Steve G.

Some thoughts on the Boston Tea Party

In Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Politics on October 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm

As the founder and 2008 national vice-presidential nominee of the Boston Tea Party, that party is naturally on my mind a lot, especially as it wraps up its second biennial national convention and nears its first presidential election. And, also naturally, I find myself saying various things about it to various people (including, as of a few minutes ago, a reporter for the Associated Press).

Some of the points I’m trying to make keep coming up, so they seem worth writing down in one place … like maybe here.

When I founded the BTP, I held out hope that it would, sooner or later, merge back into the Libertarian Party as an internal caucus. That’s obviously not going to happen. With the nomination of its own presidential slate and the placement of that slate on several state ballots, our split from the LP at the national organizational level is complete. The split also proceeds apace at the state level as we recognize new affiliates which are likely to seek their own ballot access in 2010 and beyond.

Where that split is concerned, I once viewed it with trepidation, but that view has now changed to one of hope. The LP had a 36-year virtual monopoly and head start on cornering the libertarian political niche in America — yet the BTP appears to be doing better coming into that competitive niche for the first time than the LP did when the niche was effectively uncontested.

We have more members than the LP did as of its first presidential election. We’re on the ballot in more states than the LP was as of its first presidential election. I expect that our presidential slate will outpoll the LP’s first presidential slate.

The LP appears to be unable to expand the American libertarian political niche against its major party opposition, or to defend its monopoly on that niche versus newcomers.

Enter Darwin. Personally, I expect that the next major stage of the Boston Tea Party’s growth will include several state Libertarian Parties disaffiliating from the Libertarian National Committee and re-affiliating under the BTP umbrella.

The obvious cause to point to for the current situation — up-and-coming BTP, LP teetering on the edge of the dustbin of history — is the descent of the LP as a national organization into cargo-cultism. The nomination of the 2008 Libertarian Party Barr-Root ticket represented a final triumph of image over substance, and now we’re watching that image crumble to dust under the wind of apathy. Image can’t survive or thrive on its own. Without substance, it is dead.

Beyond the obvious, however, the BTP has its own reasons for optimism. We are a “principled populist” party, not just in rhetoric but in action. Just as we oppose the rule of “power elites” (in libertarian class theory, the political class) in the world at large, we deny those elites the ability to run our own party.

We are an activist-powered party — our national committee is constrained by our bylaws from becoming a money sink, and therefore from becoming a central planning board. If something gets done, it’s because our members want it to be done and go out and do it. Ernie Hancock, your new party is calling — your approach failed in the LP because the Politburo/Commissar structure had already taken firm root before you tried so valiantly to shatter it.

We are a genuine mass-participation party. If you want to be involved, you don’t have to travel hundreds of miles, shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars, and miss a week of work every time there’s a convention. You don’t have to send a representative and hope that representative actually represents you. If you’re a member of our party, you can take part in its business activities via any Internet connection.

Finally, we’re a consistently “smaller-government” party. Our platform isn’t going to be cut by 3/4th at one convention and completely re-built at the next like the LP’s has. It’s perpetual and unmodifiable:

“The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.”

Until and unless the state is completely eliminated, we will always be the party agitating to make it smaller tomorrow than it is today. That’s the standard the national LP is going to have to meet if it wants to recapture its place of primacy in the freedom movement … and I no longer believe that it can, or will, or even wants to, meet that standard.

I realize that many fellow libertarians whom I know and respect will continue to cling to the LP for some time … and that’s okay. I continue to work in my state LP and plan to do so for at least awhile longer. Breaking up is hard to do. I urge those libertarians remaining in the LP to think of the BTP as an ally, not an enemy. Our existence is an incentive to the LP to become better at what it does, and to think harder about what it wants to do. If it responds negatively to that incentive (as I believe it will continue to do), at least it no longer holds the claim over your head that “you have no place else to go.” Because now you do.

[Cross-posted at the Boston Tea Party web site and KN@PPSTER]

  1. Milsted tried to reform the LP. He quit & now dreams of starting his “new upper left party” a Progressive Party equivalent. Then I came along with the Progressive Alliance strategy. I found it to be close to Milsted. Then he actually wrote me asking me to quit! Now Barr has wedged the reformers & purists & BTP grew. We need to decide what to do. I do not think LP & BTP & GP are going to disappear in favor of Milsted’s new party. There is already a http://www.bullmoose.org party. Therefore I think the PA Strategy is still the way to go. I’m running again as an independent. All I need is the libertarian complementary vp preferably a woman. Third parties & independents can split & nominate all the tickets they want. The PA fusion ticket is the winner!

