Libertarian Party Updates

—Considering the improvement in his speaking material and ability, it’s almost like Libertarian Party presidential hopeful George Phillies has retained Peggy Noonan to assist with his campaign. Now, he’s sent me the photograph on the right, entitled “Respecting the Dignity of the Office.” Is he taking lessons from the Gipper, too?

—According to this article, Dr. R. Paul is considering “supporting a third-party candidate for president.” That’s not Dr. Ron Paul, but Robert Paul, MD —who happens to be Ron Paul’s son.

—Brad Spangler thinks the Libertarian Party should die.

“A shutdown of the Libertarian Party would get radicals and moderates out of each others hair. Radicals could pursue the long neglected non-electoral strategies for long-term radical change and moderates could apply their energies to seeking small reforms inside the major parties, as Ron Paul does,” wrote Spangler. “Sufficient social space for needed overlap between wings and their ideological cross-fertilization would exist organizationally in groups like ISIL and the Advocates for Self Government, as well as out on the internet in political discussion forums of all sorts generally.”

My friend Brad forgot one key group of people: There are those of us who would prefer to pursue electoral strategies but don’t have the stomach to work within the major parties, at least for any prolonged period of time. Many of us find neither the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party reformable. To use some of Spangler’s logic, the Ron Paul presidential campaign has underscored this point.

—“The Libertarian Party of Kentucky will be hosting a presidential debate on March 1, 2008 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel in Frankfort, from 7 to 9 p.m,” says the News-Democrat and Leader. “The debate, which is open to the public, will be in conjunction with the Libertarian Party of Kentucky’s annual State Convention.”

Confirmed candidates are Jim Burns, John M. Finan, Daniel Imperato, Bob Jackson, George Phillies and Daniel Williams. Wayne Allyn Root and Mike Jingozian “may also participate.”

“Panelists for the debate are Pat Crowley, political reporter and columnist for the Kentucky Enquirer and Owen McNeill, writer for the Maysville Ledger Independent,” states the article. “The moderator for the debate will be former Kentucky District four Congressional candidate and current candidate for Covington City Commissioner, Brian Houillion.”

—Wesleyan University Economics Professor Richard Adelstein has jumped into the debate Libertarians have been holding for some time:

In this lecture, [Adelstein] described the difference between “parties of ideas,” like the Libertarian and Socialist parties, and “parties of politics and power,” like the Democratic and Republican parties.

According to Adelstein, the Libertarian and Socialist parties have been less successful than the Democratic and Republican Parties because they have primarily focused on abstract ideologies. The two main parties, on the other hand, have focused on achieving political influence, allowing them to play much larger roles in all aspects of American politics.

“Americans have never disagreed strongly with one another about political and economic fundamentals,” Adelstein argued. “Almost every American believes in limited democratic government and individual rights that predate the government….The only times in American history where a party of ideas have arisen are when the fundamentals of American life were up for grabs.”

My favorite line from the article: “The only candidate that would say our rights come from God is Mike Huckabee, and, well, we all know he’s a jerk.” Adelstein also thinks that Ralph Nader has been the “only one real left-winged libertarian in this era.”

—LP presidential hopeful Wayne Allyn Root once again reminds us that he was a classmate of Barack Obama (Columbia University, Class of ‘83). He describes their sometimes parallel histories and opposing destinations:

Let’s now compare the stories of two young men who graduated Columbia University on the exact same day in June, 1983. Both were children of non-priviledged backgrounds. Barack, a product of bi-racial parents, grew up as the rare black kid in Hawaii. Root, the blue collar son of a butcher, grew up the rare Jewish kid in a virtually all-black public school on the Bronx borderline in Mt Vernon, New York. Both of us later benefited from attending exclusive private schools (in both cases with help from our grandparents) that prepared us for entrance into Columbia University. That however is where the eerie similarities in our lives end. Obama and I took very different paths after graduation from Columbia. Those paths will illuminate the value of the Libertarian conservative economic message.

I chose the path of an entrepreneur and small businessman. I’ve started businesses, funded businesses, risked my own money on business ideas to achieve the American Dream. I’ve created jobs; pumped tens of millions of dollars into the American economy; made hundreds of payrolls so that my employees could raise families, pay mortgages, and share in the American Dream themselves; and paid health insurance and payroll taxes for my employees. Like most entrepreneurs, I’ve also failed a few times. Perhaps that’s the problem with politicians- they’ve never risked or lost their own money. Many Venture Capitalists actually invest only in businesspersons who have failed before (and learned valuable lessons). Perhaps that should also be a litmus test for politicians who want to run the most powerful economy in the world. [...]

Contrast my 25 years since graduation with my classmate Barack Obama- the big government-loving, ultra-liberal, George McGovern-like tax and spender who favors redistribution of wealth from those that earn it…to those that desire handouts and government entitlements. Barack has never met a tax he didn’t support- and it’s no wonder. He has spent his quarter century since graduation from Columbia as a law student, law professor, lawyer, community activist and career politician. He’s never started a business; never funded a business; never run a business; never risked a dime of his own money on a business; never created a job; and never paid anyone else’s health insurance or payroll taxes. And he’s never had to face the endless stream of government regulations and interference in the running of a business either.

