Steve G.

Friday LP Business Meetings

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Politics on May 23, 2008 at 5:09 pm

Part of the upside of being in law school is that I’m actually dork-enough to ENJOY procedural debates, so I’m sitting in on all the General Business sessions. I believe that today is all platform and bylaws debates, and the convention hall seems 10-20% full AT BEST. I’m pretty stunned by the low level of participation. No matter which “faction” you lean toward, you have basically no cause to gripe about whatever comes out of these sessions. With a body this small, ANY faction could “hijack” the agenda by simply being organized enough to show up in full. Over half the LP delegation is out wondering around the vendor exhibits… waiting to complain later about whatever comes out of this meeting that they COULD have helped determine themselves.


Anyway, I’ll be updating this thread throughout the day as business proceeds.

[9:45 am] At the opening, David Nolan made a motion to basically cut the platform / bylaws debate time in half… shifting the unused time over to Presidential / Vice-Presidential selection. I’ve been hearing that the radicals intend to try to minimize platform discussion as much as possible… and/or have the “majority report” and “minority reports” discussed at a general high-level, moreso than on a plank-by-plank basis. Here comes the opening salvo. M Carling spoke in opposition to the motion, and then a series of delegates made “me too” comments on both sides. Nolan’s motion failed… and a subsequent motion passed to proceed with the agenda as originally planned.

[11:00 am] We just spent FOREVER debating the proposed amendment to Article 8 of the Bylaws (allowing the Judicial Committee to hold a hearing based on appeal by 10 percent of convention delegates… the current rule requires 3% of sustaining Party members). Good LORD… no one here has any knowledge of parliamentary procedure at all! After dueling amendments from Nick Sawark and Guy McClendon, what we came up with was adopting the new “10% of convention delegates” method… while lowering the old method to 1% of sustaining Party members.

[11:30 am] We’re debating the proposed change to Rule 9 of the Bylaws. I get the feeling that around 95% of the room has NO IDEA what this proposal is about. I just finished a year of Civil Procedure class, read the proposal in advance, communicated about it by email with the committee… and **I** barely understand what this proposal is about. I think the general thrust is that no more Vice-Presidential nominations can be made once the Presidential debates start. The motion ultimately passed. It seemed like the Barr, Gravel, and Root crowds seemed to favor it… the Ruwart, Phillies, etc crowds were opposed. Don’t ask me WHY it broke down along those lines… I voted “no” simply because I didn’t really understand the problem this is supposed to address. I’m off to lunch.

[12:00 am] After poking fun at Michelle Singhal on Reason Hit & Run, for confusing Richard Viguerie with Russ Verney, I was just introduced to Verney a few minutes ago. I immediately proceeded to blurt out, “Yes, I know you… you just took over Third Party Watch!” Doh… sorry Michelle.

[2:00 pm] Richard Viguerie is giving the Keynote Address. He kinda oscillates between appeals to the base and to disgruntled Republicans, saying “We libertarians…” in one sentence and “We conservatives..” in the next. Still, the crowd has been surprisingly positive. Turnout is not as high as it was for other morning sessions, but the rumored “protests” haven’t happened.

[3:00 pm] Amendment to Article 8, to provide for removing National Committee members who miss too many meetings, passes easily.

[3:30 pm] Debate on Article 9, setting up staggered terms for the Judicial Committee. Nick Sarwark rose to point out that this proposal would essentially expand terms from 2 years to 14 years. Also, the intention was to block a potential hostile takeover… but a hostile takeover would go through the LNC rather than the Judicial Committee. This goes down in flames, and the body votes to suspend the rules to move on without bothering with amendments.

[3:40 pm] Debate on Article 11… basically setting up former elected officials as “superdelegates” for life. I can’t believe that I’m 100% on board with Starchild on an issue… this is a bad proposal in my opinion. However, the body seemed pretty overwhelmingly in favor of it.

[4:00 pm] Debate on Article 12… establishing certain thresholds (i.e. endorsement, raising $5000 in funds) before a Presidential candidate can get access to LPHQ resources. Seems like a no-brainer to me (best line from the floor: “If you can’t raise at least $5K for a PRESIDENTIAL race, what the heck are you doing?”)… but it generates significant debate and requires a hand-count of the vote.

Ugh… a bunch of new faces ran in from the exhibit hall during the hand-count, and was able to get just over one-third… blocking the motion.

[4:20 pm] WHOA. The Gravel crowd just made a motion to skip over directly to debate on Article 6, changing the rules for which Presidential candidates get to give nomination speeches and/or participate in debates. Gravel himself is on the floor, and his volunteers are scrambling around. From the chatter I’m overhearing from them, Gravel doesn’t have enough delegate tokens yet. They better hustle… their motion failed, so they’re stuck with the current rules.

[5:00 pm] We’re switching over from pure Bylaws debate, to a mixed Bylaws/Platform session. The only two planks which have collected enough tokens for “speedy deletion” are the “Reproductive Rights” and “Immigration” planks. We’re about to have straight-up majority votes on whether to delete or retain those two planks.

The abortion plank of the LP platform has been RETAINED.

The immigration plank of the LP platform has been RETAINED.

[5:10 pm] We’re debating over whether or not to change the Bylaws… to lower the 7/8’ths majority requirement currently needed to alter the Statement of Principles. Are you sitting down? I actually agree with the radicals on this one. If a 7/8’ths majority is required to change the Statement of Principles, but a 2/3’rds majority can change the bylaws to lower this threshold… then there is no 7/8’ths requirement at all.

We spend what feels like forever arguing about this… the Reformers clearly don’t have enough support to change the SoP even with parliamentary tricks. The Chair’s interpretation of the rules ends up defeated. On the flipside of the coin, however, a motion to close the potential loophole is defeated likewise. The status quo on the Statement of Principles debate rolls on for future conventions to wrestle with.

[5:40 pm] Debating over a Bylaws change to appoint the convention committees (Platform, Bylaws, Credentials, etc) earlier.  Most of the debate is drifting off onto unrelated rants about big states having more clout than smaller states, etc.  Time finally runs out on the debate, and the motion to change fails.

[5:50 pm] Proposal for a Bylaws change to speed up Platform debates, by encouraging amendments to be written down in advance rather than thrown together ad hoc from the floor.  This looks to have about 80-90% support, but the radicals are throwing every procedural trick in the book out here to slow things down.  We’re now crawling through a hand-count of all votes.  (Best comment from the floor:  “The sole purpose of all this [radicals’ motions] are to deliberately obstruct things so we can’t conduct any platform business at all”).  Final vote count… it passes by about 10-to-1.

[5:50 pm] Debating a Bylaws change to allow the Secretary to make “stylistic changes” (e.g. fix typos). Ruth Bennett tries to hijack the agenda and resurrect the 7/8’ths-majority-for-the-Statement-of-Principles thing, but even the radicals have had their fill of that for the day and groaned that off. After some brief debate (everyone is getting tired), this gets voted down.

We’re done for the day.

  1. The game being played is to waste time on procedure and cut the time for real debate. Eventually everyone throws up their hands and passes something.

  2. Very interesting, Steve. Thanks for the update! 🙂

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