More Goodness From Nick Wilson

Now he’s seeking your, yes, your opinion on whether the Libertarian Party should try to reach out to other libertarian political groups (the Republican Liberty Caucus, the Democratic Freedom Caucus, minor libertarian parties, et cetera). He’s considering making this his next big project after the Freedom Index, if there appears to be enough support for it. You can vote here. Purists, pragmatists, and everyone in between-let your voice be heard.

This guy has a history of doing good things for liberty-he’s gotten insane amounts of coverage in Eastern Europe and the BBC with the Freedom Index, he helped co-found the Libertarian Reform Caucus, and so forth and so on. So let’s help him out with this.

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. I’m all for some solidarity between the third parties. The way it is now is it’s two Goliaths vs. a handful of Davids. If all the Davids combined and became a third Goliath they might stand a fighting chance.

  2. Sounds like yet another in a long line of ploys to get libertarians to lick a Republican’s taint to me.

  3. Wow…I didn’t even know I was that popular…thanks for the links!

    I have no interest in turning the LP into Republican Lite. I was never a Republican and hopefully never will be. That said, the people who left the LP to join the RLC or DFC have a good reason – they have a better chance of getting elected. What I find irritating is when the LP runs candidates against moderate libertarians in either party and thus hurt both of us. They should be helping us get ballot access, we should be helping them with their campaigns and not run people against it, thus lessening the chances of a libertarian winning. Big-L or small-l, there’s absolutely no point in us hating each other because of what we call ourselves or what party we affiliate ourselves with. I’ve even come to the personal realization that throwing barbs at anarchists in our movement is counterproductive, something I have done in the past out of frustration – but no more. Unless we work together, we won’t get anywhere. (contd)

  4. What I am most interested in recieving feedback for is whether the parties should merge completely, stay as separate organizations but nominate mutual coalition candidates or remain separate but simply focus on synchronizing our efforts. Personally I like the idea of staying as separate parties but nominating mutual candidates, like the coalitions in many parliamentary systems do. While we obviously don’t have a parliamentary system, pooling resources and combining campaigns could only benefit the movement. But that’s just my opinion – I want to know what others think before devoting time and effort into such a coalition.

    The LP has a lot of hurdles/precedents to overcome before it can really win elections, in my opinion. A new, separate organization would give a fresh face to the movement, while enabling the separate parties to build each other up and allowing the DFC and RLC to continue to work for reform in those parties while also having a more solid electoral vehicle behind them.

  5. Let’s see here. We are asked to express an opinion and David says: “Sounds like yet another in a long line of ploys to get libertarians to lick a Republican’s taint to me.”

    Then Stuart responds: “This isn’t some fucking pragmatist vs. purist thing; we’re making progress here, or trying to. Stop complaining and start doing something, David.”

    Huh? Pragmatist? Purist? Complaining?

    Then Nick admits: “I’ve even come to the personal realization that throwing barbs at anarchists in our movement is counterproductive…”

    But no more because we all have to work together, he says.

    After all the vitriol, propaganda and mudslinging by some of the LRC crowd directed at fellow libertarians, I am left wondering what Nick thinks an “anarchist” is. Is that anyone who signed the pledge?

    We have all seen how well the LRC brought together libertarians. Forgive me if I am skeptical about mergers, mutual coalition candidates and synchronized efforts.

  6. Mr. Blanton… with all due respect, and with no authority to exert given this venue… knock it the hell off, already.

    The act is old.

    To Nick Wilson: Personally, if my say matters at all… we need the separate organizations of the parties. That’s important, not to mention a labor of tantalus to attempt to overcome.

    But greater, more potent cooperation and synchronicity would be important. Seeing the LP as a bridge between the RLC & DFC would be a phenomenal step towards getting two things to occur:

    A)Both organizations coming closer to the real ideals of the libertarian movement.

    B)Getting the “all-important” ‘bipartisan’ nomenclature which is incredibly powerful in so-called “Swing states.”

    Imagine a libertarian candidate running as a fusion Democrat/Republican/Libertarian.

    Wouldn’t *THAT* confuse John Q. Public.

