A message from LPSF member Mike Acree


When I accessed my e-mail this morning, I found that Rob Power, Chair of the San Francisco Outright Libertarians, had already replied locally to your message (thanks, Rob). I'm copying part of his response here:

Mike Acree actually DID write a superb brochure (
http://www.outrightusa.org/Article02.htm ) on the Libertarian
approach to LGBT rights at least a few years ago, with yearly
revisions since then, but nobody outside of the LPSF and Outright
Libertarians seems interested in publishing it. (Mike prints
hundreds of copies of it -- funded out of his own pocket -- every
year for SF Pride.) So, since he's put in the effort to write the
thing, and he's offered multiple times to give (not sell) it to the
Party for mass-publication, I'm not exactly sure what more is
expected of him. To publish it nationwide himself? What do we need
all this LP bureaucracy for if absolutely 100% of the responsibility
for spreading Libertarian philosophy to the masses is going to fall
on the shoulders of individuals like Mike?

It is easy to understand your frustration, Geoff. You took office at a time of crisis (especially a financial crisis), knowing that you would inevitably be blamed for problems that you inherited. Libertarians also have an exasperating history--it goes back at least as far as the Clark campaign--of savagely attacking anyone who undertakes to do a good job, and especially anyone who achieves any small measure of success. The work of Party officers and candidates alike has seemed to me brutally thankless; I have generally been grateful to anyone, including you, who was willing to do it. You had my support and my vote, partly for your recognition of the need for outreach to the left.

You ask how much I have contributed toward outreach to the left on the war in Iraq. Nothing, of course, that was designated for that purpose, since there were no such projects to contribute to. If one should be instituted, I promise $100 by return mail.

You say that you listen most diligently to those who give far more than $25 a year. I'm sure that's true, and that I'm something of an exception. It has always been true that the wealthy members of the Party were businessmen from Republican backgrounds, and that the leftists were starving students, artists, and philosophers. A conservative bias has always been built in for just that reason. At a luncheon honoring Torch Club members at the 1987 national convention, I was the only Russell Means supporter in the room. I have participated in the national and state pledge programs pretty much since they were begun, in the 1980s, and my contributions to national, in excess of the $35 a month pledge, have been sufficient to earn me life membership.

I have contributed much less in the past year or so, however, because my satisfaction with the LP is much lower than it has been in my 30 years as a member. As enthusiastically as I supported Harry Browne's campaigns, I was alarmed early on by the targeted recruitment of conservatives, especially through Project Archimedes; but when I wrote to LP News, Bill Winter politely declined to print my letter, saying he didn't want to publish anything critical of ongoing projects. We saw the fruit of those recruitment efforts at the 1996 national convention, when the children's rights plank (part of the platform at least since 1979) was voted out of the platform, and the women's rights plank narrowly avoided a similar fate. At the 2002 convention in Indianapolis, the plank to abolish the FBI and CIA, part of the platform at least since 1975 (the oldest one of which I have a copy), was voted out. Indiana has now voted to abolish the platform altogether. The stated reason is that some planks (leftist, not rightist, of course) make it awkward to campaign; but my impression, partly from speaking with Indiana delegates, is that they don't really endorse those planks themselves. That wouldn't be a problem if their numbers were balanced by left-libertarians among our members. But we would have to recruit heavily, and successfully, from the left for a decade to restore the balance in membership. As it stands, the Party now confronts an acute identity crisis, just because there is currently a much larger constituency for a true conservative party than for a true libertarian party. Short-term focus on election results, if nothing else, will pull us strongly in a conservative direction. The Atlanta convention will be crucial in that regard, situated in the conservative heartland. Neighboring delegations will be packed; attendance by the less wealthy leftist types will be sparse. I expect that event to be decisive for a conservative take-over of the Party, with perhaps a name change not too far behind. That may be good news in terms of electoral success, but it won't be a party I can any longer support. All of us who care about the outcome have a responsibility to try to do something about it, but national leadership will also undoubtedly be key, one way or the other.

Mike Acree