Thomas Knapp: If Not NOTA, Who?

Thomas Knapp

Thomas Knapp is a blogger and long-time political activist. He was with the Libertarian Party for a while, but left the party a few years ago. After the announcement of the winner of the Libertarian Party’s chairmanship, Nicholas Sarwark, Mr. Knapp left this comment on the Open Thread for Libertarian National Convention June 27 to 29 expressing a change of heart, and left this “teaser”:

Dammit, Nick, ya got me. Just re-joined the national LP as a sustaining member and sent an email to my county affiliate to find out what’s going on and how I can help

I think I’ve found a way to square my distrust of electoral politics with being an active LP member. Heck, it’s even something that’s close to YOUR heart at most national conventions. But more on that later.

The next day, he sent this press release to the IPR writers:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
07/01/14
Contact: Thomas L. Knapp
info@nota2016.org
352-505-0671

If Not NOTA, Who? If Not 2016, When?
One Political Party Might Run an Empty Suit for President. Yes, Really.

PRLog (Press Release) – Jul. 1, 2014 – ORLANDO, Fla. — When most political parties get together for a national convention, they nominate a candidate for president. The Libertarian Party isn’t most political parties.

First, it has its national convention every two years rather than every four (the 2014 event, held in Columbus, Ohio, just wrapped up).

Secondly, “None Of The Above” is always on the ballot for both internal offices and the party’s presidential nomination.

A new “open source campaign,” launching two years ahead of the party’s presidential nominating convention, says NOTA is its candidate of choice.

“NOTA inherently enjoys broad support among Libertarians,” says Thomas L. Knapp, who launched the NOTA 2016 web site on July 1st. “Some Libertarians see electoral politics as a dead end and want the party to focus on some of the other purposes listed in its bylaws. Some Libertarians see the party as a sort of side effort, end up supporting the lesser of two major party evils, and don’t want a ‘spoiler’ in the mix. And many Libertarians are just plain unhappy with the candidate choices the party has made and continues to make.”

Unhappy enough, hopes Knapp, to turn the 2016 election cycle into a cooling-off period after twice nominating failed Republican politicians — former congressman Bob Barr of Georgia in 2008 and former governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico in 2012 — instead of ideological libertarians.

“The Libertarian Party has always taken flak as ‘GOP Lite,'” says Knapp, who refers to himself as the campaign’s “Instigator.” “It hasn’t always deserved that flak, but after two presidential elections in a row it’s become apparent that the only way to put an end to it and to keep Republican rejects from coming after our presidential nomination is to stop giving it to them.”

NOTA 2016’s goals include building grassroots state and local NOTA efforts within the Libertarian Party and gaining the support of a majority of delegates to the 2016 Libertarian National Convention in Orlando, Florida. The Libertarian Party, established in 1971, is America’s third largest political party.

-30-

NOTA 2016 Web Site:
http://nota2016.org

Here is more conversation about his idea, posted again as a comment to the IPR convention thread. This offers some explanation as to why Mr Knapp thinks NOTA would be a good choice for 2016:

Here are some arguments in favor of NOTA for the LP’s presidential nomination in 2016. Some of them I subscribe to, some I don’t:

1) The only way we’re going to stop Republican rejects from sniffing around the LP’s presidential nomination is to STOP GIVING IT TO THEM. That will be the subject of NOTA 2016′s first op-ed, “A Declaration of Independence from Republican Rejects,” which I’m submitting to several publications that LP members read and which will be posted on the NOTA 2016 site on Friday (the 4th of July, hence the title). I’ve concluded, and I think that some other Libertarians will agree, that after two election cycles in a row, it comes down to “maybe if we want to get the squatters out, we need to burn the house down; we can rebuild it after that.”

2) Some Libertarians — I’m not one of them and don’t subscribe to this argument — see the LP as a sort of ideological sidestream that’s useful for “getting ideas out there,” but that needs to “get out of the way” when the voting starts. They see LP candidates and campaigns as wasted efforts at best and “spoilers” at worst and prefer to see Libertarians vote for “libertarian Republicans.” Examples would include Eric Dondero’s gang and Ron Paul and/or Rand Paul supporters. I don’t agree with their goals, but I’ll be more than happy to have their support for NOTA.

3) Some Libertarians — I’m one of them, and therefore subscribe to this argument — see electoral politics as a dead end. Whether or not one agrees with that, it’s certainly not illegitimate to suggest to a party which does have listed purposes other than electoral politics that it focus on those other purposes in preference to running e.g. yet another quixotic presidential campaign.

4) I don’t subscribe to the “spend ‘our’ money on local/state candidates instead of on a presidential campaign” argument, for several reasons. One of those reasons is that the money doesn’t map on a 1:1 scale between the two kinds of efforts. Just because Libertarians DON’T donate a million dollars to a presidential campaign, that doesn’t mean they WILL donate that same million dollars to other campaigns. Some of them will just keep their money in their pocket or go to the casino or whatever. Another reason is that the presidential campaign CAN support those lower-level campaigns with its ballot access work, party promotion work, etc. So it’s not an either/or thing.

This article will be updated if new information comes out regarding NOTA’s presential run in 2016.

110 thoughts on “Thomas Knapp: If Not NOTA, Who?

  1. Robert Capozzi

    a few reactions:

    1) It tracks that GJ was a “R reject.” Barr, not so much, since he’d been out of the Rs for some years, iirc. Barr even paid some dues on the LNC.

    2) NOTA ’16 doesn’t foreclose a R or D reject (recall Gravel) in ’20. Knapp seems to suggest a pattern based on a conscious plan. Both BB and GJ were opportunistic candidates. That is, neither planned to seek the nomination they got.

    3) There IS a case for NOTA, I’d agree. If there are no good candidates, only embarrassing ones, best to offer none.

  2. Bondurant

    I think going to the LP convention with the intent of getting the nomination and campaigning for it before hand is a perfect example of seeking the nomination.

  3. Robert Capozzi

    B, yes, sorry, let me put a finer point on it. I’ve seen NO evidence that BB or GJ intended to seek the nomination 1 year prior to the LP convention. Barr was trying to get Ron Paul to cross back over to the LP a few months prior to the LP convention. Johnson was trying to get the R nomination a few months before the LP convention.

    Both were on the hasty side, as I see it. The opportunity presented itself to both of them late in the cycle.

    I have to believe that GJ was thinking about seeking the R nomination for years before ’12. My guess is he got serious about it at least in ’11, if not ’10.

    The more relevant point is that if Knapp is successful and NOTA is the LP nominee in ’16, nothing precludes a “reject” from seeking the LP nomination in ’20. While it IS true that the last 2 LP prez candidates were former R pols, I don’t see how NOTA will cleanse that record, except for maybe some L purists who pay attention to such things.

    Personally, I’d love to see a former D pol be next in line, as a matter of optics. But in the grand scheme of things, it seems WAY more important to have the best candidate possible be the nominee. And that could well be NOTA! NOTA seems preferable to a fringe candidate, for example.

  4. Austin Cassidy

    How expensive and damaging would it be, from a ballot access perspective, if the party chose not to run a Presidential candidate in 2016?

  5. NewFederalist

    As to point #3 in the article… the Socialist Labor Party has gone this route. They still exist but it appears no one knows about them anymore, not that all that many folks knew much about them before they stopped running candidates.

  6. Jed Ziggler

    “How expensive and damaging would it be, from a ballot access perspective, if the party chose not to run a Presidential candidate in 2016?”

    It could be quite damaging, and also an embarrassment. It would look to most, no matter what the intent behind it, as if we’ve given up.

    “As to point #3 in the article… the Socialist Labor Party has gone this route. They still exist but it appears no one knows about them anymore, not that all that many folks knew much about them before they stopped running candidates.”

    Actually from what I’ve been able to ascertain the SLP is now completely defunct. The website, last I checked, is still up though, and is a great archive of historical information.

  7. Richard Winger

    In 1896 the Peoples Party nominated William Jennings Bryan, who was also the Democratic nominee. But the Peoples Party couldn’t abide the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, and nominated its own vice-presidential nominee. In many states the Democratic Party and Peoples Party then ran a joint slate of presidential electors, with some electors pledged to the Dem for v-p and the other electors pledged to the Peoples v-p. So three parties got electoral votes for their v-p nominee in 1896.

