The First Portland Post-Mortem

First it was the pragmatists, getting angry about the pledge’s retention. Then it was purists, angry about the dumping of the pledge.

There’s been a lot of despair and hope felt by both sides. It’s been a wrenching, dramatic affair. However, if we all would just step back for a second and look at what’s been done, I think we all can be proud of what just happened.

The Libertarian Party just had a major upheaval without any major faction walking out of the party. Stop and think about that. This is the sign of a mature party-one that can handle its differences maturely and rationally. The clash between pragmatists and purists has produced much worse results than this. We set party precedent without upsetting party unity.

What’s more, I think that this has been the first truly cooperative convention we’ve ever had, where the various caucuses contribute to a greater whole instead of just taking whatever they can at the expense of the party as a whole. I’ll be the first to admit that the LRC isn’t always right. Yes, they are my “team” but we’re not the only ones with something to add. But the important thing is that both sides continue to add to the dialogue.

That’s just what we did, too. Traditionally, it’s been the hardcorest, purest-of-the-pure that’s dominated these conventions ever since Rothbard kicked out the moderates in ’81. They’re the ones presumably most dedicated to the party, or at least more dedicated to the social aspect of the party. Hence, their caucus has always tended to be over-represented at the conventions since then.

This year, we saw a concerted effort by the pragmatists to step up and take up their responsibilities in the party as well. People were dissatisfied, and instead of just complaining… they did something to change it. I think that both sides can agree that taking action to stand up for one’s beliefs is admirable.

We didn’t see one side or another dominate the debate. Even with the concerted effort by the pragmatists, Carl Milsted of the LRC went into the convention with only 15% of the delegates behind him. The rest of the LRC’s strength came through persuasion, convincing a crucial mass of neutral or purist delegates that their view is the right one. This is another victory for every Libertarian-another testament to our rationality, to our willingness to consider other viewpoints.

From there, yes the LRC did acheive a landmark overturn of most of the platform. But that’s not the only thing that happened. The purists held onto the pledge, demonstrating that not every delegate there was on one side or another-there’s plenty of middle ground, plenty of free-thinking yet in the party of free thinkers. The purists also managed to roll back the LRC’s Zero Dues a bit with an interesting reform-requiring voting members to be donors. It’s probably a wise step-ironically, I think the LRC might not have been, well, incrementalist enough in transitioning from the former cash-raising model to the newer pledge model. The purists enriched this debate, and in my opinion they definitely contributed something worthwhile, at least for now, with this act.

I think that’s how the platform’s going to go as well, in all honesty. The purists and the pragmatists will work out their kinks and collaborate to make a truly beautiful work of statesmanship. The pragmatists will see to it that the platform doesn’t weigh us down, the purists will see to it that we don’t abandon sight of our principles and go in the wrong direction.

Both sides have contributed this weekend, and I pray both sides continue to contribute. All we have to fear from more inputs and more ideals is a better party, crafted in the free marketplace of libertarian ideas.

275 Comments
  1. I cant say I disagree with any of that.

    Everybody take the rest of the week off. Then lets figure out
    how to best fight the power.

  2. Five o’clock in the morning and I’m doing this.
    I looked at the LRC website for the first time just now.I have to admit I agree with some of whatis said, but I think the platform is out of whack. Tom Knapp has an excellent point about drug courts. In another world they called these things re-education camps and I had a guy who worked for me who was sent to one and came out worse.

    And when it comes to the world wide military commitments what does this quote mean; ” reducing the overextension of our troops through strategic placement to respond to attacks and threats, and using diplomacy where possible to avoid the necessity of military action.”

    As a taxpayer and a veteran I want them all home. Rudyard Kipling, or perhaps Churchill said something to the effect,
    “old men lie and young men die.” It is no different today.
    M.H.W.

  3. Despair would imply all sorts of false assumptions.

    I’m happy it’s over and done with, and see all sorts of silver linings.

    This is the sign of a mature party-

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

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

    One which believes the whole country is the property of the state, thuse “we” must protect “our” borders.

    One which takes no stand whatsoever on most issues.

    I guess when a political party becomes “mature” is when it stops being for liberty, and no one objects.

  4. >Stuart Richards: ‘However, if we all would just step back for a second and look at what’s been done, I think we all can be proud of what just happened.’

    David Tomlin: What patronizing cant.

    You won. Go ahead and gloat.

  5. Bad tag. This was in response to Tim, “Then lets figure out
    how to best fight the power.”

  6. Mr. Wilson,

    I would say that the LRC website is not somehow the definitive statement of platform planks and such for “reformers”. Instead it is a place where ANYONE can sign up and offer planks in whatever language they like. Comments can be added and planks are voted on (and your vote can be revised later if you notice something that made you change your mind about that vote.) In other words, nothing there is set in stone and, frankly, not everyone is going to agree on everything 100%. The idea, however, is to try and reach some kind of consensus on what many feel would hopefully be better suggestions for the party platform in a pretty grass-roots manner.

    It’s not some dictator-reformer lording over what planks are the end-all-be-all of libertarian thought. Instead it seems to me it is meant to be a cooperative and collaborative effort to at least begin to reach some kind of consensus. I say if you anyone dislikes something presented on the LRC site, then feel free to (cont.)

  7. (cont.) feel free to sign up and comment on the bad planks, write planks that you feel are better, write essays to see how folks feel about whatever approach you feel would be more appropriate for the LRC to take.

    That’s what I like about the LRC so far, it’s not stuck in one particular rut, it’s a completely, openly, collaborative effort. It seems to me those who are most critical of it seem to have the least understanding of how things are done, or that they could contribute to the effort, for that matter, as long as there is at least a basic interest in the idea of incremental political change being the most polticially viable method of success.

    Again, for those who haven’t read this from me before, that does NOT mean “hiding” principles, it only means attempting to achieve raltively short-term goals in an attempt to achieve those principals. Post the principals everywhere you like, they should not invalidate incremental steps to get there.

  8. I’m going to withhold judgement until I actually READ the new platform. However, since the reformers went in with only 10-15% of the delegation, I doubt that anything was shoved down the purists’ throats. When your numbers are that small, you can only affect change by winning over hearts and minds through engagment and reason (true for LP conventions as well as the national politick).

    I just hope that all sides involved can avoid “sore winner” syndrome. Take a breather from pledge-griping for a bit (I’m a LRC’er who never had a problem with that to begin with), and accept that nobody is EVER going to be happy with the platform no matter what. Some blogging emphasis on common ground would be helpful. For instance, the new member dues paradigm that was worked out seems about perfect.

  9. Joe Magyer reported:

    ‘The votes were exceptionally close. Most of the ones that were rejected received favorable vote totals in the 44-49% range.’

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2006/07/02/joe-reports-from-portland-day-3-part-1/

    I think it would be silly for the losing side to walk out in a dramatic huff over such close votes. However, I expect that hardcore libertarians will be drifting away.

    The ‘reformers’ have won, fair and square. It’s your party now, and I sincerely hope that under your leadership it succeeds in a way that makes a contribution to liberty.

  10. What happens today at the first meeting of the LNC may well be more important for the long term health of the party than what happened and did not happen over the weekend. Hpefully we will get a glimmer of insight into whether or not this LNC is willing to get the national headquarters out of the “please fund the latest toy and/or latest emergency” mindset.

    In Texas Pat Dixon made the pitch very simple. We need a paid full time executive director and as much staff as he/she needs in order to do the basic blocking and tackling required to make progress. So far that simple approach has worked well. The Texas party now receives enough in monthly pledges to pay a competent and hard working staff and things happen. Candidate recruitment, fewer missed opportunities for free PR, organizing events for new county parties, and so forth. Nothing too fancy. Just the basics first. I hope we see this attitude percolate to the national office.

  11. I’d like to weigh in in support of one of Lenny’s particular comments. I was an LRC member for awhile. I made some platform proposals, and some of them got reasonably high levels of support.

    In theory, “incrementalism” doesn’t necessarily conflict with “purism,” if the former is treated as a tactical approach and the latter as an end-state descriptor. And the LRC initially tried to be, and advertised itself as, open to “purists.”

    The problem that I ran into with the LRC was that several of its prime movers — including but not limited to Tim and Dr. Milsted — decided to opportunistically use the LRC effort as cover for their own general assault on “purism” per se in contradiction to the LRC’s stated position on “purists.” And they did it in such a ham-handed way with their “anarchy next week” lies and such that the battle has ended up being a “purist”/”pragmatist” cage match instead of a genuine effort to move the party forward as a political entity.

  12. It is obvious the LP wants the extreme radical anarchists out. That means you, Paulie. Accept the direction of the LP or leave. I believe for every anarchist we can rid ourselves, we will pick up 1,000 new members. The numbers make sense winning elections at all levels.

  13. Tom, I think the “attacks” have been heavily misconstrued on BOTH sides of the purist/pragmatist sides of the argument. I think sometimes just the name of a poster alone seems to cloud the judgment of how someone reads what the others are saying. And sometimes one side or the other (funny how the stances we are talking about really are not that far apart, especially since all parties involved want less government) just feels that they have been “attacked” so much that no matter what the other side says it will always be construed as an attack.

    It seems to me, though, that we all really do want the same darned thing. We may disagree on how far we should go to get to that thing (minimal government) and we may disagree on the particulars, yet sometimes we are all whistling the same tune but because of the whistler we’ve blinded ourselves to that fact.

  14. I think the biggest divide is the one suggested in other postings here, that of radical as opposed to moderate policy changes. I thnk we all pretty much want the same policy in the end, it’s only a question of how we might actually achieve that end, primarily at what PACE we achieve that end, where we disagree.

    Unfortunately that seems to have brought about a lot of heated argument that I think what we are often seeing are knee-jerk reactions without really trying to dig deeper to understand the positions we all hold. To that extent I have to wonder if myabe folks, like Tom, shouldn’t reconsider looking at the LRC and consider affecting a change of attitude from within. Especially for you, Tom, since you have a very popular bully pulpit (your blog) to work from.

  15. Tom,

    I submit when you can be 12~14% of a body and have that body voting ~50% in your favor, there’s something more going on.

    I dont think you realize how different you are than your peers. You’re one of only 5 or 6 anarchists within the LP I’ve ever known who understood how politics works in any sort of manner whatsoever. If you could take all the activists who have gotten disgusted and quit over the years becuase people refused to support actual political involvement in a serious way you would literally come up with tens of thousands of people.

    Julian does not speak for me. I only want the self limiting
    anarchist mechanisms removed like the pledge. I want the politically stupid and self destructive items in the platform removed. I want people to realize that a political party has to do political things for it’s reason to exist.

    Anarchism has a perfectly valid role to play in the libertarian movement, and it should play a role. Just not a
    CONTROLLING role.

  16. Lenny,

    I can plead guilty to a lot of things, but not to letting “the name of a poster” cloud my judgment. I have considered both Dr. Milsted and Tim West friends for some time. It’s just that they were willing to sacrifice a certain amount of LRC’s credibility to their side feuds with “purists” (and especially anarchists) per se. I privately remonstrated with Dr. Milsted over that, and put off, for awhile, publicly calling him out on it in the hope that he’d knock it off, but no dice.

  17. That’s one way to spin it, but I think both sides lost and the LP will spin its wheels for the next two years fighting over the platform instead of capitalizing on wide spread voter discontent in 2006 and 2008.

    I think there are many purists who are open to pragmatic attempts at incremental progress toward libertarian principles, but they also fear that many of the reformers don’t share the same principles at all.

  18. Tim,

    You write: “I submit when you can be 12~14% of a body and have that body voting ~50% in your favor, there’s something more going on.”

    Of course there was something more going on — a lot of LRC’s proposals made sense. I’ve never said otherwise.

    As a matter of fact, some of them made so much sense that if it hadn’t been for the “anarchy next week” lies and the “anarchists have purged and/or tried to purge political types from the party” canards, the numbers might have been ~66.667% for more of the LRC’s proposals. Instead, the LRC ended up with enough support to accomplish a lot of destruction, but not much construction.

    The worst result of that, IMO, is that the LP is now officially voiceless on three or four of the four or five major public policy issues at play in this election cycle. If you think that’s “doing real politics,” I’d like to know how much you charge for access to your acid stash.

  19. Tom, I’m sorry if I implied you were the one with clouded judgement, but rather that it was commonly occuring in a lot of places, including to the gentlemen you mentioned, as in they might see a name, or what might appear to be the “same old argument”, and respond with a general tirade on what they feel like they have often been attacked on. I can understand where folks on ALL side these issues are coming from, because so many times they feel like they are just saying the same old things, which often they are, but not always by looking for the common ground.

    I certainly appreciate your entreaties to smooth the waters over. I guess I’m saying that I’m not willing to toss out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to the LRC, and certainly not with the LP, and I was rather hoping you might consider that as well.

  20. Tom sez: “The worst result of that, IMO, is that the LP is now officially voiceless on three or four of the four or five major public policy issues at play in this election cycle. If you think that’s “doing real politics,” I’d like to know how much you charge for access to your acid stash.”

    Get some sleep Tom, because this is just flat out stooooooopid. So you’re thinking that now Libertarian candidates and parties (including national) can’t say anything about taxation, or worse that’s they can get away with calling for more taxes, just because it’s not in the platform? Geez, I know you’re smarter than that.

    I said it to the LRC types and I’ll say it to you – anybody who thinks the platform is critical to getting anyone elected to anything has zero clue about how politics really work. It’s a tool, and a very weak one at best.

    Does the platform now actually say *anything* that *isn’t* Libertarian? That’s my only concern, and I have yet to hear any news indicating that it does.

  21. Lenny,

    Hey, I’m considering pretty much everything while I wait for complete hard data on the convention results, including seeing what actions the LNC takes in its meeting today.

    The party faces a number of challenges, and the convention results as I understand them have added more.

    The LP was already in deep financial trouble, and even a dramatically successful, unifying convention would not have erased that. I consider the issue of ability to operate an office and staff still very much up in the air. The real question is whether any fundraising occurred at or because of the convention which might buy the LP a few more months to get its financial house in order (and whether, if so, that opportunity will be full exploited).

    Now we have the additional problem of having publicly renounced not just our positions, but the position of HAVING positions, on the major issues facing America. (contd)

  22. Frankly, if the Portland Convention demonstrated anything it demonstrated that the Libertarian Party is still a backwater political party. Even “purists” would agree that the platform needed radical surgery, but the “reform” delegates spent most of two days hacking up the platform as if with a meat cleaver and called it progress. Face it, the platform is now in a shambles. The platform retention process was an unmitigated disaster. There is now no tax plank, for godsakes!

    Meanwhile, significant workshops on such nuts and bolts subjects as marketing strategies and campaign finance laws were under-promoted and under-attended. The national chair candidates were all asked during their Saturday night debate whether they saw a strategic role for public opinion research by the LNC and all three said NO!

    Truth be told, the NLP is still a debating club, and has a long way to go before it is an effective political party.

  23. (contd from comment 25) That outcome was not intentional — it was an artifact of incomplete victory by either side. The LRC was strong enough to get a bunch of the platform deleted, but not strong enough to replace the parts that absolutely, positively needed to be replaced (or to replace the platform with a non-specific one and create a program). The “purists” were strong enough to keep the platform from being altered in anti-libertarian ways, but not strong enough to keep it from being substantially deleted.

    But, the reasons for the problem aside, the problem still needs to be fixed. That means a national convention at the early possible time, which seems to be January 1st, and I’m not clear on whether such a convention could address the problem.

    There is one bright spot, and we have Michael Badnarik to thank for it: He adopted the LP’s entire platform as his 2004 campaign platform, and the bylaws state that (contd)

  24. Tom, I personally see the lack of ‘official position’ on these issues as a chance for some discussion for once.

    Witness George Phillies’ issues positions. When he posted some, the first thing he was told by some was that they conflicted with the LP position at times.

    Let’s see who shows up with a viable answer to these major topics in the next year… and then pick the positions that have some clear widespread support beyond libertarians, yet still within the realm of ‘libertarian’ thought.

  25. (contd from comment 27) the national campaign platform remains effective until the next presidential nomination. The LP could simply refer to its old platform, in the guise of the national campaign platform, for guidance on issues which were deleted this weekend, until the mess can be straightened out.

    I’m waiting to see is whether or not there will be significant departures from the party, or whether the various factions will stick around in force to continue the fight. Ernie Hancock’s performance in the chair race this time was much stronger than before, even with the LRC’s strength of presence. That indicates a “purist unity bloc” that could either serve as a basis for building up to the next fight, or for a new party.