To the contrary, Barack has lived off a safe weekly paycheck provided by the taxpayers for more than a decade now. And as a United States Senator, he’ll live off a taxpayer-funded pension for the rest of his life.

Of course, Root is seeking federal office himself. :)

64 Responses to “Libertarian Party Updates”

  1. Brad Spangler Says:

    One minor quibble—I didn’t forget the “in-between” people. I am explicitly aware of them and regard their indecisiveness as the reason the counter-productive sterategy of a “libertarian” party came about in the first place.

  2. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Brad,

    Except for one minor detail: There is no indecisiveness on my part, or the part of many other people.

  3. Robert Milnes Says:

    The nominee of the LP this year COULD be the next president, if people listen to me. So far, not happening. Oh well.

  4. Brad Spangler Says:

    If you haven’t made a viable choice, you haven’t made a decision. My position is that the choice you have made, to support the LP as a method of advancing libertarianism, is not viable. Thus, from my perspective you are indecisive. You disagree with me about the viability of your choice, thus from your own perspective you are not indecisive. The whole point of the post is that people who hold your position need to realize that the LP is not a viable method of advancing libertarianism. I’m not going to completely argue that point for free when I just made a post requesting $2500 to argue it.

  5. Robert Milnes Says:

    Brad, I asked you to take over my web needs which I am paying a non-libertarian for & I never heard back from you. The progressive alliance could win which makes it viable, but that doesn’t seem to matter so far.

  6. Brad Spangler Says:

    Hi Robert,

    I assumed you had received my response (summer/fall 2006?) and just didn’t feel like talking to me after receiving it.

    I’ll recap.

    While I am opposed to voting in government elections and thus will never again have any candidate I can support, I would build a candidates web site and provide training and consultation to their campaign in return for compensation. I sell technical services, not political advocacy.

    However, full compensation was an issue or potential issue as I recall. There’s more…

    While I couldn’t afford to charge you less than the going rate, there’s also a matter of conscience involved in that I’m not sure I would be comfortable charging you anything at all in light of the financial difficulties you’ve mentioned. That doesn’t mean you get free services. It means I can’t do the work for you.

  7. Stephen Gordon Says:

    If you haven’t made a viable choice, you haven’t made a decision.

    If I place a bet right now that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are going to win the 2008 World Series, it may not be a viable choice—but it is, none-the-less, a decision.

    I’d argue that the Braves or Yankees or Cubs would be a more viable decision, but even deciding on the worst of the 2007 teams is still a decision.

  8. Stephen Gordon Says:

    My position is that the choice you have made, to support the LP as a method of advancing libertarianism, is not viable.

    In some local races, Libertarian candidates have proven viable.

    Additionally, my goal with respect to the LP (as opposed to my other libertarian activities) may not be to advance libertarianism, but to elect Libertarians. There is a difference.

  9. Michael Cathcart Says:

    Nader and Libertarian in the same sentence, that’s a laugh, nearly made my drink leak out through my nose.

  10. Robert Milnes Says:

    Brad, you are a tough person to deal with. I wouldn’t want to be married to you. That just wouldn’t be viable.

  11. Eric Sundwall Says:

    I’d like to see the argument that the Cubs are viable . . . .

  12. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Eric,

    I was just trying to be nice to my friends in ChiTown.

    I’m, once again, hoping for the Braves—but am not going to make any preseason bets on them.

  13. disinter Says:

    The nominee of the LP this year COULD be the next president, if people listen to me. So far, not happening. Oh well.

    Is this nut related to Allen Hacker or Tom Knapp by chance?

  14. disinter Says:

    The whole point of the post is that people who hold your position need to realize that the LP is not a viable method of advancing libertarianism.

    That’s the understatement of the year.

  15. Jeff Wartman Says:

    “I’d like to see the argument that the Cubs are viable . . .”

    All you’d need to do is open the paper and see some of the moves the Cubs have made this offseason.

  16. Dylan Waco Says:

    Viability is largely defined by goals

  17. Brad Spangler Says:

    Stephen,

    You misunderstand my argument. Even if the LP was winning races left and right, it wouldn’t be a viable method of advancing libertarianism as I see it.

  18. Brad Spangler Says:

    Robert,

    To th best of my recollection, you’ve never even taken me out to dinner or kissed me. Talk of a marriage seems a little sudden, then, all things considered.

  19. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Steve,

    You write (to Brad Spangler):

    “In some local races, Libertarian candidates have proven viable.”

    Yes, they have. Mr. Spangler, as a former North Kansas City, Missouri councilman, is well aware of that.

    There’s a difference between some Libertarian candidates proving viable for election a la carte and the Libertarian Party overall proving viable as a means of general advance toward liberty. The latter is definitely an unproven proposition with more than three decades of not very encouraging empirical evidence in the record.

