Party platforms: your thoughts?

As reported at Libertarian Intelligence, the Libertarian Party national platform committee met this past weekend in Las Vegas.

As a general question for our readers: If you are an LP member or supporter, what planks would you most like to see added, deleted, or changed? What changes would you make if you were on the committee?

If you are a member or supporter of another alternative party, what planks would you most like to see added, deleted, or changed in your party’s platform? What changes would you make?

If you do not belong to any party but were to start one or join a hypothetical new party, what would you include in the new party’s platform?

42 thoughts on “Party platforms: your thoughts?

  1. Brian Holtz

    In Vegas my highest priority was these 5 changes that strengthen the defenses of our candidates:

    * 1.0: informed competence or adulthood is required to exercise a right
    * 1.2: drug freedom is not for children
    * 1.4: oppose abortion subsidies and mandates
    * 1.6: qualify gun rights as being for peaceful adults
    * 3.5: parents may not abuse/neglect/endanger children

    I also advocated 6 changes that fix semantic bugs:

    * Preamble: planks, not “pages”
    * 1.0: “choices in life” => e.g. “choices in his or her own life”
    * 1.0: “mean we necessarily” => “necessarily mean we”
    * 1.2: the 4th Amendment recognizes rights, it does not create them
    * 1.3: “rights” => “treatment”, “gender” => “sex”
    * 3.2: don’t falsely say the Bill of Rights has no wartime exceptions

    The language I advocated is at

    The LP should adopt more of the green-libertarian ideas of the Free Earth Manifesto.

    The Green Party should make these green-libertarian changes to their 10 Key Green Values.

    The Dems (and even the LP) could improve their platform by adopting this modified version of the Democratic Freedom Caucus platform.

    I highly recommend the short but sweet platform of Prof. Fred Foldvary’s Free Earth Party (which is not so much a party as a transpartisan caucus).

    And as a treat for platform wonks, here are excerpts from the original (1848) platform of the Free Soil Party:

    Congress has no more power to make a slave, than to make a king. We have assembled in conventions as a union of freemen, for the sake of freedom, forgetting all past political differences in a common resolve to maintain the rights of free labor, against the aggressions of the slave power, and to secure free soil for a free people.

    The free grant to actual settlers of reasonable portions of the public lands, under suitable limitations, is a wise and just public policy. Let the soil of our extensive domains be ever kept free for the hardy pioneers of our own land, and the oppressed and banished of other lands, seeking homes of comfort and fields of enterprise in the new world.

    We the people, here assembled, remembering the example of our fathers in the days of the first declaration of independence, do now plant ourselves on the national platform of freedom. We will inscribe on our banner ”Free Soil, Free Speech, Free Labor, and Free Men”, and under it will fight on, and fight ever, until a triumphant victory shall reward our exertions.

  2. Ross Levin

    Personally, I’d like to see more support of direct democracy, especially from the Green Party. There are already two LP presidential candidates that support national ballot intiatives/referendums (Michael Jingozian and Thomas Knapp) and one 2010 Green candidate for Congress (Matt Reichel) and one independent.

  3. Michael

    I disagree with the current platform on abortion.

    The current platform is wishy-washy all inclusive BS. It’s not alright to kill your child as soon as their born, how can you justify it before they’re born? To pick some point during the prgenancy before which it’s ok is completely arbitrary. Life begins at conception. There’s a new person with a unique genetic code created at that point. You could make the argument that life doesn’t begin until birth but that is a very weak argument. Picking some point in between those two makes no sense unless you’re trying to rationalize murder.

    Not sure what the exact wording should be but the Libertarian Party should be completely opposed to abortion.

  4. Michael Seebeck


    To say that life begins at conception is biologically inaccurate. There’s a lot of steps from fertilization through fetal development to viability before it can be called a new human life. Yeah, the building blocks are there, but the presence of the blocks doesn’t imply the assembly and therefore not the new human life, just as a stack of lumber and shingles with a box of nails, a hammer, paintbrush and a gallon of paint doesn’t mean you have a new shed. It has to be built first.