    I haven’t decided on my own course of action yet, and I don’t think that that course is of great interest — I’ve never had nearly as much influence as a few people seem to think I have.

  26. Seth,

    During a political “quiet time,” it just might barely be possible to have a “discussion” on important platform points without a starting position.

    However, we are not in quiet political times. The US is in the middle of two illegal, undeclared, illegitimate wars abroad and watching the “now entering police state” sign recede in its rearview mirror, and there are creatures posing as “libertarians” who would like to see the LP support, or at least not actively oppose, those developments.

    As a matter of fact, before the week is out, you’ll see these creatures applauding the LP’s “common sense” in choosing to forego any chance of gaining the support of America’s antiwar majority by stabbing itself in the stomach repeatedly with incomplete “platform reform.” Because, you know, throwing away any chance for the majority’s support is doing “real politics.”

  27. I keep looking at the bylaws, and looking back at what happened, and looking back at the bylaws …

    … and I am soothed.

    “Each candidate seeking the presidential nomination of the Party shall provide the delegates with a copy of a proposed National Campaign Platform at least 48 hours prior to the delegates selecting the nominee. Immediately following the nomination of the presidential candidate, the delegates shall, by majority vote, ratify each plank of the National Campaign Platform, without amendment. If the convention fails to ratify any plank of the National Campaign Platform, that plank will not be used. The National Campaign Platform of the candidate nominated by the convention shall be in effect until the next presidential nominating convention.”

    Thanks to none other than Michael Badnarik, who used the whole LP platform as his NCP, the platform as it existed prior to this last weekend’s national convention is still an official statement of the party’s positions.

  28. It sure sounds like I missed an interesting convention. (A family problem forced me to cancel my trip at the last minute.) But the process apparently worked exactly as it was designed: Platform planks ought to represent a strong concensus among libertarians. If such a concensus does not exist on a particular issue, then the Platform should be silent on that issue. The LP need not take a stance on everything.

    Accordingly, planks can be removed with a simple majority vote, and the opportunity to do so is provided at each convention. New planks or amendments require a supermajority vote.

    It would have been preferable to immediately replace the deleted planks with new, better ones. But the essential first step of deleting them has been accomplished. Now LP members will have two years to forge improved planks which can command the support of a 2/3 majority at the next convention. Only core concensus positions will prevail; controversial positions will fail. I think that’s a good outcome.

  29. Have you read the part where only a ‘regular convention’ can amend the platform?

    Bylaws, Article 13, Section 1.

    Convention Rules, Rule 7, Section 1.

  30. Thomas, I don’t recall the 2004 national convention ratifying the LP Platform by majority vote on each plank, to enable it to stand as the National Campaign Platform. Perhaps my memory is failing me and we did take those votes. But absent such voting, the unratified planks cannot be used as the National Campaign Platform.

  31. Daniel,

    My recollection may be faulty, but I believe that the convention moved to suspend the rules (as any parliamentary body is empowered to do) and to ratify the national campaign platform in toto rather than plank by plank. Since it was already the party’s platform, and as such had been ratified plank by plank multiple times at multiple conventions, such a move would make sense.

  32. Just to follow up on my previous post, the official minutes of the 2004 national convention (http://www.lp.org/archives/lpnatconv2004.pdf) do not contain any record of the national LP platform (or any planks thereof) being ratified so as to constitute the National Campaign Platform. At the time nobody really thought it was necessary to duplicate the LP Platform. The convention was rather pressed for time, and there was too much other essential work to get done.

    Accordingly, there is no National Campaign Platform currently in effect.

  33. David,

    That is weird. Earlier, when I was consulting the bylaws, I could have sworn that the word “only” was not present at the end of Article 13, section 1, which is why I was confused (without that word, the bylaw COULD be construed to mean that all regular conventions had to to all regular business which must be done at a regular convention, but not necessarily that only regular conventions could do that business).

    In any case, I am satisfied. The pre-Portland platform remains intact as an official statement of party positions by virtue of being the national campaign platform, which buys the party time to do something with the platform proper.

  34. Tom,

    I disagree that a ‘quiet time’ is needed. In fact, much the opposite. If we look at the issues at hand, and candidates step forward, such as Phillies has, with a true set of “issue positions”, that is FAR better IMHO than Badnarik’s endorsement of the LP’s own platform, since we already knew the problems with such a platform. Tim’s video shows why.

    I personally welcome ANY new views. Senator Gravel is making small waves already campaigning here in New Hampshire, as the first declared Democrat for Prez 2008. His platform is filled with ideas few Democrats are otherwise discussing, such as FairTax. Personally, I disagree with lots of it, but that’s ok, he’s still pulling from a non-traditional circle, including speaking to Libertarian groups…

    Now IS the time for a leader or two to step forward, with fresh ideas, not just the standard LP platform, and make some waves… and gain true widespread support.
    (cont)

  35. As for those who might claim ‘libertarian’ status, that you feel aren’t, having the safety of a plank or 3 wouldn’t have stopped that. Now, if anything, the opposite is true: we can find an receptive anti-war majority without the baggage that some of the other planks were, and were costing us before. “Well, I agree with the anti-war stuff, but you libertarians are so out of touch otherwise, I just can’t support you”.

    Keep in mind, people like Barry Hess and Ernie Hancock aren’t going away, and neither are people like George Phillies, nor VanDyke, nor Carl Milsted, nor you for that matter. The voices of the party have been _freed_ now, to make the case on a case by case basis, by showing wide spread support for it. In my mind, this places us _ahead_ of the Democrats and Republicans, since they are already fighting over control of the party, same as here… but here, it’s now about the battle of superior ideas of HOW to make it work in the USA. Idealism second, Ideas first.

  36. Seth,

    Hey, maybe you’re right. Like I said, I’m still waiting on a lot of data from, and personal accounts of, the convention before I attempt to fully judge its effects (and make decisions on my own actions to be taken based on those effects). That’s one reason why I’m thrashing through this with y’all in comments threads.

    I like having fora like this in which to perfect arguments before rolling them out in article format. Take the National Campaign Platform thing — Dan Wiener caught a minor flaw in the argument in that the planks of the NCP were not ratified at the time designated in the bylaws. That could have been a sinker for the argument if I’d already thrown it out “formally.” Dan’s comment forced me to go to the minutes and verify that each and every plank of the NCP was, in fact, ratified in Atlanta — just out of order schedule-wise.

  37. Also, if your argument is true, the 2/3 requirement for new platform planks is overridden by the mere majority required to adopt each plank of the Presidential nominee’s platform.

    Either you’ve read something wrong, or else there’s a bylaw in dire, dire need of removal.

  38. For the life of me, I cannot understand how the LP would choose not to take a strong stance against the war. I don’t see how this can help.

  39. Kris,

    I did not say that the 2004 National Campaign platform OVERRIDES the new platform. Clearly and obviously, the new platform is, in fact, the platform of the LP.

    I’d even go so far as to say that where the platform was amended to say something different than it said in 2004, that the new language should be considered the party’s position versus the old language.

    However, where the new platform is silent (which it now is on a number of issues), there’s no reason why other LP documents which are still, according to the bylaws, in effect, should not be referenced in any attempt to speak to “what is the party’s position on X?”

    The fact that in this SPECIFIC instance, the previous platform is the document in question, is irrelevant. A resolution from the 2004 convention which had not been rescinded and which spoke to an issue not addressed in the platform would ALSO be an official statement of the party’s positions.

  40. Seth (#39): Idealism second, Ideas first.

    That’s a powerful, concise statement. I’m stealing it. :)

  41. Thomas: What about the argument that individuals running for individual offices under the LP ticket ought to be free to decide which portions of “Libertarian ideology” they care to endorse?

    Then again — we both know you and I disagree already on the issue of “hard-core libertarianism.” I won’t bait you with itemizations of that disagreement.

    I do, however, have an idea that I find disturbingly lacking in the face of all of this — what has the platform itself have to do with the principles of libertarians, that the platform defines them inherently?

    Nothing. Why not just create a formal issuance or statement of principles in a codified manner, and then keep a platform for what platforms ought to be: points for activism?

    Here’s what I’m saying: We all believe: there should be fewer taxes. That no authority figure be it government, cult, corporation, or individual, ought to have any say on what you do but you (barring mutually pre-derived consent.) Things along those lines.

  42. “Take the National Campaign Platform thing ”” Dan Wiener caught a minor flaw in the argument in that the planks of the NCP were not ratified at the time designated in the bylaws. That could have been a sinker for the argument if I’d already thrown it out “formally.” Dan’s comment forced me to go to the minutes and verify that each and every plank of the NCP was, in fact, ratified in Atlanta ”” just out of order schedule-wise.”

    Just where in the minutes were you able to verify that, Thomas? I can’t find any reference to ratification of the National Campaign Platform planks, and I searched through the entire minutes. The phrase “National Campaign Platform” does not even appear in the minutes.

    You had a nice theory, but absent some evidence to over-ride the official minutes (e.g., an audio recording) it turns out that there simply is no current National Campaign Platform. And since my personal recollection is that such ratification never took place, I doubt any contrary evidence exists.

  43. IanC on “Idealism second, Ideas first.”

    That’s a powerful, concise statement. I’m stealing it. :)

    No need to steal, use it freely, but credit me with it.
    Perhaps one day, it’ll be in Bartlett’s :)

  44. Daniel,

    The party’s platform’s planks were ratified over the course of the convention by either a majority vote (retention) or a 2/3 vote (modification), beginning, if memory serves, on Friday afternoon.

    The national campaign platform as proposed by Badnarik consisted of those planks which had, indeed, been ratified. Therefore, the national campaign platform was ratified.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  45. Ian, you write:

    “What about the argument that individuals running for individual offices under the LP ticket ought to be free to decide which portions of ‘Libertarian ideology’ they care to endorse?”

    What about it? There are some means by which some candidates can be disciplined to the “party line,” but yes, they ought to be, and ARE, usually free to endorse whatever they choose to endorse.

    The fact that candidates are free to deviate from “the party line,” on issue X, Y or Z, however, does not imply that there IS no “party line” on issue X, Y or Z, nor does it constitute an argument as to whether or not there SHOULD be a “party line” on issue X, Y or Z.

    In point of fact, I prefer that the party set very few “lines” and that it set them to current issues on an expiration basis. That doesn’t mean I’m going to pretend that that’s what it does. There are various references of record for the party’s “lines,” and I’m using a particular one because I find it congenial to my purpose.

  46. Dan,

    So are saying that a bunch of Libertarians just spent the weekend modifying a document that didn’t exist in the first place?

    If the party’s platform was not retained/ratified in 2004, then there was nothing to modify, amend, retain or delete.

    If the party’s platform WAS retained/ratified in 2004, then so was the National Campaign Platform, since the two were, in this particular case, identical.

    The only difference is that one instance of those identical platforms (the party’s platform) was up for change this year, and that the other (the national campaign platform) isn’t up for change until 2008.

  47. Come on, Tom, you know that if you were arguing on the other side you’d be shredding your theory to pieces. The LP Platform planks were indeed ratified or amended in 2004. The National Campaign Platform planks were not.

    The National Campaign Platform is specified in the Bylaws to be a separate document. Michael Badnarik proposed an NCP whose CONTENTS were identical to that of the national Platform, just to comply with the the technical requirements (but not the real purpose) of Bylaw Article 5. He didn’t really expect to win the nomination, so he decided not to undertake the effort of constructing his own proposed NCP (which would also give his opponents a target).

    But the plain wording in the Bylaws is that the NCP planks must be ratified by majority vote AFTER the nomination of the Presidential candidate. That wasn’t done. You don’t get to pick and choose which portions of Article 5 are valid. If an NCP existed as per Article 5, then it had to have been ratified as per Article 5.

  48. It is obvious the LP wants the extreme radical anarchists out. That means you, Paulie. Accept the direction of the LP or leave. I believe for every anarchist we can rid ourselves, we will pick up 1,000 new members. The numbers make sense winning elections at all levels.

    Julian, we NEED those anarchists. We need anyone and everyone who wants more freedom in their lives. Regardless of intra-party quarrels, we need them.

    Also, some of the most prominent, most sensible voices in the LP are anarchists. Stephen Gordon and Thomas Knapp both support it, but they’re hardly dragging the party down. If anything, they’re major assets.

    We do need the anarchists, the purists, the pragmatists; anyone and everyone who believes in greater freedom belongs in this party.

  49. Dan,

    “Come on, Tom, you know that if you were arguing on the other side you’d be shredding your theory to pieces.”

    Well, yes, I would be. But I’m not arguing on the other side, am I?

    Right now, I’m looking for reasons not to write the LP off as a lost cause or tell others that they would be right to do so. I’d like to have better reasons, but this one will do for the moment.

  50. The purists are a millstone around the party’s neck. Every time the LP tries to do real politics, those nutball tinfoil-hat-wearers snipe and nitpick, airing the party’s dirty laundry, stabbing realistic libertarian solutions in the back. They don’t want the party to succeed. They just want to be big fish in a little pond, where they can parade their loony ideas without feeling marginalized.

  51. Tom, even if your argument flies on technicalities, it just isn’t convincing to insist that the LP ‘really’ stands behind the things it just explcitly repudiated.

  52. It’s important to have purists (and anarchists) in the party as a flavoring, but not as the dominant majority. The end result of that is that the party stops functioning as what it is supposed to be:

    a real-world (non-theory) attempt to govern a country.

    If you look at those words, it’s quite clear why having purists and anarchists in charge will never work.

    The purists are all about theoretical answers. I’ve seen otherwise rational purists decide to pick purist arguments at the worst times, taking on goals that they had no hope of winning, and in fact, they harm their end cause, because they end up looking like they don’t care about people, children, the eldery, etc… so they lose more and more of those who support them 80% of the time.

    As for anarchists, if you ask anarchists to work together with others toward a goal of governing a country, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out well… wrong people to ask, wrong job for them.

  53. Stuart — in face, I agree with your statement about needing purists and anarchists entirely. What we do NOT need are people who have fallen to the “cult of Freedom” as I put it.

    Stephen Gordon certainly *IS NOT* one of them. Tom Knapp… I’m not too sure about, but at least he’s a reasonable guy. >:)

    What am I referring to when I speak of the “cult of Freedom”? Rothbardians, Randians, Objectivists, (some) anarchists… WLA ideology members… “purists” — not all, but there’s a theme here — and anyone else who falls under this category:

    Ideology first, Ideals second. This forum seems remarkably lacking in said individuals — might be why I frequent it. :)

    Too many people are caught up in the fight against *government* and do not understand that freedom is more than just the absence of government.

    Authority, be it government, ideology, society, or what-have-you, must have limits on its influence upon the individual.

    Without, there is no freedom.

    (cont’d)

  54. The only scenario in which there is absolute freedom is when one is absolutely uninvolved with any other party. The instant you take that first step of living in a group of people, of interacting with others, you loose a certain amount of freedom. Even if it *is* merely loosing the freedom to rape, murder, pillage, steal, and commit other ‘dastardly deeds.’

    Too many people are fixated on this idea of “Freedom is an either/or On/Off proposition, and we can’t have freedom unless there is no state.”

    I have heard some anarchists describe the “perfect libertarian society” … and frankly, it’s repressive, controlling, and, well, evil.

    It is a society where all people must remain in lock-step ideologically speaking, where there is no room for dissent.

    This is NOT freedom. Freedom is the capacity to do as you see fit with your own person and self. If you wish to be libertine, be libertine. If you wish to be stoic, be stoic.
    (cont’d… again… sorry!)

  55. The greatest mistake of the Libertarian Reform Caucus is that its goal is not to produce correct and accurate planks, but instead to create appealing planks. In a system where everything is voted on and compromised, this is the inevitable result.

    Compromise has no place in a party of principle, but it is the key value of the LRC. Stuart (and LRC supporter) demonstrates how important compromise is to him. First, he claims that the party is more “mature” now that it has outgrown its idealism. He applauds the “various caucuses [contributing] to a greater whole,” and hopes that “purists and the pragmatists will work out their kinks and collaborate to make a truly beautiful work of statesmanship.” Even as a supporter of the LRC, he claims that the “LRC isn’t always right” either. Clearly Stuart is a man of compromise, and in this post, he triumphs in the compromise of our party’s principle.

