2018 Libertarian Party National Platform Committee Update

Thomas L. Knapp at Kn@ppster:

It’s been a little while since my last update, and simultaneously quite a bit has happened and not much has happened.

  • Caryn Ann Harlos was elected permanent chair of the committee.
  • Mimi Robson is in the middle of being elected secretary (the email ballot hasn’t ended yet, but IIRC there’s been one NOTA vote and a whole bunch of votes for her).
  • The chair is in the process of moving the committee from old and busted Yahoo! Groups to a better email list which will have a public reflector.
  • An email ballot is in process on a motion from the chair that “that all electronic and in-person meetings of the Committee will be open to all state and national Party members and may be recorded and broadcast through a streaming service.” It looks set to pass.
  • An email ballot is in process on a motion by myself to strike the final sentence of plank 3.4, Trade and Migration: “We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

There’s also an email ballot on a physical meeting, and an announcement of an electronic meeting set for March 6, 6-8pm Mountain Time (I’ll post details for those who want to watch it when it gets closer).

And there’s a rules controversy over whether a member of the committee who is both his state’s representative and first national alternate can squat on an entitlement to two votes and cast the one he finds most advantageous (Robert’s says no). That will get hashed out.

There’s quite a bit of talk on the abortion plank. I don’t see it going anywhere, and I certainly don’t see any change away from a pro-choice position (I will not support such a change).

Note that I didn’t mention how the email ballot is going on the Trade and Migration amendment. I haven’t counted lately, but I’m under the impression that it’s failing. Not on its merits for the most part, but because several members of the committee have announced that they won’t vote for any motions until and unless their asses are cradled in hotel conference room chairs. Oddly, several of them have both made supported motions by email ballot when serving on previous platform committees. Suffice it to say that it’s more about a personality-centered factional divide on the committee than about anything ideological.

OK, I think I covered everything. Questions welcome.

 

54 thoughts on “2018 Libertarian Party National Platform Committee Update

  1. D Frank Robinson

    I, and perhaps also Daniel Lewis of TN, will offer a revised plank on Elections. Ballot access as censorship has not been a centerpiece of the LP position. Platform planks have not clearly challenged the authority of some political parties, through their legislative henchmen, to police the speech, press and associational rights of other parties.

  2. Thomas L. Knapp

    D Frank Robinson,

    If you have the language ready, I suggest sending it to one or more members of the platform committee. When it comes to time, the committee’s report is more likely to get the time required to get it passed than if it comes from the floor.

    Also, once we get the email situation sorted out (that should be very soon), our email deliberations will be publicly viewable so that members can see what we’re doing — and let us know what they think we SHOULD be doing.

  3. Caryn Ann Harlos

    I will also set up a form to be put on the national site where members can submit requests.

  4. George Phillies

    Several recent platform committees have wasted much convention time trying to change the abortion plank, without having any effect. I suggest that the platform committee review the last several sets of convention minutes, note topics in which the delegates were not interested, and not bring them forward again.

  5. Anon-Tipper

    Very happy that the Trade and Migration plank was brought up. Hopefully it doesn’t fail, it would be nice to see that last line removed. (And it would be poison to the entryists)

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    Anon-Tipper,

    The change is failing at the moment, but it doesn’t seem to be ideological. The bulk of the votes against it are about only being willing to vote while seated in a conference room in a hotel.

    Of course, there could be ulterior motives involved, insofar as several of the people offering that rationale have happily voted on measures by email in previous iterations of the committee.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp

    I haven’t heard that, but I’m behind on keeping up with such things.

    I would much prefer to have candidates for party office who DIDN’T support the alt-right’s attack on the party in the form of the “Get Vohra” witch hunt.

  8. Andy Craig

    “but because several members of the committee have announced that they won’t vote for any motions until and unless their asses are cradled in hotel conference room chairs” “The bulk of the votes against it are about only being willing to vote while seated in a conference room in a hotel.”

    It’s pretty silly to suggest anybody’s in this for the creature comforts of spending a weekend in a cheap hotel conference room, at personal expense, with a bunch of argumentative Libertarians rehashing their decades-old grudge matches with each other. The real reason that Thomas doesn’t mention, as several members explained and Caryn Ann agreed, is that throwing out unamendable email ballots willy-nilly is a bad way for the committee to wordsmith, because it skips the usual process of considering possible amendments.

