Friday, July 17, 2009

David Nolan on the LP nightmare

David Nolan, the founder of the Libertarian Party, is understandably frustrated with its total lack of balls:

...there is an important lesson to be learned from the success of the Paul campaign and the C4L. That lesson is that it pays to be bold. Notice that the grassroots uprising sparked by the Ron Paul campaign calls itself the Ron Paul REVOLUTION. Not the "Ron Paul gradual reform movement." They're calling for ending the Federal personal income tax, not just mouthing empty platitudes about "lower taxes" or "more freedom." (Compared to what? What we have now? Obama's proposals?) And they are gaining adherents far more rapidly than the Libertarian Party is; the C4L currently has five to ten times as many members as we do!

As I see it, the Libertarian Party has gone far astray from its original mission. Somewhere along the way, our commitment to being The Party of Principle was replaced by a shallow, opportunistic goal of "winning elections now" -- any election, anywhere. Principles be damned, according to the proponents of this vision. We should back off from "scary" positions, tone down our rhetoric, find out "what voters want," and tailor our message to what they want to hear.

If it is true that the Campaign for Liberty has over five times the members of the LP, then as much as I hate to say it, you may be better off trying to reform the Republican party. And trust me, it's not easy to admit that. But when you consider that today's LP is just GOP lite, and the C4L is more libertarian than the LP anyway, it's less hard to swallow.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the LP could learn a lot from the Green Party. The Green Party is radical as fuck and makes no apologies for it. That would be the entire purpose of having a third party: sticking to principle over measly reforms and the a toothless everything-to-everyone philosophy.

Minarchists obviously have to be welcome in the LP, but most of the LP "moderates" and "reformers" are not even minarchists. Minarchists want a radically, radically tiny government, and many of them reject taxation altogether (wanting user fees, lotteries, voluntary donations, fines paid by criminals, etc to finance a bare-bones government). That is obviously not enough for the "reformers."

The LP needs to grow a pair. Unfortunately, it probably won't.

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