LP Platform Slashing Spares Core Issues

Libertarian Brand Government Relief

One of the things that I think has really benefited the Libertarian movement coming out of this past weekend’s Portland convention is that our platform is still intact on what many would agree are some core issues. A lot of the planks of the cumbersome old platform may have been hacked off with nothing to replace it until 2008. But if you look at what’s left, may not be such a detriment to the cause of liberty as some are claiming.

Brian Doherty over at Reason explains in a nutshell what’s left:

The current platform still commits the LP to ending all victimless crime and drug laws; any laws against porn or commercial speech; an end to the Federal Communications Commission; an end to all property taxes and all government property ownership not explicitly allowed by the Constitution; an end to all immigration quotas and laws punishing employees for hiring illegal immigrants, and an insistence that the government require only “appropriate documentation, screening for criminal background and threats to public health and national security” standards for allowing people in; that “marriage and other personal relationships are treated as private contracts, solely defined by the individuals involved, and government discrimination is not allowed.” Finally the new platform demands an end to antitrust and all corporate welfare.

While technically no planks related to foreign policy remain, the preamble to the section that would have contained them still says, “The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between governments. The United States government should return to the historic libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration.”

That’s hardly a gutting in my opinion, as it directly addresses many issues that are relevant to voters, and allows our talking heads to focus on what I think is important — issues we can actually win on.

I’ll give purists credit for standing their ground on the whole issue of platform reform, but in our 35-year history we’ve moved from fringe party that doesn’t stand a chance, to political voice that is at least heard nationally again and again, if not yet winning those same elections. Perhaps it’s right for us to have some upheaval now in our party and take this time to reexamine our platform priorities (do we really need to push into the arena of space exploration, health care and child’s sexual rights, when the unifying libertarian argument these days is privacy and government excess in power, size and spending?).

I have no doubt that our 2008 convention will adequately address the old platform and make changes that modernizes the language and is more tactful when calling for repeal of large parts of government, and I look forward to having everything put back in place in some semblance of what some argue are our principles (all 40 of them, hardly a small list that can easily be digested at once by the casual voter).

So I say to the purists: this is a starting point that we should be moving forward with, focusing on the issues we’re damned good at, and letting the old scabs that were ripped off heal for a while. It’s time to look to our core winnable positions and hold them higher than we ever have before to the voters, and let them know that we’re in a reconstruction phase that will make us stronger than before.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. This is a truly excellent perspective. For the first time in four years I am interested in serving on the platform committee again. I wouldn’t mind taking out the rest too, as long as we can replace it all with a platform we can all be proud of. It is quite possible to write 2-4 sentence planks that express common solutions that invite people to agree with us while remaining fully Libertarian. Check out the NC platform http://lpnc.org/our_principles/platform.html for an example.

  2. I’m not going to start the 2008 debate with my friend Sean today. The Platform Committee, as authorized by the Convention, will begin deliberations again early next year after the election and the holidays.

    Once people can read the new Platform in its entirety, which should be within hours, they may have different ideas about it than they thought they did.

    All of us on the Platform Committee will be interested in listening to where you think we should go from here but please realize that we are all officeholders, candidates, or activists and we won’t have time for this until we get through the political season.

    I’m just thankful that the Convention spared what they did and that the Bylaws provided for a deletion vote of the planks but not the Preamble and the introductory statements for each section. The Convention was given the opportunity to vote that out too but refused to do it.

  3. I have asked this elsewhere and got no answer, so I’ll try here. There ia a group called the Libertarian Party Congressional Committee. They have a website, but do not seem to be active. Does anyone know if they are active, or how one gets in touch with them???


  4. The LP is moving forward. It does not have to become the centrist party to be attractive to others but it must shed its past and approach politics in a more pragmatic manner.

    I am excited with the direction because now and in the future there will be a real chance of winning elections. I believe the majority of voters are fed up with the Democrats and Republicans. If we keep this up, there will really be another option.

    To you purists that are pissed off, you will get over it. If you don’t and leave, goodbye. I will trade you off for increased membership and votes. You are surely going to be marginalized so you might suck up and get used to it or leave the Party as quickly as possible so you don’t impede progress.

  5. I think the LP is large enough for all of us.

    I think it is healthy to have debate and discourse in a Political Party.

    I had a great time in Portland and you will see me at the 2008 Convention.

    I think that the “pragmatist” or “incrementalist” Libertarians and the “purist” or “theoretical” Libertarians acted in a civil manner and discussed their differences. That is what political parties SHOULD do.

    I hope that no one leaves the LP over the results of the Portland Convention; however, if they wish to leave it is a free country.

    I suggest that anyone who is unhappy with the results of the Convention spend their time enlarging the LP and working to decrease the size of government and decrease government’s intrustion in our daily lives.

    That is what I will do…

    I am an “incrementalist” and a “constitutionalist” and a Libertarian.

    I would have been happier had we removed the ENTIRE platform and the National Pedge.

