Saturday, December 22, 2007

Defiant Till the End: Terry Liberty Parker

August 2007: Terry Liberty Parker is diagnosed with a brain tumor.

October 2007: Medical treatment provides enough temporary relief to allow Terry to once again demonstrate his uncompromising dedication to freedom for all without compromise.

In response to a stroke victim asking me what is the libertarian prescription for healthcare:

Wes says:
I'm going to forward your email to Terry Liberty Parker and ask him to respond to one question. Note that Terry Liberty Parker has a severe condition, was recently given a dire prognosis though he's fighting it heroically and he may not be able to respond.

Nevertheless, Terry, please tell us now if you can, given that you've spent much of your life fighting for freedom for all, and given that you're fighting for your life today, and that what you say today could have a long-lasting effect on the freedom movement, what's your long-term prescription for health care in America today?

a) more government b) less government

Terry's response is:

(c) No government.

The full conversation:

http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2007/10/disabled-libertarian-macho-flash.html


Terry Liberty Parker was a 10-year host of the show "Live & Let Live" and first invited me to appear as a guest on his show in 2002. It was my first live television appearance, I was nervous as heck, and also offended quite a few people. Terry let me know that, but in a supportive way and with plenty of constructive criticism. As libertarians often do, we occasionally butted heads in our future political activism. Terry was as stubborn as they make 'em and I will never forget him and will always consider his unwavering support for freedom to be an inspiration to me.

I hope this excerpt from the final "Live and Let Live" show before his passing shows how much Austin libertarians appreciate all that he did.



From the Austin American Statesman:

Terry Liberty Parker

Terry Liberty Parker Terry Liberty Parker, longtime Austin Libertarian activist, passed away peacefully on December 17, 2007 after a short but valiant fight against aggressive brain cancer. Terry was born on October 26, 1944 in New York City. For over 30 years Terry was a vocal and passionate champion of Libertarian principles. In the early 1970s, Terry gained worldwide fame for establishing a clothing-optional apartment whose tenants signed a "non-aggression pact" whereby "they were free to do whatever they want as long as they don't aggress physically against one another." He was active in the Libertarian Party during the 1980s and once served as Travis County Libertarian Party Chair. For 10 years, Terry hosted "Live and Let Live," and for the past two years he co-hosted the "Jeff Davis Show," both on Austin's local public access television station. In the 1990s, he began using the Internet to expand his Libertarian voice by establishing himself as moderator of the Libertarian Yahoo Group and provided the valuable service as archivist for televised Libertarian programs. Terry was most admired for his unwavering commitment to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and his unconditional love for his friends and family. Terry's survivors include beloved daughter, Clare Burchfield; cousin, Mary Partlan (John); loving life-mate, Rita Gonzalez; and numerous lifelong friends. A private memorial will be held in Austin to celebrate his exceptional life. Obituary and guestbook online at http://wcfish.com

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bill Redpath, Please Run for Reelection to LNC Chair

Bill Redpath,

After years of a scarily downward slide in membership, candidates, officeholders and contributions, plus a high DC headquarters staff turnover, at the 2006 Portland Convention you stepped in and seized the office of Libertarian National Committee (LNC) Chair with the overwhelming support of delegates (64.3% versus 23.1% for Ernie Hancock, 9.1% for George Phillies, and 3.5% for None of the Above). You provided inclusive stability and dignified leadership in a divisive and unstable environment when the Libertarian Party (LP) needed you most.

You served as Treasurer for the LNC for two terms and have run for office as a Libertarian three times including Governor of Virginia in 2001 as one of the first Libertarian candidates for statewide office to be on the Virginia ballot.

In addition to your various other roles, most Libertarians know of you as the de facto Ballot Access Champion and petition organizer for the Libertarian Party.

Having volunteered full-time at my own expense for six months for the successful 2004 ballot access drive in Texas which garnered over 82,000 raw signatures, I know how difficult and unpredictable these petition drives can be.

While well-meaning people can disagree on the funding priority that ballot access should receive, I believe some people have either mistakenly or for political reasons questioned your handling of ballot access. I also believe you have been criticized at times for circumstances beyond your control: specifically, for previous LP headquarters staff’s inability to provide a detailed accounting of ballot access expenditures which they were responsible for doing.

You hung in there time and time again, at times making mistakes, nevertheless achieving incredible results when no one else was willing to step up to the plate and take on this enormous responsibility.