    At one point, we had efforts to simultaneously call email ballots on two different, mutually exclusive proposals for the same plank, which kind of underscored the problem. On immigration in particular: yes, most members were OK with deleting that last sentence, but several wanted to go further and insert new additional language, and they wanted the chance to discuss and consider that before rushing to adopt a proposal for that plank. Not because they have some burning desire to sit across a conference table from Thomas Knapp at an airport Marriott somewhere in the Midwest.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp

    Andy,

    That amendment was not thrown to an email ballot “willy-nilly.” It was thrown to an email ballot because it was a plank change proposal that seemed to clearly enjoy enough support to pass — AFTER which further amendments to the plank could be considered with that one already accomplished.

    You are, however, correct in asserting that the “won’t vote unless it’s at a hotel” crowd is largely not motivated by a desire to meet in a hotel. Most of them are pretty obviously motivated by nothing more complex than a desire to be as obstructionist as possible so as to punish the rest of the committee for not electing their preferred candidate for chair.

  10. Andy Craig

    Agreeing with the chair on this point seems like a very strange way to “punish” the committee for electing her.

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    Andy,

    Perhaps you missed the word “most?” It is, of course, possible to HONESTLY think that meetings are preferable to email ballots. The easy way to tell who is doing what and why is to look at the people on this committee who have cheerfully supported email ballots on past committees, but who have suddenly decided they’re inappropriate now that they’re not getting their way on everything.

  12. paulie

    That amendment was not thrown to an email ballot “willy-nilly.” It was thrown to an email ballot because it was a plank change proposal that seemed to clearly enjoy enough support to pass — AFTER which further amendments to the plank could be considered with that one already accomplished.

    You are, however, correct in asserting that the “won’t vote unless it’s at a hotel” crowd is largely not motivated by a desire to meet in a hotel. Most of them are pretty obviously motivated by nothing more complex than a desire to be as obstructionist as possible so as to punish the rest of the committee for not electing their preferred candidate for chair.

    Have you all considered electronic meeting? It doesn’t have the problem with unamendability of email ballots that Andy Craig mentioned, nor the costs of hotel meetings. LNC used it, I think pretty successfully, for the Vohra discussion and the logo discussion, regardless of what you think of the outcomes of those meetings – I think the technology was generally usable and did the job, even if not by any means perfect.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp

    Paulie,

    We have an electronic meeting scheduled for March 6.

    As far as in-person meetings are concerned, I will attend one if we have one, and am also one of a very few committee members who have not specified any “black-out” dates due to state conventions or other commitments, or any excluded locales (other than it needing to be in the continental United States, as travel to Hawaii or Alaska would put everyone other than the Alaska rep and alternate to considerable extra time/expense).

    However, I question the need for an in-person meeting. As you point out, the technology for electronic meetings of other than the email variety (there’s some debate over whether or not an email list with voting on measures is a meeting — it is) is quite well-developed at this point.

    It’s not 1987, or even 1997, any more. At this point, the two plausible reasons for an in-person meeting are 1) the desire for a “working vacation” and 2) the desire to set a financial bar to participation so as to hopefully exclude the hoi polloi.

  14. Thomas L. Knapp

    George,

    It’s not that hard to figure out which alt-right entryist group launched the attack, as they did so openly. Just as they did so with the previous attack on Vohra (for being insufficiently worshipful of former government employees), and the attack on Sarwark (for being insufficiently harsh on Antifa) before that.

    Are the LNC members and honest LP members who fell for the scam alt-rightists themselves? No. They’re just gullible and acted as the entryists’ useful idiots.

  15. Anon-Tipper

    You could see that Liberty Hangout, 71 Republic, and the Mises Caucus (all of these I’m convinced have ties to the Florida white-nationalists too) were peddling the same story about the Vohra incident and some claim about there being a pedo-ring. It’s interesting to look at their staff page, a lot of them openly admit to being conservatives/trump fans.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp

    It wasn’t they (the alt-right entryists) who “jumped on board.” It was they who started the whole thing (and it was at least the third time they’d tried to start something like it). It was their dupes who “jumped on board.”

  17. Chuck Moulton

    I prefer in person meetings to electronic meetings and I prefer electronic meetings to email ballots.

    Amendments are easier at electronic meetings than on email ballots. Being face-to-face rather than electronic engenders camaraderie and generally seems to accomplish things faster. For example, seeing people’s facial expressions when things are discussed makes clear to the socially aware what can pass and what can’t, minimizing frivolous motions. I’ve seen a lot of ideas workshopped over lunch or overnight by small groups then introduced to the larger body (not in platform, but in bylaws, state committees, and national conventions).

