I abstain on this vote. The only reason I am not simply voting NO is because I understand that Michael Pickens' intentions are good. By proposing a floor fee lower than is desired by some others on the Executive Committee who want to stick it to the delegates for more than $25-$50 each, he is attempting to approach this from a perspective of harm-reduction.
But the reality is we should not be charging delegates what amounts to a poll tax in order to vote at all! The whole premise of these fees, the argument that they are necessary to avoid subsidizing anyone, is completely ass-backward. Charging delegates a floor fee is as stupid and self-sabotaging as charging interns a portion of the rent on the Libertarian Party office! Like interns, delegates are doing the Libertarian Party a favor, by volunteering their time and incurring travel and lodging expenses to show up and vote on the business of the party.
The process of delegate voting is not some dispensable or non-essential function! Delegates have an extremely important job in our party. Allowing them to do their job does not represent Libertarian Party leaders doing delegates some kind of favor. Activists volunteering to vote on our bylaws, platform, and leadership as delegates is vitally essential to the very nature of the Libertarian Party. It is what keeps us fundamentally a grassroots political party run by its members and activists from the bottom up, as opposed to a non-representative organization run by a small, insular group of leaders from the top down, like the Republicans and Democrats. Both establishment-party conventions this year revealed the GOP and Democrat leaderships blatantly ignoring votes of their own convention delegates. They were able to get away with it precisely because their delegates have no real power, and their conventions are nothing more than pre-scripted dog-and-pony shows. If we go down this road, the Libertarian Party will eventually become just like them -- another party dominated by career politicians and their hangers-on, people in it for the money and the power.
Not only are floor fees unnecessary as a way to raise money, they are directly counter-productive, both from a financial standpoint and from a party-building perspective. Michael points out that the Ohio LP just held a successful convention that attracted more people than California's, made money, and did not charge delegates a floor fee. The California LP never used to charge floor fees either, back when we had more members and bigger conventions. As far as I know we've always charged convention attendees for meals and speaker packages, which is as it should be, but we did not used to charge delegates for simply attending convention business sessions. This shift is part of what has been a downward spiral of the Libertarian Party in this state, with leaders at the state level seeking more control, communication becoming more and more dysfunctional and lacking, and morale and participation levels suffering accordingly.
• Floor fees are unpopular with delegates. They create controversy and disharmony within the party, distracting us from more important issues we should be focusing on.
• Floor fees make people less inclined to come to the convention in the first place, who if they came might pay for other things, such as rooms, food and beverage, purchases from vendors, etc.
• Floor fees send the message that we do not value grassroots delegates volunteer to do the party's business, and that we do not care about preserving our bottom-up governance
• Floor fees make people who might otherwise be disposed to donate to the party less likely to do so
• Floor fees make convention attendees likely to buy a less expensive convention package than they would otherwise, if they buy a convention package at all.
I will not vote for any hotel convention plan that attempts to balance its budget on the backs of our volunteers by imposing mandatory fees. And I encourage activists to vote against any Libertarian Party leaders who support charging delegates a floor fee.
Love & Liberty,
((( starchild )))
At-Large Representative, Libertarian Party of California
P.S. - Anyone wishing to discuss this issue or other Libertarian Party of California matters is welcome to call me any time at the number above. I encourage dialogue and honest, open communication among our state leadership and with our members.