At the recent Charleston LNC meeting, you said you would announce your future intentions regarding running for LNC Chair again soon and before you did that I wanted to do my best, if you are willing, and if the Libertarian Party were to be so fortunate, to persuade you to run for Chair again in case you hadn’t made up your mind yet.

The Libertarian Party needs you again in 2008.

The only other current LNC member I could support for LNC Chair is the well-respected Emily Salvette, currently the Region 3 LNC Representative from Michigan, the Convention Credentials Committee Chair, and a former Michigan LP Chair.

If neither you nor Salvette are willing to run for LNC Chair, I’d run for LNC Chair myself.

Serving as LNC Chair might cramp my style and take away from other valuable projects I’d prefer to focus on and would if I were confident the Chair’s position was in good hands.

Nevertheless, I would campaign vigorously for LNC Chair just as I plan to campaign vigorously for Vice Chair of the LNC if neither you nor Salvette agree to run for Chair in 2008.


Wes Benedict for Vice Chair

Libertarian Party members,

No one asked me to run for the Region 6 Southwest LNC Representative position in 2006. In fact, people asked someone else to but I took it upon myself to run and win because I was concerned that the performance of the National LP was impeding my State of Texas and allowing other states to decline. I believe I earned the support of delegates based on my resume of business and well-known Libertarian Party activism as was presented here:
http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2006_02_01_archive.html

I have a proven track record of helping the Texas LP that was once in a state of chaos: http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2006/07/texas-two-step-turnaround-2.html
And bringing it to a much higher level of performance: http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2007/11/belatedly-reporting-step-two-was.html

No one asked me to run for Vice Chair but I plan to do so even in the event Redpath or Salvette or anyone else preferred I didn’t. I would not be surprised to hear from critics that I might be trying to ride someone’s coattails into the Vice Chair position.

I don’t care.

I enjoy vigorous campaigns both for internal LP positions and in my four campaigns for public office. I have stood up to some of the biggest bullies within the Libertarian Party like M Carling. Occasionally when necessary I’ve successfully defended myself and others against innuendo and fact distortion.

While showing signs of improvement, the National LP remains at a much lower level by most measures than where it was just a few years ago and many of the current LNC members (including Redpath and Salvette both of whom I deeply respect) served on the LNC during that period of decline.

If the National LP and most state parties were growing like gangbusters, then I’d feel comfortable stepping off the LNC and getting out of the way and letting whoever was currently on the board continue to serve and lead.

But, that’s not happening now so let this be my announcement that I’ll be running like gangbusters for LNC Vice Chair or Chair, though my first choice for Chair is Redpath and second choice is Salvette.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Belatedly reporting: "Step Two" was a success!

Previously I reported about efforts to turnaround our state party:


http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2006/07/texas-two-step-turnaround-2.html


I'll let the press release below speak for itself . . .


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Texas Libertarians make major gains, break records

AUSTIN - November 8, 2006 - The Libertarian Party of Texas (LPT) showed major improvement in the 2006 general election, relative to its performance in previous years.

The party had 168 candidates on the ballot, its highest count ever.

By getting more than 5% in at least one statewide race, the LPT is automatically qualified for ballot access in 2008.

Overall trends:

In 2002, Libertarian candidates in a three-way race for U.S. House received an average of 1.6% of the vote. In 2004, they received an average of 1.7%. In 2006, they received an average of 2.6%. (Note, "three-way" means a Libertarian running against a Republican and a Democrat, with no other candidates in the race.)

In 2002, Libertarian candidates in a two-way race for U.S. House received an average of 8.8% of the vote. In 2004, they received an average of 6.9%. In 2006, they received an average of 17.0%.

In 2002, Libertarian candidates in a three-way race for Texas House received an average of 2.4% of the vote. In 2004, they received an average of 2.7%. In 2006, they received an average of 3.6%.

In 2002, Libertarian candidates in a two-way race for Texas House received an average of 10.3% of the vote. In 2004, they received an average of 9.7%. In 2006, they received an average of 16.0%.

LPT Executive Director Wes Benedict said, "The results show that voters are no longer afraid to vote Libertarian. More and more voters know who we are and what we stand for."

In this 2006 election, 22 Libertarian candidates for federal and state offices received over 20% of the vote. The last time Libertarian candidates for federal or state offices earned more than 20% of the vote was in 1992: two Libertarians broke the threshold that year.

