L. Neil Smith's
Number 242, October 12, 2003

"Me, me, me, me ...." "And ME!"

Where do we go from here?
by Thomas L. Knapp

Special to TLE

Dear members of the Smith2004-discuss list,

It cannot have escaped your notice that L. Neil Smith has now formally withdrawn his offer to accept the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, should we procure it for him.

I expected this decision, and I support it.

It also cannot have escaped your notice that L. Neil Smith has now formally endorsed the candidacy of a candidate for that nomination.

I expected this endorsement, and I concur with it.

That's the short form—the long form is below.

The question, of course, is "where do we go from here?" I'll answer that after the "long form" response to Neil's announcements:

Back in 1999, a few of us got together, in two separate elements (one geared toward an independent candidacy, one toward an LP candidacy) to "draft" Neil as a presidential candidate. As one of the instigators on the LP side, and as self-proclaimed HMFIC of the Ad Hoc Conspiracy to Draft L. Neil Smith, I do not regret those efforts. As a matter of fact, I think that they have proven to be among the most valuable activities for liberty of the last decade.

Throughout the two election cycles in which this "draft movement" has existed, I've been aware that Neil has put himself through considerable stress on several fronts.

He's done his best to "hold separate" his friendship with all of us from his political activities. The claims of some notwithstanding, Neil has never wavered in his refusal to "run the operation from behind a curtain." He's been a friend and a comrade, while remaining true to his claims that he was "not a candidate."

On the other front, he's wrestled with the decision of whether or not to become a candidate, and, although I confess to some mild disappointment at the outcome of that struggle, I trust his judgment and believe that he has made the right decision. One can't be true to a movement if one cannot be true to one's self. Neil's self told him that there were more important things to be doing ... and he listened.

This is the part where I tell y'all to pat yourselves on the back. It's been a wild ride. We've created one of the most active discussion forums on the Internet, and one of the most productive.

Without Smith2004, there would have been no Rational Review and no Ceres Project. The Smith2004 group contributed heavily to the defeat of the "establishment" candidate in the 2002 LP chair election, and helped put two of its own on the Libertarian National Committee.

We haven't managed a 180 degree turn for the LP yet, but we're sure as hell forcing the wheel in the right direction. Smith2004 participants have been at the center of the best activism in the LP. Jim Lesczynski and the Manhattan LP have brought "the real thing" to New York. Mike Blessing has helped radicalize the New Mexico LP. Steve Trinward has helped form the Tennessee LP into a real freedom organization. The Arizona LP ran Neil as its presidential candidate in 2000. Alan Weiss took the Ceres project from dream to reality, creating the potential for Neil's books to reach—and persuade—even more individuals of the validity of our ideas.

Would these things have happened without Smith2004? I don't know. But I doubt it. We've been able to help each other accomplish some great things that are not strictly related to making Neil the LP's nominee, and there's no damn reason in the world why that should stop. I hope that y'all will hang on this list.

A few months ago, I played some small part in putting a bug in the ears of two figures in the freedom movement. One of those figures is Neil. The other is a Texan, seeking the LP's presidential nomination. His name is Michael Badnarik. The bug was "get together and talk. See what happens." I'm not trying to take credit here. I know that several other people were telling both of them the same thing.

At that particular point, I suspected that Neil would make his decisions soon, and that they would be the decisions he has, in fact, made. The rest, for me, has been a bit of a waiting game. I'm glad that game is over. And I want to thank Neil from the bottom of my heart for the friendship he has shown to me, and to all of us, and for his unwavering dedication to liberty.

And now it's time to go back to work.

That was the long form. Here's the "what do we do" part:

This group came together for a specific purpose, and is a functional anarchy. There is no way that I, or Neil, or anyone else, can require anyone to do anything they don't damn well feel like doing.

That said, I hope that each of you will check out Michael Badnarik's campaign and choose to support him—with your money, your activism and your vote on the floor of the LP's national convention next year in Atlanta.

