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Stewart Flood: How the West was Lost

No, that’s not a typo. I said lost not won.  Of course most people currently living in the US would call it a victory.  The winners get to write the history books.   However, if you were someone who lived on this continent before the relentless swarm of invaders headed inward from the eastern shore, you would say lost.

The same is true of political parties. New parties are not always built these days.  Most people posting comments on Third Party Watch speak of it as a horrible and unthinkable option. I agree that in most states the system has been rigged to make it difficult, but it is not impossible.

Historically, internal political movements tend to just take over the old ones and change them.  Not always, but it happens frequently in our country.  If you are old enough to have followed politics in any of the “big two” parties before their most recent philosophical changes, you probably would say they were lost.

Look at what is called the Democratic party. Is it a liberal party?  Conservative?  Has it been a driving force in the civil rights movement, or an entity controlled and run primarily in defense of slavery? The answer, of course, is all of the above — at various times in history.  If members of the Democratic party from the 1860s had been alive during the 1960s, they would have insisted it had lost its direction.

I can only imagine what the founders of the Republican party would think of it today. I don’t think anyone actually knows what it stands for.  I don’t think that anyone who was a member of it as recently as 20 years ago knows what it stands for today.

I live in a state that has brought Strom Thurmond, Lindsey Graham, and now Tim Scott to national prominence.  Tim is the most hated politician in The Community, yet “loved” in DC.  We were talking about him in the barbershop Saturday morning. Technically, it is close enough to where he lives to be his barber shop as well, but over the years I have rarely seen him there.  Certainly not since he became political royalty in DC.  A far cry from serving on Charleston County Council.  Scott scares me politically.  He is not really what you are seeing on TV.  But back to losing the west.

The Libertarian party is changing as well. The “party of Nolan” is no longer his.  I can’t claim to have known him as well as many others did, but I learned a lot about his thinking in the time we both served on the national committee. I don’t think anyone would say he could possibly be happy with what is going on today.  Dr Feldman certainly would not.  Why do the good die too young?

The Mises are in charge, long live the Mises!  What the heck is a “Mises” anyway?  It doesn’t appear to me to be anything like an anarchist or minarchist.  Even the actual Mises Institute seems to have disavowed them. But who they are doesn’t matter.  They won, and for now at least they are in charge.  They call it a win.  The original Libertarians would not.  How did they get to be in charge?

The management and seating of delegates at party conventions is flawed. You could even call it corrupt.  States can send more delegates than they are actually allowed to seat, and they can get seated in other states. Personally, I think that is a violation of the intent of a political convention in representation by state.  It should be illegal. Oh, wait! It actually is in some states!

By allowing overflow delegates to be seated in other delegations, states that are not able to send their own excess delegates become smaller in proportion to states where carpet baggers are seated. All it takes is controlling a few states and bringing lots and lots of extra people and you take over.

This flaw has been present for many years, and has been used by a number of factions to a certain extent at various times. It is a dirty little secret of libertarian party conventions.

But the system is not all bad. Allocating delegates based upon a percentage of the most recent vote for president is actually a rather brilliant idea. It promotes getting out the vote.  I have thought of improvements, but they will come later.

However, allocating other delegates based upon the number of dues paying national members is, of course, pay to play. It is corrupt and another dirty little secret of libertarian party conventions.  Everyone tries to take advantage of it.  State parties have competing membership drives to try to increase the size of their delegation faster than each other.  The only winner is the bank balance of the national party.  A brilliant fundraising idea, but easily corrupted.

Some state parties also allow people who do not even live in their state to join, vote at their state convention, and be delegates to the national convention.  The dirtiest of the dirty secrets.  Even the Democrats don’t allow this (although they have “super delegates” which is one of their dirty little secrets!)

I was not present, but I’ve been told that all of these tactics were deployed successfully by Mises.  When you store open cans of gasoline in your living room next to the fireplace, well… You get the picture!

There is no perfect system of allocating delegates.  But there are certainly better ways.  A Classical Liberal Party must avoid the mistakes of the old parties.

And how do you avoid takeover and subversion of your message?  How do you avoid a future “Mises Event” either by that or some other faction?  How do you avoid becoming pigeon-holed as Starchild calls it?

Next: Roberts, the political weapon of mass destruction. This article will appear on Independent Political Report.


  1. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood June 9, 2023

    Tim Scott has a shaved head. He has extremely curly hair. Many local men with that type of hair – especially politicians – shave it. I have been in the barber shop many times over the years waiting for a haircut and witnessed that being done.

