Campaigns/Elections

The Libertarian Party Picks Some New Leaders

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Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Libertarian Party met in St. Louis to elect new officers and conduct other official business. Unlike in some past years, I did not directly cover the convention, but the St. Louis Beacon did. Here are excerpts from its take, in which 2008 VP candidate and presumptive front-runner for the 2012 presidential nod, Vegas's own Wayne Root, failed in a bid to become party chair:

more than 500 delegates from around the country selected a new party chairman in a battle that exemplified the tug between two party factions: one camp favors reaching out to the socially conservative Tea Party movement, and the other side preaches standing firm on longstanding libertarian principles.

As Missouri delegate Julie Stone of St. Louis put it: "The big bone of contention is whether the party should remain as pure or become more inclusive."

Personifying the big-tent approach was Wayne Allyn Root—an effusive, unapologetic self-promoter…

Accompanied by an ever-present film crew (it's shooting a reality show that Root said would air "only if I'm elected"), he admitted upsetting some by preaching a more-inclusive message that he said will move the Libertarian Party into the nation's political mainstream.

"If I move this country toward Libertarians, I'm the most radical person here," Root said in an interview…

Although leading in the early rounds of balloting, Root—the Libertarian Party's 2008 vice presidential nominee and now a cable TV regular—ended up as the runnerup to Mark Hinkle, a veteran Libertarian from California.

The two were among five contenders who battled for support from the 540 delegates all Sunday afternoon. Outgoing chairman William B. Redpath remained neutral.

Hinkle won out, says [chair of the Missouri LA Glenn] Nielsen, because "he was the least polarizing candidate on the ballot."

In a telephone interview afterward, Hinkle quipped that he won because "I was everybody's second choice." During the three rounds of ballots, the lowest vote-getter was forced out. Most of those losing candidates' supporters then defected to Hinkle.

Hinkle, 59 and a small businessman, said he campaigned as a uniter. But he emphasized that, as chairman, he won't shy away from the Libertarian Party's longstanding platform.

Root—who had campaigned to be the party's "chief enthusiast, cheerleader, rainmaker, man-about-town"—declared in his concession speech, "Ladies and gentlemen, you can't get rid of me."….several delegates told Root that they hoped he'd be their presidential nominee in 2012.

Whether Root is in fact "more inclusive" than other libertarians depends on what sort of folk one wants to be inclusive to, and Root definitely aims at a more traditional Right. In one encouraging sign, the LP's traditional fundraising banquet at the convention drew nearly $55,000, far better than usual for non-presidential race conventions.

The Independent Political Report sums up the last day's officer elections for at-large seats on the Libertarian National Committee, and for its Judicial Committee, as well as detailing the results in the treasurer and secretary races, the vice chair race, and the most prominent chair race, with ballot-by-ballot breakdowns. The comment threads on all those posts are interesting for LP internal warfare fans.

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  1. LP politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small… to borrow a phrase.

  2. Did anyone know this was happening?

    It must have been pushed out of the news by that shakeup in the Kevin Federline fan club.

  3. As Missouri delegate Julie Stone of St. Louis put it: “The big bone of contention is whether the party should remain as pure or become more inclusive.”

    Oh, so it’s just like every other year.

    Of course, as a believer in a pure platform but inclusive politics, I recognize the battle never ends.

    1. Same as they say – no cause is ever lost, because no cause is ever won.

      1. Not true. Classic example: March of Dimes. They won (polio), which meant they’d lose (their jobs), so they shifted to birth defects — and promptly began to fuck that up by focusing on the wrong putative causes.

  4. Best wishes and good luck to Mr. Hinkle et al. The next two years is the Party’s opportunity to make some hay while the sun shines. If they can’t increase membership and activity sharply while a substantial portion of the electorate is questioning never ending wars, growth of big intrustive government, and mortgaging our childrens’ economic future, then it might be time for the post 2012 LP to decide it is time to close shop.

    1. “Closing up shop” will be forced upon the LP of California, if Prop. 14 passes next week.

      1. Prop 14 is definitely one craptastic ballot monopolization for the two parties.

        I’m a little amazed Reason hasn’t been all over it. (I might have missed it.)

