Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party To Choose Its Presidential Ticket in Virtual Vote Over Memorial Day Weekend

Followed by an in-person convention for other business in Orlando in July


The Libertarian Party's National Committee (LNC) decided by a 13–4 vote today, after a tortuous 8-hour Zoom meeting, to divide the party's convention business into two parts.

The first will be an online meeting over the same Memorial Day weekend during which the scotched in-person convention was supposed to occur in Austin, Texas. At this online meeting, "nomination and balloting for party candidates for President and Vice-President" will occur.

Then a follow-up physical convention will be held in Orlando, Florida, from July 8–12. While the LNC did not formally commit yet to a contracted venue, they received a presentation from the Rosen Shingle Creek resort that seems to be a favorite.

The realities of the pandemic led the original convention hotel to cancel the party's reservation. Some expected that last Saturday the LNC would commit to a non-physical option, but instead, they voted to give themselves another 10 days to set up an alternate physical convention to occur before July 15.

Lots of debate stormed in the week between about parliamentary, legal, and physical possibilities and impossibilities. That debate continued during today's marathon LNC meeting.

Some insisted the word "place" in the party's bylaws (Article 10), had to mean a physical place, and thus conducting official convention business online would violate those bylaws. A vast amount of time today was spent on the metaphysical question of "what is a place?" and the proper reasonable meaning of "impossible."

Others insisted that Robert's Rules of Order was making new adjustments for the pandemic reality of electronic meetings; some argued that regardless of whether some electronic meetings are allowed under Robert's, Article 12 of the party bylaws did mention that "Boards and committees may conduct business by teleconference or videoconference." Yet! Article 10 did not specify that a convention could. Some believed that not mentioning virtual specifically as possible for conventions meant such online conventions were prohibited.

Some believed that if Robert's Rules and the Libertarian Party bylaws prevented the organization from performing the very purposes that bylaws and Robert's Rules are supposed to help with (not prevent), such stringent interpretation was perverse and unnecessary. Some mocked the idea that any available physical place could possibly hold nearly 1,000 people and conduct business with safe social distancing, but Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek thinks it can.

Some worried, during the meeting and in online chatter, that the progress of the law or the pandemic might make the party have to eventually cancel the in-person portion in July later anyway. Many also worry that the combination of the pandemic and the presidential vote having already occurred will encourage lots of would-be delegates to not show up in Orlando even if an in-person event does happen, leaving whoever wins the party officer positions (and other issues settled) at that in-person convention under a shadow moving forward.

Lots of back and forth happened today about whether it mattered much that it was merely difficult or inadvisable for people to travel to an in-person convention during a pandemic; after all, there is always some reason a delegate a state party picked might not make it to the actual convention. Some thought it made the party look criminally irresponsible to encourage 1,000 people to travel across the country to descend on a city, then scatter; some thought it made them look like they were kowtowing to tyrannical fears and supportive of shutting down American business to not do that.

Outgoing LNC chair Nicholas Sarwark (he is not running for re-election) said in a phone interview before the meeting that he believed "the best [thing] for the party to do would be to set the national convention for Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend" (to honor the commitments of time already made by delegates), but hold it "in an online venue like Zoom, and have prepared a motion to modify the convention agenda" to move most convention business outside "LNC, judicial, presidential, and vice-presidential elections" to some later, potentially in-person convention, since most other business and motions would be difficult to do online. This is more or less what happened, though today's recommendation has LNC and judicial votes pushed to the later in-person meeting.

Daniel Hayes, head of the convention oversight committee, said in a phone interview before the meeting that an in-person convention was vital for media attention; this is likely so, though shifting the presidential vote into the virtual earlier convention likely will drain some media interest from the physical followup. Out of an abundance of caution over whether some entity might later decide the decision of a virtual presidential vote was technically against the rules, the outcome of the Memorial Day online vote will need to be ratified by the July in-person convention.

LNC Secretary Caryn Ann Harlos was one of the leading voices, at first, for an in-person convention only, but was key in offering a version of the "presidential vote electronic, rest in person later" compromise. Overarchingly, she thinks talk of evading inconvenient bylaw interpretations for whatever reason is violating the "contract with members," since she sees the bylaws as a contractual agreement the LNC has made with the party's members.

Harlos thinks, though, that since their very purpose as a party is to run national candidates, a compromise that allows that and only that business to be done electronically was acceptable, as waiting much longer would conflict with certain state's ballot access deadlines. However, she believes "merely being scared of a virus" was not a good enough reason to mess around with the bylaws' clear language.

The LNC has been experimenting this week with Zoom meetings that emulate the functions of a normal convention, though some participants have found them lacking, subject to both technical glitches and giving presiding officers more power to control how delegates can communicate than in an in-person meeting.

