Questions for Wayne Root from Chuck Moulton

The following questions for Wayne Root, candidate for Libertarian National Committee chair, were posted by immediate past LNC Vice Chair Chuck Moulton in IPR comments on a previous Q &A between Wayne Root and Brian Holtz. It was also emailed to Wayne Root on April 8 by me (Paulie) with an explanation that the questions were from Chuck, and so far, I have not been copied on any response, if there was one.

This post is meant as a compliment to the tough questions for, and investigative reports about, another LNC chair candidate, Ernie Hancock, that IPR’s Brian Holtz has been posting recently. It continues a series I began by reposting Tom Knapp’s ‘A Tale of Two Waynes?’ at https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2010/04/tom-knapp-a-tale-of-two-waynes/

I would like to clarify for our readers that neither that post, nor this one, constitutes an editorial or (anti)endorsement by either myself or IPR, and apologize for any misunderstanding that the lack of explanatory text such as this on that previous post caused. -Paulie



1. (Mr. Root,) As Chair, to what extent would you rely on counsel from Aaron Starr for administrative decisions of party business (staffing, executive decisions, dealing with LNC business, etc.)?

2. During media appearances where you will be referred to as Chair of the Libertarian Party, will you be taking the positions listed in the LP platform or your own positions? If the latter, will you make clear to the audience where the Libertarian Party platform differs?

3. Some have described you as the Sarah Palin of the LP in that you are great at delivering talking points, but when conversations get more substantive you sometimes do not have the deeper insights that come from scholarly study of issues (in stark contrast to Ron Paul, for example). As valedictorian of your high school class and an ivy league graduate, clearly you have the capacity to learn and convey such information. If elected Chair, will you correct this deficiency by getting in depth briefings from Cato scholars on issues of the day and teach yourself the principles and applications of free-market (Austrian) economics by studying Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard?

4. When you are acting in your personal or business capacity rather than your LP Chair capacity, what steps will you take to separate your pitches as a client for corporations from the Libertarian Party label? In other words, can you be counted on not to be referred to as the 2008 LP Vice-Presidential candidate or the LP Chair when you are producing Internet videos selling products unrelated to the LP?

5. Why wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest for the person elected Chair in 2010 to run for President in 2012 — even if a “leave of absence” were taken? I believe that Barr’s leave of absence as a LNC member to run for President would be fundamentally different from the Chairman and CEO of the LP taking a leave of office to run for President… why am I wrong?

6. Why should someone who has never served on the LNC be elected Chair of the LNC?

7. Why is reaching out only to conservatives a good strategy when Ron Paul made his mark and raised much of his money through his opposition to the Iraq war? Given that many college students lean liberal and the young are the future of the LP and the country, why is[n’t] outreach to young liberals with free time to volunteer and potential to be lifelong LP supporters more important than outreach to old conservatives with lots of money to donate?

8. Will you be appearing on MSNBC and CNN, or just Fox News? Will you be able to effectively highlight the Libertarian Party’s liberal positions (anti-war, pro-LGBT rights, etc.) to the appropriate demographics?

9. Will you be firing Wes Benedict as Executive Director if elected Chair? If so, with whom will you replace him?

10. You say you changed your religion from Jewish to evangelical Christian and changed your war views from pro-war to anti-war. It would seem that the first change would be an advantage in business and politics, whereas the latter change would be an advantage in earning Libertarian Party votes for internal office and public office nominations. Were these changes genuine, for political advantage, or both? What other changes in your religion and/or ideology would you be willing to make to become more electable? What is a line you would draw in your principles beyond which you would not be willing to sacrifice or compromise for electability?

Don’t get me wrong from these questions… I like Wayne personally and I would like to see him continue to run for public office as a Libertarian. However, I don’t think Chair is the right position for him and I think he should address the hard questions rather than the easy questions.

58 thoughts on “Questions for Wayne Root from Chuck Moulton

  1. Mik Robertson

    …and when there are answers to these questions it appears there will be an article that can be posted.

  2. paulie Post author

    Not having answers is not unprecedented.

    For instance, one of Brian’s posts was a set of questions for Hancock, which was not answered, except that Hancock at least did say he would send some kind of video. I don’t know if he actually sent one, and if he did, I have no idea whether it had anything to do with Brian’s questions.

  3. paulie Post author

    On the other hand, “when” may assume that a response is forthcoming. Since it has been 10 days, I am not assuming that it is.

