Steve G.

New Yorker: platform gutted–membership grew by 28%, or dropped by 32%?

In Libertarian on October 22, 2008 at 1:51 am

The New Yorker published an extensive piece on Bob Barr:  The Third Man: Bob Barr’s Libertarian run for the White House.  Overall, I enjoyed the article and it gave a lot of interesting history on 2008 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee and former Congressman Bob Barr.

A quote from the article referencing comments from one of the founders of the LP, David Nolan:

In 2006, Nolan told me, the Party had a “civil war” over its platform, most of which was subsequently dropped. The following year, the Party’s dues-paying membership grew by twenty-eight per cent.

What the reporter could have written instead:

In 2006, Nolan told me, the Party had a “civil war” over its platform, most of which was subsequently dropped. That year, the Party’s dues-paying membership dropped by thirty-two per cent.

While many Libertarians place a lot of emphasis on the platform (both radicals and moderates) I’ve often claimed that the success of the LP, especially with respect to membership, has little to do with the platform.  I tend to think the frequency of direct mail, management of the database, the website, and overall quality of communications from the National HQ have a lot more to do with membership numbers than whatever faction has control of the platform. The New Yorker misplaced the cause and effect.

I’ve got a couple of more suggestions regarding membership that the New Yorker could have published:

  • In 2006, Wes Benedict was elected to the LNC. The following year, the Party’s dues-paying membership grew by twenty-eight per cent.
  • In 2007, President George Bush extended Daylight Savings time.  That year, the Party’s dues-paying membership grew by twenty-eight per cent.

H/T to Eric Sundwall on the New Yorker article.

  1. Wes, what changed about the direct mail and general management of the LP in 07, then?

    I agree that cause and effect is often a tricky business. And the numbers are so small, minor perturbations in absolute numbers may lead us to misleading conclusions.

    Still, I’m exceedingly pleased that the platform no longer has the profoundly embarrassing “right to private nukes” clause in it😉

  2. Does national have a direct mail program? And if so how many pieces are being mailed monthly?

    It is obvious that the website could use some improvement and news releases are infrequent at best. Less not forget the literature package which defeinately needs improvement.

    From my point of view much needs to improve so that people can get a clear understanding of what the LP is all about.

    MW

  3. One of the reasons I bailed on the PlatCom was Robert’s insistence on hammering about the private nuke issue . . .

    A traditional inquiry in to the nuclear issue for Libertarians has been their use by governments and the inherent danger. I’m still trying to find the reference point in the 2004 platform expressing such a categorical ‘right’ (to private nukes)as public policy.

    In my estimation this was endemic of Mr. Capozzi’s red herring narrative to vilify the prospects of liberty that are considered radical in the new, polite LP society. While no one else was considering such an issue, he was using it as an example of the ‘extremist’ position. It was initially distracting and unproductive, but it lead to a dominant voicing of moderate concerns.

    Like Wes, I’m not big on platforms anyway. For me success is entering the arena of battle and standing tall in protest while the statists slaughter the last vestiges of Liberty. But he’s got ballot access down there in TX, so us New Yorkers can only sip our expensive lattes on the Upper West side and bemoan the loss of Pauline Kael.

  4. Still, I’m exceedingly pleased that the platform no longer has the profoundly embarrassing “right to private nukes” clause in it.

    Robert, can you quote the particular clause you found ‘exceedingly embarrassing’?

  5. Sorry: ‘profoundly embarrassing’.

  6. Susan: the language was “We further oppose all attempts to ban weapons or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe.” I recall that you and I agreed that that language covers nukes.

    Eric: Sorry if you didn’t enjoy your time on Platcom. You are correct that I use that ex. of absolutist language as a means to illustrate something I found dysfunctional.

    As for “standing tall,” I personally stand taller with the new language and platform — and general positioning of the LP — than the hyper-radical extremism of previous years. This is not to say that I have any problem with “radicalism” per se. Some of my best friends are radicals. And, in some ways, I would suggest that I’m way more radical than more radical Ls.

    Re: “A traditional inquiry in to the nuclear issue for Libertarians has been their use by governments and the inherent danger.”

    My response is that I’m a L, so “tradition” is of little interest to me, though I’d agree it’s a consideration. As a free thinker, I’m open to being “radical” — getting to the root — regardless of what some PERCEIVE is the “orthodox” L position. Because some L theorists frame the issue one way does not restrict my own inquiry into the matter.

    If there’s an inherent reason why I — and apparently the majority of the Party — cannot reframe the analysis, please do share the basis for your assertion.

  7. Well, the key phrase is “red herring.”

    I’m unaware of any private enterprise or individual attempting to own nukes (unless it’s some private space-exploration enterprise considering using them as propulsion devices a la some spacecraft schemes).

    I’m unaware of any private enterprise or individual who both:

    a) Could reasonably afford to construct and maintain such weapons; AND

    b) Has any reason to think they’d be useful to him or it, especially in proportion to cost and liability.

    So it’s a non-issue, except for those who read it into a platform plank that doesn’t mention it in order to style themselves as “moderates” by attacking it.