  7. I don’t think anyone here is out to propagandize anyone else. I do wonder what our goal is, however. I personally would like to get libertarianism and liberty to become a household phrase. One that people just know what it is (like Kleenex, Xerox, etc.) and know what it stands for. And maybe support it?
    I personally don’t care if it comes dressed as a Democrat, Republican, Green, Reform, or whatever party. I think I will know it when I see it. Since I am a Libertarian, and that is what I want to happen in my lifetime, it would really be nice if we could cope with the labels, and on the other hand stop applying them. Maybe compromise and work together just a bit? Then maybe we could have it happen under the LP’s watch…
    Personally, I would prefer to get 60% of Galt’s Gulch rather then keep going as we are (approaching 0% from what I can see). As I have trained my daughter well, I am sure she will be able to get at least 30% or more.
    My two cents.

  8. Tom B,

    Let me rephrase myself. I’ve even come to the personal realization that it is counterproductive and a waste of my energy to throw barbs at those in our movement whose primary objective for the movement is not to gain electoral victory or have serious political influence. It is true that many anarchists are very reasonable when it comes to what they demand in the short term; many non-anarchists are unreasonable. Trying to reason with someone who is unreasonable is not a reasonable allocation of my time and effort. Where I may have contributed to your perception of the LRC, I am trying to put an olive branch forward and suggest new ideas that all libertarians, regardless of where you stand, can accept and unite about.

    IanC, I think that’s the general consensus too. By reaching out to other minor libertarian parties we might be able to bring disaffected former members and recruit formerly wary members into a rejuvenated and reformed LP. Not my ulterior motive per se, but a plus.

  9. Well Mr. IanC, you have no respect for anyone who has a different opinion than yourself. You demonstrate that with your remarks:

    “..knock it the hell off, already. The act is old.”

    Tell Stuart to knock it off when he curses people.

    Tell it to the LRC when they publish articles that denigrate the LP far worse than any opponents ever have. This has been very bad for the LP.

    Those of your ilk have demonstrated time and time again the inability to work with others without indulging in childish tirades.

    Maybe you should be asking yourself why anyone would want to work with libertarians who act as if they are applying to the Bill O’Reilly School of Rudeness. Politics is about ideas and selling those ideas to people using logic and reason – not rudeness.

    Just in the past year alone, fusion candidates have not turned out well for the LP – Bill Weld is one example.

    I would suggest single-issue coalitions with a broad base as being effective and good outreach.

  10. It is time for a reality check. I don’t know how many of you actually participate in LP activism and routinely deal with other libertarians in your localities and states, or whether you deal with “libertarians” who spew nonsense on blogs and other forums.

    I deal with a number of actual people who are libertarians on a regular basis as 3rd CD Chair of the LPVA. I can only tell you my experience. As a result of LRC rants, Boortz rants, blog rants, LPHQ actions (CPAC, IES, etc.), a number of REAL libertarians are no longer hard working activists and they have had it with the LP. The platform changes the LRC is so proud of has a lot of REAL libertarians pissed off.

    During the past two years, as the LP moved in a more moderate direction, contributing membership has dwindled. If you don’t believe me, ask your LNC rep.

    This would seem to be the reality: the more the LP moves away from solid principles, more libertarians leave the LP.

  11. Tom Blanton is so far the only candidate for chair of Thomas Knapp’s new Boston Tea Party. I guess his comments here and at /2006/08/07/the-drug-war-has-gone-to-pot/#comment-152389 (sarcasm suspected) are samples of the work Tom will expend to work together with other libertarians in furthering the cause of liberty.

    The Boston Tea party was not included in Nick’s survey list of political parties to potentially invite to become part of his “liberty coalition.” I don’t know if the omission was accidental or intentional, but I suspect it was simply an oversight.

    It seems that overall Nick is trying to get all parties within or near the libertarian quadrant of the Nolan chart to work somewhat together for greater effectiveness.

    Tom B’s criticisms in 8, 12, and 13 are noted, but still it sounds like at least somebody has a chip on his shoulder.

    What is a REAL libertarian, Tom?

  12. When libertarian activists leave the party and/or don’t participate/contribute, it further erodes the LP. Less money and less participation means less outreach. Ballot access will suffer and recruitment of good candidates will suffer. Eroding the base is suicide, and yet many in the LP see fit to indulge in the things that cause this.

    The people whose “primary objective for the movement is not to gain electoral victory or have serious political influence” are few. The people I’m seeing leaving the LP have been those who devoted lots of time, effort and money to build the LP and, to use the lingo of young Stuart, this is fucked up.

    These folks are the libertarian purists. While they were out manning booths and working the polls, there were a lot of people calling them names and blaming them for the lack of LP success. Is it any wonder they are leaving?

    Once the LP structure falls apart, then playing around with the GOP and the Dems might be all there is left to do.

