THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 474, June 29, 2008
"These are beings perfectly willing to kill
you and your children for your own good."
Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise
Earlier tonight, I read a nice message from Darcy Richardson about our Florida affiliate. John Wayne Smith has graciously agreed to head up the party in that fine state. Darcy writes, in part, "We hope to become a recognized political party here in the Sunshine State no later than July 1 and have every intention of finding 27 electors and placing the Jay-Knapp ticket on the November ballot."
Last night, I was talking to a very dear friend of mine who has, over the years, met me at several liberty related conventions, such as Marc Victor and Ernie Hancock's fine FreedomSummit.com in Phoenix back in October 2005an event which was most notable for the delightful recitation of "The Peace of Dives" by David Friedman, impromptu and from memoryand at events in the years since. Angela has some choices on her plate, and should take one or two of them soon.
During the call, it occurs to me that people in the Boston Tea Party are fired up. Active. Enthusiastic. Working hard. Doing all kinds of things that they weren't doing a few weeks ago, or were doing half-heartedly for other parties in some cases.
We suddenly have people spending a whole weekend to get us on the ballot in Colorado. We have created ten affiliates this year, and six of them are successful examples of what is possible. About half a dozen other state affiliates are under development. We've chosen two great candidates to represent our party at the top of the ticket, and people all over the country are talking about getting them on the ballot in their states, as well as about running other candidates on our party.
And it occurs to me at the very moment that I'm thinking this thought that nobody is standing in their way. Nobody is organizing a way to move the party's headquarters to the Watergate building, so it would be easier to schmooze with other political hacks. Nobody on our party's paid staff (of which we have none) is issuing a press release to attempt to smear one of the candidates for our presidential nomination. Nobody on our party's national committee is extolling the virtues of a person who was asked to resign over sundry dastardly deeds.
I had been stunned by the blatant attack by Andrew Davis and Shane Cory on Dr. Mary Ruwart's character, along with their asinine call for more government spending and activity in an area where federal government involvement is not even vaguely justified nor constitutional, so I was shocked to read Rear Admiral Michael Colley's exculpatory view of Cory in another press release. [link]
Briefly, I wondered who Admiral Colley was, other than a militaristic fiend who used to do battle with the communists in Rickover's nuclear navy. Perhaps he is the same sort of admiral as William Pye, who notoriously left the men on Wake Island to be killed or captured. A long pattern of abuses and usurpations certainly surrounds Colley's career on the LP's national committee.
The cool thing about the Boston Tea Party, and the Personal Choice Party, and the new Liberty Party of Massachusetts being organized by Jim Casarjian-Perry is that we don't have these weird control-freaks in our parties. People who are interested in freedom are getting things done. We are working together, and there is talk about consolidating our efforts.
We aren't interesting to the big fish in small pond folks who have taken over the LP. We aren't powerful enough to be interesting to Republicans or Democrats, who have their own parties of corrupt political power. Nobody in the Boston Tea Party is empowered to say, "Stop asking difficult questions," or "Stop publishing the deliberations of the national committee."
Why not? Well, because of our commitment to total openness, complete transparency. All our deliberations are on the national committee's Yahoogroup at groups.yahoo.com/group/btpnc/ and anyone can ask us questions at groups.yahoo.com/group/btpnc-talk/ or just tell each other what we're doing right or wrong. All of our national site is available without special log-in privileges, including enough of the site's logs to disturb a computer security specialist.
What's wrong with the Libertarian Party? Nothing. Nothing is wrong with the party in principle. Not too much is wrong with the party's platform at this point. Clearly, nothing is wrong with the LP's most active enthusiasts, the ones who do all the work, write all the blogs, and contribute most of the moneybecause those people are hard at work in this party, in the Personal Choice party, and in the Liberty party, to name a few places.
But something is wrong with the LP leadership, organization, and key personnel. There is a mighty stench of corruption which makes it too foul for many of us to work there. It is hard to get people to contribute money to an organization they suspect of corruptly allocating their money. It is hard to get people to volunteer for a party organization that ignores their opinions and uses party funds to benefit particular candidates before the nominations convention. It is hard to get people to work for a campaign that does not represent their core values.