  8. The language could have been easily modified:

    We further oppose all attempts to ban weapons or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe, unless, of course, they are nukes or chemical weapons, or biological weapons, or other weapons that have the potential to kill more than XXX number of people per use.”

    Maybe the delegates could hammer out the Xs. Somewhere between 1 and 1 billion would be a good number.

    I’m surprised your happy with the current platform. Afterall, its all about protecting our right to own private nukes:

    We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims

    Simply owning a nuclear weapon results in a total of 0 victims. The platform clearly says we are against any law banning the ownership of private nukes.

    We affirm the right to keep and bear arms, and oppose the prosecution of individuals for exercising their rights of self-defense.

    Some claim that a nuke is a form of “arms”. When the US government enters into “Arms Reduction” agreements, that typically means nukes. The platform clearly says that keeping and bearing arms is a right. Maybe we should make it more specific, like “We affirm the right to keep and bear a Bersa Thunder 380.”

    Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market.

    Gotta re-write this one too. “… unless those goods are nukes, then no dice.”

    All efforts by government to … control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.

    “… unless it involves the trade of nukes, in which case off with their heads.”

    The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others.

    “The owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of, or in any manner enjoy, their property without interference, unless said property is a nuke, in which case they should be hung by the balls.”

  9. tom, actually, i know what a red herring is. guess we’re watching a different movie here. it strikes me that IF someone or a group wanted to acquire a nuke (full blown or suitcase), they’d not be broadcasting that fact. it seems quite plausible that a terrorist organization would want one, and there are enough cash-rich rogue states who just might be sick enough to fund such an operation.

    keep in mind: i put a wink on this comment. that means i was kidding!

    chris, you’re quite right. there are times when some of our founding and organizational documents use absolutist language that i’d prefer it did not. laying out such the sorts of specifics you suggest goes to loopy places, imo. i’m not a fan of absolutism because in a complex, nuance-laden world, the absolutes sometimes clash, and we’re left having to explain which right should trump the other.

    i prefer to prescribe rolling the state back vs. holding high the banner. in this target-rich environment, it strikes me our hands are more than full with my more modest approach.

  10. So lets see. You were adamantly against the following statement …

    We further oppose all attempts to ban weapons or ammunition on the grounds that they are risky or unsafe.

    … because you decided to read it as an absolutist statement of the right to own nuclear weapons. Even though it made no specific mention of nuclear weapons, and no one was really trying to squeeze that meaning into the statement.

    However, you are warm and fuzzy about the following …

    We favor the repeal of all laws creating “crimes” without victims

    … even though it is just as “absolutist” and can be used to reach the same conclusion about the ownership of nuclear weapons.

    I don’t get it.

    Would this be better:

    The Libertarian Party favors a government that is smaller and less powerful in all areas, except those areas where prudence would demand otherwise.

    It’s much shorter.

  11. Chris, putting words in my mouth is disrespectful. If you have a question, please put it in that form.

    “Adamantly” is not what I said. I said it was profoundly embarrassing. Am I correct that you understand the difference?

    I’d prefer to strike the word “all” as a general rule, although in that case a crime without victims remains vague. I can live with it, and certainly reflects my view as a general proposition.

    And, to answer your one question, no, your swing at a one-sentence platform doesn’t work for me. I can’t think of an area of government that I wouldn’t like to be smaller, so in my judgment it would not be prudent to increase government in any area, which is how I read your sentence. BTP’s works better for me, although they seem to be undergoing some major discontent in their ranks at the moment, leading one to agree with Wes and Eric that a platform is surely not the only consideration for the viability of a political party to advance its agenda.

  12. Considering that’s all past history, does it really matter now?

    Instead of arguing over the RKBNukes over a platform that’s in the rear mirror and receding in the distance, shouldn’t the real focus be on how to improve the numbers in members and funds???

  13. We have such wonderful opportunities to expand the party. Contemplate the record sent by the Barr Campaign in September:

    Barr Campaign spent $18,691 on Limo Services

    That’s in September.

    That was 7% of funds raised by Barr 2008 in September.

    We’re expanding records that most people never knew were there. It’s fantastic!

    For September, the Barr campaign raised $252,383, for an election cycle total to date of $1,106,681. That includes $197,159 though the end of May, raised immediately before or after the nomination date and through May 31.

    As a benchmark, the Harry Browne 2000 campaign reported that it raised in total 2.4 million dollars. While a large part of the Browne funding was for the pre-nomination campaign, Browne raised a million dollars between getting the nomination and election day. Badnarik 2004 raised slightly more.

    Barr 2008 also had identifiable spending in its September FEC Filing for mainstream media:
    Charleston Gazette $1,001…Advertising
    That’s 0.4% of campaign income.

  14. Regardless of what the LP platform says about nukes anyone who can afford to get one and wishes to do so will. Having been involved to some small degree with this issue while in the service it is worth pointing out that the technology has continued to evolve and will continue to evolve. The genie is out of the bottle.

    Maybe we should work on developing the tools to make owning one undesirable. If Americans are prohibited from owning them do you think that will stop people in other nations from owning them?

    MW

  15. Michael, yes, the genie IS out of the bottle. In my view, nukes changed the world, in ways I wish would just go away, but, unfortunately, they won’t.

