Home » Liberty's Friend » The road to LP victories

The road to LP victories

by Bill Van Allen, Jr.

Libertarian PartyYou’ve all no doubt heard the old saying – attributed to Teddy Roosevelt, I think – “I’d rather be right than be President?”

An awful lot of Libertarians – who THINK they’re really helping advance the cause of individual liberty with personal responsibility and minimal government – seem to have taken that saying to heart and modified it somewhat: “I’d rather be right than have a Libertarian elected to ANY office.” And I’d bet most don’t even realize it.

Sad isn’t it? Hey, if you’re one of them, don’t stop listening to me just yet. There’s a larger point to this article, and if you read to the end of it – and then think about what I’ve said for a moment before you respond – you might find that you actually agree with it. It’s important that we can consider concepts independent of who is part of the conceptualizing. That’s the only way to find the rational course of action, and if Libertarians are about anything, we’re about rational thought processes. Please read on.

When you take that mindset into account, it’s really no wonder that more Libertarians don’t offer themselves for public office. It’s bad enough having to defend yourself from the outrageous exaggerations and misrepresentations of your position by the political opposition (R’s and D’s) without having to put up with even MORE vicious criticisms from members of – or nominal supporters of – your own party.

Look at the contrast. Once there’s only one candidate left, the Republicans and Democrats rally around him/her, almost without exception. A Libertarian on the ballot has to watch his own back, because there are always some Libertarians who are more concerned with undermining his/her candidacy because of one or two positions than they are with getting the member of their party actually ELECTED, where he/she might be able to do more good than the Republicrats will. Until we learn to close ranks and support our candidates, even if they’ve got a pimple or two, we’ll never be a political force to be reckoned with. Even with those nominal blemishes – real or imagined – any Libertarian candidate is better by far than any Republicrat statist candidate.

The Libertarian Party is in the process of growing up and some of our number are stubbornly resisting supporting anything but “the perfect Libertarian candidate.” Hey, people, grow up! There is NO such thing as the “perfect Libertarian candidate” because there’s no such thing as the “perfect Libertarian!” If we believe in anything, it’s in each individual’s right to be what he wants to be, as long as he doesn’t commit fraud or force someone else to do his bidding against their will. Libertarians need to learn to distinguish between a good Libertarian candidate and the two evils, and support the “good” LP candidate instead of holding out for perfection. If we don’t support a “good” candidate over two evil ones, we’ll still get evil.

Look at it this way: The erosion of our liberties didn’t happen overnight; it was a process of incremental change which began in the 1970′s. What’s taken us to the point we’re at now – where government has the power to spy on our every move – physical and financial – is called “incrementalism.” And that’s the only effective way to get our liberties back. If we don’t slow the American locomotive down as it races headlong to the New World Order station first, we’ll never be able to back it up the tracks to the U.S. sovereignty and the system of minimal federal government our Founding Fathers created. And if we can’t slow it down, the only way to stop it is to blow it up and build a new engine. That’s not a rational solution.

None of us will live long enough to see the latter plan be successful, and if we try that plan, the highly organized forces of repression will simply take over in the midst of the ensuing chaos and establish their iron-fisted military rule, and there will be nothing all our “protesting” will be able to do about it. Individual liberty as the cornerstone of a nation will have been wiped off the earth – probably forever, certainly for several lifetimes – because of our inability to back a Libertarian candidate who is not “perfect.” At first, change will come slowly, but if we don’t accept a little change when we really crave a LOT of change, we’ll never get to the BIG changes we want to see. First we put the brakes on big government. Then we shrink it. Maybe one day Americans will be responsible enough so that we can mostly do WITHOUT government at all, but first we who value personal responsibility have to take responsibility for helping create the change we want to see.

That’s what we’re facing, and the decision is ours. Each of us. Individually.

Which of us want to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

 

Bill Van Allen, Jr.
At-Large Rep 1, LPF
Chair, LPSRQ (Sarasota County)
LP candidate for FL House, District 69, 2002 & 2004

30 Responses to The road to LP victories

  1. billwald

    November 2, 2006 at 1:37 pm

    Maybe Libertarians don’t run as Libertarians because they know that except in very local elections there is almost zero chance of a minority party candidate winning and that the NEA plus the AARP can swing any election they care about.