    Ask any biologist. I did one better: I married one.

    But so is the statement that life begins at birth. “Birth” is simply an arbitrary time barrier used for legal senses, just like any age level afterwards.

    The reason the platform says what it does is exactly because plenty of people disagree on the topic, and the LP feels it’s simplest to leave that disagreement alone, except for the idea that government should have no say in it at all, legally or financially. It is the best position to take, and one that frankly is the most big-tent, because like it or not, abortion isn’t going away and in the big scheme of things, isn’t likely to either, despite all the railing about millions of aborted fetuses every year and the rest of those emotional arguments.

    BTW, my wife and I had a child lost in utero, at a viable state, for reasons unknown, so neither you nor anyone else can ever accuse me of not knowing what I’m talking about. I personally oppose abortion because I know damn well and very personally what it means to hold a dead son that was wanted and loved and taken from us, without our choice. But I cannot in any conscience let my personal bias prevent anyone else from making that choice and living with the consequences, no matter how rough it may be on them. So politically I’m pro-choice. And yes, it is damned personal.

  5. Don Lake .......... Submission

    “It’s not alright to kill your child as soon as their born, how can you justify it before they’re born? ”

    I will explain it to you in simple words and type slowly. Until the fetus is breathing air and has the umbilical cord cut it is not a baby, it is a part of the woman’s body and under her control.

    People are animals and mammals.

  6. Carolyn Marbry

    If we had the medical technology to remove an unborn embryo from one woman and transplant it into another, this question would mostly be moot. Mostly.

    Oh, there’s the whole question of ex-utero viability and whether or not one citizen can have her life be conscripted into service as life support for another…

    But abortion isn’t always about ending an unwanted pregnancy, and this is something of which people are often completely unaware.

    I AM a parent, and I’m sure other parents would agree, you would gnaw off your own arm to spare your child suffering. You’d gladly give your life for theirs. Because there’s nothing more painful in this world that watching your child suffer and not being able to do anything about it. Hell, I get weak at the knees if he cuts his finger.

    So when a mother is told that her unborn child is hopelessly and agonizingly deformed with, say, spina bifida or some other gross mutation, abortion becomes another question altogether and involves yet another examination of ethics. Which is the more ethical choice, to end the child’s suffering quickly or to force it to be born and die slowly and painfully?

    This is one reason why I am not only pro-choice, but I oppose the ban on late-term abortions. The single most common use of these late term abortions is exactly as I described, a mother’s final act of love to spare her child suffering. I’ve known women who have had to go through this, and it’s heartbreaking for them. Bearing the child and helplessly watching him suffer to a slow death is the only thing I can imagine that would be worse.

    For this reason, this procedure needs to be done by licensed physicians, and thus it must be legal. Otherwise, women will resort to back-alley abortions again, just as they used to when all abortion was illegal.

    There’s a bumper sticker that the pro-life folks have that says “Abortion stops a beating heart.”

    Yeah, but illegal abortion stops TWO beating hearts.

    So before anyone goes making hard and fast convoluted rules about when life starts or doesn’t start or whether sperm is sacred or not, we come back to the same point: If we’re not the woman or even the couple involved in the pregnancy, it’s simply none of our business. Not as the general public, not in government, and not in terms of a party platform.

  7. Melty

    I agree with Brian on 1.4. Just add that we’re against abortion subsidy / mandate and the plank will be good.

  8. Melty

    Like Brian says, 1.3 needs semantic fixing. Specifically, I’d change it from
    “Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals . . . ”
    to simply “Sexual orientation should have no impact on the treatment of individuals . . . ”
    “sexual orientation” is used as a blanket term elsewhere in the platform, and this “gender” talk adds no meaning.

  9. Darryl W. Perry

    I would recommend a two sentence platform:
    Each of us has a natural right to defend his person, his liberty, and his property.
    No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else.

  10. Melty

    For 2.9 Health Care, the socialist loaded words need to be removed.
    “. . . reviving a free market health care system.”
    => . . . reviving free market medical practices.