    States have them, and the odds of them giving them up seem extremely low, even unfathomable. While I’m a theoretical asymptotic anarchist/applied lessarchist, in my judgment the theory of no government being the ideal is simply not possible.

    Even though states have them, I simply cannot imagine a mechanism by which private proliferation can be blocked without a state. This implies that I support a state at least up to a point in which private nukes (and WMD generally) are in fact banned, yes, even monopolistically and coercively. Were there a non-coercive way to deny private nukes and WMD, I’d support that, but — honestly — how could that possibly be enforced? After-the-fact torts simply are not a credible counterforce to strongly dissuade private nukes and WMD.

    Whether private Americans possess private nukes does not deter other nations from joining the Club in any credible way that I can think of. Hate to say it, but that’s a matter for statecraft.

    Guess that makes me a “statist.” So be it. It’s bad enough that states have them. Heaven help us if proliferation by private entities becomes common, or even widespread. A deranged terrorist organization with an agenda poses an unacceptable risk to all.

    All in my opinion.

  16. Seebeck says:
    “shouldn’t the real focus be on how to improve the numbers in members and funds???”

    Wes says:
    Those big Texuns shure seem to be onto sumpthin. Have you seen there numbers? http://lptexas.org/

    George Bush is a Texan. George Bush extended Daylight Savings time and saving is environmentally friendly, we all know that. Texas Libertarian numbers are rising. Need I say more? I probly will anyhow. Texas, Texas, Yee-haw!

  17. Gosh. This debate about nukes is all very useful information! … that is if anybody wants to engage in character assassinations. No wonder the LP is a laughing stock.

  18. Robert Capozzi…

    “Still, I’m exceedingly pleased that the platform no longer has the profoundly embarrassing “right to private nukes” clause in it ”

    Oh? Now was that in the 2004 standard platform? Where exactly?

    FYI–

    Please see: http://www.bestsyndication.com/2005/A-H/DAVIS-Mike/112505_nuclear_weapons.htm

    I would add that Libs have been active in creating nuclear free znes, a different matter. Also:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/600556/posts

    Now read…

    http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:H_mlJxQt_pwJ:www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/003772.html+%22the+libertarian+chocolate+covered+neutron+bomb%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us

    And my article;

    finahttp://web.archive.org/web/20010512083510/http://www.zolatimes.com/V5.18/chocolate_bomb.htmlly

    This is the policy paerson’s part. There is an editor’s mistake on Mr. Roger’s. Then:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20010616205038/www.zolatimes.com/V5.19/chocolate_bomb2.html

    Hope you enjoy the read. I believe I know your mom. She’s been organizing in NY for some time, no? Ask her what she thinks. Tell her I said hi.

    Best,
    MG

  19. “Adamantly” is not what I said. I said it was profoundly embarrassing. Am I correct that you understand the difference?

    Ok. Replace adamantly with “profoundly embarrassed by”. However, I would assume that if you are profoundly embarrassed by a particular wording, and actively work to replace that wording, then you are also adamantly opposed to the wording. If not, then you just like making a ruckus for shits and giggles. Considering you got huffy about my use of the term “adamantly,” I’ll assume that to be the case.

    My “questioning” was rhetorical for the purposes of making a point. Am I correct that you understand? The point is, no one was talking about private nukes until you decided to start talking about private nukes. The platform never mentioned them, and to my knowledge not a single LP candidate was talking about private nukes. It is a red herring fabricated by you to make yourself look “reasonable”.

  20. For wesbenedict

    Sorry fellow citizen,,,but this “NATIVE” born Texan takes exception every time someone calls george walker bush a texan….which in Texas slang…he ain’t atall…

    bush and his whole fam damnly be Connecticut born yankees.

    So don’t blame us because his Nazi sympathizing granpappy’s spawn came down to Texas like a swarm of crop destroying locusts.

    This is one native born Texan that would like to see geedubya stuffed back where he came from and I don’t mean Connecticut either.

    I met that piece of shit g w bush when I was home on leave from Southeast Asia in 1967, and he was a smart- assed arrogant piece of shit punk then and the only thing about him that changed was that he became a bigger smart-assed arrogant piece of shit punk. And if it wasn’t for his da da and g h dubya’s Arab buddies, g w bush would be mucking out horse stalls…probably down in Mexico where some of his favorite people live. I could be wrong of course…it might be that he would be shoveling camel shit for his other favorite people, the Saudi bin Laudin Royal family in Saudi Arabia.

  21. Robert Capozzi…

    “Still, I’m exceedingly pleased that the platform no longer has the profoundly embarrassing “right to private nukes” clause in it ”

    Thank you for our comments. As you note later, there is no such wording. The causes adopted by the LP are one thing, natural law somewhat wider. It would be well not to misrepresent the wording.

    Your post on weapons restrictions refers to a transition project for activists to be interpreted in the Principle statement, which re-capitulated the 2nd amendment. If the activists had wanted a project on nuclear weapons in there, they would have put it in the transitions. It’s all pretty standard common-law stuff, and works very well in e.g. coalition brainstorming with 2nd amendment groups, the main activity for which the platform was designed.