  4. Mik Robertson

    @2 “Not having answers is not unprecedented.”

    I understand, and I am not complaining. That doesn’t make the other article or this one any more informative, though.

    It is nice when candidates take the time to specifically answer questions from reporters.

  5. paulie Post author

    That doesn’t make the other article or this one any more informative, though.

    It is nice when candidates take the time to specifically answer questions from reporters.

    Yes, it’s nice when they do, I agree.

    And, when they don’t, maybe posts like this will encourage/remind them to come up with the answers, even if they were too busy to do it beforehand or considered the questions too negative or whatever.

    Also, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to let our readers know when we are asking candidates questions that they don’t answer. That fact in itself may be informative to some.

    And, again, I’m not presuming that Wayne is ducking any questions. Maybe he’s just been too busy with real media to get around to it yet.

  6. JT

    Paulie: “Also, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to let our readers know when we are asking candidates questions that they don’t answer. That fact in itself may be informative to some.”

    True. Personally, I don’t give that it weight. I’d like to read the answers, but I understand that just because someone is running for national chair, he or she can’t be expected to answer a list of questions from every LP member, which is the precedent that would set. I wouldn’t even expect such a person to answer a list of questions from every voter at the national convention.

  7. paulie Post author

    JT,

    I understand that just because someone is running for national chair, he or she can’t be expected to answer a list of questions from every LP member, which is the precedent that would set.

    Well, no, not from every LP member. I think we all understand that these candidates’ time is limited.

    However, one might hope that an exception can be made for questions from the immediate past vice chair of the LNC and reporters for the #1 comment-accepting blog that covers the LP regularly (in terms of comment volume and traffic).

  8. AroundtheblockAFT

    My questions to all the Chair candidates is:
    “Why did the LP grow from zero to 10,000 members in its first twenty years and essentially stagnate in the next twenty? And what, specifically, are you and your team going to do to start growing it again?”

  9. George Phillies

    @9

    NewPathForTheLP.org is issuing a business plan and full plan this Wednesday. We will be circulating it in pieces to major libertarian blogs starting on that day. The entire document will be available on that day at our web site.

  10. JT

    Paulie: “However, one might hope that an exception can be made for questions from the immediate past vice chair of the LNC and reporters for the #1 comment-accepting blog that covers the LP regularly (in terms of comment volume and traffic).”

    Sure. I hope all of them do. But I don’t believe a past vice chair or IPR holds a lot of sway in the party (practically anyone can post at IPR, and only a very tiny number of LP members ever comment). I do it for fun, not because I think it’s a powerful force in the party. So it doesn’t surprise me if they don’t, even though I’d be interested if they did.

  11. Melty

    swell tough questions, Chuck!
    were there some tough questions for Phillies too already?

  12. James Oaksun

    @9 also

    This is the point I made in my “Rip Van Libertarian” handout, which shows that in inflation adjusted dollars we are now in exactly the spot we were in in 1993 . A little worse off even.

    This of course masked an underlying dynamic, i.e., we saw an “inverted V shape” from 93-09, with strong growth in the 93-00 period, all frittered away in the 00-09 timeframe.

    My hope is that the St Louis delegates hoist a big sign over the Party:

    Under New Management

    There will be a new chair, true. But while change at the top will be nice, it is not nearly sufficient.

  13. AroundtheblockAFT

    What makes the later performance doubly sad is that the 80’s progress was made in the face of most Republicans loving Reagan, while the LP faded during Dubya’s reign when increasing numbers of Republicans were abandoning Bush.
    (Yes, I know former Democrats do join LP but let’s be real about the preponderance of former GOPers.)

  14. Hmmmmmmmmmmm .......... Lake

    AroundtheblockAFT // Apr 19, 2010:

    “Why did the LP grow from zero to 10,000 members in its first twenty years and essentially stagnate in the next twenty? ” [Novelty, lack of other options, lack of ethics]

    “What are your team going to do to start growing it again?” [re-enstate basic ethics ?????]

  15. Brian Holtz

    ATB @14, what “80’s progress”?

    Correlation is obviously not causation, but the first derivative of LP membership correlates pretty well with whether the federal regime is R vs. D.

  16. George Phillies

    A few answers.

    1. As Chair, to what extent would you rely on counsel from Aaron Starr for administrative decisions of party business (staffing, executive decisions, dealing with LNC business, etc.)?