  5. At least Root lost. I don’t really care about the LP, but having Root as an official face of libertarianism in any form would have been a disaster.

    1. I agree.

      WAR, what is he good for?
      Absolutely nothing.

    2. Definately agree.

    3. It’s nauseating to hear that there were delegates saying they hoped Root would be their POTUS nominee. He needs to be tossed out on his ear. He should go join the other party, the Republicrats. They’re already big tent and put self-aggrandizing frauds on the ballot on a regular basis.

  6. As MikeP says,I’m “a believer in a pure platform but inclusive politics”. We have to try to win a few.

  7. “As Missouri delegate Julie Stone of St. Louis put it: “The big bone of contention is whether the party should remain as pure or become more inclusive.”

    Just for the record, it seems to me that there’s a false dichotomy underlying a lot the LP’s thinking…

    Take the abortion plank as an example–just as ONE example. In my opinion, the LP was purer before it took the official recognition of libertarian arguments against abortion out back and shot it.

    The “pure” libertarian take is that people should be free–and recognizes that “free” can and will be interpreted differently by different people.

    The “pure” libertarian take is NOT–everyone who disagrees with me on position x, y or z is not a “pure” libertarian.

    It’s a phony choice in other words. The “pure” choice can be and often is the most inclusive one–the big tent approach.

    And the exclusive choice isn’t always the “pure” libertarian choice–but it is always by definition exclusive.

    1. You are obviously not a real Libertarian.

    2. So essentially, the LP could distill its platform down to a single sentence about freedom. Interesting…

    3. Freedom is an abstraction, not an absolute. Any freedom is by definition also a restriction, at least to the extent that a recognized freedom to pursue a course of action is also a prohibition against somebody else inhibiting your action.

    4. The “pure” libertarian take is that people should be free–and recognizes that “free” can and will be interpreted differently by different people.

      Bullshit. I know plenty of liberals who believe that you can’t be free without a massive welfare system to prop you up if you fall down. Same for conservatives and wars to “protect our freedoms.” It’s defining “free” down.

      1. I wasn’t saying that the LP shouldn’t take a stand on anything.

        I was saying that some of the stands they’ve taken–seemingly in the name of being inclusive–have actually been exclusive.

        I gave one example. There isn’t anything inclusive about telling people they can’t be official Libertarians unless they agree with me about when life begins.

        Honest libertarians can disagree about whether budget cuts are more important than tax cuts and whether preemptive wars are justifiable as a defense of our liberties, or whether such wars are a bigger threat to our liberties…

        …and surely reasonable Libertarians can see there are plenty of other areas where that’s true–without a danger of the LP condoning the welfare state.

        The Democrats and Republicans have the disadvantage of having to assume the positions of whoever’s in the White House. We have the advantage of not having to take positions on some of the tougher issues–why throw that advantage away?

        The answer is that some Libertarians try to use the platform to exclude people who don’t back them on certain issues. …but it’s tough enough being a third party–why exclude everyone who doesn’t happen to fall on any one side of a handful of issues? …especially when there are perfectly valid libertarian arguments on both sides!

        1. Hear, hear Ken.

          Arguing over differences in opinion rather than appreciating substantial agreement on the important issues will kill any relationship.

          Since everyone is unique, there are differences in everyone’s views if you slice it thinly enough… Isn’t tolerance for the rights of others (to think differently) supposed to be a libertarian position?

          The question is, do those differences outway the agreements? What are the consequences of making those differences more important than agreement?

    5. Didn’t the LP largely follow your advice in its most recent rewriting? It now minimizes what it says to exclude as few people as possible.

      For instance, the immigration plank is much shorter, and in my opinion watered down, but it is still essentially open borders.

      And the abortion plank still allows that libertarians can be pro-life while the party stance is pro-choice…

      Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

      I don’t see how that is much different, except for being shorter, than earlier versions I remember.

      1. To be honest, that’s a lot better than the version I remember.

        Perhaps it’s been changed back more like the way it used to be before the big re-write?

        I’ll have to do some digging.

