The Weekly Standard: Unconventional-The Libertarian Party Does Las Vegas

This article was posted to the June Open Thread by one of the IPR writers, but I think it is interesting enough that I’ve posted it as its own article.
 
You can find the original article here.
 

The Libertarian party probably rejected any claim to normalcy from the get-go by holding its convention in a casino. The Republicans and Democrats hold their conventions in Tampa and Charlotte in a few months, but America’s third largest political party held its nominating convention from May 2-6 at the Red Rock Resort on the edge of Las Vegas. Delegates selected former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson as their presidential candidate. News of Johnson’s nomination garnered a few obligatory headlines but was mostly met with a collective shrug by the political media. The lack of interest in the Libertarian party is a bit mystifying, given that voters routinely express dissatisfaction with both major parties. Well, that and the fact that the Libertarian convention was something of a freak show that descended into near anarchy.
After traversing acres of slot machines to get to the convention’s registration desk, I found myself gawking at a woman in a skintight white dress whose preposterous top story and precarious heels made her stand out even in Las Vegas. It turned out to be Kristin Davis, the Manhattan Madam who ran the escort service that ensnared former New York governor Eliot Spitzer. Davis ran for governor of New York in 2010, though she failed to get the Libertarian nomination and ran instead as the candidate of the Anti-Prohibition party. Also in attendance was Norma Jean Almodovar, who quickly used up her 15 minutes of fame in the 1980s when she went public with her story about leaving the LAPD to become a high-priced Beverly Hills call girl, a career she declared was “far more honest.” After a short jail sentence related to her new line of work, Almodovar ran for lieutenant governor of California on the Libertarian ticket, hoping to pardon herself if elected, and garnered 100,000 votes. Waiting in line at the obligatory casino buffet, I saw a man walk by in a white wig, stockings, miniskirt, and bustier. After arching an eyebrow at the sight, Mike Riggs, an associate editor at Reason, the libertarian political magazine, simply looked at me and said, “You don’t know who that is? That’s Starchild.” Starchild, it turns out, is a well-known San Francisco sex worker. If whoring in politics is inevitable, libertarians are at least admirably transparent about it.

 

True, among the hundreds gathered for the convention, these are just difficult to ignore outliers. But many of the attendees wear their nonconformity like a uniform, as befits a party devoted to personal freedom. There probably hasn’t been such an assemblage of gray-haired men in ponytails since the Grateful Dead stopped touring. And even the outwardly staid tend to be firebrands on the inside. Brendan Kelly, who’s running for Congress on the Libertarian ticket in New Hampshire, has been married for over 50 years and is a grandfather of six. He’s amiable and clearly has the respect of his local community because he’s been elected a selectman twice. At a hotel bar, he insists on telling me that when people hear he’s a candidate, the first thing they ask him is, “Are you going to bring articles of impeachment against people in Washington for not upholding the Constitution?” a question he’s delighted to answer in the affirmative. In an era where Congress’s approval rating dips into single digits, this impeach-’em-all-and-let-God-sort-’em-out attitude isn’t necessarily a radical proposition among voters, but the candidates themselves are seldom this bracing.

 

There’s much, much more to read in the original article.  And then there’s this:

 

 

And that’s when the convention turned into a total goat rodeo.

 

To explain how ugly things subsequently got would be to punish readers with a tedious blow-by-blow featuring arcane parliamentary procedure. So here’s the condensed version: On the first ballot to vote for who would be the chairman of the Libertarian party, “none of the above” won the support of more than 50 percent of the delegates. For a political party that exists largely because its members are convinced the major parties constitute the evil of two lessers, the ensuing uproar was so ironic as to suggest the convention was an elaborate bit of performance art.

According to party rules, if “none of the above” won more votes than the two candidates on the first ballot, those names would be dropped and nominations would be taken from the party floor. It took two days and countless votes to resolve the party leadership question. Organizers had to go to the casino and ask to extend their stay in the ballroom long enough to resolve the matter. Near as anyone can tell, the “none of the above” vote was a coup staged by the radical grassroots—it was an organized campaign, replete with preprinted signs reading “Re-Elect No One.” From that point on, there was much infighting and contesting of every bit of procedure, as relayed by the increasing and comic frustration of Bill Redpath, the Libertarian party’s able and respected treasurer and the hapless fellow stuck with trying to apply the party’s rulebook. At various points his only recourse for maintaining order was hectoring delegates from the dais: “Quit being a pain in the ass. .  .  . It’s not a motion to revote, for Pete’s sake. .  .  . It may not be appropriate, but it’s legal. .  .  . I’m going to self-combust.”

