Libertarian Party: Political Party or Debate Club?

Posted by Alex Peak at LPAnarchists.com:

It’s often asked, do we wish for the Libertarian Party to be a political party, or a philosophical debate club? The person asking is almost always implying that the party must be a party and thus not a philosophical debate club, although conceivably, one could ask the question with the purpose of promoting the idea of having the party be not a party at all, and only a philosophical debate club.

But the question is problematic. It implies that a party can only be one or the other, that it in fact cannot be both. But is that true?

No, this is a false dichotomy. A party can still be an organ for promoting campaigns and electing public officials and be a healthy forum for discussing and working out political philosophy.

No two libertarians are ever going to fully agree with one another. That’s a given. For that matter, not even any two anarchist libertarians are going to agree with one another on everything. We anarchists have disagreements on a litany of topics, ranging from copyrights to abortion. We have disagreements on tactics, whether an incrimentalist or abolitionist approach is most effective. So it shan’t be surprising that we are going to have disagreements with our minarchist sisters and brothers as well.

For the Libertarian Party to be an effective organ for libertarian activism, it will have to be both a political party, with an eye focused on campaigning and an ear trained on philosophical discussion. To focus solely on one or the other will either cause the Libertarian Party to cease being an effective outreach vehicle or to cease being a vehicle for the promotion of a specifically libertarian ideology. One of the things that makes the Libertarian Party unique is that, unlike the Democratic and Republican establishment, we are interested in ideas, that we are looking for fundamental and systemic change, not simply a means to line our own pockets or gain control over the citizenry. (Disclaimer: this is not to say that all Democratic and Republican politicians are simply power-hungry swine, only that both parties tend in that direction.)

The Libertarian Party is constantly bringing in new members, both in the form of libertarian-leaning liberals and libertarian-leaning conservatives. This is, of course, not something to get angry about, but rather to celebrate. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that merely getting these persons to join is not the end goal of the movement or even the party. Rather, the goal is to move society toward the full embrace of liberty. We Libetarian Party members would be quite remiss to say, “Okay, you have joined; I shall ignore you now and not bother to explain why government regulation of human migration is also destructive and uneconomic.” No, discussion should be always kept alive.

This is not to say that internal debate should be or must be hostile. Far from it. Respectful debate is always the most effective way to win people over to your view, since hostile debate causes otherwise-open-minded people to simply stop listening. No one wants to agree with the person who calls her an uncaring fool, for example.

Anarchists and non-anarchists within the Libertarian Party are, of course, going to disagree with one another. But this is not a bad thing. The position that the Libertarian Party cannot be both a political party and a “philosophical debate club”—insofar as it is used to promote the view that internal discussion should be eschewed—thus implies that anarchists within the Libertarian Party should simply never bother to discuss the ideas promoted by anarchism. After all, if we discuss anarchism, then we become a debate club and cease being a political party. But this is, of course, utterly silly, for as pointed out above, the position is based upon a false dichotomy. The Libertarian Party loses nothing from having anarchists within its ranks, and actually stands to gain, given the radical dedication of the anarchist to libertarian goals and the free society.

Anarchists must remain welcome within the Libertarian Party. Like the labour activists in the Democratic Party and the hardline Christians in the Republican Party, anarchists are the Libertarian Party’s base. We serve the vital role of ensuring that the party does not sway too far toward centrism. For third parties in particular, not swaying too far toward centrism is vitally important, for no one wastes her vote on a third party that looks identical to the Establishment party. A third party is only ever effective and merits existence when it offers something offered by no other party.

Although non-anarchist libertarians disagree with us fundamentally on the desirability of replacing the state entirely with voluntary organisations, they nevertheless should not have difficulty in seeing the utility of an anarchist base within the Libertarian Party, all things considered. Sure, that means they may find themselves listening to us, from time to time, discussing the merits of private protection agencies replacing state-monopoly police, but as long as we keep in mind that the Libertarian Party can (and must) be both a political party and a place for lively exchange, we shall lose nothing.

102 thoughts on “Libertarian Party: Political Party or Debate Club?

  1. Gene Trosper

    No offense intended, but I’ve heard this argument ad nauseam for the entire length of my involvement in the LP, which is coming upon 20 years. Though I philosophically identify as a radical (the government can’t be slashed too quickly for me!) and believe radical libertarianism is the proper foundation for keeping the LP “libertarian”, I also believe that as a political party, it should operate as a political party. Achieving freedom in our time isn’t going to be accomplished by one tactic alone. It will take many. The LP is just one tactic among many and serves an important function in the electroal realm.

  2. paulie Post author

    None taken.

    It’s exactly because this has been a persistent issue in the LP that I thought it would make for discussion fodder here.

  3. Mik Robertson

    I’m not sure I would characterize the anarchist faction as the “base” of the LP, at least no more than I would characterize socialists as the “base” of the Green Party. I am not aware of any time when discussion of issues or philosophy had stopped in the LP.

    It is fine that people who want to move public policy in a libertarian direction can be part of the same political party. The problem is when some people tell others they are not “libertarian” enough and should seek another political party, even though they are all working to move policy in the same direction.

    I don’t think the question is whether anarchists can remain part of the LP. The question is can anarchists tolerate others being a part of the LP as well.

  4. VAGreen

    The Libertarians and Socialists may be debating societies , but at least they are debating ideas. The Greens debate endlessly about process.

  5. mdh

    Mik, I don’t think there’s any precedent for anarchists not tolerating and even welcoming others into the party. I do feel that actions such as breaking the “Dallas Accord” by moving from a state-neutral platform to an explicitly pro-state platform in 2006/2008 were actions that could be considered to be hostile towards anarchists in the party.

    Anarchists are a big part of the LP’s base, and the end of a state-neutral platform has cost the LP tens of thousands of dollars in contributions per year, thousands of memberships, and hundreds of thousands of man-hours of free labor from anarchist volunteers.

    For my part, I’ll be up in your neck of the woods this week at the G20 protests in Pittsburgh reaching out to a demographic that has great natural potential for conversion to anarcho-libertarianism – the left anarchists protesting the G20 summit.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    mdh,

    I hate to get all calculationist on you, but hey, what’s sauce for the stagnationarchist geese is sauce for the anarchist ganders.

    Absent very detailed individual polling — and I don’t see the LNC making the personal member/donor information to do it available, or it being feasible or reliable if they would — your quantitative claims are unverifiable even to the proximity of, say, order of magnitude.

  7. mdh

    Tom, I attribute all such losses to this cause. It may not be correct, but that’s how statistics work in politics. You take numbers and convince other people that they mean what’s most beneficial to your cause. My numbers are reasonably accurate in terms of actual losses, though it’s not really possible to adequately attribute them. Given a viewpoint of “what’s changed between then and now?”, however, it seems very possible that I’m more correct than not. The rest is spin.

  8. Brian Holtz

    I agree with much of this, but the idea that the LP is in danger of becoming “a third party that looks identical to the Establishment party” is such a tired canard that its evisceration is kept on file here: http://libertarianmajority.net/is-non-anarchism-just-republican-lite

    The same sentence also seems to spread the Wasted Vote mind-virus, which is by far the biggest obstacle confronting the LP. One antidote for this meme is at http://knowinghumans.net/2008/04/vote-by-your-principles-not-by-habit.html.

    I have no problem with welcoming anarchists. My problem is with privileging their school of libertarianism, e.g. by giving it effective veto power regarding the platform. For details, see http://libertarianintelligence.com/2008/05/restore74-with-denver-accord.html.

    I reject the apparent assumption in the essay that anarchism is the purest or most principled form of libertarianism. Here’s a metric suggesting it isn’t: http://libertarianmajority.net/more-libertarian-than-thou.

    Nevertheless, I see plenty of common ground here, and it sounds to me like Alex would subscribe to the draft St. Louis Accord.

