Saturday, March 10, 2007

Libertarians and Harrison Square

I have had several emails asking me if the Libertarian Party of Allen County has an official stance on Harrison Square...

The short answer is, no...

There were three local Libertarians who spoke at the public event Thursday night. I was surprised when I ran across two other Libertarians at the event. We certainly did not plan on attending the event as a group...

Two of us spoke against the baseball stadium and one of us spoke in favor of the entire project. I know that Scott Greider is a Libertarian and he was not able to attend the event. Had he attended the event I am sure he would have spoken in favor of the project...

I would say that a majority of local Libertarians oppose building a new baseball stadium downtown...

That being said, I know at least two local Libertarians who are in favor of the project as is...

The Libertarian Party of Allen County has room for those with differing viewpoints and we certainly do NOT march in "lockstep."

Mike Sylvester


Jennifer Jeffrey said...

Well said, Mike.

I think it is essential there be room for debate on every issue in every party. Keeping the ideals in the forefront of discussion, of course.

From our national party website :

Frequently asked questions about the Libertarian Party

What is a Libertarian?

Let's start with Webster's definition:

Libertarian: A person who upholds the principles of individual liberty especially of thought and action. Capitalized: a member of a political party advocating libertarian principles.

Libertarians believe in, and pursue, personal freedom while maintaining personal responsibility. The Libertarian Party itself serves a much larger pro-liberty community with the specific mission of electing Libertarians to public office.

Libertarians strongly oppose any government interfering in their personal, family and business decisions. Essentially, we believe all Americans should be free to live their lives and pursue their interests as they see fit as long as they do no harm to another.

In a nutshell, we are advocates for a smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom."

I invite everyone to check out principals within every party and see what the ideals are which drive them.

Statistics and personal experience confirm more people than publicly admit are identified with our principals.

Not everyone in every party will have the same opinions on every issue, nor should they.

What fun would it be, anyways, without debate and the fight to make life better constantly?

Jennifer Jeffrey
Chair, Libertarian Party of Allen County
Check out our new blog which will begin to expand rapidly:

Debbie said...

I get so confused when I read Ft. Wayne libertarian blogs. This project will be at least partially funded by other people's money through forced taxation, right? Then if there is a question as to how libertarians stand as to principle, what does it have to do with "differing viewpoints?"

Mike, why do you use inflammatory language like "march in lockstep?" The whole point of libertarians as a new party is that there actually are principles to apply to any situation.

On the basic issue of government force there is no need for debate and that is entirely the point. Otherwise you are no different than any other party.

Jennifer, you wrote this as an explanation of libertarians:
"Libertarians strongly oppose any government interfering in their personal, family and business decisions."

So if this project uses government funds, how is there any debate on how libertarians would stand on the issue? If you are going to mention following principles, then how can you also talk about mere opinion? Again, if you go that route how are you different than the other parties?

You also wrote this:
"What fun would it be, anyways, without debate and the fight to make life better constantly?"

There is certainly room for debate and discussion. But on the wide variety of private choices individuals and groups can make while living our lives.

But when government force is concerned there should be no debate or opinion on the matter if you are going to talk about libertarians following principle.

Your local party certainly doesn't have to follow principle. But I don't get why you like to talk about it so much while at the same time saying it's really a matter of opinion and viewpoint.

It's just so confusing to those trying to learn what libertarianism is really all about.

By the way, does your party have a list of book you like to recommend to people interested in learning more about libertarianism? And if so, what books do you all like up there?


LP Mike Sylvester said...


You and I 100% disagree about what a Libertarian is.

That becomes extremely obvious to me when I read your posts...

You seem to believe in a "Libertopia" viewpoint that is NOT POSSIBLE.

I respect your views and I think you state them quite well; however, the road to change is through "incremental" change in my opinion...

There certainly are Fort Wayne Libertarians who share your point of view!

I am not one of them...

There is room for all of us...

Mike Sylvester

Debbie said...

Mike, there you go again with the language, talking about "libertopia." It's exactly that kind of stuff that's been coming from those in the other parties that libertarians have been working against for years. But they kept pushing and pushing, trying to get people to understand how libertarians apply the basic principles to any issue.

And the ironic thing is that all that pushing ended up with the situation we have now, where so many like to talk about libertarian principle, but when it comes time to actually use it to take a stand, they back off, afraid they might alienate a potential voter. But I understand the dilemma as a political party, really I do.

