Leadership - Not Compromise!
Accountability | Principle | Visibility
Peace | Community
June 8, 2002 version
for Liberty, Not Power
I am running for Secretary of the Libertarian National Committee ("LNC") to make sure the Libertarian Party keeps as its goal liberty--not money, prestige and power. What we are advancing is a secular version of the Golden Rule advanced by every spiritual or ethical system--don't to others what you would not want them to do to you. Or do what you want but don't harm others--or, as libertarians say, don't use force or fraud on others. Only if we try hard to live up to the principled vision--and hold our leaders accountable to do so--will we gain and keep credibility with those tempted to join our libertarian world.
Below I detail how the Libertarian Party can have accountability, stick to principle--as well as attain higher levels of visibility through promoting wedge issues that attract dissatisfied citizens. I also talk a bit about two of my pet issues--non-intervention/peace and community self-governance/secession.
I am running for Secretary to warn that some libertarians' big plans to "grow" the Libertarian Party should not be accomplished by suppressing principled and even radical voices and strategies, including the community-oriented and secession ones that I myself advance. Needlesstosay, one faction enforcing "unity" of vision, strategy and tactics is hardly libertarian! (See my article on the diverse strategies preferred by various libertarians.) And I am running to support grass roots volunteers who can be demoralized when professional, paid activists mislead them and/or disrespect their efforts.
Big government already is failing--we must offer workable and high visibility libertarian alternatives. Below I describe what I believe the LNC should do about my five main areas of concern: LNC/staff accountability; standing by principle; peace and community issues; and high visibility.
Libertarian Party Principles
Since 1993 (see Committee for a Libertarian Majority) current LNC Secretary Steve Givot has been a leader of the faction trying to expunge from the LP platform mention of the many laws and taxes we seek to abolish, while emphasizing short term "interim" goals and measures. Libertarians who share these views admit they do not want to "frighten" people by talking about all the programs we would abolish; nor do they want a hostile press to use the platform to "embarrass” more candidates trying to appeal to mainstream voters. However, many libertarians consider a detailed platform to be the main proof that we are serious about liberty and oppose "gutting the platform."
At the December 2001 LNC meeting Steve Givot confidently stated that the 2002 Convention could suspend the rules and replace part, or even all, of the old platform with the new one which the LNC's "Strategic Plan" has charged the Platform Committee to create. Downplaying the implications of libertarian principles could turn the Libertarian Party into another Reform Party -- one doomed to takeover and annihilation.
Some believe the LP's problem is it is too ideological. However, I believe the problem is it is not ideological enough! That is why I re-wrote the platform into a somewhat shorter, Positive Libertarian Party Platform [Original Version], re-structured to open with a clear and detailed vision of libertarian alternatives separate from the necessary listing of the most important laws, taxes and agencies to be repealed or abolished.
I also would push for the national party to put together a study group program and promote it to members for local education and organizing purposes. A 15 week study group course based on both brief required and longer suggested readings could be re-cycled over and over until everyone had a chance to make at least one meeting on each topic. This would be a great educational and social project that would help members gradually build their commitment to principle and the party.
Current LNC members have promoted making the "War on Drugs" our signature issue. Like many, I doubt the efficacy of having one signature issue and doubt whether drug legalization should be it. And I certainly am wary when I hear staffers talk about wealthy drug legalizers who want to contribute to the party, since many drug legalization leaders are liberal Democrats, some are funded by George Soros who has many statist positions, and some even urge the government to legalize drugs so it will have more resources for the "War on Terrorism."
As an LNC member I would volunteer to be on the Advertising & Publication Review Committee. The LNC obviously has not been exercising proper oversight. For example, articles in recent issues of LPNEWS have spoken in favor of "anti-trust" type regulation of corporations and government manipulation of the money supply and retaliatory use of nuclear weapons against "areas" to which terrorist attacks are traced. More insidiously, issue after issue of LPNEWS includes articles and letters criticizing libertarians for being too principled and too radical. These obvious attempts to placate the least libertarian members of the party only drive away principled libertarians.
I believe those who encourage people to enter the party by promoting a falsely moderate image are misleading new members. Those who enter the party knowing it is a principled and therefore radical party in order to stifle the most radical critics of government are doing worse, i.e., the work of the state.
High Visibility, Wedge Issue Campaigns -- Issues Build Movements!
A recent LPNEWS poll of 1,300 members showed that protecting principles and high visibility were their two top goals. I agree! It was when the national party did something it got the kind of national publicity it needs: i.e., the 1998 Convention Resolution calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the 1999 campaign to defeat the "Know Your Customer" regulation, the 2002 USA Today newspaper advertsisements against the war on drugs. Better late than never, libertarian leaders are learning how to use wedge issues to get higher visibility.
