Raging affiliate envy and how to solve it

I’ve seen a lot of comments recently on how a few state Libertarian Parties are doing fantastic, while others aren’t doing as well.

Derrick said:

Yep, it was the late 1980’s when I dropped out of the Maryland LP, and for exactly the reasons you mentioned. The last straw for me was a meeting which was dominated by one guy who kept insisting that we should target our marketing efforts toward working prostitutes.

I also tried joining the MDLP listserv a few years ago, but it seemed to be dominated by conspiracy theorists.

I would like to be involved with helping to make my state chapter as successful and organized as the Georgia LP, but it doesn’t seem possible. Where to begin?

As a Nebraska resident, this particularly intrigues me. I live in a state where what little LP activity there is stops west of the 98th meridian and the party doesn’t answer its email. Interestingly enough, before that I lived in Maryland.

So this isn’t a prescriptive post so much as it is an inquisitive one-how do we go about fixing a moribund state party? Any experts in the audience, please tell me. I had to write in “Libertarian” on my voter registration forms and I’ll probably be told that I’ll be registered nonpartisan anyway.

Obviously there’s no magic bullet, but there’s gotta be some methods that work better than others. So commenters? Any advice?

106 Comments
  1. Stuart,

    Maybe you need to stop bashing your head against the wall
    again and again. The LP has had 25 years to become successful,
    and has failed. Try something else.

    Don Wills

  2. See, you could say that except there’s some state affiliates that are really taking off this year. Georgia, Texas, Alaska, Washington, Vermont… and they’re just joining the ranks of already-successful Indiana and New Hampshire.

    So I can’t really agree with you since it’s been materially proven that the LP can, in fact, succeed.

  3. We have been lucky in Ga. The first meeting I went to Ron Crikenburger was in charge.People like him and Catherine Harris, Jim Cox,Carol Ayn Rand and many others set the tone early. Then you had guys like Mark Mosley who continued in thier foot steps.I believe having a paid staff member has and does make alot of differnce.We have had paid staff for many years now.We also have ran statewide candidates since 1988.I believe as one person you should pick on thing and run with it.Campaigns I believe are the best route to go.Pick your own team. do not invite the wierd people unto the team.Once you do this try raising money pledges to hire some part time.Try to have some answer the phone , do not miss out on new members
    when they call the office.Set the goal you want and get a small group together and work toward it.

  4. Bashing your head against the wall or pissing up a rope. Tough choice.

    Bottom line is to get off your keyboard and start having social events, use Upcoming etc. That’s always tough for individualists, the majority of whom populate the liberty sphere. It might take years to develop, it can be done however.

    If the state party is unresponsive, take it over. Form a local group that meets someplace decent on a regular basis. Obviously online outreach is possible, but coffee or beers are far more satisfying.

    Keep it simple. Even if you are one of those horrible Randians or Rothbardians, stick to certain local or state issues of equal concern. Activism is not easy. People like to keep their political proclivities behind the curtain.

    It always amazes me that some clown like Kos or the MoveOn’s can dominate and produce such results. Yet, they do. I’m no expert on invoking the Liberty sect but we gotta try . . . I just wanted to start a local chapter and ended up running for Congress.

  5. “and they’re just joining the ranks of already-successful Indiana and New Hampshire.”

    I didn’t know that the New Hampshire LP was considered to be successful. I do know that they failed to make it on the ballot in 2004 and 2006.

  6. The Libertarian Party is a failure. It is hurting the liberty movement. We need to quietly sweep it under the table, get rid of the ‘political party’ notion of it and let its folks be the educational organization that they are. And please, get rid of the words ‘libertarian’ and ‘party’ in the title.

    This is not a country where a third party can just emerge. The party system here doesn’t represent or have anything to do with ideology.

    Call me out if Smither wins, if things change, or whatever.

    But for now, we have to covertly sneak in our ideas for them to have a chance. We have to work -with- the system if we are to change anything.

  7. You’d be surprised how easy it is to become a county chair. In fact I’ve been approached by a few people now asking that I head the Cuyahoga County (Greater Cleveland) LP and start organizing members and generally doing something.

    I’m entertaining the notion because it seems the only competition is a fellow (who I won’t name) who came to a Peirce fundraiser and during the Q&A started asking all sorts of 9/11 conspiracy questions. This is a gubernatorial candidate mind you, who would have absolutely no authority on launching a new open investigation even if he wanted to (I’m not opposed, just the context of asking in that crowd was completely insane). The groans in the crowd were pretty loud.

    Anyways, my point is… if you want to get the LP to do more, you have to take charge of your local and state LP in order to get the ball rolling.

  8. Tech: The failure was with people just like you. Now a new crop has come. A new crop that doesn’t believe that the LP should be an “education society”. We’re building this party without the nonsense and non-starter of “we can never win”.

    I have been working long and hard to change the LP in California from an “education society” to a Political Party. And it’s working.

  9. I did a few tours in Nebraska in the early 90s and it seemed pretty active then so could be again. I think the first key is visibility, and it doesn’t take a crowd to get started (although the more sucessful affiliates seem to be bigger states with larger population bases to work within).

    I started by giving “introductory presentations” explaining the NAP, giving the quiz, and asking the audience to register LP – got a few hundred registered the first few years.

    Stephen VanDyke is right – seize the state (or county) chair & show them how it’s done.

