Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One (possible) step forward after two steps back

George Phillies, from an email message circulated in a number of Libertarian Party discussion fora:

There is a fundamental difference between politics, political differences settled by political means, and political warfare in which the objective is to destroy the other faction. ... It was utterly foolish of the gang of ten to move from politics to political warfare by hounding Angela [Keaton] from the LNC and preventing debate on the Wrights motion, but that's what they did. The cats are now out of the bag.

True as far as it goes, and if that's all there is to it we're very likely set for a second full year of complete dysfunction at the national party level pending the selection of new leadership at next year's national convention.

Hopefully, that's not all there is to it.

In my opinion, the "Gang of Ten" in question is not a monolithic conspiracy of ten Libertarian National Committee members pledged to a specific set of goals, but rather a set of two or three LNC "mini-factions" bound together by temporary and provisional alignments of perceived interest. If I'm right about that, it leaves open the possibility that members of one of those "mini-factions" might be persuaded to re-evaluate their interests and defect from their current pattern of behavior.

In that vein, I'd like to appeal to the interests of one of these hypothetical "mini-factions," which I will label the Decorum Caucus (I didn't make that name up -- I stole it). Here's the pitch:

Next year in St. Louis, the Libertarian Party will send its current chair, secretary and treasurer home to spend more time with their families. Also replaced will be all of those at-large members, and most or all of those regional representatives, whom the delegates perceive as generally aligned with those three officers.

I'm not going to argue the point of whether such a cutting of heads is justified or wise. That's not the point here. The point is that that's what's going to happen. Thermidor will come early next year, and its arrival won't be pretty. To quote George W. Bush, "you can write it down."

So, to those of you on the LNC who've been lining up with the Gang of Three-and-a-Half (cut camera briefly to Vanna White posing and pointing as the letter "M" is turned onto the board -- no need to buy any vowels) on the basis of decorum, propriety, going along to get along, etc. ...

... you've got a year to credibly dissociate yourselves from the Gang and all its works ... if you want to continue to exert influence on the party's direction and operation.

If I'm right -- if you've been voting for your notion of what best promotes collegiality and decorum, rather than for some esoteric Principle of Piss-Poor Party Governance -- there's no time like the present to take notice of the fact that the Gang of Three-and-a-Half's escapades stopped serving your interests some time ago, if indeed they ever did.

Angela Keaton's resignation was at best a Pyrrhic victory that left the LNC looking petty.

Your coalition got its head handed to it on the R. Lee Wrights fiasco (and that's by no means over -- the Treasurer's misbehavior in the affair is, I believe, on the agenda for discussion at this weekend's LNC meeting in St. Louis), leaving an identifiable majority of the LNC looking not just petty, but petty and vengeful.

The agenda for this weekend's meeting is packed full of opportunities to complete the visible transformation of the LNC from something resembling a political party's governing body to the equivalent of one of those herds of clowns who zip around piling in and out of little cars during circus intermissions. In considering how you'll comport yourselves vis a vis those agenda items, I hope you'll consider not only the foregoing appeal to a narrow interest in decorum, but this choice:

With your support, the Gang may be able to maintain its power of position for another year ... but there's only thing it seems likely to effectively use that power for, and that's to "scorch the earth" in hope of leaving a smoking ruin of a party behind them when they unwillingly depart from power. Or:

With your support, the current opposition can become a functional LNC majority. It's already got momentum which it will continue to build between now and the convention, but with your help, it can start rebuilding the party now.

Do the right thing(s).

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