Steve G.

Convention ’11

In Libertarian on August 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm

All the talk about Barr’s ballot access difficulties, as well as the problems of name substitution in several states and the Republican anti-Barr gambit in Pennsylvania, has me wondering: Why not move LP nominating conventions back to the year before the presidential election?

If I recall — and I may be wrong, please let me know if I am — the main argument for having the conventions in the year of the election was that it looked more “major party” and more confident.  But there are many reasons to do it a year earlier, besides just ballot access.  It allows more time to campaign, fundraise, and gain publicity.  It also is more of a media draw — not much more, granted, but given how little mainstream media coverage the LP convention gets anyway, even a small increase is significant.  I remember C-SPAN using the LP convention in 1991 (and ’87 too, I think) as the kickoff of its “Road To The White House” for the next year.  It’s just a dead time politically, and the LP could conceivably benefit from the hungry news hole.

Are there reasons NOT to nominate the ’12 ticket in the summer of 2011?

  1. Well, it would do a lot of good, as mentioned.

    But there are some negatives (in no particular order of priority or importance):

    1. It could screw up a lot of state conventions and bylaws.
    2. What happens if the nominees die in the interim? Even in the current situation we don’t address that.
    3. What happens if the nomineees need to be tossed off? Then what? Same as #2, we currently don’t address that either.
    4. If it’s too early in the off-year cycle, it makes the nominees stale too quickly.
    5. If it’s too late in the off-year cycle, it comes up against the fall elections.
    6. It would shove back campaigns for the nomination into even-year cycles, when those same potential candidates might be running for other offices, creating havoc.
    7. Increased FEC paperwork issues.
    8. BCRA issues? (I’m by no means any expert on that in the slightest, but it is a question to ask)
    9. Make the planning between ’10 and ’11 pretty hairy, but that would be a one-shot problem, unless ’10 was made a business meeting only for the sole purposes of elections, or simply postponed a year altogether (assuming the membership would go for that, which would require another convention to vote on it).

  2. However, none of those negatives IMHO are deal-killers, just technical headaches in #1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ongoing unaddressed issues in #2 and 3 (LARGE HINT for the LPUS Bylaws Committee), and a one-shot problem in #9.

  3. For most of Mr. Orvetti’s reasons, I concur and have been urging same. An LNC member should put this on the agenda for the Dec.’08 meeting.

    To address Mr. Seebeck’s points (some which are features, not bugs):
    #1 – plenty of time between now and 2011 for states that have a problem to amend their bylaws.
    #2 – we don’t address that now, but having earlier nomination doesn’t cause any additional problem.
    #3- not addressed now either, but having earlier nomination gives membership more time to judge nominee’s performance.
    #4 – too stale? Actually provides more time for r&r. Campaigns are grueling. Also gives candidate more time to refine his presentations, making them sharper and more compelling to the voters.
    #5 Around Labor Day ’11 would be best – candidate may then be able to campaign with some top local candidates that fall.
    #6 Campaigns probably would start after Nov.’10 elections and those who want to run for the prez nomination would do well to burnish their credentials by running for another office in 2010.
    #7 Yes, but perhaps spreading them out over more than a year would lessen the burden and get the filers up the learning curve well before the electioneering sets in.
    #8 not competent to comment on this one.
    #9 LNC used to have annual conventions and they went
    pretty well. It actually gives those who attend more chances to see the “big names” in action. Would it have helped if
    Barr, Ruwart, et al had been at an ’07 convention hinting they were going to run in ’08?

  4. I’m with Peter!

  5. It might have helped – given more time for people to realize what a problem Barr was, and chase him back under his rock… It would also have forced him to actually have to ANSWER questions raised by other candidates, and LP members…

    I would say that I think it isn’t that bad of an idea to even make it a requirement that to get the nomination you would have to declare some significant length of time before the convention – say six or nine months… Possibly allow a two-step process for a shorter time limit – Say must declare a possible interest at nine months, allowing a wait until three months to make a definite decision…

    I’m almost as annoyed by Mary’s delayed announcement as I am by Barr’s, but at least Mary was a reasonably known quantity…


  6. Seebeck appears to be wrong about 2 and 3. The Bylaws seem to deal with replacement due to death and deal with replacement after removal.

  7. The first thing I have against this is the short attention span of the American people. Whatever press it would make back then, it would be out of everyone’s mind by election. Note to LP: That’s not a good thing.

  8. George is correct and I was wrong. #2 and #3 are addressed in Article 12 of the Bylaws.

    The only problem is that that authority lies within the LNC, and not the delegates, where it truly belongs.

    There’s also an inconsistency in that it takes 3/4 of the LNC to suspend a nomination, but only 2/3 to name a replacement. If anything, it should be the same, or a higher fraction for replacement over suspension, since the JudCom has a role in the situation anyway.

    But that’s a Bylaws problem.

  9. I’m not sure it’s really a by-law problem Mike…

    I agree that it stinks to have the replacement power vested in the LNC, but at the same time, I can see a legitimate arguement that it would approach logistically impossible to go back to the delegates, especially if the replacement need was close to the election date….

    Likewise I don’t necessarily see a conflict in the 3/4 to suspend and 2/3 to replace requirements – they are two seperate votes… One to suspend an existing candidate, which should properly be very difficult, and a subsequent vote to choose the replacement, which should need a large vote, but not necessarily as large as the suspension…

    (This only assumes that you can’t replace an existing candidate, only fill a vacancy created by the candidate withdrawing, dropping dead, or being suspended…)

    At least that’s the way I would read it from the description.


  10. The time allowed the reason Clark did well in ’80 was he spoke at over 200 colleges, plus many local events, followed up by local speakers scheduled through the LP speaker’s bureau.

    For years the pragmatists, now the Reform Caucus and whose real objective has been to kill local organizing and getting actual Libertarians in office, did all they could to keep this from repeating.

    They sabotaged Students for a Libertarian Society, packing it with right-wing crazy ‘purists’ in their pay. They shut down the LP speaker bureau. They created bizarre candidate fights, the did their Amen choir thing blaming the platform. Even today the LP Chair recently said student organizing was irrelevant and anarchist.

    But above all, led by Steve Dasbach and Nancy Lord, they worked to get the convention moved forward in the mid-90’s. Promises to Browne to move it back never materialized.When Crickenberger finally came out for moving the Convention back and a local policy, among other things, they fired him and buried his report.

    In addition, the LP of today came from the students spoken to a generation ago. No one is speaking to them today. Think about that. The issue is the time to do things right. It isn’t there.

  11. This is a good idea.

    And why don’t we try to raise funds for a party-like convention around the same time as the Republicrat conventions? That would get us both an early business meeting convention and a late publicity convention.

    Starchild posted some great ideas on the grassroots caucus list.

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