George Phillies, candidate for LNC Chair, responded to Eric Sundwall’s questions for all LNC Chair candidates in comments on the thread on which they were posted. His answers are below. John Jay Myers answered as well.
These are short answers to sometimes complex questions.
1. Role of a Third Party – The American system as conceived by the likes of Madison and others, is primarily designed to favor a winner take all, or single plurality districts. Given this systematic reality and the repressive state of ballot access throughout the country, at
what point is looking at Libertarian victories or majorities, practical politically?
The New Path slate is here to move our Party toward political majority status, so that when that single plurality is determined, the majority is Libertarian.
Consider Massachusetts. The Democratic Party spent almost a century in futile attempts to capture the State Legislature from the Republicans. One fine year, they succeeded. We should learn from Massachusetts Democrats: Political majority status will not happen overnight.
What should we do? Support grass-roots activism. The National Committee cannot do bottom’s-up organizing, but it should support and assist our activists at the grass roots. The LNC should encourage people to run for office, and help them when they do. Between elections the LNC should engage in outreach to prepare the ground for our next crop of candidates. When we have done that enough to build the majority party, we will have our majorities. New Path will set us down that road.
2. Candidates – While fundraising, membership and affiliate relations all fall within the category of solid LNC or Chair activity, what efforts will you make to cultivate excited and motivated candidates in all races?
How do we persuade people to run for office? Number one — someone has to ask the candidate to run. Number two — when you are thinking about running, you should be sure that the Naitonal Party will support you. Number three — when you do run, the National Party will support you.
3. Ballot Access – One of the greatest obstacles for the Libertarian Party is ballot access. What efforts will you undertake in terms of legal action, political rumblings or financial support to imperiled affiliates?
New Path proposes to invest our resources where we get the most bang for the buck. We intend to build vibrant, effective Libertarian Parties in all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and wherever else our flag flies. Ballot access follows effective parties. We plan more emphasis than now on helping our most effective state parties, and more emphasis on developing current state parties. Ballot access for our Presidential candidate is an important way to develop our party, but spending on ballot access must be balanced against alternative paths to building our party.
Yes, in some states ballot access is very difficult. National can and should concentrate resources to help solve those problems, through petitioning, through lobbying, or through other means. However, litigation is an extremely blunt instrument that may not get you where you want to go.
4. Grassroots – Any political party large or small depends a great deal on grassroots activity. How will you identify, cultivate and inspire this segment of the membership ?
We treasure grassroots political activity and have advanced a range of ways to support it, such as downloadable trifolds and candidate web templates. That’s not ‘this sounds cool’, that’s ’see the examples on the LibertyForAmerica.com web site. For years, I have been circulating copies of the Libertarian candidate campaign support disk, with all sorts of information on local organizing, campaigning, raising money, and petitioning. Bottom-up organizing is wonderful. Local groups are critical to our success. However, there’s no reason that every grassroots organizing effort has to re-invent the wheel all the time. The LNC should provide a repository of experience, so that local groups can learn what was done elsewhere, what happened as a result, and come to their own conclusions about what they should do. The New Path plan http://NewPathForTheLP.org has an entire chapter on volunteer mobilization and support.
5. Headquarters & Staff – Do you feel the current expenditures on staff and offices in Washington DC is sufficient, justified or in need
of reform ?
*With our current budget*, we are spending far too much on central office operations rather than doing politics. New Path has identified at least $100,000/year in savings — that’s 10% of the total budget — attendant to cleaning up our IT issues and moving the National Party office out of downtown DC. Those cuts do not involve any changes in the staff. New Path proposes to use those savings to do real politics. If New Path wins, as soon as the National Convention is over, New Path Treasurer James Oaksun will be going to Washington to do a thorough review of our contracts, spending, and business operations. There is no intent to criticize the staff here; there is an intent to see that processes are done well and efficiently, and that our staff gets the support it needs from the National Committee.
