LP Convention: The Pledge Lives, Dues Return for “Sustaining Members”

A quick recap of Saturday and a preview of Sunday.

The motion to scrap the current membership pledge and replace it with less stringent language failed to get the 2/3 majority required for adoption. A substitute motion that would have required members to support lower taxes, greater liberty, and smaller government recieved support from about half the delegates, but still not the required 2/3 for adoption.

A motion was offered that would have significantly lowered the threshold for bringing a decision of the LNC to the Judicial Committee for review. The proposal from the bylaws committee would have allowed for an appeal to be brought by: 5% of the delegates to the last convention or 10% of the state party chairs, or 20% of the current LNC. This threshold would have given the Judical Committee an effective veto over any vote of the LNC if just 4 LNC members wanted it. The debate on this was postponed until after we dealt with the dues issue.

The convention adopted language that creates “sustaining members,” with those being people who have donated over $25 in the last year. Close observers will note that that definition is similar to dues-paying members. This gives us the big tent of zero dues while still requiring some tangible commitment before someone can actually run the party. A sensible compromise.

Returning to the judicial committee change, after a lot of floor debate, the appeal process was changed to require 3% of the “sustaining members” to request an appeal of an LNC decision by the judicial committee. A slightly lower threshold than before, but still high enough to keep it from being a political body.

Most of the platform committee recommendations were adopted, resulting in significantly better language for the planks that were worked on. After a late tabulation of the platform retention ballots, it appears that 44 planks were rejected and will have to be voted on this morning (a platform plank has to be rejected twice for elimination). Should make for an interesting morning.

The LNC Chair race is pretty tight. George Phillies wants to institute the plans he’s been proposing for the past six years and showed a sneak peek of a libertarian community site a la Daily Kos that Seth Cohn built for him. Ernest Hancock wants to shake up the party by supporting lots of activism and standing proud of our libertarian beliefs instead of running from them. Bill Redpath wants to do politics and fix the ballot access and electoral reform problems that sap our energy. Bill appears to be the front runner, but after the Badnarik nomination, I’m not calling anything early. I’m confident that any one of the three would do a fine job at the helm (it’s not like we have much place to go but up).

In an hour, we’re going to vote on whether to ditch those 44 platform planks and elect LNC officers, so I’m gonna get some more coffee and get down to the floor to continue saving/smashing (depending on your view) our Party.

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. Yay! Thank goodness the party members have not lost their minds, and we still have our pledge.

  2. YAY! Yep, you still have your pledge, but that’s not a surprise. It would have been a miracle to remove it this fast.

    The question now is what’s next? :)

  3. Can a “political party” which does not address the policy issues most prominently before the American public truthfully be called a “political party” at all?

    If the retention results remain as is (assuming they match the list posted on the LP’s blog), and if the convention does not enact replacement planks, then the LP will officially have no position on, among other things:

    * foreign policy
    * military policy
    * internal security

    … which, with immigration, probably constitute the core issues around which the current election cycle revolves.

    The party also appears to be dropping nearly every issue of enduring moderate- to high-level interest — Social Security, pollution, etc.

    And, finally, the party seems to be dropping what amounts to its heretofore perceived “signature issue” — the one issue on which it has over time garnered increasing credibility and been partially credited with modest public policy successes on: the war on drugs.

    It wouldn’t have been so bad …

  4. … if this convention had produced clear victory for one faction or another, but what it seems to be producing is a complete muddle — the “reformers” winning just enough to piss off the “purists” and vice versa, and neither faction winning clearly and thoroughgoingly enough to put its own agendas fully into effect.

    Before the convention opened, I privately told several friends that I would be surprised if the party could pull itself together enough to right itself financially and still be a functional national organization by Labor Day. Now I’m beginning to wonder if it’s even worth the effort to try.

  5. Tom, if you could see the energy on the convention floor, I think a lot of your pessimism would dissipate. I know I’m still feeling pretty upbeat.

  6. They are dropping the War on Drugs?

    Well, no matter. It will not be dropped in the Free State.

  7. There’s no way they’re dropping it…maybe changing some of the platform language or something.

    The national party is a waste of time until we get some local support (NH and TX).

  8. I doubt this will stand, because, as it says at the LP blog, ‘Normally, the platform retention vote is merely a formality.’ I expect many of the delegates who weren’t there for the first vote, will show for the second. This is probably the reason for the ‘two votes’ requirement (it just now occurs to me in a bolt of illumination).

    Even so I agree with Tom’s larger point. I expected the ‘reform’ movement to fizzle in Portland, and I was wrong. It looks like the party is split into nearly equal factions. Presumably that means a nasty fight, wasteful of time and other resources, which will drive many from the party in disgust. Some kind of amicable divorce seems preferable to me, but I don’t see much hope for it.

