Thursday, June 07, 2018

Brief Platform Committee Update


When I sought appointment to the Libertarian Party's 2018 platform committee, I made a few commitments. The three that come to mind are these:


  • To seek a committee recommendation that the Libertarian Party delete the final sentence of Plank 3.4, "Free Trade and Migration," as follows: "We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property." Thanks to the committee for considering, and passing, this proposal!
  • To attend, if humanly possible, all physical and electronic meetings of the committee. I am 100% on that so far and intend to fulfill that commitment to the end -- but see below.
  • To report from time to time on the committee's doings. That one is more difficult than it sounds, and this post is a catch-up effort.

First things first: Two resources for following the committee's work on your own are the Google Groups "reflector" of the committee's working email list and an "unofficial" Facebook group for discussion of the committee's work.

You'll note that the "reflector" list includes 151 different discussion threads. Not 151 messages, 151 topics (I think the longest topic is 63 messages, but assuming an average of 10, let's call it 1,500 messages). It's been running for about 90 days, so 17 messages a day or so on average. That's just the committee "in session," not any informal discussions two or more committee members may have had off-list.

We've also spent (quick mental calculation) about 20 hours in in-person and electronic meetings (not including travel time, etc. for the in-person meetings).

I don't think it's exaggerating at all to assert that the average committee member has put in at least  a full 40-hour work week on the committee in the last couple of months, in addition to our regular lives. So you might see why reporting on that work might fall off my radar at times. Sorry about that.

So far, the committee has passed 11 recommendations for the convention to consider. I'm just going to give you the brief descriptors here, as we have not finished rationales, a party member opinion survey, prioritizing, and putting together a report, and if you're interested you can look them up on the reflector list. There will be more recommendations, as there are email ballots running (and likely to pass) at this very moment. The passed recommendations:

Amend Preamble
Amend Current Plank 1.0 “Personal Liberty”
Amend Current Plank 1.7 “Crime and Justice”
Add New Plank “Individualism” to Section 1
Add New Plank “Religious Freedom” to Section 1
Amend Current Plank 2.4 “Government Finance and Spending”
Amend Current Plank 2.6 “Money and Financial Markets”
Add New Plank “Sex Work” to Section 2
Add New Plank “Licensing” to Section 2
Amend Current Plank “Internal Security and Individual Rights”
Amend Current Plank “Free Trade and Migration”

Now, as to my comment on attending meetings, above: The committee's chair, or a minimum number of members, can schedule an electronic meeting. A majority of the committee can cancel an electronic meeting. We have an electronic meeting on June 12, but I have requested (and been joined in my request by several others) cancellation of one scheduled for June 19. By way of explanation, here is the meat of an explanatory email I sent to the committee list:

So far, this committee has passed 11 recommendations. The tentative convention schedule allots 3 1/2 hours for "possibly platform" discussion.

Which means the convention delegates MIGHT, at the OUTSIDE, get an average of 19 minutes and 7 seconds per platform committee proposal, not counting considering minority reports.

The greater likelihood is that other stuff will intrude and the convention will spend perhaps 2 1/2 hours actually considering platform committee proposals, almost certainly spending not less than 30 minutes on each, mostly consisting of points of order, points of information, weird rambling microphone speeches, etc.

And the greater likelihood still is that we will pass several MORE proposals by email ballot, reducing the plausible time available for each to be considered if they are all considered, which they will not be.

If we are VERY lucky, five proposals will get an up or down vote.

I don't have a problem with passing more proposals, but email ballots WORK and with 24 days remaining until the convention opens, I don't see any particular reason for 20 people to spend hours at a time, multiple times, all of us at the SAME time, doing busy work to almost zero effect unless one considers increasing the LNC's printing costs to put out more pages of stuff that will not be considered, let alone acted upon, by the delegates, to be our mission.

I suggest that those who really, really, really want something considered that hasn't been considered should get a proposal written, line up co-sponsors for it, and get an email ballot in process ASAP. If we are doing ANYTHING after the 15th other than wrapping up the last couple of days of email ballot voting, completing rationales, working out rankings of our proposals for order of consideration by the delegates, and perfecting our report, we will be wasting time for the sole purpose of wasting time.

Yes, there's a little bit of sarcasm/venom there that would be beneath me if anything was beneath me. But you know that I like to plumb the depths :)

If we do have further electronic meetings, I will attend them. That's a commitment I made and intend to fulfill. However, I will also put my weight, such as it is, on the side of the scale opposed to having further electronic meetings. We've done a lot of stuff. We have more stuff to do. That other stuff doesn't require (nor is it necessarily well-suited to) an electronic meeting format.

See you in New Orleans!

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