  9. Brian Holtz

    Matt, it’s not tenable to claim that any and all recent negative trends in LP membership and contributions have been due to anarchist resentment of the 2006/2008 platform changes. I would suspect that many LP insiders would agree that NatCon delegates are generally more radical than our 13K-or-whatever rank-and-file LP members, and yet the NatCon easily approved the platform by the requisite 2/3 supermajority. Indeed, 44% of those delegates were prepared to nominate an avowed anarchist for President, for only the second time (if you credit reports that Bergland in 1984 said he was an anarchist).

    In fact, there weren’t “thousands” of anarchist members available to leave in the first place. A 2008 Liberty Magazine poll in 2008 found that only 10% of LP members are anarchists, down from 31% in 1987. I doubt you could name even 20 anarchists who would say they quit the LP because of the 2006/2008 platform changes.

  10. Michael H. Wilson

    I’d like to see the membership numbers for the last ten years and then maybe we could look and find the reasons people quit. I recall a lot of people quitting because of the 1988 Ron Paul campaign. Paul is antiabortion and a number of people that I knew left becuase of his position on that issue alone. Does that tell us much? Not really.

    I think the one issue that has reduced the numbers in my not so humble opinion is the failure to take a stand on almost anything. Too many wishy-washy do nothings in charge especially at the state level it seems. I know of one state where the membership is now less that a quarter of what is was ten years ago and in that time that state party has done almost nothing to promote libertarian ideas. Those in charge have been content to use the party to hammer the repugnicans.

    BY y’all

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    Without contact information for non-renewing, no longer donating in excess of dues, no longer volunteering, etc., LP members and a means of objectively polling them with a high level of participation and under conditions which elicit honest response, any assertions as to “why the LP has lost X” members, donated dollars, etc. are pretty speculative.

    There’s one exception to that rule that I can think of, and that’s the precipitous post-2000 drop in membership. The correlation between a) cessation of large-scale direct mail recruitment and b) membership drop-off was so strong that the cause was obvious.

    I’ve talked with former LP members who aren’t anarchists but decided we were.

    I’ve talked with former LP members who aren’t anarchists but who decided that the LP wasn’t going anywhere and that Ron Paul’s movement represented a chance of libertarianizing the GOP.

    I’ve talked with former LP members who aren’t anarchists but who decided that nominating Bob Barr was (insert bad thing here — too Republican, too conservative, too anti-LGBTQ, too anti-pagan).

    I’ve talked with former LP members who decided that Obama was just too goddamn scary and that they had to go over to the GOP to try to save the republic.

    I’ve talked with former LP members who left because they believed the “child porn” smears about Mary Ruwart, and I’ve talked with former LP members who left because they had no use for a party that rewarded the purveyors of said smears.

    I know one former LP member who was not an anarchist and who was very active as of, and in, the 2004 LP presidential campaigns. By 2008, he was working as a campus coordinator for Obama. Never have discussed why with him.

    The LP has a lot of problems. In my opinion, ONE of its MAJOR problems is that significant blocs of its non-anarchist factions spend 90% of their time whining that the only reason their fantasies of gaining world domination for Pareto Efficiency Fascism haven’t magically come true is that there are anarchists hiding under their beds … but I suspect that they’ve driven far more credulous non-anarchists away than they’ve driven anarchists away with that hooey.

  12. Citizens For A Better Veterans Home

    From the out side looking in, I must say two things:

    [a] every group has it’s list of problems. This is a real shame as the Dems and GOP are just horrible!

    [b] Libs especially just do not walk the walk. For example the newly minted Republican near my alma mater in Grandview {Missouri] was a fiscally conservative Lib whom allowed a totally wasteful art fence to be built around the high school. Not one word of protest.

    A high profile movement was about in the 1990s to privatize Social Security. Not on word of Libertarian imput. Same on the worst of government programs: veterans issues. Same deal. Libs can be brought to the real world table, but only after dragging them the up hill by their heels!

    I take no joy in saying this, but it is only spot lighting the obvious!

  13. Bryan

    How much more of the “radical” vs. “reformer”…”anarchist” vs. “LP’er” bullshit am I going to have to endure???

    When will the various dip-shits realize that most anarchists would prefer a Libertarian government over what we have had, or other dip-shits realize that many Libertarians would prefer an Anarchist philosophy over what we currently have???

    What about those of us in the middle??? I self identify as a reformer or constitutionalist, but at the same time believe in LGBT rights, an end to the “Drug War”, and oppose our military “adventures” across the globe.

    The Constitution Party has a lock on the far right, the Green Party and various Socialist Parties have a lock on the left…The Libertarian Party is perfectly positioned to get support and votes from everyone in between…as long as we stick to our platform and principles.

  14. Robert Capozzi

    Bryan 13: How much more of the “radical” vs. “reformer”…”anarchist” vs. “LP’er” bullshit am I going to have to endure???

    Me: With a St. Louis Accord, a LOT less.

    As Peak’s essay says, there’s nothing per se wrong with debate. But when the founding document language (in a twisted way) is used to create a second-class LP member, that’s a fundamental challenge. The Accord would take that interpretation off the table.

  15. libertariangirl

    Bryan , you are a candidate for the Rodney King Caucus .
    While we have no control over others beliefs and actions , I decided a long time ago to stop playing partisan politics w/i my own party.

    I simply layed down the lame-ass philosophical warfare.
    obviously you never had it ( awesome) or you too have outgrown it(me)
    either way , its good to know:)

  16. libertariangirl

    i have known MANY a LP member at the state level who leaves from what I would call burn-out.

    In my State , we have a skeleton crew and then we rotate thru new people who show up .Do to a ton of work too early because theres so much to be done and then theres the always losing thing , infighting , ostracizing etc.
    think theres a 2 year shelf life on most activists I see.
    If I could figure out a way to keep those folks ,NV would be in good shape.

  17. Brian Holtz

    I agree with Debra that activist burnout is a big problem. We need to make as much of our activism as possible yield non-perishable results that move the ball forward and/or make things easier for the next cycle or next activist.

  18. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    The LP is like a high school football team that has a record of zero for forever in its AAAA conference. How many want to go out for that team? Not only do the other two teams in the conference have respectful records, when they win they get $$ and other goodies, and even if they don’t, they got a good chance of getting laid. So why is it so hard to attract and keep Libertarian leaders and followers? Maybe the team is in too powerful a league?

  19. Scott Lieberman

    “Aroundtheblockafewtimes // Sep 23, 2009 at 9:12 am

    The LP is like a high school football team that has a record of zero for forever in its AAAA conference. How many want to go out for that team? Not only do the other two teams in the conference have respectful records, when they win they get $$ and other goodies, and even if they don’t, they got a good chance of getting laid. So why is it so hard to attract and keep Libertarian leaders and followers? Maybe the team is in too powerful a league?”

    ***************************************

    I love that analogy.

    That is why I advocate that Libertarian Party members….

    a. apply for local Boards and Commissions, which are pretty easy to get on to

    and

    b. Run for the smallest available local offices, like Fire Protection Districts and Library Boards.

    As most of you know, Brian Holtz got elected to his local Water Board by taking the extremely onerous path of filing some papers, and then winning by default due to a lack of enough candidates to fill the available seats.

    That is a little bit easier than trying to win an open seat in a State Legislature, isn’t it???

  20. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    Yes, Scott, it is easier. And I’ve done it twice.
    Question is, does it make any real difference and does it build the LP so it can move up the conference ladder? Most libertarians want to change laws at the state and national level. Will they join a team (and practice hard) whose main ambition is to make sure one’s water rate is $.10 per 1000/gal. instead of $.105? I think many LPers would be happier in a debate club that engages the community in issues. I think The Nolan realized that a campaign was just a platform for speaking out on those issues and only, if lighting struck, a chance to win and make a meaningful change.

  21. robert capozzi

    around, all else equal, getting elected to local offices helps to build credibility. Serious candidates are taken more seriously, enhancing the reach and influence when an L runs for higher office.

  22. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    Yes, it does build credibility – if you jump to the big parties. Maybe a handful of Libertarians have risen to a “high” position from their starting point as judge of elections or park recreation board. I think you could be a freaking Nobel prize winner in economics and have a hard time getting elected to a school board with that “L” after your name on the ballot. I’m all in favor of running campaigns that actually do something to educate voters in libertarian principles. I’ve also seen too many have volunteers spend countless hours getting them on the ballot and then fail to supply answers for the widely-distributed League of Women Voters Guide.

