Bill Redpath: My Last Column as Chairman of the Libertarian Party

by William Redpath

Reprinted from the May 2010 issue of LP News at LP.org

I don’t know how he did it. Mickey Spillane supposedly squirreled himself away for a short period of time, and BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM-BAM—he would write a book. He wrote “I, the Jury” in only nineteen days, according to his Wikipedia page.

Ayn Rand was a big fan of Mickey Spillane’s. But, my writing speed is more like hers (slow, in case you didn’t know).

So, it is with mixed feelings that I tap out this last column during my terms as Chairman of the Libertarian Party. It’s time for someone else to enjoy the benefits and bear the burdens (e.g., writing this column) of this position.

I will not be going away, however. As of the time I write this, it is my intention to seek an At-Large position on the next term of the Libertarian National Committee and continue to work for ballot access for the LP. Whether or not that occurs, I will continue to be active with the LP.

As we move forward, I anticipate that the Libertarian Party will remain the third largest political party in the United States and grow stronger in that role. I have long thought that the argument of whether we are an educational organization or a political party is a false choice. We educate by running candidates for public office and through other direct political activism, something no other organization in the entire libertarian movement in this nation does.

One thing that I would like to see is for the pursuit of electoral reform to be an always living, breathing part of the Libertarian Party. Where Libertarian parties are getting elected to higher level offices in various nations around the world, there is a system of proportional representation elections for legislatures.

The Free Democratic Party (“FDP”) in Germany won zero seats in single member district elections for the national legislature in September 2009 (sound familiar?), but because half of Germany’s national legislature is filled from a party list vote (voters simply choose their favorite party) from which the FDP earned about 15% of the vote, the FDP now has 93 of 622 seats.

In Costa Rica, proportional representation has allowed Movimiento Libertario (“ML”) to grow from 1, to 6, to 6, to 9 seats (with 14.5% of the vote in February 2010) out of 57 in its national legislature in the four elections since its founding in May 1994. It will be Costa Rica’s third largest party in its national legislative assembly for the next four years, and I would not be surprised to see it move into second place in next election in February 2014.

ML’s stature in Costa Rica allowed Otto Guevara (the LP’s 2002 Convention Keynote Speaker) to finish third in the February 2010 Presidential election, with nearly 21 percent of the vote.

Is Costa Rica a hotbed of libertarianism that the United States is not? No. If we had a similar election system in the United States, I think the LP would be doing as well as, or perhaps even better than, ML.

Please note that I am not warranting that proportional representation itself will bring about a libertarian society. But, it will make political minorities, such as Libertarians (at least for now), electable and will bring much more people, money and media to our cause. And, because entrenched R&D (and I don’t mean “Research & Development”) legislators will not make a change in the electoral system by themselves, this is a reason (among others) to support the adoption of Initiative & Referendum (“I&R”) procedures in states that don’t currently have I&R.

I have often said that a politician does not have to have an original thought in order to be successful. He or she only has to choose wisely among the ideas that are already floating around out there.

That said (and I’m using the term “politician” extremely loosely with respect to myself), I will close by quoting the late Harry Browne.

Someone said to him in 2000 when he was the Libertarian Party Presidential candidate for the second time, “Well, Harry, if you don’t get elected, it will all have been a waste of time, won’t it?”

Harry replied, “Quite the contrary. It will have been a good use of my time, because through the Libertarian Party, I have met the greatest people in the world.”

That’s the truth. I can’t top that. I don’t know who could.

20 thoughts on “Bill Redpath: My Last Column as Chairman of the Libertarian Party

  1. Eric Dondero

    And proportional is about to boost Libertarian Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to the Presidency, or at the very least a top leader in the Center-Right governing coalition, that is comfortably ahead of the Leftists/Fascists in latest Dutch polls.

    Libertarianism is ascendent worldwide with Otto Guevara in Costa Rica, the libertarian wing of the Tories headed by Danial Hannan in the UK, and now Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands.

  2. Trent Hill

    Very classy. I hope Redpath gets on the LNC–he’s been one of the people at the LP who always conducted himself with decency–a trait which many of the faction-fighters lack. Redpath has also consistently put his money where his mouth is–he’s donated quite a lot to the LP.

