Matt Welch: Did the Libertarian Radicals Lose Their Inter-Party Fight? Not So Fast, Says One

Libertarians! (That's Caryn in the middle.) ||| Matt Welch

IPR writer Caryn Ann Harlos (Photo: Matt Welch)

By Matt Welch, Reason.com, July 10th, 2016 (featuring IPR contributor Caryn Ann Harlos):

This morning we posted my column about the Libertarian Party convention from the August/September issue of the print magazine, cheekily titled “The Libertarian Party Moment: Taking the naked leap from the margins to the mainstream.” In it, I make the claim that, striptease performances notwithstanding, “The radicals and free spirits lost. Ten minutes after James Weeks II’s man boobs and freedom jockstrap beamed into America’s living rooms, the delegates nominated [William] Weld” for vice president, despite very deep misgivings about his Libertarian bonafides.

NOT SO FAST, shot back L.P. Radical Caucus member and beloved party activist Caryn Ann Harlos, via email. Speaking in her personal capacity, though certainly channeling some Rad-Caucus views, Harlos made some good points worth sharing here. An excerpt from our correspondence:

The radicals had a huge effect this convention, and while we did indeed “lose” (I am not sure that is the word I would use since this is a party effort, and the delegates chose and we are getting behind our candidates, one of our board members is a state coordinator for the GJ campaign) on the Presidential/Vice Presidential ticket, we gained in multiple critical areas that will have long term internal effects.  We defeated every single anti-radical bylaws and platform issue that came up, and others never got heard. We motivated floor work in a way not seen in long time, and our membership has grown more and more active.  Additionally, out and open radicals gained seats on the Libertarian National Committee.  This will last far beyond November. […]

[T]he growing influence of the radicals cannot be underestimated… we are on the ascendency at this point despite the more moderate ticket.

Read the rest of the article here. 

 

29 thoughts on “Matt Welch: Did the Libertarian Radicals Lose Their Inter-Party Fight? Not So Fast, Says One

  1. José C

    So it seems the Libertarian Radical Caucus was behind the strip act. What were they trying to achieve. What message were they giving? What does striping at our convention have to do with radicalism?

  2. Thomas Knapp

    Jose,

    No, the Radical Caucus was not behind the strip act. In fact, there was a move to expel the stripper from the caucus over it (which was the last straw of several for me — I’m still a radical, but not associated with the caucus any more).

  3. Andy

    The hardcore Libertarians did lose at the convention in the presidential and vice presidential nominations, just like 2012 and 2008.

  4. Thomas Knapp

    Yes, the radicals lost vis a vis the presidential and vice-presidential nominations.

    In my opinion, the biggest radical accomplishment was finally getting an anti-death-penalty plank in the platform. We came within a few weeks of having the Democratic platform be more libertarian than ours on that issue.

  5. Andy

    That was a nice victory, but a heck of a lot more of the public will see the presidential ticket than read the party’s platform.

  6. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Jose the article said precisely the opposite. But I have zero desire to talk about that distraction. Those 15 minutes are over and done with, and we have work to continue to do. We have raised money to assist good solid radical local and state candidates and are excited about moving forward. We are distinctly an anti-drama caucus and don’t engage that drama.

    I am moving forward and looking forward to working hard for my region.

  7. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Andy I prefer to look at the victories. Negativity will get us nowhere and being negative certainly does not encourage the activists that put in hundreds of hours to get to this point with the LPRC – not to mention a goodly amount of funds invested. Outfitting that table and the floor work was not free.

  8. Massimo

    I am very new to LP politics, so I hope not to waste your time with obvious statements. But here are my two cents.
    I suppose that, as a market anarchist, I would belong to the radicals. However, I am very happy with the Johnson/Welch nomination. They are already getting a lot of media exposure, and if they get to the debates, tens of millions of people will be exposed to a “libertarian-lite” political ideology. Some of them will be intrigued and will start to read and will hopefully come to our side, just as it happened when Ron Paul was trying to get the GOP nomination. This is the way I think we should measure our “victory”. And I think we have better prospects with this ticket than with the other two candidates, the university professor and the guy with the long hairs, that were more radical (and I liked them much more) but would have never get the media exposure Johnson is getting.
    Meanwhile we can keep working on non-political projects, like bitcoins, markets in the deep web, jury nullification, propertarian communities outside the US (like the Zedes in Honduras, that finally started to move to the implementation phase) , fiscal disobedience, and so on. I think the Johnson ticket will produce orders of magnitude more people willing to work with us on those projects than other tickets would have done.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp

    On the abortion plank, real radicals would have been behind a radical plank, not behind keeping the existing “says nothing except that the LP wants to pander to all sides without actually taking a position” plank.