    I’m not on the “throw in the towel” team myself, but I can understand why many would be.

  20. Phil Sawyer Says:

    Michael Cathcart Says:

    February 29th, 2008 at 8:22 pm
    Nader and Libertarian in the same sentence, that’s a laugh, nearly made my drink leak out through my nose.

    Phil Sawyer responds:

    Perhaps you have a deviated septum, Michael. That can be corrected.

    The Libertarian Party, if it had any sense, would offer its nominations to Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez!

  21. Robert Milnes Says:

    Brad, I always admired the Groucho Marxists. But no party? No candidates? What do they do for fun? What about the rest of us?

  22. Wes Benedict Says:

    I’d be interested in knowing the grand sum total of spending by every level of the Republican Party (county, state, national) plus every Republican Party candidate for President, Congress, state, county, etc. Same for Democrats.

    Maybe $20 billion on average per year for R’s and D’s?

    For Libertarians, $2 million per year (double the average Taco Bell)?

    If those numbers were correct, if every Libertarian dedicated their resources to the Republican Party, Republicans would be a $20.002 billion organization.

    Likewise, if those numbers were correct, if every Libertarian dedicated their resources to the Democratic Party, Democrats would be a $20.002 billion organization.

    As Libertarian Party activists outside the D’s and R’s, we can have a 2% targeted effect on elections (or 4% if you’re good like me, or 8% if you’re a great state rep) despite spending 0.01% as much overall.

    OK I may be stretching my logic and math skills (but seriously, I used to be great at math).

    Wait, here’s a thought to dig myself out of this hole.

    If all the Libertarian Party money and activist time were applied to either the Republican Party or Democratic Party, it would have a negligible affect. The question is, does all the Libertarian Party money and activist time spent inside the Libertarian Party have a greater than negligible affect?

    I think the answer is yes. The Libertarian Party has a little bit more than a negligible affect (disclaimer: don’t put that on your campaign website). More so in some places than others. I know that in Austin some groups actively request the Libertarian Party to support their efforts. Also, quite a few major party candidates contact us begging us not to run in their races.

    So, the question isn’t should all Libertarians quit the Libertarian Party to become insiders to affect the R’s and D’s. We’re too small to affect them. The question is more appropriately, should everyone quit the LP and, for all practical purposes, do nothing instead.

    Anyway, this argument needs more work. But, in the mean time, while we don’t offer refunds, we don’t charge fees for early termination either. For those who choose to leave the Libertarian Party, ain’t no walls or chains stopping you.

    I personally think my efforts working inside the LP have ten times more impact than if I were to become a Republican or Democrat activist.

  23. Brad Spangler Says:

    Real libertarianism is simply the non-aggression principle. It is an ethical framework rather than a political ideology. The “political” RESULT of making the non-aggression principle the default consideration in matters of justice would demonstrably be some variant or another of free-market oriented anarchism. If a stateless society is not your goal, then, you need to stop reading at this point and go hang out with the other slow minarchist kids. May your chains rest lightly, yada, yada, yada…

    Modern “libertarianism” in the sense of a political creed principally crafted by ONE man, Murray Rothbard, consists of a refined version of individualist anarchism used as a rationale for a revived classical liberalism in the political arena. As you’re no doubt aware, the default thinking states that narrowing the scope of state policy, the amount of state spending constitutes “progress” toward that goal.

    While certainly no anti-statist advocate of the non-aggression principle could advocate expanding the state, some libertarian anarchists have dissented against the Rothbardian theory of “progress” and more often than not they were otherwise hardcore Rothbardians (“more Rothbardian than Rothbard”) who deeply valued Murray’s refinement of anarchist theory itself. These “left libertarians” or AGORISTS noted that the ultimate goal, the accomplishment of a libertarian society, was essentially the suppression of the state as criminal activity (which Rothbard taught that it was) by a new market-oriented system of law and justice which respected the non-aggression principle. To these pioneering early libertarians, political reformism was far worse than merely a waste of libertarian activist time. It confused matters by assisting the statists in maintaining the illusion of state moral legitimacy, essential for compelling obedience and without which the state could not last for long.

    Samuel Edward Konkin III, in particular, was adamant in insisting on an “anti-political” approach and developed a comprehensive theory of libertarian revolution to guide activists—outlined in New Libertarian Manifesto. He also detailed advances in radical libertarian class theory that work in tandem with his theory of revolution and which you can read abouty in Agorist Class Theory.

  24. disinter Says:

    The best thing the LP could do is focus on one or two state-level legislative races per year. Find one or two that are winnable and run decent candidates. Once a foundation is established, then it can grow.

    Instead they focus very scarce resources on races like President, Congress and Senate, which is absolutely absurd.

    But, winning obviously isn’t the goal of the LP.

  25. Jeff Wartman Says:

    If a stateless society is not your goal, then, you need to stop reading at this point and go hang out with the other slow minarchist kids.

    I guess I’ll be in the other room having a drink then.