    I of course welcome the input of all of our party’s members. After All, Step Zero of The New Path for the LP is ‘Listen to the Membership’. However, as Chair, I am the CEO and have shared governance with the National Committee as described in the Bylaws. You will notice that New Path recruited several MBA’s, notably Treasurer candidate James Oaksun and Secretary candidate Rob Power, so CPA-influenced bean counting will be replaced with MBA-influenced leadership.

    2. During media appearances where you will be referred to as Chair of the Libertarian Party, will you be taking the positions listed in the LP platform or your own positions? If the latter, will you make clear to the audience where the Libertarian Party platform differs?

    When I’m appearing as Chair, that being all the time for the next two years, I will be advancing our Party’s platform. Like every other officer, I will be elected to represent our party, our party has chosen its stands, and those are the stands I will be advocating. I intend to be mindful of the wise advice Michael Cloud gave several years ago at LPMA and LPNH state conventions: Talk to people about issues they care about. Lure them in, don’t frighten them.

    3. Some have described you as the Sarah Palin of the LP in that you are great at delivering talking points, but when conversations get more substantive you sometimes do not have the deeper insights that come from scholarly study of issues (in stark contrast to Ron Paul, for example). As valedictorian of your high school class and an ivy league graduate, clearly you have the capacity to learn and convey such information. If elected Chair, will you correct this deficiency by getting in depth briefings from Cato scholars on issues of the day and teach yourself the principles and applications of free-market (Austrian) economics by studying Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard?

    This question is a bit more appropriate for other people. Most of them are Republicans. So far as I can tell, Sarah Palin is a dimwit who thinks abstinence is an effective teenage birth control method, evolution is wrong, and the earth is getting colder. Palin fits in just fine in her political party, the Republican Party of Belligerent Ignorance. There are plenty of intelligent Republicans who would fit well in our party, especially after they came over to our position as social progressives, but those are a different group of people.

    4. When you are acting in your personal or business capacity rather than your LP Chair capacity, what steps will you take to separate your pitches as a client for corporations from the Libertarian Party label? In other words, can you be counted on not to be referred to as the 2008 LP Vice-Presidential candidate or the LP Chair when you are producing Internet videos selling products unrelated to the LP?

    I’m a college professor. My employer views involvement in civic and political activism as a positive aspect of my life. My biographies in my books, eight and counting, do sometimes mention my connections with the Libertarian Party. I give us free advertising. However, my statistical mechanics and game design books are sold on their merits in their fields.

    5. Why wouldn’t it be a conflict of interest for the person elected Chair in 2010 to run for President in 2012 — even if a “leave of absence” were taken? I believe that Barr’s leave of absence as a LNC member to run for President would be fundamentally different from the Chairman and CEO of the LP taking a leave of office to run for President… why am I wrong?

    I am *not* running for President in 2012. Period. Full Stop. There would be overwhelming problems with the chair running for our Presidential nomination, not only with respect to fairness issues but with respect to discharging the responsibilities of the office, and I write as a former candidate for our Presidential nomination. How can someone running for President possibly devote enough time to his prior commitment as Chair, especially in a recovery period like the one we’re in now? As far as taking a leave of absence from duties as Chair in order to run for President, that seems rather self-serving. Having said that, if one of our Presidential candidates has promised that he will run for Chair, I will respect a man who keeps his promises, but I trust our delegates will do the right thing.

    6. Why should someone who has never served on the LNC be elected Chair of the LNC?

    Because we’ve been trying the opposite for the last decade. Under that opposite strategy we’ve lost 60% of our membership and 75% of our real-dollar income.

    7. Why is reaching out only to conservatives a good strategy when Ron Paul made his mark and raised much of his money through his opposition to the Iraq war? Given that many college students lean liberal and the young are the future of the LP and the country, why is[n’t] outreach to young liberals with free time to volunteer and potential to be lifelong LP supporters more important than outreach to old conservatives with lots of money to donate?

    Reaching out to Republican conservatives is a lousy strategy. You notice Ron Paul didn’t do that. We need to reach out to people who are open to the Libertarian message. There are vast numbers of those people, they have been located with scientific polling, and the soon to be released New Path for Libertarian Revival will tell you who they are.