  23. NewFederalist

    Where is the poll? Don’t we get a chance to vote on “political party” or “debate club”?

  24. Michael H. Wilson

    Thirty or so years ago members of what is referred to as the religious right decided to make an impact on politics. They made a decision to run people for the local school boards all across the country. Win those elections and move up from there. They seem to have been successful.

    There is no reason for the LP not to do something similar, but at the same time there is no reason for us not to run 400 people across the nation for the U.S. House of Representatives.

    It would be a big damn help if we had an adequate support system in place for all these different races and that begins with information defining the LP’s position on the issues which we do not have.

  25. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    Well, Mr. Wilson, those religious right candidates didn’t have the third party ” kiss of death handicap” did they?
    I certainly agree with you that candidates need an adequate support system in place. Several hundred congressional candidates could, for example, all use the same stock political flyer (with a separate panel or two for their photo and specifics) – then you wouldn’t waste resources inventing 200 separate wheels.

  26. Brian Holtz

    I’ve created such a stock campaign flyer: http://marketliberal.org/PoliticalIQ.pdf

    Zander Collier and I paid for customizing a few thousand of them that Chris Agrella distributed for his recent special election: http://marketliberal.org/Agrella4Congress.pdf

    I currently have several thousand of the generic one, where the space for a name/url/photo is available for ink-jetting or stamping. I’ll mail some to anybody who can convince me they’ll actually pass them out.

    Note that, at least here in California, most local races are non-partisan — i.e., no primary is held, and no party affiliation is printed on the ballot.

  27. Michael Seebeck

    About the flyers @28: They are well-produced, and all credit to Brian for a job well-done. We must have distributed almost all of the ones made for Chris, and we saw some that people had chucked them on the ground, had been run over, and were still usable, so we did (others weren’t reusable, but we didn’t want to be accused of littering, either). They are about the size of a tri-fold but done on sturdy card stock, and they seem to hold up very well.

    It’s a very good design and build. (Hey Wes!)

  28. Solomon Drek

    As a former burned-out LP activist I agree the LP was, is and always will be a glorified debate society/social club for activists.

    The LP has become a classic case study for the sociological phenomenon of organizational maintenance, the imperative of any group no matter how ineffective or useless to continue to maintain itself as “viable” in order to justify raising money and collecting dues in order for the leaders of that group to keep their salary and pay their expenses.

    Also the LP is a useful marketing tool for self-promoters like Wayne Root to sell their books and increase name recognition to further their own agenda. A good example of this is the 1997 NJLP gubernatorial campaign of Murray Sabrin, who got public matching funds and appeared in debates with the other two major party candidates. He raised over a million dollars (half of which went to consultants, managers and other political professionals) but got less than five percent of the vote. Nevertheless Murray got enough of a boost to move to the GOP and run in their primaries. He continues to personally and financially benefit from the name recognition he got as the 1997 NJLP standard-bearer.

    Personally I believe the LP is guilty of fraudulant misrepresentation in masquerading itself as a credible political party and, as I stated previously, is a classic example of an organization seeeking to maintain itself for the financial benefit of its own leadership. It should dissolve itself but I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

    The alternative I suggest would be for libertarians with political aspirations to run as independent candidates. Issue-oriented libertarians can also organize themselves into groups promoting their cause by engaging in public awareness, education and endorse individual candidates.

    I do believe there is a chance the LP may collapse of its own weight as activists disenchanted by the current direction of the party leave to form their own groups such as the Boston Tea Party. I believe this trend will accelerate when Wayne Root takes over the LP in 2012 and remodels it along his paleoconservative ideals. Eventually, however, I do believe Wayne Root will do to the Libertarian Party what Pat Buchanan did to Ross Perot’s Reform Party in 2000. And we all know what happened after that debacle.

  29. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    Solomon, it sounds a lot like Campaign for Liberty. Have a Libertarian PAC that backs acceptable candidates in any party’s primary, maybe runs independents, pushes its principles, but doesn’t get tarred with “ridiculous third party” meme. As long as it is clearly libertarian, then it fits The Nolan’s original purpose of a Libertarian Party without the baggage. Though you’d still have factions, fights, and people jockeying for jobs and titles, etc. wouldn’t you?

  30. Brian Holtz

    Mike @29, creating the flyers was a labor of love. The hard part was Chris and and the rest of you guys on his S. Cal team distributing them by hand — many of them door-to-door, from what I heard. The design is done, printing costs in volume are only about 4 cents per card, so distribution is the real challenge. My favorite low-hanging fruit is windshields in the parking lot of the mass naturalization events they hold at the county fairgrounds here.

  31. Mik Robertson

    I think the LP has been successful in the public education part of its mission. A lot of people do agree with Libertarian ideas, at least in part. Competing against entrenched political machines that have both legal and extra-legal means influence the electoral process is another matter, though.

    When I first started working on the LP platform committee in 2005, I was on several occasions asked or invited to leave the party because I did not agree with statement like “all taxation is theft” or questioned whether anarcho-capitalism really could lead to greater individual liberty.

    There will always be cases where some positions or other will attract certain people or cause others to leave. When we have candidates who start to get traction in a campaign and that support can be dispersed by an opponent printing verbatim all or part of the platform, it is probably wise to take a look at why that happened.

    It is clear the LP and no alternative party can currently match the local organizations of the entrenched machines. None of the alternative parties can offer the patronage jobs or have the ability to squash someone’s business or threaten their job like the entrenched machines can. Election laws, election districts and campaign finance laws all favor the big machines and their candidates.

    It is not just because an anarchist agenda has been present in the LP documents that our candidates have difficulty, but given the unlevel playing field to start with, why add anything to make it more difficult for candidates of the party to be seen as credible?

    People stick with the LP and other alternative parties because they want to make a change. You cannot do that from within the machines. It is the function of the machines to crush and mold all participants into the desired form.

    We have another good opportunity before us to make some inroads while the two machines are stuck in their ruts. Not only does the LP need to work on developing its own local organizations, all of the alternative parties have to find areas where they can cooperate to bring some choices, openness, and fresh ideas to the American political system.

  32. Mik Robertson

    @5 “For my part, I’ll be up in your neck of the woods this week at the G20 protests in Pittsburgh reaching out to a demographic that has great natural potential for conversion to anarcho-libertarianism – the left anarchists protesting the G20 summit.”

    Let me know how that goes. I am unable to make the Freedom Conference, and it is unlikely I can get to Pittsburgh at all this week.

  33. libertariangirl

    Great Job Brian . if youve still got some in 2010 Nevada candidates would love them .
    Your graphics are consistently awesome:)

  34. SFTS

    I’ve always been of the position that the rifts in the LP could be cured via (I don’t want to use the divisive word “faction” but rather a more unifying word similar in meaning) “caucuses”. I never understood the need for the breakaway Constitution party. Is it impossible for the Lp to have a Christian caucus? A pro-life (anti-abortion) caucus? A conservative caucus, a geolibertarian (green) caucus, a left-libertarian caucus, a womens choice caucus, a anarchist caucus, a minarchist caucus, etc, each with their own set of defining principles and platforms, each nominating someone to represent their caucus as a candidate in the state and national convention debates?

    I think a lot of the “radicals/purists” tension stems from a perception that the Statement of Principles is at threat, combined with the frustration of trying to hold civil debate with reformers whose only argument regardless of topic seems to be to skirt debate by dismissing the opinion as “radical” or “purist” (similar to those who dismiss the opinions of Obama opponents as simply”racist”).

    I don’t always agree with the “radicals” but I’ve come to appreciate the valuable service they bring to the table. They provide our candidates with a way to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their issue positions in anticipation of the possible arguments that opponents might throw at them. Our candidates can prepare for anything their R and D opponents can possibly throw at them because their issue positions have already been mercilessly scrutinized by the very best.