    I do not think politics and education/outreach are mutually exclusive although they could certainly be done by different organizations – you could set up an ISIL-type parallel organization.

    As for 3rd parties, working within the Reptile or Demagogue Parties is an emotional barrier I just can’t cross personally.

  10. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world: indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

    – Margaret Mead

  11. This is not a country where a third party can just emerge.

    Wasn’t the GOP a third party at one time?

  12. Stephen VanDyke, I hope you too take your own advice. I realize you’ve got a full plate, and you’ve done groundbreaking keyboard-to-keyboard work, but there is no substitute for eyeball-to-eyeball activism.

    “If it is to be, it’s up to me.”

    “I said ‘somebody should DO something’ – and then realized that I am somebody.”

  13. Did the GOP have a hardcore freaking -pledge-? Did they have one strict viewpoint of the world with no room for anybody else?

    Any political hope that lies in the LP is the RLC, x10, methinks.

  14. Mike, (#12) Dems and Reps were BOTH new once. We started with Whigs and Tories. I think conditions for a sucessful third party are slowly (EVER so slowly) developing. It’s just a matter of time and tenacity.

  15. I would like everyone reading here to watch after the election as the Libertarian Action Network emerges in Georgia.

    The Libertarian Action Network will be how activists can continue to fight and volunteer, and stay connected.

    What will LAN fight?
    Taxes (we’ve won one vote 53%-47% and stopped a $145,000,000 sales tax to build an unneeded jail!)
    Pushing any law in the libertarian direction.
    We have fought emminent domain abuse with the S.T.O.P. campaign (Stop Taking Our Property)
    One of our Directors is plantiff in a Lawsuit against GA regarding the unconstitutionality of our Diebold voting machines.

    LAN will use education, legislation, and demonstration in order to change our government. And LAN will help grow local parties that will use the same tools and methods to fight their local governments.

  16. Did the GOP have a hardcore freaking -pledge-? Did they have one strict viewpoint of the world with no room for anybody else?

    Nobody has to sign a pledge to vote Libertarian.

  17. In New Mexico we define membership in two tiers. Anybody can join the LP in New Mexico by simply registering as a Libertarian. But to be a policy maker, candidate or spokesperson, one must “upgrade” their membership to “caucus member” status by signing the non-aggression pledge (and meeting the other requirements). The former has the potential to expand our base, the latter has the potential to protect our basic core value as our guiding principle.

  18. You’re right, Mike. And I love the LP and of course its candidates. I’m just frustrated whenever I think about its current status. I see it as failing, and I will say that plainly because I love what the party stands for. Decades are flying by and not much is changing. It’s either going to happen with the LP or it isn’t going to happen, in which case we need to look at different methods of attack here.

  19. I believe states neighboring states with successful affiliates will gain successful affiliates of their own. For example, Texas is doing quite well, and Louisiana and New Mexico at least have active chapters. Oklahoma could logically become fairly active soon, etc. And yes, people in inactive states, start getting an organization together from the ground up.

  20. It’s hard to build an all-volunteer organization. State parties that were once very active like Florida, Illinois, and Wisconsin simply aren’t active anymore. It is nice to see Vermont and Georgia step up to the plate. Work hard. That’s the only way the state party will ever grow.

  21. My problem is that I don’t have time to take over the entire state party, but I also don’t want to work under a bunch of conspiracy theorist nincompoops.

    It may be that things have changed since I last checked in. I will drive to one of their meetings (3 hours round trip) and see if that’s the case.

  22. You don’t have to take over a state party to start steering it in the right direction. You simply need to participate, to stand and be counted; to be prepared to face down the nut cases. It is trying sometimes. It is trying a lot the time. It is time and heartache that can bear fruit. You have to find and build a team – not an old boys club that always votes together, but a mutual respect and support group. They need to be there for you when you lose hope, and you need to be there for them when they lose hope. You need to steel yourself to idea that this is not a sprint, this is a marathon. Create a vision for the future, enroll others in that vision, create a plan, and begin executing on it. It’s not easy; it’s not for the faint of heart, but the knowledge that you’re changing the world (as evidenced by progress on this documented on this blog), even if you’re never thanked, is oftentimes reward enough.

  23. For those of you who just think more socializing, or hard work,
    or whatever can save the LP – you’re dreaming. I’m an old guy
    who has watched all of the 25 sad years go by with the same
    old same old happening. One state LP party makes a little
    noise (maybe getting 5% in a governor race) with a few dozen
    volunteers, and then 5 years later it’s all gone. It really is
    deja vu all over again.

    The LP is yesterday’s news. Too much baggage, too many
    who believe in conspiracy theories, too many absolute
    anarchists, whatever – it’s over folks. Time to move on.

    Don Wills

    PS. The Smither candidacy is proof of the LP failure.
    It’s the perfect storm – a conservative district, a crook
    incumbent, no Republican on the ballot, and a write-in
    Republican whose name is impossible to remember.
    Plus the Texas LP is considered to be ‘successful’ by
    posters here. I’ll be surprised if he gets 20% of the vote.

  24. LA LP is kicking some serious tail. The candidate for insurance commissioner simply threw his hat in the ring. He said he would abolish the position if elected. He raised no money and did not actively campaign. He won 10.6% of the state wide vote. I will write about LA candidates later this weekend. There is some good stuff being done there.