Individual races:

Benedict said, "We're very pleased with Bob Smither's results in District 22. Bob broke the Texas Libertarian record for a Congressional candidate running against a well-funded Democrat and Republican." Preliminary results showed Smither with 6.1% of the vote.

U.S. Senate candidate Scott Jameson received 2.3%, the highest received by a Texas Libertarian for U.S. Senate since 1990.

Libertarians showed strength in local races, too. Travis County JP candidate Matt Finkel earned 34.5% of the vote against a Republican incumbent. In Brazos County, Linda Wilbert earned 18.5% in a three-way JP race. (These percentages are based on unofficial county results.)

Playing kingmaker:

It is very unusual in Texas elections for a federal or state candidate to win without a majority of the vote. However, apart from the race for Governor, several legislative races with Libertarians had winners who failed to obtain a majority. They included Texas House Districts 17, 32, 85, 93, 106, and 118.

In District 17, the Democrat led the Republican by 417 votes, while Libertarian Rod Gibbs received 1,281 votes.

In District 32, the Democrat led the Republican by 602 votes, while Libertarian Lenard Nelson received 2,026 votes.

In District 85, the Democrat led the Republican by 193 votes, while Libertarian David K. Schumacher received 798 votes.

In District 93, the Democrat led the Republican by 473 votes, while Libertarian Max W. Koch III received 755 votes.

In District 106, the Republican led the Democrat by 231 votes, while Libertarian Gene Freeman received 591 votes.

In District 118, the Democrat led the Republican by 904 votes, while Libertarian James L. Thompson received 1,699 votes.

"I'm pleased to see that we acted as kingmaker in several of these races," said LPT chair Patrick Dixon.

In 2004, Libertarian candidate Greg Knowles was credited with ousting incumbent Jack Stick from his District 50 seat. Stick lost by 569 votes, while Knowles received 2,390 votes.

Other stats:

On average, Libertarians running in two-way races for statewide judicial races received 24.1% of the vote. In 2000, their average was 16.7%. (In 2002, there were no two-way statewide judicial races.) In 2004, their average was 15.1%.

In statewide races with both a Republican and a Democrat, the best Libertarian performers were Lieutenant Governor candidate Judy Baker, with 4.4%, and Railroad Commissioner candidate Tabitha Serrano, with 4.2%.

In Congressional races, the highest Libertarian result was 21.3% for Gordon R. Strickland, running in District 16.

For State Board of Education, the highest Libertarian result was 29.6% for Martin Thomen, running in District 10.

For State Senate, the highest Libertarian result was 22.2% for Phil Kurtz, running in District 17.

For State House, the highest Libertarian result was 24.0% for Kris Overstreet, running in District 18.

The highest Libertarian vote count was for Jerry Adkins (running for Supreme Court, Place 4), who received 830,331 votes (24.5%).

Percentages and vote counts are according to the Secretary of State's unoffical results as of 4:40 pm.

Contact:
Wes Benedict, LPT Executive Director
512-442-4910
director@lptexas.org

###

Monday, October 01, 2007

A disabled “Libertarian Macho Flash” featuring Terry Liberty Parker

From an email exchange in September, 2007:

Dear Mr. Benedict:

My name is John [name changed to protect privacy]. I am writing to you to seek information on where the Libertarian party stands on helping the disabled. I suffered a career-ending, major stroke several years ago. And, if it weren't for the private disability insurance and Social Security Disability insurance that I receive, my family and I would be out on the street. I've been a life-long Republican, but the shenanigans of the Bush administration have left an awful taste in my mouth. I'm a big fan of Neal Boortz and after spending time on his website, taking the 1-minute "political quiz", I realize a lot of my values are congruent with the Libertarian party's.

I've posed my question to Mr. Boortz and to the Libertarian party at the national level only to get no response. I figured trying at the local level may prove more enlightening.

So, what is the stance on what to do for a man cut down at the age of forty in the prime of his career? I sincerely hope the answer is not "tough luck, mister, Go get a greeter's job at Wal-Mart."

I apologize if I've been long-winded, but it happens to be the issue that determines my political choices from here on in.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

--John

-----------------------

John:

Based on the fact that you're a big fan of the famously offensive yet entertaining Neal Boortz and the fact that you made the self-deprecating comment, "tough luck, mister, Go get a greeter's job at Wal-Mart," I'll assume you have a high tolerance for sarcasm.

If not, I advise that you hit the delete button fast without reading further.

Because, I'm going to ratchet up the sarcasm a few notches.