We've accomplished a lot toward turning the LP around. Nominating Badnarik won't complete that task, but it will sure as hell reduce the pile of manure we're moving to more manageable proportions.

There are two "main contenders" for the LP's presidential nomination. I don't expect you to believe anything that I have to say about either of them—you should check the facts for yourselves—but I will lay out my observations:

  • Gary Nolan comes from a conservative Republican background. He's well-spoken. He says a lot of the right things. He is also the chosen candidate of the Browne/Cloud/Bergland cabal that has been running the LP into the ground for at least a decade. Different people place different start dates on that process, but I personally place it at 1992, when Michael Cloud and Perry Willis came to the LNC, asking them to "un-nominate" Andre Marrou after his campaign refused to play the game their way. That was followed by two Harry Browne candidacies, the chief purpose of which, in retrospect, was to provide for the care and feeding of Michael Cloud and Perry Willis.

Like I said, you don't have to believe me just because I say it. The facts speak for themselves. Go to www.fec.gov and look at the list of contributors to Nolan's campaign. From Sharon Ayres to David Bergland to Bill Hall to Bill Redpath, his contributor list reads like a reunion of Browne 1996/2000. Nolan's campaign manager is former LP chair and executive director Steve Dasbach.

I have no personal beef with Gary Nolan. I know, however, that he has been approached by Libertarians and asked, if he is serious, to sever his connections with this group of individuals who have done immeasurable harm to the LP. I've seen no sign that he's done so.

  • Michael Badnarik, of Buda, Texas, isn't carrying this baggage. From the moment he was recommended to me—by Kathryn A. Graham, a card- carrying member (if we had cards) of Ye Olde Conspiracy—I've heard nothing but good things about him. I've met him twice. He speaks clearly, sincerely and passionately to the issues. His platform is Bill of Rights Enforcement. And he isn't into internal LP power games.
I've already signed on with Badnarik, although my role isn't completely defined yet. I've set up a St. Louis appearance for him—his second—next week. He'll be hitting three Missouri cities on that visit (I'm just handling St. Louis). This is a candidate who WORKS, who is HONEST, who has no intention of compromising and whose nomination might very well represent the final defeat of the "cabal" in its efforts to use the LP as a bottomless cash reservoir/masturbation aid. So, what do we do, and what can you do? The last shall be first:

  • Please consider supporting the Badnarik campaign in any way possible. This includes, as soon as you can, heading over to http://cass.molp.org and voting for him in the "straw poll." It's not scientific, but it will be helpful if we can put him over the top against Nolan. It includes working for the campaign, giving money to the campaign and volunteering to work in your state and go to Atlanta as a Badnarik delegate.
  • Or maybe you don't want to be involved in the LP if Neil isn't the candidate. Understood. You gotta be true to yourself. Still, I hope you'll hang out here.

And the first shall be last:

  • There is about $20 worth of metal in the Conspiracy's e-gold account. I propose to dispose of this by donating it to some libertarian non-profit. I'll take suggestions on this list, and then run a poll on Yahoo! to decide where it goes.
  • The Smith 2004 web site is still function through, I think, next May. I propose to post Neil's "My political plans," and his "ping pong" endorsement of Badnarik, there, and include a link to the Badnarik campaign. If there are serious objections to that, I'll reconsider. Now is the time to talk about it.

That's about it, folks. The Ad Hoc Conspiracy, in this election cycle, raised and spent something on the order of $2,000 in direct cash, and thousands of dollars in volunteer labor and in-kind contributions. We placed copies of Neil's books in 24 states. We changed—the degree of the change is yet to be understood, but we DID change—the direction of the LP. Not bad for a bunch of anarchists and their pogo sticks, eh?

Tom Knapp
HMFIC, Retired
Ad Hoc Conspiracy to Draft L. Neil Smith


1) The Aries Alliance

2) Project Ceres

3) Michael Badnarik

4) Mailing-List: list smith2004-discuss@yahoogroups.com; contact smith2004-discuss-owner@yahoogroups.com

5) Pogo sticks? [You had to have been there.—The Imitation Mr. Ed]

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