Sunday, May 25, 2008

No, that's the sound of a gathering in a Big Tent!

Unable to attend the LP convention, I am getting a sense of it from weblogs such as Brian Holtz's Libertarian Intelligence and Reason Hit and Run. 2008 will go down as the year LP Libertarians decided to act like a political party, when those who truly desire to use the political process to move policy in a more libertarian direction stood up to the village anarchists and gave the ideologues their comeuppance for insults ranging from the 1983 convention to the bait-and-switch tactic to relentless attempts at "internal education" whereby those who don't accept "natural rights theory"--usually because they are well-educated and well-read enough to know better!--get slandered as "statist" and "socialist" and stabbed in the back during their campaigns.

The delegates in convention today adopted a unity platform, one that does not undermine registration efforts and political campaigns, as it represents what thinking Libertarians believe, not what a few loutish sophomores would rather us believe.

Alone, regardless of who wins the nomination for President, this restores my faith in the Party, giving me reason to give it a second chance, or an Nth chance, for another few years.

The anonymous-by-request author of Classically Liberal, with affected nineteenth-century bombast, decries the Reform Caucus effort and this new platform as wanting to "dim the libertarian torch or make the battle cry an "uncertain sound". Nonsense. The Reform platform is the sight and sound of a Big Tent. Political victories are won by bringing people to the cause, not driving them out because they won't mouth filoque clauses about total ends to taxation or privatizing national parks. Disagreement is a sign of health in such an organization.

Torches? Biblical horns? Who would listen? Who does listen? Anyone who believes in a Libertarian priesthood, that the voter will treat the Libertarian as his conscience or treat him as his better needs his head examined. (Anyone who thinks that I should recognize Rothbardites as my better doesn't even need the exam, as he is certifiably nuts.) Political parties that cannot be even a credible threat at the polls are non-entities. Chasing off people who disagree on bits of the agenda is a step away from being a credible threat. Unlike membership in a single-issue organization, which is binary (do you support the abolition of slavery or do you not?), membership in a political party is a matter of shades of grey: libertarianism is not a unified whole or a package deal. "Do these people and me share enough of a common policy direction to justify collaboration?" If the Party were Dave Nolan and Eric Garris: no. Those gentlemen plus Brian Holtz and Tim West and Tom Stevens and the like? Yes.

I presume that the author of Classically Liberal understands the difference between a single-issue organization and a coalition. Perhaps, in the fit of bombast, he simply forgot. Purism of a certain sort makes a single-issue group strong and a political party weak. How many members will a political party have if made up only of people who agree on everything? A "village anarchists'" club cannot be a stronger political force than a real libertarian political party. There aren't enough villages!

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