Saturday, May 17, 2008

Digression: My platform endorsement


At its national convention next week, the Libertarian Party will consider changes to its platform, and that process promises to be contentious.

In 2006, a combination of an organized "reform" effort, low convention participation and numerous other factors resulted in a platform that looked like a meat axe had been taken to it.

This year, there are several proposals for a "one swell foop" remaking of the platform instead of piecemeal tweaks.

- The Restoration Caucus advocates reverting to the 2004 platform as a starting point for any further work.

- The party's platform committee report offers a draft put together almost entirely from past platforms, consolidated and streamlined. Instead of linking to the committee's PDF, here's an HTML version that's color-coded to show what parts which came from which past platform.

- A platform committee minority report -- Destination Liberty -- offers a platform that follows from the Restoration Caucus proposal, i.e. it is based on the 2004 platform.

I offered my own proposal early on -- The World's Smallest Political Platform -- but it hasn't generated any great level of support, and I don't plan any attempt to move its adoption in Denver.

It is my intention to support the platform committee majority's proposal as a voting delegate, and I encourage others to do so. Here's why:

- Yes, the 2006 platform process was a debacle, but the 2004 platform was bloated, poorly formatted and did need streamlining. A step backward is not a step forward. Better to plunge ahead than to mess around with "do overs."

- Destination Liberty fails for me on two grounds. First, it retains the truly awful 2004 formatting style of "issue, principles, solutions, transitional actions." Secondly, Destination Liberty had its genesis in the Restoration Caucus's efforts ... and I believe that a number of Libertarian activists signed the petition to "Restore '04!" under the impression that "Restoring 04!" was that effort's single goal, with any subsequent changes being left to others. I believe those activists were poorly used to the extent that their names have been subsequently associated with a second, different proposal than the one they thought they were signing on to support.

- No, I do not agree with everything in the platform committee's offering, and I'll be glad to hash through those disagreements (role of government, military and intelligence, immigration, etc.) in comments with anyone who cares to discuss them. However, it is far superior in formatting, covers most of the issues I want to see covered if we're going to have an issues-oriented rather than directional platform, and while it doesn't meet my raving anarchist exacting specifications on several issues, it does consistently call for "less government."

I'm big-tent. I'm in this for the long haul. I'm willing to wait for the opportunity to amend. I support the party's committee processes and prefer to work through them as opposed to through dissenting blocs whenever possible (not that I won't do the latter when necessary). And in this case I believe that the platform committee process has produced an offering superior to competing offerings. For all those reasons, I support -- and urge other delegates to support -- adoption of the platform committee's draft in toto (update: See addendum/erratum below).

[addendum/erratum] -- I almost forgot, and it would have been quite embarrassing to have done so: I do not support any changes, including the platform committee's proposals, to the party's Statement of Principles. In referring to the "platform" and to any draft offerings, I mean to refer to those draft offerings on the platform proper, not on the Statement of Principles, a document which I consider a prologue to, rather than part of, the platform. I also oppose any parliamentary trickery intended to get around the 7/8th voting requirement for amending the SoP.

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