    The executive summary was designed as talking points specifically for candidates and educators, and is what one should be referring to in that arena. Hope this helps.

    In addition, please remember that in the Libertarian approach the government in the sense of the legislature can prohibit nothing, merely set guidelines based on common practice.The safety concerns you rightly proffer are handled by stare decicis, bonding, and juries, which are private groups which government assists. The Libertarian critique is also that regulation, as commonly done, only subverts common law controls, most especially prohibitive safety rules. However, pace these considerations, promotion of personal nuclear devices is not a project of the LP of which I am aware, and certainly not unsafe ones.

    FYI–

    Please see: http://www.bestsyndication.com/2005/A-H/DAVIS-Mike/112505_nuclear_weapons.htm

    I would add that Libs have been active in creating nuclear free znes, a different matter. Also:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/600556/posts

    Now read…

    http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:H_mlJxQt_pwJ:www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/003772.html+%22the+libertarian+chocolate+covered+neutron+bomb%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us

    And my article;

    finahttp://web.archive.org/web/20010512083510/http://www.zolatimes.com/V5.18/chocolate_bomb.htmlly

    This is the policy person’s part. There is an editor’s mistake on Mr. Rogers. Then:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20010616205038/www.zolatimes.com/V5.19/chocolate_bomb2.html

    Hope you enjoy the read, and if so, I’m content. I believe I know your mom. She’s been organizing in NY for some time, no? Ask her what she thinks. Tell her I said hi.

    Best,
    MG

  22. (This seems not to be responding and I pressed the first time in error. I apologize for any repeats.)

    Robert Capozzi…

    “Still, I’m exceedingly pleased that the platform no longer has the profoundly embarrassing “right to private nukes” clause in it ”

    Thank you for our comments. As you note later, there is no such wording. The causes adopted by the LP are one thing, natural law somewhat wider. It would be well not to misrepresent the wording.

    Your post on weapons restrictions refers to a transition project for activists to be interpreted in the Principle statement, which re-capitulated the 2nd amendment. If the activists had wanted a project on nuclear weapons in there, they would have put it in the transitions. It’s all pretty standard common-law stuff, and works very well in e.g. coalition brainstorming with 2nd amendment groups, the main activity for which the platform was designed.

    The executive summary was designed as talking points specifically for candidates and educators, and is what one should be referring to in that arena. Hope this helps.

    In addition, please remember that in the Libertarian approach the government in the sense of the legislature can prohibit nothing, merely set guidelines based on common practice.The safety concerns you rightly proffer are handled by stare decicis, bonding, and juries, which are private groups which government assists. The Libertarian critique is also that regulation, as commonly done, only subverts common law controls, most especially prohibitive safety rules. However, pace these considerations, promotion of personal nuclear devices is not a project of the LP of which I am aware, and certainly not unsafe ones.

    FYI–

    Please see: http://www.bestsyndication.com/2005/A-H/DAVIS-Mike/112505_nuclear_weapons.htm

    I would add that Libs have been active in creating nuclear free znes, a different matter. Also:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/600556/posts

    Now read…

    http://74.125.45.104/search?q=cache:H_mlJxQt_pwJ:www.samizdata.net/blog/archives/003772.html+%22the+libertarian+chocolate+covered+neutron+bomb%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=4&gl=us

    And my article;

    finahttp://web.archive.org/web/20010512083510/http://www.zolatimes.com/V5.18/chocolate_bomb.htmlly

    This is the policy person’s part. There is an editor’s mistake on Mr. Rogers. Then:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20010616205038/www.zolatimes.com/V5.19/chocolate_bomb2.html

    Hope you enjoy the read, and if so, I’m content. I believe I know your mom. She’s been organizing in NY for some time, no? Ask her what she thinks. Tell her I said hi.

    Best,
    MG

  23. i’m not a fan of absolutism because in a complex, nuance-laden world, the absolutes sometimes clash, and we’re left having to explain which right should trump the other.

    Apparently you’re not a fan of the ‘shift’ key, either.

    Are you absolutely opposed to absolutes, or just more-or-less opposed to absolutes?

    But now I see the reason you find explaining libertarianism so difficult. Evidently you think some rights ‘trump’ other rights.

    Regarding Chris’ point – what difference in current platform makes it less private-nuke-friendly than the previous one in your opinion?

    The issue with nukes isn’t the fact that they are ‘dangerous’ so much as that they are *nontargetable*. After all, from my perspective as an individual, a rifle is just as dangerous to me as a nuke. The problem is that someone can *aim* a rifle at the evildoer standing next to me, but can’t very well aim a nuke at him without taking me out as well (as well as destroying my land).

    I would support language in the platform that clarified that mere possession of such un-aimable weapons (that is, weapons whose use would guarantee the death of uninvolved noncombatants and therefore were by nature offensive and incapable of purely defensive use, including bioweapons and chemicals) constitutes aggression and is therefore not supported by Libertarians.

    What do you think of that sort of language, Robert?

    This would effectively mean that the LP would be taking a strong stance against *state-owned* NBC weapons, which is something I would dearly love to see, as I consider states a much higher threat than individuals.

  24. Elfnino,

    On your comment about Barr smelling like a Republican….

