Libertarian National Convention Update

The Libertarian National Convention is starting this morning in Portland, Oregon at the Hilton. The past two days have held platform and bylaws committee meetings as well as the last meeting of the outgoing Libertarian National Committee (LNC) and various informal caucuses.

Current LNC Chair Michael Dixon has withdrawn his candidacy for re-election, leaving Ernest Hancock, George Phillies, and Bill Redpath in the race. The Vice Chair race is being fought by M Carling and Chuck Moulton, with rumors of a third candidate entering late.

The Libertarian Reform Caucus held yesterday afternoon had a significant number of attendees, though it’s not clear how many people in the room were supporters and how many were just interested in seeing what the fuss was about. Rumors about the LRC plans include abolishing between 35 and 39 planks of the platform outright and repealing the pledge.

Bob Barr gave a stirring breakfast speech in which he challenged the Libertarian Party to fight for issues that are at the core of freedom, rather than “nibbling at the edges.” When I asked him afterwards whether he felt that the actions of the current President were sufficient to justify articles of impeachment, he said he had not taken a position in this debate, but clearly the actions of President Bush would justify impeachment.

Attendence looks to be in the 350-500 range, with a broad range of exhibitors and speakers. The combination of an off-year and Portland’s location account for the reduction in attendence from the immediate past convention in Atlanta, which attracted closer to 1000 attendees.

Nicholas Sarwark

Mr. Sarwark lives in Colorado and keeps poor people out of cages for a living. His views are his own, not his employer's, his wife's, or his dog's. They are also awesome and always right.

  1. “Portland’s location”?

    One corner of the country (Portland) is somehow worse than another (Atlanta)?

  2. Yes, Portland (a beutiful city) is worse because of how the airlines work. Numerous carriers fly through Atlanta, while a few carriers fly to Portland.

  3. You can find a ticket to Atlanta fairly cheaply… but a ticket from Atlanta to Portland would run you $700.

  4. So is it safe to say then that the LP will be considering locations a little better next time?

  5. probably. I’d like o see a central location in the middle of the USA myself. to hell with this “east coast, west coast” BS.
    Just set it at the best midway point and be done with it.

  6. Well, I’m not saying it’s a bad location. Portland’s a wonderful city with many amenities and very nice people. Additionally, the Oregon LP has done great things in supporting this convention. I was merely commenting on a reason for the lower attendence.

    As far as central locations, Atlanta is not on a coast and Indianapolis was the site for the 2002 convention. The convention location is chosen primarily based on how much support the local party can provide.

  7. Nothing against the west coast, but simple reality is that the U.S. population is dramaticly tilted to the east. Do a Google Images search for “u.s. population density map” and get a good visual idea of just how lopsided we’re talking.

    Conventions held in the east are driving distance for a far greater number of people. There are also more cities with major airline hubs (Atlanta, New York, Chicago, etc) making travel by air cheaper. Hold a convention in the Pacific Northwest, and 90% or more of your attendees have to cough up $500-1000 in travel cost before they even walk in the door.

    Don’t get me wrong, I believe that conventions should be held in diverse locations over time so that everyone feels included. However, suggesting that the most populous and practical areas shouldn’t get the larger share is just silly.

  8. Tim, I think your idea makes sense, “everyone travels equally”…but I think the coastline states naturally attract more people for that very reason, they’re in close proximity to the beaches, etc.

    Hell, let’s just have it in Vegas every 4 yrs. Since many people mischaracterize libertarians as libertines anyway, we might as well give them some reason to believe it (kidding).

    Location will always be an issue to some as you HAVE to pick a state. The LP needs to take advantage of the new technology that’s out there for the most benefit (as you’ve written about). We have to supplement the MSM’s lack of coverage and also create a sense of involvement and contribution I think every active Libertarian wants and needs. Live blogging, video archive of convention on LP’s site post convention, etc.

  9. Yeah, this is why when I was considering going to the convention, I was going to fly to SEATTLE and then drive to Portland, as it would’ve been much cheaper.

  10. Maybe St. Louis or Dallas? Those seem like pretty decent airline hubs. Whenever I used to fly between Jacksonville and San Francisco I would always wind up at one or the other.

  11. Just for reference, Atlanta is 7 hours from the coast and 18 hours from the furthers south east point in Florida… so hardly as “coastal” as Portland.

    While I like the “rewarding state parties” thing… it needs to be in the cities that have affordable rates to fly to.

