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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Which Wing Has Taken Over The LP?

Wes, you raise a damn good point about Richard Winger, even if it's tongue-in-cheek.  He is a treasure not only to the freedom movement but to the cause of democracy (such as it is).   This other comment of yours went right over my head: "You say your plan X is right and others who support plan Y are wrong, but rather than recruit more people to your plan X, you’re going to focus on kicking Y out of the party?"  My article is about keeping people IN our party, and making sure nobody (including me) gets to use the party's fundamental documents to make good libertarians feel like second-class citizens.
Mr. Milnes, I don't have any fresh information about Carl's stated desire to start a new party.  I don't think I've ever said Barr was a "reformist choice".  He didn't ever get a vote from me until I had to choose between him and what would have been the first (except perhaps for Bergland) openly anarchist LP nominee -- which would have been fine except she was campaigning on being "fully attuned to the Libertarian philosophy" and said she will "take the party in the direction we want to go" and "really explain to the American people what we truly are all about".  We all know what that explanation turned out to be.
Seth, I'd like to know more about this "wing" that you say has "taken over" the LP.  If you're talking about the Reform or Radical caucuses, both Susan Hogarth and I will tell you that neither caucus has been able to "take over". Both Hogarth and the two Reform Caucus leaders who ran for at-large seats did not win them. Chuck Moulton has been active in both caucuses, but still lost the Vice-Chair race. None of the voting LNC members are Reform Caucus leaders, and most of the Reform Caucus leaders I know were pulling for Root rather than Barr. It's 8 weeks before a Presidential election, so it naturally feels like the LP is currently dominated by its presidential campaign, but this too shall pass.  The fact remains that in Denver radicals were able to gain a significant number of LNC seats.  Our presidential ticket may not be balanced, but our party leadership is, and that's what will count after November.
I'll agree that there are way too many LP leaders of all ideological stripes who far too readily engage in personal attacks on their peers, questioning their motives and their commitment to the cause of liberty.  The LP needs a Grownups' Caucus of leaders and activists who can disagree with the ideas and strategies of their peers without making attacks on their character or their commitment to liberty and without either threatening to quit or asking their opponents to quit.
John Amendall, I've argued loud and long for an ecumenical LP that equally embraces the half-dozen leading schools of libertarianism, it's simply Orwellian for you to fantasize that I am "never going to be satisfied by anything but one national, centralized, and carefully managed party that aligns with all of his ideas, preferably run by him".  If you're going to lie about people, try not to do it so incompetently.
If you had even the slightest familiarity with the polling data that my article linked to, you'd know that no arrangement of freedom parties is going "get a majority of voters to vote for freedom" in the foreseeable future.  The challenge is how to raise our vote share from our current 0.5%-3% to the 3%-10% we ought to be able to get given the 13%-20% of Americans who want both more economic freedom and more personal freedom.
Multiple choices is indeed the nature of markets, and we had multiple choices in Denver.  But the nature of party politics is to unite voters with similar values behind the one choice most likely to make progress implementing those values.  I'm of course not saying that all pro-freedom voters have (or need) the same views on all (or even most) issues, but feel free to fantasize that I am if that's what it takes to rationalize your disagreement with me.  I'm just saying it would be stupid to have a Pro-Life Libertarian Party and a Pro-Choice Libertarian Party and a Pro-Death-Penalty LP and an Anti-Death-Penalty LP, etc. etc.  (Michael, are you really arguing we should form the cross-product of all these kinds of parties, and let the voters sort it out, rather than having LP conventions and caucuses and party-internal elections and plank voting etc.?)
Now, I recognize that a good way to guarantee that at least a couple of libertarians will do something is to say that doing it would be stupid, so go ahead and form as many parties as you want.  I promise not to use the power to stop you that you seem to think I possess. I will even put away my John Amendall voodoo doll that you think I was using to try to control your political donations and voting behavior.  Rest easy, those sharp pointy feelings in your spine will now start to fade.
G.E., I didn't recall ever hearing you'd been on a Ron Paul payroll before reading it today, when I was trying to (re)discover your name.  I'm a pretty well-informed LP semi-insider, so if I didn't know about your recent financial conflict of interest in any Paul vs. Barr spat, I'd bet that 99% of your readers didn't know either.
"What X won't tell you" is an idiom, whose cash value is "what X hasn't told you yet and won't be volunteering".  It doesn't mean "what X would never admit".  Still, I'm willing to retitle to "What G.E. hasn't told you", and to water it down even further if you can show me where in your coverage of this dustup you've pointed out your recent paid employment in the Ron Paul campaign.