    Libertarian Party | Smaller Government | Lower Taxes | More Freedom

    Your nose recognizes odors pretty darned good.

    The Libertarians are just as much a splinter group off the right wing as Ross Perot’s who’s who of the top fat cat “United We Stand America” party is/was.

    People that dream of “Smaller Government” need to read the full time Career Federal Employee’s contract agreement.

    After successfully serving their probationary period, and gain tull time career federal employee status, in all instances save a few ways…it takes an act of congress to even fire one of them. I have 26 family members that are now or were until they retired full time career federal employees…and only a few of them have ever had their work programs closed…and even then all the government could do was shift them over to the next like similar job position at their same GS or WB grade/pay level.

    The only federal employees that actually lose their jobs are what the government loosely labels “temporary” non full time career status employees that get “bumped” out, and are purposely hired as temporaries and even most of them stay employed by the federal government until they retire with full retirement benefits.

    And when I said “bumped out” I meant they literally have designed what’s call a “bump system” as part of the full time career federal employee contract…to make damned sure they keep their full time career employee status.

    But don’t believe me…check it out for yourself.

    A good place to start is here: http://www.fedsmith.com/article/410/

    where a federal employee was charged with attempted murder and what it took to actually get rid of him.

    The “bump system” I referred to is regulated by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

    Here is a drug abuse case that says directly that after going through rehabilitation about the employee bumping into an already occupied position….

    http://www.flra.gov/decisions/v60/60-166cc.html

    Do a Ctrl=F for find and type in the word “bump.”

    Its a BureauRAT system…not bureaucrat.

  25. MG and Tom: Your comments got caught up in the spam filter due to multiple links. Obviously, it has been released to the blog now. My apologies.

  26. My previous question stands on its own. RKBNukes is utterly a stupid red herring. I went through that argument 8 years ago, and I see no reason to rehash the correct position on the issue regarding directed weapons and non-directed weapons.

    Wes, Yes, LPTX is on the rise. I plan to get there one of these days if the bleeping economy will let me GTFO of CA.

  27. SH: Are you absolutely opposed to absolutes, or just more-or-less opposed to absolutes?

    Me: Nope. Actually, I don’t “oppose” anything. I simply don’t support or support or am ambivalent…that’s my range. As a self-identified Randian/Rothbardian in recovery, I understand your construct, but it no longer works for me. Every position we take is an opinion, and my practice is to take positions that work, and to not support those that don’t. I’m unaware of any absolutist positions that work, but perhaps there is one that I’m not aware of.

    SH: But now I see the reason you find explaining libertarianism so difficult. Evidently you think some rights ‘trump’ other rights.

    Me: You seem to be inferring that I have a difficult time explaining l-ism, yet my sense is I’m pretty darned good at it, but thanks for the feedback. So far as I know, tort theory is all about sorting out rights, so, yes, there is such a thing as competing rights. That’s what courts are for!

    SH: Regarding Chris’ point – what difference in current platform makes it less private-nuke-friendly than the previous one in your opinion?

    Me: It’s less specific and theoretical.

    SH: The issue with nukes isn’t the fact that they are ‘dangerous’ so much as that they are *nontargetable*.

    Me: Yes, I read Block’s essay on this. Seemed to work for me, as I recall.

    SH: I would support language in the platform that clarified that mere possession of such un-aimable weapons (that is, weapons whose use would guarantee the death of uninvolved noncombatants and therefore were by nature offensive and incapable of purely defensive use, including bioweapons and chemicals) constitutes aggression and is therefore not supported by Libertarians. What do you think of that sort of language, Robert?

    Me: Supportable, but unnecessary, IMO. Too specific and theoretical for my tastes.

    SH: This would effectively mean that the LP would be taking a strong stance against *state-owned* NBC weapons, which is something I would dearly love to see, as I consider states a much higher threat than individuals.

    Me: Polyannish, in my view. The genie’s out of the bottle, as someone else suggested in this thread. It’d be nice to put it back IN the bottle, but I’m not holding my breath on this one.

  28. So after all this does anyone know if national has a direct mail program, or not?

    MHW

  29. For those who believe that private nukes are NOT a matter of debate in L circles, Mr. Gilson-De Lemos above linked to his opinion on the matter:

    “Libertarianism implies simply that nuclear weapons, along with all weapons, should be privately owned, and kept in a safe place according to common practice (set by the consensus of juries, not legislatures, whose job in common law is to set guidelines) , actual possession likely being in e.g. community armories. Such ownership serves as a valuable check against central ownership by tyrants and all that implies e.g. Chernobyl.”

    My opinion differs from his. I’d hope that all would recognize that both our opinions are valid. I suspect mine is the more functional view in the public square, but then I’ve been wrong before!😉

  30. For those who believe that private nukes are NOT a matter of debate in L circles, Mr. Gilson-De Lemos above linked to his opinion on the matter

    I do not believe anyone was disputing that the issue of private nukes could be a matter for debate. However, you keep pointing to a statement in the old platform that requires an extremely tortured reading to conclude definitively that the LP is for private nukes. Furthermore, the same meaning could be pulled from the wording of the current platform. The issue of private nukes with respect to the platform is a RED HERRING.