  56. The only argument that Stuart and his camp can offer is that voting requires compromise, and they are right. However, the purpose of our party was to outline the principled, unadulterated truths that are the very core (hence, planks) of our identity. Our candidates were to be grounded in our party’s principle, and offer incrementalism as the means to liberty’s end. This is no longer the case.

    When determining planks, the LRC effectively looks first at what the public finds appealing, then at what the true and (therefore) rational plank is, and attempts in find a middle road. In doing so, the LRC has whored the LP to public perception. I hope that the fucking idiots on the network news give you attention now, as that’s what this is all about.

  57. (cont’d)

    The model proposed by many is one where self-restraint is the mode of the day — where ALL must agree that there be no state. Because anyone who thinks *any* centralization is better — ever — is advocating force, is using force, must be expunged.

    I wish for freedom. *REAL* freedom. And if that means there must be a Universal Law, to protect individuals from the ideological enslavement of soceity, then so be it.

    Fundamentalism — in ANY form, **INCLUDING** Fundamentalistic Libertarianism!!! — is the god of all enemies to freedom.

    In the LP as a body, I say this is so for a reason most deceptive; if it doesn’t create absolute freedom *now* it’s fascist or statist, say they.

    Mr. Knapp, Mr. Gordon, the examples given before… both want real change and know how to make it happen. Incrementalism vs. Absolutism is a facetious debate. Try, rather: “Pick battles you can win; knit at the Gordian Knot. Unravel the power of ‘Authority’ one step at a time.”

    (End)

  58. The problem with an anti-war position is that there is a large group of Libertarians who come to the party by way of Boortz & Co. who wholeheartedly endorse the war.

    The problem with impeaching Bush is, after the Clinton impeachment, the process is viewed as nothing more than a partisan political ploy to injure a faction’s election chances. There is an argument to be made that calling for impeachment will undermine, not strengthen, our nationwide election hopes.

    Any issue we can’t unite on needs to be left out of the platform until and unless we can unite on a position. I’m firmly pro-impeachment and anti-war in Iraq (pro-war in Afghanistan, if we’d only commit sufficient forces to make taking bin Laden and the Taliban leadership a possibility). Nonetheless, I can see easily how this party can divide on these and other issues… and when there’s no common ground, the platform must be silent.

  59. The problem I see with the pragmatists version of incremenatalism, is that it seems to assume that a candidate can control what he talks about. But candidates have to respond to questions.

    I say ‘respond’, not ‘answer’, because a candidate can evade actually answering a question. But an evasive response is still a response, and carries its own consequences.

    So, after pragmatist Candidate P talks up medical marijuana in an interview or town meeting, a reporter or a voter says: ‘Even conservatives like William F. Buckley and Thomas Sowell think the war on hard drugs has failed, and even hard drugs should be legalized. What do you think?’ Shall Candidate P now vigorously affirm that hard drugs must continue to be illegal, and defend that position against tough questioning?

  60. “Fundamentalism ”” in ANY form, **INCLUDING** Fundamentalistic Libertarianism!!! ”” is the god of all enemies to freedom.”
    – IanC

    Ian, perhaps I am just confused in your terminology, but here is my question: if freedom is the goal, how can the most stringent proponent of freedom (what I believe you are calling a libertarian fundamentalist, and what I consider myself to be) be an enemy to freedom?

  61. DAP,
    To correct you, we did submit many alternative platform planks to the Platform Committee. In fact, I wrote/compiled an entire platform that’s about half the size of the old platform, but covering all the bases. It can be found on the site, front page. However, the Platform Committee so butchered anything we submitted to them by moving it away from the original wordings to fit their own means that we did not have a chance to get better wordings in. Furthermore (I was not at the convention) but I assume that by the time they got to floor motions there was no room to really propose anything new. In reality I think they needed more time for debate to come up with something complete. This is why it is bittersweet to me that the LRC was successful at removing some of the offending planks but unsuccessful at getting better replacements – alas, it is hardly our fault other than the fact we should have been better organized – and will be in 2008.

  62. And to answer your comment #67, a radical libertarian can be an enemy to freedom if the way he or she is advocating more freedom is convincing everyone else that they are an idiot/lunatic/fanatic/etc. or making everyone else (even other libertarians) feel so uncomfortable with their not meeting his/her “freedom standards” that everyone find the person to be an intolerant, elitist and unpragmatic prick and begins to disdain his message…

  63. If the major parties took Kris Overstreet’s advice, neither would have a position on abortion.

  64. David- candidates can’t control what OTHER people say. They can only react to it- and usually that means damage control.

    In your hypothetical above, what happens if (to use some of the 2004 platform’s worst examples) the reporter asks, “You don’t mention in your campaign platform that your party calls for the repeal of all regulations on nuclear power- supports the right of the individual to own tanks, bombers and nuclear weapons- calls for the total devaluation of the dollar and default on the national debt, and advocates the right of states to secede from the Union- a right last claimed by the Confederacy in an attempt to preserve slavery. How do you reconcile these planks to your own stated positions?”

    No matter how the candidate answers, the damage has already been done. The viewers will not remember the answer- only the question.

    Let’s not give our enemies any more ammo than strictly necessary, hm?

  65. Thank you, Kris. That’s an excellent example of an evasive, non-answer response.

  66. I wish no party DID have a position on abortion.

    That said, the Dems and Repubs HAVE taken their positions. The Democrats have gone pro-choice, and have nailed down the 30% of the population who favor abortion rights, always, no matter what. The Republicans have gone pro-life, and have nailed down the 30% of the population who oppose abortion, always, no matter what.

    That leaves us with the 40% in the middle, who are sick to death of the whole thing and wish it would go away.

    The Libertarian Party is not now, nor is it ever, going to get the vote of any voter for whom abortion is THE issue. Those people have their parties. We can only hope to draw a few such people from both parties on other issues. If we choose one side, we lose all hope of persuading the other side… and when we choose any side, we lose the disaffected middle.

    The 2004 plank, which tried to look both ways, cost us the votes of ALL sides. Silence would be a definite improvement.

  67. David: Okay, to put it in terms simple enough for anyone to understand:

    “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and eliminate all doubt.”

    There is nothing in any Libertarian principle that says we are not permitted to SHUT UP once in a while.

  68. So, if the candidate is asked the question, he should just say right out, ‘I’m not willing to answer that question’? Or should he literally say nothing while the uncomfortable silence draws out?

  69. depends if it’s a fucked up position like ‘ending all taxation’ or not. :D silence is damn sure better than that, no matter how long it is.

  70. Kris,

    “The problem with an anti-war position is that there is a large group of Libertarians who come to the party by way of Boortz & Co. who wholeheartedly endorse the war.”

    That is, indeed, a problem. We obviously disagree on the nature of the problem, however. I’ll spare you my lengthy critique of the idea of bending the Libertarian Party into the comfort zone of Lester Maddox’s former speechwriter turned second-rate, anti-American, anti-freedom talk jock, though. That’s been covered elsewhere.

    Ian,

    Apart from the patently false “demanding anarchy next week” meme which has really been catching on among “reformers” lately, and my “reasonableness” aside, I probably fall well within the parameters of your “cult of freedom” description.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  71. I remain flabbergasted at the level of rhetoric about the party platform. Yes, the old platform needed work, and lots of it. But at the end of the day this debate is all so much ado about not very much.

    Nobody has any reliable evidence of the public impression of the LP or its platform. ALL of the examples I have seen so far are anecdotal. There has been, in fact, no scientific research whatsoever on the impact of the platform. Meanwhile the polls that have been done show that somewhere between 16% and 20% of the electorate are small l libertarians, yet only 2% of them self-identify as such.

    But does anybody care? Nope. Does anybody want to figure out how to galvanize that 14+% into action? Nope. Instead, we are entreated to arguments about whether the “purists” or the “pragmatics” have a better handle how to market the party. Can you imagine if Microsoft did business this way?

  72. Richard said: But does anybody care? Nope. Does anybody want to figure out how to galvanize that 14+% into action? Nope. Instead, we are entreated to arguments about whether the “purists” or the “pragmatics” have a better handle how to market the party. Can you imagine if Microsoft did business this way?

    I for one will wait until the platform is printed, and I have an opportunity to evaluate the content thereof, before I will state ANYTHING concerning the merit of the document. THIS is a logical approach and how RATIONAL people deal with change. You are correct, a business could not function on this level.

    However, when looking at Hancock and Co. fail is in the assertion that “We,” the party, should not participate in electoral politics because it is a system “we” loathe. What then is the purpose of a political party? This is not a think tank, and this certainly is not a philosophical debating society. If Hancock et.al. wish not to participate in politics, then they shouldn’t.

  73. Politics is not a rational process. Not only do voters vote for all sorts of non rational reasons, they abhor reason and logic in elections. Libertarians cant understand this and wind up calling them stupid and sheeple.

    But until you get solid libertarian majority districts, you either appeal to them for their votes using tactics that they will vote for or you sink like a stone.

  74. However, when looking at Hancock and Co. fail is in the assertion that “We,” the party, should not participate in electoral politics because it is a system “we” loathe. What then is the purpose of a political party? This is not a think tank, and this certainly is not a philosophical debating society. If Hancock et.al. wish not to participate in politics, then they shouldn’t.

    If you’re referring to Ernie Hancock et al, aka the Arizona crew, then you’re seriously misstating the case. Ernie and Barry Hess and lots of other Arizona people run for office, lobby politicians, and generally participate in electoral politics. IMHO, they are the best argument against the assertion that one cannot by purist and political.

  75. DAP: Why is the fundamentalist libertarian the enemy of freedom?

    Two (but not only two) reasons;
    1) Fundamentalists accept nothing but absolute purity. 100% of the time. 100% absolute liberty or bust — is a recipe to defeat any and all measures to create real, actual freedoms.

    2) Fundamentalism by definition denies the possibility of other answers or visions. Far too many fundamentalist libertarians would have NO impingements on freedom — even if said impingements might just INCREASE overall freedom for everyone. You question how this is possible? Take the existance of the police. Free-marketers would have the police function carried out solely by contractors — whom would have NO ability to act upon those with whom they have no contract! So if you are being robbed by some criminal… only *you* would have the right to defend yourself. That’s the NIFP in extremity.

    This relegates the majority of the population to fearful peons of a few willing criminals. And I’m outta space. :)

  76. ‘Free-marketers would have the police function carried out solely by contractors ”” whom would have NO ability to act upon those with whom they have no contract!’

    Cite?

    That’s not the position of David Friedman, the anarcho-capitalist writer with whom I am most familiar.

  77. Regarding post #60

    I never knew that “pragmatic” libertarians considered any fan of Rand or Rothbard as members of “The Cult of Freedom”. Hmm so if someone reads lewrockwell.com and enjoys it — they are considered a fanatic nutjob?

    It is my belief that Austrian Econ and lewrockwell.com have done more to promote and inspire freedom in today’s youth(and adults) than any chicken-hawk has or is capable of.

    I’m a paleo-libertarin, Rothbardian, Lew-Rockwell reading woman.

    Sometimes doing what is right is not pragmatic or popular and does not reach out to “moderates”.

    But the lesser of evil is still evil – remember that.

  78. Nicholas Sarwark said: If you’re referring to Ernie Hancock et al, aka the Arizona crew, then you’re seriously misstating the case. Ernie and Barry Hess and lots of other Arizona people run for office, lobby politicians, and generally participate in electoral politics. IMHO, they are the best argument against the assertion that one cannot by purist and political.

    “While content to focus my efforts at home in Arizona I have become increasingly aware of those with a great desire to be a “respected member” of the very system we oppose. The claim that one needs positions of power in order to free individuals is very troubling. ”

    http://www.rationalreview.com/content/13871

    I would NEVER promote this man to a position of authority. His words, not mine. What “system” do we oppose? The Republic? Electoral politics? Voting?…..
    There is much to be learned in his diatribe.

  79. Contractors and volunteers. Doncha think that some Good Samaritanism would be good for public relations?

    No LEGAL DUTY to act doesn’t imply any prohibition on acting. “Everything that’s not allowed is forbidden” is totalitarian, not anarchist.

    Even our current tax-funded guardians have no legal duty to act. And we’re their fearful peons with no de facto right to resist.

    “Fundamentalist libertarianism” is a canard. Anybody who couldn’t stand to deal with incrementalism has already left, or never joined. Your fundamentalist is a straw man.

  80. Thomas,

    I am a founding member of the LRC, and I’ll be upfront – I adamantly oppose purism when it gets to the point of interfering with the achievement of the very goals the “pure” claim to hold so dear. I have always held this, publicly. I’ll be honest that I even tried to stop the LRC from writing on the “Who We Are” page “We are…(among other things) anarcho-capitalists who realize that to eliminate government, we must first shrink it.” I felt like it would cost us more members that it would gain us. However, the other members felt like there was enough pragmatic anarchists out there to merit its addition, especially Carl Milsted. If we in some way misrepresented ourselves and did not welcome you when you truly advocated incrementalism in the interim, I apologize. On the other hand, I would say most of our members are moderate libertarians, and perhaps the disproportion led to some level of “ganging up” on people who advocate long term policies they disagree with. (cont.)

  81. “Nobody has any reliable evidence of the public impression of the LP or its platform. ALL of the examples I have seen so far are anecdotal.”

    I do… http://boards.billmaher.com/showthread.php?t=47300

    GET, OUT, OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. That goes for all you people continuing to waste time here trying to refine your debating skills. I know you all would like to reach the 100 post mark here, but wouldn’t your energy be used better elsewhere?

    These people have the right idea…
    http://forum.freestateproject.org/index.php#8

  82. (cont.) If you felt we were intolerant to you, I am sorry to an extent – perhaps we are venting frustration in a party that is widely intolerant to us, where many purists and anarchists accusing us of basically being devils in libertarian clothing, worse than the statists because we are corrupting a message of purity by advocating incrementalism, prioritization and recognizing political realities. It is rather relieving to be around people who have some grasp of political reality for once. I don’t know what the specific issues were that you felt you were not treated well on, but I do know other “radical” members who are dear friends to me and who have greatly contributed to our cause. So please don’t write us off because of whatever that incident was. Thanks.

  83. “So, if the candidate is asked the question, he should just say right out, ”˜I’m not willing to answer that question’? Or should he literally say nothing while the uncomfortable silence draws out?”

    No. The point is that WE, as a party, should not be saying the things that allow the question to be asked in the FIRST PLACE.

    Variants on that question, of course, are asked of Democrats and Republicans. “Your party supports abortion/school vouchers/whatever- what do you think of that?” The difference between them and us is twofold: first, THEY do not demand absolute purity to a perfect anarchist ideal; and second, THEY choose positions, even on a national level, which will have substantial minority or even majority support.

    We, on the other hand, drive off everyone who isn’t Simon-pure Randian, Rothbardian intellectual anarchist. We deliberately choose positions so extreme virtually every voter is repelled.

    Is this WISE?

    NO.

  84. Kris, if you re-read comment 66, you will see that in the hypothetical scenario the question did not presuppose anything said by the LP ‘as a party’. It presupposed only that the candidate advocated medical marijuana.

  85. I think I need to clarify something. In comment 66 I was talking about how a candidate might handle an issue. I didn’t say anything about the platform. Kris Overstreet keeps wanting to make that comment about the platform, but it wasn’t.

  86. “No LEGAL DUTY to act doesn’t imply any prohibition on acting. “Everything that’s not allowed is forbidden” is totalitarian, not anarchist.”

    I offer in return a truism which anyone who’s organized any endeavor- an employer, a volunteer organizing an event, etc.

    “That which is not mandatory will not get done.”

    Private police will protect those contracted with their company, and NO ONE ELSE, because they’re not getting paid for the extra work. In fact, the odds are that their employers would FIRE them for trying to protect non-contracted persons- why should anyone get their product for free?

    As for volunteer and militia law enforcement, I point you to vigilance committees and lynch mobs for my opinion of THAT suggestion.

  87. The general idea the LRC had, especially regarding abortion, but other areas as well, would be that the party would not take a stance, giving candidates the ability to support whatever stance they believe. It also gives the party a degree of variation and flexibility so it can appeal to different constitutencies. The South is an ideal place for the LP to recruit (heck, everywhere is), but it’s tough to sell a pro-choice party in the Bible Belt, where many of our candidates from that area probably will be pro-life and thus might actually stand a chance of getting elected if they are not bound to a rigid national party structure. Its a rather simple concept really and very libertarian in principle!

