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Stewart Flood: Is “retaking” the LP really the best solution?

A column by Stewart Flood, posted by George Phillies:

I understand that TPW is intended as more of a commentary and opinion site as IPR evolves into primarily news, so here is an opinion starting with a question:

Is “retaking” the LP really the best solution?

I have been thinking about this a lot over the past half year or so, and in my opinion it is not.

I attended every national convention from 2006 until 2018, as well as the virtual sessions in 2020, opting to not risk exposure to government cooties (covid) for the in-person portion.

There were skirmishes between internal factions at every one, but the antics at 2016 (a certain presidential candidate no longer with us bragged to me that he paid to get Meeks to strip), followed by dildo waving freaks in 2018, leading to a party ripe for takeover. And it happened.

I left the LP in the summer of 2020, so I did not directly witness the execution, but I have heard many times over about the convention in 2022. I would have probably walked out.

Political executions were swift, and the damage and destruction has continued, with only the attornies profiting.

The media consider the LP to be a joke. That has not changed. But with the loss of so many valuable party members, the only thing left appear to be the invaders. Sure, there are still a number of holdout states still under the control of actual libertarians, but that number is eroding as the political terrorists in charge of the LNC execute their plan.

Yes, a concerted effort could take back the party in 2024, but is the damage already fatal? What is the cost, both in hard dollars and recruitment of new members – not to mention the reconstruction of a lost reputation, and is it worth it?

And what of the state affiliates damaged or destroyed? How many election cycles will it take to turn them around? My own state appears to have avoided takeover, but that may not last.

I have made my own personal decision in this matter, which is why I am now coming out of my self-imposed political retirement. It is time to start over.


  1. Root's Teeth Are Awesome Root's Teeth Are Awesome May 24, 2023

    Take Don Ernsberger who publicly waved goodbye to the LP in the late 1990s.

    In the 1990s, I received a fundraising letter from the LNC, promising “a Libertarian majority Congress in 2010.”

    Not a Libertarian elected to Congress. But a majority Libertarian Congress. Both houses.

    It was a laughable promise even at the time.

    It’s hard for a third party to succeed because it can’t deliver the freebies that a party in power can. And while most Americans say they want freedom, they also …

    * Want free stuff (it’s their neighbors whose benefits should be cut).

    * Want the freedom to do X (while curtaining their neighbors freedom to do Y).

    Of course the LP will endure. This is because it’s also, to a large extent, a social club. For all this talk of “the job of a political party is to elect candidates,” many members also enjoy the social aspects of the supper clubs, street activism, and conventions.

    • NewFederalist NewFederalist May 24, 2023

      The Libertarian Party will most likely survive but will it be more like the Prohibition Party or the Socialist Labor Party?

  2. George Whitfield George Whitfield May 24, 2023

    I have been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1979. Although it is currently undergoing challenges the party has experienced difficulties in the past but has persisted. My focus will be on supporting individual Libertarian Party candidates that impress me by their profiles, activities and positions on the issues.

    • NewFederalist NewFederalist May 24, 2023

      I heartily agree with you, George! I joined the party in 1974 and took a 10 year hiatus between 1986 and 1996. This most recent cabal will peter out eventually but Around The Block A Few Times makes a good point… what have we accomplished in 50 years? I don’t have the answer but I am certain of one thing… I cannot be a Democrat nor a Republican. I am open to suggestions but since I am nearing the end of my lifetime I would like to see some results. I don’t have anything close to 50 years left.

  3. ATBAFT ATBAFT May 24, 2023

    “people who have given up.”
    Yes, many have given up on the LP and any hope that libertarian principles will ever be successful. Take Don Ernsberger who publicly waved goodbye to the LP in the late 1990s. Ernsberger is one of less than two dozen “Hall of Liberty” inductees in the 50 year history of the Party. Yet, 25 years in, he bid it goodbye, because, in his estimation, it was being demonstrated every day that the vast bulk of the American people were never going to embrace libertarianism no matter how articulately those principles were advanced by libertarian thinkers and LP candidates. The LP now has had 50 years to demonstrate its viability to effect a change in the political direction of the U.S. It has failed. LP factions have come and gone but none have been able to overcome the disdain for 3rd parties in general, and for a 3rd party that specifically wants major rollbacks in government and refuses to champion coercion of peaceful individuals. Maybe Ernsberger should be labeled a “quitter” or maybe a “prophet?” Maybe it would be healthier for all of us to give up the frustration of expecting the LP – run by any faction – to be a success as a national political party?

  4. Thomas L Knapp Thomas L Knapp May 23, 2023

    It’s always great to hear your perspective on events, Randy. Hope you’re doing well.

    I tend to agree that the “re-take the LP” game is not worth the candle. Sometimes a car is just totaled, and the more viable options than repairing it(especially when it’s surrounded by a mob yelling against repairing it) are getting a new car, or hitching a ride with some other driver, or staying home.

    I was fortunate to finally get it through my head a few years ago that, as little as the Libertarian Party needed me, I needed it even less. I didn’t quit participating, but I did quit worrying that I was failing in some kind of duty or responsibility to the organization.

    After the Mises PAC took over the Florida LP, I changed my registration to “No Party Affiliation,” then recently to “Forward Party” when they got ballot access. I didn’t rescind my LNC non-aggression pledge, but I did quit sending them money.

    I don’t know that I’ll really get in the Forward car and try to get anywhere, although I like their support of ranked choice voiting. I may just stay home. We’re all allowed to do that. We don’t owe parties our allegiance or effort. If they don’t earn it, they shouldn’t get it.

  5. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood May 23, 2023

    I was not intending to sound disenfranchised, or at least not me personally. I left the LP for issues totally unrelated to the Mises Caucus. They were not at all part of my decision. I do not feel at all disenfranchised by what has happened.

    But I would agree that others have been. I have heard from a number of my former colleagues over the past year, many of them personnally affected by the internal power struggles in their party. Some left, some are still there. (Yes, this does sort of sound like the monologue at the end of Apollo 13!)

    Part of me has been relieved over the past three years to not have to deal with the challenges of party/campaign operations. And my goal is certainly not to build some new fiefdom to play politics in. In the 30 years that I was active in my two former parties, I always considered it to be a serious and important undertaking. I never ran for public office or even wanted to. I wanted to help others with the process.

    But three decades of knowledge needs to be passed on. One of the things I learned after having the massive heart attack that failed to kill me is that life is day to day. Sitting on the sideline and just watching is for people who have given up. I have not given up.

    There are always groups talking about creating a new national party. I am now working with the one I believe has the best chance of accomplishing the goal. I did not make this decision lightly. I will be leading the organization of the South Carolina affiliate of a new party. It will be a team. I do not plan or desire to become a state chair again.

    and the goal is not to destroy another party. I really do wish well to my friends who still believe their party can be saved. Most of them are in the Libertarian Party. Some are still Republicans and others are Democrats.

    While I mentioned my belief that the LP is not worth “retaking”, I do not believe it will suddenly fail and disappear. Others may decide to take it back over and undertake the task of removing the cancer from it. I like Mr Colby’s use of that word. It is a cancer. Cancer can go into remission, and it can disappear. But that is rare and it frequently returns.

    Anyway…busy day today. The South Carolina team is now two. Will it be four in a few days? Eight? Who knows!

  6. Jonathan Colby Jonathan Colby May 23, 2023

    Wow…. I can totally resonate with the disenfranchised tone…. Losers deserve to loose and the corrupt deserve their cancerous death just as Truth is calling that which is as is and that which is not as not.. No filtering of participation means that corrupted or misguided members can re-define the party and over time the momentum builds and then one day… PoP… its gone…

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