Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Saturday, July 08, 2006

LP Convention

I went to the Libertarian national convention in Portland, July 1-2. The platform committee met the two preceeding days (I'm a member). The big news is that the delegates voted, by a slight majority, to delete about 44 of the existing planks. What's left is 13 planks that have been rewritten over the past two years.

I have been supportive of platform reform and am a member of the Libertarian Reform Caucus. In the platform retention vote (an up or down vote on each plank), I voted to retain most planks and remove a few of the really obvious ones (Secession, Indian Rights, Space Exploration, etc) and all all of the planks on foreign affairs.

What happened was much less nuanced than that. A bare majority was convinced to dump the whole thing and start with a clean slate.

Each plank in the platform consists of four sections: Issue, Principle, Solution, and Transition. The Solution is supposed to be the long-term vision and the Transition is how to get there.

I've read a few of the comments going around and think that the purists are overreacting somewhat. There is still a place in the platform for the long-term hardcore view. I have no problem with having a hardcore view in the platform in the Solution section. However, the Transition section should, imo, be used for the incremental steps to get there. Almost by definition, those incremental steps are not going to be purist, and I think that's some of what has the purists upset.

I also do not believe most of the delegates know what a transition step might look like. For example, I introduced an amendment to the Transition section of the new immigration plank that read "Use diplomatic persuasion to encourage less-free nations to change their economic and civil liberties polices so people would be less likely to emigrate." It was voted down in committee, 4-7, and on the floor (voice vote, near as I can tell) 5-95, or maybe 10-90.

I have no problem with having a non-interventionist foreign policy SOME DAY IN THE FUTURE. But right now, nobody has a credible plan to get from here to there. All some folks know how to say is "bring the troops home, now", which, imo, demonstrates their lack of knowledge on the issue. One of these days I may post a plan; I've been working on something for about a year, off and on. Attending the convention has pointed out some flaws in what I had written, so I'm working to address them.

There were were also some bylaws changes. One was to change the membership to include anyone who pays $25 per year as a sustaining/subscribing (not sure which) member for delegate counting purposes and to include anyone who registered to vote as a Libertarian as a basic (not sure of actual word) member. Another change was, ironically, to scrap the current plank retention vote scheme and use a ticket method where, if I recall correctly, each delegate would receive 5 tickets which could be voted to remove any plank; all tickets could be cast for the same or different planks and any plank receiving 20 percent or more of the votes would go to the floor for an up or down vote. Don't quote me on this; lets look at the bylaws when they get posted.


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