  2. Cue Milnes in 3..2..1..oh, wait, he’s already here…this is a recording…

  3. Bob,

    As the cycle begins again, I’ll try to condense my main piece of advice with respect to a “progressive alliance” strategy into one paragraph and hope that you take it to heart this time:

    A “progressive alliance” of Libertarians and Greens is only going to work if the progressive on the ticket runs strongly on those parts of the progressive agenda which constitute “common ground” with libertarians, and if the libertarian on the ticket runs strongly on those parts of the libertarian agenda which constitute “common ground” with progressives.

    Your campaign this year was explicitly anti-libertarian in a number of respects. Libertarians had no reason to support it other than your moonshine fantasy that it would somehow result in victory, a fantasy which libertarians found neither convincing nor attractive.

  4. What is the evidence that the LP can’t, won’t, and doesn’t want to meet the standard of having the government smaller tomorrow than it is today? Does anyone see the LP in the foreseeable future (like 30 years) ever calling for a larger net government or being happy with the status quo?

  5. I’m a brand new Libertarian (thank you Ron Paul and Harry Browne) and a brand, brand new BTP member.
    While I gravitate toward the grass roots, all politics is local vibe of the BTP, I find that being a member of the Libertarian Party allows me to get my foot in the door when talking to others. People are familiar with it as far as name recognition goes and that goes a long way.
    While I think that the online convention is a unique idea, I’d still like for BTP to perhaps have an actual annual gathering once we get larger.
    Call it a convention, call it a MeetUp, but don’t call it late for dinner or after last call🙂

  6. Roscoe,

    You ask:

    “What is the evidence that the LP can’t, won’t, and doesn’t want to meet the standard of having the government smaller tomorrow than it is today?”

    The evidence of that is the LP’s actions.

    In 2006, in deleted 3/4 of its platform.

    In 2008, it adopted a platform that explicitly acknowledges a role for government in areas where it had called for no such role before.

    In 2008, it also nominated a presidential candidate who had previously been, and seems to remain, a big-government conservative who now attempts to stuff the same old concepts into a libertarian vocabulary. And I’m not just talking about stuff he used to be for and now (sometimes) says he’s against. Within the election cycle itself, he was for a Fannie/Freddie bailout (on Fox News) before he was against it (the next day).

    The key word in my post is always. After 36 years, the LP currently sells itself as unwilling to be reliably smaller-government. What in this year’s events gives anyone any reason to expect that that’s about to change?

  7. William,

    Welcome to the BTP (and to the LP)!

    I agree, “real-life” get-togethers are a great idea, and I hope we have a lot of them.

    Best regards,
    Tom Knapp

  8. A “progressive alliance” between Greens and the LP is all but an impossibility. Genuine libertarianism requires devotion to both free people AND free markets, and as Kn@ppster pointed out, Greens are “explicitly anti-libertarian,” particularly when it come to free markets.

    The LP has been marginalized by it’s myopic focus on drug issues. The party needs to emphasize its core belief in smaller, less intrusive government above all else. If it doesn’t, Kn@ppster’s Boston Tea Party could well fill the void. It certainly has peaked my interest.

    Free people. Free markets.

    thephillyblog.wordpress.com

  9. phillyblog,

    Actually, I didn’t point out that Greens are “explicitly anti-libertarian,” because they aren’t.

    Three years ago, I attended a Green Party event that sounded like a Cato Institute symposium on property rights — in this case, the property rights of farmers who aren’t interested in buying Monstanto’s GMO seeds, then get sued by Monsanto when natural pollination activity infects their stocks.

    This year, at the same annual Green Party event, I listened to the keynote speaker call for an end to ALL energy subsidies because, paraphrased, without their huge corporate welfare packages, nuclear and Big Oil’s asses would be soundly whipped by wind and solar.

    I know libertarian Greens, and I know green libertarians. At the party level, merger is out of the question because the anti-market majority prevails in the Greens and the anti-science (when the science is inconvenient) majority prevails in the LP (hopefully not in the BTP, but I guess we’ll see). That doesn’t mean that alliances based on small bundles of important issues are beyond doing, though.