    I think if we could all agree the Lp’s Statement of Principles serves as a fine compass and constant reminder that will preserve the integrity of our party and endure the political winds of trendy change for generations and generations to come, and that it is worthy of preserving and defending – it would go along way toward removing a threat that I believe is a big source of division, insults, ridicule, intolerance toward new ideas, and suspicion toward newcomers, that prevents the Libertarian Party from expanding in size and influence.

    The Lp is perfect for expansion BECA– USE it’s Statement of Principles is non-threatening and all inclusive, unlike other third parties whose Statement of Principles relies on some level of state force and/or excludes entire groups of people such as non-christians or minorities.

  35. robert capozzi

    sd, it’s certainly possible that Root will follow Rothbard, Rockwell, Paul and Evers’s lead and go back to the GOP. Building speculations on speculations seem kinda paranoid to me, though.

  36. robert capozzi

    sfts, we’ve got lots of caucuses already.

    Can you give some ex.s where preparation for LP radicals groomed an L candidate for real world challenges?

  37. robert capozzi

    lg, ve have our vays of correcting your remaining impure deviations…zay involve enhanced interrogation techniques…ever zee A Clockwork Orange? 😉

  38. Muskingum Libertarians

    I know I would love to run for office and grow the Libertarian Party, but my wife is afraid of the two major parties using their money to smear me.

  39. Tom Blanton

    Mr. Holtz asserts:

    “In fact, there weren’t “thousands” of anarchist members available to leave in the first place. A 2008 Liberty Magazine poll in 2008 found that only 10% of LP members are anarchists, down from 31% in 1987. I doubt you could name even 20 anarchists who would say they quit the LP because of the 2006/2008 platform changes.”

    It is hard to know how many anarchists and radical libertarians have left the LP since the peak of about 2000.

    First, not many anarchists even read Liberty Magazine (it’s kind of sucky), so they wouldn’t be apt respond to a poll.

    Second, most of the anarchists or radical libertarians were gone by 2006. A lot left after the Iraq Exit Strategy crap. I know that’s what did it for me.

    Then there was the platform fiasco after the attack of the reform zombies, then there was Barr. It’s a wonder there are any hardcore libertarians left at all.

    Perhaps it is the myopic dishonesty that is so common – such as the insane notion that it is possible for a third party to win elections. Maybe it is LPHQ patting itself on the back for a job well done as fund-raising and membership decline (like during the Shane Cory years) or the idea of promoting issues that political half-wits think will appeal to voters too stupid to know they are being bull-shitted. Whatever the reason, there is no question there has been an exodus of anarchists and serious libertarians from the LP.

    And here’s a serious question. Why aren’t most prominent libertarian thinkers and writers affiliated with libertarian organizations involved with the LP?

    Try answering that one question with a well-reasoned answer instead of a defensive emotional diatribe.

    The answer may be because they would be embarrassed to be affiliated with the LP. In fact, between Glenn Beck, Wayne Root, and the LP, a lot of libertarians I know are reluctant to call themselves libertarians (and I include myself in this group).

    It sometimes seems there is a fifth column working full-time to drive serious libertarians and anarchists from the LP.

  40. Gene Trosper

    First, not many anarchists even read Liberty Magazine (it’s kind of sucky), so they wouldn’t be apt respond to a poll.

    I stopped reading Liberty shortly after Bill Bradford passed away. I also find Jo Ann Skousen’s writings to be worthless.

  41. Michael H. Wilson

    Of the different groups in the LP the one that gets little or no notice is that group that is content as long as the LP is a hammer on the Republicans. They have zero interest in anything else.

    re 34; Mik while you and I may disagree on the issues anyone who suggested you leave the party needs to have their ass kicked. I’m too old and worn out to do it so we’ll have to hire someone.

    @ 39 RC writes: “Can you give some ex.s where preparation for LP radicals groomed an L candidate for real world challenges?” Could you explain what you meant here? I think I know, but you seem a bit muddled if you will pardon me for saying so. Maybe I’m just having a hard time understanding.

    Had a nice conversation this evening with someone who mentioned basically that the LP needs to develop some understanding of what sales and marketing are all about. And I saw a light go on in the room. Whadda ya know.

  42. Brian Holtz

    MDH: the end of a state-neutral platform has cost the LP thousands of memberships

    Holtz: there weren’t “thousands” of anarchist members available to leave in the first place

    Blanton: most of the anarchists or radical libertarians were gone by 2006

    QED

    “Why aren’t most prominent libertarian thinkers and writers affiliated with libertarian organizations involved with the LP?”

    Excellent question.

    For Austrian anarchists, the answer seems to be ideological intolerance for libertarians who aren’t Austrian anarchists.

    For Cato/Reason-style cosmo-libertarians and many academic econ-libertarians, the answer seems to be the LP’s ideological intolerance for non-abolitionist market-based reform.

    For Ron Paul and a variety of other non-anarchist libertarians willing to work across party lines, the answer seems to be the LP’s insistence that liberty only wins if the LP wins.

    My advice is for the LP to fix the latter two problems with more ecumenicism and less exclusivism, and to ignore people who don’t want to share the LP with libertarians who don’t always agree with them.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    mhw, I was addressing SFTS 37 interesting assertion below, and asking for examples of this phenomenon. In my experience, L candidates often go off on theoretical tangents that are outside the bounds of the public debate.

    “I don’t always agree with the “radicals” but I’ve come to appreciate the valuable service they bring to the table. They provide our candidates with a way to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their issue positions in anticipation of the possible arguments that opponents might throw at them. Our candidates can prepare for anything their R and D opponents can possibly throw at them because their issue positions have already been mercilessly scrutinized by the very best.”

  44. Robert Capozzi

    lg 46, cool! So imagine, say, Susan putting toothpicks in your eyelids, propping them open, coaching you toward a perfect score! 😉

    I get an incomplete on Caplan’s quiz. Most of the questions are too hypothetical IMO.

  45. Robert Capozzi

    bh 49, the Rothbard crowd left in part over the children’s rights issue, if I recall.

    The Cato crowd left way back in ’83 after Rothbard’s concerted character assassination of Crane.

    It’s been decades of a circular firing squad. I note, however, that people like Mike Munger are coming to the LP.

    I’d hope that adoption of a St. Louis Accord will create a new foundation on which we can all get along.

  46. Thomas L. Knapp

    “The Cato crowd left way back in ‘83 after Rothbard’s concerted character assassination of Crane.”

    Thank you for using “after” rather than “because of” in that sentence. I just know you weren’t hoping for people to accidentally confuse the two meanings.

    The Cato crowd left way back in ’83 because of the party’s refusal to rubber-stamp their choice of presidential candidate.

  47. Robert Capozzi

    tk, yes, the Bergland nomination was the proximate cause. I would say the Bergland nomination was of a piece of MNR’s revenge campaign.

    Coulda gone the other way. Impolitic statements by David Koch and Mary Ruwart’s throwing her support to Bergland tipped the balance to Bergland.

  48. John Famularo

    What ever happened to CATO? Are they still considered a part of the Libertarian Movement?
    Who decides what is “Libertarian” and what is not? Is there a difference between the LM and the LP?

  49. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 55 John ask, ” Is there a difference between the LM and the LP?”

    Yes John there is. The LM is actually active in advancing the cause in most cases. The LP on the otherhand is more interested in being the Republican Party puppy dog? Or at least many prefer it that way. One person who ran with the So. Cal group actually admitted as much.

  50. Tom Blanton

    John, we’s all libertarians now.

    I think Brian Holtz gets people to answer questions for other people on a test and then he determines if the other people are real libertarians. It’s all about secret arithmitic formulas and special charts and stuff – complicated. And of course being able to get people to answer questions for other people who aren’t actually there to take the test. It’s really fun and everybody wins a prize!

  51. Tom Blanton

    Can anyone explain why Austrian anarchists would support folks like Dr. Paul and Peter Schiff, who aren’t anarchists?

    If the LP insists that liberty only wins if the LP wins, why did such a large majority support Ron Paul during the primaries?