  12. Never mind the location. How about the timing? I mean, you might have heard that there are a few parades and festivals around 4th of July weekend, and actual candidates tend to participate in them.

    LP did itself a HUGE disservice moving the convention back to 4th of July weekend. I love the sentimentality of this time, but practically speaking, it’s an awful choice.

    Hmmm… Practicality versus sentimentality… Seems like a recurring theme with the LP.

  13. I’m at the convention. Here’s a quick update as of mid-afternoon Saturday.

    1. The pledge stays as is.
    2. The immigration plank gets changed to include one the doesn’t talk about open borders, but has this sentence. “Remove all quotas on immigration.”
    3. The abolition of *all* taxation plank stays unchanged.

  14. “3. The abolition of *all* taxation plank stays unchanged.”

    How can any political party be taken seriously with this in their platform? Can someone, who has no problem with this part of the platform, explain to me why this should stay. I’ll even concede the point that taxation is theft, SO long as you concede that our founders were not anarchists. George Washington…”Government is a necessary evil…”. Government = some form of taxation, which is in direct opposition to, “end all taxation”. Can some anarchist, I mean libertarian explain to me how you resolve this obvious contradiction?

  15. Sure, will do Tim. It’s drinking time tonight though :o)
    The rum and cokes will be flowing nicely. I’ll hit ya up tomorrow.

  16. I’ve never heard anyone claim the founders were anarchists. How do you expect to be taken seriously when you make up nonsense like that?

    What ‘contradiction’ are you talking about? Is there a rule that libertarians have to agree with George Washington about everything?

    I won’t argue with ‘Government = some form of taxation’ because I don’t have the patience for hairsplitting discussions of the meaning of ‘government’. That’s also why I don’t label myself as either ‘anarchist’ or ‘minarchist’. I don’t say that as a criticism of those who do. It’s my shortcoming that, as I said, I don’t have the patience for that high a level of theorizing.

    There are people who call themselves ‘minarchists’, who are of the opinion that a minimal state can be financed voluntarily.

  17. About the location and timeing of the convention: I think serious consideration should be given to having it in Manchester, NH next year, during Porcfest. Give libertarians of all stripes two reasons to get together: party business and the business of partying. This way we might actually get a more respectable level of attendence. Plus then I might be able to make it.

  18. That’s actually a pretty sweet idea, Len. It’s right next to a major airline hub too; Boston’s not far from Manchester.

  19. PorcFest 2007’s dates and location are not yet set, though.
    Mostly likely, it will move from the northern tip of NH, which though beautiful, is a bit removed from where the action is, in the lower half of the state.

    There is also a plan in the works, to have a Winter Conference this year, and future years, with more speakers, while the State house is open and active. Those considering moving to NH always fear the winter, so we want to show off how much fun winter can be, how it’s not the monster some fear, and at the same time, show up our amazingly open Legislature for those who have never seen it in action. 400 State Reps, in one huge room, paid a mere $100 a year, no real staff to speak off – it’s a sight to see: the way true representative government can work.

  20. Just a minor correction re a comment above concerning geography: Atlanta is NOT seven hours from the coast; a slightly-less-than-four-hour drive from Atlanta will put one in Savannah, on the Atlantic coast.

    BTW: Until the 2002 LP convention in Atlanta, there had never been a national LP convention in the southeast — not in Atlanta (hub for Delta and AirTran), Birmingham (not a hub, but served by low-cost Southwest Air, among others), Charlotte (hub for US Air), Nashville, Memphis (Northwest Air hub), Jacksonville (served by low-cost AirTran and Southwest), or elsewhere. It was about time that a national LP convention was held in that region, attendance was solid, and reviews of the convention site were generally positive.

    Spreading the convention site among regions from time to time allows LP members the occasional opportunity to be able to drive rather than fly to a convention. No harm done. Keep rotating the convention sites.

  21. FYI. shows NOW mainstream national coverage of “Libertarian Party Convention” Well, the main thing is none of these “libertarians” who struck secession from the ballot will use military force against secessionists, right? Also, there will be a loud secessionist running for the LP nomination in 2008 – who’s volunteering? And maybe a really short secessionist platform to replace current gut-less mess that doesn’t even mention getting out of Iraq. Have you heard the DEMOCRATIC PARTY has an IRAQ CAUCUS that wants out. What a joke.