I have spoken to many people in the LP over the years, including many people who thought that I was somehow influential with the "radical" caucus. I'm not. I'm just this guy. But, I was amazed to be told that the LP is owned by certain people, and that they don't have to be responsible to the general membership. I was disturbed, as I blogged recently, to be told how the back room deals were cut at the recent Denver convention, and by whom, with what intended results.
We don't have that corruption here. In fact, we have no money at the national level, if we can set aside for the moment the one check for $17.76 received by me, and about $40 put on the table at our Denver conventionall of which I'll eagerly turn over to the ballot access effort. We have no clandestine meetings, which should make the military types foam at the mouth.
Secrecy, as authors Alvin and Heidi Toffler noted in their 1993 classic on anti-war, is very costly. "The same restrictions that keep the enemy from targeting weaknesses often deny information to the very people who might fix the deficiency. So weaknesses are discovered late, if at all. Because information is compartmentalized in the interests of secrecy, differnt groups in an agency pursue different solutions to similar problems, and the information they develop is harder to synthesize, disseminate, and utilize. Analysts are cut off from the outside world and live in virtual unreality (War and Anti-War Warner Books, Toffler, Alvin and Heidi, 1993)."
I'm not saying we don't have problems. For my own part, I take full responsibility for leaving much of the organizational detail of the four state affiliates from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee which have left the party to our former vice chair Tom Stevens. Clearly, I should have looked more closely at their claims of five members in each of those states. Nevertheless, we overcame that problem by exacting a penalty for refusing to allow the general members to vote to reconsider the national committee's choices. And, I think we are more careful, now, and a better party as a result of this recent storm. Best of all, the controversy took place in the full light of day.
Sunshine, it has been said, is a powerful antiseptic. Injuries and wounds that are concealed from the light of day and not cleaned thoroughly and often may fester. I think that analogy may help to explain what has happened to the Libertarian Party. Its inner clique attempts to conceal information from the general membership, from members of the national committee, and often even from each other. There is a sense of importance to the deliberations held in secret to play king-makerthough why it should matter to anyone who the LP chooses to make the next candidate who won't be elected president of the United States, I'm not really sure.
Let me be candid, again, even at the risk of giving offense. People who know me are quite aware of my willingness to be fully self-expressed, even if it calls attention to a large rhinoceros turd in the living room. So, if you were expecting Charles Jay to be elected president now that he is our candidate, please excuse me for shattering your illusions. He won't be. Nor is Tom Knapp going to be elected vice president.
So, why did we bother to have a nominating convention? Indeed, why on Earth would some dimwit teenager with nationalist socialist views attempt to hack our poll for that convention?
Our motive was to find standard bearers for our party who would accurately represent our party's principles, platform, and program. I think we have two very honest, decent, and hard-working individuals to do so, now. Both Charles Jay and Tom Knapp impress me as being savvy, intelligent, and determined. Since they won't even be on the ballot in most states in November, I'm sure they have no illusions that they'll get elected. But they do represent voices of sanity and reason in a political election which is, once again, going to attempt to deceive the American people into giving up more of their freedom for some pretended security from some hobgoblin threatimaginary, but shrewdly calculated to induce panic.
Why did "Rice Beckons" try to hack our poll? Presumably because he had way more time than sense. Or a belief that his attempt to distort the nominating poll wouldn't be detected by our people. Like other nationalist socialists, one can be confident that he thinks it is essential for a leadera fuhrerto take charge. And by spoofing our poll for "none of the above" he was somehow emphasising this point.
So, what should Angela do? She's extremely intelligent, so I feel confident that she'll take her own choice, wisely and well. But, what I advised her to do was to be spectacular, and to choose a better party. A party of openness, of decency, of freedom, of sincerityand to leave behind the party of corruption, intrigue, authoritarianism, and hypocrisy.
What can the LP do without its most active people, its most enthusiastic members? Nothing. Membership is down by more than 50% since 2000, according to party founder David Nolan. Debts seem to be rising judging by recent reports, and revenues are dwindling. Certainly the general membership aren't being a source of renewal fees. And so what if Aaron Starr and Bill Redpath figure out some way to sell the party's mailing list to Richard Viguerie? It isn't like libertarians are going to respond to a call for more militarism or more government spending. Nor are we likely to be impressed by the conservatives of the American Freedom Agendasee wikipedia for detailswho were entirely responsible for the excesses of government they now seek to redress.