  3. AroundtheblockAFT

    Being chair is mostly a thankless job because the Party can never accomplish half of what the back-benchers think “they” could have accomplished. It is also a “burn-out” job, so it is a real plus that Bill wants to hang around and
    keep working for the good of the Party.

  4. De Javu all over again .......... Lake

    Welcome to the wonderful, near perfect *sarcasm* USA where forks are so stupid they can not even learn the superior metric system!

    The A merican Imperial Global Fascist Empire, where twice the most votes failed to win the White House.

    In the 20th Century Bull Moose Teddy Roosevelt (1912) and Perot (twice) got massive popular support and zero electoral, establishment laundered ballots!]

    ” He whom cast the votes controls nothing! He whom counts the votes ……….” Joey Stalin, USSR ‘fun guy’ ……..

  5. Zero Party Revolution

    Eric, I thought the LibDems were the British libertarians?

    Also, the Netherlands doesn’t have a President. It has a queen and a prime minister.

  6. Trent Hill

    Eric will almost certainly tell you that the UK Independence Party is the British Libertarian Party–but arguments can be made for them, the LibDems, or the Tories.

  7. Green Party Conservative

    Thank you.

    I enjoyed Bill’s article.

    One note.

    The FDP in Germany is now at 3% in the polls.

    While the Green Party is at 17%.

    The Green Party could very well elect the next mayor of Berlin in 2011.

  8. OH PLZ .......... Lake

    so true, so true, as people have been telling me, personally, and directly, ‘go fork your self, Donald’!

    Where do you think the Beatles (Paul McCartney’s band before Wings ……….) got the idea for the song ‘Let’s do it in the road ……’ ???????

    It was Robert Frost and the ‘Fork In the Snow’ poem …………… humor!

  9. OH PLZ .......... Lake

    hey, hey, hey, it was the vomit on my key board from earlier (our ‘fearless leader’ Boris Batanoff, er, ah, um, Obama, My Yokohoma Momma, and his bull shit press conference!)

    If ya gotta tell a lie, tell a bunch of them!

    If ya gotta tell a lie, tell a whopper!

    But don’t blame me: Perot, Perot, Nader, Nader, Nader ………

  10. JT

    GPC: “The Green Party could very well elect the next mayor of Berlin in 2011.'”

    Awesome! You should move there.

  11. Andrew

    A Note From Ernest Hancock to LP National Delegates
    (BTW – I am writing from a small caravan going to St. Louis and we are east of Gallup, New Mexico on I-40 right now, 10:00pm Wednesday. We plan on driving straight through so that we are at the hotel in time for the Suns/Lakers game Thursday night)

    Those that know me, and others that have witnessed my previous efforts, likely understand why I do the things that I do and what I aim to accomplish in St. Louis.

    Very soon (if not already) the vast majority of Americans (along with the rest of the planet) will come to the realization that they are all victims of the largest swindle/robbery in human history,… and they will be searching for an accurate explanation. Libertarianism provides a very useful road map to what happened, who/what was responsible and how to avoid the same mistakes in the future. But ‘off ramps’ to detours that take us meandering through the same unprincipled wilderness that got us in this mess will be of no use to a ‘Generation Next’ that has a detailed 3D online map in their hip pocket.

    This decentralization of information is only beginning to be felt by a liberty starved planet and attempts to negotiate our principles for a place at the establishment’s media table will backfire just as it did in the 2008 presidential election cycle.

    Another election cycle of LPUS’ documented compromises on libertarian principle will make it very unlikely, as a political party, we’ll legitimately be able to compete at a national level in the future as a standard bearer for libertarianism. I am of the opinion that information availability is so ubiquitous now, that the ‘Liberty Nexus’ that was the best trait of the LPUS will be replaced by too many sources of contacts and information to keep track of. Politics is about to be replaced with communities that will attempt to create the freedom denied them by layers of government,… without asking permission.

    What if I really really believe that the future will have fresh young minds embracing libertarianism as the only consistent and understandable path to peace and prosperity? Then positioning ourselves so that we are the obvious destination for those seeking exactly what we offer is a very good idea. Since many (enough) that I associate with are also of this opinion, we chose to make our advocacy of no-compromise libertarianism a blazing torch everywhere possible.