  8. Joe Wendt

    Phillies is a Physicist, a longtime Libertarian, and probably one of the smartest guys in the party. He’s probably the best LP standard bearer the party could find. Besides, isn’t Davison a Republican?

  9. William Saturn

    Yes because the judge he was working as a bailiff for was a Republican. He has expressed interest in the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

  10. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    If Davison wasn’t interested enough in the Libertarian Party to attend last month’s convention, I wouldn’t consider him at all for the candidacy of 2016.

  11. Stewart Flood

    Mr Capozzi is basing his statements about our two past nominees on incomplete and inaccurate information.

    First, there was a movement (mostly of rumors and nudging) by several members of the party more than a year in advance of the 2008 convention to get Bob Barr to run. His response was that his wife would kill him. (that’s a quote) I believe that is one of the reasons why he wanted Dr Paul to come back. He knew someone would have to run and I don’t believe that he wanted to do it.

    The problem we have in the Libertarian Party with people who have political conversions is the same one that many in the general public have with recovering alcoholics: they never can trust that the person is changing his ways and always talk about the thinks he did when he was drunk and ignore the fact that the person now appears to be sober. They snub him, ridicule him, and eventually he goes back into the bar where at least the bartender is nice to him while he pours drinks. (That’s the best I can come up with as an analogy…I am certainly not implying that Bob Barr or anyone else is or ever was an alcoholic. I’m also not saying that I like the fact that Mr Barr returned to the GOP, but that’s what happens sometimes when you are treated the way he was.)

    Mr Johnson was also approached quite a few months in advance of his decision to seek our party’s nomination. I was not one of the people who initially approached him, but at the request of several of those involved I had a personal conversation with him prior to his announcement that he was seeking our nomination.

    I’ve written about this before. I was “in the room”, so I am able to state with absolute certainty that both Mary Ruwart and Bob Barr were approached by members of the party at the same time, sitting at different tables in the same bar. This took place at the end of the LSLA candidate debate in early 2008, where we were presented with a prospect of puke vs really puke vs total puke. As I’ve said before, in my opinion the winner of that debate was actually Mr Jim “Libertarian” Burns.

    Quite a few people believed that the current choices were all unacceptable (for different reasons of course), and while I and several others were talking to Mr Barr, others were on a cell call to Dr Ruwart urging her to consider running. It is possible that either or both may have already been considering running, but I’m sure that the urging of a number of prominent and respected members of the party that evening was a factor in both of their decisions.

    That’s what happened. I still believe that at that time that Mr Barr was a “recovered” republican. His columns in the Atlanta press frequently show that even though he has backslidden, he still has a significant number of both economic and social libertarian beliefs.

  12. George Phillies

    The Green Party tried a variation on this in 2004. It is possible that their party will eventually recover. However, they also may not ever recover.

  13. Stewart Flood

    So what you’re saying is that unless someone has been a libertarian their entire life they aren’t acceptable as a candidate?

  14. NewFederalist

    “Actually from what I’ve been able to ascertain the SLP is now completely defunct. The website, last I checked, is still up though, and is a great archive of historical information.”

    Check with Richard Winger but I believe that have a never ending source of funds from some one who died many decades ago which funds them into perpetuity.

  15. George Phillies

    I don’t think I said that. I certainly did not mean that. For starters, it means that anyone much over 40 cannot possibly be an acceptable candidate.

    With respect to Tom’s idea, my own feeling is that the current LP would not survive this experience. For starters, the LNC has almost no justification for its existence other than Presidential ballot access. Take that away, and it is a million a year whose purpose it is to raise a million a year.

    In my opinion, we did poorly with our choice of candidates.

  16. Joe Wendt

    Run, George, Run!!! Give the LP a real Libertarian candidate for 2016!!!

  17. Robert Capozzi

    SF: Mr Capozzi is basing his statements about our two past nominees on incomplete and inaccurate information.

    Me: OK, that’s how you see it. I see nothing in your post that supports your statement that my post is “inaccurate.” As for “incomplete,” I didn’t suggest that OTHERS wanted them to pursue the nomination.

    You’ve provided no evidence that BB or GJ themselves decided to pursue the nominations in 08 and 12 until a few months before the respective conventions.

    Of course, the point is completely tangential to the main thrust of my point, which is that NOTA in 16 doesn’t cleanse the “reject” factor that TK hopes it will. The LP will nominate who they nominate. I hope it picks the best candidate to make the case for lessarchy. NOTA may well be the best candidate, but it seems premature to me, since no one has announced as yet that I know of, aside from possibly Perry.

  18. Stewart Flood

    The first conversations with Barr were in the spring/summer of 2007. Johnson was approached in the summer of 2011. As far as formal announcements of candidacy, I think that the only ones running a year in advance in 2012 may have been Burns and Phillies. I believe Root started sometime in the early fall of 2011, but my memory may be wrong.

    I agree it is all tangential. The LP will nominate someone, and if Johnson doesn’t get in the race then I would put Dr Phillies — even though probably having minority support — as the “front runner” at the moment. He’d get my vote in a final ballot against Perry.

    I would say that Phillies already had his “non-announcement” announcement. Running a “draft” campaign is a well established technique used in other parties in presidential campaigns by candidates who want to test the water without going through the headache of FEC filing and trying to raise money.

  19. Robert Capozzi

    SF, glad we cleared that up!

    I’d note that the critical point isn’t so much the formal announcement, but the point at which the prospective candidate becomes seriously interested in pursuing the nomination. The initial approaches to Barr and Johnson may have planted seeds in their minds, of course. (I suspect Johnson was approached prior to ’12 as well, maybe even both 04 and 08, though I don’t know that for a fact. He’s [rightly] been admired in L circles, and a former guv has built-in credibility.)

    Both campaigns may have been part of a diabolical conspiracy to neutralize the LP by dark and shadowy figures bent on installing an omnipotent state. 😉 But, as one not prone to buy wild conspiracy theories, I’ll stick with my opinion that both were late, hasty entrants in the hunt for the LP’s nomination. They both may have toyed with the idea for a few years, despite Barr’s wife’s threat!

  20. Stewart Flood

    I never heard Johnson discussed in 2008, so if he was contacted it didn’t get enough traction to even hit the LNC rumor mill.

    I am certain that Barr was thinking about it in 2007, otherwise he wouldn’t have responded to me that his wife would kill him. 🙂

  21. paulie

    He had no idea it was even going on.

    Seems like something he should have known if he wanted to run for a presidential nomination, no? IIRC he lives in Ohio.

    And we even suggested that he should be there before the convention. You could have told him, for instance.

  22. paulie

    Johnson was not discussed in 2008, AFAIK, but there was a draft Johnson movement in 2000 and 2004, which he declined both times of course.

    I’ll be OK with another Johnson run in 2016, but I hope he gets some spirited competition for the nomination. I think it will make him a better candidate in the general.

    I’m against NOTA; I think it will be a real disaster for us. And I believe there will be a real NOTA push by Rand Paul supporters.

    I believe Barr planned to run for the presidential nomination from the time he joined the LP, although I have no proof of this.

  23. paulie

    It could be quite damaging, and also an embarrassment. It would look to most, no matter what the intent behind it, as if we’ve given up.

    Yep. We would go into a serious tailspin.

  24. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    William said: “He had no idea it was even going on.”

    My point exactly! An interested person would have known that, and been there.

  25. Jed Ziggler

    “Check with Richard Winger but I believe that have a never ending source of funds from some one who died many decades ago which funds them into perpetuity.”

    I believe that’s the Prohibition Party, actually. Which may have also gone defunct, though it’s difficult to tell.

  26. Jed Ziggler

    I was hoping so, but it’s difficult to tell when they have almost no online presence, and no news surrounding them until Presidential elections roll around.

  27. Gene Berkman

    Paulie is correct that Libertarians attempted to get Gary Johnson to run as the LP candidate for President in 2000 and 2004. Further back in history, Congressman Ron Paul was approached in 1983 to run as the Libertarian candidate for President, and it took several years of lobbying to get him to agree in 1987 to be a candidate.

    There is no evidence that Bob Barr wanted to run for President. He was urged to be a candidate for months before he agreed to it, and it looks as though he agreed to run as a way to build the Libertarian Party.