Where does the Libertarian Party stand on helping the disabled like you?

Perhaps we should buy you a one-way bus ticket to Canada, eh? They've got socialized medicine. Better yet, we could bulk-rate ship you on a slow boat to Cuba, no? Castro offers free health care. If you're xenophobic, we could just send you to Hillary's Village, HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

To answer your question more seriously requires considering the current state of our health care system in America, how we got there, the resulting effect on people's behavior, what your situation is now, how the response to your situation would be different had our health care policies evolved in a truly free market system, and how changing our system more towards free markets might affect people currently afflicted with serious medical conditions.

Education, health care, and transportation are three areas where the government keeps getting more heavily involved, and the results are abysmal. Increased government intervention has resulted in costs escalating, with quality and service deteriorating. We'd be better off without government involvement in all three areas, but I'll restrict my further comments to health care.

I wish the government had never gotten involved in health care. Had that been the case, you and I and others would be much better off. Government licensing and regulations restrict the supply of and innovation of health care providers which drives up the costs and drives down the quality.

The fact that the government will ultimately take care of any of us in dire need of medical care also has affected our behavior and planning for the future.

Many decades ago, the government did not provide health care. If we knew government would not be there in case we were afflicted with a debilitating health problem, we'd adjust our behavior to plan for that possibility. Families (including extended networks of cousins) might maintain stronger ties because they'd realize they might be needed to take care of one another in case of a tragedy. Specific medical problems cannot be predicted, but on average we all know that some of us will have them before old age.

We might be nicer to our parents, children, brothers and sisters, cousins, neighbors and friends knowing one day we might need to rely on each other. If we knew government would not be there as a provider of last resort, more of us would be sure to get adequate insurance to cover serious problems. Family and friends would put pressure on those renegades who resisted getting insurance using the argument that "we love you and would do whatever it takes to provide for you in case of tragedy so you owe it to us to take some personal responsibility in the matter." Perhaps some parents of adult children would pay for medical insurance rather than giving money for tuition, BMW's or Chevrolets. Charities would be there to provide for some where the family bond failed, and the recipients of charity would probably be more likely to behave in ways to maintain the willingness of charities to provide for them.

I already mentioned how medical costs would be drastically lower under free market conditions making all of this more practical than it sounds in today's environment.

Nevertheless, we haven't had a free market in health care for decades and now you're afflicted with a debilitating medical condition. I think it's completely rational for you and your family to take advantage of whatever services are available to you, even if some of it is provided by the government. I support privatization of transportation and utilities yet we don't have that and I walked on the government sidewalk and drove on the government roads today, plus flushed some waste into the government sewerage system today (didn't count how many times).

What to do with you today is a difficult thing for me to answer and how to fairly transition from our current situation to a more libertarian world is not easy for me to answer either. What's easier for me to say now is that we need to make LESS GOVERNMENT the goal of a majority of Americans and only then can we find and implement ways to transition from what we have now to what we should end up with keeping in mind those who now rely on certain government provided services.

One of the most radical libertarians ever is named Terry Liberty Parker and he lives right here in Austin, Texas. He was recently afflicted with a brain tumor. While Terry has long been an advocate for less government, I know he's receiving some government provided health care services and that's quite rational given the government's imposition in all aspects of health care services in America today.

I'm going to forward this email to Terry Liberty Parker and ask him to respond to one question. Note that Terry Liberty Parker has a severe condition, was recently given a dire prognosis though he's fighting it heroically and he may not be able to respond.

Nevertheless, Terry, please tell us now if you can, given that you've spent much of your life fighting for freedom for all, and given that you're fighting for your life today, and that what you say today could have a long-lasting effect on the freedom movement, what's your long-term prescription for health care in America today?

a) more government b) less government

In my opinion, the shorter your response, the greater the long-term impact.

Yours in liberty,

--Wes Benedict

PS: Boortz is wrong on the Iraq War.

-----------------------

John writes:

Mr. Benedict: Thank you for your thoughtful response. BTW, I love the sarcasm...it's what keeps me sane in this forced, premature retirement.

I wanted to clarify my situation just a tad. While my stroke left me handicapped (irregular gait, right arm doesn't work too well, emotional liability, etc.) my health is actually pretty good. I would love and try to get back to work, but if I were to try and fail, I would lose all my income and everything. Or, if I were to stroke out again, the insurance company would say, "Sorry, you have a preexisting condition." It's a shame that an intelligent, capable man like me is trapped by a system that, at the end of the day, is broken and unfair. I'll likely end up in poverty as a result.