  9. If the ‘reformers’ really do have a majority at Portland, opposition to prohibition of ‘hard drugs’ will be dropped. They have enough votes to delete the old plank and block any replacement.

  10. The Libertarian Reform Caucus’s proposed ‘drug war’ plank says in part:
    ‘individuals abusing hard drugs should be handled through “drug courts” rather than criminal courts;’


    This is disingenuous wording, as one might expect from ‘pragmatists’. Googling ‘drug courts’ soon reveals that drug courts are a specialized kind of criminal court, not something distinct from criminal courts. This wording presupposes that ‘abuse’ (whatever that means) of ‘hard drugs’ will continue to be a criminal offense.

  11. Wow… I hadn’t bothered to read that far before I determined I didn’t like the LRC. Now I’m extra sure of it.

    Leave “hard drug” users alone. I’ve used MDMA and LSD and will do so again. Let me handle my own life, thanks assholes.

  12. My significant other’s job requires her to spend 3 or 4 mornings a week in a “drug court,” and my impression is that they are a complete farce — not just un-libertarian, but anti-libertarian in all kinds of weird directions.

    Basically, in drug courts, the defendant is offered a plea bargain that ends up requiring:

    1) A pledge of future allegiance to the state’s drug laws;

    2) Enrollment in a religious or quasi-religious “recovery” program;

    3) The court actively supervising the defendant’s life not just to the extent of looking for and punishing future violations of the drug laws, but mandating the defendant’s lifestyle, requiring the defendant to hook into any number of state-funded social programs, etc.

    The judge has nearly complete discretion to dump the defendant right back into jail on the basis of things like “attitude.” Or, in one example I was given, to revoke a defendant’s bail … (contd)

  13. (contd from comment 15) … and threaten to hold the person who put that bail up in contempt, because the judge believed the person who put it up to be a frequent/dedicated customer of the defendant, who was alleged to be a prostitute.

    So basically, in regular court, the state acts like the hardass dad. In drug court, the state acts like the smothering mom who both administers punishments and hands out goodies (and makes SURE you clean your plate of them), with the hardass dad standing behind her to slap you around if you don’t toe the line.

  14. Waiting for the dust to settle.

    I think everyone can agree that the LRC’s main focus being platfrom reform that we have made a dent. Let’s see what the final result is.

    Everybody can decide their best course of action in due time.

  15. Dropping the opposition to prohibition on “hard drugs” from the platform would be the wrong thing to do because then we would be asking for legalization of “soft drugs” for the wrong reason. No drug should be a criminal issue they should all be medical issues. plus some would take that as well some drugs are okay but these are not, the thing is no drug is okay but it should be a personl choice to use them. Legalizing “soft drugs” like marijuana would be a good incramental step towards the broader goal. Secondly the prohibition of harder drugs still leads to the destruction of some of our rights as Americans. It is harder to find some of the harder drugs compared to marijuana, do you really think the DEA would stop looking or would they just tear through more of our rights to find them

  16. I have a question on the subject of “sustaining members” and who does have a say in party decision-making. I just joined the LP a month or so ago… and even though it’s optional these days, did donate $25 or $50 (can’t remember exactly) with the membership online. I haven’t heard or received anything from the national office since then, although I understand that things must be busy given the convention this month.

    However, are you supposed to ultimately receive a “membership card” or something in the mail… some tangible evidence of membership? How does that work?

  17. Bob,

    Your question is probably on a lot of minds, and the answer to it will only be clear once the convention is over and the bylaws changes are published — if even then.

    As to who has a say in party decision-making, that’s never been a function of dues before in the general sense, so I doubt if it will be now. When we had dues, you had to pay them to run for LNC or the presidential/vice-presidential nomination, but to be a convention delegate, you only had to be a member of a STATE party which designated you as one of its delegates, and that did not necessarily require being a national dues-paying member.

  18. This is disingenuous wording, as one might expect from ”˜pragmatists’. Googling ”˜drug courts’ soon reveals that drug courts are a specialized kind of criminal court, not something distinct from criminal courts. This wording presupposes that ”˜abuse’ (whatever that means) of ”˜hard drugs’ will continue to be a criminal offense.

    Remember, though, that the LRC is thinking in terms of a four-year platform. Getting even that far with drug policy in four years would be an amazing acheivement. If we succeeded in that, I’m sure the next LRC platform position on the issue would be to further legalize hard drugs.

