July 7, 2005
The shameful secret vote in February by a majority of the National Committee to double party membership dues is only the latest canary to pass out in the coal mine. The warning signs that libertarians are in danger of losing control of the Libertarian Party have been noticeable for some time. Between the influx of conservative-leaning members garnered from the long-standing emphasis on outreach to the right, and the members who are doing their utmost to turn the LP into a staid, corporate-feeling entity that waters down its message in order to appeal to statist popular attitudes, one can easily imagine a few years from now a serious bid to drop the word "libertarian" and remake the party in a mainstream-friendly, non-threatening, Republican-pleasing package.
In such a climate, it was heartening to see a reminder in the party's recent Annual Report (LP News, April 2005) that the Libertarian Party is <italics> still </italics> not for sale. Above the report's state-by-state breakdown of LP membership numbers, it was noted that, "This chart includes both card-carrying members and 'subscribers' -- those who contribute to the party but who have not become full members by signing the pledge." The distinction may come as a surprise to some newcomers who -- seeing many Libertarian leaders appearing to value money, "professionalism" and "success" more than volunteers, grassroots activism, and principles, and never having heard of the Pledge -- have mistakenly assumed that all one has to do to become an LP member is to simply send in $25 a year or more.
But in fact it is true: Even donating a new office building will not buy a vote in the Libertarian Party. Only your signature under the words "I certify that I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals," can make you a voting member. And as long as this is true -- as long as we proudly uphold the Non-Aggression Principle as a condition of membership -- there is hope that we can remain the Party of Principle and carry forward the banner of freedom.
<<< Starchild >>>
Outreach Director, Libertarian Party of San Francisco