 

The pivotal moment came when Lee Wrights addressed the tensions among “my family” and assumed the role of peacemaker. “I have said, over and over again, I am not at war. I’ll tell you something else, folks: We cannot even start thinking about stopping the wars outside this convention hall until we stop the wars inside these walls.” After six rounds of contentious balloting with different names being added and dropped, a candidate from the “purist wing of the party, Geoff Neale, won out, defeating two candidates from the more electorally focused wing of the party,” as Reason diplomatically summarized the result. The party -delegates then replaced every sitting member of the national committee. Starchild was elected to an at-large position. And notably, Wrights, who is close to Neale and is thought to have played a significant role in instigating the insurrection, was elected vice-chair of the party. For a guy who’s not at war, he’s a pretty good Clausewitz.

 

So, yes, the Libertarian party turned into a freak show. No doubt many libertarians might balk at such a description, but this is more or less what prominent members of the party themselves were saying by the end of the convention. Mark Rutherford, the vice-chair of the party coming into the convention, bemoaned the result. “I think the whole NOTA [none of the above] thing that happened in the chair’s race, and Starchild being elected, still shows that there are sizable elements of people that are not mature enough to make tough decisions and sometimes accept that things aren’t going to be the way they ought to be,” he fumed to Reason’s Quinn.

 

And on some level, to call it a freak show shouldn’t be passing judgment on libertarians. Electoral coalitions inevitably include those on the fringe, and the closer you get to a genuine grassroots movement the more fringy it becomes. We boast of our rugged individualism as Americans, but when confronted with manifestations of this virtue in a political context, the so-called establishment is quick to claim it’s discrediting. In one of the more noxious bits of Beltway wisdom to circulate in recent years—and that’s saying something—Politico editor John F. Harris and Time’s Mark Halperin wrote a book popularizing the term “freak show” to describe “a political culture that provides incentives for candidates, activists, interest groups, and the news media to emphasize ideological extremism.” Of course, it’s awfully convenient that what gets labeled “extremism” is largely determined by a political elite that includes the likes of John F. Harris and Mark Halperin. That elite also includes many entrenched interests who would be horrified to wake up one day and find Americans have elected the kind of freaks who take extreme measures to deal with $15 trillion in national debt and rein in a federal bureaucracy that seems to think it’s constitutionally empowered to force us all to eat broccoli.

 

Considering the alternative, the disorganized nature of the Libertarian party isn’t the worst thing imaginable. Following the machinations of the two major parties is increasingly a bread-and-circuses beat. Maybe the crowd gets rowdy and even expresses disapproval, but in the end there’s little doubt that there’s a group of party bosses and moneyed interests in the colosseum skybox whose Siskel-and-Ebert routine determines the fate of the combatants in the political arena. Most of the tensions at the Libertarian party were because the Libertarian party is at its core still concerned with being “small-d” democratic. They were going to vote and vote until the outcome was agreed upon by their delegates according to their rules. Compare that with how the Democratic party recently declared ahead of its Arkansas primary that any delegates won by John Wolfe—a grassroots candidate running against Obama who won over 40 percent of the vote—would not be counted.

 

If D.C.’s lords of conventional wisdom would dismiss the Libertarian party as extremist and irrelevant, Republicans and Democrats do so at their peril. Libertarians are unlikely to win a presidential election anytime soon, but they may decide it: According to Public Policy Polling, Gary Johnson is polling at 7 percent and 15 percent in the crucial swing states of New Hampshire and New Mexico, respectively. Now that Ron Paul is finally done with his GOP campaign, Johnson could conceivably rise in the polls if he can convince Paul’s supporters he’s the next-best thing.

 

Still, Johnson no doubt wishes party activists were more concerned with organizing to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states—a hurdle libertarian candidates often fail to clear—than, say, sitting around in a casino discussing the technical challenges of getting gas stations to offer variable price points that take into account the real-time fluctuations in commodity values used to back private currencies. If Johnson is serious about expanding the electoral appeal of the Libertarian party, at some point he’s going to have to contend with the purists in his own party. That may prove exasperating to Johnson and all of the “small-l” libertarians fretting that infighting is squandering their chance to be taken as a serious alternative at the ballot box.

 

Until that’s sorted out, you have to give the Libertarian party this—they don’t just believe in freedom, they live it. Maybe cross-dressing prostitutes and arguments over competing currencies should take a backseat for now, but it’s their party and they’ll do what they want to.

70 thoughts on “The Weekly Standard: Unconventional-The Libertarian Party Does Las Vegas

  1. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    This article is very detailed, so it was written by someone who had a very close understanding of our party and the convention. Then, how could he perpetuate the fairy tale that Lee Wrights supporters were behind the NOTA movement? That simply isn’t true. One individual from Texas provided the signs that said “Reelect NO ONE from the LNC” (LNC means Libertarian National Committee). Someone else from Colorado independently chose to speak for NOTA (None of the Above, who is a long-time traditional candidate for our party). He made some excellent points, primarily that both contenders, Mark Hinkle and Mark Rutherford, had served on the LNC as chairman and vice-chairman, respectiviely, had served on a highly dysfuntional committee for the prior two years which had accomplished very little. Why should we reward either one by re-electing them?