    Remember, in any given election, there are probably a maximum of 3-5 “big issues” that people care about. The Campaign For Liberty’s joint candidate statement (which yesterday became the BTP’s two-year program) is an example of something that the presidential candidates of the Constitution, Green and Libertarian Parties, as well as independent Ralph Nader, were able to agree on and to emphasize as important.

  10. I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict that Charles Jay won’t get as many votes this year as John Hospers got in 1972. Hospers got 3,864 votes (although not all reference books have all his reported write-ins). The name Boston Tea Party is a great name, but most counties in Florida won’t put full party names on the ballot. They just put “BTP” and virtually no one will know what that means. Also since the party filed last, it’s at the bottom of the Florida list of 13 presidential candidates. In Tennessee the party name isn’t on the ballot, just the word “independent”. And in Colorado, Jay is listed 9th in a very long list of 16 presidential candidates, the most on any state’s general election ballot for president in history.

  11. Tom, from what I’ve seen of libertarians, few campaigns escape criticism from others. Even purists like you get criticism from reformers like me & Milsted. & Barr is just using the word reformer & your guy Kubby & also Ruwart deferred to RP/RP dinosaur fossil who eventually endorsed Bible first Baldwin. Then he jumped off the diving board without looking along with Smith with his US out of Iraq immediately & leave the keys -to an arsenal of equipment to the biggest or fastest faction to kill for it-remark. In my opinion we could have won in 2008 despite Paul & Barr dixiecrat conservatives diverting a lot of foolish libs if you & Ruwart had joined me instead of going off on your tangents. All Ruwart has done is lose to Starr & Barr and join the discredited LNC & All you have done with BTP is split off a piece of a niche.

  12. Knappster, sure the LP has reduced its call for smaller government but how can one objectively say it favors more or same government as the two old major parties? I just don’t see the LP ending up – net, net – anywhere but in a more libertarian position than the old parties. You might not like the size of the gap, but the gap is there and – I would hope – will always be there.

  13. Bob,

    You write:

    “Tom, from what I’ve seen of libertarians, few campaigns escape criticism from others.”

    The same is true of all parties — the GOP is tearing it to shreds criticizing McCain’s campaign right now. The Democrats less so with Obama, but the criticisms flew fast and furious between the pre-nomination Obama and Clinton campaigns and their respective supporters.

    Politics is conflict. It’s just that simple.

    “Even purists like you get criticism from reformers like me & Milsted.”

    “Like” is a dangerous word. To be honest, not many purists are like me, nor am I like many purists, nor are you and Milsted very much alike at all.

    “& Barr is just using the word reformer”

    Maybe so — but if so I’d say that is because he has little use for the LP except as a vehicle for his personal ambitions. He has the wheel at the moment but has shown little interest in what, if anything, is in the tank.

    “& your guy Kubby & also Ruwart deferred to RP/RP dinosaur fossil who eventually endorsed Bible first Baldwin.”

    While I didn’t care much for Kubby’s endorsement of RP, it wasn’t an unreasonable thing in terms of campaign strategy. Many libertarians think well of Paul. Many libertarians thought well of libertarian candidates who supported Paul.

    “Then he jumped off the diving board without looking along with Smith with his US out of Iraq immediately & leave the keys -to an arsenal of equipment to the biggest or fastest faction to kill for it-remark.”

    Yes, one shot out of the mouth can be used by critics to discredit his real recommendation — but his real recommendation remains his real recommendation regardless, and that real recommendation was for a phased withdrawal of US troops as quickly as consistent with the security of the movement. That was, and remains, the only reasonable policy proposal on the table vis a vis Iraq. Every other proposal is fantasyland bullshit custom-built to cost more American and Iraqi lives.

    “In my opinion we could have won in 2008 despite Paul & Barr dixiecrat conservatives diverting a lot of foolish libs if you & Ruwart had joined me”

    If Ruwart and I (or any other similar combination) had joined you, you would still have polled fewer votes this November than Charles Jay will. And while I’m more optimistic than Richard Winger about Jay’s likely total, I don’t see that total exceeding, say, 10,000 at the very outside.

    “All you have done with BTP is split off a piece of a niche.”

    That’s not precisely true. Some of the niche that’s now in the BTP’s corner wasn’t “split off” from the LP in the first place. A number of our members have either never been involved with the LP, or left it long before the BTP came into existence.

    Furthermore, as you point out yourself, the niche is much larger than the LP. We’re not “splitting” the unrecruited bulk of that niche vote off from the LP, we’re competing for the bulk of that uncrecruited niche vote with an LP that has so far failed, in 37 years of trying, to recruit much of it in the first place.