  13. Daniel: That omission was accidental. However, I am wondering if there has been any movement towards them becoming an actual party with candidates, etc., or if they will continue as a LP subset? Tom K. made it sound like it was not so much a separate organization per se, but a holding area until the LP swings back towards their demands. Surely, they would always be welcome in a coalition if they have decided to break completely – a coalition would be for political ends – a way for libertarians with differing views to work together in a political forum, while keeping differences in our respective parties.

    Tom B: Most of the people who have left the LP over the years were those who grew frustrated and tired of the party’s extremism, stagnation and being told repeatedly that they were just socialists/statists/Republicrats/etc. Look no further than Cato or the RLC for proof. The LRC wants an exponential net increase of new or returning members into the LP. Why can’t we just be friends?

  14. Daniel, a real libertarian used to be someone who tended to agree with longstanding libertarian principles like free markets, nonintervention and civil liberties without compromising these ideals to please the “mainstream”, instead working to advance these ideas through political means.

    Everytime I hear about all the so-called “all-or-nothing” libertarians or the alleged libertarians who don’t want to win elections or have any political influence, I cringe.

    I want to know where all these “libertarians” are, outside of forums.

    I often work with libertarians that I don’t see eye to eye with – and amazingly they refrain from calling me names and I don’t call them names. They also do not waste time using rhetoric which denigrates libertarians on a continual basis.

    You don’t grow a party by demonizing the members.

    “Join the LP, they are all kooks except me” don’t cut it.

    Daniel, check out post #5, then tell me i’ve got a chip on MY shoulder.

  15. Nick writes:

    “Most of the people who have left the LP over the years were those who grew frustrated and tired of the party’s extremism, stagnation and being told repeatedly that they were just socialists/statists/Republicrats/etc.”

    This may be your experience and I’m not saying that some people have not left the LP because of these reasons. What I am saying is that many hardcore libertarians are leaving for the reasons I cited above.

    Many here seem to be in total denial about how many libertarians are upset about the IES and the recent platform purge, and to my knowledge, there has never been an organized group of “purists” (or whatever label you want to use) that focused entirely on purging the LP of those they didn’t agree with using harsh rhetoric and dubious accusations.

    I think the best way to grow the LP is to build up the party, not to tear it down or merge it with other nonlibertarian groups.

  16. Tom B: Serious questions, not trying to raise fists: “the best way to grow the LP is to build up the party” – how do you propose building up the party? The party has been trying to “build itself up” via education/conversion for three and a half decades and it hasn’t worked. What would you do differently? Or do you think we should trod the same tired path? It’s difficult to expand when the LP acts like a nearly bankrupt but stubborn, proudly aristocratic country club. Should we keep “denigrating” everyone else in the libertarian quadrant who doesn’t fit lockstep with the LP platform? How is that advancing liberty? Why shouldn’t there be a big tent political movement in the libertarian quadrant? What do we have to lose? Always being right? Is that more important than making real and measurable change happen?

    That’s what I am talking about when I say “those in our movement whose primary objective for the movement is not to gain electoral victory or have serious political influence.”

  17. I think many have left the LP because they came to the realization that third party politics won’t work in America, and that the vast majority of the American people prefer statist solutions. America needs a ideological revolution before a political revolution can happen. Most LPers refuse to recognize this and waste their precious time and resources on false hopes that Nolan or Pierce or whomever “has a chance to win.”

  18. R.E. Lee — so long as the two are seen separately, I’m certain you’re right.

    However… I will point at recent history on this blog. The much acclaimed Loretta Nall, and her impact on a number of sheriff’s candidates (she actually got a candidate running on a hardline anti-drup policy to pull a 180, in addition to others.)

    When running a candidacy, you need to do more than just talk about your ideology. You need to press the flesh. Campaign. Let the ideas and ideology speak for themselves; they’re powerful enough to do so. Run *on them* … but *RUN.* That’s not the model most candidates use now. I need only point to my own state and it’s practice of ‘Cadidacy parties.” Sometime around now, they throw a party and help anyone who wants to register for any old position register as an LP’er. Just to have names on the ballot.

    These people then pretty much do nothing else. *THAT* is failure to attempt serious electoral success.

    We perpetuate the myth ourselves.

  19. (cont’d) There is a reason why the occasional independant can win, yet so few libertarians ever get the time of day.

    It is more than electoral repression and media suppression.

