James Oaksun: ‘The Libertarian National Committee: Who’s with whom? Who’s against whom?’

by James R. Oaksun

Originally posted at http://www.libertyforall.net/?p=3868

This coming weekend – February 26 to 28 — a Libertarian Party state leaders conference is being held in Austin, Texas. Libertarian activists from across the country will get together, share ideas, and network. On Saturday night, there will be a debate among the four declared candidates for LNC Chair. Sunday, the National Committee will have a regular meeting.

(Some subtle (and perhaps not-so-subtle) campaigning for other LNC positions will also take place, in all likelihood.)

In preparation for the conference and to help me and perhaps others sort out the current situation on the committee, I have analyzed all the LNC’s recorded votes since the Denver convention. The end result of the analysis is a schematic that illustrates the coalitions on the committee – who is with whom, and who is against whom.

The source for the analysis is the posted minutes of the LNC meetings, from the lp.org website. I was not present at the meetings and relied solely on the formal textual record.

In addition, I only included votes where there was a stated division – where I could determine who voted yes/no/present. The committee took several voice votes through the period, where the record simply indicated “measure passed” or “measure failed”. I excluded those.

I include both mail votes and votes from the physical meeting.

Many of the votes seemed, at first glance, to be merely procedural – e.g., approval of the prior meeting’s minutes. But appearances can deceive you. Considering all votes as part of a woven cloth, it is obvious what has been going on within the LNC the last 18 months.

The first step in the analysis was simply to look at who voted most often with the majority committee sentiment.

Mark Hinkle…………………. 86%

Michael Jingozian………… 82%

Stewart Flood………………. 82%

Admiral Michael Colley… 81%

Patrick Dixon……………….. 75%

Rebecca Sink-Burris……. 75%

James Lark……………….…. 75%

Dan Karlan…………………… 71%

Robert Sullentrup………… 64%

Alicia Mattson…………….… 64%

Aaron Starr………………….. 61%

Julie Fox…………………….…. 61%

Tony Ryan……………….…… 58%

Rachel Hawkridge…….….. 57%

Mary Ruwart…………….…… 54%

Lee Wrights…………….……. 48%

Angela Keaton………….….. 40%

Now, what of LNC Chair Bill Redpath? Customarily Bill does not vote, or votes “present”. He will vote, however, to break ties. In addition, he cast a couple other critical votes in the period that clearly determine where he belongs in the schematic.

While interesting, this analysis of majority sentiment congruence does not tell the whole story. To determine what is actually going on, I conducted a pairs analysis. I considered how often each member of the committee voted with each other member of the committee, one by one. I ranked the pairs by their degree of congruence with each other.

The five strongest pairs on the committee are:

Starr with Mattson…… 100%

Ruwart with Fox………… 93%

Ruwart with Wrights…. 92%

Wrights with Fox……….. 92%

Colley with Mattson…… 91%

The five weakest pairs on the committee (i.e., the five that vote least often with each other) are:

Starr with Wrights…….. 16%

Ruwart with Mattson…. 18%

Keaton with Karlan……. 20%

Starr with Ruwart………. 21%

Starr with Hawkridge…. 25%

This produces the following diagram of connections. (Click on image to enlarge) The thickness of the line indicates the degree of congruence in the voting pattern.

Clearly the right column dominates the left, although there are other dynamics that one must note.

The addition of Alicia Mattson clearly strengthened the hand of Starr, Sullentrup, Karlan, Flood and Colley. The departure of Angela Keaton from the committee, and her replacement by Mattson – a 100% reliable ally to Starr – was a huge victory for the Starr camp’s cause.

While Dixon, Sink-Burris and Jingozian are usual allies of the Starr camp, those three are not completely reliable to that camp. The addition of Mattson was a significant tip in the power structure.

As mentioned earlier, LNC Chair Bill Redpath – when push comes to shove – will ally with the right column, not the left.

The diagram also illustrates the importance to the Starr camp of attempting to remove Lee Wrights from the committee. This would have left Ruwart, Hawkridge, Fox and Ryan with only inconsistent support from Hinkle and Lark. If the Starr camp had succeeded in removing Wrights and replacing him with a new ally (presumably Carling), it would have given them a frequent two-thirds majority on the committee on most if not all issues (as Dixon, Sink-Burris, Jingozian and even occasionally Redpath line up on their side typically). Under the Bylaws, two-thirds control is a significant benchmark and one that, presumably, the Starr camp would have used to their advantage.

Mr. Oaksun is a candidate for LNC Treasurer.

10 thoughts on “James Oaksun: ‘The Libertarian National Committee: Who’s with whom? Who’s against whom?’

  1. Jeremy Young

    This is excellent work. The strange thing, though, is that Colley was the single strongest voice on the LNC against the removal of Keaton. So it’s strange to see him voting with the people who removed her.

    As I commented on an earlier thread: how can Hinkle claim to be ready to turn around the LNC when he’s agreed with its decisions more consistently than any other member? It’s a very strange argument from him.