    Who says the LP has an ideological intolerance for non-abolitionist market-based reform? CATO is more often than not selling policy reform as opposed to market-based reform. In the LP, it seems the screaming gets the loudest when anyone proposes the abolition of anything and calls for market-based solutions. Minarchists outnumber the folks who prefer outright abolition of government agencies or programs and minarchists generally prefer policy reform like the CATO gang.

    Let’s try again:

    Why aren’t most prominent libertarian thinkers and writers affiliated with libertarian organizations involved with the LP?

  52. Brian Holtz

    Austrian anarchists are sometimes willing to support Austrian non-anarchists when there is overlap in the conspirators that one side or the other sees and hates: the Fed, “Empire”, Israel, Jews, foreign immigrants, the Council on Foreign Relations, Abraham Lincoln, Bush’s 9/11 plot, etc. For all the talk of principle, these people are sometimes more motivated by who they are against rather than by what they are for. Newslettergate is just one manifestation of this.

    I said that Ron Paul and other non-anarchist libertarians willing to work across party lines do not seek to work with the LP because the LP refuses to work across party lines. I didn’t say that individual LP members never work across party lines.

    Blanton either doesn’t understand what I mean by “non-abolitionist market-based reform”, or isn’t familiar with the history of LP platforms and policy statements. The LP never endorses incremental reforms like school vouchers replacing public schools, pollution taxes replacing technology regulation, negative income tax replacing all forms of welfare, flat tax or fair tax replacing the existing income tax tangle, personal Social Security accounts, etc. The LP’s official policy advice is effectively never anything other than “abolish it”. This is probably why libertarian policy shops like Cato, and most libertarian academics, have no interest in the LP.

  53. Tom Blanton

    Brian, did it ever occur to you that vouchers, pollution taxes, negative income tax, fair tax, “personal” social security accounts, etc. are all bad ideas that aren’t really market-based as they all involve govt coercion? Libertarians have a long tradition of rejecting govt coercion.

    I guess you also think mandatory health insurance is “market-based”. I guess you aren’t talking about free-markets. Obviously you are talking about government controlled/mandated markets.

    If one goal of the LP is truly to move society in a more libertarian direction, why should libertarians support a pile of goo-goo crap instead of a true free-market?

    It appears some “libertarians” in the LP actually want to LP to resemble the major parties which will only result in moving society in exactly the same direction it is already going.

    But Brian, you are right (and I know that is very important to you), I have no idea of what you are talking about most of the time as it rarely makes any real sense in the context of the political philosophy you claim to embrace. When you say “non-abolitionist market-based reform”, it actually means rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

  54. Michael H. Wilson

    RC @ # 50. Some years ago I ran for local office in the city I was living in at the time and had little or no experince campaigning. I had significant sales experience at that time, but nothing in the way of political campaigns. I got some great ideas from the radicals in the local party and was able to tailor my campaign to make it somewhat resonable thanks to their comments. I did not even come close to winning, but I was treated fairly by the press.

    A few years later I did quite well in a state legislative race. Much of the credit must go to a small handful of people who pointed out the goals to me and helped me figure out ways to explain those goals with out sounding like a nut case.

  55. Brian Holtz

    @64 is a perfect example of why most libertarian academics and think tanks like Cato want to have nothing to do with the anarchist wingnuttery of the LP.

  56. Michael H. Wilson

    Let me be clear. I did not run a great campaign. It was not even a good one. The planning was poor. The timing was off and there was no money. I did answer question from the press and did do a radio show or two and answer the surveys sent to me. In the end I got decent numbers. I sure as hell learned a lot about planning for a campaign.

    Just to add a comment or two about Brian’s points. The LP needs to clearly state the goals. The means of achieving those goals should be left up to the individual campaigns. For example the LP platform should call for seperation of the state from education. In some places vouchers might be a better selling point than charter schools. In other states, or cities just the opposite might be a better selling point. And it needs to be pointed out that the means of achieving a particular goal may change over time. Just my opinion and I’m stickin’ to it.

  57. Brian Holtz

    Michael, I’m not necessarily claiming that the LP should officially support every such market-based reform, and you’ll notice that none of them are in our repaired platform (that I am very happy with). I’m just saying that the LP should not officially oppose them, and that people in the LP should stop convening circular firing squads whenever any LP candidate dares to propose them. (Ditto for when anarchist LP candidates propose abolitionism. I’ve teased LP anarchists for not running anarchist campaigns, but I’ve never criticized them for campaigning as anarchists.) Hence the draft St. Louis Accord. Could you support something like that?

  58. Tom Blanton

    Let’s take a look at vouchers. If you believe there should be a separation of the state from education, then why advocate vouchers?

    Are we pretending there will be no state strings attached to vouchers?

    Or, are we pretending that by advocating vouchers, voters will see LP candidates as just regular Joes, just like the Republicans and Democrats, and the LP candidate will magically win the election?

    My fevered anarchist brain (that no self-respecting libertarian think tank funded by Republicans would ever take Seriously) tells me the purpose of third party electoral politics is to move society in a particular direction by advocating certain ideas. If the idea is the separation of the state from education, then the candidate should actually advocate for the separation of the state from education. If the public hears that message often enough, some might begin to consider it a valid idea, despite what statist policy wonks think.

    Setting aside CATO (as is not the only “libertarian” think tank), I’ve noticed that the Future of Freedom Foundation actually does advocate the separation of the state from education in some of the editorial pieces they publish.

    Imagine that.

  59. Robert Capozzi

    tb: If you believe there should be a separation of the state from education, then why advocate vouchers?

    me: Vouchers and credits and other education liberalizations are steps in the direction of liberty, as I see it. Giving parents options to get out of government schools is a good thing.

    tb: Are we pretending there will be no state strings attached to vouchers?

    me: Nope. I assume there will be some strings. Fewer strings is progress, from where I sit…you?

    tb: are we pretending that by advocating vouchers, voters will see LP candidates as just regular Joes, just like the Republicans and Democrats, and the LP candidate will magically win the election?

    me: I’d see being a “regular Joe” as being a good thing in electoral politics. I’m open to alternative positioning, though…what do you suggest?

    tb: If the idea is the separation of the state from education, then the candidate should actually advocate for the separation of the state from education. If the public hears that message often enough, some might begin to consider it a valid idea, despite what statist policy wonks think.

    me: The ideal of separating state and school is wonderful. Politics, however, generally moves incrementally, and with good reason. Dislocation can set up an anti-liberty bias to some fact sets, in my judgment. Still, I’d not criticize you if you ran on an abolitionist plank, which is YOUR judgment. I’d note that — even as a think tank, FFF seems not especially influential, or even heard, by large numbers of people. Politics and policy is a numbers game, yes?

  60. paulie Post author

    I got 160. Now can I get a job? Will someone buy me a beer?

    Yes and yes. I can just about always get you a job. Probably not one you want though. 100% commission telephone fundraising or petitioning. And I’m good for a beer if I see you in person, have money on me, and you remind me.

  61. paulie Post author

    Michael, I’m hoping the prize this week is a Sarah Palin porno DVD.

    The new one, I hope. Watching the old one over and over is getting, well, old.

  62. paulie Post author

    72 bc

    Vouchers may be a back door to de facto governmentalization of private schools, which may actually be worse than the current situation. It has already happened to a large extent with colleges, where most private schools rely heavily on government money in one form or another – especially student grants and loans – that comes with plenty of strings.

  63. Brian Holtz

    Tom Blanton is so mired in his anarchist abolitionism that he can’t bring himself to confront this simple question: would vouchers decrease the entanglement of school and state?

    Even an anarcholibertarian like David Friedman has spoken favorably of vouchers as a way to start getting the government out of education — where (bad news!) it’s already completely entrenched. For 89% of K-12 customers, the government already has total control of

    • service boundaries,
    • inter-district busing,
    • admissions policy,
    • capital spending decisions,
    • textbook selection,
    • curriculum standards, including treatment of creationism, the Bible, gay marriage, etc.
    • testing standards,
    • teacher hiring standards,
    • union rules,
    • teacher pensions,
    • prayer in school,
    • pledge of allegiance,
    • school uniforms,
    • religious calendar and observance,
    • zero-tolerance rules for toy weapons,
    • campus smoking,
    • drug testing,
    • PE requirements,
    • etc. etc.

