Saturday, January 16, 2016

An Open Letter to 2016 Libertarian National Convention Candidates

Dear prospective Libertarian National Convention delegates,

Maybe I'm a utopian dreamer -- experience tells me that may very well be the case. Nonetheless, I think this is the right time to start thinking carefully and seriously about our choices for our party's 2016 presidential nomination.

Thinking. Carefully. Seriously.

No, I am not going to pitch a particular candidate to you at this time (I've expressed my own preferences elsewhere), nor am I going to ask you to NOT support any particular candidate.

I'm just going to ask you to think. Carefully. Seriously.

Here's why:

  1. In 2004, Michael Badnarik ended up as the party's surprise nominee after he did well in the debate at the national convention and after Gary Nolan's campaign cratered in the voting (my "opposition research" work for Aaron Russo got some credit for that) and he threw his support to Badnarik versus Russo.

    Not more than ten minutes after the voting and cheering ended, as I sat in the Russo campaign room commiserating with other Russo supporters, the screeching started. "But I didn't knoooooooooowwwwwww!" At least two people (admittedly, one of them was king-hell drunk and perpetually histrionic "Libertarian Larry" Fulmer, a late, great, lamented friend of mine) wanted to re-convene the delegates to yank Badnarik's nomination.

    Why? Well, because Badnarik had (on principle) refused to file federal income tax returns for some years, and because Badnarik (on principle) neither possessed nor carried a state driver's license. And this, in the opinions of the people who didn't knooooowwwwwwwww, constituted terrible optics for a Libertarian presidential campaign.

    Excuse me, but What. The. Fuck. People?

    Michael Badnarik spent a full year campaigning his ass off for the nomination, attending numerous state conventions and participating in every debate that would have him. To support his travels he gave a class on the Constitution in which he fully elaborated his views and practices on the income tax and on drivers' licenses. Additionally, he gave numerous interviews in which he mentioned those things. Then he wrote and published a campaign book covering the same material, a book which was for sale both prior to and at the national convention.

    My personal opinion was that these things were no big deals, especially as he showed no signs of making them major campaign issues (and as it turned out he ran a damn good campaign). But the people who didn't knoooowwwwwwwwww, didn't know because they didn't give enough of a damn to know.
  2. In 2008, I spent a good deal of time and money, and spilled a good deal of (digital) ink, demonstrating beyond any shadow of a doubt that one Wayne Allyn Root was a minor-league scam artist with no plausible credentials whatsoever for the party's nomination.

    Nonetheless, Root polled in third place for the presidential nomination, became the vice-presidential nominee, damaged the campaign and the party almost as badly as the presidential nominee (Bob Barr) did, then came back in 2010 to nearly be elected national chair of the party. Libertarians didn't really turn against him until 2012 when he left the Libertarian Party and endorsed Mitt Romney for president (it didn't phase convention delegates in 2008 that only days before he declared for the LP's presidential nomination, he endorsed a John McCain/Joe Lieberman GOP ticket).

    Once again, the people who didn't knoowwwwwwwwwww in both 2008 and 2010 didn't know because they couldn't be bothered to know, or didn't want to know, or went out of their way to not know.
As a Libertarian National Convention delegate, you are going to spend a good deal of time and a good deal of money to travel to a likely distant city (Orlando, Florida), on the supposition that once there you will seriously and soberly conduct the business of your political party.

Why waste all that time and money -- and why ask your state party to trust you with this responsibility -- if you're going to get there and suddenly mutate into the political equivalent of a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert, throwing your panties (and your vote) at whichever candidate happens to wow you the most in a short period of time?

For the love of God, do your research, or at least listen to the people who are willing to do your research for you.

That is all.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Libertarian National Convention Delegate -- 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2010

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