CALIFORNIA LP CONVENTION '74—
Frontlines correspondent Bryan Remer reports:
While Harry Browne was over in San Francisco pushing his latest book, over 100 members and guests of the Libertarian Party of California helped fill the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley and worked their way through an exhausting four-day convention, beginning February 15.
Former Vice Presidential candidate Tonie Nathan opened the convention officially the next morning with "The Caveman Concept," a survey and refutation of the idea that violence is necessary to achieve social change but that reason is not. Past Presidential candidate John Hospers delivered the keynote address, "The Concept of Values" and their application to current political/cultural reality, which included a chilling perspective on nonvoluntary commitment to state mental institutions.
Other libertarian celebrities attending the convention included: Roger Lea MacBride from Virginia, who cast his electoral vote for the Hospers-Nathan ticket in 1972; Dr. Antony Sutton, of Stanford's Hoover Institute; Karl Bray, tax resistance leader from Utah; Mike Oliver from Nevada, leader of the "new countries" projects; Sy Leon, president of Rampart College and chairman of the League of Non-Voters; Poul Anderson, noted science fiction author; Hank Hohenstein of the "San Diego Ten"-IRS trial; and also visitors from the Alaska, Washington and Oregon Libertarian parties.
Saturday's business dealt mostly with amendments to the state party constitution and bylaws, which was less dreary than expected. The most significant modification, one which would have a telling effect at the last of the convention, was the voting procedure for national, state and party office candidates, which provided an automatic alternative choice called "none of the above."
With Sunday came the hoped-for success that was embarrassingly absent at Fresno in 1973—a state party platform. This year the platform committee had generated 13 prospective planks, and with additions from the floor, 15 planks were voted approved, usually by wide majorities. Some significant planks dealt with "victimless crimes," the energy crisis, transportation, welfare, and taxation.
As in Fresno last year, the delegates voted to retain the national LP's statement of principles for California's platform. And again, the statement survived a weak attempt by several members to extract the phrase containing "laissez-faire capitalism." Ironically, it was a member of the visiting delegation of the Peace and Freedom Party who delivered an ovation-getting rebuttal to the proposal. The measure was defeated almost unanimously.
(The Peace and Freedom Party is undergoing its own schism into two distinct camps—social democrats and anarcho-capitalists. Representatives of the more libertarian-oriented group attended the convention to gain information and to introduce their own candidates for public office.)
Monday, the floor was cleared for the main event—the election of party officers and the nomination of statewide candidates. Because of the constitutional amendment mentioned previously, each office seeker now found himself running against a potentially preferable candidate—"none of the above." Ed Clark retained the state chairmanship, and the race for governor became this new provision's test track.
Hoping to get some writing done during his Fall '74 sabbatical from USC, Dr. Hospers had openly disqualified himself from candidacy in party nominations. But he had stated privately that in the event of a deadlock or lack of clear mandate for an announced candidate, he would consider a draft nomination.
Gubernatorial front-runner Hal Jindrich, systems analyst and psychological consultant from Mountain View, waged a vigorous but failing campaign against "none of the above." When Dr. Hospers then accepted a late nomination, a second ballot gave him the clear majority. Bill Susel of Los Angeles, Hospers' campaign manager in 1972, won the nomination for Lt. Governor. (Hal Jindrich received the party's endorsement of his bid for State Superintendent of Public Education.)
The deadlock-vote twist, almost a surprise, settled the last of the weekend's two major questions—the platform and the governor. The 1974 convention was over. The "nonpolitical party" had grown a little stronger.
Suppose you're a libertarian interested in running for public office or you're part of an activist group interested in getting media attention—where can you go for advice about what to do? How do you set up a car wash and how much money can you expect to net? How do you get your candidate on a radio show? Both the Society for Individual Liberty and the Libertarian Party have published good action manuals telling what to do. It has remained, however, for the participants in New Yorker Sandy Cohen's campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives to tell us tyros how to do the nitty-gritty work any activists have to cope with.
The vehicle for this enlightenment is called—not surprisingly—NITTY-GRITTY, and is a monthly six-page mimeographed newsletter, formerly edited by Ralph Blanchette and now by Serena Stockwell. Back issues have contained data on running a carwash, hustling $2000 worth of raffle tickets, setting up a press conference, contacting community groups, etc., as well as interesting, practical-oriented interviews with Cohen's campaign manager, Ellen Davis, and Gary Greenberg, Free Libertarian Party candidate for New York City D.A. in last November's elections. With the election only eight months away NITTY-GRITTY is no longer accepting subscriptions, but back and future issues are available for 50¢ each.
And if you're involved in any sort of public education project (such as a political campaign, letter writing, or giving editorial replies on TV or radio) you would be well advised to invest $5 in a set of Sandy Cohen's campaign statements. A lucid and prolific writer, Cohen has been producing a blizzard of press releases on everything from inflation and the energy crisis to the government's ban on blacking out TV coverage of pro-football games—and they've been getting published, which is what it's all about.
To order a set of press releases, buy NITTY-GRITTY back issues (there are about 10 so far), or contribute to Sandy Cohen's energetically waged campaign please contact Citizens for Cohen, P.O. Box 1776, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601.
UC EXTENSION OFFERS COURSE
The University of California, San Diego Extension is offering a course entitled Liberty, Property and Contemporary Social Problems, which is of interest to all those who oppose the ever increasing control by government of all aspects of an individual's life. Among the speakers are Dr. John Hospers, professor of philosophy at USC, on "Libertarianism: Philosophy and Program"; Bernard Siegan, La Jolla attorney, on "Property Rights and the Environmentalist Movement"; M. Stanton Evans, editor of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR NEWS, on "The Media in Free Society"; Judith Thornton, economics professor at the University of Washington, on "Liberty and Property in the Soviet Union"; and Sara Baase, San Diego chairman of Libertarian Alternative, on "The Women's Movement: A Libertarian View." Readings for the course will include material by Hayek, Hospers, Friedman and Rothbard.
The lectures will be on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. from April 2 to June 4 on the UCSD campus. Interested persons may contact the UC Extension, (714) 453-2000 ext. 2061, and ask for information about Economics X419.
John Hospers will be speaking at Kean College on April 22 at 1:30 p.m. Call Department of Philosophy, Kean College, Union, NJ for full details.
Libertarian Liz Jacobson has announced her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives from the Sixth Congressional District (San Francisco and Marin Counties). The special election to fill this seat will be held in June and volunteers, contributions, etc. are urgently needed. To help out or to get more information contact Richard Winger, 3201 Baker Street, San Francisco CA 94123.
Free Libertarian Party member Guy Riggs has announced his candidacy for New York State Assemblyman from the 99th District. For further information contact Riggs at 32 Saddle Rock Drive, Poughkeepsie, NY, phone (914) 462-0613. Between Riggs running for the Assembly and Sandy Cohen, also of Poughkeepsie, running for Congress, any Dutchess County citizen who hasn't heard of libertarianism has got to be more out of it than former area resident Rip Van Winkle.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Frontlines".