“Taxation is Theft” was formally resolved by the delegates to the 2016 Libertarian Party Convention.
Jim Fulner (MI) moved that we adopt the following resolution: “Be it resolved, taxation is theft.” Following debate, the resolution was adopted by a voice vote.
Various ways have been proferred to diminish the import of this. They are ineffective.
It was only a voice vote
Any objection on this basis shows an ignorance of the convention process. Easily 90% (guesstimate but probably pretty close to spot on) of the votes were at least initially voice votes (the word “voice” appears at least seventy times in the minutes). That is how nearly every vote was done (nominations and elections excepted). It was only when there was a question as to the result that an additional standing or counting vote was done. Chair Sarwick did not stand for verbal games of obvious mis-directions of allowing a few people to simply shout louder. And nays could have forced a standing vote if it was close. It was not.
Further, resolutions require 2/3 vote pursuant to the Libertarian Party Convention Rules, not just a simple majority. This was a landslide. Additionally, a small number could have appealed to the Judicial Committee immediately if it was felt this violated the Statement of Principles.
It was not.
Resolutions are not the Platform
Some also say a resolution is not the Platform. True. It is a different kind of official statement of position of an organization but it is still such an official statement and the Bylaws-required thresholds and review are exactly the same (2/3 and must conform to the Statement of Principles–can be appealed to the Judicial Committee). And as noted above – not appealed by the delegates as contradicting the Statement of Principles. And another argument can be made that the Platform does indeed say this. But that is another day.
The delegates also gave a Liberty Outreach Award to Trump and Clinton
Humour and an actual point are not mutually exclusive. A public policy resolution is a real statement. Other delegates and the public are entitled to rely upon them. The Liberty Outreach Award actually had quite a serious point and made it well:
“For jointly guaranteeing an unprecedented wave of interest in political alternatives;
For arguably doing more to disentangle voters from deeply-held, long-standing political loyalties than we ever could on our own;
For opening minds to seek out new ideas of governance,
The Libertarian Party awards jointly Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton a Liberty Outreach Award.”
It served a valid point. If the delegates don’t take their job seriously enough to pass something that they don’t substantially mean, that is a problem with the delegates. Not with those taking public resolutions for the serious business that Party Rules take them. (The seated Libertarian National Committee can only pass them with 3/4*). One could cast the “Point of Order” circulating on YouTube with Chair Sarwark in strictly a humourous light. Not a formal resolution.
It’s Just a Saying
That is not an argument. So is “Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff.” Yet we believe it.
Do not allow re-casting of narratives to serve an agenda.
One can disagree with what happened. Most people disagree with many things that happened at past conventions that is part of political life. But rewriting or distorting is not a proper means of analysis.
Only Anarchists hold to Taxation is Theft
The 1972 founding of the Party contained very explicit statements supporting the eventual repeal of all taxation. The founders and the Party were majority minarchist (Randian or otherwise) or classical liberals. Main Party found David Nolan supported the ideal position of no coercive taxation and was certainly not an anarchist. A new Facebook created for Libertarians United: Taxation is Theft (all of the Libertarian spectrum is represented) got hundreds of likes within a few hours of creation.
On a side note: One may object that this took place on Monday morning, after many delegates had left. This too is unpersuasive. The Convention was scheduled through Monday. If delegates chose to leave, they can’t take that fact to invalidate the work of those who stayed and followed through with Party elections Further this raises several interesting points. Many have alleged various flaws and issues with the 2006 Convention’s Platform revisions and mass deletion. The third day of the 2016 Convention quorum was almost the highest amount (284 v 315) of the entire delegate totals (not just quorum) for 2006. If this vote is invalid, then let’s throw out 2006 for which many allegations have been made (before this author’s time). And if this narrative is to be believed, then only some strange group of Libertarians stayed—apparently wild-eyed radicals. If only the wild-eyed radicals stayed to see things through to the end, that says a great deal about their dedication to Party elections and not just being there to do the glory work of nominating the Presidential ticket. And they didn’t seem to manage to elect all of their own number in these Party elections. Strange indeed. Or delegates didn’t take their role seriously in a formal vote. This author certainly did.
*The 3/4 vote requirement for an LNC resolution applies only to “public policy.” It can be disputed that this resolution is not “policy” – the Convention Rules require 2/3 for any Resolutions so that point is moot for the threshold here, and calling it a an “official position” rather than “public policy” does not change the point. The delegates adopted it.
Edits with additions done 1/3/17 and 1/4/17