    His head was shaved back when I first met him during his state senate attempt in 1997 (or was it ‘95?) against Robert Ford. That was close tom30:years ago. I am sure it is probably receding these days if he let it grow out. But it is part of his image built over the years.

    • George Whitfield George Whitfield June 10, 2023

      Thanks for the insight. I have never met him in person. Details like that are difficult to see in photos.

      • Stewart Flood Stewart Flood June 10, 2023

        I don’t recall seeing it as often years ago when I lived in the Philadelphia area. But it actually makes sense. Today is somewhat of an anomaly in Charleston at 85°, sunny, and almost arid humidity of 37%. By this time next month it will probably be 95° to 105° and 85% humidity. No see-ems, which are tiny bugs that are 99% teeth and one percent wings. Your arm can turn almost black with them as they land, bite, and die. Mosquitoes that at full speed can crack glass, and palmetto bugs which in other parts would be called genetically mutated giant cockroaches, and you’d pull out a gun to try to shoot. They fly. Frequently into your mouth at night while you sleep.

        So shaving your head does make sense.

  2. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood June 9, 2023

    No, South Carolina laws are in effect for the South Carolina delegation. It does not matter where the convention is, you must be a registered voter in South Carolina to be a delegate representing our state. This was verified, including with the state election commission.

    Just as you must be a registered voter in South Carolina to show up at re-organization in tye county you are registered to vote in, run for office, be a delegate to your county convention, or the state convention. The national convention is no different.

    • Jim Jim June 14, 2023

      Stewart – South Carolina has no authority to enforce its laws in another state. It CAN enforce its laws inside its state, which is why you must be a registered voter in the county to run for office, etc.

      If South Carolina could regulate the activities of its residents while they were traveling in other states, then there would be nothing stopping the state from prohibiting all residents of South Carolina from getting an abortion, even if they happened to be in California at the time of the procedure. It obviously cannot do that. Nor can South Carolina arrest its residents who have a legal abortion in California upon returning to SC. South Carolina can regulate the activities of people within its borders and nowhere else. I have no doubt your state election commission would like you to believe otherwise.

      • George Phillies George Phillies Post author | June 14, 2023

        However, Jim, adding someone to a delegation may require actions done inside the state, and those actions are subject to state law.

        • Stewart Flood Stewart Flood June 15, 2023

          Absolutely does. The delegation represents the will of the state convention, and is subject to state election law in all actions.

  3. George Whitfield George Whitfield June 9, 2023

    From looking at a recent photo of Tim Scott I can understand why you haven’t seen him in the neighborhood barbershop recently as he appears to be bald.

  4. Shawn Levasseur Shawn Levasseur June 7, 2023

    The ability for an individual to just show up and find a delegation that would seat them has been a long-standing thing. (2022 may have been an exception to that). It is in part due to a lack of competition for delegate seats.

    I had hoped that growing the party would increase the competition for delegate seats and therefore lessen that effect.

    The ability for out-of-state members is a puzzling thing. I found it absurd when I first heard of it in conjunction with the origin of the LP Oregon split some years ago.

    That led me to author a bylaw for the Maine LP that had a residency requirement in the definition of membership, that was adopted.

  5. Stewart Flood Stewart Flood June 7, 2023

    At that same convention there were rumors that Bob Barr’s home state had bussed in extra delegates on several chartered busses. Not true.

    But I do recall hearing the discussion about underage delegates and Root’s family.

    Also, we broke the law (literally!) by seating Mike Gravel in South Carolina’s delegation. It was after the convention that I learned that South Carolina’s election laws had been violated. You must be a registered voter in SC to organize or be a delegate to any party organizing or convention.

    • Jim Jim June 9, 2023

      Stewart – The 2008 national convention was in Colorado. South Carolina’s laws do not apply to activities in Colorado. If the national convention had been in South Carolina, then you might have broken the law be making an out of state voter a delegate.

  6. Root's Teeth Are Awesome Root's Teeth Are Awesome June 7, 2023

    The seating of LP delegates has traditionally been pretty loose. The rationale is “liberty” and “freedom of association” etc. — that people should be “free to choose” their representatives however they like.

    As best I remember, Wayne Allyn Root brought his entire family to the 2008 convention, and had them seated here or there, despite his daughter(s) being under 18.

    Some of us questioned whether the seating of minors as delegates was permitted by LP rules, and apparently there was no rule against it. And as the LP platform said something about minors having the same rights as adults, it only made sense to seat minors.

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