  26. Robert Milnes Says:

    Brad, not everything in life involves defaults. Are you interphasing with computers a little too much?

  27. Robert Milnes Says:

    Brad, what do you think of my working hypothesis that Teddy Roosevelt was a left libertarian?

  28. Robert Milnes Says:

    disinter, interesting who YOU think is a nut.

  29. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Brad,

    My fellow “war criminal,” I think I agree with you in a sense. If one accepts your premise that “real” libertarianism is NAP, then that’s not politically “viable.” That is, holding high NAP is not something that seems to have much traction with voters. Of course, voters generally don’t rally ‘round abstract constructs like NAP, so it does seem like a set-up for failure.

    OTOH, my personal assessment is that large numbers of voters might rally ‘round less government in a libertarian, across-the-board way, with some aspects of government targeted for reduction. That is, no national defense seems like a non-starter, but withdrawing from Iraq and perhaps Germany might be something large percentages would support. No taxes tomorrow, no. Less taxes tomorrow, yes. Legalize crystal meth, no. Medical marijuana, yes.

    You get the idea. You may find moderate libertarianism unsatisfying or even a sell out, but I find it quite relevant and popular, actually.

  30. Gene Trosper Says:

    At this juncture, moderate libertarianism is better than no libertarianism.

  31. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Gene,

    Yes, agreed. Of course, undoing most or even all of the State is most likely to occur in increments, not unlike the way it was created in the first place. It’s not as fun as writing science fiction about Acme Defense scenarios, but in my book it’s far more effective.

  32. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Wes,

    You have fallen into the fallacy of extrapolation. If the past was X, we can expect more or less X+/-1. Financial forecasters for the buggy whip industry may have thought that once, too, and they were incorrect. The automobile pretty much eliminated their industry.

    For the LP to be effective, it seems obvious we need more Ls. That can be done in more or less 2 ways:

    1) Convert people.
    2) Redefine Libertarianism.

    As a practical matter, I subscribe to both. I’d broaden the definition, which would swell the L universe quite a bit. That, in turn, stands a chance of converting people to a more real-world version of libertarianism.

    My view is we should be prepared for step functions, opportunities to take advantage of. That’s things like the hope that Dr. Paul would have come back, or perhaps Bob Barr as the standard bearer, or even someone like Ed Thompson running for, say, Congress. These, too, change the trajectory of the extrapolation.

  33. mfucci Says:

    I just recently joined the Libertarian Party (was formerly an Independent) and I agree with disinter. I believe the advancement of the Libertarian Party would best be achieved by plucking more low-lying fruit. Given the financial resources of the party, anything more may just not be possible right now. Furthermore, there are certain states where the libertarian message resonates and there are others where spreading that message is much more difficult. Why not focus in those states that are receptive?

    I also think that there are also some unique opportunities that present themselves and those should not be ignored. For instance, the Ron Paul candidacy, or high(ish) profile individuals joining the party (for example, Bob Barr). I do not believe, however, that these occurrences should detract from the above-mentioned strategy. Why not focus on recruiting those Ron Paul MeetUp groups and putting them to work on local LP races? Why not explore more realistic races for Bob Barr (maybe something state-level in Ga)?

  34. Brad Spangler Says:

    mfuci,

    Regarding your statement “Why not focus on recruiting those Ron Paul MeetUp groups and putting them to work on local LP races?”.

    Because they don’t like you very much. Not you personally. I mean “you” the Libertarian Party. Ron Paul brought them into the Republican Party and as the Paul campaign slowly fizzles, all initiatives coming from the Paul grassroots themselves are all about electing “Ron Paul Republicans” to Congress.

    You know all of the arrogant pricks on here that refuse to consider the possibility that some of their own basic assumptions might be wrong? The Ron Paul Republicans look at them the way those pricks look at me, the anarchist. I’m interested in neither of those groups at this point. In terms of sheer prioritization, my plan requires focusing on getting the anarchists who have taken a wrong turn into the LP out of it, my premise being that anarchists will be most effective at promoting anarchism when they actually do promot6e anarchism rather than small-government statism. To prevent others from following that wrong turn, as I did for several years of my own life, I want to destroy the Libertarian Party. As a possible side benefit of doing so, the half-hearted and muddle-headed “partialitarians” who head back into the major parties after an LP shutdown would possibly gain a new relevance in electoral terms and create some metaphorical “breathing room” for MY people in terms of civil liberties reforms—but I won’t be holding my breath. Historically, reformist movements only succeed when an existing ruling class consenses on grudgingly granting reforms as a way to sap support for a burgeoning revolutionary movement. That’s another reason the LP has failed, actually. Most of the key people who had the intellectual foundation to serve as anarchist revolutionaries were instead trying to be classical liberal reformists, so the ruling class never paniced into granting libertarian reforms.

  35. C. Al Currier Says:

    Robert Capozzi Says:
    ‘Legalize crystal meth, no. Medical marijuana, yes.’

    I need ‘Efudex’ (for skin cancer) but can’t get it thanks to the DEA. —Got to side with Brad.