  25. You can always join taxpayer or eminent domain groups, establish yourself as an activist and recruit from the membership.

    Taxpayer groups who might want to run their own candidate and are unable to get anywhere with the Republican hierarchy might be pursuaded to support an LP candidacy.

    The advantage is, these are groups not as full of conspiracy theorists, and they have a more specific, tangible goal than “freedom,” so it might be easier to get things done.

    I suspect you could also use BallotBase in the off-season to make some calls and increase membership.

  26. “The Libertarian Party is a failure. It is hurting the liberty movement. We need to quietly sweep it under the table, get rid of the ”˜political party’ notion of it and let its folks be the educational organization that they are.”

    I think you are off base here. Having a Libertarian Party with Libertarian candidates running for office is a great way to educate people. I found out about the Libertarian Party back in 1996 because of the Harry Browne for President campaign. Libertarian educational organizations already exsist such as the Mises Institute and ISIL.

  27. I’m with Don. I’ll be ending my involvement in the LP after the elections. Life’s too short (and for me, that’s not just a cute saying.)

  28. NH has more pro-liberty success outside the LPNH than in it… but an upcoming NH Supreme Court decision is (more than) likely to solve the LP ballot access problem, which they’ve spent years dealing with. That said, the same battle as elsewhere (purist/pragmatic) is going on within LPNH, with similar results as elsewhere. But with 100+ pro-liberty candidates for the House (out of 400), there will be quite a lot of ‘libertarian in all but name’ elected this fall.

  29. As a Nebraska resident, this particularly intrigues me. I live in a state where what little LP activity there is stops west of the 98th meridian and the party doesn’t answer its email.

    Dan Wilkinson told me that was just temporary while he was going through a divorce and he reassures me they are answering it now. I brought up them not having phone numbers in contact info – he said they were having too many nuts calling. I suggested an answering machine.

    Wasn’t the GOP a third party at one time?

    Yes, but they only became a major party after the Whigs collapsed.

  30. I think Seth’s first statement there says it all. Liberty -is- having more success outside of the Libertarian Party. People like Ron Paul, Rohrabacher are holding US office. Feingold is in the Senate. Whether he is libertarian by ideology or his views just happen to coincide doesn’t matter. He cast the only vote against the Patriot Act. The LP did nothing. Years later, these guys are still in office, and the LP is still at 1-2%.

    /negativity

  31. What does conservative Republican Rohrabacher holding US office do for us? About the only real vestige of his former libertarianism is Hinchey-Rohrabacher.

  32. Massachusetts _had_ a difficulty with a clique that took over the party and wasted huge amounts of money in things that left nothing behind. We had an effective set of solutions. We spoke truth to power so that the membership that was being fleeced found out what was really being ddone with their money. Actually, the most effective expose was done by a real newspaper with no internal party contacts, just a competent reporter. We formed local groups outside the party that actually did things, while the state party did not. Then we formed a parallel state organization that actually did things. Eventually the clique ran out of supporters, ran out of sycophants who blocked the normal party group from doing things and the honest and competent people who wanted an effective state party were able, last month, to take over.

    If you can’t work through, work around. It helps to have a couple of rich supporters who view a six or eight year effort as par for the course.

  33. I realize that there are a number of dead state parties, and a number whose leaders have egos that will not let them be replaced, no matter how bad a job they are doing.

    My Presidential campaign views fixing that which can be fixed as being a critical issue, part of strengthening the party town by town and state by state. Please contact me if you are interested, starting with the writer from Nebraska.

    George Phillies
    http://phillies2008.com

  34. I personally value communication with other party members around my state and the nation. Forums and email left something to be desired. IM was still a little high-tech for some of the local party leadership.

    So I looked for something that uniquely suited our party’s technical experts as well as the folks that were less comfortable with electronic trailblazing.

    I found that an old IRC channel named “#libertarian” on a network called “Undernet” was still active. It’s kind of like a text-based CB radio. Anyone can join and listen or contribute to the conversation, but it’s always there.

    People can connect with a variety of clients, or by clicking “#libertarian” on the #2 search result here:

    http://searchirc.com/irc-libertarian-1

    It’d be nice if even one Libertarian per state were accessible via IRC during most of the day. For now it’s mostly Minnesotans and Ohioans.

    Note, people who are online might be away, so be patient. :)

  35. I’ll run this one up the flag pole again.
    One of the things that would help would be to get the national LP News to review of the state parties. Set up some criteria to judge them by. Something simple such as number of new members recruited, membership retention, how often they get out a newsletter.
    I think the phrase is that a little competition never hurts.
    M.H.W.

  36. Don Wills, Timothy: Burnout and disillusionment happen. As I mention in the quote at the top of the page, I dropped out of the LP in the late 1980’s. For the next 16 years I kept an eye on it, and watched every national convention on C-Span. But, during those years I considered myself a small-L libertarian, and didn’t want much to do with the LP.

    What got me interested in the party again? Bob Smither. I was a daily reader of Reason’s Hit & Run blog, and when they posted their article about Smither’s “perfect storm” scenario, I started reading up on both him and the Texas LP. I was very impressed with the level of organization of the TXLP, and pleased to find that several other state chapters are also doing well.

    Anyway, I suppose it’s time for me to put in another round of activism. I’ll probably burn out about the same time you two become interested again :-)

    I’ll chronicle my efforts as I attempt to become involved with the MDLP. It should be an interesting ride :-)

  37. “Did the GOP have a hardcore freaking -pledge-?”