  2. Eric Dondero

    November 2, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Excellent article. I’m now predicting that this may very well be the best year in a decade for Libertarians elected to office.

    Don Gorman is about to be elected to the New Hampshire State House! That is a huge victory for the Libertarian Party. Word has it he’s a shoe-in.

    And in Vermont, 5 Libertarians have a chance to win election to the State House.

    Where’s the front page story in Reason Magazine about this? Why aren’t the guys at Cato talking this up? Why do we have so many Policy Wankers downgrading the efforts of Libertarian activists?

    Could it be they’re in competition for the same $$$ dollars as us Libertarian activists?

    Libertarian victories this year, will hopefully once and for all silence the idiotic rantings of the anti-politics libertarians.

    For daily coverage on Libertarian election victories:

    http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

  3. Kennita Watson

    November 2, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for saying in a new way (hopefully a persuasive one for being less metaphorical) what I have tried to get across to many Libertarians over the years — that we cannot teleport from here to Libertopia. We must ride the freedom train across the coercion-strewn wastelands, and to do that we have to lay track between here and there. In between, attempting to deny that we have lain track in a place where there is still coercion is to attempt to deny reality, which is counterproductive.

    For now, let’s just agree on the direction we’re heading, so we can lay track together. Once we’re within hailing distance of Libertopia, we can perhaps split the track at that point — if we feel we need to. But from here, we are far enough from “no force or fraud” in politics that it is a point on the horizon. So here’s a spike to pound in; “less force”, or maybe “less fraud”. Pick one. We’ll pound together, and get a little closer to Libertopia. It’s a long haul, and progress will be much slower than any of us would like, but at least we’ll be moving in the right direction rather than standing still or backsliding as we argue about minutiae.

  4. John Wayne Smith

    November 2, 2006 at 2:21 pm

    Well, Mr. Van Allen does that mean that you now support my candidacy after 3 years of trying to keep me off the ballot as a Libertarian.

    I think that either you have had a sudden revelation or you speak out of both sides of your mouth.

    You worked to keep me off the ballot in 2002 and in 2006. You succeded in 2002 but I ran this time with out your permission and you tried to get the LPF to take legal action against me because I advertised my self as a Libertarian.

    There is a lot of truth in what you say but it is hard to believe coming from you.

    John wayne Smith, on ballot NPA Candidate for Governor of Florida, 2006
    James J Kearney, On Ballot Candidate for Lt. Governor of Florida, 2006

    The first Libertarians on a statewide state level ballot.

  5. John Wayne Smith

    November 2, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    Sorry, that should have been:

    “The first Libertarians on a Florida statewide state level ballot.

  6. Art Olivier

    November 2, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    Bill,

    Thank you for your insightful article. After enduring five years of insults from public unions, special interest groups, media and the public while reducing the size of government while I served on the Bellflower City Council, I developed a very thick skin. Thank goodness I do not let the vocal minority of Libertarians get me down as I would be spending too much time defending my positions to them instead of attacking the statist politicians from the two old parties. So far in my election for California Governor, Libertarians have written to the campaign to announce that they are actively opposing me because they believe that I am anti-gun, anti-gay, anti-immigrant or pro-Bush.

    I can remember Harry Browne getting upset when he was attacked by fellow Libertarians when we ran in 2000. This was unfortunately a distraction for the campaign.

    Some people are opposed to the Libertarian Party transforming itself from a philosophical debating club and into strong political party. We must not let those who would impede that transformation to slow us down.

  7. Susan Hogarth

    November 2, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    “Look at the contrast. Once there’s only one candidate left, the Republicans and Democrats rally around him/her, almost without exception.”

    This is a bit naive. Kerry was _savaged_ by progressive democrats (or, as Howard Dean poetically put it, the “Democratic wing of the Democratic Party”) and Bush also faced serious opposition after his nomination. I’ve also seen this at the local level.

    Any group of passionate supporters of an idea will have differences, and will air them frequently. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    I agree that Libertarians need to support Libertarian candidates more, but I don’t see this esaay as accomplishing much in that direction. Instead of fostering good feeling and comradeship, the author chooses a few DATS before the election to publicly trash fellow Libertarians. And for what? For not being supportive enough of their comrades! The irony is pretty thick!