    The speech, by a young attorney named Nicholas Sarwark, was brilliant and, in my view, correct. I had planned to plan for Mark Hinkle, but changed my mind when I heard Nick speak. The fact that NOTA won over either Mark was a spontaneous reaction. It was NOT some prearranged “coup”. The people perpetuating that myth are simply the Sore Losers. They need to man up, accept their loss, stop embarrassing themselves, and move forward.

  2. Common Tater

    Thanks for posting the article but you may want to be careful about posting the whole thing. IPR already settled one lawsuit and kicked out one columnist for reposting full copyrighted articles. Unless of course you asked.

  3. Nick Kruse

    I am very glad to see a conservative magazine telling its readers about the Libertarian Party.

  4. Nick Kruse

    “Wrights’s response was dumbfounding. “I agree we need to abolish the IRS; do away with the income tax and replace it with nothing.” The crowd went wild. For the briefest of moments, the normally implacable Johnson looked annoyed.”

    This is what I have been trying to explain on this website and to other Libertarians. If you tell the voters that you are going to get rid of all taxes and replace it with NOTHING, they will think we are crazy and nuts. The government will always need some revenue. Some Libertarians say giving money to the government should be “voluntary”. I guarantee you no one would just donate to the government.

  5. Nick Kruse

    “Reading between the lines of Wrights’s campaign biography, near as I can tell he has primarily been a writer of libertarian newsletters.”

    The convention definitely made the right choice. Would America rather have a former Governor or a newsletter writer as its president? I’m surprised Wrights even made it as far as he did in the nomination process.

  6. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I understand what you’re saying about Wrights versus Johnson, Nick. Lee is a great orator, and he’s been 100 % about the subject of peace in the world. The party knows him, but Johnson is quite new. We really got burned in the 2008 election when we chose Bob Barr, who had come fairly recently from the Republican Party.

    Lee Wrights was my first choice because my number # 1 cause/issue is peace. However, since Johnson won the nomination, I’m behind him 100 %, and look forward to some great months of campaigning.

  7. Oranje Mike

    #4, you may be right about no one volunteering their income to the Federali’s. Even the Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gate’s and Harvey Weinstein’s of the this country promote a system of vast theft but won’t write their own donation checks to Lil’ Timmy.

    The above article was an interesting read. I did not know Kristin Davis was in attendance but wish I would have know. She must have some interesting stories. For the record I did not see a single Ron Paul t-shirt either (not saying they weren’t there though). The writer surely interjected his own hyperbole to gussy up his article.

  8. Andy

    “If you tell the voters that you are going to get rid of all taxes and replace it with NOTHING, they will think we are crazy and nuts.”

    Eliminating the federal income tax and replacing it with nothing would still leave tariffs, duties, and excise taxes in place, not to mention various state and local taxes.

    “I guarantee you no one would just donate to the government.”

    You seem to be saying this as if it is a bad thing???

  9. Alan Pyeatt

    If the NOTA vote had been part of Lee Wrights’ strategy, and not a spontaneous occurrence, then why did Wrights withdraw from the Chair’s race, just as his supposed strategy was on the verge of success?

    No, the NOTA vote was a spontaneous occurrence. Ironically, if the Wagner faction of Oregon delegates had been seated (and therefore, Wes Wagner had not withdrawn from the race), then Mark Rutherford would probably be the National Chairman right now. Talk about the unintended consequences of success!

    If the writer had been a libertarian, I would have expected him to recognize the historical significance of the NOTA vote. It’s not surprising that outsiders would misunderstand some of our internal workings. But overall, I think the article is positive. It shows that we’re passionate and unconventional, but dedicated to our cause. I think it helps to establish the perception that we are the “cool” party in American politics. But my favorite line was this one: “Until that’s sorted out, you have to give the Libertarian party this—they don’t just believe in freedom, they live it.”

    OTOH, I hope Mark Rutherford was misquoted. If he really thinks that electing Starchild was a sign of immaturity, then it seems to me that this is an example of the conventional, “in the box” type of thinking that we need to avoid like the plague. Some people can’t see past Starchild’s flamboyant clothing, so they write him off. But if you look past the facade, you will find that he is very intelligent and very principled. His ideas are not always the most practical, and his career doesn’t necessarily provide the kind of experience that encourages practical solutions to certain types of problems. But the fact that his ideas challenge the status quo will be a tremendous benefit to the party, and I LOVE having a strong advocate of transparency and “bottom up” thinking on the LNC.

    A board of only people like Starchild (that is, if the mold hadn’t been broken at his birth) probably wouldn’t work very well. But that’s not our problem. If anything, the LNC has been far to rigid over the past few years, and as Ruth Bennett’s campaign flyers implied, has concealed too many hidden agendas. IMHO that is why hardly anybody on the LNC was re-elected.