    Actually, some of us discovered you don’t actually have to check the pledge box when you sign up for the LP. I didn’t. I wouldn’t be that dishonest. I hope that this was intentional, and not just a programming glitch. We should just get the hell rid of it already, since it is already optional and a majority of the party no longer agree that rigid ideology is an effective political strategy (at least judging from the delegate vote at the last NatCon.) The old LP order fell because it failed.

    I’m in “wait and see” mode as far as my future with the party. The barriers are so high, and as Tim said, life is short. I think a new name alone would do wonders. It’d be a fresh face for a stale organization. Otherwise, I think moderates should start a BTP-esque breakoff party (positioning libertarianism as the best moderate/reformist ideology) while retaining their membership in the LP, and then eventually go with whichever works better.

  38. I dont want anything to do with that name. I want a entire new deal that represents my ideals. I dont hate government, I hate bad government, corrupt government. We need government to survive. A nation of 300 million people is not capable of being organized under mutualist goals, and even if it was, it’s not politically salable. The idea of having a political party with a politically unsaleable reason for life is just wierd.

    I can’t be a part of a political party that does not represent my ideals, and at the core the LP does not and will not. All it is doing is putting a political intent instead of a educational intent on the process it goes through. But the core of the LP is and always will be attempting to advocate a world with no government, and I have been compromising my principles long enough. Thats a 2 way street, you know. I’ve spent much effort in trying to reconcile the two, but it’s hopeless. If you’re a small/limited government constitutional supporter, it’s time for new.

  39. Nick,

    A BTP-ish party for moderate libertarians is a great idea as far as I’m concerned. I think it would be important to allow (and support) members’ ability to be involved in both LP and the “moderate LP” party (just as the BTP doesn’t get into a snit about people being involved in the BTP and the LP. Count me in.

  40. Stuart, you can do some of these suggestions (the starting a local group and branching out is effective).

    You might also want to do what I did when I became active in the LP, Kansas had no active group – some semi-active people in Wichita – I crossed state lines into Missouri and worked with the Cass County Missouri group to learn how to help the LP. Mike Ferguson, David White, Randall Langkraehr, Kevin Tull and others really are the reason I am as active (and believe effective) as I am.

    We now have good LP groups working in Topeka, Lawrence, Johnson County (Kansas side of KC), Salina, and Wichita is back to becoming an active group. You are welcome to join us to see what we are doing ”“ I would think Nebraska would be very similar to Kansas in ideology, background, and therefore fertile ground to champion the LP.

    As I have been traveling the state as our Secretary of State candidate ”“ people are ready for change and looking at the LP seriously. After the election ”“ I would be glad to help in Nebraska, help being the operative; I will not do it for you.

  41. I can’t be a part of a political party that does not represent my ideals, and at the core the LP does not and will not.

    We’ve been hearing you say that for years… yet you are still here for some odd reason.

  42. Rob, thanks for the offer, but my situation is unique… I’m a college student without a car. Anyway, Chadron’s way up north.

    But that’s a really valuable idea, because South Dakota and Wyoming both have decent LP efforts that I could check out once I have a car. But yeah, it makes sense that you have to see success firsthand to be able to replicate it.

    Chadron doesn’t really have too many libertarian activists as far as I can tell… most of them are students like me, but already way too busy with other things. Maybe if I had the time/money to run for something and make a serious effort, some sort of structure might coalesce around me if I do it right… but I’d need the aforementioned time, money and experience. :\

    Blah, too many obstacles so I’ll probably need to graduate first. But I will make this work one day, dammit.

  43. Stuart wrote –

    “But that’s a really valuable idea, because South Dakota
    and Wyoming both have decent LP efforts that I could
    check out once I have a car.”

    Bzzt. Wrong. The Wyoming LP is almost non-existent, and it requires
    the pledge for membership. The WY LP will probably maintain minor
    party status this year because they have a candidate for secretary of
    state and the Democrats don’t even bother to run a candidate. The
    only purpose of that candidate is to maintain minor party status, which
    is actually pretty easy to do in Wyoming. (I’m a resident of Wyoming.)

  44. Derrick next I need to figure out how to get national to adopt something like that.
    Chuck Moulton are you reading any of this?
    M.H.W.

  45. Along similar lines, I wonder if there is any process in place at national for dealing with dead state chapters. Maybe if a state chapter dies, a mailing could go out to all members in that state seeking an Executive Director to step up and revive it.

    Having this many lifeless state affiliates is totally unacceptable. We need an active presence in all 50 states. I think that’s a pretty reasonable expectation.

  46. I didnt know there as a swinging gate on HoT that only lets LP members in. As you already know, I was involved in a effort to bring the LP closer to my moderate beliefs before the nasty stuff got a hold on me on March 2nd this year…and I was waiting to see the campaign results for this cycle. The results are mixed, mixed enough to where I dont think further effort on my part is worth expending.

    As far as HoT, I’ll stay here, I like it here. but no more opinions bout the LP. They can do what they please. I’m a former libertarian.

  47. Tim,

    I believe the mega-party is more compatible with your beliefs, and you will feel much more at home there.

  48. maybe so. Last time I checked I was down to a 46 on the purity guage – but I wont be a D or a R so those arent options.