    With vouchers, the government’s bureaucrats would have much less control over the education industry, and (if done right) not much more control over schools than food stamps gives them over grocery stores. Why is that prospect so horrible for anarchists to contemplate?

    Anarchists need to make up their minds about which is more likely to herald the glorious dawn of anarchotopia: a minimal state that shows people how well markets work, or a maximal state that shows people how poorly governments work. Some anarchists seem to fear small government more than they fear big government. The LP is not the right party for anarchists whose plan is for the government to keep growing until it completely collapses under its own weight. There are already plenty of other political parties working on that plan.

  64. Brian Holtz

    And to repeat: I’m not demanding that the LP officially endorse school vouchers. I just want people like Marc Montoni (co-leader of the Radical Caucus; LPVA secretary) to stop demanding the disaffiliation of any state LP that endorses a candidate who favors school vouchers. Thus Montoni apparently believes the LP should disaffiliate the LPNC for endorsing the voucher-advocating Michael Munger, as well as every affiliate that endorsed the sales-tax-advocating Bob Barr.

    A St. Louis Accord would finally make it clear that the LP is not interested in such Montoni-style ideological purges.

  65. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian one of the problems with vouchers is that religious schools are leigible for them inn most cases and that conflicts with the idea of serperation of the state and religion.

    Charter schools are a better deal in my book and we should be pressing the idea that teaching is protected under the first amendment and the government needs to stay out of it.

  66. Brian Holtz

    So if streets and power lines are regulated by government as natural monopolies, should churches be cut off from them, and required to use helicopters for transportation and windmills for electricity?

    I’m a Bible-thumping fundamentalist atheist who is published extensively on the Internet Infidels, the Internet’s leading anti-religion site. As bad as religion is, I’m not worried one bit that some of the profits of church-run schools might come from government tuition vouchers for poor kids. I would much rather have these kids taught by some nuns their parents chose, rather than by some bureaucrats chosen by teachers’ unions.

  67. John Famularo

    Tom Blanton wrote,
    “Why aren’t most prominent libertarian[s]…involved with the LP?”

    I asked that question directly to a number of prominent self identified libertarians. They all gave the same answer, IMO using different words.
    Walter Williams was the most direct, “when they stop practicing mental masturbation”.
    Leon Louw said “When the LP starts acting as if reality matters”.
    Milton Friedman said he felt more effective being active in the GOP. Ed Crane/David Boaz said the LP was too amateurish.
    I ran into these people at various times at ISIL events.

  68. libertariangirl

    I agree with Brian . Much as I have disdain for religion , I’m not worried that some parents would pick religious schools with their vouchers .

  69. Michael H. Wilson

    John @ 80 That’s BINGO for today.

    Quit playin’ games and act as if it really matter.

  70. Tom Blanton

    Why would a voter who thinks that vouchers are a splendid idea vote for a LP candidate over a Republican candidate when both advocate the use of vouchers, but Republicans have a good track record of being elected?

    If the goal is to separate government from education, at what point in time will this idea be introduced to the public? After vouchers have been used for 50 years?

    Even when LP candidates appear to be regular Joe’s, with mainstream haircuts, trimmed nostril hairs, talking points that sound like Serious Politicians, moderate policy proposals, etc. – they still lose! The same also applies to any third party or independent candidate. This is America. There is a “two-party” system.

    I’m saying get real – advocating vouchers might make your neighbor think you aren’t radical and he’ll invite you over for a burger, but it doesn’t mean he’s going to vote for you and that is because he can vote GOP and get voucher talk – along with estate tax talk, and all the other crap that Libertarian-Lite and Republican candidates babble on about.

    Certainly I’m not the only person that notices that people aren’t buying the LP product. The LP needs to give people a reason to vote for their candidates. The group most likely to make a difference on election day are the people who don’t normally vote. The main reasons they don’t vote is they see no difference in the parties and they dislike professional politicians. Libertarians shouldn’t even worry about winning elections anyway. Getting 15% of the vote would be a coup. But, it should be obvious that the LP won’t get 15% from the voters they have been targeting. They might get it from non-voters if they gave them a reason to vote.

    The idea of having a candidate that looks like a Republicrat, talks like a Republicrat, sells the same tired half-measure like a Republicrat sure hasn’t been working out too well.

    I don’t see what the moderate Libertarian-Lite candidate has to offer that would make a voter or a non-voter motivated or have any passion for such a candidate. Their issues are trivial and they don’t appear to be honest and authentic because they aren’t. Their message is contrived. The LP candidates for local and state office are even worse than the national candidates in most cases.

    It’s almost as if the LP hasn’t noticed that America is reaching a crisis point. It may already be too late for baby steps in the right direction. Compared with national insolvency because of debt and unfunded liabilities, multiple wars and drums of war beating for new wars, national databases on citizens, increasingly militarized police forces, and the largest prison population in the world render the issue of vouchers as trivial bullshit.

    So, at the end of the day, the LP accomplishes absolutely nothing. The candidate doesn’t win. The public doesn’t hear any real libertarian message. If anything, the public is left more confused than before about what libertarianism is.

    The strategy and approach of the LP moderates, pragmatists, or whatever they want to call themselves has been a total failure and they have had a lock on the LPHQ, the LNC, the LP News, and the LP website for quite sometime. It hasn’t been the radicals or anarchists.

    The LP needs to re-examine it’s strategy for moving society in a more libertarian direction. If the answer is to nominate Wayne Root’s God, Guns and Tax Cuts or to embrace Glenn Beck, then maybe it’s time for those in the libertarian movement request that the LP change its name.

  71. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Why would a voter who thinks that vouchers are a splendid idea vote for a LP candidate over a Republican candidate when both advocate the use of vouchers, but Republicans have a good track record of being elected?

    me: If your premise that a voter is a SINGLE ISSUE voter, you are correct. Most are not.

    tb: Even when LP candidates appear to be regular Joe’s, with mainstream haircuts, trimmed nostril hairs, talking points that sound like Serious Politicians, moderate policy proposals, etc. – they still lose! The same also applies to any third party or independent candidate. This is America. There is a “two-party” system.

    me: Yes, that’s a fact. I’m suggesting that political change is a CUMULATIVE effort, a marketing campaign, if you will. If L candidates are sober, thoughtful, interesting, and speak in language voters understand and relate to, at first we’d gain respect and sympathy. Over time, if our candidates improve and their ideas have real power, the Rs and Ds will steal our ideas. And, if the opportunity presents itself, Ls might start getting elected.

    tb: The idea of having a candidate that looks like a Republicrat, talks like a Republicrat, sells the same tired half-measure like a Republicrat sure hasn’t been working out too well.

    me: I’m not sure I’d characterize L candidates that way. Generally, we run cutting edge candidates who push for smaller government across the board. That IS different from the Rs and Ds. Sometimes a radical L runs on a “radical” L agenda. For ex., an LP congressional candidate in VA once advocated the right to private nukes. Is that the sort of approach you prefer, Tom?

    tb: It’s almost as if the LP hasn’t noticed that America is reaching a crisis point. It may already be too late for baby steps in the right direction. Compared with national insolvency because of debt and unfunded liabilities, multiple wars and drums of war beating for new wars, national databases on citizens, increasingly militarized police forces, and the largest prison population in the world render the issue of vouchers as trivial bullshit.

    me: could be. If things are as dire as you suggest, perhaps it’s time to head for the hills with gold, shotguns, and freeze-dried food. I’m not sure how advocating secession, no IP, no drunk driving laws, baby selling, insurance-company-supplied cops and defense, meth legalization, etc., is going to reverse the collapse. You COULD run for office on such a platform, though. Might be an interesting experiment.

    tb: If anything, the public is left more confused than before about what libertarianism is.

    me: Begs the question: What is L-ism? I’d suggest the St. Louis Accord allows for quite a bit more latitude in defining the LP’s approach than you seem to suggest.

    tb: The strategy and approach of the LP moderates, pragmatists, or whatever they want to call themselves has been a total failure and they have had a lock on the LPHQ, the LNC, the LP News, and the LP website for quite sometime. It hasn’t been the radicals or anarchists

    me: The LP has been small since its inception. “Radicals” and anarchists ran the LP in the 80s and 90s. Results of all the experimentation is the same. I’d suggest patience and respect for all strains of L thought is called for. That has not been part of the experiment thus far. Worth a try! Do you support the St. Louis Accord, Tom?