    It’s time for new thinking on the LNC. That doesn’t prevent practical solutions to our problems, in fact, I think a new attitude is needed to address our challenges. And we have a great ticket to support, so I’m very optimistic.

  10. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Methinks someone on the losing side (meaning the non-radicals) provided the info for this article. Some of the points made about incrementalism and how the public won’t understand cutting taxes and replacing them with nothing are talking points that are just too familiar, and that other side just loves talking points.

  11. Be Rational

    Individuals donate to innumerable causes – the Red Cross, United Way, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, medical research and Jerry Lewis telethons, as examples – they do so happily, willingly, eagerly.

    These same individuals would do the same willingly if they felt they had a government that served them, that they trusted, that wasn’t wasting far more than it actually needs to serve the public, and that wasn’t already taking far too much by force through taxation.

    In short: We’re taxed enough already, why give more?

  12. Paulie

    Thanks for posting the article but you may want to be careful about posting the whole thing. IPR already settled one lawsuit and kicked out one columnist for reposting full copyrighted articles. Unless of course you asked.

    Yeah, that’s one of the few rules about posting here. Posting full articles should only be done with permission. I used to just copy and paste whole articles all the time myself and was really lucky that it was Cody that got caught up in the lawsuit and booted off IPR and not me.

    If you haven’t cleared it with the author/publication, cut it down to an excerpt (3-5 paragraphs max) and say “read more..” with a link back.

  13. Paulie

    “Wrights’s response was dumbfounding. “I agree we need to abolish the IRS; do away with the income tax and replace it with nothing.” The crowd went wild. For the briefest of moments, the normally implacable Johnson looked annoyed.”

    This is what I have been trying to explain on this website and to other Libertarians.If you tell the voters that you are going to get rid of all taxes and replace it with NOTHING, they will think we are crazy and nuts.

    Getting rid of the income tax is not getting rid of all taxes, or even of most taxes. There was no federal income tax in the US until 1913, except for briefly in the 1860s, and few people paid it until WW2.

    Income tax is currently about 40% of federal revenue: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_in_the_United_States#Federal_taxation

    Of course, any involuntary tax, including the so called “fair tax” would require enforcement and collection agents, regardless of whether it is called the IRS or something else.


    The government will always need some revenue. Some Libertarians say giving money to the government should be “voluntary”. I guarantee you no one would just donate to the government.

    I guarantee you that people would donate to schools, firefighters, police forces that treat the citizens with respect and enforce laws only against crimes with victims, roads, and so on. I grant that wool and mohair subsidies, non-defensive wars, and so on would have a tougher time getting funded, but I see that as a feature, not a bug.

  14. Paulie

    Even the Warren Buffet’s and Bill Gate’s and Harvey Weinstein’s of the this country promote a system of vast theft but won’t write their own donation checks to Lil’ Timmy.

    Yes, they would rather have other people pay, but they would pay if that was not an option. It’s good for business to have some basic services that people currently think only government can provide (I think that’s not the case, but that’s another story).

  15. Paulie

    The above article was an interesting read. I did not know Kristin Davis was in attendance but wish I would have know. She must have some interesting stories.

    Yeah, I didn’t see her. Would have loved to chat. I tried to get an interview when she ran for Governor and never heard back from them.

  16. Paulie

    Ironically, if the Wagner faction of Oregon delegates had been seated (and therefore, Wes Wagner had not withdrawn from the race), then Mark Rutherford would probably be the National Chairman right now. Talk about the unintended consequences of success!

    Not sure I follow that. Wouldn’t Wagner votes have gone to candidates other than Rutherford in subsequent rounds? Or, do you think Wagner would have come in ahead of Hinkle, with enough Hinkle voters going to Rutherford to get him over the top?

  17. Paulie

    But overall, I think the article is positive. It shows that we’re passionate and unconventional, but dedicated to our cause. I think it helps to establish the perception that we are the “cool” party in American politics. But my favorite line was this one: “Until that’s sorted out, you have to give the Libertarian party this—they don’t just believe in freedom, they live it.”

    It’s especially good when you consider the history of the publication that it appears in. They have always been opposed to the libertarian philosophy. I’ve heard somewhere they gave this the cover, too. Remarkable if true!

  18. Paulie

    Alan @9: 100% correct about Starchild, although I don’t think Mr. Rutherford was misquoted.

  19. Paulie

    The Libertarian party probably rejected any claim to normalcy from the get-go by holding its convention in a casino.

    LOL. If they only knew the internal politics of the site selection…

  20. Robert Capozzi

    DC: there’s an incredibly energetic, Internet-savvy, radicalized strain of grassroots libertarian activism that has been quite successful at recruiting younger and disaffected voters to the cause.

    me: I’d like to see evidence of success in a quantifiable sense. Yes, the appeal of off-the-grid extremism may attract a few deeply malcontented youthful souls, but is there any evidence that a massive cadre of 20 somethings is amassing to organize to smash the State?