That's why I asked about books. Because your local party can certainly try to do their thing in order to win votes and still actively help those who want to learn more about the philosophy.

I would love for you to respond to my question about books on libertarian philosophy. Which ones do you recommend to those in your area who want to dig deeper and learn more? Which ones are your favorites?

Based on what I've read from him, I'm pretty sure Robert Enders would have some suggestions, but I'm curious as to what your recommendations might be.

Scott said...


Maybe it would help to distinguish between libertarian principles, which allow for some grey areas (though much, much less than standard conservative principles), and libertarian anarchist principles, which allow for almost no grey areas. My uncle at one time believed in the latter, which caused him to, among other things, never vote because "it legitimizes an illegitimate institution." That philosophy would obiviously oppose not just taxes being used for special economic development projects but also all publicly-funded roads, utilities, armies, etc. Everything! But obviously, though great in theory, almost no reasonable person holds to that.

General libertarism tends to recongnize reality (i.e. the basic need to get around and arbitrate disputes), yet still fight to keep third-party (i.e. government) involvement and intrusion into peoples lives at the smallest reasonable level.

Therefore, a general libertarian need not oppose the Harrison Square project on libertarian principles. Rather, only desire that where government is involved, it is at the smallest level possible while still providing it's citizens the maximum social benifit for their buck.

And also remember, it's not this development vs. a currently libertarian Fort Wayne. Though typically politically and socially conservative, Fort Wayne by no means resembles anything like libertarianism. As I continue to point out, taxes are collected (confiscated if you're a lib anarchist ;-)) and spent everyday on tons of development projects. While trying to keep them both to a minimum, the immediate goal is to simply target them toward the most benificial areas for the most people.

I, as a libertarian, think that's Harrison Square! ;-)

LP Mike Sylvester said...


I will try to answer your question more thoroughly!

I actually do not spend time reading books about Libertarianism...

I enjoyed "Atlas Shrugged" in my youth...

I enjoy reading articles distributed by the Cato Institute and I take the time to read their articles most days.

I do my very best to consume media that is Libertarian, Liberal, and Conservative... That allows me to make informed decisions and look at things from multiple angles.

Robert Enders WOULD be a much better resource when looking for books discussing "Libertarian" philosophy! Robert Enders is more "Libertarian" then I am!

I have had several "theoretical libertarians" tell me that I am not a Libertarian, they tell me that I am half Libertarian and half small government conservative... That are probably right...

Believe it or not; in the past when I have been curious what the "Libertarian" view of something was I have called Robert Enders on the telephone and I have asked him.

There are several items that I disagree with the Libertarian Party on... That is ok... I do not agree with ANYONE 100% of the time...

As far as I am concerned I am in favor of anything that limits the size and scope of Government. I think that we can get there "incrementally!"

I am not in favor of dismantling the Government...

Let me give you an example:

I tend to think that our Public School system is not effectively educating our children.

I am 100% in favor of abolishing the entire Federal Department of Education and letting each of the 50 States regulate their own school systems as they see fit.

I think this would allow for experimentation and I think we would develop better school systems down the road.

I am willing to look at a "voucher system" as well...

Even though I dislike the Federal involvement in our Education system my children attend public schools.

They attend public schools because we chose to live in a school district that we thought would do a reasonable job of educating our children...

My wife and I both volunteer at the school and help the PTO as much as possible...

Some would say that I am being hypocritical... In fact I have had this arguement with a couple of people recently...

I do not think I am being hypocritical at all...

Mike Sylvester

Mike Kole said...

This is a great dialogue here!

People need to remember that the Libertarian Party is a political party, and is distinct from libertarian philosophy per se.

Political parties are all coalitions. Nowhere in political parties will you find unanimous agreement. Look at the Ds & Rs and you will generally find an absence of guiding principles, and more a coalition of special interest groups. The Libertarian Party is an exception to this in that it is guided by the core principles of smaller government and expanded liberty. But again, the LP is a coalition of the liberty-minded. The coalition ranges from people with a single issue focus (such as the war on drugs or gay rights), to those with a simple smaller government focus, to minarchists, anarchists, Objectivists, and others still. That's a range, to be sure.

Within that range, there are strategies, from the incrementalist to the purist.