    In the near future, freedom communities will likely be virtual and without borders or boundaries. Governments, states, countries and even languages will have less and less to do with an individual’s interactions than a simple listing on the contemporary cousin of craigslist with servers based in orbit or on the Moon.

    Libertarianism is ‘the philosophy for the stars’ and to think in smaller terms is an abandonment of the future for the LPUS. The future is why St. Louis is so important to many that support my effort. The economic tragedy coming, that is only in the early stages, provides a rare opportunity to help many millions,… not just when they need it the most, but when they are also seeking it the most. And they have already abandoned the ‘lame-stream media,… the media that is soooo last century’ in search of the truth.

    We have done our best to make our advocacy clear, and our long track record of principled activism has accomplished several things; government abuses of individual rights have been exposed while branding us as defenders of individual freedom, available resources in support of such advocacy are directed towards the most effective uses of those resources, inspiration of an entirely new generation of freedom activists have been continually nurtured.

    I am prepared and eager to represent the future and inspire a flood of fresh and energetic activists, that are already experienced and networked with each other, to come and make use of the Libertarian Party at a national/international level to free as many minds as possible in as short a time as possible to save as many lives as possible. But should the LPUS’ words/silence and actions/inactions allow the perception of it being less effective a tool as the many others available, then it will continue to wither.

    My documenting of all LNC chair debates and appearances across the country of every candidate participating has been a deliberate act of making it very clear to future freedom activists that the choice in St Louis was a fully informed one. These documented discussions will be of much greater importance months, years and even decades later to those needing to determine where and how best to direct their time and resources to expand human freedom. I’m working very hard to make that investment the Libertarian Party of the United States.

  12. Danny S

    Also, speaking of the ML (movimiento libertario in Costa Rica), they have been gaining power. They made a deal with the party in power to take over certain posts in the government, a coalition of sorts.

    Also, it appears the ML is voting with the other two major parties in support of a fast-tracked salary increase for their legislators (many dispute the legality of this pay-raise).

  13. Nate

    “Where Libertarian parties are getting elected to higher level offices in various nations around the world, there is a system of proportional representation elections for legislatures.”

    This conveniently ignores the LibDems in the UK. While I will certainly agree that PR does a far better job of, well, representing proportionally, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that everywhere libertarians are successful there must be PR.

    “The Free Democratic Party (“FDP”) in Germany won zero seats in single member district elections for the national legislature in September 2009 (sound familiar?), but because half of Germany’s national legislature is filled from a party list vote (voters simply choose their favorite party) from which the FDP earned about 15% of the vote, the FDP now has 93 of 622 seats.”

    These numbers don’t add up. The reason for this is that not half, but *all* of the seats are filled by party vote. While there are indeed single member districts, those directly elected count towards the total number of seats based on party vote. (In addition the number is slightly off because parties with less than 5% of the vote don’t get any seats.)

  14. Andy

    “Danny S // May 28, 2010 at 2:11 am

    I have always heard Redpath was really good for ballot access, so his plans sound good for the party.”

    Bill Redpath himself is good for ballot access. Unfortunately, in 2008 Bill delegated most of the responsibility for ballot access to individuals who were incompetent and corrupt and this is why the Libertarian Party ended up with the worst ballot access that the party has had in a presidential election year since either 1984 or 1988 (depending on how you want to count it).

  15. George Whitfield

    Thank you Bill Redpath for your service to our Libertarian Party. I am so glad that you are remaining active. I am sorry I cannot attend this year’s National Convention. I will be sure to make the next one.

  16. Andy

    Trent Hill said: “Redpath has also consistently put his money where his mouth is–he’s donated quite a lot to the LP.”

    True.

    Another positive thing that I can say about Bill Redpath is that he has done a heck of a lot of volunteer petitioning. In fact, Bill Redpath is probably the #1 volunteer petition circulator (in terms of the number of signatures collected over the years) in the history of the Libertarian Party. This is quite an accomplishment as a lot of people don’t like to gather petition signatures and/or aren’t any good at it and/or think that they are too good to go out and do it.

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