  19. Drugs aren’t an issue where transitional measures are needed, though. The War on Drugs provides benefits to nobody (unlike Social Security, where transitional measures are needed.) It can be cut immediately, and only good things will come from that.

  20. personally i agree the war on drugs benefits no one the only reason i mention an incramental step is because we are talking about public policy and opinion, as shown in the tim west video the other day you say end the war on drugs and people take five steps back. if you say legalize marijuana they only take 2 steps back. I would prefer it be cut immediatly also but as we keep finding out the general public usually needs to be convinced and even those who favor legalizing marijuana don’t always favor ending prohibition completely.

  21. I agree, Ryan: A majority of Americans are not ready to end the “War on Drugs”, but a majority IS ready to allow people to have marijuana for medicinal uses.

  22. Hold the phone.

    The pre-Portland LP platform addressed drug prohibition in two different planks. These were I.4, ‘The War on Drugs’, and I.3, ‘Victimless Crimes’. I.3 actually took a stronger stand against prohibition than I.4.

    Plank I.3 hasn’t been deleted. It’s been consolidated with I.2, ‘Crime’.

    Until we see the language of I.2, we won’t know what the new stand is on drug prohibition.

    List of planks retained at


  23. if that’s the case, Dave, then it may be a win-win situation.

    We may have left the founding principle against the drug war intact, yet eliminated the bullet-point so easily paraded by our opposition.

    ..but what do I know? I’m just a guy sitting at home behind his computer.

  24. Stuart,

    You seem to be thinking of drug courts as an incremental step in the right direction. In fact, they’re an incremental step in the WRONG direction. This may take a little explaining, but I’ll do my best.

    Let’s start with the general state of the criminal justice system: Somewhere between 97% and 98% of criminal cases now result in conviction. Of that 97-98%, more than 90% is from the practice of “plea-bargaining” — “we’ve got you by the nuts, but if you plead guilty, whether you ARE guilty or not, we’ll go easier on you.”

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not confident that the police and prosecutors are right 49 times out of 50. It seems much more likely to me that many of those convictions are basically “convictions by extortion” — defendants understand that even if they are not guilty, it’s easier to plead and take probation or a short sentence than to go to trial and have a 60% or so chance of conviction at risk of a harsher sentence. Especially since prosecutors (contd)

  25. (contd from comment 31) have a variety of threats at their disposal. In my own prosecution — not for drugs — the prosecutor threatened to “have my bail revoked,” i.e. request that the judge revoke my bail, if I pled not guilty. From sitting in that courtroom and watching, I knew the judge was going to give the prosecutor whatever she wanted, even though I had not missed an appearance or anything else which would have justified it. So, if pled not guilty, I would have a trial and perhaps be acquitted … but I’d sit in jail until then, and the prosecutor would request, and get, as many continuances as she needed to break me and get me to plead.

    The “drug courts” are an assembly-line implementation of the above. They’re an attempt to make the chains just a LITTLE more comfy so that more people can be pushed through the system with fewer inconveniences like not guilty pleas, jury trials, etc., by creating a cookie-cutter template of the “plea bargain” scam. (contd)

  26. If drug courts are fully implemented, police will be able to make MORE arrests and prosecutors will be able to proceed with LESS evidence, confident that they’ll secure convictions with fewer uppity serfs slowing things down and clogging up the court system with “not guilty.”

    To the extent that the drug courts are “successful,” they militate toward the continuation and expansion of the drug war. They create the illusion of “success” with the high “conviction” rate, while perversely creating whole new clusters of government employees and beneficiaries — more judges, more clerks, more bailiffs, more parole and probation officers, more social workers to “help” the victims convincingly knuckle under, etc. — all of whom will militantly oppose any attempt to slow down, let alone stop, the conveyor belt which rolls along, daily bringing more people under their power.

    The “drug courts” may be the worst thing that has ever happened for opposition to the war on drugs.

  27. The bulk of the platform planks were removed. I’ve sent Austin all my notes for the day and he’ll post them as soon as he is back in pocket. Whew.

  28. Thanks Joe. Enjoyed your reporting. It was sorely needed.

    We’ll have to take a gander at this new platform and see how much stupidity has been removed. I’m hoping quite a bit.

  29. I agree on the part about drug courts, Thomas. Honestly, I dunno why that was put in there. I think the public is more likely to listen to us about marijuana, though, than about hard drugs… and I’m pretty certain that no Libertarian candidate is actually going to CAMPAIGN on that.

    We should get drug courts out of the language if at all possible but it’s important that we not stand by the status quo either. Both are going to damage our chances at affecting change-the full legalization plank will make us look nutty, the drug court language will make us look hypocritical. What we need is a plank that says we stand for the full legalization of marijuana, and some half-step for harder drugs, like rehab as opposed to prison. Rehab’s still not ideal, I know, but six months of pretending to care what the state thinks > a few years of prison.