There are different types of issues that can be addressed: "hot" issues that are on the front page today (the approach largely used by the national party in press releases); "outrageous" issues that usually attract press attention (like sex or violence-related issues or breaking of social taboos, which often are the topic of national LP "joke" press releases); "bread and butter" issues (like taxes, schools, gasoline prices); and "wedge" issues which attract a significant number of supporters who challenge entrenched laws (like drug laws, gun laws and civil liberties abuses).
Of course we should never pass up opportunities to score points on hot issues or some outrageous issues. One definition of "leadership" is finding the parade and getting out in front of it! And it is important to continue to educate on bread and butter issues, explaining why the private sector performs better than government. However, the best issues are high visibility, wedge issues, be it ones we latch on to or ones we create. We especially should look for issues that would interest the overwhelmingly liberal media!
Carol on Nightline, 1995
Carol on Free Congresses'
Endangered Liberties, 2000
Carol Associated Press
with Both Elections and Action: Many state and local
parties already combine single issue ballot initiatives, lobbying,
and even civil disobedience with electoral politics. This is in
with the "public information" section of the Bylaws statement of
of the party and with Strategy 17 of the new Strategic Plan which
"Encourage state, local, and campus Libertarian Party organizations and
our entire support base to be involved in political processes at all
outside of campaigns and elections." (For an idea of all
different kinds of options libertarians have for dramatizing issues and
achieving liberty see 198
Methods of Nonviolent Action.) The June 6th arrest of two LP
staffers who, with several otheres chained themselves to the doors of
DEA Headquarters in Washington is one example of such nonviolent action.
The national party should facilitate more such multi-tactic organizing--without, of course, dictating to the states. By doing so we can "bootstrap" our way to national publicity and visibility. Many national organizations with much smaller budgets and membership achieve more publicity and credibility than libertarians because they know how to mobilize members to focus on high visibility, wedge issues.
For example, in the last two years there was a huge "anti-globalization" parade which the Libertarian Party could have exploited by holding press conferences and counter-protests to highlight how the IMF and World Bank are used to stifle true free market and free trade activity, even as we criticized the violent anti-capitalists who protest against free trade. The Libertarian Party of DC was planning just such a press conference the week before the planned IMF/World Bank protests at the end of September, 2001. As one of the few voices against the planned street violence, we doubtless would have gained publicity and public favor, had the events of September 11th not caused cancellation of the protests.
There are certain issues which cut through the tangle of lies of governmetn power. Tackling them can help the party embody the concept of “leadership, not compromise.” The history of successful change movements show it is better to be a well known group on a small unpopular issue with a few million fervent supporters, than a little known group taking a moderate position that no one can disagree but no one gets that excited about. Below are such high profile, wedge issues I think libertarian parties at all levels should be encouraged to take on.
Denounce the War on Terrorism and call for Repeal of the Patriot Act. Why let the anti-capitalist and socialist left be the ones monopolizing the media in exploiting this high profile, wedge issue? We must emphasize protecting America by ending foreign entanglements, bringing the troops home, and spreading the message of "World Peace through World Liberty." See more below. Libertarians for Peace is organizing to encourage the LP to do just that. The September 11, 2001 attacks will seem small in comparison should the next retaliation for U.S. interventionism be a suitcase nuclear attack.
US Out of the Middle East Campaign: Most Americans know that United States' intervention in Middle East affairs, and especially its support for Israel's continued oppression of the Palestinians, is the reason we suffered the September 11, 2001 attacks. Many continue to support such intervention because they know US oil and gasoline prices could double should such oil be cut off; others refuse to criticize Israel because of fears of being called "anti-Jewish." However, this is an excellent issue for dramatizing our principled and courageous free market and non-interventionist stands--and for attracting committed and courageous activists.
End the War on Drugs remains an important high profile, wedge issue.
Legalize Pollution Lawsuits: How many times have people told you they like the libertarians except for their "awful" positions on the environment. They think we support the freedom to pollute. We must make it clear we support the freedom to sue polluters, a freedom denied us by a myriad of local, state and federal laws that "regulate" and permit much higher levels of pollution than would be allowable if individuals had stronger private property rights and the full right to sue. Don't let the Green Party co-opt a libertarian issue--they want to limit, not expand, our rights to protect our own property!