    If you want to debate private nukes, then have at it with Mr. Gilson-De Lemos. However, quit trying to smuggle that debate into a debate about the platform, which is now and always has been relatively agnostic on that issue.

  31. Once the nuclear weapon genie was loosened from its bottle, there isn’t much hope for getting it back in, and you can bet that every Hassan, Habib, and Osama crackpot will do whatever is within their power to get their hands on one and I think sooner or later will by theft or sale, if they haven’t already.

    I most certainly agree that these folks or their nations shouldn’t have nuclear weapons…but then again I can understand why they would want such weapons NOW after their nations for over two hundred years were conquered, dominated, and pillaged for everything from dates to rugs by just about every western nation you can name including the Johnny Come Lately U S A and its arrogant greed driven U S oil companies that moved in on the middle east oil and gave the middle easterners the short end of oil dip stick profits until those people got sick of it and kicked them out.

    Most U S Citizens aren’t even aware that England didn’t finally relinquish it’s strangle hold on Iraq until 1962 and that it was England that split Persia up into the mid east nations as we know them today.

    I have to bite my tongue to say it…but common sense says that the hatred for the U S and the west is at least in the eyes of mid easterners justified because of what has been done to them by other so called civilized industrialized western nations for those hundreds of years…and our own history texts testify to it.

    Today it’s. talk loud wit arrogant threat, and stomp in with a big army, and carry a big nuke to back it all up, that seems to have replaced Teddy Roosevelt’s prophesy of “walk softly but carry a big stick.”

    And something the west is going to have to grasp onto is that how can they expect the Arabs, any of them, to respect us or any other Christian west nation in any capacity as liberators and not just their current conquerors when they can’t even stand their own neighbors because of religious differences in their own one religion Islam and have been at war with each other periodically for centuries.

    Here it is in a nutshell folks…people no matter who they are, nor what country they live in, if they don’t want to change their philosophies, religions, and the way their leaders govern, and resist when outside influences try to force them to change expect them to revolt. If anyone disagrees with this, down scale the issue from nation to nation macro to micro, and try start pushing just one of your own next door neighbors around and dictating to him what he can and cannot do on his own property and tell him you are going to take some of his property, sell it and give him a small percentage of the profit. And unless the neighbor is a total wimp the neighbor isn’t wait for you to take his property but kill you or minimally beat hell out of you in short order the moment you started bullying him on his own property.

    Sanctity of one’s home and property is the exact same as sanctity and sovereignty of nation and that’s something in this nation of oligarchy rule government bullies its own citizens, far too many U S Citizens have become used to and forgotten.

  32. Chris, all due respect, it’s not a “red herring” IMO. It’s my way of illustrating the weakness of absolutism. There are other issues that could be discussed to illustrate, but in my view, private nukes is THE most extreme illustration.

    You’re being too literalistic.

  33. Okay I give up! I won’t ask that question again.

    MHW

  34. Michael, yes, they do, although I’m not up on the details.

  35. What is an individual in government? Just an individual, or some sort of angel with supernatural powers?

    If governments exist as a result of the consent of the governed, then the powers of government exist by the delegation of those powers by the people generally.

    So, any power to do anything that a government has comes from the individuals in that country. The power to own nuclear weapons is an unremarkable power, like all the other powers of government. It isn’t magic.

    To imbue the nuclear weapons issue with magic is to deny the nature of reality. Nuclear weapons may be used to construct a wider Panama canal, to reshape the surface of the Moon, to drive spacecraft from one orbit to another, to break up an asteroid, or to obliterate a particularly trenchant nest of statism. They aren’t monsters. They are just another set of things people have invented. They may be used for good or for evil purposes.

    Like the handgun issue, the nuclear weapon issue is an indictment of the intelligence of those opposed to individual ownership of such weapons. Weapons are scary. They are ugly. They may be used to kill. But they are not inherently evil in themselves.

    What is the point to valuing adult maturity if you are going to be a baby about nukes?

    And, the membership numbers on Paulie’s site speak for themselves.

  36. Laertus: Nuclear weapons may be used to construct a wider Panama canal, to reshape the surface of the Moon, to drive spacecraft from one orbit to another, to break up an asteroid, or to obliterate a particularly trenchant nest of statism. They aren’t monsters. They are just another set of things people have invented. They may be used for good or for evil purposes.

    Me: Hmm, I s’pose this is true enough, but there is the little matter of fallout. Taking out nests of statists may have some appeal to this crowd, but then there might be quite a bit of collateral damage, yes?

  37. Underground testing proceeded for many years after the initial weapons ban treaty. It still happens in some countries, such as India and Pakistan. No fall out.

    Yet, the ground can be very broken up, much easier to move. Voila! Wider canals. Deep tunnels.

    You probably don’t know much about radiation. Were you aware that less than a hundred million miles from you an uncontrolled nuclear fusion reactor is spitting out radiation all the time? Didja know that it can put out a high intensity radiation to kill every living thing above 10 meters depth in the ocean, and every living thing on land? And yet you worry about little tiny suitcase nukes.

    Someone get his security blanket. Poor tyke is crying.