  72. Tom Blanton

    Carpozzi opines:

    “I’m not sure how advocating secession, no IP, no drunk driving laws, baby selling, insurance-company-supplied cops and defense, meth legalization, etc., is going to reverse the collapse.”

    Well, no shit. I’m not sure how advocating revenue neutral tax plans will reverse a severe economic downturn either, cupcake.

    But, just perhaps advocacy, along with rational explanations, of drastic (as in radical) rollbacks in government programs that have never shown any signs of success might resonate. Ending, yes actually ending, an ineffective and costly interventionist foreign policy, including the current wars might resonate. Ending personhood for corporations. Ending America’s status as the world’s largest jailer by releasing non-violent offenders and actually ending drug prohibition (not just claiming to favor medical marijuana). Ending the Fed’s monopoly on banking seems to be resonating. The list of rational and radical issues is virtually endless in this totalitarian-lite nation. Many of these issues are in the current LP platform. And yet, the chucklehead conformists that the LP selects to run for office (especially local, state and congressional) haven’t enough moxie to even call for minimal changes in the status quo. They dance around huge issues.

    Sure, talking about $56 trillion in debts and unfunded liabilities and how that is truly a crime against our own children is unpleasant – but it is true. Telling the voters that the criminal class of elitists in the Democratic and Republican Parties have literally driven this nation to its knees won’t win many converts from those two cults – but the LP isn’t winning any converts from these cults to begin with.

    Embracing Glenn Beck and his right-wing bigotry ain’t the answer. Sending Root to talk about trivia on Savage Nation ain’t gonna do it either.

    I think you might be surprised at how many apolitical people agree with me when I suggest we’d be better off with no federal government than with what has come to be. Lots of people would vote for None Of The Above if given the chance. But, voting for the LP candidate who seems to be pretty much the same as the other candidates but has no chance of winning doesn’t seem to be working too good for the LP in terms of electoral success (which is a pipe dream to begin with) and, more importantly, introducing even marginal libertarian ideas into the public discourse.

    At the rate America is heading towards soft totalitarianism, there is a good chance that LP moderates will be doing baby steps in a circle out in the yard of a government camp 20 years from now while their children wonder how their own parents could have allowed this to happen. Projected taxes of 80% on the next generation probably won’t be very appealing to them. But, maybe by then they will be too dumbed down to know the difference. They will at least have an excuse for having no concept of what freedom is.

    The Holtz program seems to be about minimizing change:

    “The LP never endorses incremental reforms like school vouchers replacing public schools, pollution taxes replacing technology regulation, negative income tax replacing all forms of welfare, flat tax or fair tax replacing the existing income tax tangle, personal Social Security accounts, etc.”

    Sounds like changes that can be made to keep things pretty much the same. Change the way govt pays for education, change the way govt collects the same amount of money it collects now, a minor change in how a forced retirement program is administered, change the way the welfare state redistributes income.

    Garsh ding, thats real exciting stuff there. It sure is a wonder folks ain’t trying to make that Holtz feller King-O-The-World. He’s all about change, and hope too, I reckon. One of the greatest moderates in all of history. I know I’ve been chomping at the bit for the government to come up with a different way to take money from me and redistribute it.

    P.S. – I don’t give a damn about the St. Louis Accord, I’ve already got a Honda Accord. I care about the LP’s complicity in redefining libertarianism and doing more to harm the libertarian movement than help. It really is time for the LP to rethink what it does, how it does it, and the people and ideas it promotes.

  73. Michael H. Wilson

    rc writes; ” I’m not sure how advocating secession, no IP, no drunk driving laws, baby selling, insurance-company-supplied cops and defense, meth legalization, etc., is going to reverse the collapse. You COULD run for office on such a platform, though. Might be an interesting experiment.”

    & TB writes; ” Ending, yes actually ending, an ineffective and costly interventionist foreign policy, including the current wars might resonate.”

    Robert Tom is right on the money from my take on things. I have been trying for years to get the LP to explain to the American public and our own members the costs of keeping all those troops overseas. Most American have no idea what the numbers are and that includes members of the LP.

    There are more issues that we have shied away from then we have addressed.

    Midwives, forget about em’.
    Private transit companies? Nope, not interested.
    Inflation? Ain’t got time to write up a flier on that.
    Occupational licensing laws? What’s that?
    Corporate Wefare? So what if its a $100 billion annually.
    McCarran-Ferguson Act? Never had time to research it.
    And on and on and on.

    As for the radical running the place in the 80s and 90s. I seriously doubt it. Crickenberger did have some excellent ideas. Too bad we get follow up on some of them.

  74. Robert Capozzi

    tb: Garsh ding, thats real exciting stuff there.

    me: Perhaps this is the problem. What excites YOU ain’t what motivates most people, because it certainly appears that MOST people don’t want radical change, but rather a change in direction.

    But it appears that you too are calibrating the message you suggest. On a scale of 1 to 10, yours is perhaps a 7. Mine is perhaps a 2. In recent years, the LP’s has been perhaps a 4.

    I’m sorry you are unpersuaded on the Accord. I view it as the single most important initiative for fixing the LP. Without it, we’ll continue to get sanctimony in the ranks toward fellow Ls over fundamental matters. That, IMO, leads to drift at a time when we most need a reasonably united front to roll back the state, at whatever rate individual Ls might advocate.

    I hope you’ll reconsider your position on the Accord.

  75. Robert Capozzi

    tb: …chucklehead conformists that the LP selects to run for office …

    me: Guess we’re watching a different movie, Tom. “Conformists” wouldn’t join the LP in the first place. And LP candidates select themselves. Public office nominations are almost never contested in the LP.

  76. libertariangirl

    ditto 90. this continuous infighting is the biggest waste of our time . we have to find a way to work together

  77. Brian Holtz

    Notice that Tom Blanton doesn’t dispute that replacing government ownership of schools with tuition vouchers would be progress toward disentangling school and state. Instead, he changes the subject and asks: “Why would a voter who thinks that vouchers are a splendid idea vote for a LP candidate over a Republican candidate when both advocate the use of vouchers, but Republicans have a good track record of being elected?”

    Maybe because the GOP supports regulations and bans on gambling, suicide, substance use, pornography, gay marriage, sexual services, reproductive services, and cloning? Maybe because the GOP makes no attempt to repeal laws regulating prices, minimum wages, maximum hours, equal pay, plant closure, family leave, hiring, firing, occupational licensure, insurance policies, zoning, rents, product safety, drug efficacy, fuel efficiency, pollution mitigation technology, parental media control, and media copying technology? Maybe because the GOP failed to use its legislative majority to start privatizing any of our socialized systems of education, health care, health insurance, agriculture, and retirement savings — and instead expanded Medicare to cover prescription drugs, continued to nationalize education via No Child Left Behind, and passed a trillion-dollar bailout bill?

    It remains pure bullshit to claim that a non-anarchist Libertarian “looks like a Republicrat, talks like a Republicrat, sells the same tired half-measure like a Republicrat”. It remains self-delusional to say that a minarchist agenda is “trivial” and “contrived”, and anyone pushing such an agenda isn’t “honest” or “authentic”. Psychologically project much, Mr. Blanton?

    Blanton thinks that the issue of education is “trivial bullshit” compared to issues like “national databases on citizens”. Maybe the anarchist Blanton doesn’t know that education consistently scores in the top 5 in polls about voters’ priorities. (What are the odds that Blanton has any kids?)

