Part 3 of an ongoing series of inside baseball stuff about the Libertarian Party. I’m not happy about things. See part 1 and part 2.
After much gnashing of teeth, accusations and counter accusations, (see, for example, here and here), and long trips to Reno for many people, it’s over. The Libertarian Party Mises Caucus made essentially a clean sweep of party officers and platform revisions. What all happened?
Well, simply put, they had the numbers. Thomas Knapp alleges parliamentary shenanigans and an illegitimate convention; he’s got a lot more credibility as a longtime member of national committees to comment on such things. From my perspective it is a fiat acompli, and so the question then becomes what does this all mean for the future of the LP?
Here is a pdf of the MC’s action plan, which seems to have been followed almost to the letter.
Honestly…most of the proposed changes either were good, or not terrible, with a few exceptions. Most of the parliamentary reforms proposed were fine, and LP conventions are legendary for their inefficiency, so making them go faster is not a bad goal in and of itself. I do take issue with raising the delegate count for presidential and vice presidential nominees; it seems to be targeted directly at people like Vermin Supreme, and quite frankly reeks of the kind of exclusionary ballot access restrictions we’re perpetually railing against. Yes, we have some oddball candidates, but part of what makes us special as a party is allowing for a lot of different voices. To say nothing of the fact that you never know where the next Spike Cohen is going to come from-the joke candidate that quickly became the best serious public speaker the libertarian movement has had in decades.
Now…on to the platform change recommendations. The good? Aggression, foreign policy, migration, free movement of goods, firearms accessories, electoral reform, “if you’re the age of majority you get all your rights”, etc. I’ll gladly admit that a lot of the language is better, and makes for nice updates. I do, however, take significant issue with three recommendations:
- Deleting the abortion plank: yes, abortion is absolutely a contentious as hell issue among libertarians. But you know what? It’s an issue that matters to a lot of people, including libertarians, and new voters will absolutely be looking for some kind of official statement on the matter. And the old language as written represented probably the best, and maybe even only possible compromise on the issue. While some commentators have pointed to 4.0, “Our silence about any other particular government law, regulation, ordinance, directive, edict, control, regulatory agency, activity, or machination, should not be construed to imply approval” or the plank on medical freedom as still covering things, it’s still weak tea on a subject that should be addressed by a national political party.
- Deletion of “We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant”. Yeah…the stated rationale for this, “One of the major goals of the Mises Caucus is to make the LP appealing to the wider liberty movement that is largely not currently here with us. That movement strongly rejects wokism and the word games associated with it. This along with the deletion of the abortion plank will display that there are serious cultural changes in the party that are more representative of that movement” is gross, and flat out ignorant. MC people, along with conservatives generally (who are not libertarians!), are so suspicious of anything “woke” that a)it regularly blinds them to wisdom from any camp other than their own (maybe read this, or my takes on similar ideas?), and b)it blinds them to terrible behavior in their own camp. To elaborate a bit from my twitter post, we can defend someone’s right to hold & express horrible, idiotic, repugnant views while still choosing to condemn those views as horrible, idiotic, & repugnant, & refusing to have anything to do with the holders of said views. And really, who the hell are you trying to appeal to that wouldn’t think bigotry is irrational and repugnant? Where are you trying to pull people from, MC? This REALLY shouldn’t be a difficult concept. But in certain quarters there’s such a fear of anything labeled “woke” that a lot of you forgot to discriminate against assholes, and somehow forgot that doing so (such as in this story that floats around the internet regularly), as long as you don’t use the force of the state, does NOT make you anti-liberty. Instead, the fear of the woke has let a holocaust denier and an actual groomer into high esteem in the MC’s ranks. Likewise,
- Recommending against the amendment to plank 1.4 that explicitly recognizes individuals’ right to determine their own issue of gender expression. Everything I said above applies, with the rational for no being “an issue of biology” and more anti-woke rambling. This is both completely ignorant of biology and science, as well in direct conflict of the LP’s long history with LGBTQ rights. Spoiler alert: we were always in favor, we ran an out gay man as our first presidential candidate in 1972, and while we of course would much rather see the originally racist government marriage licensing regimes abolished altogether, we were in favor of marriage equality LONG before it was cool. Furthermore, it would be one thing if trans people were simply not liked by some people. But even though things are better now than they were, trans people are still under considerable assault from the state, in the form of bathroom bills, bans on care for trans youth, bans on trans athletes, and continued allowance of “trans panic” defenses. People are facing the full face of state oppression and even being killed for expressing their individuality, and a party that claims to be founded on the sanctity of the individual damn well should be speaking up for them.
I’ve already renounced my support for the Libertarian Party until things change, and announced myself as politically homeless for the first time in my adult life. Was it worth it over three bad proposals and some terrible people? Absolutely. The three bad proposals are very bad, and represent rejection of core libertarian values and core support for individuality. And the terrible people? Wouldn’t we-haven’t we-jumped down the throats of major party politicians for the exact same things Borysenko and Woods have done? Wouldn’t we be furious if a Kennedy had said it was ok to get a woman drunk to sleep with her? And wouldn’t we-haven’t we-brought up that thing at every opportunity to our major party supporting friends, acquaintances, and audiences? How dare we not hold ourselves to the same standards?
So, Mises Caucus, the ship is yours. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’ll nominate Spike Cohen for president, get a bunch of city council members elected that repeal zoning laws, business licenses, and deprioritize the drug war, fully audit the LP books, come to your senses about trans people, and keep the David Duke types out. Maybe.
But I’m not holding my breath.