  38. Laertes,
    Thanks for being so explicit.
    I’m reminded of the subtitle to the film, Dr. Strangelove: “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” Can’t say I’m there, yet😉 Good for you that you apparently are!

  39. Libertarians always hate doing the things that actually get results (such as direct mail, forming constructive relationships with various media outlets and individuals, interpersonal communication, improving their own appearance and standing in the community, using the political process to get issues on the ballot, using the political process to address thier local community forums, etc…), so they focus on things that they do know how to do: getting into arguments with each other.

    It wouldn’t matter if the Libertarian Party platform said: “The Libertarian Party wants to get rid of the entire US government. Every post, every tax, even the military. Just get rid of it all.”

    …If our candidates then wore suits and ties, and spoke with moderation, and introduced their own reasonable sounding and libertarian (not anarchist, like the prior paragraph) solutions to local problems.

    Libertarians don’t want to learn how to run serious campaigns. …They want to argue from within their personal comfort zones.

    All of the prior is true. Our platform was fine, A-OK in 1994. Our current platform is fine.

    The primary purposes of the Libertarian Party’s platform are:
    1) Stop people who aren’t libertarian from running as Libertarians. This simply means that the platform has to be an impediment to Barack Obama when he decides to run as a libertarian, because our many years of ballot access work, and serious campaigns have paid off, and we are now a viable path to the reigns of power. This isn’t an issue now, but it needs to be addressed, because when the economy crashes, there will be many non-libertarians who are interested in using us as a path to a position of power. The Libertarian Party is a long-term radical (in comparison to mainstream politics) movement.
    2) To define ourselves as radical enough to sell ourselves as a meaningfully different choice than Democrats and Republicans, to those people for whom stated definitions of words matter.

    Like all sales, how the sale is made is more important than what is being sold.

    As an insurance salesman: Once a person had made a general decision to buy life insurance, I could either sell them or not sell them, once I was in their home. Why is this true? Because inertia rules the day in the absense of a well-made pitch.

    If I had ten minutes with most voters before they walked into the polling place, I could get them to vote Libertarian. In many states, the number of minutes would be greater than ten, and in places like rural Alaska and Wyoming, it would be less than ten.

    Our success or our failure comes from getting in front of voters, and not screwing up when we do.

    Most voters will never read our platform.

    Thus, as long as it doesn’t say something unambiguous that can be taken out of context, such as: “Nuclear and biological weapons should all be privately owned.”, the people listening to our message will be listening to a libertarian explain or “spin” that message.

    Let’s face it: most people are taught in gradeschool that Liberty is desirable, but that all aspects of liberty –individually examined– are undesirable. They believe in “God”, but not leprechauns, thus making them monotheistic aleprechaunists.

    Most people never think about anything that is large in scale, or of primary importance. They live their lives focused on what’s immediately in front of their face. …I am not much different. It is a facet of our limited processing power that we rarely take an honest look at the big picture, unless we have consciously forced ourselves to.

    It is my belief that the people who are obsessing with altering the platform are doing so because they can’t handle the work necessary in a political campaign, and are easily bowled over by irate criticism. Moreover, they are self-conscious about getting everything perfect before they start working.

    Damage control is the name of the game in elections. A good campaign now (early), and lots of hard work is a better game than a great campaign one week before the election.

    Of course, you don’t want your platform to say things like “We would happily legalize being a whore and a glory hole slut.” There are good ways to say things and bad.

    The 1994 platform was good in both wording and principle, such that we should stop polishing the turd, and get on with making a difference. If people really want to get a deep philosophical understanding of libertarianism, then they should read voraciously, and continually challenge their own ideas. The vast majority of voters are not in the preceding category.

    When Greg Dirasian’s (now elected) candidate in Michigan was slandered by idiot non-libertarians who were cherry-picking our platform for controversial elements, he responded with action: he sued them for slander. How did they respond? …They issued public apologies, embarrassing themselves, and shut their stupid yappers.

    What did they say? They stated that Greg’s candidate wanted to give drugs to kids. Greg’s candidate had said no such thing, and neither did our platform. Yet most libertarians would have gone on the defensive in such a situation, or done nothing at all, and those actions
    1) Going on the defensive
    2) Doing nothing at all, while under attack
    would have been failing actions, in a campaign. The platform may occasionally mean that our candidates have to try harder to get their message across.

    …But this is the case with anyone who wants liberty. We face a brainwashed American public nearly incapable of critical thinking with regard to politics. For instance: Instead of believing that we entered WWI because federal reserve bankers needed to ensure that England’s government paid them back, most schoolchildren believe the government propaganda. Hell, a lot of libertarians and “objectivists” –who haven’t read “The Creature From Jekll Island”– believe the government propaganda.

    If someone has built their personal philophy on falsehoods, our message will not likely matter to them.

    What will matter is our candidates, their campaign budget, and HOW THEY COMMUNICATE OUR MESSAGE.

    The Libertarian Party is engaged in battles for the control of force.

    Education can sometimes help this effort, and it is sometimes necessary for the effort to succeed, but we are not an educational entity. We are an entity that is attempting to subvert the wrongful use of force.

    We cannot do that unelected.