    Blanton thinks that the allegedly-reformer-dominated LP doesn’t run congressional candidates who call for

    • releasing non-violent offenders and actually ending drug prohibition
    • ending the Fed’s monopoly on banking
    • ending personhood for corporations
    • talking about $56 trillion in debts and unfunded liabilities and how that is truly a crime against our own children

    Blanton is simply ignorant. All of these positions have been part of each of my three congressional campaigns. In 2004:

    The latest version:

    I even made shirts for my kids based on the most recent one. Oh, and last October, 18 LP congressional candidates in California issued a joint press release condemning the bailouts.

    It’s simply inane to say that an agenda is “about minimizing change” and “keeps things pretty much the same” when it includes

    • ending all government ownership of schools
    • ending all government prescriptions for anti-pollution technology
    • privatizing all Social Security assets and contributions
    • replacing 3,457 pages of income tax code (plus 13,458 pages of IRS regulations) with a flat tax

    And those were just my examples of market-oriented incremental reforms. I never said we should renounce goals like repealing all taxation of labor, peaceful production, and voluntary exchanges.

    Bob, remember that Blanton says he’s purged himself from the LP. Trying to un-purge him may not be the best use of our time.

  78. Robert Capozzi

    tb: …chucklehead…

    me: I do recall that Tom purged himself, but he seems emblematic of a mentality that I continue to not understand. Tom, why do you use the term “chucklehead” about others with whom you disagree on some things? What do you possibly think you accomplish by namecalling? Humor me. I’d REALLY like to know. Your answer may explain a LOT of the intra-LP and movement dysfunction.

  79. Tom Blanton

    There’s so much to deal with there, Mr. Holtz, and there’s no real point in going over all these issues with you.

    I see you’ve run a magnificent campaign emphasizing all the correct issues that the voters care about, according to you. Why haven’t you won? Have you ever broken 5%? How many times have you run?

    If your approach is flawless and utilizes all the metrics you’ve come up with, why haven’t you won an election? I believe you have run more than once. Have you not learned anything from your experience about motivating voters? Maybe a catchy slogan would help:

    Freedom in our grandchildren’s lifetime!

    or

    Extremism in the pursuit of moderation is no vice.

    By the way, Mr. Holtz, I do have a kid – he’s 25 years old. His first vote was for Badnarik.

    So, I may end up having grandkids that will benefit from your brand of extremist moderate incrementalism 50 or 60 years from now.

    I’m asked by Mr. Carpozzi:

    “What do you possibly think you accomplish by name-calling?”

    Absolutely nothing. Calling a non-specific candidate a chucklehead is not as bad as specifically saying:

    “Blanton is simply ignorant.”

    But that’s typical of the smarmy passive/aggressive LP moderates I run into – humorless suburban jackasses as far as I’m concerned.

    I’ll humor you though. If you really want to learn about intra-LP and movement dysfunction, I’d suggest looking in a freakin’ mirror. Then, determine why the perfect libertarian candidate, Mr. Holtz, has never won an election.

    I’ve been hanging around this website for about a week throwing out a whole lot of ideas about what is wrong with the LP and LP candidates. Apparently, I’m just mean, negative, clueless, ignorant, crazy and way out of line. I must be wrong about everything and you guys have the answers to everything except why Brian Holtz loses elections.

    I’ve been a libertarian for the last 29 years and all I can tell you is the libertarian movement is creating libertarians, but the libertarian party is increasingly not filling their needs.

    For the first time since 1980, I couldn’t vote for the LP nominee Barr. I see no future in the LP or in voting at all. The more moderate the LP has become, the more radical I have become. My energies and money are wasted on the LP.

    I have no interest in voting for people like Barr, Root or Holtz. I consider people like Glenn Beck to be right-wing bigoted warmongers, not libertarians. And many people I know who were once LP members feel the same way.

    So, Carpozzi, you figure it out. If the LP can’t attract libertarians and apparently can’t attract mainstream voters, there might be a problem. I’m tired of wasting my time talking about it. I’ll give you a clue though. Take this however you want, but I sincerely think you and your pal Brian don’t have the street smarts to know when you’re being played. The same goes for a lot of libertarians. There’s a reason that politicians and political hacks consider voters to be rubes.

    As to why Brian Holtz hasn’t won any elections, I guess that’s all my fault.

  80. Tom Blanton

    http://brianholtz.defendsliberty.com/

    “Democrats advocate personal freedom but legislate economic equality. Republicans advocate economic freedom but legislate personal morality. Libertarians advocate both personal freedom and economic freedom”

    While winning a seat on the Soil Board is indeed quite an accomplishment, it is hard to understand why Mr. Holtz isn’t in Congress right now after looking at his hard-hitting and dynamic libertarian website.

    Maybe it’s the hairdo?

  81. Tom Blanton

    Ouch, my sharp tongue just poked a hole in my cheek.

    Seriously though, Mr. Holtz, where’s the beef? After reading #94 above, I was expecting to see some of those issues front and center.

  82. Brian Holtz

    Earlier, Mr. Blanton didn’t dispute that replacing government ownership of schools with tuition vouchers would be progress toward disentangling school and state. Now, he flees from my detailed answer to his question of why a voter who recognizes this might not vote Republican. He also ignores my pointing out that in my three congressional campaigns I’ve emphasized most of the very same “radical” issues that he says Libertarian candidates should emphasize. So what does our desperate Mr. Blanton do now? Why, he teases me for not having gotten elected to Congress. ROTFLMAO.

    I’ve never called myself a “perfect” candidate, or claimed to have run a “perfect” campaign. But in 2008, I received 11,929 votes (4.37%) — 2000 more than my Green opponent, despite there now being 50% more registered Greens in our district than Libertarians, and despite her purchase of TV commercials on local cable systems. My percentage was the highest among the eight third-party candidates in four 4-way races in California for Congress or state legislature. It also broke the record (set by my 2004 total) for highest percentage ever won by a third-party candidate in my district (with data going back to 1992). In that 2004 race, my campaign was covered in a story on the national Fox News Channel, and I was interviewed on the top-rated morning news program in the nation’s 5th-largest metro.

    Mr. Blanton claims he has been maligned here merely for “throwing out a whole lot of ideas about what is wrong with the LP and LP candidates”. In fact, he’s been insulting and boorish, and his only “idea” seems to be this: if Libertarians aren’t going to win office this year, then government abolitionism should be the theme of every Libertarian campaign, every year, forever.

    Blanton says he has no interest in voting for a Barr or a Holtz. What he still doesn’t comprehend is that his brave and daring act of non-voting isn’t interpreted by the political world the way that he fantasizes that it is. His not voting doesn’t yell “smash the state!” It simply whimpers that he doesn’t care whether public policy moves to the left vs. to the right vs. toward freedom.

    Blanton’s parting shot — if he can actually stick to his pretense of being done here — is that he’s “playing” Bob and me. But I’ve already said here that Blanton is somebody who is “staying in character”, and he’s served as a wonderful foil for me, as shown in the first paragraph of this comment.

    But wait, Blanton’s not done. He asks “where’s the beef?” about my 2008 campaign site, so now I get to quote him the front-and-center positions I took that made my site more radical than that of LP anarchists like Tom Knapp, Susan Hogarth, Morey Strauss, and Dan Grow:

    End subsidies for all corporations and farms
    End speech limits on candidates and publishers
    Abolish trade barriers and wage/hiring rules
    Stop disarming and monitoring peaceful adults
    End all government banking and lending
    Let you control your own retirement savings
    Let all healers & insurers compete freely
    Let adults use any substance or medicine
    Legalize all consensual adult relationships
    Make schools compete for students & tuition
    Defend choice in procreation and risk-taking
    Oppose mandatory worship and national service
    End taxes on income, production, sales, gifts
    Tax only land, resource use/pollution, traffic

  83. Brian Holtz

    Well, if people can think of ways to make my campaigns more effective at increasing and publicizing voter support for more personal and economic liberty, they shouldn’t sit on those ideas until they’ve tried them. I’ll take all the help I can get. 🙂

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