  88. David,

    Your point was on pragmatists, and on the LRC. As such the platform is valid re: 66.

    However, if you want it to stand alone, the candidate should stick to his platform, and NOTHING ELSE, no matter what. EVERY candidate should do this. It’s called “staying on message.” Candidates who can’t stay on message, who allow reporters and opponents to draw them into battles not of their own choosing, get into trouble VERY quickly.

    If I were that candidate, my answer would be, “I think total drug legalization is an idea whose time hasn’t come yet. Let’s make marijuana legal for medical purposes and see how that turns out before we start talking about that.”

    If pressed: “I think we need to make medical marijuana legal and analayze the effects on society before we can make any informed decision on the overall war on drugs. First things first.”

    The problem is, with the 2004 War on Drugs plank our candidates have trouble doing that. We’re sabotaging them.

  89. In the last days before the election, Stewart (GOP) mailed out postcards to every home in the district accusing McBride of supporting drug legalization, abolition of public education, and repeal of zoning laws.

    Ultimately, Stewart finished with 3,110 votes (51%); Scarborough ended with 1,790 (29%), and McBride took 1,196 (20%). It was the best vote ever for a Libertarian in Virginia in a three-way partisan race, breaking the previous record of 15%, set by Paul Gagnon in a campaign for the Fairfax County, Virginia Board of Supervisors in 1991.

    There’s so many stories of our andidates being attacked by the old platform I could never list em.

    Anyway, fuck all this shit. How are we gonna get results like McBride got in VA for our candidates in 2006?, now that we’ve made this opposition tactic much harder to pull off?
    tactic harder to pull off and they might have to actually

  90. Umm, can someone fill in some blanks for me with this “national campaign platform (NCP)” business? If I’m understanding this correctly, the LP picks a Presidental nominee every four years… and then proceeds to tell him which of his positions he is and is not allowed to run on? Call me nuts, but isn’t that why you have a primary in the first place?!?

    Don’t nominate someone if you don’t feel they take the best positions. What happens if the media asks him a question about a position that you “line-item vetoed” out from under him? Does he defy the party (and face what consequences exactly?), or does he blatantly “flip-flop” on it? I have to be missing something here, this seems really dumb.

  91. Mr. Tunstall,
    While Ernie’s article stands or falls on his own merits, you should tread carefully before making claims that his approach is doomed to failure. Additionally, you might read his bio and note that he has run for office no fewer than eight times.

    I’m sure you have good arguments for your view of where this party should go, but you’re misrepresenting Ernie Hancock.

    Yours truly,
    Nick Sarwark

  92. Rob D said: “Nobody has any reliable evidence of the public impression of the LP or its platform. ALL of the examples I have seen so far are anecdotal.”

    I do”¦ http://boards.billmaher.com/showthread.php?t=47300

    This is not reliable evidence – this is unscientific and anecdotal. Does anyone here believe that the RNC or the DNC is relying on Bill Maher’s message boards instead of polls and focus groups?

    This message board shows only a couple of common misperceptions about libertarians by people who don’t really even understand the issue. This is why it is important for LP activists to be able to have rational discussions with people to explain issues – as opposed to talk radio style pissing contests and as opposed to abondoning positions because some people don’t already agree.

    I’d suggest that all these folks who talk about “doing real politics” need to learn how to do real politics.

    Badnarik’s campaign understood the value of polls and tv ads. Too bad LPHQ doesn’t get it

  93. KO: “That which is not mandatory will not get done.”

    So volunteers and charities are mythical??

    KO: “Private police will protect those contracted with their company, and NO ONE ELSE, because they’re not getting paid for the extra work. In fact, the odds are that their employers would FIRE them ….
    As for volunteer and militia law enforcement, I point you to vigilance committees and lynch mobs for my opinion of THAT suggestion.”

    I’m saying, THEIR EMPLOYERS might like the good public image that a little pro bono work provides. Lawyers do it. Why not free-market police? “We protect the poor (at least sometimes). We can help you too. Plan ahead.”

    PBS gets a lot of voluntary contributions.

    And who’s paying you to post your pearls of wisdom here?

  94. So, if the candidate is asked the question, he should just say right out, ”˜I’m not willing to answer that question’? Or should he literally say nothing while the uncomfortable silence draws out?

    This type of question comes up frequently in arguments to justify reducing or modifying the platform, pledge, statement of principles, etc.

    All candidates of all parties get asked uncomfortable questions. All candidates of all parties should have 3-5 signature issues they are running on.

    If you’re running for public office, you should be able to take any uncomfortable question and answer it in such a way as to come back to one of your core campaign issues. If a particular uncomfortable question stumps you (we all get stumped sometimes), compose an answer to it later that night and practice it.

    Reducing the size of the platform will give your opponents fewer sticks with which to beat you, but the pre-Portland platform had very little that a skilled candidate couldn’t deflect.

  95. KO: Vigilantes get a bad rap. Yes, some of them go too far, but many don’t. Certainly the public schools don’t want you to know anything good about them. They want you to good little sheep and trust the monopoly tax-funded police that you have no control over.

    Like drug dealers, etc., the gentle ones have a harder time surviving, because none of them can go to the monopoly police or general public without fear of being punished themselves.

    I agree that any organized group of violence-wielders, even in defense, will have a tendency to be more extreme than any normal individual would be on his own.

    But if we sanction self-defense at all, we must allow people to organize others to add to their defense, through pay or persuasion, not only the “legitimate” state.

  96. Okay. Enough is enough. If I go out this year and do a booth for our candidates I am still going to tell them we are against the War in Iraq and when it comes to the war on drugs “You may not agree with legalization so can we talk about the impact of asset forfeiture, or how about prisons, or no-knock entry and unintended victims of police shooting, etc? And I guess if the candidates don’t like they will tell me to stop. And I really won’t be too concerned about the faiure to get a resolution out on the War because the LP has not made itself clear on the issue of foreign deployment of U.S. troops. We don’t even have a damn flier on it. It goes to a simple thing I learned years ago at work. BE CLEAR about what you are saying.
    M.W. who is changing his name to K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid

  97. This thread has unraveled in so many different directions!

    Is there some web-enabled way to diverge it?

  98. >Ken Overstreet:

    If I were that candidate, my answer would be, “I think total drug legalization is an idea whose time hasn’t come yet. Let’s make marijuana legal for medical purposes and see how that turns out before we start talking about that.”

    If pressed: “I think we need to make medical marijuana legal and analayze the effects on society before we can make any informed decision on the overall war on drugs. First things first.”

    David Tomlin: At last, actual answers. Thank you.

    I once read a column by Ann Coulter in which she complained about her state LP declining to nominate her for something. She used the ‘talk about it after X’ straddle, saying ‘we can talk about’ drug legalization after the welfare state is abolished. Her argument was that welfare encourages drug addiction.

    In this case I thought it was quite unconvincing. I had little doubt that Coulter considered legalization out of the question and was using the straddle to avoid saying so.

    (Con.)

  99. The LP used to be clear on most things.

    Maybe this schizophrenia is a sign of success, but still troubling.

  100. yes, KRIS Overstreet’s answers to those questions are actually reasonable. I know that some prominent LP candidates have made similar statements and not hurt their reputations by it.

  101. Oh, ick.

    If the LP ever nominates Ann Coulter for anything I’ll probably leave.

    She’s an opportunist and a hater. She’d probably be happy to destroy us.

  102. McBride did pretty good getting 20% in a three-way race in Northern Virginia, but Robert Dean got 43% in a three-way race in Virginia Beach. Maybe the folks in Virginia Beach want drugs legalized, public education abolished, and zoning laws repealed.

    http://www.lpva.com/Archives/News/2004/20040505dean.shtml

    He did it the old fashioned way – campaigning hard and a long record of community service (not the court imposed kind). His issue was local taxes.

    Would he have won if the LP platform had been redacted of any issues anyone could possibly disagree with? We’ll never know because no polls were taken other than the one on election day.

  103. Nicholas said: While Ernie’s article stands or falls on his own merits, you should tread carefully before making claims that his approach is doomed to failure. Additionally, you might read his bio and note that he has run for office no fewer than eight times.

    I’m sure you have good arguments for your view of where this party should go, but you’re misrepresenting Ernie Hancock.

    How am I misrepresenting him? I have stated what I interpret through his article. He equates the electorate to a “mob.” If you want to know what I truly believe, hit my blog (http://www.kdtunstall.com/index.php?itemid=9#more). I do not support either his mindset or Carol Moore (who spammed every message board this morning demanding secession) for that matter.

    If we are to be a political organization, we better begin acting like one and STOP offending the electorate. How can you expect the electorate to support the LP when loose cannons offend voters at every opportunity? It is an indefensible position.

  104. (Continued from 109)

    How convincing the straddle is depends on the candidate’s record, and how good he is at ‘faking sincerity’. Even the best candidate won’t convince everyone.

    The straddle also opens the candidate to attacks for being (in this case) ‘soft on drugs’.

    There is also a more subtle problem. Many, perhaps most, voters think not so much ‘on how many policy positions do we agree?’, but ‘is this candidate like me, sharing my values and concerns, understanding of my problems, etc.?’ Some of those voters will be lost to anyone who won’t take a strong anti-drug stand when asked.

    The bottom line is you’re probably right. Some version of the straddle may be the best that can be done by a candidate trying to appeal to the mainstream without alienating a libertarian base.

  105. Tom Blanton said: “Would (Robert Dean) have won (in Virginia Beach) if the LP platform had been redacted of any issues anyone could possibly disagree with? We’ll never know because no polls were taken other than the one on election day.”

    He is spot on. Both sides of this platform debate are making incompetent arguments, because neither side has any scientifically defensible evidence that shows what the general public thinks about the LP. Indeed, from the scientific evidence we do have we must conclude that roughly 98% has no idea what the LP stands for.

    Meanwhile, none of the major media decides who gets invited to televised debates on the basis of their party’s platform. Instead, they look at such things as poll results, campaign fundraising, prior offices held.

    But does anybody worry about meeting this criteria? Nope. It’s all about arcane philosophical points that only MENSA members could ever care about.

    WAKE UP folks!

  106. FWIW, here’s my take. I was there. I caucused with the LRC. I think the pledge should be tossed; I think the words “cult of the omnipotent state” should be removed from the SOP. Neither happened. I don’t forsee them happening in 2008 or 2010.

    The only reason that 40 platform planks disappeared was a once in a lifetime accidental intersection of several conditions. First, for many reasons, there were only 300 delegates there. Second, there was barely a consensus (50% – 60%) among the delegates that many of the planks needed to be overhauled. In several state delegations, there was a general agreement to vote NO – do not retain any planks. There rationale was to give extra weight to those who actually bothered to go through 63 lines on the ballot. (You could vote NO to retain none with a single check mark.) These were not just reformers – they were veteran moderates, twenty-something radicals, reformers and purists. It was a unique situation that won’t be repeated. (cont)

  107. The convention deleted the bylaws calling for the National Campaign Platform (and the Program), so whether or not the old platform was adopted as the National Campaign Platform in 2004 is now a moot point.

    However, the Statement of Principles remains unchanged, which means the LP can continue to speak out on ANY issues, just as it has always been able to do on issues not addressed in the platform.

    I agree with the comment made that the platform planks that will be adopted in 2008 will have to represent consensus positions within the LP, or they won’t be able to attract the support of at least 2/3 of the delegates. I believe that in the long run, this will result in a better, more effective platform that neither resembles the platform just deleted, nor the vision of the reformers. People of good will on all sides need to work together to draft a platform that ALL Libertarians can proudly support.

  108. This method of tossing out planks en masse has *never* been successfully used to remove a single plank before this convention. I don’t believe it will happen again.

    The only thing good (for the reformers) that happened was that Chuck Moulton was elected vice chair of the LNC. However, except for some control of the initial convention agenda, the LNC loses complete control to the floor at the convention, so Chuck’s election may be all that important. Since it takes 2/3 majority to amend or add a platform plank, I look for a bloodbath in 2008 (or maybe Sept 2007 as is rumored).

  109. Sure wish the blog had the ability to edit posts! There are two typos in my previous posts that are somewhat embarrassing. I meant to say Chuck’s election may NOT be all that important. He’s a great guy, but there isn’t a lot of power in the LNC WRT platform battles.

  110. Wes: PBS, as you are well aware, gets large chunks of tax money; the voluntary portion is raised by a team of mostly PBS and local station -employees- who work, and work hard, to wring donations out of their viewership and from large charity administrators. It doesn’t just happen, and what does happen is as much job preservation as idealism.

    PR is one thing: giving away the company’s product for free is quite another. The company may stage it, but it’s highly unlikely they’d let their employees decide on a person-to-person basis to protect non-payers. First, last, always, and exclusively, companies care about MONEY. Nothing else.

    Self-defense is not vigilantism. Defense of others is not vigilantism. Law enforcement- taking the PLACE of law enforcement, and of the courts- that is vigilantism.

    David: One of the best straddlers and stay-on-message men I ever saw in politics was, guess who… Harry Browne. Slicker than Clinton, he was…

  111. Tom: Dean’s race was non-partisan. The party platform wasn’t an issue.

    Nicholas: Ernie Hancock ran a lot of times, yes. Leaving aside internal party office, how many races did he win? Did he even break twenty percent in any two-way race, or five percent in any three-way race?

    Kevin: I missed Carol’s newest diatribe. Secession as a principle, or secession from the LP? (If she’s seceding from the LP, I might send her a farewell lei and a fruitbasket.)

    Richard: I recall three situations. Carla Howell, in her Mass. gov. race, polled 5% prior to the debates… and dropped to under 2% IMMEDIATELY thereafter. Badnarik pushed in New Mexico, polling before and after the push. Before, his name recognition was nil, his support was 5%, his disapproval was nil; after, name recog 30%, support 5%, disapproval 17%. He did the same thing in Nevada; support before 5%, support after 1%. In all three cases the voters got our message… and HATED it.

  112. Don Wills, would you mind explaining in more detail? I’m very puzzled over why so many delegates thought it was a good idea to delete most of the platform.

    ‘The planks needed overhauling’ doesn’t seem like an answer to me. It there wasn’t 2/3 for amending them, why assume a future convention would have a 2/3 consensus on how to replace them? And some planks were deleted after being amended.

    The sentence ‘Their rationale was to give extra weight to those who actually bothered to go through 63 lines on the ballot’, bewilders me. I need some context to understand what it means.

  113. The results of the convention were great.

    Many platform planks used against LP candidates were gutted, so now our candidates can come up with their own reasonable sounding platforms.

    The pledge was kept! That’s great news, we are still the party of principle. No one ever quotes the pledge against our candidates because it sounds good.

  114. > Kris Overstreet: I missed Carol’s newest diatribe. Secession as a principle, or secession from the LP?

    David Tomlin: Both, if I understand her correctly. She’s saying hardcore libertarians should give up on the LP and agitate for local secession instead.

  115. The problem, and I have said it elsewhere, is that it only requires 50% to get rid of planks, yet 2/3rds to add new ones. The LRC submitted many ideas for replacing planks. However, the votes to delete the current planks barely scraped by – trying to get 2/3rds of delegates to support anything would have been next to impossible given the seemingly even divide between the two sides! I think many Libertarians are sick of the old platform and hoped to get something new.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your view, instead we just got…not much of anything. Now candidates can make their own stances and not feel bound to argue for the elimination of all taxes or have to defend themselves from such accusations. That’s why I think it’s better than keeping the old. However, something new would have been even better (including a new pledge and improved statement of principles). (cont.)

  116. Perhaps it was too much to ask for in one convention, but at least now we have a party more moderate than it has been since Rothbard kicked the moderates out in 1981 – following our most successful presidential campaign ever. (Thanks for the 25 years of obscurity, Murray!) I think things are looking up, especially, if the LRC can be better organized next time.

    Back to my point, I think the bylaws should be changed to where eliminating a plank still requires a majority, yet adding a new plank would also only require a majority, and if there are multiple proposals with majorities, the one with the bigger majority wins. Both sides should want this – we now have a very skimpy platform, and neither will get their way if they must convince 2/3rds of the delegation to buy anything.

  117. Mmm, Nick, I’m not fond of that. The platform needs to be a unifying document- not whatever a simple majority rams through. A platform, again, needs to be a unifying document. There should be some drive for consensus.

    I favor reducing the benchmark for the Statement of Principles, but adding platform planks should still require a supermajority of some sort.