    Finally, I should note that the BTP’s newly adopted program is a four-point statement endorsed by a libertarian candidate (Charles Jay), a faux-libertarian candidate (Bob Barr), a pseudo-quasi-crypto-paleo-libertarian candidate (Chuck Baldwin) and two progressive candidates (Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader). The BTP IS the progressive alliance.

  14. Roscoe,

    In terms of platform, the LP endorses more government now than it endorsed in 2004. That’s the wrong direction for a libertarian party to be going.

  15. tom, my quick review of the current platform shows the words “endorse” or “endorsement” are not present.

    care to rephrase?

  16. Robert,

    The word “endorse” not has to be used for an endorsement to exist. If a platform calls for X, it is endorsing X. “Support” is also another word for “endorse,” like in:

    “We support the maintenance of”

    and

    “we support control over”

    While it might reasonably be argued that the two issues those phrases address DO require more government than the LP explicitly endorsed in the 2004 platform (I didn’t say I agree, just that the argument might be reasonably made), the fact remains that the LP endorses more government in the 2008 platform in some areas than it did in the 2004 platform. If you support it doing so, fine. If you don’t, take it up with the platform committee to do something about it instead of kvetching at me for mentioning it.

  17. No, Tom, it is NOT a fact that “the LP endorses more government in the 2008 platform in some areas than it did in the 2004 platform.”

    Neither clause you cite says the government should do those things. I’m sorry, but you are mistaken, even on a technical basis. The “plumbline” deviation about immigration came in 2006, I do believe, yes?

    As you know, I do personally support monopolistic, coercive efforts to curb private WMD, however. Otherwise, I’m open to your apparent word game about the “direction” of the LP as an institution.

    My practice is to never kvetch. I stick to facts…direct observation. I simply defend the truth.

  18. knappster: Politics is conflict. It’s just that simple.

    me: yes, politics DOES involve a lot of conflict, but it strikes me that it’s not ALL conflict. it is mostly about finding a kind of equilbrium, or perhaps a serviceable consensus, with conflict on the margin.

    so, as your ex. shows, the Ds have a fair amount of consensus now, and they appear ascendant. the Rs had a similar era of good feeling in 1980-90 (after a brawl) and their will (slightly) changed direction of policy and national mood.

    Ls have had little consensus over the years, and thus have remained small and inconsequential. perhaps the existence of the BTP will solve that dysfunction…time will tell. i surely would prefer that the historical “demolition derby” approach would end among those of us who want to see the nation move in an L direction.

  19. @16 I must say I find it ironic that you mentally wrote nuclear weapons into the ’04 platform but when Tom does something similar you get all bent out of shape.

  20. Ls have had little consensus over the years, and thus have remained small and inconsequential.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation

  21. george, sorry if I sound bent out of shape. I assure you i’m not, but thanks fo your concern.

    there’s lots of reasons for ‘plumbliners’ to not like the latest platform. but it doesn’t endorse or support government.

  22. yes, thanks, susan. quite right…causation is almost always a matter of opinion.

  23. Kn@ppster,

    Agreed, among individual members of disparate parties, agreement can be found more readily than party platforms might indicate, but I was, in fact, referring to Greens & Libs at the party level. As the two parties are currently positioned, that’s a merger that seems out of the question. Out here in CA, Greens tend to favor socialism over libertarianism by overwhelming numbers.

  24. quite right…causation is almost always a matter of opinion.

    Well, no, it’s not. Causation is always a matter of reality. If you develop cancer after smoking, it’s not a matter of *opinion* whether the smoking caused the cancer or not, but the smoking isn’t necessarily the cause of your particular illness.

    Just because you don’t know the truth in any particular instance, that doesn’t make the truth a matter of ‘opinion’.

    For someone who talks about the complexities of ‘real life’ and how bad simplification and generalization are when other people do it, you sure do indulge in a lot of fuzzy thinking.

  25. susan, thanks for the counsel, but metaphysical certitude about any alleged truth seems to ultimately be,for lack of a better word, opinion. if you have incontrovertible proof otherwise, please do share it.

    ‘there is no spoon’ may seem ‘fuzzy’ to the blue-pill set, but makes perfect sense to us radical red pillers!😉

  26. susan, thanks for the counsel, but metaphysical certitude about any alleged truth seems to ultimately be,for lack of a better word, opinion.