    8. Will you be appearing on MSNBC and CNN, or just Fox News? Will you be able to effectively highlight the Libertarian Party’s liberal positions (anti-war, pro-LGBT rights, etc.) to the appropriate demographics?

    I’m here to build our party, not stroke my ego. My target is getting our *candidates* on news programs. When I appear, I will present the Libertarian message per our platform as a representative of our party, not as a means of campaigning for President later. You may rest assured that our new outreach efforts will be targetting plausible recruits to our party, these being people who tend to be young, entrepreneurial, socially progressive, fiscally prudent, and opposed to Federal foreign intervention and fiscal profligacy.

    9. Will you be firing Wes Benedict as Executive Director if elected Chair? If so, with whom will you replace him?

    Based on what I currently know, I have absolutely no cause or reason to fire Wes, who appears to have made significant steps toward fixing our party. If Wes were to choose to leave, which I would regret, the New Path team would handle his core responsibilities while we found a replacement.

    10. (Religion) As I have said on several prior occasions, I make a point of not discussing my personal religious beliefs. With respect to our country, the upper house of the Federal Legislature is called the Senate, because American law is founded on Graeco-Roman political thought.

    11. “Why did the LP grow from zero to 10,000 members in its first twenty years and essentially stagnate in the next twenty? And what, specifically, are you and your team going to do to start growing it again?”

    We grew from zero to 33,000 members in not quite thirty years, and then spent the next decade marching backward. We want to put the party back on the growth track it left in 1998-2000. Our plan to do this will appear soon on NewPathForTheLP.org. Remember, it’s a real plan, something we modify and improve as we see which parts of it work better.

  17. Brian Holtz

    Kudos to George for answering these questions. I would like to see George (and other LP veterans) recount what specifically they think caused the LP membership growth of 1995-2000.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp

    George,

    You write:

    “Reaching out to Republican conservatives is a lousy strategy. You notice Ron Paul didn’t do that.”

    In what universe did he not do that?

  19. George Phillies

    I should have gone on at greater length. By “Republican Conservative” I meant “Republican Conservative”, a unique species that is not classical conservative but is Republican.

    Republican conservatives are people like Rudi Giuliani and Vice President Cheney, people who are adamantly pro war on Iraq, Iran, and/or Islam, think military and CIA torturers and NSA wiretappers are a glory of the Republic, are firmly convinced that Saddam had a current atom bomb program, really did have in his possession gas weapons that we actually found, and was actively aiding Obama bin Laden. Ron Paul happily took their votes, but I do not believe he reached out to them the way Rudi and Dick did.

    Ron Paul did reach out to real conservatives some of whom are Republican, but they are a different kettle of fish.

    Alas, sometimes brevity is the opposite of clarity, and I agree with your point.

  20. George Phillies

    Reaching out to Ron Paul conservatives is a different and more promising approach than trying to recruit Dick Cheney as a Libertarian Party member, though less so that Mike and Sarah as described in the forthcoming New Path volume available within a few days.

  21. AroundtheblockAFT

    #16 From ’79, before Clark campaign, to ’90, after Paul campaign, the LP had roughly a 50% gain (with a dip in mid-80s after Bergland race).

  22. AroundtheblockAFT

    Mid-eighties dip also due to turmoil on the LNC. Chair Paul Grant resigned. Appointed chair Randy Ver Hagen couldn’t win re-election.
    Chair Jim Turney forced out in loss of confidence vote. Historically, it is clear that an LNC that isn’t functioning smoothly, that has factions fighting to the death, harms the Party.
    The fall from 30,000 members also illustrates this. Perhaps the delegates in St. Louis need to elect a team to the LNC and not pick and choose officers from various slates?

  23. James Oaksun

    It might usefully be inquired of the other chair candidates besides George Phillies, exactly who their preferences would be for other committee slots. And why electing a new chair without making significant additional changes to the composition of the committee would not be a case of “meet the new boss/ same as the old boss.”

  24. Brian Holtz

    @23, nearly all the “80’s progress” you’re apparently talking about came after the Dec 1989 data point.

    I’m still waiting for the New Path slate to explain what specifically they think caused the LP membership growth of 1995-2000. Several years ago George Phillies wrote a book full of nothing but bitter criticisms of the actions of the LPUS leadership during that time. Now his New Path slate is promising to recreate the achievements of 1995-2000.