  118. Mr. Overstreet says: “In all three cases the voters got our message”¦ and HATED it.”

    OUR message? Or the candidate’s message? Did those polls measure public opinion of the LP platform or of the candidate’s chosen campaign issues? Or perhaps, were the poll results a reflection of the candidate’s TV commercials or debate performances?

    Then there is the question what the voters heard. How did Howell choose her campaign issues? What about Badnarik? Verbatim transcripts of the platform? Dart boards?

    The question must be asked: Has the LP been talking amongst itself for so long that it no longer has a clue what issues will win votes? I think so.

    That does not mean we should be taking a machete to the platform. It means we need to know which part of liberty the public wants to hear about. But there is no money for that. Instead, there is money for seminars on how to win debates with people who think we are all nuts.

    Given that, maybe they are right

  119. The LP has never bothered to listen to the voters. It never needed to. It has always insisted that the voters must listen to it instead.

  120. So you would support the bar for cutting planks to be raised to 2/3rds? Either way, it solves the “whatever the majority ram through” problem. I doubt there is solid consensus on not having a platform at all, even though I’m coming to think that it might actually be a good idea.

    So if 51% to 65% of delegates support a new plank, it should fail, but if 51% to 65% support cutting the old one (to make room for the new one) it should pass? Thus we’d wind up with nothing? Why have different levels?

    Furthermore, would a proposal that 53% or 64% support be better than not having a proposal at all? The drive would still be to get as much consensus as possible, because whichever proposal gets the biggest majority would win out. But to argue that because you could not get consensus of 66% to approve a new proposal means that the delegates would prefer consensus on nothing to a majority on something with as much consensus as possible doesn’t make any logical sense!

  121. Sorry if that was a bit confusing. Let me better clarify.

    Proposal A is the old proposal. Proposal B and C are new proposals. A gets knocked down by 55% of delegates who want to replace A with B or C. A is gone. Let’s say B gets the support of 62%, C gets the support of 54%. Under the current bylaw, they walk away with nothing, a gaping hole. Under my proposal C would win out, because that is as much consensus as we are going to possibly get. If we don’t get a majority on either, obviously the most consensus we are going to get is that the delegates prefer nothing to either option B or C. I think this is very logical, but I will wait for your response.

  122. Platform planks should have to garner 90% support. The things libertarians would agree on would have broad appeal to the public — support for the Bill of Rights, reductions in government spending, opposition to new taxes, greater personal liberty, etc.

    Personally, I liked the 2004 platform — it stated the principle, and what the first steps toward it might be. It needed some cleaning up, but somebody dumped a truckload of white-out on it instead.

  123. 90% support?! I don’t think 90% of the delegates are ever in the ROOM, man.

    Which reminds me-that’s something that’s gotta go. We need to make the percentage applicable only to whoever’s present in the room, not all the delegates. If you’re out wandering while business is going on, tough shit. Naturally there’d have to be a quorum present to do business (like 2/3rds?) but other than that, it should just be whoever’s present in the room.

  124. Kris,

    You seem to be saying that Badnarik stayed flat in New Mexico, and went from 5% to 1% in Nevada, because of the LP’s platform. Do you have any evidence for this?

    I don’t recall which commercials ran in Nevada, but in New Mexico, Badnarik spent something like $70K on advertising and at least part of that advertising, in the opinions of a number of LP members (I believe Mr. Tomlin was among them), departed considerably from the platform position on immigration.

  125. Stuart Richards said:

    “Traditionally, it’s been the hardcorest, purest-of-the-pure that’s dominated these conventions ever since Rothbard kicked out the moderates in ”˜81. They’re the ones presumably most dedicated to the party, or at least more dedicated to the social aspect of the party. Hence, their caucus has always tended to be over-represented at the conventions since then.”

    That’s not the way I remember it.

    In 1981 Alicia Clark (Ed’s wife, a business executive originally from Mexico) was elected National Chair defeating John Mason of Colorado and Kent Guida of Maryland, who were backed by Rothbard and Crane respectively. Where are you getting this misinformation?

    And what caucus are you referring to? The Radical Caucus folded many years ago.

    Greg Clark

  126. The Badnarik campaign ad was the subject of a rancorous controversy that I am not at all inclined to rekindle. I think the ad does bear on our present concerns in some interesting ways. I shall endeavor to tread carefully.

    After re-reading the immigration plank of the 2004 platform, I have no doubt that the Badnarik ad was inconsistent with it.

    Whether the ad significantly helped or hurt Badnarik in New Mexico is a very interesting question. If the LNC had money to spend on polling, that’s one thing that might be worth investigating.

    The assumption was that being ‘disgusted’ with illegal immigration was a common sentiment in New Mexico, and the ad aimed to appeal to that supposed sentiment.

    I don’t recall if there was polling data to support the assumption. To the best of my recollection it was supported mainly by anecdotal evidence from the border area, rather than from the whole state.

    (Con.)

  127. (Continued from 136)

    During the recent controversy over immigration reform, I read some interesting articles that bear on the subject. They suggested that attitudes toward immigrants in general were more favorable in southwestern border states than in southern states. I’m not sure how strong the evidence was. I recall thinking that at least one of the questions taken as a proxy for pro/anti immigrant sentiment didn’t seem to me to be very well suited to the purpose.

    It is often assumed that appealing to anti-immigration sentiment tends to alienate hispanic voters. Again, I don’t know how strong the evidence is for this.

    It is interesting to note that New Mexico was the only southwestern state carried by Al Gore in 2000, and a county breakdown shows that his strength was near the border. Most likely this was due to the hispanic vote. This suggests that the hispanic vote is strong in New Mexico, and Badnarik’s people may have erred by not taking account of it.

    (Con.)

  128. (Continued from 137)

    To sum up, it seems possible that the Badnarik ad could have backfired badly, failing to win any anti-immigrant voters while alienating many potential hispanic voters. Of course it’s also possible that the two effects canceled out, or that both were negligible. And, of course, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the ad worked splendidly, attracting many voters, but its positive effect was overwhelmed by other negative factors.

    This is, of course, all speculation in the absence of polling data.

  129. Just got home from my 1st LP nat. conv.,glad it wasn’t my last.Happy to report to the folks here in NH that LP seems to be heading toward being a political party.I went to promote Mary Ruwart as our next Presidentand found agreement from all sides on my position.I joined the LRC because we can’t get her elected without opening the party to all who hunger for liberty in our lifetime.I still feel that the LP is our best bet for freedom.In observing the platform and by law commitees in action,I’m encouraged that the example they set in cooperation bodes well for our chances to be a true political party.Brendan LPNH

  130. I believe that 50% to delete, 2/3 to amend or add will likely give us a better, more effective platform than either a uniform 50% or 2/3 threshhold for all actions.

    Planks that fail to maintain the support of a majority, for whatever reason, are dropped, but adopting a new plank requires 2/3. That means that all sides are going to have to find a way to work together to draft planks that a broad consensus within the party can support in order to get them enacted.

    A 2/3 standard for everything means that a minority of 1/3 can forever block any change. A 50% standard for everything ensures endless platform battles convention after convention.

    After 35 years of mostly adding text and tinkering, it was time for the LP to take a fresh look at what issues should be addressed in our platform and how they should be addressed. We now have that opportunity. Let’s take advantage of it and draft a platform that we and the voters can all proudly support.

  131. To those who are clamoring for real scientific stats on how the platform has cost candidates votes, and NOT just anecdotal, Carl Milsted has them. Since it shows that the extreme positions are not supported by people who otherwise support your positions, that backs up the anecdotes that candidate after candidate has reported.

    http://quiz2d.com/stats/homepage/

  132. In answer to David Tomlin’s questions in post 122. Nick partially answered very well in post 131. The reason so many thought it a good idea to delete *all* of the platform does not have a single answer. Carl M. said in the LRC caucus on Friday that everyone should stick together and vote to get rid of all planks, because then the LRC might be able to get rid of a few. Another reason is that some delegates don’t want a platform at all – the SOP is technically part of the platform, so that would be it. Each candidate tends to run away from many platform planks; with only the SOP that’s unnecessary. On Sunday PM, the vote to suspend the rules and get rid of the entire platform had 50/50 support – again some didn’t want one at all and others wanted to start completely over instead of having we have now which is a hodgepodge.

    The bottom line is I didn’t see a 2/3 consensus on much of anything in that room. I don’t suspect two years will change that.

  133. Richard writes (115): “Indeed, from the scientific evidence we do have we must conclude that roughly 98% has no idea what the LP stands for.”

    Exactly my point! Even fewer are concerned about a pledge. The problem is not the message – the problem is getting the message out and having it understood. This is part of the branding issue.

    The “less government, fewer taxes, and more freedom” slogan so closely resembles the GOP branding that it is useless and only adds to the existing misperceptions. The slogan: Peace, Prosperity and Freedom is better, but not by much.

  134. I agree that if it isn’t important enough for a delegate to be on the floor during a vote tuff. I would say a few things need to change about these conventions. One since there is only 10 min. to discuss/debate any issue each speaker should be limited to 1 minute. The debate on the State of Principles was dominated by hard core anarcist who rambled on and on while those who wanted to remove cult from the statement kept their points brief. The only bright point was that Pat Dixon did manage to say why it was important to consider removing unnecessary and easily missinterpreted language from official party documentation.
    I think LP members in states that don’t have ballot access problems can’t comprehend how damaging to recruitment and retention of LP members it is when language in your official documentation can be offensive. Also the LRC had closer to 50% support not the 15% reported in the article above.

  135. Tom Blanton writes: “The problem is not the message – the problem is getting the message out and having it understood. This is part of the branding issue.”

    Yup that be true. One of the LP biggest problems is the lack of Public Relations. Hopefully that will not continue now that we have an experienced Communications Director onboard, Stephen Gordon.

    May I suggest we simplify this slogan issue with “Civil Liberties, Economic Freedom and Non-Intervention”

    M.H.W.

  136. Nick: The reason for the two tiers is that there is, in practicality, only -one- tier.

    Think of it this way: each plank requires 2/3 support to pass, right? If there is 50% against it, obviously there can’t be 67% in favor (without some Bush-type math). 50% to delete allows bad planks, in theory, to go away without either requiring a 2/3 vote or giving a minority the power to overrule the majority.

    Tom K: Unfortunately I can’t speak to individual issues. I know Badnarik ran ads, spoke at public events at least once per day, and criss-crossed the entire state. Those ads and speeches, in addition to the immigration piece, prominently featured the LP name and URL. By the end of the month Badnarik’s own polls showed the numbers I quoted- and Badnarik pointed to the rise in name recognition as a victory. I felt like a voice in the wilderness, pointing out it was no such thing.

  137. Seth, I’m sure even Carl would agree that his online poll is not scientific.

    It is no surprise that a web poll promoted and run by a centrist libertarian shows a plurality of centrist libertarians have taken the poll.

  138. it’s not branding. I have so many people in positions of leadership in the LNC over the last 25 years on my computer from offical minutes of the LNC, various plans of leadership by LP leaders, and every single thing that is expressed by Tom like branding has been addressed or attempted several times over.

    You know that song, “It’s all been done?” I feel like singing it. Branding has been done, under other names, at least twice. that I’m aware of. People have had all sorts of slogan ideas. They havent made much difference.

    the bottom line is that the Libertarian Party has the ONE THING going for it, and only the one thing – it’s reason for life – namely, the notion that people SHOULD BE FREE.

    Outside of that, it’s been a train wreck. Part of the problem is that the LP is a house divided against itself. Maybe we have finally confronted that now, and both sides realize his as fact and might resolve to fashion a compromise – or not.

    (cont)

  139. Part of the problem is the obstactles that R’s and D’s put in front of us to keep that hamster wheel spinning so we get tired spinning the wheel of ballot access. That’s not a pure vs reform issue. Both sides know it sux.

    IMO the NLP has made 2 fundamental mistakes:

    It has equated itself with representing the entire libertarian movement, where it should only be representing the POLITICAL side of the movement to the exclusion of all other movement concerns, ( this is the agreed upon division of labor issue I have talked about many times);

    It wastes horrible amounts of money and activism becuase it was built in a top down model spotlighting unwinnable races for POTUS and other Federal races it cant possibly win. All politics is local. Without a local base of support in every district and county in the US, we’ll never make it any higher.

    The LP’s got to reverse itself. It’s a “national party” where there are more holes than cheese.

    (cont)

  140. I also have to say that the culture of Big L’s is we want to continue being a debate club and not a serious politicial party. We want to keep our radical off putting language and to hell with the little l’s. Who will continue to feel politically homeless or work to change the Republicans through the RLC. I have known way too many Libertarian friends over the years that have left the LP due to the Big L culture of the Libertarian party. When I found out about the LRC I was motivated to go to my first national convention ever to show my support for their efforts even if I don’t agree 100% with them. I think we need to appeal to a broader base in order to win elections and become a serious political force.

  141. Tom B: The problem definitely is the message. The message we’ve been sending is, “We want to destroy government. If you don’t support us, you’re ignorant bumpkins or criminals, because no intelligent honest person opposes absolute liberty.”

    The fact that the GOP uses “lower taxes, smaller government, more freedom” as part of their campaign message is not a bad thing for us- it demonstrates that the formula works. In fact, considering how easy it is to demonstrate that the GOP lies like a cheap rug every time they say it, that makes it even better for us- provided we learn to shut up and stick to that simple message. Every time we rush ahead to Libertopia, we leave virtually every voter behind.

  142. Freetalk live run by an Anarchist did a poll as well and 65% of the responders identified themselves as centerist or Limited Government Libertarians.

  143. Once again, it’s much harder for the LP to do the right thing than continue doing the wrong thing. At this point the LP hs a window to address it’s most crippling problems, really address them, not just snow them under or hide them with new magic widgets.

    Badnarik was able to raise 1 million dollars in 2004. If this same money were to be raised and put into our best races for state level offices and possibly our 2 to 3 best federal races
    in 2008 we would be looking at least several libertarian officeholders at that.

    The practice of raising money for OUR PARTY being more important than raising money for our CANDIDATES has got to stop. Our candidates dont exist to serve the party, our party exists to serve our candidates.

    and I repeat my belief that the LP must not run a POTUS candidate in 2008 and use this time period from 2006 to 2010 rebuilding and retooling – unless we KNOW that we can either determine the winner of the contest or win ourselves, theres no reason to run.

  144. Wes, Wes P, Wes Benedict – There’s a difference.

    Haven’t had time to read all the wonderful commentary, not even from the other two Wes’s. (did I spell the plural of my name correctly?)

    In any case, just in case anyone was wondering, I wanted to make it clear that the posts by Wes and Wes P were not done by me: Wes Benedict (the one from Texas).

    –Wes Benedict
    http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/

  145. The goal of 2008 should be to elect more Ben Brandons around the country.

    There are some things that could happen hat would make me change my mind. One of hose things is a top tier POTUS candidate on the level of a Bob Barr or better – former governing offical, many years officeholder, strong name awareness, etc.

    absent such a candidate, forget it.

  146. “I believe that 50% to delete, 2/3 to amend or add will likely give us a better, more effective platform than either a uniform 50% or 2/3 threshhold for all actions.”

    Great point Steve, from post #141 above.

  147. I had a talk about Barry Hess about the goings on with the platform. Please see my site as what I wrote about is too long for me to publish here. I know that I plan on attending the 2008 LP convention and will vote for a hardcore, pure Libertarian presidential candidate and will participate to ensure that the LP platform retains the principles it is supposed to espouse. At the expense of sounding melodramatic, with liberty under attack by the state, now is not the time to back away from our party’s principles. Now is the time to assert ourselves and differentiate us from the liberty-hating Republicrat and Demopublican politicians.

  148. IMO they did not go far enough with getting rid of the detailed planks. All we should have is the preamble and the statement of principles and if people want something on a few different issues than just the one or two sentences from the executive summary. This does not mean we are dropping our principles. In fact we would be making the statement of principles a much more prominent part if not the most prominent part of the platform. The details about handling each issue should be left up to each candidate running for office. How we go about each issue may be different in one part of the country to another, one candidate to another. The current platform only hamstrings our candidates if they are choosing to go a slightly different route than what the platform suggests which all candidates do or they are downplaying or not even bringing up certain issues that are addressed in the platform. If the media brings these up they are pushed into a corner they did not want to be in.

