesn’t get what it wants, then it seems they will bolt, leaving the LP smaller. Whatever new party will have exactly the same problems the current LP has. No money.

    I agree with a lot of the goals of the LRC. I’d be considered a communist by most anarchists. I don’t agree completely with the platform even as an end goal. I don’t think a pledge is necessary. But I also know that implementing everything the LRC stands for would result in ZERO elected Libertarians. I’d rather not split the party for zero gain.

  33. I’ve heard of candidates being “ambushed with the platform.”

    On the other hand, I’ve never seen a credible, supported claim that so much as one such “ambushed” candidate has lost an election, due to said “ambush,” that he or she otherwise would likely have won. Ever.

    I’d like to see the platform turned into a useful tool instead of a usually useless and occasionally mildly embarrassing doorstop. But the notion that that (or the pledge being eliminated, or Clint Eastwood running for president on the LP ticket, or the intervention of space aliens, or buying up Diebold stock) is some kind of silver bullet which will magically supercharge the LP’s mojo and lift it to near-instant success is … well … horseshit.

    There aren’t any silver bullets. Period. Any or all of the aforementioned things might help, some, but sooner or later it comes down to building real precinct-level political organizations that identify libertarian-leaning voters, persuade them (contd)

  34. (contd) to support LP candidates, and getting them to the polls on election day. The other stuff may be nice, and some of it may even be necessary on top of that chassis, but it’s a multi-part mechanism, not an a la carte menu. Put together, the necessary and desirable elements are a possibly working gizmo. Any particular one of them without the others isn’t. It’s just an interesting, but ultimately useless, gimmick.

    Sorry to be a downer, but I believe that the LP is a long way from getting over its fascination with gimmickry … and that it is running out of time to do so.

  35. Some history, and some predictions. When the LP started to get a little bit of traction in 1980, the ones who effectively control the LP and tend to beat down anyone they dont agree with until “they win”; drove the political people, the ones who really want the LP to go after the political process and compete, out.

    The party split in the Bergland-Ravenal battle and half the delegates walked out. More than half the money and support walked out with them. I believe this is going to happen again not now but in 2008, and the result will be a new “libertarian” party that probably wont even call itself a “libertarian party” becuase it wont want the baggage that goes with the name. The divorce will be for real this time.

    The political people are going to be driven out once again, just like before. The two parties, now bitter adversarys,
    are going to be competing for the available money and support and candidate pool in 2008. At first it will look like the political folks got beat.

  36. But this wont last very long. The “losers” in the fight will start wresting more and more donation money available to the “old” LP away, they will start having strings of local success
    and building from the bottom up the district based machine tht Knapp speaks of.

    For a few years, the “new party” will be a shadow of the LP, looking more like the LP of 1976. But when the party starts electing local office holders in large numbers ( compared to the flatline LP numbers) and starts promoting them upward to state offices, the “losers” won’t look that bad. At this point, having built a party the only way one can be built – from the bottom up, not the top down – the “new party” will simply steamroll the old LP and bankrupt it becuase political money and support always follows the
    party who can get it’s candidates elected.

    But this does not need to happen. We can have a unified LP if we can muster the strength to do 3 things for ourselves:

  37. 1. Remove the pledge for the rank and file member. There is not a political party worthy of the name that self limits it’s support consistant with it’s mandate.

    If the Libertarian Party’s mandate is nothing more than to provide fig leaf cover for those who desire no government, then just be honest about it to those of us who dont share your beliefs. Dont hide behind your pledge. WE’LL GO ON ABOUT OUR BUSINESS competing with you in the political marketplace, may the best win.

    2. The Libertarian Party cannot continue to be pulled in 4 different directions, each demanding that the party only be allowed to persue the one true path. The LP is a house divided 4 ways, between it’s leadership, it’s membership, it’s no government supporters, and it’s limited government supporters. Unless the anarchist wing of the party stop demanding a direction that’s politically impossible to sell to the voting public in the numbers required, it will just keep failing to make gains.

  38. That’s a nice fantasy Timothy, but you continue to overlook the reality. Third party politics in the current America is virtually impossible. It’s all but outlawed, for god’s sake. No matter what you say, people aren’t going to vote for it and they sure as hell aren’t going to put money in to it. Period. End of story.

    But hey, maybe you need to go out and learn this. I might even get involved in your effort and consider myself committed to donate seed money. Either way I’m a winner: either I’m vindicated as usual or gloriously proven wrong.

    Why don’t we talk about realistic goals to unify and be inclusive without offending one side or the other? More importantly, why don’t we spend our time and energies on constructive things like marketing and campaigning? Those videos you work on etc.

