Friday, December 26, 2008

Libertarian National Committee Deathwatch Part 1

As the LNC continues to lurch towards collapse, with the latest news of mass layoffs at HQ, I've decided to begin tracking those things leading the national party to irrelevance, even as state and local parties gain power. As news, rumors and rhetoric break out, I shall chronicle them in this ongoing series at Delaware Libertarian.

Organizations approaching failure have a number of characteristics. One of the most striking is renunciation of their purpose and effort to reinvent themselves as a "me-too" provider of services in the marketplace.

In this, the LNC has been on a collision course with destiny for a while now.

Recently, for example, it hired Republican Party web site developer TerraEclipse to redesign the LNC web site.

Terra created a web site very similar to those of the clients it brags most about -- far-right Republican conservatives like Tom McClintock and BJ Lawson.

A quick look at the web site they built for the LNC is instructive. The tagline on the web site is "Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, More Freedom" -- identical to right-wing Republican (and notorious culture-warrior) Dick Armey's FreedomWorks web site, which advocates "Lower Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom."

Mix in the Barr candidacy, the Root VP candidacy, Bill Redpath's pandering to the right wing (and abandonment of Libertarian principles on war and civil liberties) in his "list of promises to voters," and the efforts to replace the LP platform with a Republican Lite platform, and it's increasingly difficult to differentiate the Libertarian National Committee from the GOP -- except that the LNC lost all the time and the GOP lost only most of the time this year.

Organizations that abandon their core mission to become pale shadows of the competition are on their way to irrelevance. Every step of the way the LP takes in this direction is another step towards the glue factory -- as recent fundraising problems and fading relevance in the media indicate.

It's not yet too late to rescue the LNC and bring it back to strength, but time is running out.

22 comments:

paulie said...

"As the LNC continues to lurch towards collapse, with the latest news of mass layoffs at HQ"

Did I miss this news, and if so where can I find it? I am aware of one employee being fired, ambiguous discussions of staff cuts, and a budget shortfall which suggests there may be more employees fired - but nothing about any mass layoffs yet.


"Terra created a web site very similar to those of the clients it brags most about -- far-right Republican conservatives like Tom McClintock and BJ Lawson."

Is there something about the look of the website that is far right or otherwise ideological in nature? Or are you saying that Terra Eclipse determines content, not just design?

"A quick look at the web site they built for the LNC is instructive. The tagline on the web site is "Smaller Government, Lower Taxes, More Freedom" -- identical to right-wing Republican (and notorious culture-warrior) Dick Armey's FreedomWorks web site, which advocates "Lower Taxes, Less Government, More Freedom.""

Who made the decision of what tagline to put on the website? Terra Eclipse, LPHQ, LNC?

Asking these questions is not meant to presume I know the answers, which I don't.

Brian Miller said...

Did I miss this news, and if so where can I find it?

The cuts were discussed in LNC "Executive Session," and the line-item for salaries on the submitted budgets are very interesting too.

Is there something about the look of the website that is far right or otherwise ideological in nature?

Republicans retain Republicans for their web sites, not Democrats or Libertarians.

Democrats retain Democrats for their web sites, not Democrats or Libertarians.

Libertarians should retain Libertarians for their web sites, not Republicans.

Ironically, yes, OUR content and images have made it to Republican web sites. The TE look-and-feel from LP web sites have been making their way to GOP sites -- complete with LP-style Statue of Liberty iconography and "libertarian Republican" nonsense that talks about how Libertarianism is all about taxes.

Who made the decision of what tagline to put on the website? Terra Eclipse, LPHQ, LNC?

Does it matter?

The important thing is that it happened, it's now part of official communications, objections to the LNC have been ignored, and it's completely inadequate to describe the LP's mission (they tried to change the mission statement in Denver too, BTW, to a similar Republican lite orientation).

I suspect that if the Libertarian Party had changed the tagline to "End The War. Gay Marriage. More Freedom," there'd be a bit more objection -- but that tagline is as complete as the one they're presently using.

paulie said...

"The cuts were discussed in LNC "Executive Session," and the line-item for salaries on the submitted budgets are very interesting too."

Saw both of those. Haven't seen anything about more than one person being laid off yet, though.


Me:
Who made the decision of what tagline to put on the website? Terra Eclipse, LPHQ, LNC?

BM: Does it matter?

Me2: Yes, I'm interested in figuring out how the process works.

PlanetaryJim said...

It seems odd that a discussion of cutting staff was held in executive session. But, then again, openness and transparency are not features found anywhere in the LP at the national level.

paulie said...

