Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Libertarian National Convention Bylaws Proposals (w/ My Recommendations), Part 2


This post is part 2 of a multi-part series. Click here for part 1. I'm going over the 2018 bylaws committee's proposals for consideration by the Libertarian National Convention in New Orleans at the end of June.

A note that I should have made earlier, in the form of a comment at Independent Political Report by Chuck Moulton: "The report is in order of support from the bylaws committee, so in general the further you go the more controversial they get." In the PDF of the proposals, each includes a committee vote count, e.g. 9-0.

Without further ado:

PROPOSAL #4: Clarifying Procedures for Regional Alternates

All this proposal does is add "and alternate(s)" to the bylaws language concerning regional representatives to the Libertarian National Committee. I don't see any problem with it.

PROPOSAL #5: Simplify Article 4 Language on Membership

This proposal takes a meat ax to the bylaws language concerning "sustaining membership" and reduces that language to:

“Sustaining members” are members of the Party who:
a. During the prior twelve months have donated, or have had donated on their behalf, an amount of at least $25; or
b. Are Life members.

This one, I have two problems with.

The first problem was pointed out at IPR by Dr. George Phillies of Massachusetts, and that is the trailing 12-month $25 dues requirement. If someone renews early, they lose sustaining membership time.

Example: Suppose I become a sustaining member on January 1st. Then, on December 1st, I renew my membership, a month before I have to. I lose a month. If I don't send my NEXT $25 in by the following December 1st, I'm not a sustaining member anymore. So I send it in on November 15th to avoid being late and lose ANOTHER two weeks of sustaining membership.

Sustaining membership should always be extended by 12 months for each $25+ payment. If I become a sustaining member on January 1st and renew on December 1st, my sustaining membership should be extended by a year, not by 11 months.

That first problem is obviously a language oversight, an unintended consequence.

The second problem is intentional and, in my opinion has precedent explaining why it's a problem. It is this language: "or have had donated on their behalf."

I don't have a problem with one person paying another person's dues per se, but the ability to create new sustaining members out of thin air invites people with a little money to inflate delegate apportionments to particular states.

I'm going to tell this story without a lot of detail because it's been a little while, because I don't recall all the details, and I don't want to get details wrong:

A few years ago, a person made a substantial donation to a state affiliate. That affiliate used the donation to renew a bunch of expired sustaining memberships "on behalf of" the sustaining members who, for whatever reason, hadn't renewed themselves. As a result, that state affiliate got to send more delegates to the next national convention than it otherwise would have.

It would take quite a bit of money to exert a really big effect on delegate numbers that way (at 20,000 sustaining members, it would be one delegate per 280 members, which means $7000 in $25 dues payments per additional delegate). But why explicitly open the door to that unless the intent is to explicitly open the door to that?

I could support this proposal, simply because it makes the bylaws more concise, if the "or have had donated on their behalf" language was removed and the trailing 12-month problem was fixed. But not without those fixes.

PROPOSAL #6: Make Elected Libertarians Automatic Delegates at Convention

This proposal allows, unless specifically disapproved by the affiliate or national convention delegates, "any sustaining member serving in public office subject to a vote of the general electorate" to be a national convention delegate.

I oppose this change for three reasons.

One is that I am long on record in favor of reducing, not increasing, the number of delegates to the Libertarian National Convention. My preferred number is ~538, apportioned among state affiliates exactly as presidential electors are apportioned among states (the ~ would be an additional delegate apportionment to the District of Columbia LP and to any US territorial LPs of the number of presidential electors their population would entitle them to if they WERE states). I'm not going to make an argument for that preference of mine here, but it is a preference of mine and colors my opinion of this proposal.

The second is that the language is fuzzy. Since some appointed public officials can be recalled or otherwise removed by voters, they are in fact "serving in public office subject to a vote of the general electorate."

The third is that different states offer wildly different possibilities for getting elected to "public office." At least at one time, low-level election judges were elected in Pennsylvania in non-partisan races (I helped a couple of people get elected to that office); in Missouri, they were appointed and had to be either Republicans or Democrats. Ballot access laws also vary from state to state. So having more or fewer elected officials doesn't necessarily mean that a state affiliate is "better" or "worse" than another, or that it deserves or doesn't deserve extra representation at the national convention.

I am in favor of Libertarians serving in public office also serving as national convention delegates. But their state affiliates should offer them the normally apportioned delegate seats instead of getting an extra apportionment.

OK, that's part two (I've decided to cover three proposals per post). Catch ya later.

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