    I don’t think it is obstructionist to want deliberation and a better process. There is plenty of time. It would be obstructionist to deny a vote for something popular at all in the committee’s half year tenure.

    Unfortunately the bylaws committee has been using many email ballots lately. That is a function of 1) committee members not being sufficiently prepared with proposals for our in-person meeting, 2) some obstructionist members amending proposals to the opposite to kill them, then cutting short debate before some could be convinced of the error, and 3) completely new topics coming to light because of some recent events. All that said, the bylaws report is way too long anyway, so it wouldn’t be a bad thing to stop passing more.

    Best of luck to the platform committee.

  18. Chuck Moulton

    From the article:

    There’s also an email ballot on a physical meeting, and an announcement of an electronic meeting set for March 6, 6-8pm Mountain Time (I’ll post details for those who want to watch it when it gets closer).

    Did I miss details on the platform committee electronic meeting tonight?

  19. Thomas L. Knapp

    Chuck,

    Yes, it just ended. I posted the link/time on my blog this morning. Sorry, I didn’t think to post it in comments here.

    The committee set its in-person meeting for May 13-14 in Columbus, Ohio, and overturned the chair’s ruling that Aaron Starr is not entitled to control of two votes.

  20. Steve Scheetz

    “It’s pretty silly to suggest anybody’s in this for the creature comforts of spending a weekend in a cheap hotel conference room, at personal expense, with a bunch of argumentative Libertarians rehashing their decades-old grudge matches with each other. ”

    Andy, you make it sound so fun! LOL I will agree that talking things out is so much better than trying to sift through hundreds of e-mails every night. Given that the meeting room is FREE in Columbus makes it the cheapest meeting room possible, (I was going to suggest March 31 – Apr 1 in Vegas, but we didn’t make it that far… ) Anyway, regardless of anything else, we are all working together, so I say we run with that. I would very much like it if we come out of this experience with enough respect for each other that we make some awesome changes everywhere moving forward! A man can dream, but I don’t believe we are all so far apart on a great many issues.

    Sincerely,

    Steve Scheetz

    P.S. Chuck, obviously, Platcomm is my excuse for missing the county meeting.. LOL

  21. Michael H Wilson

    I know this is about the platform committee but the bylaws folks got mentioned. I find it foolish that after all these years libertarians still have to mess with the bylaws. Can’t people fix it and then let it alone? Is there really a need to go in and fiddle with the bylaws? Or is this a way to seem important for some?

  22. Starchild

    Tom – Like “Anon-Tipper”, I’m very glad to see you propose deleting the final sentence of the Trade and Migration plank, which is frankly un-libertarian and at odds with the rest of the plank. If there is one single thing in the entire platform that urgently needs changing, it is that sentence. Thank you.

    Andy – What’s to stop you from passing something via email and then amending it later at an in-person meeting if desired? And, regardless of whether the rules say it’s allowed or not, do you really think it’s fair for one person to simultaneously occupy two seats in a committee?

    Michael – The often overlooked value of having regular voting on proposed changes to the bylaws is that it keeps ordinary Libertarians in the habit of participating in the exercise of control over their party. This is essential to maintaining the Libertarian Party as a bottom-up party, run by its members. If we want a society where individuals are empowered, and power is held in check, then our own political party, which is designed as a vehicle toward that end, should operate in a manner that empowers individuals and makes it easy for them to disrupt concentrations of power that become unhealthy to the organization. The means, after all, are the ends in the making.

  23. Starchild

    D Frank Robinson – Your Elections plank idea sounds like a worthy addition to the platform. Right now we have this:

    3.6 Representative Government

    We support election systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. As private voluntary groups, political parties should be free to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives. We advocate initiative, referendum, recall and repeal when used as popular checks on government.

    “More representative of the electorate” is weak phrasing. I would suggest language explicitly calling for legislatures to be formed on the basis of proportional representation, with the groups to be proportionally represented being formed on the basis of free and voluntary association. Term limits for all elected offices, and also limits on the length of time for which an individual may work as a government employee or contractor, also seem like a good idea.

  24. Thomas L. Knapp

    It looks like we’re starting to get some real work done via email. Mike Seebeck, the alternate from Colorado, took it upon himself to roll out a plank by plank set of base recommendations. People are discussing, debating, and tweaking those recommendations on email, and at some point members will start getting co-sponsors and putting them up as motions. Even if we don’t get to them by email ballot, we should arrive in Columbus with a nice list of motions for final debate/amendment and votes.