    It is *OUR APPROACH.* Bill Pierce, Loretta Nall, Michael Badnarik (this time ’round) — they’re getting more attention. Even Mr. Badnarik’s presidential campaign — as a tool to acquire national fame enough to potentially pull off a regional success with national funding — was beneficial in that light.

    It doesn’t matter that we dash ourselves in vain against the stones. It matters that we never give up trying. Sooner or later even the hardest stone cracks. :)

    … I could rant for weeks on that subject. Y’all get the point. :)

    (As to why I’m not responding to Tom Blanton — he’s pretty much a troll in my books.)

  20. Mr. Wilson (Sorry, I couldn’t resist): I got way off topic… had a question:

    What mechanism would you use to create this cooperation/synergism?

    It seems to me that the LP as a whole *REALLY* needs to develop a larger number of caucuses, rather than expect the whole party to move as a whole on every cause.

    For example; the anti-tax caucus, or the ‘peace caucus’, or the “anti-prohibition caucus” … or something similar.

    By doing so… we could permit members of other political parties membership IN these caucuses. Get like-minded people doing like-minded things.

    That’s just my two cents, and we all know how much pennies are worth these days. (Hell, the copper they’re made from costs more than a penny!)

  21. Ian, too many stones too little time. A lot of the burnouts got tired of wasting their lives bashing stones.
    I’m not familiar with Ms. Nall’s candidacy but it would appear the cogency of her arguments changed the other sheriff’s mind, not how many hands she shook or lawn signs
    she put up. I suspect Ms. Nall’s efforts are much more valuable, at this point, to the ideological revolution than the political revolution.

  22. R E Lee — It’s a change in perspective, as it were… see, you’re still looking at ideology and politics as separate.

    Any mechanism that successfully alters the one, will alter the other in tandem. Thing is, certain mechanisms are better suited to certain approaches than others.

    Loretta got to the position she did not because she was some ideological idyl, but rather because she had exerted the effort to reach a point where, being taken seriously as a candidate, her words were heard.

    And that’s the trick, in there somewhere. There’s too much focus on the either-or mentality (and yes it goes both ways; moderating our message to ‘please’ people who disagree with us is sheer idiocy.) The trick is simply to appear serious, dedicated, and not foaming at the mouth. It amazes me how few people satisfy these simple tests.

    Taking the stones analogy, I can point out that many times it’s like a box of crabs doing the bashing of a stone lid. Get close, somebody else pulls you back.

  23. I still believe our biggest proplem is not running campaigns properly.We wait to the last minute,we do not use knowledge from past races.We do not learn from other states.We do not have enough campaign managers the list goes on.I believe if we push campaigning more and its art we would have more success.

  24. Nick: “What I am most interested in recieving feedback for is whether the parties should merge completely …”

    It’s been considered a problem to have multiple organizational efforts, but I say “let a thousand flowers bloom!” Libertarians are individualists and will make their own judgements about how best to pursue liberty. The beauty of the movement is that you never know where the next important accomplishment will be achieved.
    My conclusion – after serving as an LP officer for decades – is that the party will be successful in the same way the Socialist Party was successful: its ideas were adopted by a wide range of political and cultural organizations … and eventually adopted by the Democrat party.
    We hope to do the same thing – in the opposite direction – in the Republican Party. But, we recognize that the RLC is only one strategic approach among many.

  25. Nick, I’ll repeat myself: I would suggest single-issue coalitions with a broad base as being effective and good outreach.

    For the first time in LP history, the party grew after the 1996 election until the 2000 election. Usually, membership falls off after the presidential elections.

    I would suggest that when the LP addresses issues that people are passionate about, people are interested in the party. Constantly worrying about addressing serious issues for fear that it MIGHT offend someone is political suicide.

    The LP has allowed its political enemies to define the party and to frame every debate. Some of the reformers have even adopted the harsh rhetoric of anti-libertarian critics, accepting their spin as fact.

  26. IMHO the LP should be calling for an end to the war on terror, on Iraq, on Afghanistan, on privacy, and yes, even on drugs.

    The LP should be calling for the impeachment of Bush (as was done with Clinton).

    The LP should be calling for fiscal sanity and calling attention to $65 trillion in unfunded liabilities, a national debt approaching $10 trillion, and a budget approaching $10,000 for every man, woman and child in America. The LP should be pointing out the failure of central banking, Bretton Woods, and Nixon’s global fiat currency.

    The LP should be calling for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and the REAL ID Act. The LP should be pointing out the positive aspects of immigration.

    Instead the LP promotes a watered down Murtha plan, an estate tax initiative, and removing the foreign policy section from its platform.