    If the Libertarian Party adopted a strategy aimed at building up the local party committees and providing support for LP candidates for Congress and state legislature in lieu of running a candidate for President, it might work. A NOTA campaign based on attacking people who have actually worked to build The Libertarian Party is a more negative approach. I won’t speculate on the real motives of people who would support, because if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything.

  28. NewFederalist

    “Check with Richard Winger but I believe that have a never ending source of funds from some one who died many decades ago which funds them into perpetuity.”

    I believe that’s the Prohibition Party, actually. Which may have also gone defunct, though it’s difficult to tell.

    Both the SLP and the Drys have significant endowments which will keep them alive for years to come just to get the money if for no other reason.

  29. Jed Ziggler

    “There’s a big story about them about to hit.”

    Very glad to hear that. I disagree with almost everything they stand for, but they’re an important part of American political history.

    “Both the SLP and the Drys have significant endowments which will keep them alive for years to come just to get the money if for no other reason.”

    Fair enough, though money or not, if you’re not running candidates, holding conventions, updating your newsletter, engaging in activism, etc. you’re defunct. I see zero signs of life from the Socialist Labor Party.

  30. paulie

    There is no evidence that Bob Barr wanted to run for President. He was urged to be a candidate for months before he agreed to it, and it looks as though he agreed to run as a way to build the Libertarian Party.

    I agree that it is speculation rather than evidence, but nevertheless my hunch is that he planned a presidential run all along when he joined the LP (and LNC at the same time).

    Given the campaign he ran, I see little reason to believe that it was as a way of building the LP. The LP was rarely mentioned in his promotional materials; he did not mention it much in interviews as far as I can recall. He did not share campaign contacts with the LP as Browne and Marrou had; I don’t recall him doing much of anything for downticket candidates.

  31. paulie

    If the Libertarian Party adopted a strategy aimed at building up the local party committees and providing support for LP candidates for Congress and state legislature in lieu of running a candidate for President, it might work.

    It would work…to marginalize the LP like never before.

  32. paulie

    Prohibition Party is very marginal anymore. I think they were on in one or two states this last time and IIRC got less than a thousand votes for president. I don’t remember them running any downticket races any time recently. Their last national convention had a single digit number of delegates. Their web presence is very marginal also. If they have a bunch of money they are showing no signs of using it.

  33. Andy

    I’ve got to wonder if this is Tom Knapp’s latest attempt at being a saboteur of the Libertarian Party.

    Regardless of whether his intentions are good or not, this is a stupid plan that flies in the face of one of the primary reasons that the party was formed.

    I do agree with having NOTA as a choice on the ballot, and I too have not been happy with the last couple of LP Presidential tickets, particularly the one in 2008, however, the focus should be on nominating a more libertarian ticket, not on voting for NOTA.

    The Libertarian Party not running a candidate for President would be a disaster. The LP Presidential ticket is one of the best platforms for spreading the libertarian message that there is. The LP not running a ticket for President would be flat out stupid. I’ve got to wonder if this is Tom Knapp’s latest attempt at being a saboteur of the Libertarian Party.

    Regardless of whether his intentions are good or not, this is a stupid plan that flies in the face of one of the primary reasons that the party was formed.

    I do agree with having NOTA as a choice on the ballot, and I too have not been happy with the last couple of LP Presidential tickets, particularly the one in 2008, however, the focus should be on nominating a more libertarian ticket, not on voting for NOTA.

    The Libertarian Party not running a candidate for President would be a disaster. The LP Presidential ticket is one of the best platforms for spreading the libertarian message that there is. The LP not running a ticket for President would be flat out stupid.

  34. Jed Ziggler

    “Prohibition Party is very marginal anymore. I think they were on in one or two states this last time and IIRC got less than a thousand votes for president. I don’t remember them running any downticket races any time recently. Their last national convention had a single digit number of delegates. Their web presence is very marginal also. If they have a bunch of money they are showing no signs of using it.”

    No doubt, but it looks like they are still around. I just did a Bing search & found they have a fairly active Facebook page. I agree they’re beyond tiny, but they are America’s oldest surviving opposition party. That still counts for something.

    In the last Presidential election, the Fellure/Davis Prohibition ticket was on the ballot in one state (Louisiana) and polled 518 votes. As far as down ticket races, the last I can remember were James Hedges being elected tax assessor, and June Griffin running for office in Tennessee as an independent, and both of those runs were a number of years ago.

  35. Thomas Knapp

    Quoth Robert Capozzi:

    “If … NOTA is the LP nominee in ’16, nothing precludes a ‘reject’ from seeking the LP nomination in ’20.”

    Absolutely true. However, on the plausible assumption that a Republican reject seeks the LP’s nomination in 2016 (plausible because the previous Republican reject LP nominee has publicly indicated interest in seeking it), choosing NOTA would put future Republican rejects on notice that it isn’t going to be easy.

    Quoth Andy:

    “I’ve got to wonder if this is Tom Knapp’s latest attempt at being a saboteur of the Libertarian Party.”

    Not only don’t you have to, you can’t. In order for there to be a “latest” attempt, there would have to have been previous attempts. There haven’t been.

  36. Thomas Knapp

    Quoth Paulie:

    “We would go into a serious tailspin.”

    We’d have to gain some serious altitude before we’d be high enough to have ROOM to get a tailspin going.

  37. paulie

    We actually have gained some serious altitude, although it may not be immediately apparent. Compare us with other alt parties that currently exist or which have existed in the last several decades. You’d have to go back to the early 20th century to find one that had as much success on an equally sustained basis…and they had very different ballot access laws then, a much less expensive (and more labor intensive) political campaign process, relatively less concentrated media ownership, and more accessible public square for on the ground organizing (these days much of what used to be the public square is ostensibly privately owned parking lots). Plus, neighbors actually tended to know each other back then. So, organizing a party may have been easier….and perhaps the bipartisan concept had not been so deeply ingrained for multiple generations as it has been more recently.

    All in all, while we could do a lot better, we could also do a lot worse. And, I believe, will if you get your way with NOTA.

  38. paulie

    When I say tailspin, compare where various parties that were once as strong as the LP is now or stronger were then and where the ones that still exist are now.

  39. Thomas Knapp

    Capozzi:

    “if Knapp is successful”

    Paulie:

    “if you get your way”

    The candidate is NOTA, not me.

    And NOTA is a serious candidate.

    NOTA is always on the ballot for every LP internal office and for the presidential nomination.

    NOTA often has one or more people speaking for/supporting it (if I’m not mistaken, one of those frequent NOTA speakers was just elected national chair).

    NOTA usually gets some votes.

    My understanding is that NOTA was a decisive factor in the 2012 chair election.

    My only part in this is that I decided that formalizing, promoting and fully discussing this serious candidate well in advance of the 2016 nominating convention was a worthwhile idea and decided to pursue it.

    If you want to argue against NOTA, argue against NOTA. Making it about me is half fallacy and half fail.

  40. paulie

    “if you get your way”

    The candidate is NOTA, not me.

    I meant if you get your way because NOTA wins. I doubt it will be due mainly to your efforts.

    And NOTA is a serious candidate.

    I agree. It will most likely be due largely to a push orchestrated by Rand Paul supporters.

    NOTA often has one or more people speaking for/supporting it (if I’m not mistaken, one of those frequent NOTA speakers was just elected national chair).

    I am only aware of one instance of Nick speaking on behalf of NOTA and that was due to the specific circumstances, not any general preference for NOTA as far as I know.

    My understanding is that NOTA was a decisive factor in the 2012 chair election.

    You are correct.

    My only part in this is that I decided that formalizing, promoting and fully discussing this serious candidate well in advance of the 2016 nominating convention was a worthwhile idea and decided to pursue it.

    If you want to argue against NOTA, argue against NOTA. Making it about me is half fallacy and half fail.

    I *am* arguing against NOTA. To the extent that I mention you, it is only as shorthand since you have in fact made yourself the champion of NOTA.

    It has nothing to do with being against you per se. I am often in agreement with you. I wish you had stuck with running for the nomination yourself instead of going X-voters and now NOTA.

    Sorry if this wasn’t clear.

    As for me I am for the opposite of NOTA. That is, I would like to see several strong campaigns for the nomination and I would like to see one of the breathing bipeds who runs be nominated.