  49. I’m sorry to see you leave the party Tim. You were a major influence on my decision to get active in political blogging and the LP reform movement.

  50. Thanks Stu. Just wrote out my letter to Shane.

    Feels pretty good to disavow that fucking stupid ass oath. Now over to the Courthouse to change my voter reg from Lib to Ind. and mail the letter.

  51. Massachusetts _had_ a difficulty with a clique that took over the party and wasted huge amounts of money in things that left nothing behind.

    They did have some accomplishments, such as two double-digit US Senate races (including a three-way race). Also, almost passing an initiative to get rid of the state income tax, speaking to tens of thousands of people at a time at MassCann, and so on. I wouldn’t call that “nothing.”

    If every state was doing that I would say we would be in good shape.

    What’s the Mass LP doing more recently?

    A BTP-ish party for moderate libertarians is a great idea as far as I’m concerned.

    Go ahead with my full blessings.

    But that’s a really valuable idea, because South Dakota and Wyoming both have decent LP efforts that I could check out once I have a car.

    Bob Newland in SD is right near you, just the other side of the Pine Ridge rez. He’s a good guy to know. BTW I can’t make it to Chadron, I don’t think I can get a ride there…

  52. We believe that the larger needs of the majority must be placed above the individual

    lost me right there. they have it backward.

  53. Hmmm….I agree, of course.

    well, if they’re not close enough to you, I guess you’ll just have to start your own party…but I thought you were a “broad tent” type and not one to reject an affiliation due to one or two differences.

  54. Paulie: The technical word for ‘almost passed’ is ‘defeated’. Also, in Massachusetts referenda can be instantly overturned by the state legislature. As an approach to party building the income tax cut referendum (which was _not_ an LPMA project nor endorsed by the LPMA) and the senate races were useless: they generated no new contacts or donor names for the state party, because the folks running it declined to share.

    “left behind’ means that there is something there afterwards. In point of fact, the state party membership is smaller than when I first became active in 1994. The count of State Rep candidates is now +/- 1 the same as in 1996. Every single active local group in the Commonwealth cancelled its affiliation with the State Party, except mine. We were informed that if we did not make a certain bylaws change that they would revoke our affiliation for us, and did so.

  55. Well, it does sound like there are many things they could have done better, yet there are some things they did do well.

    Coming within a few points of winning a referendum like that is an accomplishment. Although it’s not the same thing as winning, coming within a few points proves winning is within possibility – if they got 10 or 20% it would be much harder to imagine a win.

    I did not know about the legsilature cancelling initiatives there. Kinda takes the whole point out of it.

    I also wonder why they never tried to take that initiative to other states. They talked about it, but so far I haven’t heard of any state trying to put anything like that on the ballot. It may be more likely to pass elsewhere.

    OTOH perhaps the taxes in Mass are so high that it made it more popular there than it would be in some states?

  56. “Paulie: The technical word for ”˜almost passed’ is ”˜defeated’. Also, in Massachusetts referenda can be instantly overturned by the state legislature. As an approach to party building the income tax cut referendum (which was _not_ an LPMA project nor endorsed by the LPMA) and the senate races were useless: they generated no new contacts or donor names for the state party, because the folks running it declined to share.”

    I talked to Carla Howell about that initiative and I remember her mentioning that the legislature could end up overturning it if it passed. She said that if that ended up happening the effect would anger everyone who voted for it and turn them against the legislature.

    Although the initiative did not pass I wouldn’t say that “the expierment” was a total failure because it did come close to passing, within 5% I believe. That’s a much higher percentage of the vote than many people predicted it would get.

  57. OK, here’s an off-topic question: What is the financial health of the national LP like these days? Have they paid their debt down and gotten into the black under Shane Cory?

  58. “‘left behind’ means that there is something there afterwards. In point of fact, the state party membership is smaller than when I first became active in 1994. The count of State Rep candidates is now +/- 1 the same as in 1996. Every single active local group in the Commonwealth cancelled its affiliation with the State Party, except mine. We were informed that if we did not make a certain bylaws change that they would revoke our affiliation for us, and did so.”

    I don’t think that this is just a “Massachusetts thing” as the LP has declined in a lot of other places as well. I think that the deeper problems are lack of outreach and internal disent within the party, particularly over the war issue.

  59. Lack of outreach is huge.

    The materials are the same out-of-date ones from the 90s.

    SG tells me he will be working on new ones. I sure hope so; I was told the same thing by someone who used to be at national in the late 90s.

    Why doesn’t national have field reps? This should be an outreach-oriented, growth-focused organization, not middle management.

  60. I agree with Tim and Don. For me, the LRC was a chance to ask the LP if they wanted to be a broad party representing the libertarian movement in general. When the oath stayed, I took that as a No. I was talked back in after the gutting of the platform, but such incisive thinkers as L. Neil Smith have suggested that I start some type of whimpertarian party.

    I intend to at least test market that route. I am playing with ideas for a party that maximizes freedom vs. minimizing government. (There is a difference! One privately owned slave trading company in the 1700s could perform as many serious human rights abuses as the Bush Administration today.)

    A few of you will like what I am coming up with. Most will not.

  61. “Lack of outreach is huge.

    The materials are the same out-of-date ones from the 90s.”

    Yeah, I’ve been in the party for a little over 10 years now and some of the same material that was being given out then is still being used. LP pamphlets and flyers should be updated and new subjects should be covered. I’d suggest the following topics: eminent domain abuse; anti-war; anti-Patriot Act & domestic spying; pro-small business owners rights.