    Everything I say here is completely ignored every time I make a constructive suggestion. I’m beginning to think nobody WANTS unity.

  39. I like a freedom train analogy. Everyone is good to go to get on the train now, and work together until the time comes where we must, of our own belief system, disembark and leave the train and wish the ones who remain Godspeed. what we do today for freedom, in the most politically effective way possible, makes that train start to move. From there, we are all free to advance the LP with the way we think will best bring more liberty in the shortest mount of time..which must be a political message crafted to appeal TODAY to non liberterians we must appeal to to elect our candidates.

    Someday, a voluntary coopertiv society consistant with the non force principle MAY be politically viable. But that will only be so if you allow that to be a future goal and not a straightjacket the LP must abide by. The advances we make today makes your dream possible tomorrow. In the meantime, those of us like me who believe in Constitutionally limited government and the Bill of Rights…

  40. believe we have an grand opportunity to fill a huge vaccuum left by the abandonment by the GOP of it’s core values, replaced by so called “compassionate conservatism”, which makes the GOP the same as the Democrats.

    We have to have a free hand to persue claiming this political ground for our own. The two party system is finally just no starting to topple. The political realignment we only see every 110 years or so is here. The LP is in a perfect place to take that for itself.

    3. If we cant bring ourselves together, then it’s time we separated. If the LP is nothing more than a riddle without a answer, then it’s time I went and did something more productive with the limited time I have left. I dont know if that is many years or 12 months, but I’m not going to spend the time I have left, whatever that may be, endlessly fighting those that just dont believe as I do, as if they might as well be communists.

    I guess I have said all I feel like saying.

  41. The Reform Party and the Constitution Party attracted a fair number of disgruntled Libertarians, and you can see how far they got.

  42. What we really need to get tangible influence is some kind of proportional representation.

    Of course the people who are already in office based on winner-takes-all would never push such a thing, because they’d probably lose most of their power.

    But maybe??? we can find enough other people whose interests are unrepresented by the mainstream parties to team up into a big enough force to push this through. At all feasible?

  43. In a proportional system, there’s plenty of room for narrower groupings of people to have their own parties and not get in each other’s way so much.

  44. Of course, proportional representation is “notorious” for making weak, unstable governments — which means they’re also less likely to be able to get away with as much bad stuff as U.S. governments do.

  45. What we really need to get tangible influence is some kind of proportional representation.

    Your argument is that to get power, we’d need proportional representation, so we should exert our power to get proportional representation.

    Except we don’t HAVE power, so we can’t quite do that.

    We have to work within the given system, shitty though it is.

  46. Stuart,

    Proportional representation may not be quite as impossible to achieve as you think. There’s not constitutional bar to a state making seats in its legislature, or even in the US House of Representatives, answerable to some proportional scheme, and a number of states have initiative/referendum via citizen petition to enact it without the legislature’s cooperation.

    I think there may be federal statutes relating to the matter with respect to US House, but even those might be vulnerable through litigation, lobbying, etc.

  47. Correct, there is currently a federal law which requires single-member districts for U.S. House elections, effectively making proportional representation illegal on the federal level. That could, as you suggest, be changed simply by passing new legislation.

  48. Stuart, Thomas; it is out of our reach as a political body exerting its influence directly. However, it may *NOT* be totally beyond our reach in the indirect sense.

    Especially in NH. Proportional representation would be far more effective at actually *REPRESENTING* and would be an almost absolute ban on duopoly.

    … I am almost willing to state that it should be added to the NLP platform.

  49. It’s more of a diagonal issue than a straight-forward issue. We’re moving sideways more than forward.

    Let’s focus on giving the people tangible results. Then we’ll be in a position to implement PR.

  50. Stuart — like I said; it’d be worth a try for the NH state legislature, right?

    I think it also just *MIGHT* make us seem slighlty more ‘populist-friendly’; right now one of the downsides to the public image of libertarians is that we’re exclusionary to a fault.

    Sometimes useless things are added to platforms because they sweeten the deal. Not because they might get *enacted.*

    ‘course we gots too much of that going on already. :) Tangible results indeed. Now if only we could get *CREDIT* for those tangible results!

  51. I had an eerily similar experience when I served on the LP of Virginia’s State Central Committee… there was a huge push to unseat the Chair and the line in the sand was drawn… basically, there was jockeying to get me on one side or another when I thought the whole thing was petty. Then when I did pick a side and voted, instead of going away everything just got more uncomfortable. Honestly, the biggest problem I see with the LP is too many hotheads (and it does take one to know one) proportionate to the power they can actually exercise. It just makes us look pathetic when we’re supposed to be against politics as usual in the first place!