  41. AndyCraig

    Running NOTA in 2016 would not only be stupid, it would be impossible. If we could “make a statement” by actually getting NOTA on state ballots via our nomination, that would be something. I wouldn’t support it- I’m for Johnson 2016 all the way and I think lumping him in with Barr is ridiculous- but a case could be made for doing it if it would actually give voters the choice of NOTA for President. However, the Convention nominating NOTA will have no effect on the laws in 49 states which do not allow NOTA to be listed on the ballot (and the one other state that doesn’t allow NOTA to actually win). In those states where we have ballot access, it would go unused. In those states where ballot access is dependent on the Presidential vote, it would be lost. Even if Electors pledged to NOTA somehow won a majority of the EC, that would just throw the election to the House/Senate: under no circumstances would the Oval Office actually be vacant.

    There are umpteen different libertarian movement organizations which don’t focus on or participate in electoral politics. The majority of the movement, in fact, is in such organizations. If you want to be involved in libertarian activism, and don’t believe in electoral politics, then why would have anything to do with the *one* libertarian organization which *is* a political party? If you really don’t believe in the value of participating in electoral politics, then you don’t have much grounds for believing in the value of participating in the Libertarian *Party*. An argument against running a Presidential candidate is, in my opinion, indistinguishable from an argument against the existence of the LP at all. There are plenty of elections where the LP “runs NOTA” in the exact manner Knapp proposes- though it’s typically referred to as an election “without a Libertarian candidate” and nobody except Libertarians bemoaning that fact notices it.

  42. paulie

    AC,

    The NOTA supporters aren’t pushing for NOTA to be president (although some of them, and some of the rest of us, would be for that too), they are specifically pushing for the LP not to run a candidate in that race.

    Some of them are Rand Paul supporters who believe an LP candidate will hurt Rand Paul in the general election, which they believe he will be in (I don’t think he will make it that far in 2016).

    Some of them believe that running presidential candidates hurts local LP candidates. I strongly disagree.

    Near as I can tell, Knapp believes LP delegates make bad presidential choices and that the candidates we pick actually harm the larger libertarian brand. He is in fact lumping Johnson in with Barr in this respect. He thinks not running a candidate will “first do no harm.” He hasn’t yet answered as to whether or not he now thinks the LP should run candidates below the presidential level.

    Knapp points to Nolan’s article on the case for an LP

    http://www.elfsoft2000.com/politics/nolan.htm

    But let’s examine what Nolan wrote:

    All of which leads this writer inexorably to the conclusion that the time has come for us to form our own party. We have the numbers to mount a meaningful effort, nationwide. We have both a desire and a need to achieve visible results. And, despite the fact that we certainly aren’t going to elect “one of ours” as President of the United States – at least not in 1972 – there are a number of advantages to be gained by such action.

    First, and perhaps most important, we will be able to get a great deal more news coverage for ourselves and our ideas than we have ever gotten before. Public interest in political issues and philosophies is always at an all-time high during Presidential election years, and the media people are actively seeking news in this area.

    As a direct consequence of this fact, we will probably reach (and hopefully convert) far more people than we usually do; hopefully, some of these people will turn out to support our candidates, and will thus enable to locate hitherto-unlocatable libertarians (or at least sympathizers).

    Note that while this point is not about winning elections, it IS about participating in them, and that we lose these benefits by not running – most especially in the presidential race.

    Third, we will be able to get some idea of how much support we really do have (at least in potential form) around the country

    Only a presidential race measures that even somewhat apples to apples.

    Fourth, a libertarian political party would provide a continuing “focal point” for libertarian activity – something that “one-shot” projects do not provide.

    43 years later, we have plenty of other ongoing focal points.

    Fifth, we will be able to hasten the already emerging coalition between the libertarian “left” and libertarian “right”. At the moment, the former group is supporting people like Eugene McCarthy, while the latter is supporting people like Barry Goldwater. A truly libertarian party would draw support both from such “leftist” groups as the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence and the American Civil Liberties Union, and from “rightist” groups like the John Birch Society and the Liberty Amendment Committee, however. This would increase the political impact of the libertarian “movement”, as “leftist” and “rightist” libertarians now usually wind up voting so as to cancel each other (when they vote at all). Furthermore, libertarian votes now get lumped in with “liberal” and “conservative” votes, whereas the votes received by a libertarian party would not be hidden in this manner.

    If we don’t participate in the presidential race, libertarians are once again relegated to picking e.g. between H Clinton and J Bush, or perhaps some non-libertarian alt party or not voting in the presidential race. Ironically, it is all those Rand Paulians who will be at the forefront of the NOTA push in the LP who will most sorely wish we had run a candidate if we don’t when their choices are reduced to, say, Elizabeth Warren and Paul Ryan.

    A sixth point is favor of establishing a libertarian party is that by its mere existence, it would put some pressure on the other parties to take a more libertarian stand.

    Conversely if we are not in the P race, we reduce such pressure that we exert.

    An finally, there is always the possibility that we might actually get some libertarians elected.

    Granted, it is extremely unlikely that president will be one of those in 2016.

    However, note that the other points by and large rely on us running, albeit most likely not winning. It’s less than a half truth to say that NOTA for president represents Nolan’s vision of other purposes for the LP than just winning elections.

    There are plenty of elections where the LP “runs NOTA” in the exact manner Knapp proposes- though it’s typically referred to as an election “without a Libertarian candidate” and nobody except Libertarians bemoaning that fact notices it.

    Well actually, a few other people do, because they have no idea how hard it actually is to organize the LP, how many roadblocks we face and how few people and other resources we actually have actively helping us.

    I’ve run into quite a few people who think we have massive amounts of money and automatic ballot access everywhere and are just purposely choosing to sit on our hands because we are not serious.

  43. Thomas Knapp

    “Near as I can tell, Knapp believes LP delegates make bad presidential choices and that the candidates we pick actually harm the larger libertarian brand.”

    Based on the last two election cycles, correct.

    “He is in fact lumping Johnson in with Barr in this respect.”

    Yes. Although on balance I’d have to say that Johnson/Gray were, on balance, worse for both the party and the brand than Barr/Root.

    “He thinks not running a candidate will ‘first do no harm.'”

    I think that ensuring serious consideration for NOTA will strengthen the “first do no harm” criterion.

    I also think that there are worse candidates than no candidate at all.

    “He hasn’t yet answered as to whether or not he now thinks the LP should run candidates below the presidential level.”

    In order to answer, I’d have to be asked.

    “Knapp points to Nolan’s article on the case for an LP …. But let’s examine what Nolan wrote”

    I’m not trying to co-opt Nolan as a deceased NOTA supporter. I’m simply pointing out — in response to those who, for years, have insisted that the only purpose of the LP is to run candidates — that running candidates has never been the sole purpose of the LP.

  44. ATBAFT

    “Although on balance I’d have to say that Johnson/Gray were, on balance, worse for both the party and the brand than Barr/Root.”

    How so? For the first time, I was able to convince several libertarian-leaning friends, after they heard Johnson, that they weren’t Republicans after all. Do all of you know Libertarians who heard Johnson and decided they were really Romney supporters after all? Certainly, Johnson wasn’t a “pure” Libertarian (whatever that is – Ed Clark was criticized too and even David Nolan wasn’t revered by the “purists” of the day.)

  45. Thomas Knapp

    “How so? For the first time, I was able to convince several libertarian-leaning friends, after they heard Johnson, that they weren’t Republicans after all.”

    Precisely.

    Barr/Root were such obvious anti-libertarian clownshoes that it was easy to convince people the LP had had a brain fart. Johnson/Gray were more respectable and therefore it was easier to pretend that their campaign represented libertarianism and the LP even though it didn’t.

    Pleading temporary insanity isn’t great for the brand, but it’s better than just coming right out and saying “yeah, we’re evil too.”

  46. paulie

    Based on the last two election cycles, correct.

    I don’t think so. Johnson emphasizes peace and civil liberties issues quite a bit. While he is not as extreme in his libertarian positions as you or I, he is clearly libertarian leaning on a broad spectrum of issues. Many of the people who he started or will start on a path towards libertarian activism will become more extreme than he is in time.

    Yes. Although on balance I’d have to say that Johnson/Gray were, on balance, worse for both the party and the brand than Barr/Root.

    I completely disagree.