  30. Stuart,

    Your comment above is precisely why I prefer a program to a platform. Why worry about far-future “half-steps” or “whole steps?” Why not just tell the American people WHAT WE COULD DO FOR THEM IN THE NEXT TWO YEARS, and then two years later see where we’re at and consider the next step?

  31. Cheesuz interesting day. Stephen ran around again like a whirlwind. Nick made a number of good points. Especially one I won’t get in to when nominating Chuck Moulton and Joe since you were up there with Bob, you deserve an honor, but then so does Bob. The crew running this show was great.
    If there is a major collapse of the platform maybe it will wake people up to the need to change our process. One thing is evident in dealing with the platform amendments, and the resolution coming from the floor is that somehow they need to be fact checked and have grammar corrections made befor they are presented to the delegates.
    Towards the end I couldn’t figure out if we were leftist, pandering to Republicans, wafflers, or what. I left before the final gavel feel.
    But one question :What was the vote for Chair?
    Job well done everyone. Now rest and relaxation is on the menu. Go party. Were next Austin?

  32. At:
    it says:
    “Eliminating any specific platform plank won’t change the goals of libertarians, nor will it change what we actually do when we get power, which is to shrink that power. It’s chilling to know that there are people who believe the election hopes of the Libertarian Party lie in hiding its principles, but we’ll survive.”

    WTF does this mean?
    The “Party of Principle” intends to hide its principles? Even admitting that the idea of doing so is “chilling?”

    I just got pretty cold.

    Essentially you’re advocating lying to voters to get into power and then bringing out our principles, dusting them off, and implementing them after getting power.

    Why should I believe an LP politician who says to libertarians “Just elect me and I’ll stick to our principles…Don’t pay any attention that I wouldn’t mention them in my campaign…Don’t pay any attention that I said the same things as my opponents.”


  33. Stuart, I think that wording was in there that way because there were only 2 proposals for a replacement for that plank on the LRC site. It had been there the longest and compared to the only other option (when most people had already voted) I guess it was felt that it was better than the wording of the current plank. The 2nd option was a bit broader but I think it was added later in the game and just hadn’t had a chance to get more votes/comments.

    Make me wish someone like Tom would have jumped onto that right away and put in an alternate plank early on, but I think in the attempt to weigh each option equally it may have just had a lopsided weighting by accident of circumstance.

    The other unfortunate, IMHO, is that someone like Tom hadn’t pointed out that verbiage in the comments. His assumption seems to be that the writer and the voters all though that one completely through. Maybe it needed to be commented on first. Comments have affected my votes. Oh well.

  34. I work hard every day to get people to see the sense of principled libertarianism.

    I may not see a real libertarian elected to major office in my lifetime. But I am willing to get up tomorrow and continue to fight for the principles that libertarianism holds.

    If I need to buy into an idea that we need keep our principles secret until after we’re in power, F$#K it. I need to find another party. No, wait a minute, you need to.

  35. Before reading the LRC plank I had not heard the term ‘drug court’, so I looked it up on the web.

    I wonder how many people voted for that plank without knowing what a drug court is.

  36. Lenny,

    Thanks for the vote of confidence on my ability to offer alternatives (if I had been there).


    I’m not sure that LRC, or anyone else wants to “hide” our principles so much as they dislike laundry lists within which the implications of our principles are arguable and one side of the argument gets included at the expense of another.

    Personally, I favor a VERY short platform, coupled with a new PROGRAM every two years. The platform offers the general approach, and the program addresses the issues that are important in a given election FROM the platform’s stated principle. The solutions we WOULD offer to ANY problem are IMPLICIT in the platform, without the need for factual arguments over 60-odd planks of “perpetual — but no chance of actually doing anything about it now” — content every two years.

    However, I don’t advocate the seemingly random platform-cutting (cont)

  37. (cont’d) that seems to have occurred in Portland. We still have a laundry list, just an shorter one that leaves out important issues and gives the impression that since we do mention others but not those, we don’t care about those.

    In particular, not having a firm, programmatic statement on foreign or military policy is just fucking insane when the country we’re asking to elect us is in the middle of two wars.

  38. The deletion of Article IV surprises me. What I read at the LRC site gave me the impression they didn’t have a big problem with the old platform regarding foreign policy.

  39. Redpath with over 60%… Hancock with around 20% and Phillies under 10%.

    Moulton beats Carling in run off for VC.

    Neale beats Nelson for Treasurer, something like 65-25…

    Sully kept as Secretary without opposition.

