Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Executive Committee’

The Libertarian Party’s Quest for Ballot Access and The Sin of Onan

In Activism, Candidate Endorsement, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Local Politics, Politics, Republican on February 3, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Onan… spilled his seed on the earth, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

Ballot access is a major goal of the Libertarian Party, so much so that we seem to be more concerned with keeping or gaining ballot access for whatever election is next rather than with any Libertarian actually winning in whatever election is before us today. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballot_access) Ballot access seems to have become that tail that wags the dog in third-party politics. Yes, it is important to have our candidates on ballots, but doing that should not come at the cost of using our resources, time and efforts to actually get Libertarians elected to higher offices than city councils, county commissioners and Justices of the Peace.

Without actually quoting any specific messages or e-mails to me by others, I will say that when I have asked my state Party Leadership for Party help with my own election, I have been told that, rather than focusing resources on any specific race, they don’t want to show “preference” for any candidates or any particular races because “it wouldn’t be fair”. I was told that “with 193 races, we can’t play favorites”. I say that it is because of attitudes like that which have resulted in NO major or significant election wins in almost 40 years. When election results are tallied, we crow about how significant we are because Libertarian candidates got 5% of the vote here and 7% of the vote there. Getting 5% of the votes in an election is still losing that election.

The reason I used the infamous line about Onan is that what we are doing as a Party is “spilling our seed on the earth” instead of creating any actual elected officials. I have a feeling, in fact, that Libertarians have been telling each other for so long that is it so important to view the percentages of our loses as victories that I think that there will be a lot of anger, resentment and even hatred showered on the first Libertarian to actually win a notable office. In Irving Janis’ ground breaking book on ‘Groupthink’, he tells us this story:

Twelve middle-class American men and women wanted to stop smoking, and attended weekly meetings at a clinic to discuss the problem. Early in the sessions, two people stood up and declared that cigarette smoking was an almost incurable addiction. The group agreed. The, one man stood up and said “I have stopped smoking and, with a little willpower, so can the rest of you.” Immediately, the other group members began to abuse him verbally, and the meeting ended in chaos. The following week, the dissident stood up again and said that he could not both attend all of the required meetings and stop smoking; so he had returned to smoking two packs of cigarettes as day. The other members welcomed him back into the fold with enthusiasm but no one mentioned that the original purpose of the group was to help each other stop [emphasis in original] smoking. Their new aim was maintaining the status quo at any cost.

I think that, deep down in their subconscious minds, the leadership and long term activists in the Party have become so inured to losing elections that they have accepted a cognitive dissonance in which they delude themselves that they are accomplishing great things by simply showing up to the ball, as it were. Ballot access in NOT what we need to be working for; getting Libertarians elected to significant offices IS what we need to be working on. We HAVE to “fertilize some eggs” and then nurture them maturity, so to speak. If we do not and cannot accomplish that, then what the Hell good are we to America, our states and our communities?

Maybe the Libertarian Party’s candidates NEED to be spending time standing in front of the local Wal-Mart and grocery stores collecting signature to get ourselves on ballots. Maybe we need to be holding open meetings to let people who aren’t Libertarians talk to us instead of holding rallies that are only open those who already think like the rally organizers do. Maybe we need to create “Election Coordinators” to be officers on, if not paid staff of, both our state and our national executive committees? Maybe we need to start from the ground up, do the necessary work, and use the necessary resources to get electable candidates INTO office. Maybe we need some humility instead of fancy offices in Washington. We do not need to attract the rich and powerful even though doing so makes us proud of ourselves; we need to make it where everyday people can walk in off of the street and ask us who we are and what we stand for.

Onan spilled his seed on the earth because he did not WANT to make his brother’s widow pregnant with his child because it would then be his brother’s child instead of his own. The Libertarian Party is spilling its seed on the earth and, whether or not we admit that don’t really want “progeny”, that is the reality that comes with distributing our resources far and wide without there being any chance of those resources paying off for us in the end. We throw our seeds on “rocky barren places where they can find no purchase”.

The current Libertarian Party Bylaws state that:

The Party is organized to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles by:

(F)unctioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements;

(M)oving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office;

(C)hartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities;

(N)ominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office; and,

(E)ntering into public information activities.

Notice that the bylaws say that the method authorized by the Party to move public policy is BY getting Libertarians elected to public office. Without getting Libertarians elected we, by our own words, cannot try to move public policy simply by existing as a Party. In addition, the burden of “chartering affiliate parties” falls on the organization itself, NOT upon the people. It is a requirement of our bylaws that the Party itself create (a pre-requisite for chartering, I assume) the affiliate parties. Simply hoping that people will come to US and want to form local Party affiliates is neither effective nor in line with what our bylaws say. As with an elected candidate, the burden is on us, as a Party, to earn the votes / support of the people. It is not THEIR responsibility make things easy for us. By the way, note that maintaining ballot access is NOT one of our stated purposes.