    When I hear politicians speak of abolishing whole agencies, I get excited. When LP’ers announce that they just want to tinker with the system a little, I get the feeling ‘why bother?’.

  36. Dave Williams Says:

    “You know all of the arrogant pricks on here that refuse to consider the possibility that some of their own basic assumptions might be wrong?”

    Brad, I think you need to take a trip to the closest mirror, and take a good long look at yourself, you pompous ass. Folks like you need to consider that silly assed ideology like yours (no states, no borders, no basic rule of law) just might be wrong!!

    I think you’re on the right track…please, please get those like yourself away from the LP.

  37. C. Al Currier Says:

    Correction: It’s not DEA, but FDA that stops me from getting ‘Efudex’.
    (Thanks for the info!)
    It’s incomprehesible to me how we need two entire federal agencies to protect us from drugs. We’re not citizens in this country, but property of the state.

  38. Dave Williams Says:

    I think WAR is correct about BHO, what a tax & spend whore!

  39. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Al C.,

    First, I wish you a speedy recovery and that you can get the most effective treatment you can.

    But, of course, I’m the other way. If being in the LP means holding high the banner of nonarchy tomorrow, my response is: Why bother? While the idea of no government has some appeal to me, I (and I suggest probably the vast majority of the Americans) recognize that goal is quixotic and grandiose. Grandiosity IS “exciting,” it’s just not especially effective.

  40. Dave Williams Says:

    “Of course, Root is seeking federal office himself. :)

    Gordon, does this imply that he would take a salary as POTUS…and said pension benefits on retirement? Have you asked him?

  41. Robert Capozzi Says:

    BRAD: You know all of the arrogant pricks on here that refuse to consider the possibility that some of their own basic assumptions might be wrong?

    BOB: I’m not sure who you’re referring to here, Brad. I’d like to think that I challenge my own premises every day if not every hour and minute. ;-)

    If your thing in Rothbard and Konkin, enjoy that! I appreciate your advice and I’ve read both, having once even bought into most of their premises.

    I don’t any longer. I’d suggest you respect that others don’t reach your conclusions, and ask that you not presume what level of inquiry others are at.

  42. Brian Holtz Says:

    Wes Benedict has it exactly right. The best strategy for the LP over the next couple decades is to try to act something like a trim tab (non-pilots look it up) on the vast political forces marshaled by the incumbent nanny-state parties. When I try to write a scenario in which American liberty is increased on the strength of votes cast by LP legislators, it sounds like science fiction: http://knowinghumans.net/2006/07/resigning-from-libertarian-party.html. We should have libertarians working both within those nanny-state parties and within the LP, to maximize the attention those parties give to the opportunity cost the LP makes them pay. To maximize the size of the opportunity cost itself, we need to 1) work with other third parties on electoral reform, and 2) cure the LP of the brain damage that makes it reject fusion candidacies or any other possibility of supporting the most freedom-increasing ballot choice when that choice is labeled with a donkey or elephant instead of a torch lady.

    Brad Spangler (like Charles Johnson a month ago) is also right to say that anarchist state-haters don’t have very good rebuttals available to radical arguments against working within the LP or any other political party. The only way I can see for a principled hater of state force-initiation to work within the LP is to take and advocate something like this pledge: http://libertarianmajority.net/no-1st-force-pledge.

    However, Spangler is wrong in trying to identify “real libertarianism” with zero-aggression absolutism. There are too many free variables in libertarian ethical theory, and too many different principled schools of libertarianism, for this ploy to work on anybody whose knowledge of political and economic theory goes much beyond the LP’s pledge and its interpretation in the echo chamber of LP radicals. For all the details, see http://libertarianmajority.net/#Advocacy.

    Oh, and Spangler’s argument for the dissolution of the LP would be less unpersuasive if he knew a little bit more about the Party. Contra Spangler, it doesn’t take a 7/8 vote to amend Bylaws Article 2 regarding the perpetual duration of the Party. It just takes a 2/3 vote on an amendment that is properly noticed.

  43. Andy Says:

    “Because they don’t like you very much. Not you personally. I mean ‘you’ the Libertarian Party. Ron Paul brought them into the Republican Party and as the Paul campaign slowly fizzles, all initiatives coming from the Paul grassroots themselves are all about electing ‘Ron Paul Republicans to Congress.”

    I’ve attended Ron Paul Meet Up Group meetings for the past 3 weeks. I’d say that almost everyone at these meetings – a good 20-30 people at each meeting – were open to the Libertarian Party.

  44. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Wes and Brian,

    Sure, the LP probably could and should operate more like a PAC, pooling resources and funding winnable, lower-level races. Of course, there are exceptions…perhaps president, perhaps races that maintain ballot status, etc.

    I’m OK with fusionism, too, but that gets a bit tricky. Yall can blame me for the Weld experiment, which didn’t work out too well. OTOH, we got a lot of reasonably positive ink on the Weld initiative, but the LPNY may not be open to its fusionist options for quite some time.