  40. So, Cato, what you’re saying is you’re perfectly happy if a Libertarian is never elected to office, so long as you get to control the philosophical purity of the party. Further, you’d like to be able to throw out anyone who isn’t pure enough for you.

    Congratulations: you’ve just demonstrated the attitude that’s doomed LP efforts the past twenty years and more, the attitude the LRC wants to overcome and marginalize.

    Principles without power are useless.

  41. Sorry, Tom, I thought maybe you had been through that plank by chance. I thought I had seen some other stuff by you on the site. For what it’s worth I’m a pretty big fan of your shortened platform idea.

    Cato/Nigel/et al, I can;t speak for anyone else who is in the LRC (and I’m not a particularly active member, at that) but I’ve never had the impression that the LRC was ever about hiding principal, only about advocating incrementalism in the approach. One of the things I’ve advocated to the state party here in Louisiana is that it’s all fine and dandy to have a full list a platform planks showing what those ideals are, and stating them upfront (especially in the manner Tom has suggested), but that I also feel it appropriate to have a more conside listing of “doable” planks aimed at more near-term goals. I think there is never any reason or intent to “hide” the principals of libertarianism, only suggestions for how best to present those principals as a political entity.

  42. (cont.) Preseting themin a 2-year or 4-year plan instead of what currently reads as the virtual abolition of government ASAP (which will look a bit like anarchy in a week to most voters). Presneting only the end-goal, so to speak, may seem like a statment of principals to us and we may view it as a guiding path to long-term political goals and we may know that it will likely take incremental legislation to get us there, given the modern political climate, but potential voters and the press are not likely to see things that way, IMHO.

    I, for one, certainly don’t advocating “hiding” principal at all.

  43. There I go typing too fast for my own good. Sorry for the mangle job on that last post, all.

    At the very least that first sentence should start:
    “Presenting them in”

  44. A 2-year or 4-year plan wouldn’t make platform items like no taxes, legal drugs, or uncapped immigration any less embarrassing when read aloud by a telebimbo.

  45. Libertarians should never be embarrassed to support ending taxes/theft, ending drug prohibition, or returning to a legal standard allowing peaceful human beings to live where they choose.

  46. LibertyforAmerica.NET

    Minor correction. I bought ads for the site, and wrote specifications as to what sort of a site I would buy an ad in, but it is not my site. I prefered to give the site to the party as a whole as a neutral location for discussions/

  47. David,

    You write:

    “A 2-year or 4-year plan wouldn’t make platform items like no taxes, legal drugs, or uncapped immigration any less embarrassing when read aloud by a telebimbo.”

    I’m not one of those who finds the reading of the platform (by telebimbos or anyone else) embarrassing. I’m an anarchist, so there is no “extreme” of government-cutting that I wouldn’t wish to be associated with.

    My reasons for advocating a different way of approaching the platform/program issue have to do with ecumenicalism versus exclusionary sectarianism, and with political relevance.

    If the platform is short, sweet, and oriented toward establishing direction rather than toward creating voluminous lists of desired end states, then the party has a chance to appeal to the 90% of libertarians who aren’t extreme sectarians like me. That doesn’t guarantee that they’ll respond to the appeal, but I think it should be tried.

    Outside of the platform, the program should say “here is what we’ll do NEXT,” (contd)

  48. (cont’d from comment 57) Outside of the platform, the program should say “here is what we’ll do NEXT,” not “here is what we want America to look like once we’ve done EVERYTHING we want to do.”

    A lot more people are likely to be able to agree on, and work together to accomplish, a short list of specific near-term deliverables on a few issues than are likely to agree on, and work together to reach, say, 62 end-states on 62 different issues.

    If, at some point, the program reaches the point where some members decide that they no longer endorse the platform (because it has been accomplished to degree y, when they only support it until it has reached degree x), then they know it’s no longer their party — instead of it NEVER having been their party, and therefore never had the benefit of their support and their efforts.

    I don’t see anything dishonest in this proposition (“I” and “you” referring to hypothetical individuals): (cont’d)

  49. (cont’d from comment 58) I don’t see anything dishonest in this proposition (“I” and “you” referring to hypothetical individuals):

    “I want to reduce the size, scope and power of government to X. You want to reduce the size, scope and power of government to Y. Let’s start with the A that we both agree on and could accomplish next month instead of arguing about the Xes and Ys that will not be conceivably possible at any time in the next ten years even if we’re wildly successful.”

