David Colborne: ‘Don’t sweat the National Libertarian Party’

David Colborne in IPR comments:

Don’t sweat the National LP. No, seriously.

The GOP and Democrats both seem to do just fine having regional “dialects”. Republicans in California push on different issues than Republicans in Georgie. Democrats in Michigan push a different agenda than Democrats in Oregon. There’s enough in common to keep the parties together and provide some ideological consistency, but not much more than that. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Here’s the thing – Libertarians in Wyoming are going to have different hot-button issues than Libertarians in Nevada, who are going to have different hot-button issues than Libertarians in Utah, who in turn are going to have different hot-button issues than Libertarians in New Hampshire. Alcohol control is a bigger issue in Utah than it is in Nevada, for example; why push legalizing marijuana when the majority of your state can’t even agree that Prohibition is over? Zoning, I suspect, is a bit less of an issue in rural Wyoming than it would be in, say, urban California. Heck, Starchild’s event was popular in San Francisco because San Franciso loves those events. If I tried to replicate something like that here in Reno, it’d be five Libertarians on the front lawn of the Federal Building, like every other LP-sparked protest up here. Protests just aren’t in Reno’s makeup.

What Wayne says makes sense in the context of the social circles he hangs out in. It’s not my cup of tea for many of the same reasons it’s not paulie’s cup of tea – I love the effort and I love the media attention, but I don’t think the problem with the LP is that its ideology is too “liberal”. If anything, I’d argue it’s not liberal enough – those that think of us at all largely think of us as a vacation spot for disaffected Republicans, whether they be Ronulans or otherwise. Personally, I’m more than a little miffed that the idea that we should treat each other equally and fairly, regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation, or that we should be free to do what we want with our bodies has somehow been transmogrified into supporting big government. It’s annoying. But, I don’t mind Wayne speaking to his audience. We need disaffected conservatives to make the switch, too, just as bad.

The big thing to remember is this: People don’t become more Libertarian by hanging out with Republicans and Democrats. They become more Libertarian by hanging out with Libertarians. This means opening a big tent and welcoming all who are interested in the message of freedom, even if they might not be as far along their journey of political discovery as others in the Party. If we can remember that, we’ll be fine.

David Colborne is the Northern Regional Representative in the Libertarian Party of Nevada, the Chair of the Nevada Capital Libertarian Party, and was narrowly defeated for Vice Chair as well as Secretary of the state party at their convention a few days ago.

21 thoughts on “David Colborne: ‘Don’t sweat the National Libertarian Party’

  1. Robert Capozzi

    dc: Libertarians in Wyoming are going to have different hot-button issues than Libertarians in Nevada…

    me: This assumes that Ls should focus on “hot button” issues. It is likely that Ls will have a range of issues that they focus on, most Ls I know have a more global, overarching concern about the scope and scale of government. Undoing the government from the bottom up seems like a VERY slow slog to me. It strikes me that Ls are at our best when we offer big-picture solutions, filled in by anecdotal examples of government gone wild. If we can shift the national debate to whether Americans want the government to represent 40-45% of GDP, we can then offer concrete cases for slashing discretionary spending and foreign adventurism and “entitlements.”

    dc: It’s not my cup of tea for many of the same reasons it’s not paulie’s cup of tea…

    me: Agreed. Herding cats ain’t easy! My “big” social issue is the death penalty. To me, it’s a travesty that innocents are killed by the State. One innocent killed is one too many. In L circles, this ain’t a big issue, though I wish it were! Same-gender marriage or drugs likely is. Does that make me less of an L, less likely to pull the lever for a L? No, in my case. I realize that my “hot button” issue is not others. I’m dealing with it. I would hope that other Ls “deal with” how their hot-button issue is promoted or not, esp. in at the federal level. The issues we lead with should be strategic, and I understand that mine is not.

    If we limit ourselves to federal lands policies, state licensure rules, and local zoning ordinances, I am concerned that we unduly limit the L message. Don’t get me wrong: I agree that state and local races are often our best chances for reaching people, but it strikes me that the heavy artillery is at the national level.

    I would note, too, that off-year elections see lower turn outs, which I believe implies that fewer are paying attention in these elections.

    Finally, my experience is that Ls are not a region centric as Rs and Ds. I’m not convinced that “All politics local” is true! It might be a myth, esp. for Ls, L voters, and L leaners.

    dc: People don’t become more Libertarian by hanging out with Republicans and Democrats. They become more Libertarian by hanging out with Libertarians.

    me: Setting aside that I don’t think there’s such a thing as “more” or “less” L, I’d suggest that individual Ls will align with the platform’s thrust at their own pace, in many different ways. Some never “hang out” with other Ls, and those people’s votes and support count just as much as anyone else’s. Among other things, we need more casual Ls.