    Most of the New Path plans sound good to me, and I would urge whoever gets elected in St. Louis to adopt many of its ideas. But if New Path candidates are going to keep talking about the previous high-water mark of 33,000, then they should pick a theory about it and stick to it.

  25. AroundtheblockAFT

    #28, the 80’s progress came early in the decade and then dropped due to the factionalizm I mentioned. The chart shows the next wave of progress began in Dec. 1988, not 89, when LNC stablized.
    The spurt to 30,000, Operation Archimedes, has always been explained away as phoney or inauthentic memberships where the average new member didn’t stick around after the first year.
    We dragged them in the door (at enormous expense), but couldn’t keep ’em. All candidates for Chair are going to have to explain why the growth they predict from their membership drives is going to be real. If it turns out that the real base of the LP is only 10-15,000 members, then a new mission statement must be forthcoming. Nolan posts here from time to time; it would be interesting to hear his take.

  26. Brian Holtz

    If the temporary membership spike c. 2000 was indeed a house of cards, and the “real base of the LP” has remained at 10K-15K members since the Clark campaign, then the New Path argument simply crumbles, and the LP is not at any “existential risk”.

    I think the New Path is misguided to focus on the number of LPUS dues-payers and the size of the LNC budget. Neither of those two numbers is the primary lever by which the LP can move public policy in a libertarian direction.

    Far more important metrics are the percentage and total of voters who register Libertarian and vote Libertarian. Those are the only numbers that will cause professional politicians to start co-opting our positions. They couldn’t care less whether we have 10K dues-payers or 33K or 66K.

  27. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 29 “The spurt to 30,000, Operation Archimedes, has always been explained away as phoney or inauthentic memberships where the average new member didn’t stick around after the first year.”

    We need to ask “why didn’t they stick around?”
    And we need to understand the answer.

  28. AroundtheblockAFT

    Yes, Brian. In fact, I’ve always said the Party should give its minimum membership totals as the number of registered Libertarians (knowable in many states) plus a proportional estimate of the voters in the states where one can’t register.

    But LNC fundraising pretty much depends on the number of dues paying members. The higher those numbers, one would think, the more revenues that will flow in – not to maintain a prestigious office address, but to employ and deploy campus organizers, regional coordinators, and others to create, support and build solid grassroots Libertarian groups.

  29. James Oaksun

    It is a curious argument, that the size of an organization’s budget and its fundraising prowess are not appropriate metrics of strength on even a relative basis, or that it is not relevant to examine trends of same over time. Somehow I suspect the DNC/DNCC/DSCC/RNC/NRCC/NRSC, with their budgets 100x or more ours, would disagree.

    Elsewhere I have analyzed membership lapse rates going back to the mid-90s. I will decide in due course whether to release the findings, and in what format/forum.

  30. Brian Holtz

    It is a curious argument, that a political party’s registration totals and vote share are not appropriate metrics of strength on even a relative basis.

    I never said that “it is not relevant to examine trends” in membership. On the contrary, I’ve been practically begging the New Path slate for their explanation of how the LP reached that glorious peak of 33,000 members that New Path keeps talking about.

    All I’ve gotten is dead silence.

    If New Path has ever offered such an explanation, please quote it, and tell us where and when it was offered.

  31. George Phillies

    We have a limited amount of time, and find it more positive to talk about what we are going to do in the future.

    That discussion will be coming out starting in the next few days.

  32. George Phillies

    I believe our desire is to reproduce the growth in party income and memberships that took place in 1992-1998. It’s a nice small first step. I don’t believe we’ve ever discussed the 1996-2010 methods, which seem not to have worked in the long term. We’re working on what we propose to do.

    We plan to use 2010 methods, not 1990 methods, to reach that goal.

  33. George Phillies

    I believe our desire is to reproduce the growth in party income and memberships that took place in 1992-1998. It’s a nice small first step. I don’t believe we’ve ever discussed the 1996-2010 methods, which seem not to have worked in the long term. We’re working on what we propose to do.

    @29 Actually, we are not proposing a membership drive in the ‘membership is the goal’ sense of the 1990s ‘Operation Everywhere’.

    We plan to use 2010 methods, not 1990 methods, to reach that goal.

  34. paulie Post author

    JT,

    Sure. I hope all of them do. But I don’t believe a past vice chair or IPR holds a lot of sway in the party (practically anyone can post at IPR, and only a very tiny number of LP members ever comment). I do it for fun, not because I think it’s a powerful force in the party. So it doesn’t surprise me if they don’t, even though I’d be interested if they did.

