Monday, August 21, 2006

Tea Time 2006: Notes from an unconventional convention

When the going gets weird, the weird start new political parties ... and I did exactly that last month. The Boston Tea Party's organizational convention will wrap up a few hours from now, and this strikes me as a good time to report on that convention.

Cool factoid #1 -- As far as I know, this is the first political party convention to be held entirely online. I say "as far as I know," because I'm not absolutely sure. Some Google digging turned up references to something called the "National Disability Party" planning an online convention in 2000, but I was unable to find any evidence that the event actually occurred. I've also been unable to find any evidence that the NDP still exists -- or, per my references of last resort, Politics1 and Ballot Access News, ever did exist, at least in terms of actually running any candidates for public office. These guys are making online convention noise, but they're late to the dance.

Buzzcrushers #1 and #2 -- I had hoped for the BTP to boast between 500 and 1000 members as of convention time. We're actually just over 250. Furthermore, even though every member was eligible to participate in the convention, only about 10% have done so. I've been to smaller "meatspace" party conventions (some state LP conventions, for example), but still, I'd rather we'd had a larger membership by now, and more participation in the event.

Cool factoid #2 -- We've elected our first permanent national committee: Tom Blanton as party chair, Chris Moore as vice-chair, Michelle Luetge as secretary, and four at-large committee members (Todd Andrew Barnett, Wendy Terry, Peter Borah and myself). That committee takes office as soon as the convention adjourns.

Cool factoid #3 -- The party's program will be complete a couple of hours from now. It will consist of a maximum of five points. Three points have already been ratified, calling for US withdrawal from Iraq, repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, and repeal of federal prohibition of marijuana and hemp. Two others -- one concerning national ID and one concerning taxation -- are still being polled.

Cool factoid #4, or Buzzcrusher #3, depending on your perspective -- A resolution mandating that the Boston Tea Party dissolve itself as a political party and re-enter the Libertarian Party as an internal caucus is polling right now ... and appears to be going down to defeat by about 80%-20%.

Also still polling are a couple of bylaws amendments and a resolution adopting the "interim" bylaws as "permanent" (which is presumptively the case anyway for lack of any move to substitute another set -- I'm kind of proud that my quickly drafted bylaws actually stood up reasonably well in action).

Now, of course, things should start getting really interesting.

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