    And Barr/Root seem to be mostly forgotten, so if they did damage, most of it was temporary.

    The far bigger brand damage by far is coming from the non-LP, Rand Paul/Glenn Beck/Tea Party/Dondipshit end of things, and absent an LP presidential candidate they will define “libertarian” even more than they do already.

    I also think that there are worse candidates than no candidate at all.

    I think pretty much everyone would agree. The difference is that your criteria are a lot more rigid than some other people’s.

    In order to answer, I’d have to be asked.

    I asked, but may be you missed it. I’ll ask again. Is your NOTA stance global as to all LP candidates or does it just apply to the presidential ticket in particular? While I am at it: Are there any potential seekers of the LP nomination that you could back over NOTA, or is it NOTA or bust? And: supposing NOTA does not win, will you support NOTA write-in or X-voting again in the general election?

    I’m not trying to co-opt Nolan as a deceased NOTA supporter. I’m simply pointing out — in response to those who, for years, have insisted that the only purpose of the LP is to run candidates — that running candidates has never been the sole purpose of the LP.

    Most of Nolan’s points in the article relate to benefits we accrue from running candidates. It is only actually electing candidates that he relegated to an afterthought.

    From what I remember, he always backed breathing candidates for the nomination, and if there were nominees he did not support in the general election I do not recall him ever being vocal about it.

    If you do not support a particular LP presidential ticket, there are always lots of other LP campaigns to work on; that is of course if your NOTA stance is not global.

  47. paulie

    Do all of you know Libertarians who heard Johnson and decided they were really Romney supporters after all?

    Wayne Root comes to mind.

  48. paulie

    One great thing about Johnson was that he did not just appeal to the Republican end of things, despite recently coming over from there. Many of his talking points actually appealed more to people coming from the left. That has not changed.

  49. AndyCraig

    If anything, Johnson appeals more to the left and center than to the right, which is part of why he didn’t go anywhere in the GOP primary. One could criticize him for not being a radical or purist, but by any Nolan Chart mapping, he is a libertarian. This is quite different from the “disgruntled conservatives” campaign strategy that was the center of Barr’s efforts, and so rightfully unpopular within the LP. That’s why I said it’s ridiculous to lump them both in together as “failed Republicans”. It’s technically true that they’re both ex-Republicans, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. For one thing, Johnson had been popular among libertarians when he was actually in office, not just after the fact. There is no “ideological conversion” element to the Johnson story- he’s pretty much the same libertarian now that he was then. That’s very different from Barr’s apologizing and making excuses for his anti-libertarian past. Johnson was never a social conservative (and indeed never described himself as any sort of conservative except fiscal), Johnson was never a war hawk, Johnson was never a drug warrior. I think the attempt to equate him with Barr will go nowhere with those actually familiar with the relative merits of the two campaigns. Johnson got more votes than all other alternative candidates combined, putting the LP back firmly into third place for the Presidential vote total for the first time in a long time. Johnson has remained committed to building the LP after 2012, and is doing more to lay groundwork for a 2016 campaign than any other LP candidate has ever done, by far.

    Then there’s just the fact that Johnson actually runs a reasonably competent organization with broad-based support, and his running mate isn’t an insane clown.

  50. Thomas Knapp

    “Is your NOTA stance global as to all LP candidates or does it just apply to the presidential ticket in particular?”

    The presidential ticket in particular. At other levels, there are enough potential candidates that a few bad ones don’t break the camel’s back.

    “While I am at it: Are there any potential seekers of the LP nomination that you could back over NOTA, or is it NOTA or bust?”

    If I see a candidate who

    a) is better than running no candidate at all and

    b) has, in my judgment, reasonable potential to beat the candidates who are worse than running no candidate at all,

    I’ll drop my support for NOTA and support that candidate. To the extent that there’s a NOTA movement consisting of more than myself, and that a person or persons from that initiative are willing to take over the things I’m doing in support of NOTA, I’ll hand over the keys (I’ll be trying to do so as much as possible anyway).

    “And: supposing NOTA does not win, will you support NOTA write-in or X-voting again in the general election?”

    I don’t see any point to a NOTA write-in in the general election under any circumstances.

    I expect to be running an X-Voting campaign for 2016, aimed at non-LP members/voters, or supporting some similar campaign.

    Quoth Andy Craig:

    “Then there’s just the fact that Johnson actually runs a reasonably competent organization ”

    Is that the “reasonably competent organization” that ran six figures into debt, schmoozed a government welfare check to retire that debt, then turned right around and racked up six figures worth of debt AGAIN? Or some other “reasonably competent organization?”

  51. paulie

    AC:

    “If anything, Johnson appeals more to the left and center than to the right, which is part of why he didn’t go anywhere in the GOP primary. One could criticize him for not being a radical or purist, but by any Nolan Chart mapping, he is a libertarian. This is quite different from the “disgruntled conservatives” campaign strategy that was the center of Barr’s efforts, and so rightfully unpopular within the LP. That’s why I said it’s ridiculous to lump them both in together as “failed Republicans”. It’s technically true that they’re both ex-Republicans, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. For one thing, Johnson had been popular among libertarians when he was actually in office, not just after the fact. There is no “ideological conversion” element to the Johnson story- he’s pretty much the same libertarian now that he was then. That’s very different from Barr’s apologizing and making excuses for his anti-libertarian past. Johnson was never a social conservative (and indeed never described himself as any sort of conservative except fiscal), Johnson was never a war hawk, Johnson was never a drug warrior. I think the attempt to equate him with Barr will go nowhere with those actually familiar with the relative merits of the two campaigns. Johnson got more votes than all other alternative candidates combined, putting the LP back firmly into third place for the Presidential vote total for the first time in a long time. Johnson has remained committed to building the LP after 2012, and is doing more to lay groundwork for a 2016 campaign than any other LP candidate has ever done, by far. ”

    Exactly!

    Also, Johnson is not operating a PAC that raises money for standard (not even claiming to be anywhere close to libertarian) Republican candidates, as Barr did while serving on LNC. He isn’t endorsing candidates like Gingrich and Romney or defending ex-dictator Duvalier. He’s not praising Jesse Helms or Plan Colombia, as Barr did as an LP candidate. There’s just no comparison.

  52. paulie

    Is that the “reasonably competent organization” that ran six figures into debt, schmoozed a government welfare check to retire that debt, then turned right around and racked up six figures worth of debt AGAIN?

    Much of that is/was accounting gimmickry.

  53. Eric Sundwall

    An “Outright Anarchist” effort centered around a competent, sane candidate might do a little to assuage this itch for NOTA. That being said, I’m sure ‘ol TK might be able to suggest a few options before throwing in the towel for NOTA.

    Think Tom Woods or Penn Gillete. Granted the likelihood of either is thin or remote. Has there ever been an outright anarchist who came close to getting the LP POTUS nomination?

    I’m against the current legacy of the Sullentrup(?) token system for the purposes of debates or nomination speeches at the convention. A member of good standing ought to be able to say their piece and seek support without such obstruction. THat might be a good start for internal LP activism.

  54. Mark Axinn

    Eric–

    Sam just called. He would like your vote for 2016. He’s tired of running for Mayor/Governor/Congressman. It’s Pres. of the US or bust! He promises to be a total anarchist.

    He figures the two of us, Warren and Chris Edes should be his campaign team since he sued all of us in 2010 so we’re used to him.

  55. paulie

    Has there ever been an outright anarchist who came close to getting the LP POTUS nomination?

    Mary Ruwart for sure.

    Bergland and possbly Browne may have been anarchist at some point, but I am not sure on that.

    Maybe some others further back?

  56. paulie

    Q. – What’s the difference between
    a Libertarian and an anarchist?

    A – About 6 to 7 years, if you’re paying
    attention, or 20 years if you’re real
    slow, like me. ~ Richard B. Boddie

    257-155, Is that close enough?

  57. Andy

    read this article from Tom Knapp that was posted on L. Neil Smith’s, The Libertarian Enterprise.

    A Declaration of Independence from Republican Rejects

    http://ncc-1776.org/tle2014/tle778-20140706-02.html

    Tom made one small error in the article. That is that he inferred that James Bovard actually got paid for the ghost writing he did for the Bob Barr for President campaign. James Bovard did sue Bob Barr, and he did win the law suit, however, as of when I met James Bovard at the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania State Convention last year, Bovard had still not received even a penny of the money that Bob Barr owes him. It is one thing to win a settlement, but another thing to collect the money.