  2. Porn Again Christian

    Milnes, are you a Libertarian? Or a libertarian?

    Why is it any of your business who the LP leadership is?

  3. David Colborne

    Pedantic corrections: I’m the Northern Regional Representative in the LPNV, not the “Northern Regional Chair”. I am, however, the Chair of the Nevada Capital Libertarian Party, which is a regional affiliate of the LPNV covering Washoe County (Reno/Sparks), Carson City, and Douglas County (South Lake Tahoe, Minden, and Gardnerville).

    Summarize at will. 🙂 Also, yes, this means the California LP will be hosting their next convention in April in our affiliate. Neat, eh?

    With the pedantic boilerplate out of the way, thank you for making me front page material! It’s an honor to see my name up like that. In the spirit of getting competing Libertarian voices in Nevada out in the world, I look forward to earning the privilege again at some point in the foreseeable future.

  4. paulie Post author

    Pedantic corrections: I’m the Northern Regional Representative in the LPNV, not the “Northern Regional Chair”. I am, however, the Chair of the Nevada Capital Libertarian Party, which is a regional affiliate of the LPNV covering Washoe County (Reno/Sparks), Carson City, and Douglas County (South Lake Tahoe, Minden, and Gardnerville).

    Post updated

    In the spirit of getting competing Libertarian voices in Nevada out in the world, I look forward to earning the privilege again at some point in the foreseeable future.

    Looking forward to it.

  5. Robert Milnes

    Porn @4, I am proceeding Independent. However I am open to the GP, LP and/or the BTP nomination.
    I believe I am not permitted to say much more than that about it on this thread by the IPR thought police led by paulie Pud Pull.

  6. Porn Again Christian

    So in other words, you are not a member of the Libertarian party or a libertarian by ideology, but you want to tell Libertarian Party members how they should pick their leaders.

  7. paulie Post author

    One last and final comment on the subject of Mr. Milnes and his views on this thread (from anyone). Mr. Milnes is a self-described progressive and a follower/admirer of Teddy Roosevelt. His views include increasing the size, scope and power of government on a variety of issues. If you would like to discuss further why he thinks Libertarian Party leadership is any of his concern, you may do so at

    https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2010/12/plas-open-thread/

    Now if you will excuse me I will go clock in for my crowd control shift at IPR Though Police central, right after I pull my pud and then go see my union rep regarding concerns about my pay and benefits (zip and zero).

    Any further comments about PLAS related issues on this thread will be subject to being disappeared into IPR’s secret prisons, with no charges, legal representation or court date, and once they disappear, they will not be released ever again.

    They are also subject to being publicly twisted out of shape, humiliated, tortured, mangled, and have their twisted remains left up as a warning to others not to try the same thing lest the same happen to them. All solely at the discretion of the IPR thought police.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

  8. David Colborne

    RC:

    This assumes that Ls should focus on “hot button” issues. It is likely that Ls will have a range of issues that they focus on,

    I emphasized the part that pretty nicely sums up what I meant by “hot button issues”, many of which tend to line up fairly nicely with local concerns. For example, I’d be a little surprised if there were a large group of Libertarians in Rhode Island spending days and nights sweating over federal land ownership the way citizens of Nevada do. I suspect they have more immediate concerns they’d like addressed first.

    …most Ls I know have a more global, overarching concern about the scope and scale of government.

    This is the glue that binds Libertarians together, in much the same way basic progressive liberal ideologies bind the Democratic Party together and conservative ideologies bind the Republicans together.

    It strikes me that Ls are at our best when we offer big-picture solutions, filled in by anecdotal examples of government gone wild.

    It’s good sizzle, but you need steak. Sizzle is easy. Take some fat, add some heat, then wait. Steak is hard. It takes longer. It takes timing. You have to know when to put it on and when to take it off. You have to know how to cook your various cuts to make each of them edible. Do you broil, stew, or grill? Grilling a rib eye makes sense; grilling a cheap chuck, on the other hand, is probably not as sensible.

    Similarly, when it comes to politics, having an attractive national message is important. Very important, in fact – it helps you create the glue that binds all of the state parties together. However, you have to put in the work and go through the “slow slog” to show people that you’re not just talking about cutting government, but actually willing to put yourself in a position to take action.