    Mike Sylvester
    Allen County Chair, Indiana

  6. Julian: “To you purists that are pissed off, you will get over it. If you don’t and leave, goodbye”
    I believe this as the wrong attitue. The purists are the people willing to do much of the gruntwork that a political party needs. These people are passionate about the cause. I would like to believe that this NOT a change in direction for the LP.
    I hope it is a change in the marketing, outreach and image of the LP. We don’t ever want to put down our principals for a vote, we want to market our ideas in a way that is sellable.

    No one in America wants to pay taxes to have thier phone and email watched 24/7/265. However, many have been convinced that this is exactly what they want. This is marketing. This marketing needs a counter-balance that does not currently exist.

    At this point in an election season, we should be finding the positives not the negatives. If we can’t get along – we can not win an election. The pissing contest needs to end now. Check the jocks until Winter!

  7. There is a Libertarian Part Congressional Committee launched by the LNC that appears to do legal things and nothing alse. There is a Liberty Congressional PAC that I organized that has done fundraising and could do so again. We have essentially zero overhead charges.

  8. TO MICHAEL WILSON, who asked in comment 3: “I have asked this elsewhere and got no answer, so I’ll try here. There ia a group called the Libertarian Party Congressional Committee. They have a website, but do not seem to be active. Does anyone know if they are active, or how one gets in touch with them?”

    According to the minutes posted here:


    “LNCC Status – M Carling reported the LNCC has been formed, the FEC reports filed, and currently in business. Its goal is to support winnable legislative races. There will be an LNCC meeting in Portland to elect a new board. Currently, M Carling serves as chair Admiral Colley serves as vice chair; Chuck Moulton serves as secretary; Bill Redpath is treasurer. See LNCC.org for more information.”

    They are raising some money (notably all of the founders have kicked in substatial sums):


    I am certain once they are past the bills and red tape (thank you congress and BCRA) associated with starting up the committee, that they will be heard of a bit more.

    Michael, if you’re interested in what they’re up to, why not contact them?


  9. D. Walter thank you for the information. I’ll check it out a pass it along to a friend.

  10. I think that to offer clarity, anyone who posts must identify their libertarian label. HoT could add an extra field for this purpose with a scroll down menu of label choices, for example:

    Boortz cult member
    lying idiot
    fifth columnist
    rabble rouser
    free stater

    It might also be a good idea if the LP put “under construction until 2008” on the platform page. Just for clarity.

    I’ll start: I am a libertarian, but I’m starting to wonder if I am a Libertarian anymore.

  11. I like parts of the platform vary much and other parts are down right scary. I take this part for example”¦

    “an end to all immigration quotas and laws punishing employees for hiring illegal immigrants”

    I read a poll recently that said that around 71% of Americans wanted employers to be punished if they for hiring illegals.

    I find this “plank” way out of touch with reality. For a nation to maintain an identity immigration has to be controlled. The lack of immigration control is one of many factors that helped bring down Rome.

    I think that legal immigration can and should be more open than it is currently, but there has to be control. I am also for extensive background checks on immigrants; there are plenty of good people that want to get in, why should we take the bad.

    I like Tom’s idea of identifying ourselves.

    I suppose you could label me a neolibertarian, but a little less neo and a little more libertarian than most, although some may find me more of a lying idiot.

  12. This is going to be a [expletive deleted] sight better for the party. They’ll be taken more seriously with many of the nutty planks removed. More time will be available to spend on the offensive, less time will be needed mitigating damage from PR-nightmare planks in the platform.

  13. To Greg Clark, I say thank you for all your hard work and dedication to our party as a Platform Committee member. You and your committee members have not been thanked enough for what is a thankless job. I fully expect, after the dust settles, we will come out of this with a platform we can run with, and can make a difference in, our races this Fall.

  14. I like parts of the platform vary much and other parts are down right scary. I take this part for example”¦

    “an end to all immigration quotas and laws punishing employees for hiring illegal immigrants”

    That’s a very poorly-worded plank. Obviously, if there were no immigration quotes there wouldn’t BE any “illegal” immigrants fro employers to get in trouble for hiring. From that perspective, I’m fine with the plank’s sentiment. However, I don’t support calls to break the law as an intermediary step. If the platform is to declare a unified position at all… it should be to ROLL BACK immigration law, not BREAK it.

  15. As someone who’s feeling like a woman without a party, I have to say that’s a pretty attractive platform to me. I’d agree the immigration plank is a little sticky considering the public polling that shows the electorate overwhelming against illegal immigration but there’s time to work on that language.

    Overall I think it’s an easy sell. The drug policy reform plank could get you a lot of support among the reform movement. And eliminating corporate welfare certainly goes a long way towards enticing me to join up.

    I’m convinced 08 could be a breakthrough year for third parties and you look well positioned to me to take advantage of it.

  16. I sat through much of the platform committee meeting on the immigration plank reform in Portland. The plank that was passed deals with the concern of illegal immigration without gutting the core libertarian principles that anyone should be allowed to come to America just as long as they follow law to come into the country. I think it was a good compromise between the no border supporters and the general population that thinks a country should have a border with entry points.

    There was a minority report presented to the convention that improved the old wording but kept the open/no borders policy, and it failed to carry.