  58. paulie

    his campaign book’s author had to take him to court to get paid

    This can be read at least two ways, only one of which implies that he actually got paid.

  59. paulie

    A much more substantial error:

    For most of its history the Libertarian Party has fended off catcalls of “just Republicans who want to legalize marijuana—GOP Lite.”

    Those criticisms haven’t always been justifiable, but at some point—for example, after the party has offered Republican rejects for president twice in a row—they begin to ring true.

    Johnson has far more differences with the Republican establishment than just the legal status of marijuana, although that is certainly one of them.

    Another, perhaps, is the much-ballyhooed Johnson campaign debt. Almost all of it may be to Ron Nielson, who is legally not allowed to forgive it, but is not actively pursuing it because he doesn’t rate the chances of collecting as very realistic. He is still working with Johnson, so he doesn’t seem to be mad at Johnson over the debt.

    It is true that Johnson tried to collect “matching funds.” He told me he learned his lesson when the feds double crossed him. Hence the campaign debt.

  60. paulie

    I admit though that Knapp has a good point about the “fair” tax.

    However, Johnson now says it should just be the starting point of a conversation about how to replace existing taxes. While I would personally replace them with nothing, Johnson does not see that as a politically viable position. I think he overestimates how viable he can become on short order. Replace them with nothing is a good applause line to fire up and motivate the base if you don’t entertain delusions of breaking through and winning. IMO firing up the base is a more realistic short term goal for Johnson, but he just does not think or operate that way.

    Some version of the “fair” tax has been endorsed by everyone from Bob Barr to Ron Paul to Mike Gravel. It’s hardly a Republicans only thing; some liberals support the “fair” tax and some center-left-libertarians support a basic guaranteed income, which is basically the so-called prebate (although not necessarily attached to the same tax scheme, which has many other problems).

    Nothing that Knapp points to, other than the political expediency that Johnson ran as a Republican in the past, points to Johnson conflating typical Republican views with libertarian ones in the way Barr and Root did.

  61. Andy

    “Some version of the “fair” tax has been endorsed by everyone from Bob Barr to Ron Paul to Mike Gravel.”

    The Fair Tax was not really endorsed by Ron Paul. The fact that he never made it a part of any of his campaigns, and the fact that he never signed on as a co-sponsor of the Fair Tax bill while he was in Congress should tell you something.

  62. paulie

    Yes, that he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He said he would vote for it. That’s what really counts.

  63. langa

    While it may be disingenuous to imply that there’s no difference between Barr and Johnson, it’s equally misleading to imply that there’s no difference between Ron Paul’s extremely tepid support for the Fair Tax and Johnson’s enthusiastic stumping for it.

  64. AndyCraig

    “Replace the income tax with nothing” means, in effect, that the income tax will go away but none of the other taxes will. Tariffs, fees, corporate taxes, the ‘death tax’, and a grab-bag of not-widely-known, randomly imposed narrow-based levies- is that really a libertarian solution? The Fair Tax is a single-tax proposal- I’m not wild about the name (in fact neither is Johnson, as he makes clear), but if we want to talk about libertarian purism, than “replace it with nothing” camp needs to admit that they’re advocating that we keep all current Federal taxes other than that on personal income. (usually including corporate income taxes, since the ‘only ~40% of revenue’ or ‘takes us back to the year 2000 spending levels’ figure bandied about such types, including Ron Paul, is usually based on just the personal income tax going away)

    Short of an outright anarchist, I’m not sure that the tax proposal advanced by Gary Johnson is actually “less radical” than that put forward by Ron Paul. Johnson just has the honesty to lay out the implications of his proposal instead of just tossing out a soundbite and moving on the next topic, like Paul did.

  65. AndyCraig

    Or to sum up, the question is not personal income tax vs. Fair Tax. It’s all existing Federal taxes, vs the single consumption tax proposal. If you’re going to rightfully point out that the personal income tax is not all, or even a majority, of Federal revenue, then you need to address how the Federal government will continue to impose taxes: either with the status quo minus personal income, or with something completely different. Johnson, and the FT proposal, does address that. Ron Paul’s position and “replace it with nothing” doesn’t, and thus is seriously wanting as an actual policy proposal.

  66. Thomas Knapp

    Yes, because cutting federal taxation by half is more “wanting as an actual policy proposal” than is putting every man, woman and child in America on a monthly federal government welfare check.

    Not enough facepalm in the world.

  67. Steven Wilson

    I would like to hear a candidate that talks about defaulting on our national debt as well as taxation models. I believe the conversation is a bit lame because we assume that the source of revenue would deter from spending more than we take in.

    The democrat and republican have proven that they can sell “debt” as patriotism time and time again.

    Having a financial conversation about overall financial health would be refreshing and different.

  68. Fred

    I like the idea of NOTA actually being on the ballot, but just because the LP chose NOTA (if they did) wouldn’t mean the states would put NOTA on the ballot—-
    Unless someone changed his name to NOTA and campaigned on the idea that there should be no president.
    OR
    If we nominated a corporation (since they are people) named NOTA.
    Which still may have problems getting on the ballot- but with appropriate lawsuits, might get lots of press.

  69. paulie

    “Replace the income tax with nothing” means, in effect, that the income tax will go away but none of the other taxes will.

    I said replace existing taxes with nothing. Which ones depends on how radical you want to be, but I woud actually rank getting rid of the payroll FICA tax as a higher priority than getting rid of the income tax. For the income tax I would start by making it flat, a lower rate, and with a larger personal exemption. I have less of a problem with corporate taxes than Gary does, but then I want a radical restructuring of the corporate form and he does not. The other federal taxes are minor portions of federal income.

    But all this detailed policy analysis misses the larger picture. For this stage of building a support base, even saying “repeal the income tax and replace it with nthing” would be good enough. It works for Ron Paul aand gets him a more enthusiastic support base. Johnson needs a larger and more enthusiastic support base before he should entertain fantasies about getting elected and implementing his ideas. Work on firing up that support base first; the messy details of government compromise should come when one gets in a position to bargain.

    And if you do want to get under the hood and examine policy details, the “fair” tax does not hold up as an incremental measure. From the deceptively named “prebate” to the high likelihood that whatever its proponents claim or desire, any actual attempt to implement a national sales tax is much more likely to morph into a VAT (value added sales tax) on top of existing taxes than to be implemented as advertised, to screwing older people who did the right thing and invested their income their whole working lives by taxing it again on the spending end when they retire, to the draconian solutions that the feds may come up with to the issues of sales tax non-compliance (think tracking every individual’s every purchase), to myriads of other technical problems – the “fair” tax is just a really, really bad way to go.

    So both “replace the income tax with nothing” (for the reasons Andy Craig points out) and “fair tax” are not perfect policy proposals, but I would say the first one is actually better, and makes a better sound bite than my personal proposal for devolving the tax structure. And, again, let’s stop pretending that we are anywhere close to being in a position to implement policy. At this stage we are really more tasked with developing good rhetoric than good policy.

    if we want to talk about libertarian purism, than “replace it with nothing” camp needs to admit that they’re advocating that we keep all current Federal taxes other than that on personal income. (usually including corporate income taxes, since the ‘only ~40% of revenue’ or ‘takes us back to the year 2000 spending levels’ figure bandied about such types, including Ron Paul, is usually based on just the personal income tax going away)

    Not really a problem for me, since I have no problem with taking spending levels much further back than 2000 (pick any year; it’s fine), but I agree that it is a problem for somewhat less pure “purists” such as Ron Paul. Not as much of a problem as actually advocating a new tax, however. It’s much easier to pass a new tax than to get rid of existing ones, much less keep them from coming back, so I would recommend staying away from advocating any new tax. Lowering tax rates on existing taxes and simplifying the tax code – those are fine. Replace the income tax with nothing makes the best sound bite though. Harry Browne had a really good stock speech to go along with it.

    Short of an outright anarchist, I’m not sure that the tax proposal advanced by Gary Johnson is actually “less radical” than that put forward by Ron Paul. Johnson just has the honesty to lay out the implications of his proposal instead of just tossing out a soundbite and moving on the next topic, like Paul did.