  21. Paulie

    I think that is a reference to the Ron Paul grassroots, Lew Rockwell fans and so forth.

  22. Eric Blitz

    The point in the article wasn’t the viability of a voluntary funding system for the federal government, but the politically naive nature of the purist rhetoric. Whether or not the author’s assertion is true, it reminds me of how libertarians are more interested in (and better at) talking to themselves than convincing non-libertarians to move towards (instead of adopting in totality) their positions. We lecture non-libertarians better than most, but as an educational methodology it is only marginally effective and as a form of political action, it is untenable.

    Let me suggest that the author was “dumbfounded” not because of the extreme nature of the political rhetoric (that occurs at all political conventions) but to the political tone-deafness of a debate about whether you can abolish the income tax and replace it with nothing (implicitly relying upon other taxes and voluntary contributions). That debate is one between libertarians, but has no meaning or even casual interest outside of libertarian circles.

    Note that I’m not suggesting that the debate on that point in this thread is inappropriate or uninteresting at all, just that it reminded me of how quick we are to shift discussions to internal theoretical inquiries when the issue is a political question, not one of political philosophy.

    Libertarians must begin to focus on applying their ideas to a very non-libertarian world by adapting policy proscriptions to what is politically possible. When it comes to arguing over specific proposals to implement public policy as an election promise, if you are still at a purist position debate, you are not talking to the non-libertarian majority, but to other libertarians. Sometimes you need to do that in internal debates, no doubt. Sometimes a utopian position educates by example or is used as a political symbol to quickly or emotively describe the direction you wish to move in. But, recognize the limits of such positions in achieving results in politics. At most they start political debates with the non-libertarian majority, they never finish them.

    Political compromise is not ideological compromise if the intended political result moves the polity in the direction of your values. The amount of compromise necessary is a reflection of your political power in relation to the apolitical mainstream’s values and your ideological foes’ political power. Look objectively at that balance and you will see why some of our debates are wholly outside the context of modern American politics.

  23. Oranje Mike

    #15, I disagree. Buffett is the perfect example. He’s saying he isn’t taxed enough but to my knowledge he isn’t writing checks to Lil’ Timmy to cover the difference of what he thinks he owes.

  24. Paulie

    From the article:

    Though Bush’s $4.9 trillion in new debt didn’t make libertarians feel warm and fuzzy about the GOP, it’s hard to imagine they were so naïve as to believe that an election result that put Democrats in charge of all three branches of government was a vote for fiscal sanity, as opposed to registering their foreign policy and civil liberties concerns.

    Why not? Clinton and Carter were relatively more fiscally sane than Reagan and the Bushes. Jerry Brown was relatively more fiscally sane in his first stint as Governor than his predecessor, Reagan.

    But Obama’s presidency has turned into a libertarian nightmare on those fronts, too: the extension and/or expansion of nearly all of Bush’s antiterror policies, the invasion of Libya, executive orders monitoring gun sales, Government Motors, a newly unionized TSA empowered to take nude photos of air travelers, a federal mandate forcing you to purchase health insurance, not to mention over $5 trillion in new debt in less than one term.

    Too true!

    The idea of a left-libertarian alliance now seems farcical

    I beg to differ.

    —Lindsey and Wilkinson were eventually pushed out of Cato for their heresy—and libertarians are largely back on the same fiscal page as a Tea Party-chastened GOP. But the antiwar sentiment remains, and it’s a much broader concern for libertarians than just the protracted conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Social issues and civil liberties, bailouts and corporate welfare, drug war and heimland gestapo – war and empire is just one of many things that distinguish the LP from the NSGOP.

  25. Paulie

    Buffett is the perfect example. He’s saying he isn’t taxed enough but to my knowledge he isn’t writing checks to Lil’ Timmy to cover the difference of what he thinks he owes.

    You missed my point. He’s not writing checks when he get someone else to write them, but if no one else could be forced to write them then he would be much more likely to.

    And if he still doesn’t, the money would still be raised from other people.

    Paradoxically, relatively less well off people tend to be more voluntarily generous than the very wealthy.

    Billionaires who advocate for more taxes probably are smart enough to know, regardless of what they say in public, that government does far more to help the rich than it does to help the poor and that its net effect is to prevent established wealth from full liability, the real costs and risks of its investments and the greater churn of upstart competition rising up in the absence of red tape.

  26. Robert Capozzi

    26 p, it may be true that SOME billionaires see that. “Full liability” you’d need to expand on, but if you’re suggesting that the affluent knowingly and consciously are milking limited liability through the corporate form, I doubt few of them think in those terms. They likely just assume limited liability as an institutional framework.

    As basically a mutual fund manager, Buffett specifically benefits indirectly from limited liability.