Yes. We're trying to do something about that.

There was a flurry of initial activity, then it seemed to stop after the first couple of days. Hopefully it will pick back up.

http://lptc.org

Brian Miller said...

I'm interested in figuring out how the process works.

I'm more interested in reversing the process!

paulie said...

Great, then you should be on board with trying to understand it; otherwise how can you hope to reverse it or improve it?

John Famularo said...

planetaryjim said:
"It seems odd that a discussion of cutting staff was held in executive session."

The real purpose of the LNC executive sessions is not to keep secrets from the government, or the Dems or the Reps; but to keep information from the rank and file LP members who might challenge the logio and/or decisions of the LNC. The real debate and decisions are made by a subset of the LNC called the "executive committee". The ridiculous policy that LNC members may not discuss executive session matters even among themselves outside of the executive sessions, makes for even less informed decisions.

The LP was initially chartered as a Colorado corporation in 1972, controlled by a board of directors dominated by regional representatives (20 regional and 8 at large. At the 1991 convention the number of regional representatives was reduced by more than half, giving the effective control of the LNC to the At Large board members. Since then the LNC has further concentrated power into an even smaller "executive committee".

The LP is a top down authoritarian organization posing as a "libertarian organization", becoming more authoritarian every day. Its stated purpose is at odds with its apparent purpose. I am convinced, for reasons too numerous to mention here, that while the LP "could" be reformed, it won't be reformed.

Brian Miller said...

then you should be on board with trying to understand it; otherwise how can you hope to reverse it or improve it

I don't have to understand the GOP's operations to defeat it -- I just do so.

I don't need to understand the "logic" behind LNC insanity -- in fact, doing so is a waste of rapidly-running-out time.

All of us know what needs to be done, we just need to do it. Spending time "understanding" and "deconstructing" is lovely in academic communities, but it's mental masturbation in a troubled small political party.

John Famularo said...

Brian Miller said:
"All of us know what needs to be done, we just need to do it."

I thought so at one time, but I don't anymore. You know what you think ought to be done, but that does not necessarily coincide with what others "know". Unless it is written down in unambiguous terms no one can determine if they want to participate in a joint effort or just do their own thing.

mdh said...

I would tend to disagree with the assertion that you don't have to understand the GOP's operations to defeat it. You stated that you "just do." Can that assertion be backed up with facts and evidence of times and places where you've personally defeated the GOP without understanding its operations? :)

Not to be a hard-ass here, my point isn't to be that, but simply to put forward my own opinion that understanding something is key to changing it. Ask any scientist.

Brian Miller said...

Unless it is written down in unambiguous terms no one can determine if they want to participate in a joint effort or just do their own thing.

Perhaps the latter is ultimately the best way.

The LNC drama consumes huge amounts of time, effort and money that could be better devoted to individual issues.

I would guess that the average active LP activist spends less than 20% of his or her time on outreach, with 80% of it consumed by bylaws, Robert's Rules, internal feuds, etc.

Imagine what could be done if an organization existed that freed up huge amounts of time wasted on internal matters and allowed individuals to devote it to outreach and public debate.

The LNC is now so inward-looking that it lacks policy proposals on the largest issues of our time: banking; the economy; foreign relations. It's just falling back to the platform and issuing silly blog posts (sans comments) about what we'd do "if elected."

It's growing less vital by the hour, and a increasing proportion of the libertarian thinking occurring in broader society is occurring outside of the LP.

Brian Miller said...

I would tend to disagree with the assertion that you don't have to understand the GOP's operations to defeat it. You stated that you "just do." Can that assertion be backed up with facts and evidence of times and places where you've personally defeated the GOP without understanding its operations?

Sure!

I don't need to understand who or what GOP organ funds "North Dallas Thirty" or "Gay Patriot West" to utterly whip him or her in a public debate.

Outright didn't need to understand the funding sources and uses in order to challenge the Log Cabin Republicans on their efforts to tout John McCain as a "different kind of Republican" and utterly plaster them.

You don't beat Republicans by "understanding" them. You beat Republicans by understanding reality, clearly articulating it, persistently defending that position, and holding them to account as to the results of their policies.

Eric Dondero said...

John Famularo, is that You?

You're still alive? I'm very happy to see you around.

Last time I spoke with you was about 10 years ago. You were on your death bed with gout. Good to see that all got cleared up.

Stay healthy my old friend.

PlanetaryJim said...