  149. David Tomlin’s “amicable divorce” suggestion keeps making more and more sense.

    This weekend the “reformers” gained more than they previously ever had, and the “purists” unified to a greater degree than they had recently.

    There’s much left to fight over. The house is not “divided” — it’s a ruin. Between the ongoing poor financial situation and the long-time low in member support, it looks like something hit by a tornado after extended flooding and a small fire or two. Rather than fighting to keep it, I’d think that the sides would be fighting to not be the ones left holding the (uninsured) mortgage.

    The Dallas Accord barely survived the convention. That the “reformers” achieved only a Kristallnacht of sorts instead of getting the boxcars loaded full of anarchists and off to Auschwitz was not a function of lack of either effort or desire. I’m not sure I’m especially keen to keep hanging around the rail yard wearing my yellow star (and yes, hello, Mr. Godwin!).

  150. We ran a former Republican congressman for president in the past. Didn’t work too well. I doubt Mr. Barr is interested, anyway.

  151. Michael writes (146): May I suggest we simplify this slogan issue with “Civil Liberties, Economic Freedom and Non-Intervention”

    Excellent suggestion. It gives clarity to “peace, prosperity and freedom”. I really like it a lot.

    I wish the folks at LPHQ would put this across the top
    of LP.Org – just as soon as they put up the new partially
    gutted platform.

  152. Chris,

    an general example, not a recommendation. Barr would have to change his mind on MJ and show a willingness to engage on the rest of the drug war before I would support him for anything.

    Someone on Barr’s level…

  153. Tom B. wrote:

    “I wish the folks at LPHQ would put this [Civil Liberties, Economic Freedom and Non-Intervention]across the top
    of LP.Org …”

    Actually, that’s exactly what we used to feature on the center of the home page:

    “Libertarians believe the answer to America’s political problems is the same commitment to freedom that earned America its greatness:
    * a free-market economy and the abundance and prosperity it brings;
    * a dedication to civil liberties and personal freedom that marks this country above all others; and
    * a foreign policy of non-intervention, peace, and free trade as prescribed by America’s founders.”

    The new catch phrase “fewer taxes … smaller government … more freedom” sounds too much like the catch phrase at Dick Armey’s website: “lower taxes, less government, and more freedom”, and makes us sound too much like an offshoot of the Republican Party.

  154. Tim,

    I’m not the one who’s been blathering about non-existent “purges” for the last two years. That’s been you, Kris and Dr. Milsted. How does your own medicine taste?

  155. Mr. Knapp writes (160): The house is not “divided” ”” it’s a ruin.

    It might be instructive to learn from the errors of the Green Party and the Reform Party.

    We are told that gutting the platform is a good thing. Then we are told that LP candidates should only run for local office as they spew conservative bromides. Why not just close down the national party?

    National elections are what have been galvanizing events for the LP and they usually attract new members. Between 1996 and 2000, the party actually grew. Since the move to have LP candidates look and sound like moderate conservatives, the number of contributing members has dwindled. Contrary to the actual numbers, we are told that the move to conservatism and people like Boortz are envigorating the LP. Electoral results have also dwindled.

    There is something wrong with this picture.

    We have handed those who hate libertarianism a huge victory.

  156. Steve writes: The new catch phrase “fewer taxes ”¦ smaller government ”¦ more freedom” sounds too much like the catch phrase at Dick Armey’s website: “lower taxes, less government, and more freedom”, and makes us sound too much like an offshoot of the Republican Party.

    Exactly the point I made earlier (144). I remember the old page, although I don’t remember the slogan being used, just the verbiage. The real point is that the LP is supposed to be libertarian as opposed to the party of disgruntled conservatives who let their old party turn into a pile of crap.

    I imagine a lot of people, upon hearing the new slogan, dismiss the LP as a right-wing organization. The right-wingers who hear it look at the LP as a wasted vote when they can vote GOP and thwart the evil liberals – because those in the GOP don’t see themselves or their cult leaders as liars, despite what Kris says.

    Hope to see you at the SCC meeting on the 8th, Steve.

  157. It is obvious the LP wants the extreme radical anarchists out. That means you, Paulie.

    Correct.

    Accept the direction of the LP or leave.

    Unfortunately, I can’t leave, since I’m a life member, but let’s say I’ve left.

    I believe for every anarchist we can rid ourselves, we will pick up 1,000 new members.

    Prove it. I’ve left. Show me your 1,000 new members. Also, what good would it do even if you did? Your party won’t promote liberty, so its success or lack thereof is irrelevant.

    However, I predict this will actually cause the LP to become even less effective than when it welcomed real libertarians (anarchists) – not that I care anymore.

  158. So you’re thinking that now Libertarian candidates and parties (including national) can’t say anything about taxation, or worse that’s they can get away with calling for more taxes, just because it’s not in the platform?

    Of course they can get away with it. Many of them already call for more taxation, such as a national sales tax.

  159. Thanks to none other than Michael Badnarik, who used the whole LP platform as his NCP, the platform as it existed prior to this last weekend’s national convention is still an official statement of the party’s positions.

    But not for long. Julian is correct about the ideological direction of the LP, although he is wrong in thinking that it will lead to growth. Clearly, it’s circling the drain.

  160. The problem with an anti-war position is that there is a large group of Libertarians who come to the party by way of Boortz & Co. who wholeheartedly endorse the war.

    That’s a problem with the party, not the position.

  161. The problem with impeaching Bush is, after the Clinton impeachment, the process is viewed as nothing more than a partisan political ploy to injure a faction’s election chances.

    By some people. Others view it as originally designed.

    There is an argument to be made that calling for impeachment will undermine, not strengthen, our nationwide election hopes.

    That argument would be very wrong.

  162. Any issue we can’t unite on needs to be left out of the platform until and unless we can unite on a position.

    The end result of such logic is that you will soon have no platform at all; in fact, that is already almost the case.

    Why not get it over with and call it the Reform party? It’s even still on the ballot in a few states. But if you choose to call it the LP, it doesn’t change the fact that it will pretty soon take the direction of the Reform Party.

  163. I’m firmly pro-impeachment and anti-war in Iraq

    But not firmly enough to support these views as a political party.

    (pro-war in Afghanistan, if we’d only commit sufficient forces to make taking bin Laden and the Taliban leadership a possibility).

    I don’t acre if you want to kill Hajis, or yourself, in Afghanistan, so long as you don’t attempt to steal my money to do it or commit these attrocities in my name.

  164. Tom K: I don’t call it the Dallas Accord, I call it the Dallas Suicide Pact.

    And I don’t want the anarchists out of the party; I just want them out of -control- of the party. The fact is, though, that if the purists bolt, they can’t possibly build a viable party on their own; the same positions, policies and attitude that have crippled the LP up to now would doom them.

    On the other hand, I can name names on purists I know who want me, Milstead, and every member of the LRC out of the party, never to return.

    You think the reformers are trying to purge the party. I think you need to learn that the reformers, for the most part, don’t think the same way you do. A purge is what -you- and -yours- would do in our position. We, on the other hand, know we need MORE people, not less, in the party- that’s why we’ll continue to fight to dump the Pledge and moderate our party’s positions without abandoning the principles of small government and big freedom.

  165. Shall Candidate P now vigorously affirm that hard drugs must continue to be illegal, and defend that position against tough questioning?

    How can such a ridiculous and offensive position be defended against tough questioing?

  166. I think it is important for the LP to continue to explain to the majority of Americans that their support for taxes and war makes them thieves and murderers, but it’s also important to be tactful about it.

  167. Paulie:

    First, as you well know, the FairTax proposal is contingent on abolishing EVERY OTHER Federal tax- income tax, capital gains tax, estate tax, excise tax, gasoline tax, telephony tax, and whatever I’ve forgotten- and replacing them all with one, count ’em, ONE tax… and a tax that can be evaded simply by spending less or buying used goods instead of new. I have a couple problems with it, but I regard it as a libertarian step- less taxes, smaller government and more freedom.

    As for the platform… if you believe that any majority should be allowed to support whatever planks it can pass, without regard to the minority, will you suggest removing the 7/8 requirement for changes to the Statement of Principles? After all, if we require that everyone agree on the SoP, then soon we’ll have no SoP, by your logic…

    (more…)

  168. If I’d had the money, I would have been in Portland. I would have voted -for- resolutions calling for impeachment and immediate withdrawal from Iraq. I understand why those resolutions didn’t pass; that doesn’t mean I agree with those reasons or support them!

    As for Afghanistan… 9/11 was an attack by an organized group seeking the overthrow and destruction of the United States, by their own admission. The Taliban government protected this group, supported them, and celebrated their acts of murder. The war in Afghanistan was a war in response to open aggression- and as such I believe it a just war. Unfortunately our president botched that war beyond all belief because the war he wanted to fight was a few hundred miles to the west of Afghanistan.

    David: There’s no tactful way to call the American people stupid for believing what they believe. There’s now way to try to “educate” them that won’t insult them and drive them away. Rothbarianism does NOT work.

  169. Personally, I feel like if purity is what the purists and anarchists demand, their efforts would work much better forming their own educational organization or political action committee. A political party can never be pure because it must be political. it must be able to address the issues of the day in a relevant fashion. Toppling institutions and overturning the Constitution because they are subpar and authoritarian is not a relevant answer to 99.9% of Americans. Cutting off all revenue to the government until it collapses into itself will only lead to the destruction of the delicate economic threads that keep a level of stability in this country. We can support the threads by carefully removing the weight from on top of them, but the idea that we should cut the threads to break whatever rests on top will still leave you with broken threads and a big mess. Plus why would an anarchist run for office and, if elected, swear to uphold the Constitution before breaking their own oath?

  170. I believe there are 4 general principle which tie all Libertarians together.

    1) non-aggression principle >>> the PLEDGE

    2) socially liberal & fiscally conservative >>> the Nolan Chart

    3) the U.S. Constitution >>> the U.S. Constitution

    4) smaller government

    I would agrue that a “small l” libertarian, subcribes to at one of the above 4 principle.

  171. Regarding Paulie’s comment 177, I assume the question is rhetorical. Anyway, at the moment I’m not inclined to spend time on the exercise of making a ‘devil’s advocate’ defense of drug prohibition. But I could, and in general I recommend such exercises. Becoming an effective advocate begins by taking your opponent’s arguments seriously.

  172. First, as you well know, the FairTax proposal is contingent on abolishing EVERY OTHER Federal tax-

    I know no such thing. In practice, it is much easier to pass a tax than to get rid of one, so the reality is that if/when the national sales tax will be implemented, you will still have an income tax. This is the real reason (as opposed to the stated reason) for the sales tax: to massive increase government so it can fight more wars and invade domestic civil liberty more. Even as stated, it would not get rid of FICA. There’s nothing fair about the “fair tax”, (an oxymoron) and it’s a step in the WRONG direction.

  173. As for the platform”¦ if you believe that any majority should be allowed to support whatever planks it can pass, without regard to the minority, will you suggest removing the 7/8 requirement for changes to the Statement of Principles?

    What are you talking about? I never said anything about a majority deciding anything. If the LP were really libertarian, its positions would be based on principle, not majority.

    After all, if we require that everyone agree on the SoP, then soon we’ll have no SoP, by your logic”¦

    Sorry, that would not be my logic. My logic would be that those who don’t agree with it would not be party members.

  174. If I’d had the money, I would have been in Portland. I would have voted -for- resolutions calling for impeachment and immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

    Glad to hear it.

    I understand why those resolutions didn’t pass; that doesn’t mean I agree with those reasons or support them!

    I understand the reasons they didn’t pass, too: that a majority of attendees were big L but NOT small l libertarian.

  175. As for Afghanistan”¦ 9/11 was an attack by an organized group seeking the overthrow and destruction of the United States, by their own admission. The Taliban government protected this group, supported them, and celebrated their acts of murder. The war in Afghanistan was a war in response to open aggression- and as such I believe it a just war.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The attack on 9-11 was perpetrated BY that USSA regime.

    Even if Al Qaida were really an enemy of the US regime and not its puppet, all the Taliban did was ask for evidence that Osama was guilty before handing him over. Bush refused to provide it.

    Even if Osama was president of Afghanistan and attacked the citizens of the US, that would justify killing him, but not all the innocent people of Afghanistan who have been killed or the occupation. To call it a just war is ludicrous.

  176. Rolf, I don’t subscribe to the US Constitution, and smaller government is like smaller cancer. I have no idea how “fiscally conservative” relates to my viewpoint. And most big Ls don’t subscribe to the non-aggression principle.

  177. “I wish the folks at LPHQ would put this [Civil Liberties, Economic Freedom and Non-Intervention]across the top
    of LP.Org ”¦”

    I like LRC’s “anti-state, anti-war, pro-market” except I would change anti-war to pro-peace. Unfortunately, for the LP this would not be true.

  178. >Paulie: The attack on 9-11 was perpetrated BY that USSA regime.

    David Tomlin: I don’t suppose you could point to a site that summarizes the evidence for this _briefly_, that doesn’t require wading through pages of drivel?

  179. Kris, since you’re responding here, perhaps you’d be willing to respond to the points I made on the bulletin board concerning the platform, and specifically the LRC’s Election Laws proposal.

    For the record, I voted against retaining all planks. I believe in this Information Age, party platforms may be old, 20th Century election technology — like the single-member district, winner-take-all system.

    I’m even for ditching the pledge; it doesn’t change my understanding of what libertarianism is.

    Anyway, on to the points …

  180. J) I believe for every anarchist we can rid ourselves, we will pick up 1,000 new members.

    me) Prove it. I’ve left. Show me your 1,000 new members.

    To quantify that, I mean contributing members, since membership no longer requires a contribution.

  181. (1) It is highly unlikely that the district-based winner-take-all system will be repealed, or even significantly changed, within our lifetimes.

    So wave the white flag on efforts to implement fair elections that would result in more Libertarians getting elected? What is it about electoral reform that you believe offends voters? Most people don’t care enough about electoral systems to be offended or attracted. My sense is that most who do care about electoral systems want them to be fair … just like the proportional representation-elected national assemblies being created in Afghanistan and Iraq at the behest of the U.S. government.
    I agree that the political class will resist this, and change will be difficult. But change is happening on the local level (see FairVote.org) and the change to more inclusive voting systems will be even more difficult if the LP falls silent on alternative electoral systems.

  182. I am trying to figure out what motivated the LRC to strip out the language about alternative electoral systems and came up with this:

    “The LP Plank, on the other hand, raises the specter of a parliamentary system even more reflective of the divisions in our nation than the present system.”

    LRC Proposed Change – Election Laws

    First, as I teach my political science students at the local community college, even if the U.S. Congress was elected by proportional representation, Article II of the U.S. Constitution talks about an executive. So the U.S. is still likely to remain a presidential system, not become a parliamentary system. Wikipedia – Presidential system

    Second, decentralization and division is good for our liberties! The whole talk about “factions” in the Federalist Papers identified the danger they posed if they got together to wield the levers of power, and the constitutional drafters attempted to keep factions at odds. …

  183. The drafters failed because they didn’t anticipate logrolling (unless you buy the “hologram of liberty” theory that the U.S. Constitution was a setup all along … bu-wah-ha-ha!). Proportional representation disperses special interests.

    (2) The Libertarian Party does not get 18% of the vote; On average, we get about one percent in a three-way race and between ten and twenty percent in a two-way race. It is unlikely in the extreme that we would poll sufficiently to get even a single proportional seat unless this party becomes more appealing to the masses.

    Don’t hate the playa (the Libertarian candidate and platform), hate the game (the winner-take-all system).

    First, most electoral reformers believe that — because of Duverger’s Law (Wikipedia – Duverger’s Law) — rational voters won’t vote for candidates and parties with platforms they agree with if the candidate or party doesn’t have a good chance of winning.

  184. Hence, the wasted vote syndrome, and why even if 16 percent of the population agreed with everything Libertarians stand for, fewer than 16 percent would vote Libertarian because of the election-rigging effect of the winner-take-all system.
    The LRC wants Libertarians to believe low vote totals are because of the LP’s platform. (I’ve heard some Republicans here in Utah make similar claims.) I believe that’s part of the reason. But I believe a bigger part of the reason is the electoral system.
    In 1998, I ran for office in Utah as a Republican candidate with an explicity libertarian platform. I received roughly the same percentage of the vote as the Republican candidates who preceded me. It’s a Democratic district, so the outcome was not in doubt … because of the winner-take-all electoral system.