  8. How extremely relevant. By the way, did you hear that Heidi and Spencer are splitting? OMG LOL

    1. Friends of yours?

  9. I’ve never seen 500 hundred people get together and try as hard as they could to accomplish absolutely nothing. While I enjoyed the game and social dynamics, if I had not known someone at the convention it is quite possible I would have walked out of it in the first five minutes so turned off that communism would have looked like a viable alternative. The LP party, and calling it a political party is generous, is a dysfunctional beyond repair.

    It must have been pushed out of the news by that shakeup in the Kevin Federline fan club.

    After witnessing the events this weekend I understand why the free market has rejected the LP.

    The worst part is I didn’t get to hear Michael Munger speak, which is the main reason I suffered through that nightmare.

    1. Munger did a great job. It was the first time I had heard him speak, and he was very interesting.

      1. Yes he did. But I should have left when Mary started speaking. Not saying anything else but her cadence and tone are extremely annoying to my ears.

        Fingernails on a chalkboard

  10. Every time I hear about the Libertarian Party Conference I always think of the Bill Hicks “People Who Hate People Party” bit from his stand up..

    “People Who Hate People, COME TOGETHER!!!!”

    “No.”

    “Are you gonna be there?”

    “Yeah.”

    “Then I ain’t fucking coming.”

    1. I’ve never heard that. Spot on.

    2. I’ve been saying this since I started posting here.

  11. LP internal warfare fans

    Typically referred to as “Libertarian Party activists” (and that includes ME! — splitters!!)

  12. Proactively reaching out to include the Tea Party movement, while it might gain Libertarians a few votes, would make it even easier for Libertarian political views to be marginalized.

    So, don’t reach out to include, just state whatever your libertarian position is, and let them come to you.

    Just running on the platform of limited government should do the trick. There’s just too much baggage associated with being labelled a “tea bagger.”

    1. A political party with 250K in the coffers. You’re already marginalized and thus so are your views.

      As mean spirited as that statement is it is a reality.

  13. Too bad. Root is right. If the libertarian party wants to start winning elections, it has to become more inclusive, especially towards conservatives, since that’s where the votes are. The tea parties are a classic example. Everyone there is a libertarian and/or a conservative. Not many liberals.

    Libertarians and leftist liberals occasionally agree, but even when they do, it is for different reasons. Many libertarians were against the Iraq war because they didn’t think the war was a legitimate function of government. Liberals were against the war because we did it for American interests. (If you don’t believe me, remember when Pelosi said that she supported the war in Kosovo specifically since it wasn’t in our interests). On the other hand, ask a conservative why he wants low taxes, and he’ll say “I just don’t think it’s right for the government to take too much money.”, which is pretty much the same reason as a libertarian.

    The LP just missed another opportunity.

    1. Which issue should Libertarians be more ‘inclusive’ on?

      1. Inclusiveness on the part of political organiz’n (LP is too far gone for that) is not a matter of issues, but of support for candidates and other organiz’ns. Back scratching, log rolling. Help for help.

  14. Fucking Mark Hinkle?! He’s been on my local county committee forever and is one of the reasons I don’t participate in the LP anymore. The guy who insisted on writing ballot statement diatribes about librarians being evil statists. Just great.

  15. During the last day of the convention, we held a meeting to re-organize the Libertarian Defense Caucus. There were 6 Libertarian Party members at the meeting on the 2nd floor Salon of the Marriot. We elected Kevin Bjornson Chair, and Libertaian candidate for US Senate – Alaska Dave Haase as Vice-Chair. Also participating were the current Chairs of the Maine and New Hampshire LPs, and a Texas Congressional candidate.

    All LDC members participating are Military Veterans.

    Bjornson is an original LDC member from the 1970s when Mike Dunn and Bob Poole ran the organization. He lives in Seattle and is active with the WA LP.

    1. Wes Benedict, executive director of the national LP, was retained by the new Chair.

      Wes specializes in re-making the LP in his own image, pontificating on foreign policy:

      http://tinyurl.com/238m3rh

      …and more recently, promoting the troubled “campaign for liberty”–the slush fund for Ron Paul, his family and friends. A fund that is being audited for violations of their charter that amount to a type of fraud.

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