The LNC doesn't have the power to tell the actual delegates assembled that they can only do specific things at a convention, so the choice to only do the presidential vote at whatever electronic meeting commences will ultimately have to be made by the convention body itself.

Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.), the newly minted Libertarian congressman who is certainly a frontrunner, if not now the frontrunner, for the party's presidential nomination said in an interview with The Fifth Column podcast this week (starring Reason's Matt Welch) that "For my part…I want every candidate to feel that they got a fair shot, including our campaign. We all want to be treated fairly under this process and that's what's important, that nobody feels like this was some kind of a setup one way or the other either for my candidacy, or against my candidacy, and every other candidate feels the same way about their own campaign." Amash added, "I think it's important that we not postpone it too late because if you postpone it too long, it makes the calendar more challenging and we want to make sure we get on the ballot in all these states too….A campaign has to get up and running and it would be better if it doesn't go all the way to July or something like that."

The matter is important because some state ballot petitioning rules require the actual named candidate, so the later the candidate is named, the harder it will be to meet those requirements. Candidate Jim Gray, former California Superior Court judge and former Libertarian vice presidential candidate in 2012, said in a phone interview this week that while it "would be much more preferable to have an in-person convention, for our campaign, for the party, for the country, since there will be less excitement and less give and take [likely online]—having said that, it's a tradeoff." If waiting for a reasonably safe and doable face-to-face meeting "would likely result in us losing ballot access in too many states," then he understands.

Joe Bishop-Henchman, a candidate for LNC chair this year and a leader in the "online presidential vote" faction said in a phone interview before the convention that he worried if the party didn't settle its presidential candidate question sooner rather than later that some state party affiliates might see it necessary to "defy [the national party] and go it alone." In that case, he would not "hold it against them," but he thinks the compromise reached today will "prevent that from happening, the danger of different presidential tickets in different states."

While this question was not settled, many on the LNC seemed to think that if certain state delegations were prohibited by their own state's travel restrictions from making it to Orlando, some allowance would likely be made by the delegates at that convention to allow them to participate in votes and debates virtually.

NEXT: HBO Host Bill Maher Thinks Third Party Candidates Can't Win. Justin Amash Says He's Wrong.

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  1. Let’s hope the LP doesn’t tear itself apart and become yet another victim of the ChiComVirus.
    “the danger of different presidential tickets in different states.”
    Not quite the danger one imagines. The majority of LP votes are probably not for the specific candidate anyway, but a protest against the other candidates or a vote for the LP no matter whom is the candidate. Having five or six candidates might just be a p.r. bonanza too due to its unusual nature. And, with smaller territories to cover, the presidential candidates just might find the time to campaign in more cities and towns than usual.

    1. Hell, why not 51 different candidates, one per state and another in DC? It’s not like any of the Libertarian electoral slates are going to get chosen anyway, much less enough to have 270 electoral votes.

      1. I think this is called assuming the conclusion. No one has voted yet.

        1. It is called reality. The big L party spends too much time on nationals when they should start by competing in regional.

          1. If the LP flipped a few congressional seats, people Might actually start taking the party more seriously.

            1. Well, they’ve been trying that in NH for a couple years. No success in the federal races thus far, but they’ve taken several state seats, and it’s making an impression.

          2. They spend too much time on the symptoms and not the disease which is government initiating force. If they would focus on applying the NAP to government they might actually make some headway.

        2. You’re right. Justin A,ash will sweep the way for Libertopia! There is absolutely no reason this can’t happen!

        3. I’ll bet, right now, $10,000 against your $100 that the Libertarians, regardless of who they nominate, don’t get a single elector as a result of the popular vote this year.

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  2. OT –

    AP style guide says stop using the “archaic and sexist term ‘mistress'”

    1. That’s going to really mess up AC/DC’s Christmas Song

      1. +1 holiday side piece.

      2. The new band is AOC/DC. With a whole lot of stupid, but nice boobies.

        1. We’re on a Highway to Socialism…

    2. Elvira mistress of the dark hardest hit

    3. Who gives a rat’s ass what the AP says about anything?

    4. What term are we supposed to use, “side piece”?

      1. Polyamorous partner.

      2. Romantic accessory?

  3. In before Drumpf cock suckers try to explain away his responsibility for having Covid-19 cured in time for the libertarian party convention. How convenient.

    1. Cut/paste from his actual comments isn’t parody.

  4. Some believed that not mentioning virtual specifically as possible for conventions meant such online conventions were prohibited.

    That which is not explicitly permitted is prohibited.

    The essence of libertarianism!


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    1. Lots of people are working at home for Google, and they get paid a lot more than 9000 a month.

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  6. If the Libertarian Party does no stand up to the unconstitutional, arbitrary, executive edicts denying individual freedoms, who will?
    Find a place that will contract for an in person convention, and hold the damn thing.
    And, oh by the way, Robert’s Rules of Order address how to run a meeting, not where or how to hold it.