    One think I’m pushing for is that all proposals for plank changes incorporate two basic style elements:

    1) Use of the Oxford comma (the bylaws designate the Chicago Style Guide as our writing basis, and it uses the Oxford comma); and

    2) For policy statements, use of “Libertarians support (or oppose)” in the first instance in each plank, followed by “we support (or oppose”) for subsequent instances in the same plank.

    Those may seem like small things, but starting to whip the platform into a uniform writing style is a good idea. One thing Mike is working on in his base proposals is ensuring that each plank includes both principle (“we believe”) and action (“we support/oppose”) elements, which I also support.

  25. Chuck Moulton

    Several LNC members who are also platform committee members are complaining about Adobe Connect on the LNC list and proposing that the LP use different video conferencing software.

    In my own experience, Adobe Connect has mostly worked well. I have never been able to get my webcam to work with it — connecting my webcam immediately disconnects me from the whole conference. I consider the webcam part to be unnecessary though. I have always been able to hear audio fine and see others’ video fine.

    It is a problem that we are tied to one person running all calls — in this case our contract with Adobe requires Alicia Mattson to run the calls. There is no technological reason that we shouldn’t have multiple people authorized and setup to run calls (perhaps the secretary of each committee).

  26. Thomas Knapp

    I wouldn’t say that Adobe Connect is terrible, at least as aging platforms poorly maintained by complacent large companies go.

    However, the rule that committees may only use that sole platform, and a contract specifying that only one one person may operate it, are both, well, fucking stupid.

  27. dL

    at least as aging platforms poorly maintained by complacent large companies go.

    Adobe is expensive but the platform is not “over the hill.” Technically speaking…

  28. Thomas L. Knapp

    Dr. Phillies,

    For the record, so far as I can tell Ms. Mattson has not in any way, shape, manner or form used her position as controller of Adobe Connect for the party to advance the agenda of any faction she might belong to. She has been as helpful as humanly possible — for example, running a test the day before the committee’s electronic meeting so that those of us who were unfamiliar with the platform could get a quick primer on its use and make sure we were properly set up to use it.

  29. George Phillies

    If you can’t see why there is a potential problem here, that’s simply too bad. Of course, you are the one who introduced a particular person into the remarks.

  30. Thomas L. Knapp

    “If you can’t see why there is a potential problem here”

    If you can’t see that I didn’t say there isn’t a potential problem here, I suggest a remedial reading course.

  31. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Of course, you are the one who introduced a particular person into the remarks.”

    More evidence for need of a remedial reading course. Perhaps you have never seen Chuck Moulton and me together, but I assure you we are not the same person.

  32. D Frank Robinson

    With previous platform statements on elections and representative government as context, I will urge the adoption of a plank which includes support for an open all write-in ballot by which each voter controls the names of parties and candidates published by each voter. Voluntary anonymous voting need not restrict, ration or censor whose name a voter may publish on their ballot. Still formulating exact draft language.

    Thank you Starchild for your diligence on this subject.

  33. Michael H. Wilson

    I don’t know where the best place is to make suggestions but in “3.4 Free Trade and Migration
    We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade.” Could the word barriers be used in place of impediments? That might give people a better visual of what we mean.

    Starchild, I understand what you are saying but I would hope that after 40 plus years the LP would not need to mess with the rules so much. A couple of times to get it straight and move on.

  34. Starchild

    Michael,

    No offense, but your comment that “I would hope that after 40 plus years the LP would not need to mess with the rules so much. A couple of times to get it straight and move on” leads me to suspect you don’t really get what I’m saying. It may well be my shortcomings in being able to communicate it clearly.

    As an analogy (not a very good one, but perhaps in some manner illuminating), consider someone saying about a couple, “I would hope that after 40 plus years of marriage, they would not need to keep talking about their feelings and spending so much time and energy on communicating with each other.” Quite possibly they are still together precisely because they continue to put that much time and energy into it.

  35. Starchild

    Frank – Please do keep working on that language, because when you write of “…an open all write-in ballot by which each voter controls the names of parties and candidates published by each voter”, I’m not getting a clear picture of how such a system would advance freedom, though I have some confidence that whatever you actually have in mind would tend toward that result.

    On the face of it, an all-write-in ballot would appear to advantage candidates with stronger name recognition, i.e. incumbents and those with more fame or resources being spent on their campaigns, and I presume you would agree we don’t want to advocate for a voting system that advantages those with money or especially political power any more than they are already naturally advantaged.