  10. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Massimo many of us, myself included, are actively promoting the campaign. One of our Board members is a state level campaign volunteer.

    We have a lot more priorities than just one race and don’t move in an “us versus them” dichotomy.

    As far as Carol following me around with the same thing – it’s a bit creepy. But hey, whatever. If we think radical are monolithic and don’t have a variety or even spectrum we are being silly. I am certainly not nor do I wish to be The Most Radical of Them
    All. Not only is that juvenile, it is pointless.

    I wished for deletion of the abortion plank and that advocacy outside the LPRC. I earned widespread respect from both sides for my reasonable, non-shrill, amiable and most of all respectful discussion.

  11. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Massimo and I invite you to the caucus. We have an active community on FB.

  12. George Dance

    Tom Knapp: “I’m still a radical, but not associated with the caucus”

    With all due respect to Caryn et al, Tom, you’re the ur-radical. If I want to know what party radicals think about something, I’ll first go to your blog.

    “On the abortion plank, real radicals would have been behind a radical plank, not behind keeping the existing ‘says nothing except that the LP wants to pander to all sides without actually taking a position’.”

    Well, I think the plank does take a position: “keep the government out” means no government law or regulation (which is a pretty radical pro-choice position), and no government funding for it either (for the pro-life camp). The problem is that it reads like pandering: as if the party has a position, but is afraid or ashamed to state it directly.

    “In my opinion, the biggest radical accomplishment was finally getting an anti-death-penalty plank”.

    I think that’s a terrible plank, as to me it sounds so much like the abortion one: just keep government out of the capital punishment business.

  13. Caryn Ann Harlos

    George, it’s not a contest!

    Several of Tom’s articles helped push me into this camp as I told him long ago. I’m saving his spot for him since we’re his tribe.

  14. Thomas L. Knapp

    George, you write:

    —–
    Well, I think the plank does take a position: “keep the government out” means no government law or regulation (which is a pretty radical pro-choice position), and no government funding for it either (for the pro-life camp).
    —–

    If the party wanted a platform plank doing what you think this one does, it could pass one along these lines:

    “We oppose laws banning or limiting abortion. We oppose government funding of abortion.”

    Here’s what “keep the government out of it” would look like in implementation if the party actually meant it:

    “911 Emergency Response, what is your emergency.”

    “We have an active shooter here! He’s going from room to room killing doctors!”

    “Just hold on, we’ll have cars on the way immediately to … wait, that address is an abortion clinic. Sorry, we’re the government, we don’t get involved in abortion.”

    Click.

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    Thanks for saving my spot, Caryn.

    Like I said, the Weeks thing was just the last straw. Specifically, the third straw.

    The first straw was a provision in the bylaws establishing a membership dictatorship — membership can be suspended for alleged non-payment of dues by a single official “noticing” it, with zero due process. A few years ago, the LNC’s secretary tried to pull that shit on the LNC’s vice chair. We fought against that and won because it violated the bylaws. When I saw that the Radical Caucus had a clause allowing for that IN its bylaws, I began reconsidering my decision to bring a $100 bill to the national convention to pay dues. Stalinism isn’t the kind of radicalism I’m looking for.

    The second straw was a not-very-transparent process for determining Caucus positions on issues, as implemented in floor work at the national convention. There were text messages and lightsabers indicating the Caucus’s “yes” or “no” recommendation on measures, and no clue that I could find as to how those recommendations were arrived at. In fact, I still don’t know.

  16. George Dance

    Caryn: Yes, “Government should be kept out of the matter” doesn’t directly say funding, just as it doesn’t directly say no laws or regulations, either; but it clearly implies (or ‘means’, as I said) all three.