    In a sense this is true, except for the part about the “fair” tax being a step in the right direction; it is not, although I do understand the motivation of why it seems like it could be. But it’s true that Ron Paul doesn’t lay out the implications very much. He doesn’t have to. He is not going to get elected. Johnson is not likely to get elected either, and if he will be, it’s probably a decade or more into the future.

    Or to sum up, the question is not personal income tax vs. Fair Tax. It’s all existing Federal taxes, vs the single consumption tax proposal.

    The “fair” tax also has that pesky “prebate” rider attached, which is a whole separate problem. But before we get too spun out on that, let’s recall again that Gary says that the “fair” tax should just be the start of a conversation on how to change the tax code, not necessarily the perfect solution – so it may be jumping to conclusions to assume he necessarily supports the “prebate” or the “revenue neutral” rhetoric that the “fair” tax people use to sell it to non-lbertarian audiences or any particular tax rate (which means, before Andy J. or anyone else starts in, 23% vs 30% does not necessarily have anything to do with Gary’s specific proposal).

    This lack of specifity is actually a good thing, because the specifics of the existing “fair” tax proposal suck big time.

    Whatever the problems with the proposal per se, I am not getting stuck in the axle all the time about it, because I don’t see any specific proposal (Paul’s or Johnson’s) being enacted in the near future. The main point they are both trying to make is that current taxes are far too high and far too complex. That is a completely valid point, and IMO really the only thing that needs to be said.

    While I find Gary’s tax position very unsatisfactory, I understand where he is coming from and I can put it into larger perspective – on a vast array of issues he clearly wants to move policy in a libertarian direction, and this is not only or mainly limited to emphasizing issues where libertarians agree with conservatives. Couple that with mainstream credentials, a compelling personal story (self made businessman, world class athlete etc), and many good elements in his actual governing record, and I say that is a pretty good package overall – certainly far better than NOTA.

  70. Thomas Knapp

    Both the tax issue and the matching funds issue illustrate the degradation of the LP’s standards over the years.

    In the 1996 election cycle, Harry started off with the intention of getting “matching funds.” When the LP response to that idea was negative, he got cagey and talked up the propaganda benefits of “qualifying for” matching funds. At the nominating convention during the candidate debate he was asked about taking them and tried to give a non-answer. Finally someone from the delegate floor screamed “SAY IT! SAY IT!” and he committed to not taking them.

    In the 2000 election cycle, he floated the idea of a “flat tax.” The LP reaction was negative enough, quickly enough that he retreated to “repeal the income tax and replace it with nothing,” did so long before the nominating convention and even made it a strong talking point.

    Johnson didn’t get significant pressure to drop the “Fair” Tax or to turn down government welfare for his campaign.

    That’s not his fault. It’s ours.

  71. paulie

    Yes, because cutting federal taxation by half is more “wanting as an actual policy proposal” than is putting every man, woman and child in America on a monthly federal government welfare check.

    Not enough facepalm in the world.

    Assumes facts not necessarily in evidence. I agree with you about the “prebate,” but when Gary says that the “fair” tax should be “a good place to start a conversation” on how to restructure taxes, I don’t think we should necessarily assume that he supports the “prebate” or any other “fair” tax specifics. He is talking in broad terms. Unlike Gary I don’t even think the “fair” tax is a good place to start a conversation – but let’s not pin him with specifics that he does not necessarily agree with.

  72. paulie

    I like the idea of NOTA actually being on the ballot, but just because the LP chose NOTA (if they did) wouldn’t mean the states would put NOTA on the ballot—-
    Unless someone changed his name to NOTA and campaigned on the idea that there should be no president.
    OR
    If we nominated a corporation (since they are people) named NOTA.
    Which still may have problems getting on the ballot- but with appropriate lawsuits, might get lots of press.

    I don’t believe current state election laws would place a corporation on the ballot.

    A hodgepodge of presidential candidates in various states (including some that would not run any at all) would not be good for getting media coverage.

    An individual named NOTA may get some press, but mainly as a joke, and it dulls our message: we aren’t just some non-specific “anything and everything that is none of the other guys” party, we have a specific direction we want to move policy in. Still, an individual named NOTA is better than the other two ideas you mention.

  73. Thomas Knapp

    “I don’t believe current state election laws would place a corporation on the ballot.”

    Nor should they, given that the constitutional requirements clearly refer to a non-artificial person (“natural born” and “residing”).

    “A hodgepodge of presidential candidates in various states (including some that would not run any at all) would not be good for getting media coverage.”

    That’s not necessarily the case.

    A hodgepodge of presidential candidates in various states would probably get minimal NATIONAL media coverage, but if they ran active campaigns they could probably get a good deal more local/state coverage than one candidate with a minimal budget (and EVERY LP candidate has had a minimal budget) trying to cover the whole country.

  74. paulie

    Nor should they, given that the constitutional requirements clearly refer to a non-artificial person (“natural born” and “residing”).

    I agree.

    That’s not necessarily the case.

    A hodgepodge of presidential candidates in various states would probably get minimal NATIONAL media coverage, but if they ran active campaigns they could probably get a good deal more local/state coverage than one candidate with a minimal budget (and EVERY LP candidate has had a minimal budget) trying to cover the whole country

    I’m willing to bet that far fewer people will be made aware of libertarian views as a result of the hodgepodge approach. For starters, many people don’t pay attention to local political media. For another thing, local media would be more interested in local candidates; someone running for president who is not on enough ballots to win is not a very compelling story to reporters – or to donors, which means that the campaigning any such candidates get to do will probably be pretty limited unless they have a lot of personal wealth that they are willing to blow on a quixotic presidential campaign with literally no chance of success. Voters are also less apt to care about candidates that can’t win even in theory.

    Your previous idea of different VP candidates in different states may have some merit, maybe.

    I would like to hear a candidate that talks about defaulting on our national debt as well as taxation models.

    So would I. Too bad Knapp wants to stump for NOTA instead of running himself.

    Johnson didn’t get significant pressure to drop the “Fair” Tax or to turn down government welfare for his campaign.

    That’s not his fault. It’s ours.

    I agree. At least he has learned his lesson on the government campaign welfare (based on what he personally told me), so hopefully he will learn from Browne’s approach to making a virtue of qualifying for but not taking the money.

    I wish he would learn from Browne’s aproach to selling the “replace it with nothing” idea as well, and drop the “fair” tax, but he needs some pressure on that (as Tom correctly points out). NOTA ain’t gonna be it, since there are so many different reasons for NOTA and it does not address taxes specifically. The best idea I have heard so far is Chuck Moulton running for the nomination to give Gary a hard time about the tax proposal. It could be someone else though, or several people.

  75. Thomas Knapp

    “The best idea I have heard so far is Chuck Moulton running for the nomination to give Gary a hard time about the tax proposal. It could be someone else though, or several people.”

    The more the merrier. Like I said, if I see a candidate who is both a good candidate and has the potential to beat the bad candidates, I’ll support that candidate.

    And I agree that one of the features I’d like to see in a candidate is a “repudiate the debt” position. But I’m not going to be that candidate, because (among other reasons) I fit neither of the descriptions in the previous paragraph.

  76. paulie

    The more the merrier. Like I said, if I see a candidate who is both a good candidate and has the potential to beat the bad candidates, I’ll support that candidate.

    And I agree that one of the features I’d like to see in a candidate is a “repudiate the debt” position. But I’m not going to be that candidate, because (among other reasons) I fit neither of the descriptions in the previous paragraph.

    The point of running is not necessarily to win, and that is just as true in the race for the nomination as it is in the actual election. You may not be a good candidate because you don’t have a lot of money, or a track record of prominent success in business or politics or leading armies in winning wars, or a temperament for campaigning; but you are a good candidate in that you can write well, have campaign experience, and have ideas that may not otherwise get a hearing in the race for the nomination, including by your stumping for NOTA.

    The point of running for the nomination with little chance of winning it would be to influence the conversation, bring certain issues to the forefront, and make the eventual noominee a better candidate. I think you could do that, and I don’t know whether in your absence someone else would make, say, repudiating the debt a campaign issue (Darryl Perry, maybe?).

    If Chuck runs or finds a better candidate to run, I hope he can make a good race of it and I will do whatever I can to help him, Darryl, Gary and anyone else I halfway like be the best they can be. And hopefully they will help each other that way as well.