    Stop complaining about other people complaining, and start talking positively about your fellow Libertarians (radicals and moderates) and you might see some meaningful discussion and change.

  8. Christy Ann Welty

    November 2, 2006 at 4:11 pm

    You make a valuable point about perfection versus progress, Mr Van Allen, but it is undercut by one of your supporting points — that the Ds and Rs rally around their choices with no backbiting or criticism.

    This is simply not true. I don’t have much to do with Ds and Rs, but I do know of specific instances where there has been FAR from unified support for the chosen candidate. If I hung out with them regularly, I’d probably have truckloads of stories to tell. You have been taken in by their spin masters. Our spin masters do the same thing — the national face of Libertarians looks quite unified at a superficial glance.

    My point is that L humans are not much different than D humans or R humans. You are calling for Libertarians to behave much more honorably than Ds or Rs. It sounds like another shade of the very criticism you are making — you would prefer a perfect support base instead of recognizing that it’s in a growth phase and has a lot of progress to gain as it matures.

  9. Richard Rider

    November 2, 2006 at 4:58 pm

    I’m not a purist. While I consider myself a strong Libertarian, my real world solutions are pragmatic, based on what the public will accept.

    But it is wrong to think that compromising on issues will get us elected in PARTISAN races (races where your political party is listed on the ballot) — except in the tiniest jurisdictions. The two party tribal mentality of the vast majority of our voters precludes us getting serious consideration.

    Our biggest opponent is the “wasted vote fallacy” — if you vote Libertarian, the greater evil might win the office. It is THIS issue, and not our positions on policies, that kills our chances of winning significant partisan elections — at least for the forseeable future. UNLESS one is a luminary who draws support for one’s fame (such as Jesse Ventura did, or Clint Eastwood COULD do).

    New Hampshire is GREAT — half a million people and 400 part-time elected folks in the state assembly. One can win such a seat with 1,500 or less TOTAL votes. You can actually go out and meet all the voters.

    BTW, is Don Gorman running as a cross-endorsed candidate — a Libertarian and a Republican? That’s often the case in that wonderful land. But it casts doubt as to whether we are electing a Libertarian PARTY candidate (Don is clearly a libertarian).

    The races we can win, and sometimes DO win, are the NONpartisan offices — especially the small ones. There pragmatism holds sway, plus a lack of party affiliation.

    But it is not really necessary to compromise one’s principles too much when running for PARTISAN office. You are trying to change the thinking of the electorate more than win such elections. You can swing for the fences. Or not. Same outcome.

    Yes, I support some “impure” libertarians. But the flexibility has limits. For instance, one of our candidates supported welfare and more government-provided housing. Another got an “F” from a gun rights group (and scores low on other issues). I think we can do better than this.

    Richard Rider
    Chair Emeritus
    San Diego County Libertarian Party

  10. Mary-Anne Wolf

    November 2, 2006 at 5:09 pm

    The active part of the LP in the state where I live, Massachusetts, is currently very small. If someone is willing to do something, I can\’t be selective. I am just glad it gets done. Yes, I DO have to be more honorable than my counterpart in bigger parties. If I don\’t have the time, ability, or desire to do a task myself, and I usually don\’t, if I am realistic about my limitations and want to avoid burn out, then I must smile and make do with who is available, and how they do stuff.

    Sure it would be nice if LP National could help us with questions like \”How can we quickly locate local races which would be easy to win if we have no local organization in most places?\” or \”How do we offer a hand-out at events that is short enough to deal with limited attention, deep enough to communicate our sincerity, and doesn\’t leave the impression that we\’re a single issue organization?\”

    But…these are not at all easy questions and LP National is not that big an organization either, and maybe contains people whose priorities are different than mine, so I must smile and make do with them also.

    As for the question of whether to run local or national candidates, my answer is YES.

    Mary-Anne

  11. Mike Renzulli

    November 2, 2006 at 7:14 pm

    While I do not disagree with much of what Lee Wrights said, I MUST take issue with his embracement of ‘incementalism’, or pragmatism, in order to achieve freedom. I also echo the sentiments of Richard Rider as well. Like Ayn Rand rightly points out:

    “Subjectivism is one of the causes of compromise. The evil is the betrayal of basic values and basic principles, the ultimate result of compromise. Once you compromise and continue that policy, it will be increasingly more difficult to recapture your values.”