  45. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Brad: Historically, reformist movements only succeed when an existing ruling class consenses on grudgingly granting reforms as a way to sap support for a burgeoning revolutionary movement.

    Bob: I’m not exactly sure who the “ruling class” is, please enlighten us. Is it Hollywood? The military-industrial complex? A cabal of international bankers? Israelis? Neocons? Wall Street? Unions? The teachers? The Bilderbergers? Trilateralist CFRs? Have I missed any of the major conspiracy theories?

    Brad, red flag on “only,” dude. Big time. Most of the reform in th 20th century was quickly adopted (for good occasionally, but mostly for ill) by the power elites, mostly operating in coalition, as they tend to. Revolutionaries are generally dismissed as cranks. Who’d really want to mess with the abundance the US has created? Welcome to the Era of the Tweak…it’s been with us for 100 years now, if you were paying attention.

    All in my opinion, of course. But do check your premises, my agorist friend.

  46. timothy west Says:

    what’s really funny is when ‘libertarians’ wrap themselves around people like Jefferson ( or others) and claim he was or would be a libertarian then or now. One of the tactics used by “libertarians” is to only use such quotes and passages out of context that bolsters their arguments, and ignore others from the same person that counteract same.

    If Jefferson was in favor of anarchism, then thats what he would have advocated for the new nation. He did not. He denounced anarchism at every opportunity to do so.

    So, you have half the LP declaring itself to be in favor of statelessness, and the other half claiming falsely that they hold claim to the founding fathers ideas. Once again, only the ideas, quotes, and passages that bolster their modern day arguments are presented on either side.

    The LP is intellectually disingenuous and historically dishonest. You cant ‘reform’ such a institution, and even if you could, it wouldn’t be worth the time and energy to try. Wish I had figgered that out sooner.

  47. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    The “ruling class” in a bourgeois democracy is the “political class” in general—that group of people which successfully pursues its goals by grasping the levers of political power within the system, and by bringing as much of society as possible under the control of those levers.

    Here is where Brad does have a point … the LP attempts to function as part of the “political class,” while simultaneously holding aloft goals that are contrary to the presumptive goals of the class itself (and at the radical end, to that class’s very existence).

    As far as reformism versus revolution, the classic case is the New Deal. The Depression raised a very real spectre of socialist revolution in the US.

    FDR came into office just as momentum was really beginning to build toward that, having fallen back during the “Return to Normalcy” in the 1920s. He ran on a platform of cutting the size of the federal government by 25% and balancing the budget—and the Socialist Party’s candidate, Norman Thomas, got three times the votes in that election (2.2%) as he had in 1928 (0.7%).

    FDR got re-elected by preempting the socialist revolutionary upsurge, and by adopting the key points demanded by the socialists as the New Deal. He was re-elected with the Socialist Party’s endorsement in 1936.

    The political class has become much more adept at preemption of radical movements since then. At least FDR actually DID preempt the socialists. The GOP preempts the libertarians in rhetoric, but not in action. There are two possible rational ways to respond to that: Either refusing to fall for the preemption and forcing the issue on the reform path by stopping the “Republican lite” bullshit, or by exiting the fixed game altogether and going revolutionary.

  48. Andy Says:

    “He ran on a platform of cutting the size of the federal government by 25% and balancing the budget—and the Socialist Party’s candidate, Norman Thomas, got three times the votes in that election (2.2%) as he had in 1928 (0.7%).

    FDR got re-elected by preempting the socialist revolutionary upsurge, and by adopting the key points demanded by the socialists as the New Deal. He was re-elected with the Socialist Party’s endorsement in 1936.”

    FDR believed in limited government about as much as George W. Bush. Remember, when George W. Bush first ran for President he claimed to be a strict construtionist of the Constition and did not believe in nation building. These were obiouvsly LIES.

    FDR didn’t just stick his finger in the air after he got into office and figure that the Socialist Party was getting more popular so he ought to adopt their agenda, FDR was ALREADY on board with the socialist agenda before he ran for President the first time, and anything he said to the contrary while he was on the campaign trail was a LIE, just as George W. Bush LIED about being a strict constructionist of the Constitution and not believing in nation building.

  49. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Gordon, does this imply that he would take a salary as POTUS…and said pension benefits on retirement? Have you asked him?

    I haven’t asked him—and I have no problem with him taking the salary. I was merely noting the irony of the situation.

  50. timothy west Says:

    According to Adelstein, the Libertarian and Socialist parties have been less successful than the Democratic and Republican Parties because they have primarily focused on abstract ideologies.

    You dont say?

  51. Stephen Gordon Says:

    You misunderstand my argument. Even if the LP was winning races left and right, it wouldn’t be a viable method of advancing libertarianism as I see it.

    I’d like additional clarification of the word “advancing.”

    If you mean persuading more people to become libertarian, you may be right.

    If you mean implementing public policy which is more libertarian, I disagree.