Thank you for forwarding to Mr. Parker. I certainly wish him the best in his health challenges and certainly understand if he cannot share his thoughts.

Again, my sincerest thanks.

Regards,

John

PS: I'm not sure what I think is right in the Mid-East unless it involves using the words thermonuclear and annihilation in the same sentence.

----------------

Terry says:

Hi Wes: Sorry this response is so late. We had a very busy day today, but here is my answer.

Wes Says: Nevertheless, Terry, please tell us now if you can, what's your long-term prescription for health care in America today?

a) more government b) less government

Terry's response is:

(c) No government.

I am using only a small fraction of the money stolen from me over the years by the government. No one owes me anything. I am getting better and some people think that's good and some think it's bad. I consider it a good thing.

---------

LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Thank you Terry!!!

--Wes

---------

“Libertarian Macho Flash” is a term coined by Michael Cloud in an essay "The Late, Great Libertarian Macho Flash" in 1978.

http://www.theadvocates.org/secrets-interview.html

While I agree with Mr. Cloud to a degree, lately the message from many Libertarians has gotten a little too watered down, risking losing its inspirational message and appeal.

My heart goes out to Terry, John, and all 300 million Americans trapped in our increasingly socialistic health care system in America. Terry, thanks for sticking by your radical libertarian principles even in distress. You’ve been a radical thorn in the side of government for decades, an inspiration and guide to many libertarians including me, and I wish you the best in your struggle against cancer. May you live long, live strong, and live free.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Iraq Withdrawal - Proposed LNC Resolution for Pittsburgh Meeting

Libertarian National Committee (LNC) Representatives Angela Keaton and I (Wes Benedict) will co-sponsor a motion at the July 21, 2007 LNC meeting in Pittsburgh asking the LNC to adopt the following resolution requesting withdrawal of United States armed forces from Iraq.

====
WHEREAS the Platform of the Libertarian Party calls for the government of the United States to return to its historical libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, foreign quarrels, and military adventures; and

WHEREAS the armed forces of the United States have invaded Iraq, a foreign nation that neither directly attacked nor imminently threatened to attack the United States; and

WHEREAS this invasion was unjust and imprudent; and

WHEREAS the injustice and imprudence of this invasion cannot be undone by the continued presence of the armed forces of the United States in Iraq; and

WHEREAS the stability and security of Iraq lie outside the jurisdiction of the government of the United States;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Libertarian Party calls on the government of the United States to withdraw the armed forces of the United States from Iraq, without delay or preconditions.
====

If you are a Libertarian Party activist, I urge you to contact your LNC Representatives and express your opinions on this matter. Your LNC Representatives can be found here: http://www.lp.org/organization/lncdirectory2.shtml

Please post your opinions on this blog as well. Let us know who you are. Feel free to list campaigns you've run or any officer positions you hold at the county or state level (recognizing that listing those positions does not imply that your personal opinion represents the official position of the organization in which you hold office), and tell us why you do or do not support this resolution.

I do not know whether or not this resolution will pass. I'll maintain an up-to-date listing on this blog of any LNC members who publicly offer their positions in advance of consideration of this issue.

LNC Members:

Bill Redpath, Chair
Chuck Moulton, Vice Chair
Bob Sullentrup, Secretary
Aaron Starr, Treasurer

Angela Keaton, At-Large - FOR
Patrick Dixon, At-Large
Michael C. Colley, At-Large
Jeremy Keil, At-Large
Dan Karlan, At-Large

Tony Ryan, Region 1
M Carling, Region 2
Emily Salvette, Region 3
Bob Barr, Region 4
Jim Lark, Region 5
Wes Benedict, Region 6 - FOR
Hardy Machia, Region 7


While I believe this resolution clearly reflects the position implied by our platform, I don't think this position has been consistently communicated by various actions of the National Libertarian Party over the past few years.

Below are some arguments against adopting this resolution that you might come across.

1) This resolution is unnecessary because the platform is clear on this issue.

Rebuttal: The June 29, 2005 Iraq Exit Strategy (IES) posted on the LNC website called for a "complete withdrawal in one year's time" and that time has long since passed. Additionally, the IES recommended some steps many members felt were in violation of the platform.

Regardless of the merits of points made in that June 29, 2005 IES, the current LNC needs to make clear its position on this issue now.