    “. . . the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, . . .”
    => . . . the level of medical attention they want,
    the medical practitioners (or else simply “doctors”) they want, . . .

    The title should be changed to 2.9 Medicine
    or something else clinical, not a buzzword.

  11. Erik

    I do not advocate laws which cannot be equitably enforced. A third or a half (how to count?) of fertilized eggs, conceptions, naturally fail to implant and/or carry on to recognizably human life. If life begins at conception, then every tampon and sanitary napkin should be examined and a coroner’s inquest held if a fertilized egg is found. Clearly, no libertarian could agree to that. If, however, you agree that human bodies, fertilized eggs, can be legally flushed down the toilet, yet “abortion” should be illegal, perhaps your assumptions should be examined for logical consistency.

  12. Kevin

    Michael // Dec 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I disagree with the current platform on abortion.

    The current platform is wishy-washy all inclusive BS. It’s not alright to kill your child as soon as their born, how can you justify it before they’re born?


    See the link bleow, Libertarians For Life.

    The anti-abortion faction in the LP has been growing for years.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp


    The first sentence of 3.1 and the last sentence of 3.4.

    Fixing 3.1 would be relatively simple — just add the word “volunteer” of the words “voluntarily financed” between “sufficient” and “military.”

    The last sentence of 3.4 needs to go entirely. It’s not just un-libertarian, it’s nonsensical and without sane meaning.


  14. Thomas L. Knapp


    Nice strawman: “If life begins at conception, then every tampon and sanitary napkin should be examined and a coroner’s inquest held if a fertilized egg is found. ”

    First of all, there is no “if” — life begins at conception. That’s an indisputable biological fact. The question is not when “life” begins, but when “personhood” (which implies rights) begins.

    As to your boogieman scare story:

    Bodies have been found in dumpsters before. Does the police department inspect every dumpster before it’s carted away?

    Bodies have been found in closets before. Do you have to let the county sheriff know that you’re ready to do spring cleaning so that he can send a deputy around to make sure there aren’t any corpses in your closets?

    Even if abortion were made illegal — I’m not that interested in arguing over whether or not it should be — police/government would still be bound to establish probable cause to believe a crime had been committed BEFORE conducting a search.

    Kevin, I’m not sure that the anti-abortion faction of the LP has been in a growth pattern for the last few years. In 2002, the national convention came within a percent or so of deleting the abortion plank. I don’t think it’s been nearly as close since, even in 2006 when there was a powerful “delete them all” movement, which succeeded in getting rid of 3/4 of the platform, operating at a not very well attended convention.

    Tom Knapp

  15. Mik Robertson

    @7, 8, 9, 10, 15, 18, 19 and 21;

    Part of the issue of abortion is when personhood begins, or perhaps it could be stated when there is enfranchisement of the right to life. There is also the issue of the right to self-defense.

    Until such a time when childbirth does not present a significant risk of harm to the life of the mother, and we are not there yet, it would be a limitation of liberty to take away any option from the mother at any time during pregnancy. The right to life is not secured by removing the right of another to defend their own life.

    That is the main reason conferring personhood, or enfranchising the right to life at birth makes the most sense.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp


    Yes, those are some important points, although I think you give the self-defense aspect short shrift in a way that invalidates it.

    Per your logic, I shouldn’t have the “option” of shooting everyone who crosses my path taken away from me, since any one of them might be planning to murder me. In fact, most people I pass on the street are no threat to my life, just as most pregnancies are no threat to the mother’s life.

    All that aside, and while I tend to favor Holtz’s approach to the issue, I just don’t see the LP making any political money on the abortion issue.

    Holtz (probably accurately) states that 60% of the American public would support the line he sets. What he misses is that the whole issue is probably not just a big deal to most of that 60%, while it’s a VERY big deal to much of the other 40%.

    If it was a question where the application of principle was clear, we’d be bound to apply the principle, popular or not. This isn’t such an issue. Most of us agree on something like the same principles, but we disagree on important and relevant questions of fact which haven’t yet been satisfactorily answered and may never be.

