Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Time to party like it's 1773

In the heat of the moment, I define the Boston Tea Party thusly:

"The Boston Tea Party is a reaction to the Libertarian Party's decision, at its 2006 national convention, to abdicate its political responsibilities to the American people."

As of this moment, the Libertarian Party appears to have announced that, in the 2006 elction cycle, it takes no positions on several frontline issues facing the American electorate -- specifically, foreign and military policy and internal security.

Believing this to be true, believing the damage to be irreparable in time for the Libertarian Party to exert a significant impact on the 2006 or 2008 election cycles, and believing that the libertarian movement requires and deserves a political party which stands behind its public policy goals, I've decided to run up a new flag.

"In the heat of the moment," however, does mean "in the heat of the moment." It may be that libertarians can find some way to save the Libertarian Party from itself, make it relevant and put its feet back on the path toward organizational success (and, as a result, America's feet back on the path toward human freedom).

I hope that that's what happens. Really. As a matter of fact, I have not resigned, nor do I intend at this time to resign, my membership in the LP. Since I am not a national officer, I have no obligation to belong to only one national political party; and since the Boston Tea Party has, as yet, no state affiliate in my state, I am free to support and serve my state LP until such time as that changes and/or until the LP and the Boston Tea Party nominate opposing presidential slates which I'd have to decide between. Perhaps the Libertarian Party will right itself in some unforeseen and unforeseeable way, and the Boston Tea Party will slide back into, or never emerge from, obscurity.

Now that we're out of the heat of the moment:

What the Boston Tea Party started out as was a cool name (and a lucky domain name snatch) in search of a purpose. Over time, the definition has evolved into something like this:

"The Boston Tea Party is an attempt to prove that libertarian 'purism' is compatible with organizational big-tentism and with an incremental political approach."

One of my goals was putting an end to perpetual platform fights, and that goal was easily realized: The party's platform is the "World's Smallest Political Platform," and the interim bylaws specify that neither it, nor the relevant bylaws article, can be amended.

The platform is "purist" in that it plainly prohibits the party from supporting any increase in the size, scope or power of government, at any level, or for any purpose, and in that it proposes no "end state" for its advocacy of reductions in same. In other words, it accomodates all possible end states from "less government than we have now" to "anarchist or minarchist libertopia."

The platform is, however, amenable to incrementalism insofar as it does not specify what particular reductions in the size, scope or power of government the Party will propose and agitate for at any given time. Those decisions are to be made biennially and entirely anew each time in the form of a short (maximum of five points) program. They may be incremental or "giant step" in character -- the only condition is that they not contradict the platform.

Finally, the platform is "big tent" in that it does not demand that Party members dedicate themselves, as a condition of Party membership, to a particular end state or to a particular reason or set of reasons for supporting the party's goals. When the "train" of party progress reaches the "station" at which a particular member can no longer support the direction in which the platform points, he or she may simply step off, having never been required to advocate, as a condition of party membership, going any further than he or she wishes to go.

What the Boston Tea Party is not, is finished. It is, at this moment, nearly entirely my creation, and I am certain that aspects of that creation are defective. I have furnished the Party non-negotiably with a platform and one bylaws article, and negotiably with additional bylaws. I will shortly (assuming that there's enough interest to justify doing so, and in accordance with what amounts to a "by the bootstraps" process outlined in those bylaws) appoint interim officers to get things moving toward an organizational convention at which the negotiable portions of the bylaws can be modified, a program for the 2006 election cycle proposed and ratified, and a permanent National Committee selected.

As a side note -- but a very intentional one -- I have tried to go out of my way to make the Boston Tea Party inclusive even to those who believe that it's a bad idea, or that I am a traitor to the Libertarian Party or the libertarian movement by virtue of having created it, or that it should not be permitted by its members to continue to exist. Membership requires only endorsement of the platform, not of the Party. The convention procedure specified in the interim bylaws takes place online, which means that all Party members, regardless of their views, may participate rather than being imperfectly represented by delegates. As such, it is entirely possible that the membership will choose to dissolve the Party. I don't regard this as a "risk" -- the site may belong to me, but the Party belongs to you. Do with it as you will.

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