  36. George Phillies


    Thomas L. Knapp
    March 8, 2018 at 17:31

    Dr. Phillies,

    For the record, so far as I can tell Ms. Mattson”

    Yes, Tom, you are the one who introduced that name as a response to my remarks.

  37. Thomas L. Knapp

    Dr. Phillies,

    Chuck Moulton is the one who introduced that name as holding the position that you erroneously claim I see no potential problems with.

    Of course, we both no that it’s not really a remedial reading course you need. Paying attention would be enough to correct the problem.

  38. Michael Wilson

    Well shit dL. Some weeks ago this Libertarian suggested that we use the slogan Melt the ICE.

  39. dL

    Well shit dL. Some weeks ago this Libertarian suggested that we use the slogan Melt the ICE.

    Melt ICE, Fuck ICE, Light a Torch to ICE…needs to be more than one press release a year with something a little bit stronger than “we need to move in the direction of more open, legal immigration…”

  40. Carol Moore/Secession.net

    What’s the expected time of arrival on this???

    Caryn Ann Harlos wrote February 27, 2018 at 18:10
    I will also set up a form to be put on the national site where members can submit requests.

  41. Matt Cholko

    I’ve not heard anything about that, Carol. Of course, with as much email as there is on the platcomm list sometimes, I miss a lot.

  42. Seebeck

    Thanks, Tom, for the shout-out.

    Yes, I did roll out a plank by plank (mostly, some didn’t need anything, IMO) set of proposals, primarily non-substantive (no change in context, and only change in wording to get the grammar correct), to get the planks into a consistent format of 1) A “Libertarians believe” statement, followed by optional further expounding, and then 2) A “We support” or “We oppose” statement (or more than one) taking the philosophy and coupling it to policy. The premise behind this was that the current platform was very inconsistent in its style and presentation and it needed cleaning up. It is my hope that the committee will adopt these proposals and label them as such as non-substantive, such that they could be quickly voted up by the convention before getting onto more substantive matters. This is an effort long overdue.

    The only real exception to that was the Death Penalty plank. There are many reasons it is opposed, and none of them are listed, so it was left that way.

    After an attempt to improve the Abortion plank with a substantive rewrite that emphasized the difference between pre-viability and viability of the fetus as described in Casey, while balancing the rights of the mother and the fetus around that line, and encouraging private technology to reduce and eliminate abortions (without government interference) and increasing availability of adoptions, and still keeping the government out of it as completely as possible. This was met with IMO absurd arguments all around, that has been abandoned.

    There are also some other substantive changes I propose as well. The biggest one, I think, is a new plank on individualism:

    1.10 Individualism

    Libertarians believe that we are all individuals first and foremost, and our individual rights are ours alone. So too, our actions and their consequences are ours alone, and we reject the notion that the actions of one individual should be used as a judgement or measurement against any other individuals or actions. We also reject the notion that groups have rights, as groups only have privileges delegated to them by the individual owners or members of the group. We support the rights of the smallest minority, the individual.

    These are not my words alone, as others on the committee helped wordsmith it, and I thank them for their assistance. I sincerely hope this one passes through the committee and by the delegates at convention.

    The other two major areas I proposed were splitting the Free Trade and Migration plank apart into two separate planks on Free Trade and Migration, and splitting the Retirement and Income Security plank into two planks on Retirement and Income Security, and Charity and the Poor. Both of these came about because I could not figure out a way to reorganize those original planks into the aforementioned formats, primarily because they both seem to have disjoint but only slightly-related subjects put together in the planks. Splitting them out made achieving the format possible and made the planks far simpler to read.

    I should also note that only about a third to half of the committee is actively participating in these discussions, and the silence of the others, especially in the Starr Chamber, is deafening. I will leave it to others to determine whether that means apathy or shenanigans. Time will tell.

    One last thing: it very much annoys me when I hear committee members assume that the convention does not want to hear a proposal or that a proposal would waste their time or the committee’s time. IMO, that goes against our very job on the committee, which is to put forth to the delegates the proposals to make the platform the very best it can be from both a technical and contextual perspective. I would much rather place those decisions into the hands of the delegates, for better or worse, and get the platform cleaned up NOW rather than have to revisit this for a much-busier convention in 2020. That also benefits the party as a whole because the platform will look and be that much better going into 2020 when it will get more public scrutiny.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *