Saturday, July 01, 2006

Convention Update

Hammer of Truth has a very worthwhile post for those interested in the future direction in the national Libertarian Party. I'll post a few paragraphs and interpret.
Current LNC Chair Michael Dixon has withdrawn his candidacy for re-election, leaving Ernest Hancock, George Phillies, and Bill Redpath in the race. The Vice Chair race is being fought by M Carling and Chuck Moulton, with rumors of a third candidate entering late.

This is distressing news to me. Michael Dixon has been very careful to balance out the factions within the LP, but has had a tilt towards the reformers who would make the LP more broadly appealing. Earnest Hancock is an extreme Libertarian who would make reform very difficult, in my opinion. I can't imagine him having the slightest interest in balancing factions. George Phillies has run for Chair every convention for years, always touting the success of his local LP chapter, but without electoral victories or other more inspiring proof to offer. Bill Redpath has been a great champion for 50-state ballot access. Beyond this, I have no idea what Bill stands for. Very distressing to see Dixon withdraw.
The Libertarian Reform Caucus held yesterday afternoon had a significant number of attendees, though it’s not clear how many people in the room were supporters and how many were just interested in seeing what the fuss was about. Rumors about the LRC plans include abolishing between 35 and 39 planks of the platform outright and repealing the pledge.

For me, this was the exciting business of the convention. The idea that some of our verbose, tinfoil hat wearing planks could vanish is very promising to me. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "I like you Libertarians, but I have a real problem with 'x' plank of your platform," I could buy a lot of TV time in November.
Attendence looks to be in the 350-500 range, with a broad range of exhibitors and speakers. The combination of an off-year and Portland’s location account for the reduction in attendence from the immediate past convention in Atlanta, which attracted closer to 1000 attendees.

I would also argue that holding a convention on 4th of July weekend is just stupid. Those of us who are candidates cannot justify leaving town. There are a few parades and festivals, you might have heard.

Portland would have been fun, though I've been hearing it was an expensive air destination. The 2002 event in Indy drew 800+ conventioneers.


Bartleby said...

If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say, "I like you Libertarians, but I have a real problem with 'x' plank of your platform," I could buy a lot of TV time in November.

Mr. Kole, I have a great idea for you LP folks, and you can have it for free, which should also help with the purchase of all that TV time. Just borrow the GOP platform! After all, I'm sure they're not using it ... and they have lots of fully-inspiring electoral success to demonstrate their ability to build a fine, deceptive, no-ideology-permitted Big Tent. Why, you could be playing in the political major leagues in no time at all!

Mike Kole said...

Nonsense. I want Libertarian ideology, I just want it in a way that the American people- remember them?- can understand and more immportantly, accept. It isn't working right now with our verbose platform and with a pledge that scares imminently more away than it attracts. There is nothing deceptive about saying that the message could be better delivered.

But, as it happens, it was reported to me that 44 of the platform planks went down to defeat today in Portland. This gives me hope that we are indeed moving away from the iconoclastic 1% minor league mentality that has shackled the libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party, and towards embracing the actual role of a political party, which is to elect people to office and to move policy in our direction.

It most certainly is not about preserving the comfort of the hardcore, radical no-exceptions-permitted-in-the-club philosophical purist.

Debbie said...

So Ernie's out causing some waves? Cool. :) Those Arizona libertarians taught me a lot when I was on their yahoo lists discussing campaigns I was involved in here a few years ago. It was quite interesting, I heard one thing from the LPIN and a whole other perspective from the Arizona folks.

Following the LPIN perspective made us sound just like the Republicans.

I had to think things through and in the end, I came down on the perspective of the Arizona group.

But of course it also made me realize that Mike K. is right too, one purpose of a political party is to elect candidates and if that's what you want, rather than educate about libertarian ideas, then that means you have to pander and that makes it difficult to be logically consistent to a basic philosophy.

If Ernie wins, I will definitely be following the LP activities with more interest.

I predict the Indiana contingent votes for Redpath. But Melanie, can you hear me? Why don't you give Ernie your vote, just for me? Oh nevermind, I forgot, I'm not involved in this stuff anymore. :)

Anyone else want to make predictions?


Bartleby said...

Nonsense. I want Libertarian ideology, I just want it in a way that the American people- remember them?- can understand and more immportantly, accept.