    All efforts that detract from real (non-theoretical) efforts to elect are time-wasting. Changing the platform does not lead to election or failure to elect. It is of minimal value.

    The platform is useful for making sure we are running people who are more libertarian than their opponents, and suitably libertarian to make a difference once they are elected. It is a tool for the administration of internal consistency, and as a way of selling ourselves to our under-reached natural “small-L libertarian” demographic.

    Beyond that, there is no reason to discuss it, and no reason to change it once it is 90% correct, and suitably radical.

    As an example of a great way that the platform can help us, we take the prior statement on arms. This statement only helped us in the past, because Republicans had often sold out gun owners’ rights. (a la McCain-Lieberman). Therefore, for single issue gun rights voters, if we can appear more hardcore than the traitor Republicans, we have a good shot at getting their vote, if we can get this information to them.

    Unfriendly media pieces on the LP get written most often by people who have never met a libertarian, or who have an axe to grind with us, because they are socialists. If they are socialists, nothing will change their minds, but they also send support our way with people who disagree with them. If they are simply clueless because they have never favorably met a “big L” Libertarian, then there is a libertarian somewhere crafting the perfect platform wording who could have met them and set their mind at ease, and gotten an endorsement for the local libertarian candidate.

    If every libertarian concerned with philosophy and proper wording of libertarian ideas attended every one of their local city council meetings, the LP would already be THE dominant party in the USA. I’d keep writing, but I have to go do something constructive right now, for 2012 ballot access:
    http://www.freedomballotaccess.org

  40. Gosh, Jake… But right on.

    I think you nailed it all in one post.

  41. Libertarians always hate doing the things that actually get results (such as direct mail, forming constructive relationships with various media outlets and individuals, interpersonal communication, improving their own appearance and standing in the community, using the political process to get issues on the ballot, using the political process to address thier local community forums, etc…), so they focus on things that they do know how to do: getting into arguments with each other.

    I’m smelling some irony here.

    Many Libs do fall into the lazy and/or socially inept bin you describe above, but many do not. I agree with most of what you wrote (though I had to skim as I’m engaged rather heavily in spamming-for-Munger tonight), but do keep in mind that these ‘arguments’ also perform important educational functions – first, training in rhetoric and communication, and second, a sort of thinking-out of important issues.

    The former (rhetoric/communication) is one reason (not the only) why we should strive to make even our most internal discussions/debates both civil and well-reasoned.

    Back to the spamming!

  42. Damn, Jake, that was outstanding!

    Get that printed in all 50 state newsletters and the LP News, please!

  43. Jake,

    I’m pleased that you believe the current platform is fine. Many/most on PlatComm were going for that: To put together a document that all the strains of Ls could at least live with.

  44. …all 50 state newsletters…

    I fear this is an optimistic number. I started keeping track of state newsletters, but got diverted by other projects, so the list is pretty incomplete. The beginnings of the list is here:

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pYQ3qoagoxGM77qy33Yw0Hg

    If folks have info about state party newsletters (online versions, frequency of publication, mailed version, editor, etc.) please send it to me at hogarth@gmail.com and I’ll work on compiling as complete a list as possible. Thanks!

  45. Jake: well said! Thanks!

  46. 39 Jake Witmer (says)

    The primary purposes of the Libertarian Party’s platform are:
    1) Stop people who aren’t libertarian from running as Libertarians.

    Oops, guess the LP failed there. The failure is in the “new and improved” 2008 directional platform. There are many Democrats, Republicans, modern “liberals” and conservatives who want the direction to be toward smaller government. some may even want to run as Libertarians.

    The biggest failure in this regard however, is Bob Barr himself. Barr is a conservative, and runs very well on the current libertarian principle guttid document called the LP platform.

    As has been said by more than one Libertarian Reform Caucus “member”, we need a platform our candidates can run on.

    How very true, as now non-libertarians can EASILY run on the LP platform.

    Unfortunately, such candidates like Barr and W.A.R., are now “ours”.

  47. Jake Witmer also says:

    Education can sometimes help this effort, and it is sometimes necessary for the effort to succeed, but we are not an educational entity. We are an entity that is attempting to subvert the wrongful use of force.

    Just how can the LP “subvert the wrongful use of force” (which BTW, is simply the initiation of it), if virtually ALL candidates, from County Commissioner to President is hard pressed to get more than 5% of the vote? Sure there are a handful of LP candidates who get 5% to 25%, mostly in the lowest level contests, but law and policy will never be changed unless:

    1-The scope of the debate includes the serious
    consideration of libertarian solutions to problems caused by the government (and let’s face it, the ONLY solutions
    which ought to be solved via politics are problems caused by the state);

    2-Libertarians, routinely win, or at least at the higher levels of State office, and Federal offices, they get more than say, 30% of the vote;

    3-the word “libertarian” becomes not only a household name, but one generally thought of positively;

    No, the LP is an educational organization for the forseeable future, and if it isn’t it ought to be expressly designed to achieve #’s 1 through 3 above, though not necessarily in that order. Through it all however, this libertarian believes that purism is the only way to keep libertarianism from becoming like the other “philosophies”, whether conservatism, liberalism, socialism, etc., that is a hollow shell of what it was originally.

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