For instance, while I espouse and hold dear the ideals and the endpoints, I believe that within the political process, the only way to advance the libertarian agenda is incrementally. I do not believe that you will gain the interest in the masses of voters by enunciating the ideal endpoint, but by moving for incremental gains towards liberty. My estimation is that the American people are not ready politically to move in giant steps towards liberty, and that enunciating endpoints via the platform of a candidacy is repellant to the average voter.

I believe that it is wholly necessary for libertarian philosophers to enunciate the endpoint ideals. But the roles are distinct in that while both the Libertarian Party person and the libertarian philosopher desire a shift in public policy towards liberty, the philosopher need not concern himself with political strategy in the way the candidate for office must. Thus, I find that the philosophers tend to believe that there is one true path, and have real issue with people who maybe are true to a pure libertarian vision 90-95% of the time. I can understand their frustration, even if I think it misses the forest for the trees.

For instance, when I asked Debbie to support my campaign by taking a yard sign, she declined. Now I sincerely doubt that meant she was going to be voting Democrat or Republican, but I know that mine was not the kind of candidacy that excited the purist libertarians such as Debbie. The strategy was a calculated risk. The chances were that they wouldn't be defecting to the other parties. But, I had to take the opportunity to broaden the appeal of my candidacy beyond the faithful. I'll be the first to say that the numbers weren't there, but my steadfast hope is that bridges were built to the media and to new constituent groups (anti-annexation forces, those suffering property rights/eminent domain attacks, bar & restaurant owners on smoking and other property issues, etc.), all towards a better climate for liberty.

In sum, we all do it our own way. It's a matter of selecting the right vehicle for you.

Speaking of which, I have tremendous respect for Debbie in her stepping away from the Libertarian Party and into writing a newspaper column. There she can take the purist tack on any topic, and it's a great thing.

Once I was deep into the campaign, I was jealous of that freedom. I could have exercised it, I suppose, but I believe that would have taken the campaign to be about me instead of about advancing liberty and the Libertarian party of Indiana.

Anyhow, Mike- you most certainly *are* a libertarian. You believe in smaller goverment, less intrusive government, and greater individual liberty in every area of life, even if you don't go for absolutes today on these things. As for me, I'd rather build the bridge with those who agree with 55% of libertarian principles than shun one for a 5% disagreement. That's just counter-productive.

Debbie said...

Holy Moly, where do I start?! First let me say I appreciate the willingness of all of you to respond.

Scott, thanks for dropping in to describe how you differentiate the various forms of libertarianism out there. No surprise I guess but I probably fall into the libertarian anarchist group. The thing about "smallest" and "reasonable" level is that everyone defines that differently. So anyone can say that's what they stand for because really, they get to draw the line where they want to draw it once you say government should have some control. So I see no difference there in all the parties.

Mike S.,
I understand everyone is not going to read the book like I do. But if you prefer getting your information in smaller online bits and news then I suggest you drop in occasionally at to round out your reading for libertarian oriented material. Anytime they post an article by Murray Rothbard, read it, I guarantee you'll learn something, I always do.

It's interesting you use education and schools as your example. That issue is precisely what headed me down the road to being the libertarian minded person I am today. :) That's probably why I'm so big on trying to keep people continuing their personal education on libertarianism even after they have discovered the political party. That's really what bothers me, that people find out about the party and then stop educating themselves on exactly all that libertarianism is about. I guess that's why I write the column, to at least feel like I am doing my part for continuing education. And I'm really talking about mine, not the readers because each time I tackle a topic I have to really think it through as I apply libertarian principles.

Mike K,
I don't know why I periodically let it bother me that the LP isn't more than any other political party. Intellectually I understand why it can't be, yet I still feel like it should be. I fall into the camp that thinks the best use of the lp is really as an educational tool. But the people involved have moved way past that option. Yet I understand the frustration with doing that.

I have to say I don't even really remember you asking me to put up a yard sign. Was it when you were at that candidate forum I attended at Clark's 4-h fairgrounds? Don't feel bad, we didn't even put up a sign in our yard for Eric and my hsuband was his campaign's treasurer! That was mostly about our homeowner's association's policies which we voluntarily agreed to follow. :) I think as far as what I see the current LPIN being, you were a great SOS candidate. But you're right, the vote tally was interesting wasn't it. ;) I'm sure you did forge some new contacts though and you should be proud of your hard work, you definitely spent the time and energy and I respect you on that at the very least.

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