Come on, Mr. Kole, how do you expect to build a big ol' slick electin' machine while telling the Amurkan people they're boobs who can't understand the LP platform? You could put people off that way. And I can't believe you're willing to leave a single vote on the table, when you might collect it with finessed-away principles and spin.

Besides, you didn't say what's wrong with the GOP platform. Plenty of them get elected, right? And, after all, isn't that the sole purpose of a platform? Go ahead and grab the thing. I'm sure that a fellow as clever as yourself can easily change a word or two, here and there, enough to avoid any possible copyright or trademark issues.

Why would anyone vote for a minor-party elephant-in-drag, when they can vote for the real pachyderm and come out feeling like a winner?

Mike Kole said...

Bartleby- The major parties don't even bother with their platforms. The individuals running for office offer their own personal platforms, and they can be wildly divergent from whatever their national parties come up with. There is a huge difference, for instance, between the fairly conservative Dems that come out of Indiana and the more liberal Dems from the coasts.

But nevermind the Ds & Rs. The difference between the radical and the pragmatic Libertarians is not in the philosophy at all. It is in the delivery of the philosophy.

Here's the challenge to you: Since you think that LPIN = GOP-alikes, which philospohical libertarian positions have I personally denounced? Which distinctly Republican positions have I embraced?

Good luck to you, my friend.

I have huge respect for Debbie, by the way. Debbie is more interested in advancing libertarian philosophy on a wide range of topics, so she left the political party behind and began blogging, eventually getting a newspaper column.

Because I am interested in discussing a more concise range of libertarian positions, being a candidate for office is more appropriate for me.

Columnists and philosophers don't have to worry about saying too many irrelevant things such that it undermines their objectives. Candidates for office do. What's the point in me talking about Iraq or abortion as a candidate for Secretary of State? Nothing to do with the job, that's for sure. Sure, candidates from other parties do that, but does that make them deep thinkers, or merely panderers?

Rex Bell said...

If you go to the National LP site, and click on LPStuff, you will find a t-shirt that has Einstein's definition of insanity printed on it. Something about doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I guess it's poking fun at Republicans and Democrats and their voting habits.

I predict if Hancock is elected, the national LP will continue to be mired in the 1% rut it has been in for 35 years. I don't have any predictions about what will happen if Bill or George win, other than that I don't believe national will be much of an asset for local and state candidates campaigns.

For the next few years,the success of the LP will depend on local and statewide candidates presenting workable and acceptable small government solutions.

You can call it what you want, selling out, pandering or Republican-Lite, but if it leads to smaller government, I'm willing to give it a try.

That, or we can join a discussion group, hope for 1% of the vote, and watch the government grow.

Just my opinion, of course.

Mike Kole said...

Bill Redpath was elected by a pretty wide margin. Bill was talking about hiring a political director for the national party, to which I say, it's about time.

The majority of the platform planks were removed. The votes were by a wide margin.

My bet is that the reformers will be given a short window of time for making hay. The 2008 convention, the presidential cycle, will attract a greater number of delegates- many of whom may be itching to restore the platform. Time for us to put up or shut up.

Fascist Nation said...

You either own yourself or you don't.

You either reject owning others or you don't.

You either are entitled to keep everything your create or you don't.

You either are entitled to seize other's services and property, or you are not.

Which is it? And why do you find it so difficult to defend?

As for getting Libertarians elected, that will never happen. If voting could change things it would be illegal.

Okay, I will make an exception. If acceptable politicians finding the need to abandon their R or D labels, decided to seize the L tag, and empower the Libertarian Party with the same armed robbery and enslavement powers they currently weild as R and D's, then I guess the LP would be a huge success.

But you sure wouldn't see change. Other than a change in the lable.

Mike Kole said...

We have electoral successes in Indiana. Susan Bell was elected Judge in Hagerstown, as a Libertarian. Phil Miller was elected to Greenfield City Council, as a Libertarian, defeating an incumbent Republican who was GOP County Chair.

Libertarians can and do win elections. Problem is, libertarians can be some of the biggest hindrances to that process, eschewing the knowledge, team-building, and actual campaigning work that leads to electoral success.

Phil Miller's approach was pretty simple: go door-to-door in the whole district 3 times. My campaign manager Rob Place went door-to-door in his camapaign for Noblesville City Council. He lost but he got 43% of the vote.

Mainly, Libertarians usually fail to do the work.

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