    1. Exactly, Longtobefree. Just the act of holding the convention would draw a lot of votes.

  7. If the LP had a lick of sense,
    They’d nominate Trump and Pence.
    Confuse the dick biters,
    The lefters and righters,
    And gain themselves some prominence.

    “But, Jerry!”, I can hear you all say,
    “Our principles they get in the way!”
    But principles pass
    When saving your ass
    And living to fight another day.

    Libertarians are sophists, it’s true,
    They can argue ’til their faces are blue,
    But the Gordian Knot
    Of “want” and “got”
    Must be severed, with a sword, in two.

    You can’t easily get there from here,
    Endlessly arguing over a beer,
    If you want to see change
    You’ll have to arrange
    For your enemies to be stricken with fear.

    Machiavelli gave you The Prince
    And nothing better’s been written since,
    If you want to win,
    Be prepared to sin,
    Rationalization causes barely a wince.

    Either shit or get off of the pot,
    Do something you’d much rather not,
    Trump’s a monster of course
    But a good stalking horse?
    The Orange Retard’s the best that we got.

    1. I’m sorry, but it’s Mother’s Day and I’ve been steeped in Hallmark card cheesy sentimentality, desperately trying to find one that says “I hope you’re roasting in Hell, you fucking bitch”, and I’m waxing poetic. For certain values of “poetic”.

      But seriously, nominate Trump and Pence. Trump supporters have shown themselves to be gullible fools who can pivot from black to white and up to down in a heartbeat based on Dear Leader’s whims and the GOP is a bunch of unprincipled ass-kissing shitweasels who’ll clap like trained seals at whatever gets presented as the flavor of the month. Backing Trump is going to gain a shitload of Strange New Respect from the Right and, at the same time, the commies on the Left are going to have to denounce the LP loudly, and who gives a shit what they’re saying as long as they’re saying it loudly? There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and endorsing Trump is going to get more publicity for the LP than anything else they can do. Once you distract the audience with the misdirection, you can fuck them up the ass with your real intent and they won’t even notice.

    2. Awesome.

  8. Breaking news — libertarians debate rules, have differing opinions.

  9. Justin Amash in a landslide? The LP craves respectability.

    Jacob Hornberger? The oldtimers and hardliners say how about nominating an actual libertarian this time?

    Mark Cuban? He’d have the best funded LP ticket ever, and he’s sort of a pro-business libertarian Democrat, kind of like we hoped Trump would be.

    Ron Paul? He’s tanned, rested and ready.

    1. Mark Cuban sent secret shoppers into Texas businesses (not his own) to see if they were complying with social distancing rules. Imagine what he’d do with government power. Hard pass.

    2. Cuban is a progressive. Period.

    3. Cuban is a laughable choice who’d never get picked, and for damned good reason. I like Hornberger, though I think Amash is a better choice this time around. We have a pretty good slate of candidates this time around – I’d honestly be pretty happy with most any of the major candidates remaining.

  10. Further proof that Libertarians in general have no social lives?

    1. Pay attention to the comments, Jesse. We have anti-social lives.

      1. I havent been home for a memorial day weekend since I was 17. It is one of last weekends of summer. West coast privilege?

  11. By the way.. could Reason be a little less fan club about Amash?

    1. So dreamy…..

      1. He has sinister eyebrows.

  12. Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.), the newly minted Libertarian congressman who is certainly a frontrunner, if not now the frontrunner,

    I was about to say “oh, come on, that’s stupid, who wants another washed up former Republican”. But then I remembered, it’s the LP we’re talking about; they are into this sort of thing.

  13. A vast amount of time today was spent on the metaphysical question of “what is a place?” and the proper reasonable meaning of “impossible.”

    I think we’ve solved the metaphysical question of “what is stupid?”.

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  16. The Libertarian National Committee’s decision to hold its presidential and VP nomination online is unfortunate, and I would urge the committee to reverse this move and hold the entire convention in person at a later date. Trying to do it online for the sake of ballot access in a couple states (which may well be possible to secure without such a move) is potentially jeopardizing the entire process, and (as noted in Reason’s article) is not allowed under the party bylaws.

    The talk of shutting down delegates’ ability to chat with each other in a Zoom meeting is also very troubling. At a physical convention, you can wander around the hall and talk with people, and the equivalent of that same freedom needs to be preserved in any online event. Otherwise it becomes more of a top-down process that is more controlled by a small number of people in the leadership – in other words, morelike how it is at Republican and Democrat conventions, and part of what we in the LP have always prided ourselves on avoiding at ours.

    Love & Liberty,

    ((( starchild )))
    Former at-large representative,
    Libertarian National Committee
    (2012-2014, 2016-2018)

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