    I’d also suggest coming out with a well produced and entertianin DVD to introduce people to the party. DVD’s can be copied at a low cost and most people are more likely to watch a DVD than read a book.

  62. That said, if you want to revive a state party, read “Dedication and Leadership” by Douglass Hyde, published by Notre Dame Press. It is an excellent manual on how to take over an organization. Hyde was a former Communist. He describes how the Communist Party was able to infiltrate labor unions and other organizations and take over. He also describes how the Communist Parties around the world built themselves up.

  63. “SG tells me he will be working on new ones.”

    Who is SG?

    “Why doesn’t national have field reps? This should be an outreach-oriented, growth-focused organization, not middle management.”

    The LP has a great product, the problem is that the marketing sucks. This is a big reason why they party hasn’t been more successful.

  64. “That said, if you want to revive a state party, read “Dedication and Leadership” by Douglass Hyde, published by Notre Dame Press. It is an excellent manual on how to take over an organization. Hyde was a former Communist. He describes how the Communist Party was able to infiltrate labor unions and other organizations and take over. He also describes how the Communist Parties around the world built themselves up.”

    This sounds like what G. Edward Griffin (noted author of “The Creature From Jekyll Island: A Second Look At the Federal Reserve”) is trying to do with an organization that he founded called Freedom Force International. Here’s the link to their site.
    http://www.freedom-force.org/

  65. It’s pretty simple – the LP is split against itself. Until this resolves itself one way or the other, neither the no government types or the limited government types will be able to do anything to advance liberty. They will simply fight each other, and the result will be more R and D BS.

    Sometimes you have to admit that you have done wrong, even when it wasnt malicious and done in good faith. The LP didnt need reformed. It needed to be left alone. What needed to happen was that the believers in limited government and the believers in no government needed to part their ways.

    The two views are not able to be compromised. I’m not willing to sacrifice my country becuase I’m too stubborn to admit I was wrong. I thought the LP could be moved into a position to take advantage of the upcoming political schizm
    sure to happen as the truth comes out about Bush and Iraq over the next few years.

  66. “I did not know about the legsilature cancelling initiatives there. Kinda takes the whole point out of it.”

    For those of you who don’t know, there’s an initiative on the ballot in Colorado this year that addresses this. Among other things, it would prohibit the legislature from changing or overturning a statutory initiative passed by the voters. To change or overturn such an initiative the legislature would have to put it on the ballot and let the people vote on it. I’m pretty sure that this is already the case in Colorado for Constitutional Amendment initiatives though.

    Petition Rights Amendment
    http://www.pra2006.com/

  67. The political space is there. Who gets there first and stakes claim to it is going to be a majority party. The LP can go back to being what it wants to be.

    The cost benefit analysis proved that “reforming” the LP is the road to failure, FOR BOTH PARTIES. I wasnt able to make that judgment before now, as all the data wasnt in. Now it is,( at least enough to make a informed decision ) and I’m done. Time for something else.

  68. Carl, “Dedication and Leadership” is great! What do you think of the Moderate Party? I think you may have told me once, but I don’t remember.

    Andy,

    I’d suggest the following topics: eminent domain abuse; anti-war; anti-Patriot Act & domestic spying; pro-small business owners rights.

    Yes, those would be just the thing.

    SG is Steve Gordon.

    If something like the PRA passed in Mass could the legislature overturn it?

    And….we need to go. Long drive ahead!

  69. Tim, Carl: I’m not necessarily urging you guys to stick around, but merely posing a question. Do you feel that the LRC has not been successful enough?

    From my perspective as someone who has been on the periphery of the LP for 15 years, it seems that the LRC has definitely changed the culture of the party. And, it seems like it still has a good bit of momentum. I understand that you didn’t accomplish all of your goals at the last convention. But, what if LRCers turn out in force at the next convention and finish the job?

    Again, I’m not pushing you guys to stick with it. You could be right that it’s a lost cause. I’m just curious to hear your thoughts.

  70. Regarding how to turn around a state party:

    http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2006/07/texas-two-step-turnaround-2.html

    Timothy West, you might look into the Reform Party. It needs help and might suit your political beliefs more closely.

    Blaming the pledge for limiting LP success is a cop out. My Texas Assistant Detractor whom I hired won’t sign it. I signed it. Big deal.

    The Texas LP was rejuvenated with the hard work of about 5 people. Smaller states can be rejuvenated by 2. Rather than show up with a chip on your shoulder, volunteer for a project and work hard. I volunteered full-time for 6 months for our 2004 petition drive. That created trust and respect.

    It helps to have thick skin. I still get called stupid almost daily. However, nobody’s as good at calling me stupid as I am: http://keepaustinstupid.blogspot.com/

    –Wes Benedict
    Executive Detractor, LP Texas
    LNC Region 6 Representative
    Travis County LP Chair
    Never Reformed

  71. Wes, on an entirely different subject, I heard James Werner coming home last night on WOAI out of San Antonio. He did well. But I think he came across as a bit stiff, and authoritative. He tried a couple jokes, but they fell flat.

    The two Hosts were impressed by his stances and honesty.

    But in the future, it may behoove the Texas LP to find candidates with a bit more sense of humor. A bit more colorful, and with “media sex appeal.”