    I tend to agree with Wright’s assessment that many times Libertarian candidates have to watch their backs from the very camp they hail from since, alot of times, they will be ostracized for straying (what the ostracizers see) as departing from principle.

    I went through this somewhat with Barry Hess sometime ago with his stance on immigration. However, after a discussion with him and some thought on my part, I decided I could get more results with honey than with vinegar.

    What it really comes down to is this: Ostracizing and kicking out Libertarians for taking stances that are clearly not libertarian is certainly warranted when it is obvious. However, if a Libertarian candidate has an error in judgement, politely point out the error or ask him or her what their reasons were for their stance before doing so. Try to make an effort to understand the candidate’s point of view prior to taking action.

    The Libertarian Party cannot afford to lose good activists and candidates, but it can afford to lose people who are Libertarians-In-Name-Only.

  12. R Lee Wrights

    November 2, 2006 at 8:16 pm

    Mike Renzulli said:

    \”While I do not disagree with much of what Lee Wrights said, I MUST take issue with his embracement of ‘incementalism’, or pragmatism, in order to achieve freedom.\”

    Hi Mike,

    While I am the editor of Liberty For All and therefore I do post all of the material you find here, I do _not_ write it all. ;-)

    Please take a closer look at the article and I am sure you will notice that it was written by Bill Van Allen, Jr. His by-line is at the top of the article.

  13. George Phillies

    November 2, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    With all respect, most of the recent disagreements in past elections over prominent Libertarian candidates have not been related to the alleged purism-pragmatism debates. The purism/pragmatism debate has largely though not in every case been a red herring.

    In New Hampshire, you cannot run as a Libertarian, because state ballot access law will not let you. If you are a Libertarian Party member (in the LNC bylaws sense) you have three choices of ballot line, namely Independent, Democratic, and Republican. Most New Hampshire Libertarians are running as D or R, quite deliberately having different candidates running with different parties. There is some hope that the DR parties will freely choose to let Libertarians use their own party name on the ballot in the future.

    George Phillies
    http://www.phillies2008.org

  14. Mark Gailey

    November 2, 2006 at 10:16 pm

    This generally makes good sense. But I’m afraid that I can’t get past the force and fraud aspects that are inherent in the Iraq-War-Rally or the so-called-’FAIR-TAX’ arguments. (I probably couldn’t vote for Eric Dondero.)

    For example, I’m excited about Phil Maymim, and would vote for him if I were in his state. But I’m still ready to take him to the woodshed over his national sales tax.

    It will be an opening for not only unprecedented expansion of federal jurisdiction, but will also fuel the RFID expansions toward destruction of all personal privacy.

    So, yes, I’d rather be right without winning, than to let the Libertarian name be blamed as the scapegoat for drastic wrong-way incrementalism.

  15. Tom Blanton

    November 3, 2006 at 1:35 am

    Mr. Phillies is correct, the purism/pragmatism “debate” is largely a red herring. I find it ironic that the LP is slowly transforming itself into a cult-like collectivist organization where the “pragmatists” (who once complained of purists’ dogmatism regarding libertarian principles) now insist that everyone must march in lockstep behind some truly awful candidates.

    The entire argument that many reject the good for the perfect is marlarky. Likewise, the argument that the so-called pragmatists are able to divine exactly what the “public” will accept has no basis in fact. Invariably, it is the pragmatists who blame everyone else for their inability to achieve the electoral success they claim is within their grasp. While they constantly invoke the conservative mantra of “personal responsibility”, they (like the conservatives) seem to believe they have no personal responsibility.

    It never seems to occur to the pragmatists that the LP has no large base and therefore it makes no sense to play to the centrist swing voters as the major parties do. If you can’t energize your own base, you lose.

    Also lost on the pragmatists is that running on the Fair Tax, smaller government, personal responsibility, blah, blah, blah is the same as running as a Republican. Why should someone who is attracted to such a campaign vote for a third party that will most likely lose when they can vote Republican and most likely win?

    It seems to me the pragmatists aren’t quite so pragmatic, nor are they particularly libertarian.