    Thanks for admitting that you know nothing about anything. Do you even *exist*, Bob?

    Serious question: How do you make choices when you think all knowledge is just a matter of opinion? Do you just do what ‘feels right’?

  27. susan, we’re getting far afield, but I generally use peace as my guiding principle. that which promotes peace is virtuous. that which promotes violence and fear is contra-indicated.

    that, or I ask my inner hayek’s opinion😉 he generally provides awesome counsel.

  28. > I generally use peace as my guiding principle. that which promotes peace is virtuous

    It would be really peaceful if everyone were dead, so do you support genocide?

    What if a tyrant is taking your rights away and some neighbors get noisy about, start arming themselves and practicing their marksmanship. They practice (non-violent) civil disobedience on your street and threaten retaliatory force against the tyrant. Would you support state action to disperse and quiet these people in order to “promote peace”?

    I’m only half-joking.

  29. george, I don’t see self defense as non-peaceful. it’s justified. sometimes the peace should be kept. imo!

  30. susan,

    oh yes, as for doing what “feels right,” there IS some of that, too. i’d suggest that our individual conscience’s “tell us” whether X or Y rings true or not. so, for ex., when i read the Dec. of Ind., i get that “rings true” sense, you? the notion of self-evident truths is an appeal to conscience, which goes beyond simple logic, i’d suggest.

    we need constructs to get by in this world. the concept of rights is such a construct. they don’t exist in a state of nature like earth, water and air, yet social orders need a rule of law when we’re developing/evolving a code to live by. anything goes chaos seems contra-indicated.

    but, as a randian/rothbardian in recovery, adopting a construct should be done with a sense of humility. if we overstate or overapply the logic of a construct, we get what emerson warned us about: foolish consistency.

    i “feel” that’s lurching toward the Truth. but i’m humble enough to admit that maybe — just maybe — Murray actually codified an absolutist deontological worldview that works like a charm. Perhaps his corrections of Lao Tsu were appropriate.

    But i doubt it.

  31. If one’s base principles are sound, doing what “feels right” isn’t necessarily going to be immoral. Making decisions “intuitively” can be efficient. After all, our brains work a whole faster in analyzing reality and reaching conclusions than we can by verbal or pseudo-verbal reasoning.

    But, this depends on one’s base principles having been clarified for oneself, being sound and in operation. I agree with Robert on that.

    The problem comes when someone doesn’t have their base principles clear, or they just have base principles that are incompatible with the world we live in.

    “Foolish consistency” IMO can only happen when some element of foolishness or error has crept into your base principles. If you accept the principle that the initiation of force is wrong, then I don’t see how it is possible to be foolish in applying that principle consistently.

    “Foolish consistency” would be one never fully following the principles that ring true for one.😉

  32. If one’s base principles are sound, doing what “feels right” isn’t necessarily going to be immoral. Making decisions “intuitively” can be efficient….
    But, this depends on one’s base principles having been clarified for oneself, being sound and in operation. I agree with Robert on that.

    Well, yes, but that’s the precisely the problem. Robert refuses to actually identify base principles that he works by. All facts are, according to Robert, merely ‘opinion’.

    Fuzzy thinking can be a useful shortcut, yes, and we all indulge in it. But when it’s your *sole* method of reasoning (or, I should say, ‘reasoning’), then you have a problem.

  33. George, glad we agree, at least in part. IMO, it’s foolish to apply NIOF in situations where there are countervailing considerations. The world is not so neat and tidy, though I sometimes wish it were so. When should a fetus be protected, or is it a “parasite”? At what point does a weapon become an inherent threat? At what age can contracts be entered into? More important, how do we KNOW what is “right” and what “wrong”?

    Susan, it’s only a “problem” if you THINK it’s a problem, yes? Or is there a “problem catalog” that I missed?

    Given the choice between humility and arrogance, I choose humility.

    Peace (politically, minimizing coercion and maximizing liberty) is my true north, Susan. This maps pretty closely to NIOF, but it IS a different paradigm, I think it’s safe to say.

  34. @33, Susan, yes, completely agree with you on need to identify one’s principles. That’s a prerequisite to being able to run on mental “cruise control”.

    I don’t equate “fuzzy thinking” with “intuitive decision-making”. You seem to be saying they’re the same, but “fuzzy thinking” usually means to me unclear thinking.

    Robert, the ZAP/NAP/NIOF/etc is my first commandment … what “countervailing considerations” are there to it?