    You may be surprised. Much of the LNC, state chairs, etc., read IPR regularly. Many comment here, but many more read and don’t comment (or comment anonymously). Most of the candidates for chair have posted here in the comments at least occassionally, and Dr. Phillies does so regularly.

    As you can see, Mr. Root has answered questions from IPR reporters before, in detail, and he has made a point here in the past about his habit of answering all his correspondence personally.

    While I don’t want to exagerate our role in the decisionmaking process of the delegates, I don’t want to downplay it either.

  35. paulie Post author

    “Why did the LP grow from zero to 10,000 members in its first twenty years and essentially stagnate in the next twenty? And what, specifically, are you and your team going to do to start growing it again?”

    Not sure if anyone has addressed this yet (haven’t read most of the other comments yet). We actually grew to well over 30,000 dues paying members (and over 100,000 pledge-only members) by 2000, and shrunk back significantly in dues payers since then, etc.

  36. paulie Post author

    were there some tough questions for Phillies too already?

    I believe there were in the thread on his announcement, or one of the other threads a while back.

  37. paulie Post author

    George,

    You write:

    “Reaching out to Republican conservatives is a lousy strategy. You notice Ron Paul didn’t do that.”

    In what universe did he not do that?

    Haven’t read further to see if Dr. Phillies answered that yet.

    My answer would be he did do that, but far from exclusively.

    I believe Chuck’s original question for Wayne was not meant to suggest we should not reach out to conservatives. I don’t think Chuck believes we shouldn’t, and neither do I. Rather, I think what was meant was that we believe that we should also reach out to young people who are primarily progressive/liberal in their outlook, as their volunteer time and future contributions are just as or more valuable as the financial contributions of older conservatives. Root’s answer to a similar question in Austin suggested that only the latter is valuable. I believe that what George was pointing out here was that Ron Paul acted on the understanding that both are important. If I’m wrong, he can correct that.

  38. paulie Post author

    Historically, it is clear that an LNC that isn’t functioning smoothly, that has factions fighting to the death, harms the Party.

    I agree. However, I don’t know that it can be avoided unless there is a major change in the bylaws first. And I haven’t thought it through enough to decide whether such a change would be a positive thing on balance, or would involve other consequences that outweigh the benefits. To my knowledge, no such amendment has been introduced, although one could be introduced from the floor.

    The fall from 30,000 members also illustrates this. Perhaps the delegates in St. Louis need to elect a team to the LNC and not pick and choose officers from various slates?

    The New Path is the only such slate that has been put forward, as far as I know.

    Additionally, Wayne Root and Mark Rutherford are running as a team, and it may be surmised that other candidates are informally part of their slate. But, as far as I know, formally there are no others on their LNC slate, at least yet.

    Ernie Hancock has affirmatively disavowed running as part of a slate.

    To my knowledge, Mark Hinkle and John Myers have not addressed the issue.

    Regardless of what slates are put forward, the delegates vote for each office separately, and historically have resisted the attempts of slates to be elected as a whole (there may be exceptions, but I don’t know of them).

    It is possible that a bylaw to change this could be introduced, or a motion to suspend the rules, but I don’t know that either would pass.

  39. George Phillies

    @41 To repeat, Ron Paul did not reach out to “Republican conservatives”, people like Cheney and Giuliani. At least, if he did so the effort was not something I noticed. Paul did reach out to real conservatives, but they’re quite different people.

  40. paulie Post author

    I’m still waiting for the New Path slate to explain what specifically they think caused the LP membership growth of 1995-2000. Several years ago George Phillies wrote a book full of nothing but bitter criticisms of the actions of the LPUS leadership during that time. Now his New Path slate is promising to recreate the achievements of 1995-2000.

    Most of the New Path plans sound good to me, and I would urge whoever gets elected in St. Louis to adopt many of its ideas. But if New Path candidates are going to keep talking about the previous high-water mark of 33,000, then they should pick a theory about it and stick to it.

    I think this is a fair question for Phillies and co.

    If we put together a set of tough questions for them as we have for Root and Hancock, I think it would be a good idea to include this.

  41. paulie Post author

    I think the New Path is misguided to focus on the number of LPUS dues-payers and the size of the LNC budget. Neither of those two numbers is the primary lever by which the LP can move public policy in a libertarian direction.

