This post originally appeared at Coders for Liberty here.
The Mississippi Libertarian Party [MSLP] has been trying to recruit Chris McDaniel for years. Yet even though Republicans are jumping ship after Trump’s nomination, there is still no word from Chris McDaniel that he is considering joining the Libertarian Party [LP]. (Don’t bother searching for “Chris McDaniel joins Libertarian Party,” all you’ll find is trash.) This is not “something new to think about;” this idea is a dead end. The MSLP needs to forget about Chris McDaniel and try something different and empower its members to be more active and involved the way #VoteDifferent is.
The point of this article is not to fling poo, but to demonstrate how this flirtation with Chris McDaniel has left a sour taste in the mouths of MSLP members. The point of this article is to encourage LP leadership to focus on what is most important, empowering the talent and passion that is already in the party to step up and be more involved. A loss some of the most motivated and passionate liberty-minded members was the main casualty in the MSLP’s attempt to woo Chris McDaniel.
Harrison County LP
I first became away of this issue in 2013 after the Harrison Count Libertarian Party [HCLP] had their first meeting. Danny Bedwell came down and opened the meeting by saying he knows we do not agree on everything, but what we do agree on is we are sick of Republicans and Democrats.
Some members were reluctant to be more involved. One member abstained from voting because he let his membership lapse and was not ready to renew it at that time. He was more interested in promoting the Songs of Freedom compilations. Another member, Scotty Colson reluctantly accepted a position, and members offered reassurance him that he would have assistance and he was the right man for the job.
Others were more apt to step up to the plate, such as Brandon Riggins and Renea McMasters. Renea McMasters suggested that the HCLP issued a press release and volunteered to write it. However, when she sent them the press release the newly elected leadership told her that they wanted to wait until they could vote on it at the next meeting.
The HCLP chairman that was elected, Melissa Shackelford, had some in attendance concerned because they never saw her before at events.
The executive members of the HCLP and Mario Barnes, the District Rep of the MSLP, decided that they would invite Chris McDaniel to speak at the next meeting. This was done without asking members of the HCLP and was not even discussed at the prior meeting. As Chris McDaniel is a Republican, inviting him to speak goes against the one thing that Danny Bedwell said Libertarians agree on, we are sick of the Republicans and Democrats.
While many members were afraid to say anything, a few did stand up and say that Chris McDaniel should not be invited to a Libertarian Party [LP] event. These members argued that they were not consulted and the issue was not put up for a vote. They argued that if a press release requires a vote, something that goes against the one principle that was agreed upon at the first meeting should definitely not be carried out without a vote.
The HCLP refused to cancel the Chris McDaniel meet and greet. They cancelled the meeting instead. This meant tabling an already dated press release. The HCLP also continued to use the HCLP mailing list and official HCLP social media to promote this event.
Disgusted by this series of questionable decisions, one of the members of the HCLP who did stand up and volunteer to do work that needed to be done, Renea McMasters, quit.
Then in 2015, Renea McMasters became one of the most active activists for Ballot Initiative 48. When she asked the HCLP for support, she found a party that had lower morale. They expressed dissatisfaction with the leadership of the current MSLP Chairman Mario Barnes. They offered her a position in the party leadership. They discussed amendments to the By Laws to prevent party leadership from supporting candidates of other parties.
In 2015, police officers were shot in Hattiesburg. Renea posted an empathetic statement that denounced these actions as both immoral and counterproductive. It is vital that the LP encourage people who are upset with the system to channel that rage into activism instead of violence.
The now MSLP District 4 Rep, Jeff Mortenson, saw a comment that Renea did not see, write, or respond to, and it prompted him to contact both Mississippi Alliance for Cannabis [MAC] and the HCLP in an effort to remove her from her positions in those organizations. While HCLP gave into the pressure to remove McMasters, MAC understood that McMasters was against violence of any sort and refused to remove her. Even the new MSLP leadership has refused to apologize for this incident.
Scotty Colson became disgusted with what was happening within the party and also quit.
Continued Attacks on Loretta Nall
In 2014, some of McDaniel’s statements about Libertarians had surfaced. Instead of apologizing for his statements, McDaniel continued to stand by his statements. He continued to degrade libertarians by saying:
If the liberty movement is to be successful, it must first be in the business of CONVINCING people of its real merits, not SHOCKING people with half-dressed candidates — men or women — proposing limited agendas. Its foundation must remain with the U.S. Constitution, not controversial candidates. If the liberty movement is to advance, in my opinion, it must run articulate individuals with serious ideas that appeal to voters.
This insinuates that Libertarian candidates such as Loretta Nall are not articulate, promote limited agendas, and do not have serious ideas that appeal to voters.