    Parasite: “an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.”

    A fetus may meet the dictionary definition of parasite but that definition does not necessarily carry with it the negative connotation that I think you are referring to.

    And some parasites are beneficial to the host. Or simply desirable.

    Ken Royce in “Molon Labe” makes the case that while abortion is unspeakable and one would never do it and one doesn’t want anyone else to do it, the state machinery needed to enforce a ban on abortion would be much too onerous to consider. It would be like another war on drugs.

    I abhor abortion and recognize there are some cases where it may be the only or correct choice. I don’t think I would ever participate in one, directly or indirectly, but I agree with Ayn Rand’s opinion on it:

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/abortion.html

    Minimize coercion? First off, one must differentiate between initiation of it, and defensive use of it. Without that distinction, I’m not sure there is anything useful to discuss.

  35. George, my take on “coercion” is that it denotes initiation. Sorry if that’s not how that word is commonly understood, but it is my shorthand definition.

    -One former parasite to another!

  36. The best way to start building up the Boston Tea Party is to get tons of local parties such as the Boston Tea Party of California, Oregon, Washington, etc. or getting affiliates who follow the BTP platform. Best way to build up is the local & state level. I like the Boston Tea Party on paper and getting Charles Jay actual exposure to the American public through the mainstream media was huge in my eyes. I believe you guys are on the right track but it’s time you guys really start working together towards building up the name of the BTP.

  37. I’m for Jay this year, as I’ve said many many times before, but when I think of the BTP, I still get worried about the precedent of the socialist parties. Yes, the LP is screwed up, but I worry about a day when there will be a half-dozen tiny libertarian parties feuding with one another, just as there are now the Socialist, Socialist Workers, Socialism and Liberation, etc. etc. parties…

  38. @36 If coercion means initiation of force then how do we express defensive force?

    This is nitpicking a bit but using too much shorthand for key concepts can lead to confusion among the uninitiated IMO.

    @38 I’m beginning to think that a successful libertarian party needs to:

    – stop investing significant resources in potus/vp candidates until we start electing some governors (which would require some state legislators, which would require some local executives, etc.)

    – simplify the platform an bylaws to decentralize power and stop infighting over the platform. BTP is on the right path here.

    – focus on bottom-up building, instead of top-down nonsense.

  39. If coercion means initiation of force then how do we express defensive force?

    It’s a bit tricky, because the word coercion is used a bit jargonishly by many folks. I’m clear on it being ‘aggression’, but others don’t see it that way. It’s probably better, I think, to stick to words like ‘aggression’ and ‘force’ – that is, force is OK in some situations while aggression never is. But *even then* you still have to explain the difference to some folks. We should be wary of slogans that seems to cover everything to us but may just confuse others.

    stop investing significant resources in potus/vp candidates until we start electing some governors (which would require some state legislators, which would require some local executives, etc.)

    There are good reasons for running higher-level candidates, and for investing ‘significant resources’ in their races. But the individual contributors can and will decide where their monies go, so that’s hardly an issue.

    “Third” parties are -not- simply about ‘winning elections’, and putting all or most of the focus on ‘winnable’ elections (which would be S&W, judgeships, other nonpartisan races, and *maybe* a few state-level legislative seats) will only serve to elect a scattered bunch of more-or-less libertarian-minded folk who have no strong ideological connection.

    It’s a tough task, but we need to do both – focus on local elections and getting our people integrated into the communities at the level where they are chosen by their neighbors for leadership roles, *and* doing major education and party-building with more high-level candidates. There are no shortcuts.

  40. We can’t do all that at once and do it well with the very limited resources libertarians apparently have.

    One of the first rules I learned in strategy games is: concentrate your forces. And I think that applies to politics, too.

    I think some people are blindly sending most of their contributions to high profile races, like POTUS. It’s not ok to just leave it alone since no one is coercing them. For those who don’t think POTUS races should be sucking all the resources out of the libertarian community, we should step up and advocate an alternative.

    Run a candidate for POTUS, sure. But the candidate and LPUS should not be running ballot access. Let the states handle that. If they need to get a governor or senator on the ballot or just qualify a whole party, the POTUS candidate can get lumped in there.

    If not, too bad. All these lawsuits and last-minute failed efforts this year – what a waste.

    Top-down doesn’t work. We need to go bottom-up.