    Far more important metrics are the percentage and total of voters who register Libertarian and vote Libertarian. Those are the only numbers that will cause professional politicians to start co-opting our positions. They couldn’t care less whether we have 10K dues-payers or 33K or 66K.

    Brian, all these sets of numbers are closely inter-related. A party of fewer members, and with less money, is relatively less well-equipped to recruit and support as many candidates, or recruit candidates who are of a higher caliber and more active, as a party with a larger supporter database, more contributors, and more money to spend.

    This, in turn, means it will earn fewer votes, elect fewer members to office, swing fewer races, and run in fewer otherwise unopposed races, get in fewer debates and earn less earned media.

    It will have less meetings and fewer outreach activities, have less in the way of materials that can be used for persuasion, and a natural consequence is fewer registered voters under such a party’s banner.

    The ~1990-2000 leadership understood that all these factors work together for good or ill, and that they must be pushed in the direction of growth – all of them – constantly, through relentless incrementalism.

    The criticism that some of this growth involved short-sighted, pump and dump, hyped up and alarmist sales tactics that resulted in a lot of churn and burnout has some merit, but the same has been true since then (and probably before), with remarkably less to show for it.

  42. Andy

    “Rather, I think what was meant was that we believe that we should also reach out to young people who are primarily progressive/liberal in their outlook, as their volunteer time and future contributions are just as or more valuable as the financial contributions of older conservatives.”

    This assumes that everyone who is on the left is broke and that everyone who is everyone who is on the right is financially well off. This is hardly the case.

    I think that the Libertarian Party would raise far more money than it raises now if there were more of an effort to do outreach to those on the left as well as independents and non-voters rather than primarily focusing on doing outreach to conservatives.

    The Ron Paul campaign raised $35 million, and several million dollars more was spent by supporters outside of the campaign who did stuff on their own, such as making signs, copying DVDs, copying flyers & pamphlets, the Ron Paul Blimps, etc…

    Yes, Ron Paul did get support from disgruntled conservatives and people who were already libertarians (both big L and small l), but he also got a lot of support from people who came from the left as well as independents and people who had been non-voters and/or non-political. It was this wide coalition of support which made the Ron Paul campaign a success (and I consider it to have been a success even though he did not win the nomination).

    Anyone who can’t see this and who thinks that the Libertarian Party ought to just focus on reaching out to disgruntled conservatives just does not get it.

  43. paulie Post author

    The higher those numbers, one would think, the more revenues that will flow in – not to maintain a prestigious office address, but to employ and deploy campus organizers, regional coordinators, and others to create, support and build solid grassroots Libertarian groups.

    That would be great.

    When was the last time we did something like that?

    Have we ever?

    The last time we have had anything close, as far as I know, was Joe Knight going campus to campus all over the country doing OPH, but there was no followup at each campus, so much of the effort was wasted.

    I agree we need to do this again, but better focused next time. Maybe on a regional basis to make followup more feasible.

  44. paulie Post author

    “Rather, I think what was meant was that we believe that we should also reach out to young people who are primarily progressive/liberal in their outlook, as their volunteer time and future contributions are just as or more valuable as the financial contributions of older conservatives.”

    This assumes that everyone who is on the left is broke and that everyone who is everyone who is on the right is financially well off. This is hardly the case.

    No it doesn’t.

    Chuck and I are both talking in terms of trends, not in terms of absolute exclusivity.

    Everyone understands that there are wealthy left-libertarians of all ages, and poor right-libertarians of all ages, generous ones and less generous, busy ones and less busy, etc.

    The statement needs to be put in the context of what led to the question.

    In Austin, Wayne Root said that we need to focus our outreach to the right and largely ignore the left, because the right is where the money is.

    Everything that follows is in the context of following up on that statement and questioning its assumptions.

    We acknowledge that in the short term, it’s true that a larger share of readily available money is to our right border.

    We point out that a larger share of short term available volunteer time and talent is to our left border, and that these people can become the future long-term donors, candidates and leaders of the party.

    Again, all of this discussion is in terms of averages and trends, not any absolute or exclusive statements.

  45. AroundtheblockAFT

    #42 Paulie. The entire officers slate was voted in at the 1989 convention and LP prospered under Nick Dunbar & Perry Willis for most of the next decade. The 2000s have seen the LP drop back near to 1991 membership levels. Those close to the Party in the 2000s can offer explanations for this downtrend and the 2010 officer candidates should offer solutions. This may be one time when the LNC shouldn’t consist of a lot of holdovers, though there is probably a bunch of good people still serving.