    Similarly, the Buffetts and the Gates of the world seem to assume that the current role and size of government is a given. They want to raise the wealthy’s taxes to a) pay for that function and b) as a statement about inter-bracket equity. I don’t, in short, buy the conspiracy theory of Rothbard’s.

    I certainly don’t agree with Buffett, since I don’t agree with his assumption.

  27. Mike Kane

    @ Eric Blitz ” Let me suggest that the author was “dumbfounded” not because of the extreme nature of the political rhetoric (that occurs at all political conventions) but to the political tone-deafness of a debate about whether you can abolish the income tax and replace it with nothing (implicitly relying upon other taxes and voluntary contributions). That debate is one between libertarians, but has no meaning or even casual interest outside of libertarian circles. ”

    Are you kidding ? Have you been to a Ron Paul rally? That’s one of Ron Paul’s major platform statements, end the IRS and replace it with nothing.

  28. Charles Lupton

    IMHO, moderates bring people in, purists keep them there and that is true of any political party. People are only willing to accept change in increments and will resist any drastic changes…

    Would NDAA have been supported in the 1700’s? It’s a slow erosion of liberties over time until a breaking point is reached to wake the people up. The “War on Terror” has only accelerated the time table. Liberty will also have to be rebuilt and reclaimed brick by brick as well. As the foundation is laid and liberty is rebuilt, more and more will lend their hand to helping rebuild.

    Others choose to try and work within the existing structures to change the system from within. To me this only perpetuates the same system and has been tried, failed, and rarely lasts. Only time will tell how the long term political war will be decided, but for now my focus is building the LP and getting Gov. Johnson every last vote I can.

    Even after his own defeat as Wrights said, “Let’s get this man elected.”

  29. JT

    I lost interest & stopped reading this article about half-way through.

    I love though how some of these writers focus on weirdos & then admit that they’re “outliers.” Well, then why would they focus on them? Do they focus on weirdos at the Republican & Democratic conventions as well?

  30. Steven Berson

    Those who advocate for an immediate end of income tax with no transition period leading towards this and with no replacement for revenues generated by this during a period where the government debt is $15 Trillion and skyrocketing upwards are in fact advocating for one of two things: default on the debt, or hyper-inflation. The results of either of those two actions would be to effect absolute destruction of faith in the dollar, leading to extreme economic hardship domestically, a major curtailing of all imports (which considering we absolutely depend on petroleum imports for at least 60% of our current demand would have a major impact on the livelihoods of every US citizen), and likely general chaos – including in worse case scenarios the potential for balkanization, civil war, and fascistic (or at least much more authoritarian) takeovers. Of course – I will grant we are likely heading to this with our current policies anyway – but to just dive headlong into this without attempting a mitigation (which balancing the Federal budget would be a very good first step to) seems suicidal to me. The acknowledgement of this reality was a big reason why even though I loved Lee Wrights “Stop All Wars” focus I still voted for Gary Johnson – as I agree with him that the only way to get to where we want to go – and especially to convince others that the end goal is also in everyone else’s best interests as well – is to do it incrementally.

    I’ve posted this here before – but very worthy of reading is Dmitry Orlov’s excellent article on the “Closing the ‘Collapse Gap: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US”
    http://www.energybulletin.net/node/23259

  31. Eric Sundwall

    The third party in the American system will always be marginalized by the single plurality district which promotes the dominance of two main parties . . . sigh.

    A positive role for that third party is protest. The party that sticks to their guns, stays alive in that environment. Rinse, apply ideology.

    What third party does that better than the LP?

  32. just saying

    @33 – That’s why we need to get rid of plurality elections and move to runoffs to make sure the winner has a majority. Instant-runoff voting is the best way to do this… the top-two runoffs in Georgia, Louisiana and California are a good interim step but not good enough.

  33. Steven Berson

    @ 14 – of course the next big chunk of Federal taxation after Federal income tax is the payroll tax at around 40% of Federal revenues – which I’d argue is in fact a more heinous imposition than income tax is – in that it is both regressive in taking away the fruits of labor from low income workers who are in fact in most need of holding onto all of it – as well as directly punishing actual job creators for each of their hires. The payroll tax also makes it very difficult for entrepreneurs involved in small scale start ups to keep things going as it takes out needed funds at the most crucial time when you need them all via the self-employment tax. If anything I’d like to see the Payroll tax eliminated (or at least reduced) first.

  34. Eric Blitz

    @29 Mike, I agree and I think it supports your point to an extent, in that Ron Paul has increased his base of supporters to include more than those who would self-identify as libertarians (or who are, strictly speaking, libertarians). However, I think Ron Paul also hits a very strong ceiling over just that kind of rhetoric, which if true, supports my point that the argument plays well with a base, but doesn’t go much further and forecloses further consideration of the candidate by many.

