The Libertarian Party has lost its way. We who seek a more libertarian, transparent and effective LP need to work together today to build a replacement LP so we can sweep internal elections next year and quickly put the LP back on track as a force for mobilizing opposition to expanding government power.
On the Edge of Bankruptcy
We libertarians are faced with an LP that is on the edge of philosophical, financial and organizational bankruptcy. The ruling clique is happy to waste precious resources on personality conflicts, purposeless meetings, administrivia, the alienation of the libertarian left and other counterproductive nonsense.
At the Worst Possible Time
This crisis comes at the worst possible time, when the assault on our liberties is just seriously getting started. We missed the golden opportunity for liberty in 2008, but with the new administration, the threats – and opportunities – are greater than ever. We must have an effective liberty-advocating political party – NOW.
What’s the Plan & How do we Implement it?
Those determined to forge a more libertarian, transparent and effective LP are simultaneously faced with two non-trivial questions:
- What’s our plan for building this new and improved LP?
- How will we build a coalition inside the LP to implement our plan?
Needed: a Good Reason to Participate
But we need a large and diverse group of experienced LPers in order to answer question one. Many of those with real libertarian political experience may be burnt out on the LP. They need a very good reason to invest their time and energy in a collaborative and messy process of designing a new LP. What can we offer them to overcome any apathy or objections?
The Guarantee of a Vigorous Effort to Implement the Plan
By promising our LP Brain Trust ahead of time that something will actually come of their participation, we have a chance at arousing significant interest. We can guarantee that this will not be another pointless discussion of abstract principles, but a concerted and results-oriented effort to enact the plan we come up with.
In other words, we are not talking about something we will propose to the LNC, but something that will replace the LNC.
A Constitutional Convention for the LP
I’m proposing we construct a process by which we design a new LP; and, as a side effect of this collaborative and consensus-building process, we will gain the coalition necessary to enact our plan. Think of it as a constitutional convention for the LP.
Not a New Party, but a New LP
This is not about forming a new party, but about designing and implementing a replacement LP – a more responsive, effective and libertarian one. The process of doing just this – and providing effective leadership via the new entity – will both demonstrate our qualifications to run the LP AND build a coalition that can sweep internal party offices next year.
Channel Energy into Building Now
Instead of more proposals and discussions and ranting and frustrations in advance of the 2010 convention, we need to take all that energy and use it to build – now – the party we want. Imagine that we are in charge of the LNC. What would we do to reinvent it? That’s what we need to start doing now.
What would a Shadow LP Look Like?
What might this shadow LP look like? I expect it would be:
- small, with a national committee of no more than nine people;
- transparent in its operations, including online meetings;
- run by a small (volunteer for now) staff;
- able to take donation pledges, but not yet actually receive any funds;
- representing all libertarians, not just the right or the left, the radical or the reformer;
- conducting itself in a bottom-up, not top-down manner;
- unafraid to advocate for libertarian positions, such as the abolition of taxes and an end to the prohibition on (some) drugs;
- outwardly-focused; and
- charged with a specific mission and goals, short-, medium- and long-term.
How do we Build the Coalition?
Once formed, what might this shadow LP do in order to build support amongst a majority of LPers? What could we do through it in order to convincingly demonstrate our coalition’s determination and ability to focus significant resources on important, popular goals? Here are some ideas.
- Prepare projects that can be implemented immediately once we take office.
- Recruit donation pledges – contingent upon our success in internal elections – that can be tapped immediately after next year’s convention.
- Prepare a libertarian media campaign, complete with materials – video, audio, print – and the (pledged) financing to implement it.
- Establish a project now to support 2009 LP candidates and their local parties with legal, petitioning, IT, fundraising, public-speaking and other advice and support.
- Identify a Libertarian political program for 2009, and attack those points ruthlessly in the media all year long.
- Create a website and media campaign to educate the public on libertarianism.
- Make preparations to have a party convention (like the Demopublicans do) in 2012 and get it aired on C-SPAN (or better).
- Ally and actively cooperate with other libertarian groups, such as the Downsizer Dispatch, Freedom Ballot Access or the Campaign for Liberty.
How do we Bootstrap it?
In order to stand up our shadow LP, we might take the following first steps.
- Identify up to 9 key individuals who are willing to serve on the shadow LNC. They should be well-known, be well-respected, represent diverse interests and be willing to work hard. Ideally they would also be prepared to run for LNC seats at the 2010 convention. Officers can be elected amongst them as needed.
- Set up a web presence and other IT resources for the entity. Set up a Facebook group and other social media presence.
- Define the entity’s vision, mission, values, strategies, goals and action plans.
- Issue a press release. Look for supporters.
- Decide what services the entity will offer, appoint an unpaid (for now) executive director and get to work.
- Establish a fundraising committee to solicit donation pledges.
- Select a first project and get it moving. Find volunteers to work on it.
- Review the LP bylaws. Take what works, leave what doesn’t. Add what’s missing.
- Select a second project and get it moving. Find volunteers to work on it.
- Review the LP platform. Take what works, leave what doesn’t. Add what’s missing.
- Select a third project and get it moving. Find volunteers to work on it.
- Organize as needed to gain a majority at the 2010 convention. Form precise plans for implementing our new LP there.
We need to set our sights on 2010, NOT 2012. There’s nothing like pressure and deadlines to bring out our best work. We need to get started on this now, with the goal of replacing the national LP with our new one at the 2010 convention. That’s 16 months from now.
Reinvent the Party
To recap, I’m suggesting reinventing our party now ourselves with the ultimate goal of replacing the current LP with our shadow LP at the convention next year. We can fix all the things that are wrong with the party now. This is constructive forward movement that will kick off a campaign for internal party offices. We will grab the initiative with this and put the incumbents on the defensive, effectively turning the tables as they are now. We can show the membership at large that our effort is capable of constructive action. It gets us out of what-if and rant mode and into let’s-do and right-now mode.
Anyone interested in collaborating with me on this? Please post your reactions and ideas below.