  52. Stephen Gordon Says:

    The best thing the LP could do is focus on one or two state-level legislative races per year. Find one or two that are winnable and run decent candidates. Once a foundation is established, then it can grow.

    In general, I agree. However, I’ve not seen a large enough sustainable effort within the LP to accomplish this goal. Any ideas on how to better accomplish this goal?

  53. Stephen Gordon Says:

    There’s a difference between some Libertarian candidates proving viable for election a la carte and the Libertarian Party overall proving viable as a means of general advance toward liberty. The latter is definitely an unproven proposition with more than three decades of not very encouraging empirical evidence in the record.

    I’m not on the “throw in the towel” team myself, but I can understand why many would be.

    I’ve often argued that there has been little coherent organized activity on the part of the LP to actually win elections. We’d rather debate issues online or promote messages as opposed to viable candidates.

  54. Dave Williams Says:

    “The best thing the LP could do is focus on one or two state-level legislative races per year. Find one or two that are winnable and run decent candidates. Once a foundation is established, then it can grow.”

    I agree. Here’s some state level activity, from the Tx Lp site: “Texas Libertarians show excellent results; Highlights from the November 2006 election:

    * 29 Libertarians received over 20% of the vote (including county offices).
    * Bob Smither received 6.1% in Congressional District 22, a new record.
    * Linda Wilbert received 18.5% in a three-way race for Brazos County JP.”

    “Any ideas on how to better accomplish this goal?”

    1.) I’m new to the LP, & will be voting LP across the board here in Tx. I’ve put LP stickers on all of my vehicles, put up an LP yard sign and wear an LP ball cap where ever I venture. Advertising the party helps, and explaining the LP platform to folks who ask seems to bring nods of agreement. However, I do not try to ‘sell’ the LP. Folks need to make up their own minds, most do not realize the options available to them, especially the really busy ones. I guess simple grass roots efforts seeking one vote at a time is a good start.

    2.) Also, I am a WAR supporter, he seems to have much passion for freedom. I think many Moderates will acknowledge his platform but remain hesitant to join because ‘they want to win’ as I did. He may not win a general POTUS nomination in the near future, but having his persona at the helm may invite converts from the Center Right, just like it invited me. We need a national leader.

    3.) The LP should spend time & money contrasting their differences with the other parties using all available media outlets. I watched Nader on C-SPAN the other night…I watch C-SPAN often…I don’t recall seeing anyone calling themselves a ‘Libertarian’ on…ever.

  55. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    “The best thing the LP could do is focus on one or two state-level legislative races per year. Find one or two that are winnable and run decent candidates. Once a foundation is established, then it can grow.”

    Not a bad idea … but there are some major technical problems with it.

    The first one is that the LP is required by its bylaws to go through the process of nominating a presidential slate; the LNC is required to support that presidential slate with the party’s resources.

    There are two ways out of that problem: The LP could amend its bylaws to not run a presidential slate and require the LNC to support that slate, or the LP could nominate “NOTA” in the prescribed process.

    The members of the party have spoken to this every four years—by leaving the nomination requirement in the bylaws and nominating a candidate other than NOTA.

    Basically, problem #1 is this: You don’t just have to convince one guy or group of guys at the “top” of the LP to do what you want them to do. You have to convince the membership. The membership is not convinced at this time.

    The second problem is similar, but expressed financially. Clausewitz said of war (paraphrase from memory) “the important things in war are simple, but the simple things are hard.”

    The idea is simple: Libertarian campaign donors “should” concentrate their donations to a few key state legislative races.

    The implementation, not so simple. Once again, there’s no “top guy” you can go to who can mandate where Libertarian donors send their checks. The money belongs to the donors. They’ll send it where THEY are interested in sending it, not where all us philosopher kings think they should send it.

    Unfortunately, the LP has had some major debacles (most notably Badnarik for Congress) in the “focus on the lower level” area. Those debacles distract attention from the Libertarians who are winning local office and polling in double digits for state office. Those debacles make it less likely that Libertarian donors will support lower-level attempts; they drive some Libertarian donors away altogether, and cause some other Libertarian donors to just write a check to the presidential campaign on the premise that at least it will get some national publicity.

    I’m not sure that “focusing resources at the lower level” would be a silver bullet in any case, but even if it would be, it will take a lot of persuading, not just a command decision, to get everyone on board.

  56. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Tom,

    Sure, in the Era of the Tweak, the New Deal was a pretty big tweak. Some of it was sold as temporary and went away, like the CCC. Other things stayed. Bad, bad tweak, IMO.

    Yes, I do think the LP aspires to join the “political class” in a sense. We do want to get elected, after all. I’d suggest we don’t want to be Republican Lite, however, but rather small government centrists. You may want a revolution, but I’m just not seeing throngs in the streets wanting to abolish Social Security. I can’t imagine that, can you? Not in a nation where most people live like kings and queens by any historical measure. Shock the kings and queens, and they say “next” if they’re polite, “get outta here” if they’re not.