The LP was never its leadership. Indeed, as I think L. Neil Smith has pointed out on numerous occasions, the membership of the LP never deserved its leadership. And the leaders of the LP never earned the respect of the memberswhich is why they don't renew their memberships. Leave them to the rotting corpse and move on with your life.
Okay, you don't want to stick with a party of political corruption. Good. Because, you know, if you did, you could find one like the Democratic Party or the Republican Party which, while certainly corrupt, are able to reward party members and leaders with jobs, corruptly allocated contracts, influence over national policy, and even high political office. If expedience and influence were all you cared about, you could get further in one of those parties, if you could stand the stench of indecency and get past the self-loathing you'd inflict on yourself.
But, why think it is any different here? I'll tell you why. It is different here because we have mechanisms for openness. You can see what we're doing. There is no need for Toto to run in and pull back the curtain to expose the funny man from the state fair working the levers for the Mighty and Powerful Oz because there is no curtain, no levers, and no Oz. It is just us, humble humans, ordinary and inspiring by turns, doing our best.
It is different in the Boston Tea Party because we work to make it easier. It is easy to join our partyjust register on the site and agree to our platform. It is easy to organize a state affiliate. It is easy to find out about our rules, our bylaws, the constitutions of the state affiliates in those states which require them, and the people who are involved. It was easy to vote in the nominating conventionjust visit our web site. It'll be easy to vote in the national convention for new officersjust visit our web site.
It is different in the Boston Tea Party because the members rule. The national committee is just seven of the members, and if they do something you find objectionable, you are free to organize a poll to over-rule us. And if the majority of those who vote in the poll agree, then you rule over usyou over-rule our choice. It is that simple, and that powerful.
Now that you have chosen your nominees, I think it is appropriate to say that the campaign for president by Charles Jay is going to be awesome. And, I should also like to note that the campaign is not the party. The campaign works with the party, and with party members, and ought to be a great thing for the growth of the party, but it is not the party. Which is, of course, probably weird to those of us who remember members of the LP national committee and national staff suddenly showing up in the Harry Browne campaign team.
The important thing to remember is that you have choices. It is a big market, not entirely free in some ways, highly regulated in some areas of political interest, but wide open to you to choose as you see fit. I aver the Boston Tea Party is the best choice you can take. It is not, obviously, the only choiceand there is no reason not to take several choices.
If you feel that there is still something to be salvaged of the Libertarian Party, by all means, stay a member of it. Work within it. Nothing about being a member of the LP stops you from being a member of Personal Choice, Boston Tea, and Liberty parties, as well. We certainly don't have any power to purge you for being a member of another party at the same time.
Perhaps the LP could learn a thing or two from us. Maybe they'll adopt openness, ease of use, and rule by members to replace secrecy, complexity, and rule by a clique. Obviously, since I haven't renewed my LP membership since 1998, I've seen no sign of it, and wouldn't bet on it. But if the existence of the Boston Tea Party does nothing else but make the LP a better party, great.
Meanwhile, if you like what we're doing, please help us do more of it. Organize in your state. Find out about ballot access in your state, and work on it for this year, or for 2010. Find out about ballot access efforts in other states and contribute money, or time, or both. Join the Jay campaign. Join the Knapp campaign. Run for office in your state or in your community.
Remember, the possibilities are endless. There are no limits in realitythey exist only in your mind.
Remember, we are here to serve you, to further your interests. You are not here to serve us. We aren't paid to do this work, and we control no meaningful budget of any sort. So it really doesn't matter who we are, only what we choose to do, only what we stand for. We are here to make it as easy as possible for you to turn your enthusiasm for liberty into a difference on election day.
Remember, we are a party that was inspired by the actions of the Sons of Liberty in long ago Boston. We were inspired by an outstanding act of civil disobedience. We were inspired by radicals who took on the king's power, who dumped the property of the chartered monopoly in the harbor, and who provoked the wrath of a Parliament and of a king who were UNWORTHY to govern a free people. This political party was created by and for people who want freedom, and aren't afraid of acting out of turn to get some. I don't know my station in life, and I shall not allow anyone in government to tell me what it is.
So, in all your considerations, in all your remembrances, in all your determination, don't forget to make trouble for those in power. Stir things up. Get rowdy.
The freedom you save may be your own.