John wrote, "The real purpose of the LNC executive sessions is not to keep secrets from the government, or the Dems or the Reps; but to keep information from the rank and file LP members who might challenge the logio and/or decisions of the LNC."

I agree, though I think the word you were looking for is logic. Yes, the executive sessions are intended to keep the members of the LP knowing about what they are paying for. Or, one might say, to defraud the dues paying members.

The request by that evil filth Krause that the members of the LNC sign a confidentiality agreement as if the governing body of the party were mere volunteers working for the executive director is one of the most despicable acts I've heard about, in an LNC meeting which was prodigious in its supply of outrage.

PlanetaryJim said...

Brian Miller writes, "I don't have to understand the GOP's operations to defeat it -- I just do so."

Well, okay. And where do you defeat it? When was that, again?

And how about the DNC, do you defeat it as well?

So, you must have gotten a non-GOP guy nominated for the LP ticket and then elected president, yes? No?

PlanetaryJim said...

I agree with John and Brian. John is correct that things should be written down, and that having them in front of you in writing leads to unambiguous understanding, and the opportunity for requesting detailed clarification, as well as providing detailed criticism. That is one reason why I was so upset by the prospect of changing the BTP's system of open deliberations in writing on its Yahoogroups to a system of conference calls with minutes released after the fact to allegedly represent what had been said. I think that idea has been largely killed, though at considerable cost.

I do agree with Brian that the LNC is a pointless waste of activist time. Those of us who were in Denver and supported candidates like Angela Keaton to get her on the national committee obviously wasted a lot of our time. Even though the subsequent two meetings of the LNC in September and earlier this month did a great deal to reveal how pointless the LP is becoming, I feel cheated of my time and labor.

Feeling cheated has been the main feature of my relationship to the LP since 1996. I donated substantially to the Harry Browne campaign. I listened to his speeches. I criticised one of them in some detail in the pages of The Libertarian Enterprise. And I was completely taken in by his team of "professionals" who, I believe, betrayed the principles of the party. I've been so dissatisfied since 1998 that I haven't paid my dues to the national LP since.

Which are just some of the reasons that I joined Tom Knapp's new thing in 2006. Since the nomination of Barr in Denver, I have also spent a fabulous amount of my time promoting and growing the Boston Tea Party.

I think it is time for principled libertarians and for libertarian activists to say goodbye to the national LP. It is not what it was. It is not what it should have been. It has become a festering evil. Kill it before it grows.

John Famularo said...

Planetaryjim said;
"And I was completely taken in by his [Harry Browne's] team of "professionals" who, I believe, betrayed the principles of the party."

I tried my best (when I was on the LNC) to show them up for what they were. The LP was reluctant to publicly censure them and Browne.

The old team of bandits (Jim Babka, Perry Willis, Jack Dean, et cetera) are currently bilking donors at DownsizeDC and a few other internet fund raising scam sites. These guys know how to appeal to libertarians. They know what to say and what to say they are doing or will do. The only problem is that they are always lying. Quite a few libertarians don't care or don't care to know they are being lied to, they just feel good to be donating to a "good cause". It is like writing a check to help the poor starving African kids you see on television. You feel good about yourself. Finding out that most of your money is going to pay for the executive directors lunch at Le Cirque is a downer.

Anonymous said...

I left the LP a number of years ago when it became obvious that they had no ideas on how to win races from Republicans and Democrats that had the slightest chance of succeeding. The whole leadership of the LPHQ should be removed the next election and replaced with someone who actually has a viable plan on how to get libertarians elected.

PlanetaryJim said...

What can I do to get you guys to form a BTP state affiliate for Delaware?

Steve Newton said...

Jim
I'm working on it, but my strategy requires my classes to be back in session in mid-January, which will be the quickest way to get the necessary 300 or so signatures necessary.

Don't worry--I'll be in contact.

David K. M. Klaus said...

> The LNC drama consumes huge
> amounts of time, effort and
> money that could be better
> devoted to individual issues.


Exactly what Samuel Edward Konkin III said in his 'zine New Libertarian Notes, all the way back in the summer of 1974.


> I would guess that the average
> active LP activist spends less
> than 20% of his or her time on
> outreach, with 80% of it
> consumed by bylaws, Robert's
> Rules, internal feuds, etc.


And SEK3 would say today (and did then) that none of that activity increased the freedom of the activists or anybody else. To increase your own freedom, he said, act freely. He always found directly engaging in counter-economic activity, interacting with others outside the control of the State to mutual profit, far more productive and conducive to liberty than anything the Party could do.