2) The Libertarian Party should not adopt positions that some of its members may disagree with or find divisive. Our party needs to grow, even if that includes recruiting and retaining members who support the Unites States' continued military presence in Iraq.

Rebuttal: I support growing the Libertarian Party. I welcome people who predominantly support the platform of the Libertarian Party even if they may disagree on some issues, including the Iraq War. That doesn't mean our party shouldn't take a bold stand on issues that aren't unanimously supported by its members. Democrats disagree amongst themselves on the War in Iraq. Republicans disagree on immigration policies. Mature political parties should expect and welcome internal debate and disagreement on important issues.

I recently proposed this same resolution to the Libertarian Part of Texas (LPT) Executive Committee. The LPT Executive Committee voted it down. Some members supported it, while others opposed it for various reasons. Some opposed it because they supported the continued occupation of Iraq, while others opposed it because they preferred avoiding a divisive issue.

While I was disappointed that the Libertarian Party of Texas failed to adopt this resolution, I continue to work with the opponents on other issues and support their willingness to serve the Libertarian Party of Texas in their various roles.

While I support growing the Libertarian Party, I recognize the risk that some people may decide to quit the Libertarian Party based on the outcome of the vote on this resolution.

My message to potential quitters is: "There's some chance that by ceremoniously quitting you'll send a small message to other Libertarians how you feel about this issue and perhaps that will affect a change in direction. However, I believe it's more likely that by quitting, you'll be removing one more voice and one more vote that may be needed to tip the balance in the future on issues you feel are important. Rather than quitting the Libertarian Party and giving up your one vote, how about recruiting five or ten or one hundred other like-minded people to help guide the future direction of the Libertarian Party?"

I appreciate the time and energy that so many people have invested in working for the success of the Libertarian Party and for the cause of freedom in general, even though at times we may disagree on some issues. This might be one of those issues where we disagree.

Please contact your LNC Representatives and voice your opinion on this resolution. And of course, I hope that when you do, you'll be sending the message that you support this bold resolution demanding withdrawal of United States armed forces from Iraq without delay or preconditions.

--Wes Benedict
LNC Region 6 Representative

6/29/07 ***UPDATE***

The Iraq Exit Strategy has been removed from the lp.org website and I no longer plan to submit this resolution.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

My $600 says the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign benefits the Libertarian Party

On February 25, 2007, I contributed $600 to Ron Paul’s campaign for president. Proof (see Robert Benedict). Ron Paul, as you probably know, is the District 14 Republican congressman from Texas seeking the Republican Party’s nomination for president. Ron Paul is a Life Member of the Libertarian Party and was the Libertarian Party’s nominee for president in 1988.

Many Libertarian Party members know and respect Ron Paul. I personally think he is the best current member of Congress and there are no close seconds. His nickname is “Dr. No” in political circles for his record of voting against all legislation that isn’t specifically authorized by the Constitution. (You’d think all congressmen ought to meet that standard, but that’s a separate topic.)

I have great respect for Ron Paul’s uncompromising opposition to the Iraq War: http://www.antiwar.com/paul/?articleid=10862

Many people have contacted me asking various questions about the effects of Ron Paul’s campaign on the Libertarian Party and its potential nominee for president. Some of these people have been outright hostile. Picture someone walking up to me with their fist clenched and arm cocked in a ready-to-punch position demanding, “You Libertarians aren’t going to run someone against Ron Paul, are you!?” (That hasn’t actually happened, but that’s the tone of some of the e-mails I’ve received.)

My first response is, "I've contributed $600 to Ron Paul’s campaign--what have you done?” That’s usually enough to diffuse the tension.

My next response is, “Thanks to election law, there’s no need for this to be a conflict between Ron Paul and the Libertarian Party. It’s very likely the Republican nominee for President will be certain by March of 2008 because so many of the state Republican primaries will have occurred by then. The Libertarian Party nominating convention isn’t until May of 2008. If Republicans nominate Ron Paul for President, I expect Libertarians to defect in droves. However, Paul is a long shot for the Republican nomination. For that reason, Libertarians need to continue preparing to have a candidate for president.”

Finally, picture me with my fist clenched, my arm cocked in a ready-to-punch position and demanding, “If McCain or Giuliani gets the Republican nomination, you’re going to support the Libertarian Party presidential candidate, aren’t you!?”

Here’s some additional information specifically for Texans, although some of the concepts apply to many other states as well.