  50. I’m not terribly worried about the platform. Let’s take the next two years to write a new one. It is very possible to compose one which encompasses the whole breadth of libertarian thought on issues people really care about. We can be “big tent” and totally honest at the same time. For example, we can support any and all ways to cut and abolish taxes without restricting ourselves to just the absolutist “tax is theft” view, but without contradicting it either. We need to make it possible for anyone who has any pro-liberty leanings at all to feel comfortable calling themselves a Libertarian. I see these events as a great opportunity.

  51. Sean,

    “I’m not terribly worried about the platform. Let’s take the next two years to write a new one.”

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I’ve allowed the LP to fool me way more than twice already, and I’m very much considering whether or not I want to continue holding the football and telling myself that maybe Lucy really will kick it this time.

    I’m awaiting more specifics before making that decision, but he outlines of the debacle are obvious even from halfway across the country: None of the competing factions gained total victory, so the LP still suffers, and will continue to suffer, from multiple personality disorder. I could have lived with a “purist” ideological party or a “pragmatist” political party, but the LP is still trying to be both, which is impossible, and the struggle gutted lots of stuff that might have benefited from change in detail but that was absolutely necessary to EITHER kind of party.


  52. (continued from comment 61) Once again, a political party in 2006/2007 without hard lines on foreign policy, military policy and internal security is not a political party, it’s a joke. You may have heard of Afghanistan, Iraq and the Patriot Act. Whether you have or not, America has — and they expect their political parties to have positions on them.

    I’m hoping that the first order of business at the LNC meeting tomorrow — er, today — will be to schedule a national convention to unfuck this mess at the earliest possible time. I don’t remember if the bylaws allow for one later this year, or if January of 2007 is the earliest, but it would be batshit fucking insane for the LP to wait two years before deigning to speak to the public policy issues the American public cares about.

  53. There was no motion to stop calling the LP the party of principle? Shame.

    Stuart got Knappsterbated on the drug courts, which is a perfect example (for Stuart, especially) of the dangers of advocating incrementalism. There is good incrementalism and bad incrementalism. And LRC is utterly incapable of distinguishing betwixt the two. All they care about is incrementalism and “their way or the highway and to hell with everybody else”.

    I’m glad that the effort towards a big tent means the platform is eviscerated. Let’s just not have one at all. That would be a truly exciting and compelling reason for people to vote Libertarian or for god’s sake to be an activist! Being Libertarians shouldn’t mean anything at all for fear of offending or EMBARRASING someone. We could change into the non-offensive “nothing to see here” politically correct party. Rename it the wasted vote party, or maybe even the NOTA party because that’s what it would amount to.

  54. Tom,

    I have more optomistic look. I think the pledge sucks raw donkey balls, but they voted to keep it. I think the platform is a great success. They basically split the LP in half and gave each faction some hope to stay with the LP until 2008, or at least, judging from what I know right now, some reasons to stay with the LP while we continue to organize even further and get better financed.

    The bottom line is that like you say they threw a dawg a bone and they wanna see which dog gets the most with the bone they got tossed.

    It’s now our job to make sure we do more with that bone, in every way.

    The LRC board will be meeting at some point and going over events. You never know.

  55. Mr. Knapp is correct – a party that ignores the biggest issue of the decade, the war on terror, and all that goes with it (a 20 year period of bigger government, huge debts, loss of privacy, a militarized culture, harm to national security, and loss of life), is not a political party at all.

    While Dr. Milstead calls upon the LP to decide whether or not it is a party of anarchism, I call on the LP to decide whether it is the party of conservatism. The absolute insistance on incrementalism is the essence of conservatism. Scoffing at civil liberties and cheerleading for war are also conservative traits.

    The LPHQ has been implicitly supporting one proposed pledge replacement: smaller government – fewer taxes – more freedom. They lobby for repeal of the estate tax. They urge us to call talk radio. They do outreach to CPAC. Then there are the Fair Tax and IES folks.

    So, is the LP becoming the party of conservatism?

    I see nothing pragmatic about creating yet another GOP.

  56. I don’t get all this huffery and puffery. Platforms don’t get elected. Candidates do. Platforms exist to help candidates elected. Get real people, not having a platform plank on something doesn’t mean Libertarian candidates can’t advance Libertarian solutions on those issues. Conversely, the platform won’t prevent anyone from running around saying they are Libertarian when they really aren’t.

  57. In all honesty, I think that for once, both wings of the party contributed well. I’ll expound on this, but there’s a lot to be proud of here for everyone.

  58. Tom, you’ve got the Peanuts allusion backward. It was Lucy who held the football, and pulled it away when CB was about to kick it.

    You seem to have missed my point about the program, which was that adding an incremental program to a radical platform wouldn’t satisfy the objections of Tim West and those who applauded his ‘telebimbo’ video. You advocate a moderate platform, which is a different matter.