  17. George Dance

    Tom: ‘If the party wanted a platform plank doing what you think this one does, it could pass one along these lines:
    “We oppose laws banning or limiting abortion. We oppose government funding of abortion.”’

    That would be preferable. It would sound like a position they’re not ashamed of.

    “Here’s what “keep the government out of it” would look like in implementation if the party actually meant it:”

    Seriously? Is that what all those libertarians who want to “keep government out of marriage” mean: that the police shouldn’t stay out of cases of domestic violence? Those who want to “separate education from the state” think the police shouldn’t intervene in school shootings?

  18. Caryn Ann Harlos

    ==Thanks for saving my spot, Caryn.===

    You’re welcome:) You know I love you.

    ==The first straw was a provision in the bylaws establishing a membership dictatorship — membership can be suspended for alleged non-payment of dues by a single official “noticing” it, with zero due process. ==

    I think you are thinking of a different procedure and that is when someone joins a caucus that is contrary to the goals of the LPRC because dues aren’t handled that way. This is the bylaw on dues:

    ==During official meetings, any voting member may challenge any other annual member’s compliance with all of the requirements of membership. A challenge may be answered with a national and/or state Libertarian Party membership card, membership payment receipt, and/or verification of Caucus status by the Secretary.==

    I am on the Bylaws committee and would love to hear any suggested changes you have. And you can bring suggested changes to next convention where the bylaws can be amended. I am suggesting a Bylaws amendment to have more frequent opportunities to change them.

    ==The second straw was a not-very-transparent process for determining Caucus positions on issues, as implemented in floor work at the national convention. There were text messages and lightsabers indicating the Caucus’s “yes” or “no” recommendation on measures, and no clue that I could find as to how those recommendations were arrived at. In fact, I still don’t know.==

    This one is disappointing Tom… you never asked. You could have asked me at any time. Many people came to me at convention and asked for our reasoning, and it was gladly given. These were determined through discussion over six Board meetings — over several months — announced in advance in published agendas — and open to any caucus member (not just dues-paying… any caucus member) and discussed openly with input from all in attendance.

    So with the Weeks thing, you disagree, and I respect that but disagreements are inevitable, and I think reasonable people disagree on that. On the Bylaws, you are quite simply mistaken. We have nothing in our Bylaws about that with dues, though there is another provision you may be thinking of— that has nothing to do with dues, and which I would like to see changed and may work to change at the next convention.

    On the last one, you never asked. That was actually a surprisingly transparent procedure we used purposefully so… you could have attended, you could have given input. Notices were published on the site and in the FB group and via email for six separate meetings as followed:

    I respectfully ask that you withdraw that last complaint :)…. and maybe then we will just be up to “two” and we can see you back 🙂 I am totally keeping your spot warm.

  19. George Phillies

    Here is an interesting article

    http://www.democracycorps.com/Battleground-Surveys/creating-a-down-ballot-democratic-wave/

    It identifies issues that move people in the Democratic Party direction.
    Abortion rights. We’re 100% in favor.
    Gay rights. We’re 100% in favor.
    Equal pay without discrimination. The customer, the Federal government, should be 100% in favor.

    Ban assault rifles. We’re even good here. Our Vice Presidential candidate, while a sitting Governor so that his opinion actually mattered, called for a statewide ban on assault weapons, a waiting period for buying handguns, and a prohibition on handgun ownership by anyone under 21. He proposed legislation that would limit the number of handguns an individual could buy.

  20. Thomas L. Knapp

    Caryn,

    You are correct — I was wrong about it being about dues. Here is the section in question:

    —–
    The LPRC shall automatically presume a non-­voting or Annual member who self­-represents as a member of an LP caucus that stands in opposition to the goals of the LPRC has ipso facto resigned as a member of the LPRC effective as of the date of such representation or endorsement.

    The Secretary shall preserve any evidence of such representation by inserting a copy in the Minutes of the next Board meeting. No trial or formal consideration (by vote) of expulsion is required; only the recordation of evidence.
    —–

    So if the Secretary decides that he or she wants certain members gone — even for a brief period before they can discover what happened and rejoin under the following bylaws section — all he or she has to do is engage in some creative “recordation.”

    Nope. Ain’t gonna fly.