  16. Bill Van Allen, Jr.

    November 3, 2006 at 2:39 am

    It’s instructive to note the focus of the responses to my article – which Lee Wrights kindly published, thank you Lee – when considering the future of the LP. Who is going to be part of the solution, and who is just going to be part of the ongoing problem? To find a solution, one must focus on a solution, resisting the temptation to merely restate the problem ad infinitum. I think the responses speak for themselves, as does my article, so I will not respond directly to any of them individually.

    However, in response to my article on how the LP can win elections – which subject some respondents appear to have missed in their haste to criticize – one person alerted me to a comment that Lou Dobbs apparently made about how it’s time for a third party.

    There’s already a “major” third party in the country. Somebody alert Lou Dobbs, willya?

    The question is, will we have learned to work together by the time the Democratic Party, and then the Republican Party, splinter?

    There will be members of those parties whose personal beliefs identify strongly with ours on a preponderance of issues. As I said in the first post, we’re having growing pains, and we’re likely to have them for some time. Each one of us needs to make a decision for themselves about what they visualize the future of the LP to be.

    Will we build an organization that is capable of attracting the former R’s and D’s who suddenly find themselves without a political identity? Or will we continue to nip at each others’ heels and stab each other in the back as we try to “purify” the LP?

    If we are ever to be a serious political force in this country – and no other party holds up basic American values the way we do – we need to get those people who identify with us on 80% of the issues to support us on a regular basis.

    The first step toward becoming that organized is to support OUR OWN MEMBERS when we agree with them on 80% of the issues. The likelihood of getting enough people in 100% agreement on everything to take over the political system in this country is plain utopian bullshit. If we’re to return this country to the fundamentals of individual Liberty with personal Responsibility, we must necessarily work with people on individual issues when we do not agree with them on other issues.

    So the question facing the Libertarian Party is this: Do we want to have a small party that’s in 100% agreement on all issues and is politically irrelevant, or a politically influential party comprised of people who hold as fundamental the core principles of Free Markets and Individual Liberty with Personal Responsibility, but disagree from time to time on how best to apply those principles?

    Which entity do you think will be better for America, and for your children and their children? Which camp do you want to belong to?

  17. Eric Dondero

    November 3, 2006 at 4:40 am

    Clever spin by George Phillies on New Hampshire.

    Face it Phillies, your friend Don Gorman will win a State House seat this year, AS A REPUBLICAN!!! In other words, the very people you despise the most, and badmouth viciously on a daily basis on every blog imaginable, are the same people who have kindly given your friend Don their nomination, and are likely to elect him to office.

    This must drive a foaming at the mouth Republican hater like you absolutely insane.

    For the rest of us, we’ll just be extremely happy on Nov. 8 to learn a solid libertarian like Don Gorman is now an elected State Legislator.

  18. Sean Haugh

    November 3, 2006 at 5:44 am

    Rob suggests: “Something I’ve proposed to help balance the candidates’ incentive to “triangulate” on less-than-Libertarian positions based on opinion polls is a rewards system for adherence to the LP Platform. A good place to start would be the LP’s Candidate Tracker on the website. You’d get additional points for each platform plank you unequivocally support. It’s a small incentive, but an easy one to implement. And it helps on-message, on-platform candidates without hurting the others.”

    If you could prove to me that this has any bearing whatsoever on election results, we’d consider it.

    Susan rationalizes: “Any group of passionate supporters of an idea will have differences, and will air them frequently. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

    No, there is everything wrong with that. That is the entire reason why the LP is not more successful than it is, and pretty much the specific reason why a once vibrant LPNC is dead in the water. You are defending the point of view that Bill so eleoquently opposed in this article. Your committment to frequently and publicly “airing our differences” is the precise evil that holds this party back from electoral success.

  19. Pingback: Liberty Now » Blog Archive » There is no “perfect” Libertarian

  20. Starchild

    November 3, 2006 at 1:47 pm

    Bill Van Allen writes, “If we believe in anything, it’s in each individual’s right to be what he wants to be, as long as he doesn’t commit fraud or force someone else to do his bidding against their will.”