    Not trying to be cutsy here, being quite sincere. James did fantastically on points. He gets an ‘A+’ on that score. But I think to the average listener who doesn’t want to hear about boring policy wonkish stuff, and prefers style over substance, he scored a ‘D-‘.

  72. Pauli:

    I don’t think a Moderate Party has a future. A party needs to stand for something. In particular, a new party needs to stand for something that the two major parties are not providing. You can get a moderate agenda by keeping the country divided between D’s and R’s.

    The LP had something different to offer by providing both personal and economic liberty. This had potential, but from the start the party was given a second mission by it’s membership oath: to promote an absolutist agenda that brooks no compromise. Such a position has no political legs.

    The LRC began the process of getting the LP to fully occupy the upper octant of the Nolan Chart, but let me emphasize began. The oath is still there. The party is still taking a stand on abortion. The immigration plank is unacceptable to 80+% of the population (including most who are libertarian on other issues), etc.

    Friends of mine within the LP stated they would walk if the LP oath were removed.

  73. (continued)
    Personally, I wanted to win big or walk. I don’t want to change the LP using parliamentary trickery or years of pressure. If the LP prefers to be an ideological megaphone vs. viable political party, then let it.

    Before I helped launch the LRC, my inclination was already more in favor of starting from scratch, but fellow Libertarians convinced me that the LP could be fixed. And yes, it can be, but is it worth the cost?

    I have talked with some purists who have indicated that they would be more comfortable supporting moderate libertarian political efforts that did not refer themselves as “libertarian.” They want to preserve the absolutist definition of the word “libertarian.”

    Several times I have floated alternative definitions of the word “libertarian” which encompass both the radical and moderate positions. The result has been rancor.

    So, I feel I have made my good faith offer to the LP to be a political party. I am ready to try moving on.

  74. Pauli, Derrick: The LP’s combination of personal/economic freedom did provide triangulation, but it is weak from the liberal end. We tended to draw more from the Right than the Left — at least as long as the RP was the party of people like Reagan and Gingrich.

    A more powerful combination is a mix of freedom (i.e., small government) and equality. This is the combination that put the classical liberals in power. I have field tested the ideas and found them an order of magniture more salable than straight libertarianism.

    The remaining question in my mind is who shall be the nucleus of the new movement? Disgruntled Libertarians? Georgist Greens? The Religious Left?

    I think I will try the Religious Left. It’s huge, has plenty of activists, and is ripe for redirection. Also, I can sleep better at night promoting an agenda that is more in tune with my own Christian beliefs.

  75. Carl Milsted?,

    I find your petty obsession with the pledge ridiculous. It’s such a minor thing with very little to do with success or failure. Real activists know this (or don’t even think about it ever–not on the radar).

    On the other hand, if you’ve found something an order of magnitude more salable than libertarianism, well, I’d guess you’re either just exagerating again or have re-found the status quo and will now try to re-form it into what it already is.

    –Wes Benedict

  76. Carl,

    I think you correctly identified your enemy, lewrockwell.com. It’s a website, not a political party–just like you and your reform groupies. Great places for philosophers to debate each other (or agree with each other) out of the way of real political activists.

    I find it quite easy to work around you debate club purists and reformists. Keep it up. Blogs are a great way to give you philosophers a place to play without irritating activists who get real work done.

    I must admit however, I do enjoy watching the mudslinging and getting soiled myself from time to time.

  77. “Why doesn’t the LP have any field reps?

    Does ‘money’ ring any bells here?”

    It seems to me that the reason the party lacks money is due to a lack of outreach to increase membership. It’s a vicisious cycle.

  78. Milsted _says_ he wants to draw from the left, but in my opinion his group appears to support the far right antiabortion position of the ‘no termination after viability’ Republicans.

    Perhaps I am mistaken.

  79. George, I don’t see that. The LRC website lists no position I could find. Personally, Abortion is one of those hot-button issues that we have Libertarians on both sides… and sadly, no place for a single solution that everyone can agree on. Which makes it a “no comment/policy” platform position hopefully, since it’s a lose/lose to take a side.

    What are you seeing that I’m not?

  80. Why doesn’t the LP have field reps?

    Does ”˜money’ ring any bells here?

    Bad excuse. They had enough money to have quite a large office staff before, and yet still no field reps. Why don’t they bave money? Lack of outreach – -> Lack of members – – > Lack of money.

    Carl, you missed the E in paulie

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E

    Did you actually read the Moderate Party issues page? They do have positions, and they sound a lot like yours.

    Good luck with your new party, whether it’s the Reform Party, Moderate Party, Independence Party, or whatever new name you come up with.

  81. Why doesn’t the LP have field reps? It’s expensive – life on the road ain’t cheap. I did it full-time 3 years in the early 90s. I worked cheap but expenses are a bitch.

    Set yourself up as an independent field dude. I made a tri-fold brochure and sent it to state chairs. 1st gig was the 10-week fair circuit in Maine. Then National picked me up. Reserected a few dead state parties too. They come and go. Had to start over in my home town a few times. Did LOTS of campus work. Really frustrating – a college group does super-great a few years, they graduate, you start over. But MANY of “my kids” are still active today.

    Didn’t have a car – used loaners & rentals. The last 5 I’ve owned (including the one I own now) donated by the LP or Libertarian individuals.

