Perfect storm in PortlandEdit
- by George Squyres, Chair, Platform Committee
- Edited by wikimaster.
Since the Libertarian National Convention in July 1, 2, 2006, filled chatter about a new platform for the Libertarian Party and removal of 56 planks.
Six planks retained unchanged.Edit
I.1 Freedom and ResponsibilityEdit
I.4 The War on DrugsEdit
I.10 Freedom of CommunicationEdit
I.11 Freedom of ReligionEdit
I.13 The Right to PrivacyEdit
I.16 The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.Edit
Nine planks were passed by the convention delegates in 2006Edit
Five of those nine were consolidations of twelve previous planks.Edit
The new planks that are consolidations (and the old planks that were consolidated into them) are I.2 Crime and Victimless Crime, I.4 Property Rights (III.9 Resource Use, IV.C.3 Unowned Resources, and IV.D.3 Space Exploration), I.8 Reproductive Rights (I.20 Women?s Rights and Abortion, III.5 Population), II.2 Corporate Welfare, Monopolies and Subsidies (II.6 Monopolies, II.7 Subsidies) and II.3 Public Services (II.9 Public Utilities, III.13 Postal Service).
Four were rewrites of individual planks that the Platform Committee considered high priority.Edit
Rewritten plans were IV.1 Immigration (I.18), I.9 Sexuality and Gender (I.22-renamed), II.1 Government Debt (II.5) and I.7 Conscription (I.17-renamed).
- Plans got renumbered.
- Gutting the platform is trite, but some gaps exist.
- Topical, Immigration and Gay Marriage.
The Immigration plank was published in July 2005 in LP News with more than 90% positive feedback and support.
Sexuality and Gender plank gets fantastic reviews from GLBT community. It hits the core of the issue.
We may not have everything that we want in the Platform, but what we do have is mostly pretty good. So to say it has been gutted is hollow. As I have said to many, a platform with 15 to 20 planks DONE RIGHT could end up being the best platform the party has ever had.
Cause of cataclysm unknownEdit
No simple answer as many things have festered.
The bylaws on Platform Debate is a root problem. Written 35 years ago and not significantly changed since then, they restrict change in the platform to convention and far worse, restrict debate to a single plank at a time. This guarantees that effecting change to the platform is difficult at best. Over the years the platform has grown, adding plank after plank in what founder David Nolan described as collecting like barnacles on an old ship.
- This is born out by the events in Atlanta where we made the greatest Platform advance in the party's history, but only after suspending the rules so that we could deal with more than one plank at a time. Had we not done that we would never have been able to impose the new format onto the platform. Unfortunately what the format has shown in the two years since Atlanta is just how much change is needed and how hamstrung by the current Bylaws we actually are in trying to effect that change.
- The Bylaws also do not allow us to use the technological tools such as the Internet that are now available to us. For the past two convention cycles we have done an end run around this by setting up a website for Platform debate and discussion so as to expand the involvement of party members and increase the amount of input and transparency. We took the contributions received there and used it in our discussions, but when I asked at the convention how many had availed themselves of this opportunity, I saw no more than thirty hands in the whole room. Until we make this a part of the debate within the Bylaws it will remain a tool that few pick up.
Change is hardEdit
The recognition that the platform needed significant change has been longstanding. Unfortunately this need has always run afoul of the cultural issues internal to the LP. Any change has been seen by one faction as an attempt to gut the platform and sell out principle for short term electoral success. The resistance to change has been seen by another faction as zealots guarding the sacred tablets of the temple. The refusal to even consider that other Libertarians are just as principled or just as pragmatic as you are, that whatever disagreement you may have with them doesn't hold a candle to the disagreements you have with Republicrats, never seems to enter into the consciousness of those who consider the platform an important document.
- Only Libertarians in the room.
- Needs: Listen to people far more than take action.
- The reform group had been saying listen for quite some time, but that the LP guard hadn't listened to them. Many didn't even consider the reform faction of the party as legitimate.
The LP stage is setEdit
The factions in the party refuse not simply to listen to each other, but to even consider that each is legitimate. The reformers consider the purists as sociopaths who want the LP to be nothing other than a protest organization, and who don't want to win office as that success would leave them without something to protest. The purists consider the reformers as spineless Republicrat wannabes who will do anything to gain power, ready to sell out principle and whore themselves to gain a few votes. In the midst of this is another faction that doesn't accept either of the other factions but continues to, as Ken Lindell put it in his recent article in Liberty, jockey for position in an utterly powerless political organization.
The platform is the battlegroundEdit
Political success is won or lost in the platform. Getting the platform right is the silver bullet to propel candidates.
Once the other faction has been banished from the platform, America will rush forward in a return to freedom.
The platform retention vote is the one mechanism in the Bylaws that tried to create a situation that would allow us to remove planks when they had outlived their usefulness.Edit
But it had never once removed a plank that was due for it. Most delegates had blithely just either not voted in it, or just marked Retain All, while chatting about something else. It did not adequately serve the function because most didn't consider it more than a formality or care.
The Reform Caucus decided to do some real politics.Edit
They got out the vote. For that they have been criticized as being corrupt and devious. If getting out the vote is corrupt and devious, then we have a real problem if we are to call ourselves a political party.
Hoping to cut 39 planks, the LRC came to the convention with 75 delegates, enough influence. The meeting they held before the convention was packed. Yhey had shown up with only about 25% of the delegates, but energized more than 50%.
Now is not the time for action, but the time to listen.Edit
If the party is going to learn and benefit from experience, rather than to blindly rage on like a mindless beast, then now is the time for listening and learning. It is not a time for action or we will only suffer the same explosion in a few short years.
Each of us has to ask what it is that we truly want from participating in this political party, and each of us has to answer. Personally, if a successful candidate implements the policies we advocate, I don't care what letter follows his name. I don't care about the persuasion of the individual. I want the result, not the glory. If the result is not achieved, then it doesn't matter which of us is the legitimate Libertarian, we are both failures.