  35. Steven Berson

    I laughed at this articles description of the LNC Chair election as a “goat rodeo” but the idea that the contentious proceedings during this somehow negatively impact the LP with the general public going forward is completely absurd. I’d say the results of the Convention is that the make up of the leadership is actually now potentially superior to what we had the previous couple of years – and that any contention at the Convention will be unknown to folks outside of fairly low profile commentary like this article or this forum.

  36. JT

    Paulie: “Paradoxically, relatively less well off people tend to be more voluntarily generous than the very wealthy.”

    First, generosity implies voluntarism. Second, what are you relying on to support this statement?

  37. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    “The Libertarian party probably rejected any claim to normalcy from the get-go by holding its convention in a casino.”

    Paulie @ 20: “LOL. If they only knew the internal politics of the site selection…”

    This definitely is one of those be-careful-what- you-wish-for things. If the convention’s location was chosen to benefit Root, as many of us suspected, it certainly backfired. It appears that many Libertarians in the state of Nevada have some serious issues with him (and rightfully so, in my view, because of the disaffiliation), and every time his name came up, some people in the audience booed. Wayne very obviously did his best to keep a low profile.

  38. LibertarianGirl

    Actually, unless you went maverick like myself and a handful of others from NV , then you were on the official LPNevada delegation. Its been reported that the 14 members voted in unison all except one time.
    I think Libertarians in general had an issue with what happened here as well as what happened n Oregon.

    I must say , although I came to Nat Con with no plans or expectations it turned out better than expected and yes , Id be lying if I said the Karmic meaning of it all didnt tickle me just a little…

  39. Robert Capozzi

    33 es, fat man’s race. But the Reform Party did so for a few cycles…

  40. Johncjackson

    I really don’t get this whole feeling about Starchild being an embarrassment. I am open to some views on “moderating” some messages to be taken “seriously,” but that is not one of them. Frankly, I’m more embarrassed by conservative Republicans in suits. I’m really interested in any actual reason of substance behind the argument against supporting him for his position.

  41. Carol Moore

    Isn’t the Weekly Standard Irving Kristol’s rag?? Always scary to see THEM take the LP seriously, since they may have to figure out a way to drive out the peaceniks from the LP, just like they did the “arabists” from the Republican Party Gosh. But at least it won’t be before this election or the 10-20 trillion dollar war vs. Iran/Syria/Shias/Russian/China or anyone else who doesn’t kiss the military-industrial-media complex’s butt. To name just the more politically correct co-conspirators. The war they are planning for us at the end of November… Hold on to your civil liberties… it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

    http://takimag.com/article/how_bill_kristol_purged_the_arabists_patrick_buchanan/print#axzz1wgp6Cwt8

  42. paulie

    Are you kidding ? Have you been to a Ron Paul rally? That’s one of Ron Paul’s major platform statements, end the IRS and replace it with nothing.

    I’ve been to Ron Paul rallies and it’s a great applause line, but Paul has no such short term plan that’s been laid out in any detail that I know of. He’s said he would vote for the same tax plan that Johnson pushes if it came up for a vote. It may even be that Johnson would ultimately like to replace the income tax with nothing – I honestly have no more than a hunch on this, but he likes to emphasize short term plans and has laid them out in detail.

    Paul and Johnson are more similar on taxes than many people realize.

  43. paulie

    Those who advocate for an immediate end of income tax with no transition period leading towards this and with no replacement for revenues generated by this during a period where the government debt is $15 Trillion and skyrocketing upwards are in fact advocating for one of two things: default on the debt, or hyper-inflation.

    There will be a default on the debt sooner or later. Why put it off?

  44. paulie

    the top-two runoffs in Georgia, Louisiana and California are a good interim step but not good enough.

    California’s system is the death knell for alternative and independent candidates in the general election (the one most people care about). In the primary, candidates are relegated into obscurity in crowded fields. Ballot retention depends on the general election.

    Hopefully, the courts will throw that piece of crap out. If not, maybe after Californians suffer through an election or two with no alternatives at all on the general election ballot there will be a new initiative to repeal this blight.

  45. paulie

    A positive role for that third party is protest. The party that sticks to their guns, stays alive in that environment. Rinse, apply ideology.

    What third party does that better than the LP?

    There are lots of alt parties that do stick to their guns protest more than the LP.

    Out of libertarian parties the BTP and Objectivist Party; the myriad of socialist parties; and so on.

  46. paulie

    First, generosity implies voluntarism.

    Correct. If it appeared that I implied otherwise, I miscommunicated.


    Second, what are you relying on to support this statement?

    Studies and articles I have read in the past and personal anecdotal experience.

    Sorry, no links handy and I don’t feel like doing research at the moment. Maybe some other time, maybe not.

    If you have anything that disproves this I would be interested, though.

  47. wolfefan

    Another Wrights line that I shook my head at was about his first executive order would be one to abolish all previous executive orders. Does Lee Wrights really mean to come out in favor of discriminating against gays and lesbians in the federal government and in the military? I doubt it – but that would be the effect of such an EO. Great applause line – but not thought through in it’s practical affect.

