Sunday, October 31, 2004

Moving the Libertarian party towards the Real World

The Libertarian party has become a haven for Idealists. Some LP members have written they would rather keep the party "pure" than win elections. That is not the definition of a political party, rather it is the definition of a self-help group.

Pure libertarians tend to think in absolutes. This is the same problem that George Bush has. "You are either with us or against us." This mentality ensures that the Libertarian Party will accomplish nothing. As long as the Party views the world in terms of black and white, the scope of government will continue to grow.

How do we change this?

First we need to adapt. It makes no sense to create an extreme and detailed party platform which can be used against local candidates. Neither the republican nor democratic parties have a platform which goes into such excruciating detail. Libertarians must realize that many of our ideals are taken to the extreme, and are presented as such. Until we adopt the idea that change can be incremental, we will never gain an audience.

We need to present oursleves as thoughtful and responsible thinkers. For example instead of proclaiming items such as "We would abolish the Department of Education." we need to state this in a professional manner: "We would transition The Department of Education back to the states. According the the Constitution that is its proper place."

Finally we need to realize that each person will find a differing degree of government vs private ownership acceptable. Would Thomas Jefferson be classed as a libertarian today?

"As to the new Constitution... Would it not have been better to assign to Congress exclusively the article of imposts for federal purposes, and to have left direct taxation exclusively to the States? I should suppose the former fund sufficient for all probably events, aided by the land office." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:395

According to the current "Pure" Libertarian stance on taxation EVEN JEFFERSON would not be seen as Libertarian. There is something wrong with the party when it venerates the founding fathers but would find they are not members by today's standards.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey cincinnatus,

This is Robert Daunno from "The New Libertarian" blog, created by Tim West. I'm going to be writing for his site in the near future to help promote the ideas of the "small" L libertarian. With the excitement created by this campaign, it's about time we move forward and make national acknowledge that the LP needs to stop being a debate society. We only need to look at the local races and campaigns we run to see that the people can be receptive, if we speak to them...and not at them.

Just wanted to say nice job with the blog. I like the look of it.


11:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All good points, we're dealing with every day, here on the ground in the Free State of New Hampshire. More libertarians are needed, especially ones who understand what you've written here.

Before you dismiss New Hampshire, check out the way politics function there. (State Reps are easily elected by small numbers, since they only rep for 3000 voters) A small libertarian activism group can make big changes, and already is...

2:31 PM  
Anonymous David Honish said...

So how do we change/improve the Libertarian Party to make it relevant and actually able to influence public policy by winning elections?

When I recently resigned my post in my county Libertarian party, I sent a copy of my resignation notice to the executive director of the state party. In my resignation I mentioned the county party webmaster declining to post an antiwar demonstration event on the calendar section of the website. Apparently he was content to leave the calendar section showing only the start of early voting and ballot access petitioning FOR THE PREVIOUS YEAR'S ELECTION! This same webmaster for the county party also made the comment at a monthly meeting that he would prefer meeting in the old courthouse on the town square museum's meeting room to the public library meeting room that we were using. He stated his preference was "because this would be one of the first places we'd close if we took power." No danger of him ever winning any elections with that sort of thinking.

I pointed out that politics being the art of compromise, it might be better to have a guiding philosophy, rather than a rigid dogma. I further pointed out that Mr. webmaster / library closer was a tad hypocritical in his selective application of his dogma, considering that his employment would be nonexistent without the federal grant to fund the software research and development that he is engaged in. I also posed the question just how did they expect citizens to learn about their government, and more importantly how to change it without the information resources of the public libraries?

Thankfully, the state party executive director, who is presently occupied in an election for his city council, agrees that winning elections is the first step in effecting constructive change. It is a comfort to know that some Libertarian Party officials actually are more interested in winning elections than in sitting around debating dogma strictly in accordance with every excruciating detail of Robert's Rules of Order.

What a novel concept, actually doing something instead of just talking about it.

8:47 PM  

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