In Texas, the charter for our state Party says that the State Executive Committee will be composed of the elected state Party officers and two representatives from each of our state’s 31 Senatorial districts. That means that there should be 62 district representative members sitting on our state Executive Committee. Instead of 62, there are (according to the available information on the LP of Texas website, http://lptexas.org/content/state-leadership) only 19, with only 6 of the 32 districts being fully represented by two members. This means that only 13 out of 31 districts have ANY representation on the Executive committee at this time and that ALL of the current representatives on the LPTEC are from high population areas of the state. Not a single representative member of the LPTEC speaks for rural area or even moderate population centers.

Like the government of the State of Texas, it seems as if both the National and, at least, the Texas Parties exist simply because they have existed and they function on nothing more than their own small inertia. As one of my political heroes, Pat Paulsen, said;

Vote or get off of the pot.

I have said before that, until we get serious about ACTUALLY being a contributing part of the American political scene, until we actually manage to win some real elections we have become and will remain nothing more than a lunatic fringe wandering in the wilderness telling ourselves that we matter. So, I ask every Libertarian and libertarian who reads this to ask themselves one simple question… “Will I be content to just “spill my seed on the earth” again this year?

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© Copyright 2010 by Rhys M. Blavier

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225+ years of The American Experiment.

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Seth Cohn resigns over LNC’s NH lawsuit

In Courts and Justice System, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Protest on August 29, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Seth Cohn has resigned in protest from the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire Executive Committee, as a result of the committee’s vote to join the LNC in its lawsuit.

Seth Cohn: “A history of the LPNH, NH ballot access issues, and why this lawsuit is a mistake (part 1)”

In History, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics on August 28, 2008 at 4:20 pm

The following was written by Seth Cohn, and is published on LFV with the permission of the author.

This is written for those with little or no background in this issue, which includes many LNCers, and perhaps some of the current LPNH Exec Comm.

I’m going to highlight important points with *this*.

Let’s start our timeline back a bit, but not too far back: 1997, a mere 11 years ago

Oh, wait, we must mention the Sec of State (SOS), Bill Gardner, in power for over 30 years now.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gardner

We’ll come back to him…

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/LXIII/652/652-11.htm
652:11 Party. – “Party” shall mean any political organization which at the preceding state general election received at least 4 percent of the total number of votes cast for any one of the following: the office of governor or the offices of United States Senators.
Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979. 1997, 253:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.

Note that date: in 1997 (effective by 1999), the percentage required was raised from 3 to 4 points. The LPNH lawsuit brought in 2005-06 has more details for those who want them… lots of juicy legalese, and lots of failure to make a dent, by legal means.

In 2000, Don Gorman, of NH, loses the LP nomination with 166 votes (19%) for second place, to a second attempt by Harry Browne at 56% of the convention voters.. The “Browne Cloud” affair ends up being both an ethical and financial sore point for the LP for many years to come. George Phillies, a professor of physics, would be the central force in excising the Emerling (aka Cloud) influence from his own state several years later. (Those wondering why George is the preferred target of certain people still in LP, your question is answered – if you name names and point out the dirty laundry, and those names and those who worked alongside them remain in the org after you’ve done so, they certainly will hold grudges in the future.)

The entire story of this part of this history can be pieced together from lots of googleable posts like this:
http://libertarianhistory.blogspot.com/2007/09/harry-browne-emerling-cloud-willis.html
http://www.carolmoore.net/4secretary/controversies.html
and quite importantly George’s own book,
http://www.cmlc.org/headerfundingliberty.htm
(Those interested in a ebook or paper copy should contact George.)

NH election results – http://www.sos.nh.gov/general2000/index.htm *Effect in NH: Due to Harry’s failure to campaign in NH (or much of any place else), Ballot Access as a party is lost, when the only qualifying downstream candidate, Governor candidate Babiarz gets no supportive bump from a active Presidential Candidate, in fact, Browne does worse than Babiarz by more than 2 to 1. As a result, party status is lost, and won’t be regained thru 2008, present day. *

2002 – http://www.sos.nh.gov/general2002/index.htm

Babiarz doubles his numbers to over 13K votes, but still short of 4% Senate candidate Blevens does over 9K, but also not enough.

2004 – Badnarik fails to make the ballot at all, due to short petition numbers. Blevens also fails to make the ballot for the other Senate seat, makes 100+ tallied write in votes.  *LP National complains, for years later, that Babiarz and others are solely responsible for the ballot failure (which should have ‘easy petition drive’, in part because Babiarz won’t run against Gov. Benson (who has friendly to libertarian causes, like the Free State Project).*

Benson loses, as well.