Considering that the issue that Loretta Nall championed was supported by 61% of Mississippians who had taken the isidewith.com quiz, 91.63% in a poll by Gulf Coast Live, and 91% in a WAPT Instapoll, it appears that McDaniel was not in touch with the voters. Loretta Nall also stated that it really isn’t her only issue. To insinuate that Nall had a limited platform that does not appeal to voters is not true.
Loretta Nall was even invited to speak at the Alabama Black Mayors Conference and helped to weld a critical divide that the Libertarian Party [LP] needs to win. Loretta Nall is arguably more articulate than Gary Johnson when she appeared on MSNBC. She doesn’t shrug her shoulders like Gary Johnson does.
Loretta Nall was not half-dressed. She dressed very conservatively. Absolutely no cleavage can be seen in her pictures at her blog.
Instead of apologizing, Chris McDaniel continued to infer erroneous allegations that do not hold up if you actually take the time to get to know Loretta Nall.
The problem is we have media that tends to focus on sensationalism instead of issues, and Chris McDaniel merely added to this problem when he was on the radio.
Loretta Nall did not get much media attention until she decided to run with what is arguably a bad idea for a t-shirt. She only adopted this strategy toward the end of her campaign after the media ignored most of her campaign.
While I would suggest looking at John McAfee’s cyber security legend comments for a better example of earned media, the fact that the media picked up on Loretta Nall’s comedy instead of her actual campaign says more about the media than Loretta Nall herself.
Only the media focused on her comedic campaigning. When Loretta Nall speaks at the Rotary Club and the Kiwanis Club events, they discuss actual issues.
Chris McDaniel decided to be part of the problem on his radio show, and continued to be part of the problem and added insult to insult with his insinuations and lack of apology.
Mario Barnes, the MSLP Chairman at the time, decided to publish Chris McDaniel’s plea for Libertarian votes at LP candidates expense on the MSLP Facebook page instead of standing up for LP candidates who want to push important issues that are ignored and undermined by the two party system and the mainstream media.
Still at it in 2016?!
And yet, the MSLP did not let up on courting McDaniel. According to Ric McCluskey, they even convinced members of the Libertarian National Committee [LNC] to meet with McDaniel in 2016, and Gary Johnson even invited McDaniel to his private ballroom. Yet, Chris McDaniel is still not interested. However, Ric McCluskey’s assertion that this is something new to think about is dead wrong. It’s something to stop thinking about. It’s a dead end.
Worse yet, delegates were encouraged by Jeff Mortenson to vote for Bill Weld instead of voting their conscience to get support for MS candidates from Gary Johnson, support that has yet to be seen. Libertarians in MS did not feel they were adequately represented by their delegates and aired their disappointment. The problem was made worse by publicly ridiculing the members who aired their discontent, which did not help to build party unity or support for Gary Johnson.
Even though Renea had second thoughts and was still unsure about supporting the MSLP, she still used her networking skills to convince Adam Kokesh, LOLA, and various think tanks to donate literature for the gift bags at the MSLP convention. In order to reassure her, I told her that she should continue her work on the gift bags to promote Adam, LOLA, and the think tanks. She also provided lodging and transportation for candidates that participated in the debate.
Renea is now at the point of accepting that the LP will simply become the new Republican Party. This seems to be cemented by the nomination of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld and the support of Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney. Although she would have preferred Austin Petersen. While she did renew her membership, she is not thrilled about supporting the LP or Gary Johnson in the foreseeable future.
Scotty Colson is doing amazing things with 3-D printers, drones, and making 3-D scans of landscapes.
As Alliance for Equality activist and Political Science graduate student Zach Stewart explained, the problem with the Libertarian Party is they are trying too hard to be GOP lite. Zach Stewart explained that no one should expect Chris McDaniel to join the LP, he is a social conservative. In a comment, Mannah Wilkinson says that Chris McDaniel would be more at home in the Constitution Party.
In another comment, Joe Sherard says that having two conservative parties only ensures Democrats will win. He’s right. In order to build a bigger base, the LP needs to depart wholeheartedly from conservationism and embrace liberty fully. That is the only way to win.
Instead of continuing to court McDaniel, which appears to be futile at this point, the MSLP would build it’s party more by empowering people like Scotty Colson and Renea McMasters to get more involved in the LP the way #VoteDifferent has done with liberty-minded web designers and coders.
There is hope. Aaron Barksdale, the current MSLP Chairman has expressed he shares the viewpoint of the late Marc Feldman that the radicals are the backbone of the Libertarian Party. Hopefully he takes these words to heart and learns from the way #VoteDifferent has inspired disenfranchised libertarians to be more involved in campaigns.
Hopefully with McDaniel’s refusal to join the LP even after Trump was nominated will convince the MSLP to change course and try something different and empower its members to be more active and involved and not play political games that push members away and do not garner results. Hopefully they will give full support to Chase Wilson, a Southern Miss Physics major running for US Congress in District 1 and encourage him to empower disenfranchised voters to vote different.