  59. David,

    I knew there was SOMETHING wrong with what I was writing about Lucy and the football, but I was too tired to figure it out ;-)

    Apparently I was so tired that I missed your point as well.

    However, I do not advocate a “moderate” platform. I advocate a directional as opposed to end-state platform, and letting questions of radicalism versus moderation be settled frequently (as they will be anyway) in the composition of short-term programs.

    Or, alternatively, the reconstitution of the LP as a revolutionary party — but I don’t see that happening.

  60. The platform, while certainly a problem (if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything) is only part of the problem.

    The LP no longer feels it’s necessary or proper to impeach criminal white house residents (even if they happen to be far worse than their predecessor by any libertarian measure) because it might alienate potential recruits from the national socialist GOP party (as if even more of those were desirable).

    The LP can’t pass a resolution against the war (or even consider a a real one), and believes the official conspiracy theory about 9-11 must note be questioned.

    The LP believes the whole country is the property of the state, thuse “we” must protect “our” borders.

    Basically, a redundant, retarded, inbred kissing cousin of the NSGOP, it is useful now only insofar as it helps to split the Republikkkan vote.

    It’s kind of like watching a fine stuck up bitch I used to go out with (or tried to) degenerate into a toothless crack whore with AIDS.

  61. >Tom Knapp: I advocate a directional as opposed to end-state platform . . .

    David Tomlin: Which doesn’t scare Soccer Mom and Joe Six Pack with ‘kooky’ end-state proposals. That’s ‘moderate’ in the relevant sense, however else it might be usefully labeled or described.

  62. I’m thinking it might be useful to explain that (#72) in a different way.

    Lately I’ve been thinking in terms of two different kinds of ‘libertarian’ party. The labels I’ve found convenient are ‘radical’ and ‘moderate’. The platform you (Tom) describe is appropriate for what I think of as a ‘moderate libertarian party’, which is why I call it a ‘moderate platform’.

  63. I agree with David: “radical” and “moderate” are the best splits. Purists and Pragmatic are equivalent but don’t convey the issue as well.

    Radical: What you have now is wrong. We’re going to destroy it all, and build a new one in our idealism.

    Moderate: Let’s move toward change, in smaller steps.

    Purists are often unwilling to take small steps, seeing it as compromise, or worse, potentially harming their cause. In education, the “Separation of School and State” folks are often against vouchers, for example, because they see it as supporting a state place in education. The Pragmatists are often willing to take steps toward change, such as vouchers and charter schools for example, because they see the change as moving toward the goal of more education choices, which leads toward the end-goal of true competition with ‘public’/government schools, which, like ending all government monopolies, is the important core goal.

    I am a proud moderate.

  64. BTW, We have both moderates and radicals, purists and pragmatists, here in New Hampshire. The Free State Project’s BEST autocratic decision was the creation of a Statement of Intent that did NOT attempt to split between the two factions. “I will exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property.” How you interpret that can vary, depending on your purism, pragmatism, anarchism, politicism, etc.

    The best group decision was the vote picking NH, BTW. If the FSP had picked any of the other states, lacking NH’s open political access, small state size, variety of lifestyles, and economy, many of us would not be a part of it.

    There is room in NH for all of the factions… and while we might argue online, put us together in a room, and we all get along rather well, despite our different views on ‘how’ to achieve a Free State. The LP could use a lesson there.

  65. David,

    Then you’re not understanding what I’m saying:

    A party with a directional, rather than end-state, platform, could have EITHER a “radical” or “moderate” program:

    “If Americans choose a Libertarian congressional majority this November, in the next legislative sessions we will pass the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, legislation automatically increasing the personal exemption to the income tax by $1,000 per year for the next ten years, and ending the Selective Service Act.”


    “If Americans choose a Libertarian congressional majority this November, in the next legislative sessions we will repeal all laws enabling federal regulation of drugs, repeal the income tax, and require all Defense Department appropriations to be funded from donations made to jars placed on convenience store counters for that purpose.”

    Either program would be in compliance with a directional platform such as the World’s Smallest Political Platform.

  66. >Tom Knapp: Then you’re not understanding what I’m saying:

    David Tomlin: If you say so.

    >TK: A party with a directional, rather than end-state, platform, could have EITHER a “radical” or “moderate” program:

    DT: That’s what I understood you to be saying. Either I did understand you, or I’m still misunderstanding you in the same way.

    What I think you’re saying is that if a radical program could be ‘in compliance’ with Platform A, then it is ‘wrong’ to call Platform A a ‘moderate platform’. I don’t agree.

    I hope we understand one another now, and can agree to disagree.