2006 – Gov candidate Kahn fails to make the ballot. Blevens, despite not being the convention nominated candidate for Congress District 2, petitions, and successfully makes the ballot as Libertarian. The ‘official’ LPNH nominee, Lapointe, FAILS to make the ballot. *The question of renaming Blevens from L to Indep is raised. The Sec of State, refuses to do so, saying there is nothing he can do… the petition said Libertarian, so that is what Ken will be listed as.* Ken makes 3K votes.

Post 2006 – In the light of past petition failures, and *National’s insistence that a post Denver convention group of local petitioners, perhaps with some paid help, can make the ballot ‘easily’, the stirring of the current issue are created.*

When I say “National”, I include Shane Cory, Stephen Gordon, Sean Haugh, and others who in various conversations with me, either via email or phone, all either questioned WHY NH failed in 2004 with a eye to blame NH folks like Babiarz, and repeated that NH petitioning wasn’t hard as we claimed, after all it was only 3000 sigs required, far short of states with 10x that amount needed. Oh how little they understood….

To be continued in part 2 (at the least, since this is going to get long and drawn out as we delve into the current mess and find the realities that few want to admit..)

LP Presidential Candidate, Senator Mike Gravel, Interviewed By Newsweek

In Barack Obama, Censorship, Democracy, Democrats, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Media, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government, War on April 1, 2008 at 12:11 am

Senator Mike GravelSenator Mike GravelLP Presidential candidates normally don’t get this level of media exposure, ever. Senator Mike Gravel’s switch to the Libertarian Party is causing a great deal of positive mainstream media attention. Below is an excerpt from the Newsweek interview, posted today. I will note that Last Free voice beat Newsweek to the punch, interviewing Senator Gravel within 48 hours of his decision to run as an LP candidate.

After the crowded presidential primary shrunk from eight Democrats and 11 Republicans to only three viable candidates between the two parties, what’s a spurned presidential hopeful to do? Well, if you’re Ron Paul, you ignore John McCain‘s inevitability and keep running anyway. If you’re former U.S. senator Mike Gravel, you switch parties.

Last Monday, the former Democrat swung by the Libertarian Party‘s national headquarters and defected. “We handed him a [membership] card on the spot,” says Shane Cory, the party’s executive director. Two days later, Gravel formally announced he would run to be the Libertarian candidate for president, joining a field of 15 others. Cory wouldn’t comment on Gravel’s chances at the convention, which will take start in Denver on May 22, but he did say that Gravel’s party swap has garnered some much-appreciated exposure for the Libertarians.

Gravel spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Sarah Elkins about the 2008 race and why he’s still running. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You’ve been a Democrat for your entire political career. Was it a tough decision to switch parties?
Mike Gravel:
It had been eating at me–believe me–ever since I was a senator [he served from 1969 to 1981]. When I was in the Senate, I was a maverick and, at the end of my term, I was not particularly happy with my progress in terms of partisanship with the Democrats and Republicans. So when I left office, I stayed away from partisan politics altogether. But when I decided to get back in the game and to get my message out to the American people about the National Initiative [a political movement that would allow ballot initiatives at the federal level], I had to pick a party that would allow me to get into the debates … But of all the parties I was probably closest to the Libertarians.

It sounds like you’ve been interested in leaving the Democratic Party for some time. Why didn’t you make the move sooner?
It wouldn’t have made any sense for me to enter the race as a Libertarian. [As a Democratic candidate], I got into the debates and got a fair amount of visibility up until General Electric [which owns NBC] along with the Democratic Party leadership, said they would get me out of the debates. And they did. GE said I did not meet their criteria for participating in the debates. I think it’s very interesting that a defense contractor said I had to meet their criteria in order to participate in the MSNBC debates. We’ve really come down in democracy when a defense contractor can decide what the American people hear from a candidate. It was a [Democratic National Committee] sanctioned debate, so we complained to the DNC and found out that Howard Dean had agreed to it and that not a single one of the other Democratic nominees raised a finger in protest, meaning that they were totally tone deaf to the censorship of the military-industrial complex.

So you didn’t consider running as a Libertarian from the get-go?
I would have preferred to run as an independent or Libertarian or Green Party, but I knew that none of those candidates would have gotten any traction. So I used my position as a legitimate Democratic candidate to get my name out there.

You still have to win the Libertarian primary in order to run as the party’s candidate.
I am probably the most well known and certainly the most experienced in terms of running for president and as a government official. I have 16 years of experience in elected office and have been a senator, and I have a great deal of foreign-policy experience.

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You can read the very interesting three-page interview excerpt with Newsweek here.