    Then again, I’m a local Chair, so my perspective on this is undoubtedly a little biased. *grin*

  9. Robert Capozzi

    dc11: It’s good sizzle, but you need steak. Sizzle is easy.

    me: My assessment is, for the foreseeable future, the LP is all about sizzle. Since Ls generally don’t hold office, we are liberated in the sense that we are all about rhetoric. Governing (steak) isn’t something Ls do much of…almost none, in fact. Even if Ls started to get elected, the steak comes when Ls are in or near the majority, which I see as unlikely, though remotely possible.

    Rs and Ds are generally outsizzling Ls, too. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but I’d say it’s mostly because there are a lot more of them, they have professionalized politics, they have more resources, and they generally employ messaging that is within the mainstream. They are non-threatening, generally, and vague about their values. Some of those strengths are also weaknesses, though. And in aggregate what they are doing is damaging the country.

    dc: Similarly, when it comes to politics, having an attractive national message is important. Very important, in fact – it helps you create the glue that binds all of the state parties together.

    me: Look at it this way…if the LP were a confederation of state parties, would it be more successful? My take is that it would not. Most government coercion is at the federal level, which seems best addressed at the federal level. The national resource pool is far larger than any state alone, so this creates the ability to fund national-level messaging and organizing. Most states don’t have staff, or a presence, making it operationally difficult to achieve a critical mass of significance.

    There are state LPs that are dormant or non-existent, too. I would think a task of the national LP is to coordinate rectifying this situation.

    Putting aside the events of 1861-65, my sense is that the US and Americans view themselves as Americans, not NVans or VAans. Americans do associate their identity with their state or region, but not nearly to the extent that they view themselves as Americans.

  10. Gains

    RC:

    Ol’ Tip there is right. All politics is local. There was a brief time in our human history where information was disseminated from central authorities, which gave the impression of national “politics” but it was mass manipulation in reality. It was an illusion that people are waking up to. This awakening is illustrated by the number of people registering as not members of either of the “big” parties.

    What the national party does is hubris for the most part. We can get some air play, but until the time comes where the National LP is constituted of strong state organizations, it will have no effectiveness except as a propaganda wing.

    Until state parties are constituted of strong local parties they too will wallow in ineffective haymaking. Good for nothing but a showboat campaign if even that. Getting someone elected statewide, reliably, requires a party with a network that can arrange local appearances or representation in disparate localities. That means having trained politicos, who know the landscape available across the state.

    Until local parties are made up of enduring coalitions, they will fight and shatter and fail to build past a dozen active members and will be ineffective. Until local parties know how to stick together and build their numbers, they will never keep enough people long enough to have the connections and understanding of local culture and leadership to be effective.

    Enduring coalitions of local people will exist only in an environment that gives them value. Every member is valuable or no one is.

    Enduring coalitions at the local level will network and multiply their resources within state organizations built to give them value. Each ally strengthened becomes strength for all in a coalition.

    State organizations working together to raise out of their midst the best of their presidential candidates will have a far larger pool to draw from. Candidates will have their own support systems ready to go to build a national campaign onto.

    Politics is about people. If you try to build anything political without starting at the ground and building up, you are engaging in hubris.

  11. Kevin Knedler

    I agree with the “hanging out”. I am much more libertarian today than just 5 years ago. Frankly, hanging out with Republicans just wasn’t cutting it for me any longer. The holier than though and know-it-all stance on personal behavior got real old. Odd, as I get older I am more open to discussion on social injustice. I would think it would be harder to teach an “old dog” new tricks.

  12. Michael H. Wilson

    I started out, as what some call a Randian, and have moved around the circle from the right to the left. A lot of things from wars to practical experiences and writers from Friedman to Chomsky have influenced me. I’m still learning.

    For me the Presidential campaign is a megaphone. And Libertarians who expect to find Moses to lead them to the promised land need to remember that Moses wandered around lost for 40 years. Ain’t nothing going to solve the problem but hard work.

  13. George Whitfield

    David Colborne, your comment about people becoming more Libertarian by hanging out with Libertarians is true. I have noticed that through the last six years at my LP Party Meetup Group. I am often surprised when a fellow Group member makes an un-libertarian comment, but I try to explain the libertarian position with the help of other usually more articulate participants and we move along and influence the person who has surprised me. We don’t try to run them off, demonize or order them to stop talking. And the person gradually starts to identify and endorse more of the complete range of Libertarian issue positions.

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