    Politics in a nation of plenty is played by the cool, not the hot. Firebrands need not apply. The last reasonably electorally successful firebrands were the segregationists, and I for one don’t find them to be a model for the LP.

    If the LP doesn’t aspire to join, influence, and shift the political class, what should it aspire to? What’s your revolutionary model?

    The “nice” thing about the political class is that they’ll sell what sells. I happen to believe that small government centrism is electable/sellable today, actually.

  57. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Bob,

    I’m not sure I have a revolutionary model—I’m just saying that that’s the alternative to joining the political class.

    Now, as to actually joining the political class, that’s tricky. It’s like a country club—the current members are always going to be a bit snobbish and disinclined to admit new members.

    A bona fide revolutionary threat certainly prompts them to do so. Forget FDR for a moment: Neither Martin Luther King nor Malcolm X nor Huey P. Newton were mere tweakers. They raised a believable threat of fundamental reorganization of society in different but equally revolutionary ways, and the country club’s doors got opened to their successors, who quickly became just as snobbish.

    Short of that kind of threat, there may be ways for reformers to get into the club. If a reformist movement or party became popular enough that it seemed to threaten to open its own club and hire away the greenskeepers and dishwashers (i.e. the voters in this analogy), it might be offered a share of the existing club.

    That last seems to be what the LP is after. Of course, there are reasonable arguments as to several issues: Whether a share of the existing club is enough, whether getting such a share would turn us into snobs who betray the greenskeepers, dishwashers, et al who stood with us to force the deal, etc.

    On the question of revolution v. reform per se, I’m functionally agnostic for a couple of reasons: First of all, I don’t see an emerging revolutionary scenario which lends itself well to my goals; secondly, I enjoy the activities that that the reform, e.g. party, movement engages in—I’m a politics junkie.

    If I see a black flag going up on top of a building and seething masses around it demanding the abolition of the state, screw the LP —I’ll be getting my gun and my gas mask and going off to throw hands. Barring that, I’m fine with walking precincts and seeking the most I can get through that kind of approach.

  58. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Tom,

    Yes, I think you’re right. Revolution is not ripe. Reform might be.

    Single issue “revolution” might be ripe in some areas, and I encourage single-issues groups to test the bounds as King and X did.

    Across-the-board movement in a libertarian direction could be something whose time has come. As the last 35 years years have shown, it’s definitely NOT easy.

  59. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Robert Capozzi: “Across-the-board movement in a libertarian direction could be something whose time has come.”

    I doubt it. The state keeps getting bigger and bigger, and voters demand more. For instance, right now many voters want government to “do something” about their home mortgages.

    The “Gingrich Revolution,” followed by Clinton’s “The era of big government is over,” may have, ironically, been the last gasp of even a feeble attempt at small government.

    At this point, politicians barely even lie about favoring small government. The Republicans promise “security” (i.e., war), and the Democrats promise health care, education, environmental spending, and war.

    Of course, the war is one big reason for the current statist expansion. War truly is the health of the state. It’s made statists out of most conservatives, and even out of many “libertarians.”

  60. disinter Says:

    In general, I agree. However, I’ve not seen a large enough sustainable effort within the LP to accomplish this goal. Any ideas on how to better accomplish this goal?

    Groups always digress to the lowest common denominator.

    Ain’t gonna happen, unless you anoint me dictator of the LP. :)

  61. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Thomas Sipos: I doubt [that the across-the-board movement in a libertarian direction could be something whose time has come]. The state keeps getting bigger and bigger, and voters demand more.

    Bob: Hmm, I said “could,” Thomas. Actually, I’ve seen no evidence that voters want government to get bigger. There are sometimes individual issues that temporary majorities want a statist solution. But that’s because the political class has not framed the big picture as a tradeoff and a matter of setting priorities.

    While it’s easy to be pessimistic, I prefer to take the big picture view. All in, the State’s growth as measured by GDP is about the same as it was under Reagan. The Iraq War has put new pressures toward State expansion, agreed. So has the Bush Administration’s profligate domestic spending increases. And so has the looming demographic trends for SS and Medicare.

    Rather than viewing this all as doom, I prefer to view it as an opportunity. It’s become more like shooting fish in a barrel for the LP. Government is out of control. War has us on a path toward insolvency. The Feds are reading your emails and tapping your phones.

    One need not be a nonarchist to oppose these excesses. If we can offer a plausible alternative, we could make significant progress.

    Or, we can move to a remote cabin in the woods.

  62. truthaboutdisinter Says:

    “Ain’t gonna happen, unless you anoint me dictator of the LP. ”

    Interesting that disinter wants to be a “dictator” even saying it in jest. I guess we now know why he hates Bush so much, he’s jealous

  63. disinter Says:

    truthaboutdisinter – democracy is evil.

    http://www.democracyisnotfreedom.com/

  64. disinter Says:

    Oh look!

    “Before the rally, I met Paul at his hotel and had a one on one sit down interview with him. He will not drop out of the race, he says, nor will he consider a third party candidacy because he says it would just marginilize him more.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/019735.html

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