LP “Platform Committee” asks Libertarians to participate

The Libertarian Party Platform Committee recently put out an online survey (proudly powered by PHPQuestionaire and apparently not important enough to be even slightly themed beyond utilitarian needs, selah). Committee Chair Alicia Mattson explains the purpose of this survey along with a condensed history of the previous two platform edits:

Four years ago, based on survey feedback by thousands of you, the 2008 Platform Committee learned what type of platform you wanted. This critically important feedback helped us construct proposals to successfully rebuild our party platform in a new style – short, bold and outwardly focused, yet still in keeping with our core values.

Thanks to your input, the 2008 convention delegates were able to accomplish an amazing feat, getting the 2/3rds agreement necessary to rebuild a complete platform in a single convention day.

Then in 2010 the Platform Committee focused on editorial cleanup, as the 2008 platform was rebuilt with cut-and-paste passages from past platforms, which left some subject matter holes and some readability shortcomings.

With the 2012 convention just around the corner, our convention delegates will soon be voting on improvements to the platform. Again, this year’s Platform Committee focused on polishing existing language and filling in subject matter holes to address current issues not previously covered.

The 2012 Platform Committee met in December and adopted a series of 16 recommendations. Each is presented here with a note from the committee chair describing the purpose. By completing this survey you will be able to share with us your thoughts on our recommendations, many of which were inspired by written comments received on the 2008 and 2010 surveys.

Your responses will be very helpful. If you identify important factors we overlooked, or if you can think of improvements for the proposals, the Committee will have an opportunity to modify our report when we meet again in Las Vegas just before the convention in May.

Right away, the first plank has been is rewritten to take out the word “force”, here’s the current one:

  • Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. No individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.

And its proposed replacement:

  • Libertarians recognize individual self-ownership and the right to make personal choices. Our support of an individual’s right to make choices does not mean that we approve or disapprove of those choices. With rights come responsibilities, and the right to make a choice depends on both understanding that it has consequences and accepting responsibility for them. Government’s proper role is to protect the rights of every individual.

I can already tell a lot of Libertarians and Libertarian candidates are going to be livid about that word-soup of a rewrite, but even more won’t even give a shit about the LP’s platform at this point and run on their own platform with just a cursory nod to the LP. If the outcome is a rewrite, it would mark a radical shift away from their founding principles not to put that non-aggression principle in the very beginning of the platform.

I do like the intended purpose of this though, “This proposal remedies both of these problems, improves the general readability and style, and additionally gives our candidates protection against accusations that we think 3-year-olds can choose whether or not to use heroin, drive cars, and carry guns.” I’ve never heard a candidate being accused of this, except by someone saying it ironically.

If they think changing the platform language will change the interactions of “throw reality to the wind” theory-spouting, mouth-foaming debates lobbed from clever detractors, they are very very wrong. If anything it has been nice being able to say that while libertarians won’t start a fight, they won’t back down from one either.

I strongly encourage everyone to go ahead and participate in their survey — all 17 exhaustive pages of it — so set aside some free time to critique their latest efforts (comments are allowed per plank, and will presumably be made public at some point).

Finally, a question to Hammer of Truth readers and LP political observers: Is this simply a long overdue process for the LP to transform itself into a “real political party” that edits its charter to stay up-to-date in a fast-evolving world, or is this process yet another ball of fail being wound from a four year string of platform rewrite blunders?

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