Well, that is the big question. I don't think we're off track ideologically here in SF. That may be a small consolation, but it's something. That leaves two big sets of problems -- the state, and the national.
Let's take the state first. We in SF have a convention coming up in our backyard -- San Ramon, from April 20-22. State officer elections are this year, and every freedom-lover in California should plan on attending in order to vote out Aaron Starr as chair (or whatever like-minded replacement his faction comes up with, if he decides not to run again). We need to be prepared to become more actively involved at the state level, if we want to fix what's broken there. We need to identify and get behind principled, bottom-up oriented Libertarians to run for Chair, northern & southern Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Committee, and Judicial Committee. Please make sure that your membership dues are current -- if you aren't 100% sure, contact state Secretary Dan Wiener <secretary@...> and ask him. To serve as a delegate, you must sign up as an LP member before January 20, 2007, or have current membership as of that date. Try to get other people you know who may not normally be that involved in the party, but could be persuaded to come out for liberty, to sign up and attend.
What shape the convention takes will also likely play a role in determining the success of our efforts to take back the party. Two important victories are that we are having the convention in northern rather than southern California (which is considered more pro-Starr), and that we are not on a cruise ship or at the posher resort near Lake Tahoe that Starr wanted. But the fact that these things, which shouldn't even have been in question, are cause for celebration is an indication of how badly screwed up things are. We traditionally rotate conventions between northern and southern California and it was the north's turn this year, and the effort to push things in an upscale direction has gotten ever stronger. At one point this year, the ExCom imposed a minimum charge of $99 per person on delegates. It is difficult to think of a more asinine thing to do than *mandating* that a contractor charge your members more money instead of less, when the money wouldn't even go to the LPC but rather to the contractor!
I have been trying to keep abreast of the convention-planning efforts, with a major goal being to make sure that convention advertising does not send the message out once again that there is a financial litmus test for LP members wanting to help the party by serving as delegates. Please remind contractors Terry Floyd and Mike Denny (two good guys who are on the LPSF and I believe the Grassroots lists), and tell Jim Eyer <j.eyer@...> , Dan Goltz <firstname.lastname@example.org> (two moderates involved in the planning process), and Muffet Brown <muffet@...>(the LPC newsletter assistant who will be designing a graphic for the convention and may be designing the ad to run in that publication) how important it is to you that potential convention-goers be clearly informed that they will not be required to pay anything or apply for charity in any way, shape or form if they just want to participate as delegates and vote on party business. Convention delegates are doing the LPC a service, not the other way around!
Aaron Starr, who has unfortunately also inserted himself into the convention planning discussions, is pushing Chuck Muth as a speaker to offer a "candidate training session." Muth is a Republican who has advocated the LP becoming more pragmatic and less ideological. Any candidate session he leads can be expected to focus on winning elections and "succeeding" in conventional terms, with little or no focus on whether a candidate is a good libertarian or not. We don't need any more of that kind of advice -- we've had way too much already, and it's part of the reason the LP is in the shape it's in. Aaron also pushed for the convention theme to be "Libertarian Success," and it looks like that's going to be the theme because none of the other folks involved were willing to stand up and push for anything different, so once again we have a theme that speaks the language of pragmatism rather than the language of a radical, grassroots movement for freedom.
There's a good chance that the convention keynote speaker will be Bob Barr. The Executive Committee gets to choose the speaker for that slot, and given the conservative/pragmatic agenda of the ExCom majority, I'd be surprised if they didn't book him, if he is available. There may not be a large total number of presenters, so it will be very important that others are booked who will counteract his presence. We need both speakers who represent a strong pro-freedom position, and speakers who will appeal to people on the left (these are two separate qualifications which may not always overlap, but both are vital).
The two speakers who have confirmed that they can attend are presidential candidates Steve Kubby and Christine Smith. Steve is both someone who can reach out to the left and someone who appears to generally support the Non-Aggression Principle and take strong pro-freedom positions. I don't know enough about Christine yet. Two other prospective LP presidential candidates, Doug Stanhope and George Phillies, have said they cannot attend.
We need more good presenters. I'm going to try to come up with some possible folks over the next few days. Terry Floyd will also be contacting potential speakers, and Allen Rice will be seeking to contact elected Libertarians. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know.
Love & liberty,
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