6. Ideology – Third parties are often driven by members who don’t represent the political status quo, especially in America. Do you feel
capable of managing the often divisive factions within the LP ? Given your own passionate belief system or ideas, how do you propose fairness in terms of any faction that might be considered a minority in the process ?
You don’t “manage” our fellow libertarians, you let them try to convert their fellow libertarians to their view, while getting on with the serious political business of electing libertarians to office, doing outreach, supporting or opposing referenda, and all the other real-world tasks that will make us the majority party. New Path wants to help Libertarians do real politics. We don’t as a group advocate for a particular set of stands on political issues. We are not running enforce a radical, pragmatist, conservative, or whatever line. (We do insist that our future outreach will include the left, and not be limited to the right.)
Party positions are determined by our convention. The LNC’s job is to represent our party’s stands to the public, not to impose its own opinions on party members.
7. Voters – Attracting voters to smaller parties often involves maintaining stances on issues not easily taken by mainstream parties. Will you emphasize more traditional Libertarian issues like the Drug War or gun rights or will attempt to attract the left/progressive with anti-war rhetoric ? Perhaps a large block of Hispanics with notions like Immigration reform ? If you don’t feel like this is the role of the chair, please explain.
We should offer the American people Libertarian answers to the questions that they care about. What are those questions? The economy, the pointless war in Afghanistan, the war on drugs, the budget deficit, equal rights for all, the Federal police state, and a woman’s right to choose. For all these issues we have Libertarian answers from our platform that resonate well with the American people. Anti-interventionism, opposition to the War On Iraq and the War On Afghanistan, is central to the libertarian message.
8. The Metric System – For decades American children in public schools have been promised the imminent conversion to an easier and more sensible measurements system. While it may be hopeless to consider a legal system not based on English Common Law, is there hope that citizens throughout the land could be unshackled from our current oppression with fractions ?
We have a fifteen trillion dollar budget deficit, incalculable tens of trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, perpetual war, a Federal police state that detains without trial, enormous economic changes looming on the horizon,…government-forced conversion to the metric system will simply waste billions of dollars. Of course, libertarians are not surprised to hear ‘government-forced’ and ‘waste’ in the same sentence.
9. Media – The chairman of political parties are often asked to do media spots or to help candidates with their own media appearances. What is your basic approach to media relations and how will that effect and help the party ?
New Path wants the media to turn first to our candidates, the people who most need media attention. Our Party Officer candidates have all already done media appearances in support of the New Path campaign, and will be doing more in the near future. Yes, as National Chair I will undoubtedly deal with the media. My objective will be to represent our party and its platform, the platform chosen by our delegates, not to engage in personal self-aggrandizement. I’m not running for public office in 2012; you need not fear any conflict of interest between what the party needs and what I need.
The New Path plan places primary emphasis on 21st century internet social media: Facebook, Myspace, and electronic social networking. Internet social media are the most effective way to reach the young people who are the real future of our party, and we will exploit them as far as they can be taken. If you read the libertarian web or do a search on Libertarian National Committee, you may well have found that New Path is already running Facebook and Google Adwords campaigns in support of our campaign.
10. Attacks – Politics is frequently reliant upon the calculated attacks of opponents. What is your reflection on this reality and how will you simultaneously defend your own when attacked or go on the attack when politically necessary ?
Politicians of other parties use negative campaigning because it is very effective. Our party’s recitation of cold facts
*”we’re leaving this new-born child $200,000 of national debt and unfunded liabilities, not even counting…”
*”Let’s consider the pay-offs, I mean, campaign donations Senator X received from defense industries…”
*”This week, the DEA spent (more than you can imagine) to help fund terrorism by driving up drug prices…”
is extremely negative.
Negative attacks from candidates are less effective than negative attacks from seemingly impartial outside groups. Under modern conditions negative attacks come from surrogates. Consider the recent Southern Poverty Law Center list of unpleasant people and their enablers. Non-violent libertarians were sprinkled through the list. Had we struck a nerve someplace? Apparently.
You choose your defense depending on the attack, its audience, and your general campaign situation. Rapid, accurate responses are key for dealing with the media.