In some states, when you register to vote, you can affiliate with a political party or remain independent without a party affiliation. Texas doesn’t have registration by party. It has open primaries. Voting in the Republican or Democratic primaries, or participating in the conventions of the Libertarian Party or other minor parties, makes you an affiliate of that party for that election cycle. You can only be affiliated with one party. Some people have suggested Libertarians should vote in the Republican primary for Ron Paul. However, under the Texas Election Code, if you vote in the Republican primary, then you can’t participate in any Libertarian conventions, or run as a Libertarian candidate, or act as a Libertarian county chair. Therefore, I recommend that if you’re a Libertarian Party activist who wants to support Ron Paul for president, support him with your financial contributions--but do not vote in the Republican Party primary. Participate in the Libertarian Party conventions instead.

In 2000, 1,126,757 people voted in the Republican Party primary in Texas with 986,416 voting for Bush. In 2004, 678,615 people voted in the Republican primary with 635,948 supporting Bush. In both 2000 and 2004, I estimate fewer than 500 voters participated in the Libertarian Party conventions, and I expect a similar level of Libertarian participants in 2008. Even if all 500 Libertarian affiliates defect to the Republican Party for their primary, that would still have less than a 0.05% impact, which is almost no impact at all. Unfortunately, by voting in the Republican primary, those Libertarian activists would cause the Libertarian Party of Texas to lose its ballot access. We would have no candidates anywhere else on the ballot. The Libertarian Party of Texas would effectively disappear.

In 2004, Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik received 38,787 votes in Texas (0.52%). I’m not worried that some of those voters will temporarily defect to the Republican Party primary next year to vote for Ron Paul. But it would be foolish for any of the 500 Libertarian Party activists (candidates, county chairs, and officers) to do the same.

Ron Paul is a long shot for the Republican nomination. He’s being ignored by much of the mainstream media and shunned by most of the Republican Party. I hope he wins—that’s why I gave his campaign $600. But we should not wipe out the Libertarian Party in order to give him an invisibly tiny boost at the primary polls.

What’s much more likely is that the Republicans will nominate another big-government Republican who will follow in the footsteps of George W. Bush. If so, many honest conservatives disgusted with big-government Republicans may come join the Libertarian Party. That would be a nice consolation prize for us.

Most coverage of Ron Paul’s campaign for president mentions his past Libertarian Party affiliation. Whether or not Ron Paul gets the Republican nomination, his campaign is definitely helping to publicize the Libertarian Party. That’s another reason I want to support him financially.

Some of you have asked, “Why doesn’t the Libertarian Party nominate Ron Paul for president, either as a dual nomination with the Republican Party, or separately if he fails to win the Republican nomination?”

My response: “In some states, including Texas, it’s not legal to be nominated by more than one party. Additionally, Ron Paul has expressed that if he fails to win the Republican Party nomination, he is unwilling to be the Libertarian Party nominee. He will seek re-election to his Republican seat in Congress instead.”

For those of you still unconvinced by my recommendations, and still concerned about what action the Libertarian Party might take regarding nominating a candidate for President, I have this advice: the Libertarian Party will make its presidential nomination at its National Convention in Denver in May 2008. If you want to have a voice in that decision, you can do what it takes to become a delegate and attend the Libertarian Party National Convention. I look forward to having you there.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I hereby reject the CULT of the omnipotent Reformers!

From the skepdic: "A delusion held by one person is a mental illness, held by a few is a cult, held by many is a religion."

I’m no expert on cults or religions (more aligned with Christians than anything else), but I’ll attempt to show how the Libertarian Reform Caucus is dominated by Extremist Reformists who apparently use many of the strategies and tactics that cults employ. If this keeps up, the Reformist Cult runs the risk of turning into a full-blown religion!

Jiminy Tap-Dancin’ Crickin’-burgers!

Skepdic: Three ideas seem essential to the concept of a cult. One is thinking in terms of us versus them with total alienation from "them."

From the Libertarian Reform Caucus (LRC) Is the Libertarian Party Worth Fighting For? January 21, 2007: What we have now is a party with sharply drawn lines between the two camps. We can expect the purist elements to redouble their efforts to maintain control of the party. So now we face a determined foe. What sort of party will emerge out of this conflict, even if we win? I’d imagine a lot of the old guard will leave in protest. In fact, we should do everything we can to encourage the hardliners who refuse to compromise to pack their bags and go.

Skepdic: The second is the intense, though often subtle, indoctrination techniques used to recruit and hold members.

