Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Libertarian National Convention: A Couple of Bylaws Notes

The Libertarian Party's bylaws committee is circulating a survey soliciting opinions on various proposals. On the assumption that said proposals will end up in the committee's final report and be voted on by delegates to the national convention, I'd like to make the case for voting against a couple of them.

First, we have a proposal relating to relations between the Libertarian National Committee and the presidential campaign. The bylaws require the LNC to support the campaign, but not vice versa. In recent years, the LNC has attempted to make its support contingent on contracts that require the campaigns to do certain things, e.g. turn over their contact lists so that the party, as well as the campaign, can communicate with supporters. That hasn't always worked out. Here's a proposal for an addition to Article 15 of the bylaws:

Not less than six months prior to each Presidential Nominating Convention, the National Committee shall publish the contract specifying the terms by which the Party and the Presidential and Vice-presidential campaign shall assist and support each other. The Chair shall sign on behalf of the Party with each person who otherwise qualifies and desires to be our candidate. Only those persons who have signed prior to the close of nominations and are in compliance with the contract shall be recognized as candidates and be eligible to be nominated for President or Vice-President.

I recommend a NO vote on this proposal. Would it be a good thing for the presidential campaign to work closely with the LNC to build the party instead of just being a one-off, one-election-cycle project that disappears after the first Tuesday in November? Sure.

But that's something to be settled by appeal to the national convention delegates to support or oppose this or that candidate, not something to be settled by using the bylaws to hold campaigns hostage to whatever the LNC might happen to demand in its contract offer.

Secondly, we have yet another "intellectual property" ploy. A number of years back, the LNC filed a frivolous and fraudulent trademark application, claiming to own the name "Libertarian Party" even though it neither invented nor was the first to use that term, and even though the LNC was created BY the previously existing state Libertarian Parties as a mutual affiliation mechanism. It's sort of like the recently hired janitor claiming to own the stock symbol of the company where he mops floors. Because that trademark claim clearly wouldn't last 30 seconds in court, they're back trying to use the bylaws to gain "ownership" of a name that is not and never has been their "property" (even if intellectual property was conceptually compatible with libertarianism -- it isn't):

No person, group or organization may use the name "Libertarian Party" or any confusingly similar designation except the Party or an organization to which the Party grants affiliate party status or as otherwise provided in these bylaws. An affiliate that does not have on file with the Party a signed standard agreement acknowledging that the affiliate’s use of the Libertarian Party name is contingent upon it remaining an affiliate, that affiliate shall not be eligible to:

  • send delegates to any Regular Convention;
  • join a representative region;
  • receive resources from the Party;
  • appoint anyone to serve on any Party board or committee.

The first sentence in the above is risible but unfortunately already pollutes the bylaws. The new language is the party beginning with "An affiliate that does not have on file with the Party ..."

Once again, clearly something to vote NO on. The LNC should never be supported or rewarded in attempted fraud.

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