Friday, May 07, 2010

Endorsement: George Phillies for LNC Chair


In endorsing George Phillies for chair of the Libertarian National Committee, I should probably first explain why I did not support his campaign for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Ideologically speaking, George and I are very different creatures. I'm a radical libertarian. He's a moderate libertarian. We disagree in significant respects on important issues, and I believe the party's presidential candidate should be a bold standard-bearer for my take on most issues.

Furthermore, I viewed the party's nomination contest as a two-way race between its "right/conservative" faction (Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root) and its "left/libertarian" faction (Steve Kubby, Mary Ruwart and Mike Gravel) in which no significant "movement to the center" -- i.e., Phillies or Mike Jingozian -- was either likely or desirable.

So, for both ideological and tactical reasons, I just couldn't support George.

However, his presidential campaign was confirmatory evidence of the wisdom of supporting him for chair, as I did in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006, and as I do this year.

From a technical standpoint, George ran the best of the 2008 pre-nomination presidential campaigns -- and I say that as the manager of one of his opponents.

He produced and distributed real campaign literature.

He produced and aired well-made radio campaign ads. He produced television ads for airing in the general election campaign if he was nominated -- and not just for himself, but for other candidates to insert their own "paid for by" blurbs in, free of charge. He pushed those video ads over the Internet, and also served up nearly 3.6 million text ads through Google.

He conducted an active and well-crafted internal campaign of delegate contact, appearances at state conventions, etc.

With the New Hampshire Libertarian Party's nomination in hand, he did the work to get his name on the ballot.

George is a can-do kind of guy.

Throughout the entire time that I've known him -- more than a decade now -- he's been a doer, not just a talker.

When he concluded that the LP suffered from systemic problems in the manner in which it is organized, he didn't just complain. He conceived and fully explained (in Stand Up for Liberty) an alternative organizational strategy and went to work to implement it.

When he felt that the national LP was doing a poor job on ballot access, he didn't just complain. He founded a real PAC (Freedom Ballot Access) which raised and spent real money to put real third party candidates on real ballots (disclosure: I sit on the board of Freedom Ballot Access).

He's also been a mentor to numerous Libertarians, encouraging them to become involved in party work and helping them to do successful nuts and bolts politics.

I was one of those young Libertarians in 2000, when I worked with him on Don Gorman's presidential campaign and on his own first campaign for chair, and ran for LNC as part of his local-organization-oriented "Clean Slate."

I remain grateful to George for everything that I learned from him back then, and have learned from him since. I welcome the opportunity to work with him to this very day, and was thrilled to be able to assist in some voter database work for Joe Kennedy's US Senate campaign under his supervision in late 2009 and early 2010.

Finally, George is a partisan Libertarian who understands that the Libertarian Party is, and should be, "a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements."

This is something which should be a hard line that no candidate for chair dare cross. Instead, it's become a "gray zone" in which one of his opponents actively attempts to blur the distinction between libertarianism and conservativism, while anothers comes to the race directly from an active role in the most recent Republican presidential primary contests.

I'll be the last person to tell you that George Phillies is perfect. I've had significant ideological, political and personal disagreements with him in the past, and I expect that I will in the future as well.

For the office of chair, however, I'm looking for a candidate who will exercise fiscal and managerial prudence, address and mend the party's structural/organizational flaws, and put our party's feet on a path to success through practical politics and positive public engagement.

That man is George Phillies. I hope you'll join me in supporting his candidacy.

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