Guru: You’re not ready for this information.

Skepdic: The third is the charismatic cult leader. Cultism usually involves some sort of belief that outside the cult all is evil and threatening; inside the cult is the special path to salvation through the cult leader and his teachings.

LRC (home page): The Libertarian Reform Caucus is a coalition of freedom lovers who want to have an effective libertarian party, one which is designed to win elections now in order to turn the tide from ever increasing statism to more liberty. The current Libertarian Party does not meet this standard.

That statement is loaded with tricks. They’re in effect claiming that everyone who isn’t with them opposes an “effective” party and opposes “winning elections.” I hear that from Extremist Reformists frequently. As President Bush would say, “you’re either with them or against them.”

Skepdic: Communal reinforcement is the process by which a claim becomes a strong belief through repeated assertion by members of a community. The process is independent of whether the claim has been properly researched or is supported by empirical data significant enough to warrant belief by reasonable people.

How many times have you heard Extremist Reformists abuse the phrase: Are we a real political party or what!!??!! Therefore [insert unsubstantiated claim possibly backup up by anecdotal evidence].

Extremist Reformers have mocked use of the World’s Smallest Political Quiz as a recruitment tool. They have claimed our platform is too long and detailed and idealistic. Yet, they have failed to acknowledge that the Republican Party Platform is 92 pages and the Democratic platform is 43 pages long. The Extremist Reformists are now proposing a New Approach to the LP Platform that is looking remarkably similar to, believe it or not, in a full circle kind of way, the World’s Smallest Political Quiz! They appear to be confusing the purpose of a Political Platform with that of a Political Pamphlet that’s handy for distributing to people. Are we a real political party or what!!??!!

My current favorite outlandish claim by an Extremist Reformist is “Why Alternative Parties Must Get Range Voting or DIE.” Die? That’s sounds a little cultish to me. One of the co-authors, Clay Shentrup, actually phoned me at home and launched into a 19 minute monologue about how we should elect all public officials with range voting. After about five minutes of his rant, I pulled the phone away from my ear and totally quit responding with “uh-huh’s” “okay’s” and grunt noises, and stared in awe at the timer on my phone as the minutes racked up and the sounds kept emitting. Shentrup is the champion Range Voting zealot!

Observation 1: The Reform Caucus is dominated by extremists who are hypocritical, often wrong, silly, and frequently annoying.

Corollary 1: It’s too soon to start a conversation about destroying the Libertarian Reform Caucus.

Corollary 2: It’s time to start a conversation about Reforming the Libertarian Reform Caucus. After all, there may be something it has that is still worth salvaging.

So let’s choose which method to deploy to reform the Reform Caucus:

Option A: the 3-step Method (my personal favorite):
Step 1: Let them have their way.
Step 2: Let them drive each other crazy.
Step 3: Friendly fire, paranoia and cannibalization will drastically reduce their numbers without an intervention by peers.

Option B: the 2-step Method:
Step 1: Encourage moderates and pragmatists to infiltrate the Reformist Cult, perhaps with a peppering of purists to block and tackle for the moderates and pragmatists.
Step 2: Use a two-pronged approach involving logic to confuse them and the Socratic Method to re-program them.

One insightful attendee of the Orlando State Chairs Conference brought up the concept of perspectives. I may get the gist of this wrong, but perhaps the way the Reformists see the Purists and vice-versa is a matter of perspectives. Perhaps both sides are a little extreme and paranoid. Perhaps if they took a little time to see things from the perspective of the other side, they’d come to terms or at least agree to disagree but remain on the same team.

On the other hand, peace is dull, boring, and bad for ratings. There’s smoke on the battlefield and where there’s smoke there’s fire. Perhaps pouring a little gas on things (and I hope by now everyone realizes I’m totally full of gas) we could ignite an all-out flame war!!

Here’s some gas—it’s time to get ready for the Denver 2008 “Platform Rumble in the Mile-high Concrete Jungle.”

Purists and Reformist Extremists, you both face annihilation at the hands of the enemy unless you start planning now! Tickets go on sale soon, but you can start getting ready now (that means start budgeting for it now). You’ll need backups, so get your like-minded friends into the mindset of attending this epic battle to control the future of the Libertarian Party!

Whose side am I on? Who cares?!? How will I measure success? Ticket sales, baby!

Cash is king but Gold Packages glimmer!

[This is the pre-released editor’s uncut version. Final version to be released April 1st, April Fool’s Day.]