  185. Second, here in Utah we have a 75 seat house of representatives. The winning threshold to elect a seat to that body — if it was elected proportionally — is (100 percent of the vote/(75 seats + 1)=) 1.3 percent/seat. Libertarian candidates pass that threshold in Utah. And by eliminating the wasted vote syndrome, voters would be more inclined to vote their preferences. I anticipate we’d also see more Constitution Party and Green Party candidates elected under such a scenario. It’d take awhile for libertarian-leaning voters to acclimate to voting Libertarian to get up to our 16 percent share — or higher. But I believe over time we’d get there.

    (3) One or two LP legislators would have about as much effect as Ron Paul does now- zilch. We need to control a significant block of a legislature to affect its conduct in any way. To my mind, trying to change the rules of the contest isn’t important or effective compared to making our team more competitive in the contest we have.

  186. If you had been in Portland and heard the actual text of the resolution calling for immediate pullout from Iraq, I doubt than anyone on this forum would have supported it. It started off talking about Bush achieving victory over the tyranical regime and bringing democracy to the people of Iraq, etc. It was defeated by a motion objecting to consideration, which required a 2/3 vote. The vote was well more than 2/3.

    I believe that a straight-forward “bring the troops home” resolution would have passed, had one been introduced.

  187. Plus why would an anarchist run for office and, if elected, swear to uphold the Constitution before breaking their own oath?

    Why would it be OK for a victim to promise not tell anyone if a rapist lets them live, and then tell anyway?

  188. First, I believe Rep. Paul sets a moral example, and that there is value in that. He also undermines the solidarity the Bipartisan Statist/War Party wants to portray to the public. That’s why Newt Gingrich tried to take Rep. Paul out a few elections ago by funding a primary challenger.

    Second, I agree that we should make our team more competitive in the contests we have, but I haven’t been persuaded yet as to why the LP’s advocacy of more competitive and representative elections undermines our competitiveness in those contests. I believe Libertarians can do both.

    Third, I believe there’s rhetorical value for Libertarian candidates and the liberty movement as a whole in pointing out that, not just Libertarians, but all Americans are being cheated out of fair elections by Republicans and Democrats.

    For those following along, the italicized text is what Kris wrote on the convention’s platform discussion group (except point (1) on post 196 which I neglected to italicize).

  189. I believe that a straight-forward “bring the troops home” resolution would have passed, had one been introduced.

    Mark Selzer had one. Why wasn’t his resolution introduced? I thought it was because it was even less popular than the weak antiwar resolution which failed.

  190. >Paulie: succinct enough for you?

    David Tomlin: Not really, but it does satisfy my stated requirement. It’s only one page of drivel.

  191. I wasn’t aware of Mark’s resolution and I don’t know why he didn’t introduce it. I do know that the one that was introduced was horrible. It was supposedly drafted to appeal to a broad range of groups (that were all being asked to approve the same text), but the author clearly didn’t know his audience in bringing it to the LP.

    Bringing the troops home ASAP is a position that has the support of a majority of the American people. IMO, it would have been a better topic for a resolution than any of the resolutions introduced.

  192. Paulie:

    If upholding the Constitution or any government is equivalent to rape, I’ve got a way you can live the rest of your life rape-free! Just sell your house and move to Somalia! Out there, there isn’t any corrupt governments or polluted legal systems to worry about, no gun laws or drug laws, no taxes, no police. It’s a libertarian paradise! Enjoy your trip, but make sure to stock up on guns and carry plenty of bullets. I hear the locals are a bit rowdy.

  193. Kris,

    You write: “You think the reformers are trying to purge the party. I think you need to learn that the reformers, for the most part, don’t think the same way you do. A purge is what -you- and -yours- would do in our position.”

    The “purists” have had, according to the “reformers,” a virtually undisputed — and absolutely 100% “purge”-free — 23 years in control of the party.

    You can’t have it both ways. If the “purists” were purge-prone, last weekend not only would not have, but could not have, happened, because the “reformers” would have been “purged” long ago.

    While the “reformers” have generally denied any intent to “purge” the party, significant figures in the “reformer” group — including you — have falsely accused “purists” not only of that intent, but of attempts to implement that intent. I see no reason not to at least consider the possibility that the psychiatric phenomenon known as “transference” is at play in those false accusations.

  194. Paulie: “The attack on 9-11 was perpetrated BY that USSA regime.”

    Thanks for letting me know you’re a conspiracy theorist, and thus not worth my time responding to you.

  195. BTW, I see that I wrote above and on the convention platform discussion board:

    the change to more inclusive voting systems will be even more difficult if the LP falls silent on alternative electoral systems

    I trust that the LP will not fall silent on electoral reform with Bill Redpath as the LNC’s new chairman.

    See my further comments on this at:

  196. Tom K: I say that not only have purists tried to do it, they have routinely done it- they have driven off moderates right and left by accusing them of being Republicrat plants, closet Socialists, etc. etc. A few of us, like myself, decline to give them the satisfaction of victory.

    Every time a purist accuses a party member of “not being a true libertarian,” that’s a call to oust that person. That’s a demand that the person in question be ostracised, abused, denounced, driven out by whatever means. The law and the bylaws won’t allow the purists to do it legally… which is probably the only reason I’ve lasted seven years in the party, since I’ve been attacked almost from the first DAY. Other reformers can and will report similar experiences.

  197. Rob: My personal view is that Instant Runoff Voting and/or Proportional Representation will not move any significant voter group to go to the polls and vote Libertarian. That kind of election reform is not a major issue to the voters, who quite honestly couldn’t care less how the sausage is made. The benefits for us are obvious; the benefits to them, not so much.

    One of the goals of the LRC in general was a shorter, easier-to-read platform. (And incidentally, not as short as what we got- this was NOT what we wanted or intended.) Any platform plank or section which didn’t serve to draw a significant group of voters to us was just as much targeted for removal as planks which drove those voters actively away from us.

    Also, I personally am ambivalent about Prop. Rep. I personally think that, in a Prop. Rep. system, the “wasted vote” problem would grow WORSE, not better, as people rush to the Big Two to prevent to prevent the D/Rs from getting control at any cost. (More in a bit.)

  198. Just sell your house and move to Somalia!

    You are welcome to buy my non-existent house for enough money for me to move to Somalia and live on while I figure out what I would do for a living there.

    Out there, there isn’t any corrupt governments or polluted legal systems to worry about, no gun laws or drug laws, no taxes, no police. It’s a libertarian paradise!

    Not a paradise, but making great progress. It has the fastest growing economy in Africa and the north (somaliland) is peaceful.

    http://somalianarchy.com/

    Enjoy your trip, but make sure to stock up on guns and carry plenty of bullets.

    I would just subcontract that to the professionals, just as you do. However, with a choice of service providers, I would get better prices and better service.

  199. Kris, thanks for the cartoon (comment #212). It’s funny, and also makes a good substantive point: If Bush’s people engineered 9/11, they would have included stronger evidence pointing to Saddam.

    The prevalence in modern political discourse of blanket dismissals of ‘conspiracy theory’ is an interesting phenomenon. It is a modern development.

    For example, Edmund Burke’s famous work _Reflections on the Revolution in France_, much touted by modern conservatives, argues for a conspiracy theory regarding that revolution. It’s available on-line, and a good read.

    In American history there was the Anti-Masonic Party, premised on the suspicion that the Masons were a front for the Bavarian Illuminati. Contrary to what is sometimes implied, the leaders of the Anti-Masonic Party were not fringe kooks, but prominent Americans who were welcomed into the major parties after the AMP broke up.

    (Con.)

  200. Kris,

    Thanks for letting me know you’re a conspiracy theorist,

    So are you. You just believe the regime’s ridiculous conspiracy theory about 9-11. Or do you deny that the attack was carried out by a conspiracy?

    I followed up with conditional arguments which pre-suppose that your official conspiracy theory were true, and demonstrated that even if that was the case, the war would not be justified.

    Every time a purist accuses a party member of “not being a true libertarian,”

    There’s a high chance that is in fact the case.

  201. If Bush’s people engineered 9/11,

    Which they did

    they would have included stronger evidence pointing to Saddam.

    They actually tried to plant fake WMDs and failed. Just because the Bush gang engages in conspiracies does not mean that they always succeed.

    In any case, they did succeed in selling the Iraq war, so why the need to go further in that respect?

  202. Now to respond to your particular points:

    First- no, don’t raise the white flag, but don’t make it a top priority, either. Implementing proportional representation and/or instant runoff (and I -do- favor the latter, unreservedly) is something we try once we are in office, not something we push as a reason for voters to put us in office.

    Second, I don’t fear a parliamentary system per se; the words about “representing the divisions in our nation,” etc. were the proposal’s author’s. The LRC supported his proposal for two reasons: it was better than the old version, and PR and IRV are not relevant issues to the vast, vast, vast majority of voters. In this second point, the benefits and drawbacks of the proposal are utterly irrelevant. We have to go to the voters- not they to us- if we are to win sufficient elections to change the system.

    The only moral example Ron Paul sets is the lie that people can work within the Republican party for smaller government and greater liberty. (more)

  203. (Continued from #217)

    A priori dismissal of political conspiracy is also un-empirical. Conspiracies have played an important role in history, often coming to light once memoirs are written, documents declassified, and private papers posthumously published.

    Regarding the possibility that the real culprit in 9/11 was the government of the U.S. or Israel, such things certainly happen. Intelligence agencies have a name for them: ‘false flag operations’. Israel is notorious for them. Google ‘Lavon Affair’, and note that the facts in this case are not in dispute. They came to light long ago, causing a major scandal in Israeli politics.

  204. Continuing: Ron Paul does not vote against the Republicans on any issue where his vote would be the deciding one. His moral stance on issues has no effect. One representative, or even a dozen, is not sufficient. We need, at a minimum, a bloc sufficient to deny a clear majority to any party- and preferably a majority in our own right- to push through genuine change for the better.

    “Adding to the debate,” “presenting the message,” and the like are excuses given by people who DIDN’T GET ELECTED.

    Finally, there are election reforms Libertarians can back which DO have public support, which WILL turn out voters. Rolling back “campaign finance reform,” which nobody believes is fair. Stopping electronic voting and bringing back the paper trail to voting. Ending gerrymandering either through nonpolitical districting or at-large elections. These positions WILL get voters to the polls- and thus, practically speaking, they’re more worthy of the platform than PR or IRV.

  205. No house? Well you could sell your computer and cancel your internet connection for a few months and you might be able to afford a plane ticket. “Private security force?” Ah, you mean you’ll hire a meaner mob than the other mean mobs – assuming that they won’t kill you for being an American when negotiating with you. Fastest growing economy? Tell that to the millions of people starving to death there. Somaliland? Peaceful? Thank the UN, given that its the area occupied by UN security. http://www.somalianarchy.com? It’s either a joke or a bunch of white anarchocapitalists deluding themselves into thinking Somalia is some sort of a utopia.

  206. Paulie, you leave me in stitches. Somalian utopianism and conspiracy theory make for lovely entertainment, but really I don’t see why you even waste your time with the LP.

  207. David: The problem with conspiracies is that they have a tendency to fall apart the larger they become.

    In the case of 9-11, I apply Occam’s Razor:

    Is it more likely that George W. Bush snuck a multitude of explosives into the World Trade Center, dismantled four airliners and replaced them with USAF cargo planes full of explosives, falsified radio and cel phone messages from the faked planes, deliberately executed thousands of Americans, and made himself the subject of ridicule for the purpose of a botched war in Afghanistan followed by a controversial, divisive, and incompetent war in Iraq- all without anyone knowing a thing about any of it…

    … or is it more likely that a small group of radicals backed by wealthy men hijacked four airliners, flying two of them into structures that relied heavily on their external facades to support their own weight, for the purpose of following their faith- and were observed at every step by the FBI and CIA, who failed to act?

    I vote (B).

  208. No house? Well you could sell your computer and cancel your internet connection for a few months and you might be able to afford a plane ticket.

    I don’t hae a computer or an internet connection either. At the moment, I’m typing from a hotel business center. A plane ticket is insufficient for a real move, and your regime wouldn’t issue me a passport in any case.

    “Private security force?” Ah, you mean you’ll hire a meaner mob than the other mean mobs

    That’s what you’ve done, except you did not get a choice as to which one.

    – assuming that they won’t kill you for being an American when negotiating with you.

    You have some delusional fantasies about conditions there.

    Fastest growing economy? Tell that to the millions of people starving to death there.

    You must mean a long time ago, when Somalia had a government or right after it collapsed.

  209. Somaliland? Peaceful? Thank the UN, given that its the area occupied by UN security.

    Incorrect.

    It’s either a joke or a bunch of white anarchocapitalists deluding themselves into thinking Somalia is some sort of a utopia.

    It’s not a joke, a wide vriety of people post there, and nobody thinks it’s a utopia – however, it does offer a lot of advantages.

  210. Thanks for your replies, Kris.

    They’ve helped me clarify what a lot of LRC members intend vis a vis making the national platform a marketing document.

    However, the whole idea of a shared statement is, to me, problematic.

    I’ve been suggesting since the convention that perhaps party platforms are obsolete in the Information Age. It’s now cheaper for a campaign to get its message out, and for a voter to find out what a campaign or candidate stands for.

    Even Republicans are split between elected Republicans and “platform Republicans”. In fairness to them, it’s difficult to move one’s agenda in a legislative body with competing interests (which is a good point for Libertarians to raise — even if elected, it’s difficult for radical change to happen overnight).

    Similarly with electoral reform. I’ve been of the view that electoral reform will have to happen by initiative, as incumbents are reluctant to change the rules that put them in office.

    On Paul, not perfect, but more + than -. ;)

  211. but really I don’t see why you even waste your time with the LP.

    Old answer: sort of in the same way a blade of grass on a football field cares about the game. Or, just because I wish the government didn’t exist does not mean they’ll ignore me.

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

  212. paulie: Er… so, you cite as your evidence a page that destroys the conspiracy theory through Occam’s Razor, utterly fails to address any point, and merely asserts that a conspiracy is the simplest and most likely explanation.

    It really is NOT worth my time responding to you.

  213. Steve Dasbach writes: “I believe that a straight-forward “bring the troops home” resolution would have passed, had one been introduced.”

    Steve, you are correct. While I was listening to this being read I could only think that it was a doomed effort.
    There is a simple rule in Public Relations. Get to the point.
    M.H.W.

  214. MHW: “In the oilfield we have a rule about speechmaking: if you don’t strike oil in the first ten minutes, quit boring.”

    (No, I don’t know who said it; I read it in a Reader’s Digest humor collection from 1947.)

  215. The new catch phrase “fewer taxes ”¦ smaller government ”¦ more freedom” sounds too much like the catch phrase at Dick Armey’s website: “lower taxes, less government, and more freedom”, and makes us sound too much like an offshoot of the Republican Party. To which Tom Blanton agrees. I as well.

    The phrase “Socially Tolerant and Fiscally Conservative” needs to be dropped as well imho. To be tolerant of someone requires some degree of knowledge about them and we cannot know everyone, but we should not deny them the right to live as they choose as long as they harm no one. And as for being “fiscally Conservative” well a government can be that and still have a bundle of regulations in place to control your life. Maybe someone can talk the National folks into adopting something else.
    M.W.

  216. A few notes on what happened.

    1. The LRC was not the only reform movement involved. We provided the extra push to get done things that many others wanted done. I never would have launched the LRC if I thought we had to do it alone. Starting another party would have been easier and more honorable.

    2. Zero dues was not the position of all reformers. I am adamantly against and have always been so. The party should be run by those who support it. $25 is less than five hours at minimum wage. If you won’t give five hours of work for the party, you shouldn’t be making its decisions.

    2a. The bylaws committee DID make the clarification between “member” and “sustaining member.” Using different words for general party member and those who are the “shareholders” in LNC Inc. is an important distinction.

    3. Unless I missed something, the national campaign platform is no longer part of the bylaws. Therefore the 2004 platform is not our national campaign platform. Sorry Tom.

  217. Most of the stuff on that page is not proof of anything – things that don’t imply a conspiracy. And why would the government admit to the things that may be coincidental if they were truly guilty of committing the attacks? That’s just stupid! Some fighter jets that were moving to Alaska or a few dudes who thought they “heard” a missile at the Pentagon doesn’t mean anything. The multiple explosions could have been compressed air exploding because of the fire. This is a waste of time.

    Also, Somaliland considers itself an independent country and does indeed have a government, thus I think you would not find it to your liking. I learn something new every day. Probably Mogadishu would be your best bet.