    As to the process for endorsing/opposing measures, etc.: No, I couldn’t have really asked you. You were a very busy person and I got to spend all of what, two minutes talking with you? I asked someone else who would be in a position to know, and found the response … I guess the word I will use is “vague.” Of course, that person may well have been too busy to give a less vague answer. But whichever end we come at this from — either the process was not transparent enough for me, or I was too lazy or self-imposedly (is that a word?) ignorant of events to participate in it — the conclusion is the same (I don’t belong in this organization).

    The Weeks Affair merely affirms that conclusion. Like Emma Goldman said, a revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.

  21. Caryn Ann Harlos

    Tom,

    ==You are correct — I was wrong about it being about dues. Here is the section in question:==

    Okay I thought that was what you were referring to, and I don’t agree with that section. And practically speaking the Board can overturn it. I am considering moving to have that changed. One bylaws proposal is already being proposed there.

    ==As to the process for endorsing/opposing measures, etc.: No, I couldn’t have really asked you. You were a very busy person and I got to spend all of what, two minutes talking with you? ==

    Tom I meant before the convention. I posted SIX PUBLIC notices that were given to the Caucus members. It is not our fault if you were not paying attention to Caucus business, but these went out on our website, by email, and in the Facebook group. Over a period of two months. You could have come to any of those meetings. This was done quite openly… and WE PUBLISHED OUR POSITION HERE ON IPR PRIOR TO CONVENTION. You could have asked then. And you could have had all the time you wanted with me at convention, I would have welcomed it. I got the impression you really didn’t want to hang out, which was okay, we were all busy, but I would have made the time for you. You are a huge influence on my libertarian walk. I would have made the time.

    Sorry Tom, that is nonsense. Open meetings to every caucus member, advertised by every means we had is is transparent. Now perhaps it is as you say you were too lazy or self-purposefully ignorant, but we gave more notice than most.

  22. Pro-Choice Libertarians

    Please note that Pro-Choice Libertarians was running a late effort to stop the efforts of Abortion Prohibitionists on the platform committee who interpreted an internet survey which allowed anyone to comment to support their view that the abortion plank be removed. So keeping the current plank was project enough. In 2018 we’ll work harder to keep the Platform Deletionists and Abortion Prohibitionists completely off the committee and make it clear this IS a pro-choice plank. Pro-Life Libertarians who do not want state involvement MUST differentiate themselves from the NON-radical Abortion prohibitionists who want lots and lots of laws. FYI. Here’s the last decent platform plank we had on the topic, via http://pro-choicelibertarians.net/libertarian-party/libertarianpartyplatform Obviously given the shorter format, we can’t get all that in there again.

    1996 Platform (some important language removed; first mention of government keeping out of issue)

    20. Women’s Rights and Abortion
    We hold that individual rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of sex. We call for repeal of all laws discriminating against women, such as protective labor laws and marriage or divorce laws which deny the full rights of men and women. We oppose all laws likely to impose restrictions on free choice and private property or to widen tyranny through reverse discrimination.
    Recognizing that abortion is a very sensitive issue and that libertarians can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe the government should be kept entirely out of the question, allowing all individuals to be guided by their own consciences. We oppose all restrictions on the sale of RU 486, and on the sale of menstruation-inducing contragestive pills, which block fertilized eggs from attaching themselves to the womb. We oppose legislation restricting or subsidizing women’s access to abortion or other reproductive health services; this includes requiring consent of the prospective father, waiting periods, and mandatory indoctrination on fetal development, as well as Medicaid or any other taxpayer funding. It is particularly harsh to force someone who believes that abortion is murder to pay for another’s abortion. We also condemn state-mandated abortions
    It is the right and obligation of the pregnant woman, not the state, to decide the desirability or appropriateness of prenatal testing, Caesarean births, fetal surgery, voluntary surrogacy arrangements, and/or home births.

  23. José C

    “Jose the article said precisely the opposite. But I have zero desire to talk about that distraction. Those 15 minutes are over and done with, and we have work to continue to do.”

    I agree. I will not comment about this again. Let’s get behind the presidential ticket (Johnson / Weld) and do everything possible to win in November and advance the cause of liberty and the Party.

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