    If one accepts that this is an accurate statement, then one would have to conclude, looking at some of the positions that Libertarian Party candidates are actively running on, that we *don’t* believe in anything. For instance, many people want to be Americans. They are not committing fraud, nor are they forcing anyone else to do their bidding. Yet we have prominent LP candidates taking public stands against their becoming Americans. They do not, from what I have seen, make a point of telling the public that this anti-immigration position is their own view and does not represent the view of the Libertarian Party. They simply ignore the LP platform. And many other Libertarians ignore their ignoring it.

    There’s no problem with seeking the support of people who only agree with us 80% of the time. We *should* seek their support. But it *is* a problem when we start to abandon our beliefs in order to pander to them. It *is* a problem when they are representing us as candidates for public office, and undoing the hard work that Libertarians have done in educating the public about what it means to be a libertarian, by advocating positions that clearly involve the initiation of force or fraud.

    Bill says he wants us to support each other, and stop stabbing each other in the back. But some of the language he chooses to use sends quite a different message. Referring to the LP as “in the process of growing up” and condescendingly chirping “Hey, people, grow up!” speaks volumes.

    Seeking to affix the strawman argument that every LP supporter must be in “100% agreement on everything” to those he is criticizing in his article, and then calling it “plain utopian bullshit” speaks volumes too.

    If he wants more unity, he needs to start practicing what he preaches. Rob Power has an excellent and very modest suggestion: “a rewards system for adherence to the LP Platform. A good place to start would be the LP’s Candidate Tracker on the website. You’d get additional points for each platform plank you unequivocally support. It’s a small incentive, but an easy one to implement. And it helps on-message, on-platform candidates without hurting the others.”

    That’s focusing on the positive. We *need* to start having more pride and unity in what we believe in. And stop this sniping and insulting of the members of our party who are the most committed to libertarian beliefs.

    Libertarian Party members have had disagreements from day one. As noted, the idea that those of us who value a strong commitment to principles are seeking “100% agreement” is a straw man. But Bill had one thing right — “”If we believe in anything, it’s in each individual’s right to be what he wants to be, as long as he doesn’t commit fraud or force someone else to do his bidding against their will.”

    Ultimately, the question on the table is, do we believe in anything? Anything other than getting elected and winning political power, that is?

    Bill speaks of us holding “as fundamental the core principles of Free Markets and Individual Liberty with Personal Responsibility.” That sounds good, although not nearly as good, as encompassing, or as specific as the Non-Aggression Principle embodied in our pledge. But if we’re not going to stand by what we claim to stand for, it doesn’t really matter what it says in our platform — it’s just empty words, like the platforms of the Republicans and Democrats.

    You simply cannot square the concepts of “free markets and individual liberty with personal responsibility” with a policy that restricts peaceful people from becoming American citizens.

    So Bill, what do you stand for? Unequivocal support of the free markets, individual liberty, and personal responsibility that you claim should be our “fundamental” “core principles?” Or non-criticism of LP candidates who take positions that are incompatible with those ideals?

  21. Mike Laursen

    November 3, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    I wouldn’t not vote for a Libertarian candidate because he or she strays from some theoretical correct libertarian position. However, once in a while, there is an issue that I care deeply about, and I will not vote for a Libertarian who takes a contrary stance on that issue. For example, I strongly disagree with Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, Art Olivier’s position on immigration. I would never go around saying he’s an impure libertarian or shouldn’t be allowed in the Libertarian Party.

  22. Mike Laursen

    November 3, 2006 at 2:39 pm

    Reading Starchild’s comment brings up one more point: I think it is very important when a Libertarian candidate takes a position that contradicts the party’s platform, that the candidate make every effort to communicate to the public that his or her views on that issue are not the views of the party.

    I’d much rather see a “big tent” party that welcomes candidates who stray from the platform and make it clear when they do so than have a “pure” party.

  23. Tom Blanton

    November 3, 2006 at 7:27 pm

    Starchild writes:

    “Seeking to affix the strawman argument that every LP supporter must be in “100% agreement on everything” to those he is criticizing in his article, and then calling it “plain utopian bullshit” speaks volumes too.”

    Starchild has it absolutely right.

    It would seem that the so-called pragmatists constantly invoke these strawman arguments, refuse to debate or even back up their rhetoric, and then declare that if only the purists would shut up and go along with the pragmatists, libertarians would win elections.

    The pragmatists’ sound-bite rhetoric is intellectually bankrupt. If they want to know why many local and state LP organizations are dead in the water, they need to look no further than themselves.