  48. June Genis

    @47

    I second Paulie’s comments. Washington state’s top 2 primary has already killed the minor parties there. In CA, the party was only able to recruit 1/4 the number of candidates that they have in the past because the new rules subject them to the same signature requirements as major party candidates rather than being based on the LP’s registration data.

    The ultimate solution is to go to full PR (proportional representation). In the short term, as long as we still have single member districts, libertarians should get on the band wagon for single-transferable-voting (STV) and ranked choice (RCV – sometimes referred to as instant runoff voting (IRV)).

    June

  49. Michael H. Wilson

    re 53. The Top Two isn’t helping us in Washington State but it isn’t the only factor involved.

    Ron Paul has drawn away some of the party’s members. The poor economy has caused some people to drop out. When medical marijuana was partially legalized some dropped out since that was their only issue. And questionable actions by management at the national office and in state over the last ten years have led to a decline in membership. Actually I see the problems at national as a big cause as much as anything else.

  50. zapper

    @53 We should not waste our efforts trying to change the system away from single member districts or plurality elections. We need to focus our resources on building the LP itself and running and financing our party and candidates.

    We should encourage and join in the growing agitation over the Top 2 electoral systems foisted on the people in WA and CA. Growing dissatisfaction should make it possible to revert to single member, plurality elections along with a reasonable party nomination or primary system and less restrictive ballot access.

    “Top two” creates a one-party state. The single primary will eventually cause the electoral system to operate as a single party with factions. The only winners will be the state and the ruling elite.

  51. JT

    Paulie at 50, I guess it depends on what you mean by “relatively worse off,” “the very wealthy,” and “more voluntarily generous.”

    Obviously those with greater wealth tend to give more in absolute terms than people with less. High- net-worth households (at least $1 million) account for the vast majority of charitable giving. The median gift from such a household is far greater than the median gift from households that have a net worth of less than $1 million.

    Percentage-wise across quintiles, the poorest fifth do tend to give a bit more than the richest fifth, mainly to religious organizations. The three-fifths in the middle give roughly the same percentage as the richest fifth.

  52. Steven R Linnabary

    If you tell the voters that you are going to get rid of all taxes and replace it with NOTHING, they will think we are crazy and nuts. The government will always need some revenue.

    Yeah. We had that same problem a hundred and fifty years ago. Some people wanted to end slavery, but plantations would continue to need labor. These people were considered nuts because they didn’t describe in minute detail where this labor should come.

    PEACE

  53. Steven R Linnabary

    There probably hasn’t been such an assemblage of gray-haired men in ponytails since the Grateful Dead stopped touring.

    I was one of those guys. But I only saw one other that could be described that way.

    PEACE

  54. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    Well, Steven, I can think of at least two, both from California: Beau Cain and Aln Pyeatt.

  55. Seebeck

    Jill @62: unless he cut it, add Less Antman to that list.

    The entire article was snide and condescending and also had inaccuracies, and was hardly a positive article.

  56. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    I agree, Mike. Whoever wrote it was defintely part of the Losing Side.

  57. JT

    Paulie: “I meant in percentage terms, not absolute numbers.”

    Makes sense. The percentage difference is a very small one though.

  58. paulie

    In terms of formally reported donations, yes. But I’m also thinking of people helping each other out one on one.

    In any case, what I was talking about was communities providing what people consider the essential functions of government in voluntarily funded ways – whether they are monopoly functions or not. I believe they would. For one thing, people would have more money, not just from not paying the involuntary taxes they pay now, but from economic growth from cutting the red tape.

    For another, historically people were much more voluntarily generous when there wasn’t the assumption that government would take care of the problems.

    People don’t want to live in a place with no schools or roads, protection from crimes, fires, floods etc., and in a society as wealthy as ours the money for those things – and a truly defensive national defense – will find a supply to meet demand.

    I don’t think the fact that some very wealthy people would prefer to have others pay for what they consider essential is proof that no one would pay for it voluntarily. Some wealthy people are very generous, some are misers, some are cynical manipulators, and not everyone who is generous is
    wealthy.

  59. Robert Capozzi

    66 p: For another, historically people were much more voluntarily generous when there wasn’t the assumption that government would take care of the problems.

    me: Are you sure? IIRC, charitable giving peaked in the mid-aughts. Certainly government spending also was at all-time high levels. I’d think that prevalent wealth correlates more than size of government when observing charitable giving rates….

  60. paulie

    No studies at my fingertips, but I’ve read plenty of information before about the decline of civil society and mutual aid with the rise of the welfare state.

  61. zapper

    I remember reading the same thing as Paulie. But it does seem that charitable donations as a percentage of income peaked in the “mid-aughts” although I think it was the 19 aughts.

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