... from just outside the doors of the Campaign For Liberty's St. Louis Regional Conference.
By "just outside the doors," I mean the vendor/exhibitor area. The St. Louis County Libertarian Party committee (myself and vice-chair Julie Stone to be specific) manned a literature table there yesterday. I also had some AntiWar.Com stickers out for the taking, both because I like AWC and promote them at every opportunity and because I figured it would bring additional people over to talk (and it did).
The range of vendors/exhibitors was interesting -- everyone from the Cato Institute to the Constitution Party to the "Fair" Taxers to sellers of real money, health insurance and dietary supplements had something going. I decided to not be my usual self, and thus avoided arguments for the most part (okay, I gave in to temptation one teensy tiny time -- the "Fair" tax table was right next to ours and I just couldn't resist).
I was happy with the level of traffic our table produced, and with how positive the interaction was. After the whole Bob Barr / Ron Paul blowup last fall, I figure the LP should consider itself on "double secret probation" with the CFL for awhile. In a situation where we needed them far more than they needed us, we blew it with that one, and then our "leadership" displayed unseemly petulance over it. I was surprised that that only came up once or twice with visitors to our table (and I think they were surprised that I agreed with them). For the most part, the visitors knew about the LP (some of them were members from around the country), considered themselves "small-l libertarians," and weren't hostile to our party. We met some involved citizens who might soon become involved with us, and that's all good.
I met ChuckTheFed, a St. Louis guy who comments frequently over at Independent Political Report. I was surprised and pleased to see Thomas Hill, North Carolina LP activist and one of the main guys from Mary Ruwart's 2008 presidential campaign, there. Wish there'd been time for a beer and some more extensive catching up with him.
I'd have to say the top high points of the day for me, though, were:
- Meeting Jim Davidson. I was a little nervous about that. Friendly, engaging guy in person, no matter how much we tear each other up online sometimes. I have a theory about that, but it's somewhat inchoate.
Brief version: In online interaction, it's easy to distill whatever conflicts exist down to their essences and bash away. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're focused on results. In person -- in "meatspace" -- though, things are more balanced. The things you have in common get more play. It isn't all about the arguments any more. It's at least partially about the fact that there are people who care about the arguments as much as you do. For me, that often cuts across even the brightest political lines, and it almost always overshadows "detail disagreements" that fall within the same broader view.
- Meeting Paul Jacob's mother. I always call ladies "Ma'am," so I didn't repeat her first name three times and get it locked it into my memory. She dropped by the table and talked with us for a few minutes. Wonderful lady. I'm not surprised her son turned out the way he did.
[Update -- I somehow accidentally deleted this paragraph before publishing!]
- Catching up with John Payne and Chris [last name unsure ... Perkins, maybe?]. They're both Wash U alumni who were active student libertarians way back when we still thought maybe the war on Iraq could be stopped before it started. Last time I saw them was at a protest about the time it did start. At that time, Wash U Student Libertarians were probably the biggest libertarian organization in the St. Louis area, and incredibly active. They brought a lot of great speakers (including Justin Raimondo) to campus, and turned out to power any number of great pro-freedom events around town. Glad they're still involved!
Cool event. Good times, and likely productive for all involved.