  2. Don Lake ........... out side looking in

    With every convention you Libs are digging your own grave. You are the smell passenger in the elevator that the others inch [centimeter ?????] away from! The ex libertarians [like the ex reformers and ex greens and ex Constitutionalists] are out in the real world spreading the dirt on the Ongoing Debating Society!

  3. Danny S

    Jeremy, Hinkle can portray himself here as a type of centrist in libertarian politics. The diagram shows it best I think- apparently the left camp does have victories sometimes, so Hinkle seems to vote most often on whichever side had the victory.

  4. Jeremy Young

    Danny, fair enough, but how does that make him a decisive leader? Voting with the majority doesn’t indicate an ability to turn the party around — it promises more of the status quo. His ability to appeal to people of various libertarian ideologies is a definite strength, but I think it may also be a weakness.

  5. Mik Robertson

    @4 “His ability to appeal to people of various libertarian ideologies is a definite strength, but I think it may also be a weakness.”

    Well, which is it? Is it important that the LNC promote a particular ideology or is it important that the LNC be able to work with people of different ideologies who want to work toward a common goal?

  6. Brian Holtz

    When someone votes in the majority a lot, it can be a sign of leading just as much as of following.

    Here’s some more data about the recent performance of the LP:

    Google News graph of LP media mentions:

    NewsLibrary.com reports this many articles that mention the LP in post-presidential-election years:

    1993: 621
    1997: 983
    2001: 1534
    2005: 1519
    2009: 1648

    For election years:

    1992: 1572
    1996: 2535
    2000: 3413
    2004: 3177
    2008: 4442

    (If anybody is worried that there is some natural growth bias in NewsLibrary results, note that “Reform Party” mentions dropped from 14K in 2000 to 2K in 2004. Google News also reports a sharp decline in “Reform Party” hits since 2000.)

    Below is a playlist I made of Bob Barr media appearances in the 2008 campaign cycle. I stopped at around 50 videos two months before the campaign ended, and it only included TV appearances that I could find on YouTube. Most were on national TV channels, while Harry Browne’s 2000 campaign only claimed 53 national TV appearances in total. Root reports 1000 media appearances since the 2008 campaign, which is more than the total that top-of-ticket Brown claimed for his entire 2000 campaign.

  7. paulie Post author

    This is excellent work. The strange thing, though, is that Colley was the single strongest voice on the LNC against the removal of Keaton. So it’s strange to see him voting with the people who removed her.

    Sometimes, personal friendships may outweigh other factors.

  8. Fascist Nation

    Very interesting analysis on the LNC. Not surprising. But a nice and useful visual to back up the claims of the tools on the committee.

    As for Holtz’s entertaining attempt to lend credibility to the Starr “leadership” it is unfortunately skewed as most print media and even televised media did not have any Internet presence until the beginning of this decade. Using the Reform Party comparison was meaningless prior to 2000. Indeed, the Reform Party was split and meaningless by 2000.

    Bob Barr may have gotten a hug amount of media attention—but as anyone who has circulated among strangrs the past two years where libertarianism has come up has found out, Barr’s candidacy to the LP Presidential nominee was disastrous, as the public clearly knows what Barr’s history represents, and that is it antithetical to libertarianism so as to at best sow confusion at worst brand the LP and the LNC hypocritical—which is a disaster for libertarianism that relies on uncompromising truth and positions.

  9. Brian Holtz

    @8, my data @6 about media mentions found by Google News and NewsLibrary.com have essentially nothing to do with web-based news. NewsLibrary.com finds 507 newspaper mentions of the LP in 1988, and the Google News graph above plainly shows a steady stream of LP mentions since the early 1970s. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that newspapers got onto the Web, which didn’t even exist before 1991.

    The data about Reform Party mentions was (as I said) meant only to calibrate against the concern that these newspaper archives are skewed with more articles for recent years. No such skew is observed in the data.

    Nobody is claiming that Barr was a perfect candidate. But if you have an inner emotional conviction that his media appearances were in aggregate damaging to the LP, then I challenge you to identify the 3 worst appearances in the list of 50 above and quote the parts that you think were damaging.

  10. Chuck Moulton

    Brian Holtz (@9):

    But if you have an inner emotional conviction that his media appearances were in aggregate damaging to the LP, then I challenge you to identify the 3 worst appearances in the list of 50 above and quote the parts that you think were damaging.

    I was somewhat embarrassed by his Colbert Report appearance. My recollection is that was mostly due to Colbert’s highlights of Barr’s unlibertarian past votes though. I thought George Will (who appeared that same week) did a much better job of articulating libertarianism (which he called conservatism).

    On the whole I though Barr did a decent job in the media. My main concern with the campaign was his pissing off of Ron Paul and Ron Paul supporters, ending the campaign in debt, and not sharing the donor list with the LP. Those were more a function of his staff than Barr himself. But Barr chose his staff, so he is somewhat responsible for their mistakes too.

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