    The unlibertarian positions and vitriolic rhetoric of people like Mr. Dondero, Neal Boortz, and Carl Milsted of the LRC has done much to totally alienate libertarians. The recruitment strategies of the folks at LPHQ has attracted many right-wing self-styled “patriots” who have been duped into believing that the LP is more conservative than the GOP.

    Right now, the LP website encourages people to call talk radio shows as an outreach activity. Who do they think listens to this crap? For years I have been encouraging libertarians to STOP listening to this garbage. It is not hard to determine where some libertarians get their world view when they endlessly regurgitate right wing talking points verbatim from right wing talk radio.

    The sad thing is that many of the libertarians I run into that spew this nonsense believe they are being clever and well informed. In reality, they are uninformed and come off as bombastic clowns. What libertarian in their right mind wants to be associated with these people?

    Mr. Allen may think the LP is suffering from growing pains, but the reality is that the LP is not growing. The pragmatists have alienated thousands of libertarian activists as well as anyone left of center. The pragmatist candidates appear to be garden variety Republicans and don’t excite the base or the 50% of eligible voters who don’t vote. Thanks to the media, Neal Boortz is the face of libertarianism to millions of people.

    Exhortations to send cash to libertarian-lite candidates as they are on the verge of victory ring hollow. Lackluster candidates like Smither in Texas is a perfect example of an LP candidate who says he is the only conservative in the race (his words – not mine) as he trails behind the Democrat and the write-in Republican in fundraising and the polls. Despite the advantages he has had, the nationwide buzz, and high visibility within the LP, Smither’s libertarian-lite/conservative strategy has failed.

    The lesson is that if you want people to buy libertarianism, don’t sell conservatism, don’t pretend to be something you’re not, and don’t alienate what little base you have.

  24. Tom Blanton

    November 3, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Of course, if you reject libertarianism because you think it is “utopian bullshit” or because “the people aren’t ready for it”, then why the hell call yourself a libertarian?

  25. Mixtli Amoxpoani

    November 3, 2006 at 8:06 pm

    I was pleased to see the responses of Richard Rider, Starchild, Mike Laursen, and Tom Blanton, having made so many of the points that came to mind when reading Bill Van Allen’s article. My contribution will be all the shorter for them.

    Ignoring unlibertarian positions on the big issues will dilute our principles, in fact, and in the eyes of the public.

    For example, I was listening to the Bill Handel Show on KFI (apology to Tom Blanton, but it is a “know thy enemy thing”) several weeks ago when Art Olivier was interviewed. He immediately launched into a mantra of “no welfare for ‘illegals’”. Amazingly, Handel (certainly no libertarian) called him on it, asking if it was not true that he really supported welfare for no one. Olivier only grudgingly admitted that it was so.

    This is a core Libertarian issue. The Big Two are in violent agreement with each other. To pander to public sentiment the was Olivier did was bad for the party and the movement. My vote will go to Lysander Spooner.

  26. Mike Laursen

    November 4, 2006 at 3:02 am

    Mixtli, I think you may have misunderstood my post a bit. (Maybe not. I might be misunderstanding yours.)

    I was saying that I can’t support a Libertarian candidate who disputes MY big libertarian issues.

    The idea that there’s one true canon of obvious and logical libertarian principles that all libertarians should agree on has caused a lot of problems for the Libertarian Party. Even among libertarians who think all libertarian principles can be deduced from the non-aggression principle, I’ve seen different people come to widely different conclusions about all kinds of issues: abortion, foreign intervention, immigration, etc.

    Even so, I would like to see Libertarian candidates make it clear to the public where they diverge from the platform. But I want them to diverge from the platform at least a bit. It shows that they’re thinking for themselves, countering the LP’s tendency towards cultishness. There’s nothing sacred about what’s in the platform — it’s just a bunch of positions that were hammered out by a convention. A lot of the platform makes sense, but some parts don’t.

  27. Mixtli Amoxpoani

    November 7, 2006 at 9:09 pm

    Mike Laursen said:

    > I think you may have misunderstood my post a bit.
    > (Maybe not. I might be misunderstanding yours.)

    Sorry, any confusion is likely due to my hasty reply.