    Do something local first so you have a track record, then sell what works. I did quiz booths, seminars, public presentations, start-from-scratch organizing, the works. SR, track me down off list, be glad to chat about Nebraska.

  82. So whaddya want a field rep to do that can’t be done by others?

    Carl if you want an issue to get people’s attention try explaining to them that we have 270,000 plus troops scattered around the world in over 130 countries on about 700 military installation and that it cost the American taxpayer a bundle to fund this nonsense. In the years I have been using this example and that goes back to the early ’90 and for about 250 hours of outdoor time in 2001/2002 I have had one person tell that it is a goood idea
    to keep them abroad.
    I was at a booth today and explained this to one woman and she was just about in tears over the war. A man agreed with me entirely, and he is just retired from the military.

    Of course there is also civil liberties, the drug war, coporate welfare, ag subsidies, military weapons sales to foreign countries, etc.
    M.H.W.

  83. George, that’s why I’m confused, because I’ve listened as well, and with lots of public positions like:

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2005/07/18/our-interview-with-carl-milsted-part-2/

    6. Abortion””The non-initiation of force principle, which is the core of libertarianism, gives an ambiguous answer on the abortion question. Making abortion illegal does reduce a woman’s rights. However, if an embryo counts as a human, then we are talking about reducing a woman’s right to commit murder. Different libertarians come down on different sides of whether an embryo counts as human. The LP platform represent one side of the debate, which gives us appeal to only half of the libertarian movement. We need to get the abortion plank out of the platform or simply state that we are divided on this issue.

    For another example, see: http://www.lpva.com/Archives/Editorial/Milsted/20050403.shtml

  84. Seth,

    I agree that that statement can be read in different ways. It does not, for example, lead to support for the really extreme Republican position that women who procure an abortion should be prosecuted for first degree murder.

    However, it is rather difficult to find a topic on which we are not divided, and at some point ‘some people disagree so we should not take a stand’ leads to negative consequences for the party’s recognizability.

    I am perhaps relying more on things I heard while at the National Convention, and perhaps that was simply a bad sampling.

    My general position that we should run on issues that the bulk of the public cares about may appeal to some LRC supporters.

  85. Seth somewhere I ran into the question of all times. Can, or should a woman be forced to carry another individual inside her body for 9 months? Of course you could always ask if there was compensation, or not?
    M.W.

  86. MHW: My argument is pretty simple: Grant everything regarding fetus as individual… what sort of world do you end up with, where a pregnant woman loses all of her rights in deference to the life of the child? Can’t take this medicine, it causes issues, can’t do that drug, eat that food, smoke, walk too fast, etc. Essentially, and eventually: merely becoming pregnant will strip a women of all of her rights, enforced by a police state who makes sure she doesn’t endanger in any way the child inside her. That’s not a libertarian endgame, but it’s the true outcome of the hypothesis, so in order to have a libertarian endgame, you have to fall on the side of the woman. That’s my take in a nutshell. And I’ve argued with heavily pro-life libertarians who agree that I’m correct in the endgame, but aren’t logical about it and they continue to express their view ignoring what they cannot answer: the endgame results.

  87. PauliE: just read the Moderate Party web site. Doesn’t thrill me. (Guess I’m hard to please.)

    I think a definition of what constitutes sufficiently moderate is in order. To win, a third party needs to be in the ideological mainstream somewhere — but not everywhere. You can get some votes with name recognition, quality of candidate etc., but I still think you need at least 30-40% of the people in your district to agree more with your ideology than with the R’s and D’s if you want to win.

    So, I think a third party can have a platform somewhere between the 80th-90th percentile nationally and still meet this criterion. That is, an 80th percentile platform is one where 20% of the population is more radical than the platform. Since unless the D’s or R’s are directly adjacent, ideologically, we can expect another 10% or more of the voters will still prefer you even though they are less radical. Throw in district variance and you have the potential for victory somewhere.

    (con’d)

  88. Prior to 2006, the LP platform was in the 99+th percentile on the liberty scale. That is, less than 1% of the population was more radical than the LP platform. With the “gutting” of the platform, we might be down as far as the 95th percentile.


    Meanwhile, the Moderate Party is shooting for something down around the 60th percentile on two scales — if that. Boring.

    Too radical, and your on the fringe. Too moderate, and you are pointless.

    —–
    The other issue is triangulation.

    George wants to triangulate by adopting liberal ideas on abortion, civil liberties, foreign policy and the like.

    I think economic equality is a far more powerful motivator for the left.

    I have heard too many leftists defend the old USSR despite its warlike foreign policy and repressive domestic policy. But at least they had a pretence of economic equality…

  89. So whaddya want a field rep to do that can’t be done by others?

    See Joe Knight comment 95. Yeah, all this stuff can be done by others, but how much time will they have for it?

    Having to get on the ballot introduces us to the realities of needing professionals, because volunteers alone generally do not get the job done.

    In some of the better organized state parties the same can be said of office operations.

    To my knowledge, Joe was the last field rep that national actually paid to do outreach. Has any state ever done so – if so where and when?

    Field outreach should be at least as important as ballot access and office operations. That means it should be professionalized.

  90. Paulie, I’ve been trying to place you. But too many brain cells under the ol’ bridge. Contact me off list and let’s visit. I’m nm underscore libertarian at yahoo dot com. Be patient, I don’t get to do e-mail every day.

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