    Every minute we waste on abortion is a minute we’re not spending on real issues that we might be able to have a real impact on.

  17. Mik Robertson

    @23 “Per your logic, I shouldn’t have the “option” of shooting everyone who crosses my path taken away from me, since any one of them might be planning to murder me. In fact, most people I pass on the street are no threat to my life, just as most pregnancies are no threat to the mother’s life.”

    No, that is not the case at all. Self -defense comes from removing a threat. If there is no threat, there is no self-defense. In all cases there is a risk of harm to the life of the mother during childbirth. In some cases the risk is greater than others, but a significant risk is always there with the biological process. It is simply not the same as walking down the street where others may consciously act to harm you.

    That said, it is an issue where people can reasonable and with sound principle make decisions both ways. The question is what should the public policy position be. I think one that allows those decisions to be made, both by individuals and health care institutions, is the best one.

  18. paulie Post author


    See the link bleow, Libertarians For Life.

    The anti-abortion faction in the LP has been growing for years.

    On one of the Duensing tasing incident trolls, you admitted to being an anti-libertarian. Why are you so interested in libertarian factional issues?

  19. paulie Post author

    I do not advocate laws which cannot be equitably enforced. A third or a half (how to count?) of fertilized eggs, conceptions, naturally fail to implant and/or carry on to recognizably human life.

    Not to take a position on this, but as a logical analogy, 100% of living humans eventually die. Does that mean it’s OK to kill them?

  20. Carolyn Marbry

    We have an abortion discussion going on in both platform threads? Interesting…

    An adult human being could not coopt the body of another against her will as life support, assuming such a thing were even possible. He cannot command her blood supply for his use, he cannot demand use of her kidneys for dialysis for a period of months, and so on.

    If she were to agree to this and then change her mind and stop, he could not hold her to it, nor could the law, even if it meant his death. So personhood isn’t the issue. The adult man in this hypothetical IS an adult human being, a citizen and let’s add for good measure that he’s a contributing member of society. Maybe even a hero of some kind. Doesn’t matter. It’s enslavement of one person to the life of another that’s the issue here.

    I said in the other thread that I would like to see our “abortion” plank expanded into a more global (and useful) reproductive rights plank, to include MEN’s reproductive rights, such as not being financially liable for a child the mother who is not your legal spouse insisted on having against your wishes or the converse situation of women aborting children that the fathers wanted — this is a very touchy and controversial issue that warrants consideration — or the rights of minor women to seek reproductive counseling and abortions without parental interference, forced (or enticed) sterilization for certain demographics, forced (or enticed) breeding for certain demographics, forced birth control, forced LACK of birth control, reproductive education, that kind of thing.

    Granted, not everyone will agree on these issues, and that is exactly why they should be open to discussion, so we can hammer out a more general reproductive rights plank that works for people. But instead, we’re getting so caught up in the abortion plank, talking about the weird cases where some woman somewhere might want to abort one day before the child’s born (the statistics for which I’d love to see) and trying to decide where personhood begins that we’re ignoring important issues that affect far more people every day.

  21. Brian Holtz

    Carolyn, the fact that 91% of abortions are in the first trimester is precisely why it is indeed “weird” that so-called pro-choice Libertarians doggedly insist that the platform oppose even laws that outlaw only late-term discretionary abortions. As you are a candidate for Vice Chair, I’d appreciate if you told us whether or not you share in this dogged insistence.

  22. Carolyn Marbry

    Brian, how many different ways can I say the same thing in two different threads? My “bright line” is viability ex utero without heroic measures.

    If a child is viable at the 7 month mark, then it’s a delivery and not an abortion, but at no point should the mother be forced to continue a pregnancy against her will. If the child is NEVER going to be viable or is hopelessly doomed to die within a few days of birth in horrible agony, then at any point within the pregnancy it should be the mother’s right to end the child’s suffering, including refusing heroic life support once the child is born. That’s her right as a parent.

    You keep trying to tie it to a calendar, and I don’t find that reasonable, not in every case or even the majority of cases. Some infants have reasonably developed lungs sooner than others, for example.