    Even though I am pretty much one of those libertarians who does reduce everything to the NAP, I don’t think it is possible, or even desirable to produce a litmus test beyond that. As you say, when the NAP is applied to complicated problems, different individuals will produce logically correct proofs with different results.

    I agree that no individuals worth being called such would slavishly devote themselves to the platform. Your suggestion that LP candidates identify where they depart from the platform is good insofar as it is a tool that facilitates full disclosure and discussion, which would benefit the LP and it’s mission.

  28. MG

    November 9, 2006 at 1:08 pm

    BVA is a very sensible and hardworking Libertarian. Some additional thooughts.

    First, let’s be careful what we call the platform. If it’s the Nazi-style mess the LRC created for us and now claiming it had nothing to do with, I sure hope a Libertarian disagrees. It has enabled the LRC crypto-fascists to come out, as with the Texas candidate who promoted mandatory national healthcare and called for the federal government to be our overseer. At least he was honest, unlike the crew now on LNC.

    Second, the actual Libertarian platform is best expressed by FEE’s Leonard Read’s “…so long as it’s voluntary.” The old platform (especially the 2000 model reformat) represents 30 years of effort to explain what that means and give people something to do to get started. It was never intended as a campaign platform but an organizational one–that’s why we had the various programs, which the LRC also moved to abolish. But in the end it’s ‘…so long as it’s voluntary.’ So anyone who says that as a ‘moderate’ he does NOT agree with some part is saying he will use force against Libertarians who do try and take a voluntary path.I’ll put up with that from a Democrat–but not a ‘Libertarian’ candidate.

    Third, whatlocal groups should be doing has been known from the beginning:

    1)Increase the number of pledged Libertarians and contact list of people generally supportive. train a core in Libertarianism and in presentation. They create the demand for :Libertarian solutions and are your talent pool. THIS is why LRC and RLC (many, not all) types are so interested in getting rid of the pledge, attacking education efforts, etc.

    2) Start coalitions, and build a farm team of people on advisory boards and local elective office–95% of offices are those–NOT major elective ones. If your person is running for election, please have him do so by petition and collect names–it’s the foundation of any constituency and future wins. You should be aiming at 1000 people you’re in regular contact with per 50,000 voters.Which again is why the LRC types are always trying to focus on spending money and effort on ‘winnable’ candidates, making fun of those who do get into office, and promoting expensive and gee-wiz internet toys and fundraising schemes with little community foundation that wates resources and burns people out without building a Libertarian oriented support base..

    3) Keep at it. It takes on average 3 efforts to get elected or appointed to anything, and several years to build a group. Politics is repetition and hard work. Which is why they love to change our platform, documents, manuals etc and start these ruckeses–they know if we can’y stay on message, we can’t repeat it.

    These are all attainable things. Libertarian groups have gotten (per 1 million general population) 30 people in office, lists/registereds of 20,000, 600 pledged members and regular wins in policy. The ‘pragmatists’ ( with the chorus from the purists such as at Lew Rockwell who also think our ideas are ‘Libertopian’ and we can’t make progress on that basis, even though they’re being adopted all around us) then swoop in, demoralize people saying they’re not doing enough, steal lists and monies, etc and things go downhill. Following 2/3rds of this best practice on a national basis would mean 6000 Libs in office, 120K pledged Libertarians, etc.

    If you’re a local leader, do this.

    1)Get yourself and your team ideologically educated. Call all your contacts , ask for referrals, and develop pledge, speaking, networking and other opportunities.

    2)Get yourself and your team practically educated. Go to the county and town clerks and have coffee with people in the other parties and locate appountment and soft office opportunities. Send people on petition drives ( a simple one is ‘I call for more news coverage and appointment to local boards of Libertarians’) and listen to the actual issues. Network and do community service. Work on some common ground issues with the D & R’s and propose the people you developed as appointments.Develop specific implementaion tart gets based on whats going on–e.g. “We’ll work to cut taxes by 20%”

    3)Call me if you need a pep talk. 727-344-1038.

    The LP has done a lot–but the LNC recently is not educating you on it. They are de-educating Libertarians.

    Best,
    MG

    PS–Excellent intro literature is at http://www.ISIL.org They are time tested in building networks and interest, are cheapest, and will overprint your local groups name on them.