  41. We can’t do all that at once and do it well with the very limited resources libertarians apparently have.

    One of the first rules I learned in strategy games is: concentrate your forces. And I think that applies to politics, too.

    Yes, that’s true to some extent. But remember – individuals designate where their funds and attention get spent, not the Party.

    Also, you’re calling for a bottom-up approach, which will make that even more true if effective.

    I think some people are blindly sending most of their contributions to high profile races, like POTUS. It’s not ok to just leave it alone since no one is coercing them. For those who don’t think POTUS races should be sucking all the resources out of the libertarian community, we should step up and advocate an alternative.

    I see. You’re just advocating that people concentrate their resources more on local races. Yes, that’s fine.

    You might be surprised to find, though, that many people who are contributing to presidential campaigns may take exception to your characterization of their contributions as ‘blind’. Most people have what they beleive are good reasons for spending their money in particular ways.

    But convincing folks to support local candidates to a higher level is good, I agree.

    But the candidate and LPUS should not be running ballot access. Let the states handle that.

    The LPNC would quite possibly have never run a balloted Libertarian candidate without support from the national party and/or presidential candidates. There are actually more than two sides to this story.

    All these lawsuits and last-minute failed efforts this year – what a waste.

    I’m seeing a baby+bathwater situation here. It’s possible to run a ballot access drive without a ton of failed lawsuits and last-minute screwups. You just need someone competent to do it. Unfortunately, neither the Barr campaign nor the LP seems to have had anyone particularly competent this go-round. My inclination is to find more competent people rather than to abandon the idea of national support for ballot access.

  42. > individuals designate where their funds and attention get spent, not the Party.

    irrelevant and not strictly completely correct.

  43. It’s unclear what BTP is doing re: this, George, but it appears they are largely top-down.

    For the LP, I generally agree with Susan. National campaigns are probably cost-effective in getting the message out. Some statewide races are vital for ballot access. Local races are the farm team.

    I do believe the LNC’ll be moving the ’12 convention forward to perhaps President’s Day weekend to give the ballot access effort time to get the job done. Seems like a good idea.

  44. I’m not saying the BTP is to be-all/end-all.

    I’d like to see some concrete metrics on what exactly the million dollars or so it cost for Barr to get on the ballot and campaign this year has produced for the LP.

  45. George, I only mentioned BTP because this thread pertains to them, not the LP.

    Metrics would be good. Media impressions, vote totals, and net change in membership at YE would be 3, off the top of my head.

    I’d guess that media impressions will be off the charts positive. Vote totals we’ll know soon enough.

    Also, we’d probably want to see WHO donated, whether they are in the LP or not as percentages, both dollars and donors. Increased non-LP money seems like a good way to finance our races, all else equal. Perhaps first time vs. repeat donors to LP races.

    Really good data is expensive to get and analyze in a meaningful way. So we get people carping about limo expenses, which is mousenuts, as far as I’m concerned. I guess I understand the motive, given so financial scandals of the past, but people need to have some perspective, I suggest. I note those scandals involved anarchist candidates…not that there’s anything WRONG with anarchism or anarchists, but it tells me that politics can be a slimey, regardless of one’s ideology.

  46. I’m responding to Robert Capozzi’s post. There is no need to move the Libertarian convention, because we have won all our presidential substition cases this year. Therefore we can do the ballot access petitioning early and get it over with, without having to move the convention to the odd year before the election year.

  47. Richard, you may be correct. I’d repeated the talk of moving it to President’s Day ’12, not ’11.

    If winning those cases creates a precedent where the placeholder name can be seamlessly removed once the candidate is selected, I’m for it. The Barr campaign seemed to lose a lot of energy fighting for ballot access this go ’round.

    If Memorial Day weekend is optimal for other reasons, so be it.

  48. I’m carping about the limousine costs. It’s ridiculous. What the heck is wrong with taxis, busses or trains. Barr might have even gotten some extra press from being more “populist”.

  49. George, I’ve done both limos and taxis. Have you ever looked at the economics of that trade-off? It’s been a while, but I have. Limos might be 20% more expensive than cabs, but when time is of the essence, it’s WELL worth it. In many cities, cabs are VERY difficult to find as well.

    If Barr missed a TV appearance because he took a cab and not a limo: That’s the appropriate business question. Pennywise poundfoolishness is not the way to run a campaign.

    For all we know, some of that line item might even include “cabs” in some cases. Getting that granular is something most enterprises don’t bother with.