    Since no two pregnancies are identical, putting a calendar date (100 days, for example, like the old platform had) is unreasonable, especially since it’s very hard in a lot of cases to pinpoint exact dates. You need a better criterion than that, and my suggestion for that criterion is, as I’ve said a few times now, viability ex utero without heroic intervention.

    Y’know what? It occurs to me what the issue here is. I’m talking about terminating pregnancies, you’re talking about killing the fetus. I guess I should clarify that I don’t necessarily see the termination of an unwanted pregnancy ending in the death of the baby. If the child is born alive and is (again) viable on its own, then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be allowed to live, perhaps given over to an adoption agency. But MY point on all this is that the mother should not have to carry a child she does not want. Period. And she should be able to take some steps in that regard, even in the last trimester. THAT is why I so stridently oppose fixing a particular date after which a woman is stuck going through with the whole thing.

    Does that help clarify my position for you?

  23. Brian Holtz

    Carolyn, I’ve already acknowledged that your personal position is different from that of the LP Platform: “You and I have already agreed to a certain extent on an evictionist approach to abortion, but that’s not what the LP platform currently advocates.”

    I’ve since been trying to figure out whether you realize that the LP Platform draws a bright line at birth, and whether you think the LP should continue to oppose any law that would outlaw discretionary killing of late-term fetuses.

    In the other thread, you’ve now apparently said that your respective answers are “yes” and “no”. I like these answers better than what I understood you to mean by what you originally wrote: I also want to add my thanks to the women’s caucus for once again helping to protect the “abortion” plank, which I really see as more the “it’s not the government’s business” plank.

  24. Look at your own sins

    Before forcing your views and judging others, remember you will have to face your own sins. It should be between the woman and G-d, her private business not yours.
    1. A woman who has been raped is going to have issues dealing with this, let alone if the family if there is one involved don’t break up due to other issues that also become involved.
    2. Let the pro-lifers have a 50% tax on supporting these unwanted children since they have their belief.
    3. We have children here now, born that can’t even get adopted due to government interference.
    4. We have our men fighting a war losing their lives, limbs and affecting them mentally, coming home from a war a lot of them don’t even believe in, is this a form of abortion? These people come back in such sad positions, families are broken up also due to this.
    5. Which is worse forcing a child to live in slavery of government and with the over population will end up dying anyways due to lack of food, proverty, diseases, it is like rats breeding in a cage, if you get too many what happens then.

    There is no right or wrong answer. This is where the privacy of that person and G-d comes in.
    Those who have not sined can throw the first stones.

    There are other issues that needs to be discuss, if all you can look at and make abortion the main topic here, we have a problem.

  25. Michael H. Wilson

    I count five people who are on the Platform Committee who are also on the LNC, or are alternate and that includes Aaron Starr the Treasurer. Then M Carling who is on the platform committee is also on the By-laws Committee.

    With 15,000 members I would think we could find the people to be on the various committees without this cross pollination. This nonsense needs to cease.

  26. Brian Holtz

    Only three people are non-alternate members of both LNC and PlatCom. It was fortunate that alternate Starr had arranged to travel to Vegas, as full member Susan Hogarth announced only the morning before the meeting that she wouldn’t be attending.

    I don’t know how many applications LNC received, but apparently not many LP members are up for the requisite travel and the non-stop deliberations — to say nothing of keeping abreast of the email traffic. At least one first-time member told me in Vegas that he wouldn’t be applying again.

    Darryl, the LNC appoints 10 members after advertising for applicants in LP News, and the top 10 states each pick their own representative.

  27. Mik Robertson

    @35 “With 15,000 members I would think we could find the people to be on the various committees without this cross pollination. This nonsense needs to cease.”

    The Pennsylvania Platcomm rep was elected by delegates in convention. It was known he was an alternate regional LNC representative, but there was no reason to negate the will of the delegates.

  28. Michael H. Wilson

    Mik I don’t see a problem with that. I just think we should make a point to spread the work around when possible.

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