100% Health Care Tax Credits: Medical expenses are growing uncontrollably because of government interference. One reason is that companies can deduct most of their employee health care and insurance expenses, but individuals can deduct few of theirs. Americans overwhelmingly support this right but the Demopublican's big financial contributors oppose it. If individuals could have a 100% tax credit for health care and insurance costs, a market in much lower priced health insurance and services would develop. (We also could promote the right to form medical contracts that limit liability--and thereby decrease insurance rates!) President Bush talks about small time tax credit plans. The Libertarian Party should create a high visibility campaign to appeal to Americans who already know that tax credits and free choice in health care can cut medical expenses and save lives.
"Right to Self-Governance and Secession" Constitutional Amendment: Many libertarians believe the United States Constitution is an experiment, and one which has not sufficiently protected Americans' life, liberty and property. (See below and see Libertarian Secession Strategy page.) Imagine the political education and national publicity that would result from libertarians nationwide working for an "interim measure" like a Constitutional Amendment similar to the following [Original Version]:
Individual States of the United States of America, as well as self-defined constituent communities thereof, shall have the right to self-governance within or complete secession from the United States government. Members of self-governing states or communities shall retain the right to American citizenship, to full legal and due process protections, to vote in presidential elections, and to military defense; they will be subject to common law restrictions and to paying fees for military defense. Self-governance shall be permitted when 66% of eligible voters via referendum or initiative support same. Secessionist states or self-defined communities will be regarded as separate nations or territories. Secession shall be permitted when 75% of eligible voters via referendum or initiative support secession to an entity which includes legal safeguards for individual rights and liberties. No governmental authority shall restrict the formation of self-governance or secessionist communities through law or police or military action.Free the Ballot Campaigns: The Demopublicans use any excuse to tighten ballot restrictions, including the contretemps of the 2000 presidential elections. Libertarians believe the government has no place deciding who is on the ballot. The party platform states the proper way to run an election is to allow voters to cast cards printed by candidates or parties. We might consider conducting a series of education campaigns and publicity stunts promoting this alternative. Whether or not they are running candidates in an election, libertarians can set up tables outside of polling places with a sample "ballot box." They would give voters a choice of sample cards, which could be printed with humorous summaries of the other parties' real agendas. Pre-election day press conferences could draw attention to these "Free the Ballot Campaigns."
Secure, Self-Governing Communities Not "Anything Goes"
Libertarians' biggest credibility problem is convincing people freedom doesn't mean they have to put up with strip clubs, crack houses, garbage dumps or chemical plants in their back yards. Another problem is the fear that "liberty" means they have to give up working with others in community towards common goals.
The Libertarian Party and its candidates can address these "elephants in the living room" by emphasizing individuals' right to form diverse, self-governing, contractual communities either largely or totally free of state control (i.e., minarchist or anarchist). In such communities individuals can create true security, both from negative outside influences and through cooperative community endeavors. My proposed "Positive" Platform [Original Version] includes reference to such alternatives. The libertarian decentralist or secure communities approach is a principled way of assuaging American’s fears about how true liberty would work and how it would benefit them.
This approach is does not hide libertarians' belief in the right to secession. In 22 years of libertarian activism I have never met a libertarian who would use police or military force to keep secessionists within the union--and I have asked that question of many many libertarians. Secession is the natural option for both anarchist libertarians who want no government and for minimal state (minarchist) libertarians who want complete freedom from the demands of a national state. I detail how an explicit secessionist strategy would work in my article Libertarian Secession Strategy, as well as in my web page Secession.Net
I also have started a new page, ConfederatedCommunitiesofAmerica.Net, which could be used as a networking vehicle by nonviolent community secessionists and separatists in the future. Considering that tens of thousands of Republicans were contemplating seceding from the union in November and December of 2000, should Al Gore steal the election back from George Bush, libertarians should not be afraid of the secession issue!
HINDU: This is the sum
duty; do naught unto others which if done to thee would cause thee pain.
ZOROASTRIAN: That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not
good for itself.
TAOIST: Regard your neighbour's gain as your own gain, and your neighbour's loss as your own loss.
BUDDHIST: Hurt not others in ways that you
would find hurtful.
CONFUCIAN: Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.
JAIN: In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.
JEWISH: Whatever thou hatest thyself, that do not to another.
CHRISTIAN: All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.
ISLAMIC: No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires
SIKH: As thou deemest thyself, so deem others.
WICCAN: Do what thou wilt, but harm no other.
LIBERTARIAN: You are free to do as you like as long as you do not initiate force or fraud on others.
From Carol Moore's page ConsciousnessRules.Net