    AND, you can pay a limo service remotely. Harder to do with cabs…cash and carry.

    All due respect, but the mechanics of how the Barr campaign is run (limos vs. cabs) is — I’m sorry — absurd. An utter non-story, IMHO. No media of any consequence (wide audience) would cover such a thing.

    I repeat: Mousenuts!

  50. Oh, yes, if that line item said “Local Transportation” vs. “Limo,” this would not be a matter of discussion.

  51. Well I can tell you this: Next time they won’t be spending my several hundred dollars in mousenuts on this nonsense.

  52. Robert,

    You write:

    “It’s unclear what BTP is doing re: this, George, but it appears they are largely top-down.”

    On the contrary — there really is no “top” for things to come “down” from.

    Our national conventions are not delegated, they’re direct. Every party member has an equal voice in almost all party business matters — and the ability to appeal the few matters addressed by the national committee directly to the membership with very minimal requirements for doing so.

    Our national committee is forbidden to raise or spend significant amounts of money. If money is going to be raised and spent, it’s going to be raised and spent by activists who are using that money to do the things they decide should be done.

    Yes, we nominate or endorse a presidential ticket — if NOTA doesn’t prevail in that process. That doesn’t make us “top-down.” Matter of fact, we just modified our bylaws to make the state-level nomination of VP candidates official policy.

    It won’t surprise me at all if one of our lower-level candidates raises and spends more money than our presidential slate does in 2012. Our national committee doesn’t have “resources” to “invest,” other than the disposition of promotional space on its web site. The grass roots will decide which campaigns receive support.

    It also won’t surprise me if, in 2010, we modify our bylaws to provide for direct member voting on endorsements of non-BTP candidates instead of leaving that task to the national committee.

    As far as the limo thing is concerned, both you and Mr. Donnelly are right.

    There are, in fact, some areas in which use of limousines can be more efficient and economical (such as transport of groups of people from the same Point A, like the airport, to the same Point B, like an event venue at a pre-scheduled time), and make an impression (important candidate, serious campaign, etc.).

    On the other hand, there’s something to be said for traveling without entourage, cutting expenses and playing the “regular guy” role.

    If you can show me evidence of one vote for Bob Barr, or one new member for the LP, directly attributable to the fact that Barr arrived at Venue X in a limo instead of a cab, public transit vehicle or rental car, I’ll donate five bucks to the campaign.

    I don’t know that I could ascribe any memberships or votes to it, but I do know that I saw several impressed looks from people in 2004 when the debate protest / anti-war parade as it came around the corner of Skinker and Del Mar in St. Louis … and Michael Badnarik stepped off the Metrolink train down the block, walked off the platform, and stepped right into said parade-in-progress, welcomed by local LP participants with LP signs.

    Playing the “we’re just as fat as the fat cats” schtick was a bad idea for the LP even when it was de rigeur. It’s an even worse idea now that fat-catness is out of fashion and authentic populism plays well.

  53. Tom, yes, I take your point on how you structured BTP. George was making the case for running for local vs. national races, or allocating dollars at least “downticket.” BTP in this cycle at least appears mostly to be about the top of the ticket. How BTP evolves should be interesting.

    I have no idea how “lavish” and “entourage-like” Barr/Root is or isn’t. Fixating on local transportation costs doesn’t seem to be a very good proxy, but rather a poor one. Being on time and professional seem most important to this hombre.

    Back in the day, I did quite a bit of travel, and I generally sat in business class. I suppose I could have flown coach and saved a few bucks, but I’m fairly tall, and if I sat scrunched up for hours and then had an important meeting, odds’d were high that my performance would have been poor vs. sitting in business class.

    Maybe I could have driven a few hundred miles, and REALLY saved some money. But Ls of all people should know that time IS indeed money.

    And, yes, image matters in business and politics. Looking really homespun can work, too…e.g. Jimmy Carter carried his suitcase. Reverse snobbery is a legitimate approach. Looking like you just fell off the turnip truck? Not so much.

    …methinks we’ve discussed this quite enough…

  54. And I thought FRANKLIN was fresh. This is the most amusing thing I’ve ever stumbled upon since my death. I mean, the last century did spew out Will Ferrell, but you’re up there with LOLManatee. This is great. It’s redeemed my hope of LMFAO-ing before the next millenium.

    Thanks for the laugh!

    -T. Jefferson

  55. P.S. Lincoln, with all his talk of abolishing slavery, made more sense at the time than you. ZING.

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