    Unlike you, I don’t think Gary is a bad candidate, but I do think he could be better in some respects – and some healthy competition for the nomination will hopefully make him better where he needs to be.

  77. Andy

    “AndyCraig
    July 7, 2014 at 7:09 am
    Or to sum up, the question is not personal income tax vs. Fair Tax. It’s all existing Federal taxes, vs the single consumption tax proposal.”

    The Fair Tax does not end all federal taxes. There would still be tariffs, duties, and excise taxes, as well as Social Security taxes. The Fair Tax also does nothing about what some call the most insidious tax of them all, inflation from fiat currency.

  78. Andy

    Thomas Knapp said: “A hodgepodge of presidential candidates in various states would probably get minimal NATIONAL media coverage, but if they ran active campaigns they could probably get a good deal more local/state coverage than one candidate with a minimal budget (and EVERY LP candidate has had a minimal budget) trying to cover the whole country.”

    A candidate who is only running for President in one state or a few states is going to be taken less seriously by the media and the general public than a candidate who is running nationally.

  79. paulie

    Actually what the Greens tried was not even as bad, they just had a “safe states” strategy which undercut the rationale of their own separate existence as a party. But I agree that it damaged them.

  80. Andy

    Thomas Knapp said: “idea of a “flat tax.” The LP reaction was negative enough, quickly enough that he retreated to ‘repeal the income tax and replace it with nothing,’ did so long before the nominating convention and even made it a strong talking point.”

    This is a mischaracterization of what Harry Browne said. I followed both his 1996 campaign as well as his 2000 campaign as an active supporter. His plan was to liquidate the national debt as well as Social Security entitlements by shutting down all government agencies that were not specifically authorized by the Constitution, and scaling back those that were authorized. He wanted to sell off their assets and use that to liquidate the debt and to purchase private retirement accounts for all of those who were dependent on Social Security, as well as for those who’d already been paying into Social Security for years and close to retirement age. If it turned out that selling off government assets did not produce enough cash to liquidate the debt and fulfill entitlements, then he proposed a temporary 5% national sales tax (with no strings attached, unlike the Fair Tax) or a temporary 10% flat tax (I’m pretty sure it was 10%), the proceeds of which would go to debt reduction or to fulfill entitlements. Harry Browne recognized that the danger that the temporary taxes could become permanent, so he proposed that there be a provision that they’d be automatically repealed after 2 years, and that in order to extend them, there’d have to be a super-majority approval vote in congress (either 2/3 or 3/4).

  81. paulie

    He did float a 5% or 10% flat tax back in 1994 or 1995 when he first started running. I think Knapp just got the year wrong. You are probably talking about a later proposal, since you did not get involved in the LP during the leadup to Browne’s first nomination (’94-’95).

  82. Thomas Knapp

    Andy,

    You may be correct that it was in the 1996 campaign — I remembered it as being circa 1998, but I could be wrong.

    Actually I was “involved in” the LP as early as ’94 or ’95 — attending local meetings, etc. I just didn’t JOIN the LP until early 1996 because I wanted to give Russo’s Constitution Party (not the abortion going by that name now) a chance. When it became apparent that that wasn’t going to work, I took L. Neil Smith’s advice and joined the LP.

  83. paulie

    That was me, speaking to Andy.

    I joined in ’94, but they misspelled my last name the first time, so my current membership says I joined in March 1995.

    I was involved as early as 1992 with things like voting LP, attending an LP meeting or several, helping with an OPH booth on campus and sending in a notice to LP News about my campus anti-prohibition club.

    Andy got involved in 1996 when he saw Harry Browne on CSPAN, at the convention I believe.

  84. Steven Wilson

    I believe the last few elections have hampered if not destroyed the possibility of getting a better candidate to aid in GJ’s maturation. The LP has transformed. The people in the seats are not the same.

    In both 2008 and 2012 the LP had carpet baggers get the nomination. Although Wright had some issues with finances; his campaign was almost pure Libertarian, and he was discarded due to the fanfare of Gary’s entrance into the race. Johnson’s resume trumped what Lee could bring to the dance. Gary Johnson didn’t waver when tabled with Wrights at the debates. Johnson doesn’t appear to cave on certain issues. In “being libertarian”, Johnson thinks like Root, as one man’s success can change the principles of the party- “What can win is what we will become”.

    Barr came in almost at the final second and got the nod.

    I would forecast the 2016 Presidential election hitting the 2 billion mark. Having our own show of Game of Thrones between a Clinton and a Bush will be expensive.

    This time around I don’t think the Fair Tax variable is going to be as important as Johnson confronting his campaign finance issues. Johnson needs proof of his fundraising ability and also promote a strategy to score big in New Mexico.

    Paying for marketing data in his home state of voters likely to vote for Johnson would mean money for his campaign as it would help donors see light at the end of the tunnel. If Johnson could promote possible electoral votes from his home state it would easily gain him the nomination even if he has not improved as a campaign warrior.

    We will find out if Gary has gotten better at campaigning on a national stage.

  85. paulie

    Joe W., please don’t make multiple substance-free comments saying the exact same thing over and over. We already know you want Phillies to run.

    I think he very well might, and if he does, I predict results in the same range as his previous runs for president and chair.

  86. paulie

    Steven Wilson,

    Johnson acknowledged that Wrights made him a better candidate. I think he needs a booster dose for 2016.

    I also don’t think Johnson is a carpet bagger. True, he was elected as a Republican and first sought the presidency as a Republican; but he signed the LP pledge back in the 1980s and 1990s so technically he has been an LP member all this time, since before he had any history as a Republican candidate and elected politician. He did pay dues on a couple of separate occassions in the 1980s and 1990s also. And his views were always closer to the LP even when he was a Republican politician. I would actually say it is more accurate to state that he finally came back home to the LP.

  87. paulie

    Joe,

    Nevermind…I just saw that you had different videos to go with those comments. The videos no longer show up in dashboard comment view for some odd reason.

  88. Joe Wendt

    Paulie, no problem, that happens to me alot (due to a very bad internet connection).

  89. Thomas Knapp

    Question: Is the 2016 convention hotel the Rosen Centre? I know that’s where the LNC met at one point.

    I may try to do something along the lines of what I did with St. Louis in 2010 — blogging affordable eating spots and stuff in the area. That’s if I can free up the time to spend some time in Orlando.

    I’m tentatively planning to bicycle the 145 miles from my house to the hotel for the convention itself. I’m sure Tamara and the kids will come down as well, but probably a day or two after I do.

  90. Stewart Flood

    Yes, that’s where it will be. And when we were talking to him, Mr Rosen expressed interest in speaking at the convention. They really wanted us to pick them. Mr Rosen came to several of the meetings himself, instead of just sending his staff. One of them commented to me that he doesn’t usually do that. The price they quoted was $99/room for 2016.

  91. Thomas Knapp

    Thanks, Stewart!

    $99 is a very nice price. Will the convention actually be held in the hotel, or in the Orlando Convention Center (they appear to be connected to each other)?

    If my bicycling plan works out, what I’ll probably do is seek roomies for the first night or two and Tamara will secure a room for the family on Friday/Saturday. I was kind of hoping to camp, but the nearest tent site campground seems to be 25 miles away or so, which isn’t conveniently bikeable for going back and forth.

  92. Mark Axinn

    >Andy got involved in 1996 when he saw Harry Browne on CSPAN, at the convention I believe.

    Great convention. I was a Browne delegate that year.

    RIP, Harry.

  93. Andy

    “Mark Axinn
    July 8, 2014 at 1:33 pm
    >Andy got involved in 1996 when he saw Harry Browne on CSPAN, at the convention I believe.

    Great convention. I was a Browne delegate that year.

    RIP, Harry.”

    Video from that convention is posted on C-SPAN’s website. Somebody should post it to YouTube. The same goes for the 2000 LP National Convention (which is the first one I attended), and any other LP National Conventions of which there is video footage.

  94. Stewart Flood

    In the Hotel. My understanding is that the convention center is run by the city. We’ll be in the hotel, which will be much more convenient for anyone staying there. They even have an area built up with a registration desk and area for back room supplies and other stuff staff has to do. Pretty much like St Louis, but much closer to the main floor.

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