  218. Nick, were in the wrong thread about this. I’ll talk to you about that some other time. Although talking to you is probably a waste of time, maybe someone reading will learn something. Mogadishu is not to my liking.

  219. When I see an assertion like ‘The World Trade Center was the first steel building to collapse from fire damage in history’, with no source, I call it drivel.

    I’m not saying it’s not true, since for all I know it could be, though it seems unlikely. By why should I believe it, or waste time on an anonymous author who expects me to take his word for such things?

  220. Nick, Mogadishu has a government now- an Islamic fundamentalist government.

    Proof of what I’ve said for years: anarchy will always collapse into tyranny.

  221. Of course – scare the masses into paying the local mob leader dues, run the block, set the rules, suddenly anarchism starts to look like government not made through any guise of democracy or providing any legal protection.

    I’ve always said that anarchism can’t ever exist in practice – it is just government by whoever can control the biggest guns. The left anarchists are less rational, because they think that everyone will voluntarily give up their guns and live in collective harmony, ignoring the fact that they would then be even more likely targets for outside mobs and foreign armies.

    At least the LP is theoretically no longer anarchistic!

  222. ‘Proof of what I’ve said for years: anarchy will always collapse into tyranny.’

    For centuries that was the conventional wisdom about democracy.

  223. David: True- all governments eventually revert to or fall to tyranny, left long enough.

    To be a bit clearer about my thought: anarchy leads directly, swiftly, and immediately to tyranny; greed abhors a vacuum.

  224. Nick Wilson and Carl Milstead since you are still about will you please explain what you mean with the following from the LRC platform “And when it comes to the world wide military commitments what does this quote mean; ” reducing the overextension of our troops through strategic placement to respond to attacks and threats, and using diplomacy where possible to avoid the necessity of military action.”

    Do you intend for U.S. troops to remain abroad?
    Thank you,
    M.H.W.

  225. I have zero problem with the concept of sustaining member, as long as there remains an avenue to join the LP with a no dues option. There must be no *institutional* barrier to party support for rank and file.

    Those that seek a greater level of party involvement should pony up some money.

  226. I’ll be glad to explain, but let me clarify first: there is no LRC “platform,” only a platform I submitted for review that the LRC should propose as a replacement in full to the current LP platform. It did not happen, but may be used in the future for alternative planks.

    In my proposal, I was indeed suggesting that we keep troops abroad, in strategic locations. In the event the US is attacked, we should be able to respond in no more than a day. We can do this by centering our troops in friendly countries in various strategic areas. While I would say we don’t really need troops in South America and Europe, I think keeping troops specifically in Japan (to watch North Korea and China) and Kuwait (to cover operations in the Middle East), and maybe a friendly location in Central Africa is a good idea as well, as long as the country wants and agrees to it. That said, I also say in my proposal that the military is overutilized and is stretched too thin. We do not need to be the world’s (cont

  227. MHW: It’s an incremental step and a compromise with those who favor fighting the war on terrorism. Bring home SOME troops now, find ways to end our current commitments and bring home the rest as we can.

    I can’t speak for Carl or Nick. My personal preference would be to bail out of Iraq ASAP; pour every groundpounder we can into Afghanistan and Pakistan, ferret out ben Laden and the Taliban leadership, then bail out of THAT war too; secure rights to share -foreign- naval stations and air bases with friendly powers for rapid response in case of attack by a foreign power; and, these things done, barring any new (and genuine) emergency in the meantime, bring the whole army home.

    I’d also renounce for all time the principle of “pre-emptive self-defense” and the use of military force to protect commercial interests, to make future entanglements less likely.

  228. policemen, but we do need a strategic defensive response plan in the event of an attack. This is one area in which isolationist tactics fail miserably. I agree that our overinvolvement has exacerbated our relations with the world, and I think we should withdraw troops from Iraq, put them back in Afghanistan, and continue to look for Al Qaeda while being ready in case Iran action becomes undeniably necessary. Just because our overinvolvement has hurt the US does not mean that it is a good idea to station the entire military domestically. Typical libertarian logic, like saying the public school system is flawed, so the solution is to ban it. The thing is, vouchers makes more sense as a current solution and is far more politically viable. In the same circumstance, remove our military from the 140 countries, center it in about 10 strategic countries, and mostly let the rest of the world do its thing. Military response is crucial to national defense, so it is constitutionally sound policy.

  229. I agree mostly, Kris, but I would argue there are certain cases where pre-emptive defensive action is necessary, such as if Iran or N. Korea arm their weapons and seriously threaten to wipe us off the face of the planet. I would rather bomb the hell out of Kim Jong Il’s house, take out the defense headquarters and destroy the weapons makers than wait for them to launch the missiles before we do anything. On the other hand, the war in Iraq never had a case for pre-emptive action, and that was always obvious.

  230. > Nick Wilson: This is one area in which isolationist tactics fail miserably.

    David Tomlin: Right. I’ve heard about that terrorist campaign that’s been devastating Switzerland.

  231. >Kris Overstreet: . . . pour every groundpounder we can into Afghanistan and Pakistan . . .

    David Tomlin: Are you assuming the Pakistani government will consent to that, or are you talking about an invasion?

    I assume you know the Pakistanis have nukes.

  232. Switzerland has had that policy from the beginning. It is too late for the US to “take back” 100 years of military expansionism, say “we made a few boo boos” and expect all wounds to be healed, especially if we are considering cutting all foreign aid, which won’t make us many friends either.

    Furthermore, I think the terrorists are afraid of the Swiss army, with their knives and compulsory national service…

  233. I can’t for the life of me understand how having troops stationed around the world helps if America is attacked. It would make more sense to have troops in America working on defense.

    If we should pre-emptively attack Iran and/or North Korea if they “threaten to wipe us off the face of the planet” (absurd as that is), shouldn’t we have gone to war with the USSR and shouldn’t we attack China immediately since they have threatened to nuke us and they actually have nukes?

    Contrary to what the war party wants you to believe, the rest of the world is not run by “madmen” willing to risk destroying their own nation by lobbing a bomb at America.

    All this talk about preventive war against Iran, who can only enrich uranium to 3% and is years away from even having a nuke, is insane.

    North Korea may have nukes but has never even tested them. If anything the attitude of the US only serves to inspire other nations to acquire WMD.

    This rabid paranoia has no place in the LP.

  234. I doubt it is just the “war party” – maybe you don’t read headlines, or maybe you think the news is just bogus, but Iran’s president did threaten to start a nuclear war last week, and N. Korea just tried to launch a missile that in a few years may be able to reach America. The issue is countries where mutual deterrence is irrelevant because they are run by religious lunatics (Iran) or by pure stark raving lunatics (North Korea). To expect them to care about mutually assured destruction, like the USSR and China, is asking a lot.

    It makes perfect sense to have the military situated strategically to respond in the event of an attack. To have to move a whole operation suddenly from the US to, say, Iran, would be more expensive and the response time would not be as fast as if we had units already stationed in Kuwait, ready to respond.

    Nonetheless, this is not really much of a debate to have on this thread – I think there are more appropriate forums.

  235. Nick Wilson: ‘I doubt it is just the “war party” – maybe you don’t read headlines, or maybe you think the news is just bogus, but Iran’s president did threaten to start a nuclear war last week . . .’

    David Tomlin: I must confess this is the first I’ve heard of this. Some googling didn’t turn up anything. Would you care to give us a cite?

    You are likely to get a bogus impression of the news if you only read headlines. I have often found, upon reading an article, that the headline gave a misleading impression or was just flat wrong.

    There’s been a lot of bogus news about Iran lately. Did you catch the yellow star story?

    If you’ve read much history, particularly of periods just before nations go to war, you should recognize the kind of hysteria campaign currently being directed against Iran.

    Whatever Ahmadinejad actually said, it is almost certainly being exaggerated and distorted as part of this campaign.

  236. I was mistaken – I meant North Korea. And that was in the event of a pre-emptive attack, which I do not believe should happen if it can be avoided. I feel like the US is taking the right course of action on N. Korea and Iran by pushing negotiations and diplomacy. That’s why I am not necessarily paranoid about them; I do believe that they are bigger threats than any other country at this point, but I do not support attacking them unless a very real and very immediate threat takes place. We have not reached that point, and thus should not be militarily entangled if we can. However, I still think stationing troops nearby is a deterrent and a precaution that is a good defensive military policy.

    I’m tired and have barely gotten any sleep the past few days…I think I’ll call it a night.

  237. “I can’t for the life of me understand how having troops stationed around the world helps if America is attacked. It would make more sense to have troops in America working on defense.”

    It’s called fighting the war on the enemy’s real estate. We are highly unlikely to be attacked by Canada or Mexico, which means that if and when we are attacked we need to send our armies thousands of miles to reach our attackers. Bombing campaigns are NOT sufficient.

    My view, however, is that naval and air bases are sufficient for this purpose. There’s no need to station ground troops permanently in other nations.

    As for Pakistan, we’d have to buy our way in there- but as things stand we cannot end the war in Afghanistan without the ability to put troops on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. The only hope we have of capturing those who ordered and masterminded 9/11 is to surround and capture them- and we can’t do that with the Pakistani border in its current porous state.

  238. When I say “permanently stationed” I mean obviously setting up bases in a few strategically located and friendly countries, with their consent, of course. Countries like Kuwait asked for our protection and reciprocally gave us a strategic base.

    I’m really not a hawk, I swear. I loathe war and think it should be very rare and only when very necessary. I think by getting out of most countries we are currently engaged in, we stand a better chance at friendlier relations with the world. I just think we need a more realistic defense plan than isolationism.

  239. Nick,

    The problem with “permanently stationed” troops overseas is that even if the “host government” willingly permits it, there’s still the problem of whether or not the populace agrees. American boots on the ground overseas can cause discontent and problems even with “host government agreemeent.” You’ll note that the Saudis agreed to a continued US troop presence after Gulf War I, and that that troop presence, not withstanding the monarchy’s acceptance of it, provided a casus belli for al Qaeda. Even if we assume that they would have found one anyway, the US presence allowed them to curry popular support that they otherwise would have had a hard time getting.

    Now — I’m an old jarhead, and I agree that the US needs to be able to project force over the horizon and, if attacked, “take the fight to the enemy’s ground.” But things have changed since World War II. A modern Carrier Battle Group allegedly disposes of more firepower than was expended by all sides (cont’d)

  240. (cont’d from comment 261) in that war, and can operate independently of forward bases for months.

    Would forward bases with US troops stationed on foreign soil make projecting force into an attacker’s part of the world easier? Yeah, sure. But there are tradeoffs.

    Forward bases are more expensive to maintain than domestic bases, and more of the money goes into foreign economies rather than back into American taxpayers’ pockets (directly, at least — yes, I’m aware that dollars clear back into the US market eventually).

    Forward bases have more potential to create or encourage new enemies than domestic bases — or, to put a finer point on it, while lack of forward bases may make war more expensive, the existence of forward bases makes war more LIKELY. A war you don’t have is by definition not as expensive as one you do have.

    The US government should save the money spent on forward bases, and in so doing decrease the risk that those forward bases will be NEEDED.

  241. Well said, Tom. (#261-262)

    Regarding ‘buy our way in’ to Pakistan (Kris Overstreet, # 259), there’s a problem. It would be very unpopular with Pakistanis, both the general population and factions, Islamist and probably others, in the military and intelligence services, who have the power to take immediate action. For a Pakistani president to take the bribe could be suicide, politically and quite likely literally. Consent might not be available at any price.

  242. First, Tom, I’m glad we can respectfully disagree on strategy without having to call each other names. If more Libertarians had your tact, we might actually be able to sit down and talk about things realistically. You bring good points to the table, and I will concede that some are true. However, although I agree with your points about the bases having the potential to make more enemies among the locals, I would say in countries like Kuwait and Japan, the conditions are relatively favorable towards our presence. From what I have read Kuwait mostly likes having our support in such a volatile region. I also point to the recent democratic elections in which women can now vote as a sign that perhaps US presence has brought around good things for its people. Japan became an economic superpower partially because of our postwar occupation and economic planning. While many believe it is time for Japan to raise its own military again and that should be allowed to happen, I don’t know of (cont’d

  243. many Japanese arguing for getting rid of the currently remaining US troops. That’s one thing I am interested in finding out about when I go live there for four months. To clarify, I don’t think bases should be “permanent” but if we are in a good situation with a good relationship with the government and the people, in a strategic location to problem regions, setting up a base for defensive response forces should be considered. If conditions change, we should change our strategy. That’s the reality of foreign affairs and military planning. If we cut our foreign operations to the minimal necessary, we can minimize the probability of making people angry (and costs), while maximizing our probability of being able to respond quickly when we have no choice. This is the balance I think we should try to attain.

  244. >Nick Wilson: Japan became an economic superpower partially because of our postwar occupation and economic planning.

    David Tomlin: That’s the sort of thing that’s taught in public schools.

    In both Germany and Japan, American occupation authorities continued wartime economic controls and sometimes added more controls. Japan was also isolated from its former trading partners. The result was poor economic performance in both countries, and in Japan there was widespread starvation.

  245. Nick Wilson :” I would say in countries like Kuwait and Japan, the conditions are relatively favorable towards our presence.” That may be true of Kuwait but Kuwait is a kingdom and why are American dollars being spent to prop up a kingdom. Prior to the 1st Gulf War Iraq had a complaint about Kuwait drilling in Iraqi oil fields at the gulf. The U.N. refused to hear the complaint. It is worth noting that the present Iraqi government has filled the a similar complaint.
    You list Iran as a potential problem, but why? Are you ignoring the work by the CIA and the Brits in 1953 which resulted in the over throw of an elected government?
    On Okinawa there are regular demostration against the American bases. In So Korea there is the same.
    Much of the animosity towrds the U.S. can be described as a result of “blowback”.
    One thing for sure is that this is not going to be solved here. We need a larger format to discuss this issue.
    M.H.W.

  246. The claim that Iran’s President threatened to start a nuclear war is bogus. The position of the Iranian government is that nuclear weapons are immoral and it is not allowable for the Iranian government to possess them–and they don’t–so they are unlikely to start a nuclear war.

    For those of you who would like a more deeply threaded discussion, in which you can all write your own diaries on which other people can comment, I invite you all to visit Liberty for America The Web site
    http://www.LibertyForAmerica.NET

  247. I feel like I have been very unclear in my feelings on this issue, so let me better explain. The US is very wrong to overthow democratically elected governments, even if they threaten our “economic interests” like Hugo Chavez. They have the right to sovreignty on their own turf. If Japan, South Korea and Kuwait do not want our presence, they should be able to tell us to leave, and we should respect their wishes. My base strategy was only in a case where both countries mutually benefit and agree with our presence there. At the same time, we should cut our international military operations from all but the base countries and countries where we are engaged for a valid defense purpose (like Afghanistan). Furthermore, I believe N. Korea and Iran have the right to own WMDs. I laugh when the cover story in the news is “US condemns N. Korea missile launch,” and the inside cover is “US tidying up nuclear arsenal.” But we must take real threats seriously, and must not be blackmailed into paying

  248. N. Korea millions of dollars or else Kim will press the button. The fact that we have already angered the world by our military operations must be factored in to any future military strategy, and withdrawing all our forces from everywhere may only increase our likelihood of being attacked because we allow our enemies to thrive, and in the event of an attack we will be unable to respond immediately.

  249. Nick Wilson, from what I have read of your posts, you belong in the Republican Party, or as was stated about another, are you just trying to be a big fish in a small pond?

  250. I’m late to this conversation, but ironically I just wrote an article examining some of the LP planks (pre-convention) and giving my “take” on them as a non-Libertarian. Interested parties may read it here.

    I am trying to find something that explains what the new platform is. Perhaps elsewhere on this site? I’ll keep looking. Thanks!

  251. The pragmatists have won ”” for now. They are in charge. So we will see what they do implementing their vision for the LP in the next two years. Compromise, moderation and appeasement have always worked so well to deliver freedom and liberty from government.

    2008 will be exciting, I am sure. I cannot wait for the excuses. [“The plank,” “we are broke,” “the platform,” “harsh purists,” whhaaaaa!!!!]

    Powell
    Freedom’s Phoenix

  252. Ethan, I liked your article. I may disagree with some of your points and perhaps could debate certain issues in the future. However, your points thoughtful are articulated quite well.

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