    The LP may not be offending anyone, but it sure isn’t attracting new members either. Just ask your LNC rep.

  27. Tom,

    Most of us reformers would agree with most of the above things you listed completely. The specific points you mentioned above are immediate goals with a level of political reality. I really think you are mistaken about the reform movement; we did not want to have a half-baked platform any more than anyone else – instead we wanted a platform addressing realistic and politically relevant issues that can actually be accomplished in the next election cycle, not the ultimate vision of libertarian purity like it was. Because of LP bylaws, editing a platform plank requires deleting a platform plank, then adding a new one in its place with the different language. The bar to delete is lower than the bar to add, and thus we are stuck until a 2/3rds majority of delegates agree on something. Our hope is to force the hand to get the sides to compromise on an implementable platform that keeps political realities in mind while remaining firmly libertarian – by voting to cut the old platform.

  28. IanC,

    Well I actually think I see a point of agreement between you and Tom through the vitriol – you both think people should bond and organize along the lines of similar issues. Where I think the LP is too small to divide much further, perhaps the idea of multi-party caucuses focusing on different and specific issues (and moving their parties towards those issues) would be something you both could agree on.

    As far as the organization, that is what I am interested in getting feedback for. If such a coalition were to run coalition candidates, obviously it should be a political party with optional dual membership in other parties. If the coalition is merely an organization to help maximize success of libertarian candidates, probably a PAC would be the way to go. The reason why I personally am drawn towards the former is because it would be more publicly visible (as an experiment in American politics that has not really been tried before – although the far left has come close). (cont)

  29. However, I don’t have a plan of action yet because I want to know what libertarians think they can agree on. I just want whatever seems like it will maximize our chances of electoral success and implementing libertarian policy. Let’s quit the unnecessary penis measuring contest that has pointlessly dominated the libertarian political wing and replace it with a unified, realistic and professional movement that accepts all libertarians, regardless of how pure they are or what party they are affiliated with. Whether a new organization is more likely to accomplish this or a revitalized and smarter LP, I’m willing to hedge my bets by trying both. After all, a better LP will still need coalition-building to reach out to other parties in order to attract new members and reattract former members before we can make ourselves a force to be reckoned with.

  30. Nick; I never thought of caucuses as necessarily mutually exclusive. However, I tend to notice that a lot of folks have ‘pet issues’ as it were… and might possibly branch out from there.

    So long as the model I advocated wasn’t mutually exclusive it’d be less partitioning and more ‘organizing’.

    Either way you’re looking at herding cats, man. (Maybe, hopefully it just might be accomplished by grouping the cats by the flavors of cat-food they like… lol).

    Good luck.

  31. This all reminds me — I haven’t seen a dig for *days* on here about LibertyMix. SVD; any chances on a post of a status update?

  32. Nick,

    You write:

    “However, I am wondering if there has been any movement towards [the Boston Tea Party] becoming an actual party with candidates, etc., or if they will continue as a LP subset? Tom K. made it sound like it was not so much a separate organization per se, but a holding area until the LP swings back towards their demands.”

    Not exactly.

    1. The interim bylaws I wrote call for the BTP to run candidates (specifically, a presidential slate, but presumably state affiliates would run candidates as well).

    2. BUT — the members are free to amend the bylaws at the organizational convention, which opens in less than two weeks. I have made it clear that I don’t personally oppose the notion of the BTP re-entering the LP as an internal caucus … but the members get to make those decisions. It’s not, as Daniel put it, “Tom Knapp’s Boston Tea Party.” I am one of 230 members so far, presumably with a little more influence than most, but still only one vote. (cont’d)

  33. Tom K,

    I said “Thomas Knapp’s new Boston Tea Party” simply because you were the founder of it. As Portland revealed, the LP may no longer be its founders’ party (with respect to control), although the roots are recognizable.

    Activists come in all gradients of purism and variety of personality.

    I was contrasting your online personality with Tom B’s. I have great respect for you. Your comments generally focus on ideas, not attacking others’ activities or persons.

    I think BTP is a great idea and am interested in it because of the acceptance of incrementalism but don’t want to be rigidly tied to a “no compromise” position, so I have not joined but wish there was a way to participate in BTP forums as a non-voting non-member.

    P.S. I found this recently at a local Democratic Party affiliate (cycled quotes):

    “The very idea of compromise is anathema to those who believe they possess divine truth and direction.”
    – Gary Hart, Democrat