Giuliani/Gonzales 2012? An amicable splitting of the LP?

I haven't joined Scott Bieser in tossing my Libertarian Party membership, and I fervently hope it doesn't come to that. I suspect he also overlooks the positive but difficult to quantify effect that the party has had on the political debate in the U.S. Waging intellectual and cultural war for the hearts and minds of the populace is well and good, but meanwhile it is also important to try to ensure that the people serving in public office and making laws and policy are as libertarian-oriented as possible, even if only as a form of damage control in order to buy the time we need to win the larger war. And political parties and their candidates do have a built-in degree of visibility which is useful for getting out a message. However, if the trends which have just produced the Barr/Root ticket do not abate, and the LP continues its slow downhill slide past an apparent point of no return, Scott's advice that we focus on rescuing and preserving the word "libertarian" (see article from The Libertarian Enterprise below) will be spot on. The increased public recognition of this word and what it stands for are among the most valuable results that the LP has produced, and to win the fight for global freedom, we must preserve and increase that understanding.

  Along these lines, a brainstorm I had before the Denver convention seems even more relevant now. On a formerly Libertarian-run blog now owned by Republican operator Richard Viguerie, I raised the possibility of an amicable split between the libertarian radicals and the conservative-leaning pragmatists. The gist of it is that the current LP would adopt a new name and give the "Libertarian" name and related assets (the website, etc.) to radicals with which to start a new LP. Abandoning the Libertarian name was proposed several years ago by the pragmatist faction's Mark Schreiber (then LP marketing director, now Root campaign manager), who complained that it had too much negative baggage. Giving up something they've long had mixed feelings about in favor of a more "marketable" name, and letting those who value the word most have use of it, shouldn't bother the moderates too much. In exchange, radicals would agree to walk peacefully, leaving the party's membership, structure, mailing list, ballot access (to the extent this could be legally accomplished) and physical assets in the hands of the Barr/Root faction. To the extent possible under the law and human nature, the parties should seek to help each other in their respective missions, sending each other ideologically compatible referrals, coordinating strategy, possibly sharing assets, etc. In the event of an attempted hostile takeover of the moderate party, members of the radical party could be invited by the moderates to temporarily join them in order to provide the votes to keep the moderates on their gradualist path toward liberty rather than falling into statism. Meanwhile, to the extent the moderates might achieve electoral success, they could help guarantee ballot and debate access for the radical party and its candidates. These and other provisions for cooperations could be spelled out in a joint agreement (again to the degree such an arrangement would be legal).

  I'm just raising this idea as food for thought, not being fully sold on it myself. There may be problems with a renamed party maintaining ballot status in various states. And in winner-take-all political systems like that under which the U.S. suffers, there will ideally be no more than one pro-freedom political party per jurisdiction in order for libertarian and libertarian-leaning candidates and parties to avoid competing for the same votes. On the flip side however, the reality is that Libertarians are badly split already, and this factional fighting is taking a lot of time and energy that would be better spent on outreach, education, and campaigns. If present trends continue, both factions might be better off seeking an amicable parting of paths on terms that would allow us to minimize the bitterness and maintain some degree of cooperation to our mutual benefit.

  At things stand, myself and many others are stuck with a party whose presidential ticket we cannot in good conscience support. Pressuring us to get in line will just increase the rancor without solving anything. I hope that Barr and Root prove themselves libertarian enough in their messages that my feelings toward them will change before November. But given the possibility the standard-bearers will not get any better, and that they will meanwhile accelerate the party's ideological drift still further by attracting more pragmatist and conservative oriented members, it is definitely worth considering our options, such as how much those of us who value liberty over "winning" can get by peacefully cashing in, as a group, our "shares" of an LP gone corporate. For the present, I think the results in Denver were close enough, and mixed enough, that the fight for the soul of the Libertarian Party is not lost. Therefore I urge radicals to stay in the party and simply direct their money and support towards those down-ticket candidates worth supporting in this cycle, and see where things go. In any case, I urge those who believe in the Non-Aggression Principle and want a party that stands for it not to leave this party unless/until a viable alternative vehicle for promoting liberty materializes.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

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