  67. Seth, you either misunderstand or you lie.

    Vouchers are an unacceptable “incrementalist” policy. From day one of their implementation, private schools would become government schools. PLUS there are issues of separation of church and state. For sake of brevity, I won’t dive into that one fully.

    I’m blue in the face from saying over and over again that incrementalism is fine and dandy, but there is proper and improper incrementalism.

    You probably think the FairTax is a wonderful incremental way if getting rid of taxes too. Both of these would qualify as dangerous sidesteps that are a waste of time and energy. Do they increase choice of the taxpayer? Sure. But do they also impose big incentives for government to get involved in our lives even more? Hell yeah. And whenever posed with that opportunity, we know what government does.

    We need to deploy incrementalism to work TOWARDS our goals. Not use it to undermine what we beleive in by running in circles.

  68. The GOP of 1994 is a perfect example of incrementalism gone wrong. They were going to abolish the departments of energy and education for instance – among many other things. Never happened. Granted, they didn’t really want limited government for both their own political purposes and that conservatism abhors such an idea idealogically. But you get my drift.

  69. David, based on many of your past posted views, you are clearly more in the radical wing than the moderates. So I’m not surprised that you rail against vouchers and the Fair Tax. (My personal view is that charter schools, vouchers and other methods are all good steps, and the Fair Tax is a mistake)

    I think the split between radical and moderate is that in general, the radicals want it done _now_, a full loaf. Moderates will take a slice now, a slice later… knowing that the loaf won’t be given to them now in full.

    Yes, there are those (many of them) in between, who will accept increments at times, and not at others… nobody is saying you must be 100% one or the other. The LP Convention showed that clearly. I expected the reform wing to do well, and it did… It also failed to remove the pledge, for example. Wasn’t 100% win or lose.

  70. Seth, I think part of the problem here is that you and many of your ilk want to pigeonhole people into distorted, overly simplistic niches that you can then use to erect strawmen to burn in effigy.

    I have come out again and again that if you must, Charter schools would be an appropriate incremental step. They increase choice, produce the same or better results in every case tried and they also cut costs. They do not resolve the main issues of course, of forced wealth redistribution or pro-government indocrination. As for “other measures”, they would have to be judged on their own merits. You are willing to accept virtually anything as long as it bears the “incrementalist” label when it achieves little or nothing. And worst of all, such incrementalist strategies can often put us in the position of discrediting ourselves and achieving nothing of substance.

  71. I have made it repeatedly clear, speaking on my own behalf, that there are plenty of options on the table. You and your ilk just insist on the pigeonhole strategy and a lack of intellectual honesty. The majority of radicals that I know of and have heard have no problem with progressive incrementalism. The truth and the ideal still should not be abandoned.

    It is remarkable what happens when the truth comes out. I point again at Nall’s courageous stand before the Sheriff’s candidates when they resigned themselves to the truth. If she was just pulling for medical mj or decrim, she wouldn’t have likely achieved such a thing, but rather would have been branded as just someone who wants to smoke it with impugnity – not as someone who stands for fundamental truth regarding a serious fissure within our society.

  72. Devious Dave, since you are the one referring to my ‘ilk’, and I was only basing my comment on your past posts, who is the one distorting here?

    I know plenty of people who will not support vouchers, who will not support charter schools. You might, but my point is that only _some_ of the radicals will. Most of the radicals I know do have a problem with incrementalism, so YMMV.

    Yes, most of the incrementalists _will_ support and accept any small steps, despite your claim it achieves nothing. On the contrary, it achieves something the LP has thus far failed to achieve: small victories which can be built on.

    It’s time to focus on local politics, and win local races. It’s time to stop putting unqualified people into races they can’t win, and instead encourage them to run for something smaller. It’s time to drop the baggages like platform planks that cause alienation of otherwise potential supporters. It’s time to take small winnable steps… instead of great big losing ones.

  73. I don’t have a problem with incrementalism if it really is a step in the right direction.

    Vouchers actually increase regime involvement in private schools – the money comes with strings attached, and turns them into de facto government schools.

    There’s another kind of incrementalism at work: By increments, you water down the platform, bringing in people who would never join the LP previously. After a while, it stands for nothing at all. This happened with the Reform Party.

    If your end goals are not firm, it isn’t incrementalism; it’s just a sellout.

  74. For my Presidential nominating campaign http://www.phillies2008.com
    I propose tax credits rather than vouchers. The key step is that you get the credit for supporting _any_ child, not just your own, so that people who want to rescue impoverished children are able to do so. It is transparent that tax credits or deductions for charitable gifts do not lead to government control of the recipients.