    I don’t think the by-laws need any change in order for a majority of delegates to elect an officers and at-large reps slate, and to affect the choice of many of the regional reps.

  46. Tom Blanton

    Here’s a novel idea. How about not reaching out to the left or the right, but simply reach out to everyone.

    The LP needs to develop its own rhetoric instead of relying on the emotionally charged buzzwords of the left or right that push the buttons of those respective cults.

    Many will argue that trite and glib bumper sticker slogans are what political discourse is all about. If this is so, perhaps the “party of principle” should rise above rabble rousing and fooling the rubes.

    Merely telling conservatives or liberals what they want to hear or what they are used to hearing is not the same as selling libertarian ideas. Trying to recruit liberals or conservatives into the LP by convincing them that they are already libertarians because they agree with the liberal or conservative rhetoric being directed at them is nothing more than bait and switch.

    It’s time to end the confusion that libertarianism is a little bit conservative and a little bit liberal. It’s just not that simple and it’s just not the case.

  47. Brian Holtz

    OK, class, identify the strawman fallacies in Blanton’s comment @50. Don’t put down your #2 pencil until you’ve compiled at least five.

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  49. Alexander S. Peak

    I don’t see the strawmen in Mr. Blanton’s comment. He’s not accusing any specific person of only reaching out to one side, he’s simply saying we shouldn’t do it, right?

    Yours,
    Alex Peak

  50. Brian Holtz

    Mr. Peak gets an F. 🙂 The five Blanton straw men he couldn’t find @50 were:

    1. relying on the emotionally charged buzzwords of the left or right
    2. trite and glib bumper sticker slogans are what political discourse is all about.
    3. Merely telling conservatives or liberals what they want to hear or what they are used to hearing
    4. convincing them that they are already libertarians because they agree with the liberal or conservative rhetoric being directed at them
    5. libertarianism is a little bit conservative and a little bit liberal

    When you argue against a position that nobody defends, that’s still a straw man, even if you don’t attribute the position to any particular person.

    The positions that Blanton doesn’t want to try to argue against are:

    1. Libertarians should gladly use left- or right-oriented rhetoric (like “nanny state” or “legislating morality”) when it helps express libertarian ideas.
    2. Libertarians should not limit their marketing efforts to just bumper stickers or to just philosophical treatises.
    3. Libertarians should not be afraid to express libertarian ideas in terms that conservatives and liberals already understand.
    4. Libertarians should not be afraid to express libertarian ideas in terms that conservatives and liberals already agree with.
    5. Libertarianism combines conservative ideas about economic liberty with liberal ideas about personal liberty.

    Here’s a one-question make-up test for Alex. 🙂 If Blanton used no straw men @50, then is it a straw man to say that the following is Blanton’s vision for libertarian outreach?

  51. Alexander S. Peak

    Mr. Holtz,

    If I say, “The world would be a better place if people stopped killing other people,” would this be a strawman in your book, considering that no one here has stated the position that the world would not be a better place even if people stopped killing other people?

    I have to be honest, no offense, but it seems you’re engaging in a strawman fallacy against Mr. Blanton.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it appears that you’re arguing that Mr. Blanton is arguing that libertarians should be “afraid to express libertarian ideas in terms that conservatives and liberals already understand [and agree with].” I can’t honestly say I understand what Mr. Blanton was actually saying since he didn’t explain what he meant by “relying on the emotionally charged buzzwords of the left or right that push the buttons of those respective cults,” or give any examples of these buzzwords or the problems they specifically cause; but it appears to me that you are attributing an argument to him that he didn’t actually make (namely, that libertarians should be “afraid to express libertarian ideas in terms that conservatives and liberals already understand [and agree with]”), and as such you have created a strawman.

    Then you say that Mr. Blanton’s vision of libertarian outreach is based on the image you post. But I didn’t see Mr. Blanton saying in his comments that we should only do outreach to those who are already libertarians. Although I am not positive exactly what Mr. Blanton was saying, because his comments confuse me, I didn’t see anything in there about not reaching out to liberals and conservatives; in fact, I think he explicitely argues that we should reach out to everyone, which is more than I would say..

    Best,
    Alex Peak

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