Sunday, July 10, 2005

Questions raised by the Exit Strategy

I have received a fair amount of email in response to my view (see below) on the LP's Iraq Exit Strategy. And I have to admit, my support of it is cautious at best. Mostly my motive is to give a vote of confidence to our staff, who overall is doing an excellent job spreading the Libertarian message and who truly do mean well. Even if I eventually decide I can't go with this, I'd still couch my criticism in the recognition that they're at least trying instead of outrage over their alleged lack of principle. As we like to say here in NC, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

The document is unlike anything that has ever been issued by the LP office before, and raises a lot of questions about our outreach which I would like to throw open to all assembled. I'm not sure about any of the answers.

Does every policy suggestion made by the LP have to be perfectly in agreement with our platform? Or is it OK for our staff to advocate any plan that moves in the direction of Liberty even if it doesn't conform with the platform?

Should such major policy pronouncements have the prior approval of the Chair and/or the LNC? Or is it OK for staff to do this work on their own?

Does every document we issue have to give a holographic view of the party, that is, must it be something that fully explains the Libertarian view and allow the intelligent reader to see or at least easily deduce our principles from it? Or is it OK to advocate plans that simply move in the right direction without putting our principles front and center?

Is it wise to engage DC policymakers on their terms, using their language? Or are we better off if we only address policy on our terms, insisting on our own language?

Of course, the question of whether or not this plan actually does advance Liberty remains a legitimate one too.

Let me know what you think.

23 Comments:

Anonymous GregD said...

The folks in the national office do not have the expertise to be issuing such a document. There has been an ongoing activity to replace all our senior, director-level staff with interns and clerical staff.

Now the interns/clerical staff are issuing policy documents that are in contradiction to the LP Platform and libertarian philosophy. This practice needs to come to an end.

The fact that this document was released without getting the approval of the chair raises serious questions that its publication was malicious. After publication, the chair is now in the awkward situation of supporting it or exposing the fact that he has no control over his staff.

I repeatedly raise the point that Cato has published a paper opposing foreign aid to Iraq -- not because they are mean-spirited, but because there is no proof that such foreign aid will speed up Iraq's recovery. Cato even goes on to suggest that the aid might slow down Iraq's recovery.

I support incremental solutions that move us in a libertarian direction, but this plan wants to start up a new foreign aid program and implement a military build up in Afghanistan and other countries.

The plan moves us in the wrong direction, fails to serve the needs of the US, fails to serve the needs of Iraq, and opposes the will of the majority of Americans.

The LP should amend or retract the plan. Somebody on the staff should be fired because of this.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Susan Hogarth said...

gregd's comments are right on target. The Chair *is* responsible for any major 'policy document' issued by the LP. Not wanting to micromanage is one thing, but not overseeing major policy announcments is a dereliction of duty on the part of (at least) the Chair.

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Was the chair "not overseeing major policy announcements"? http://www.lp.org/yourturn/archives/000038.shtml suggests that Mr. Dixon either knew of the plan or gave approval after the fact.

The plan may have some flaws and philosophical points that some may disagree with, but it is more of an incrementalist move in Washington-speak. That to me says that FINALLY the LP is looking at working towards real political activism. Something it has not done and has been largely unsucessful probably because of that.

So should LP members really go off the deep end and start firing folks because there may be differences with exactly how this documing may or may not give with some of the planks on the platform? I don't think we need to really go to that extreme. I suggest instead that we provide positive feedback and constructive criticism to any areas you may see as disagreeing with the parties planks. Heck just changing the words "Foreign Aid" to "reperations" would instantly bring that section into line with libertarian principles, but does Washington even want to accept such language? I would say probably not. And without the kind of language modern politcians can accept as understandable any of these kinds of announcements will simply be immediately dismissed.

Oddly we see a leak from British intelligence stating that there really is a plane (based on some assumptions) for moving troops out of Iraq with somehwere around an 18 month schedule, if I read it correctly. Intersting, I think, the timing of that leak and how it is not too far off from the LP's suggestions. Just slower. Did the LP plan have anything to do with that? I don't know. I could hope it might have affected someone enough to leak that kind of information, and if it did, maybe it wouldn't have if it followed the rest of the usual LP rhetoric asking for the Rothbardian ideal of "all or nothing" solutions as being the only truly "libertarian" solutions.

I think firing staff may be simply too strong of a position to take on this kind of thing. The negatives can be fixed, the positives are refeshingly postive, IMHO, and I believe the outweigh the compromises suggested in the name of moving us towards a more libertarian position in Iraq than where America currently stands.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Susan Hogarth said...

I don't think it's neccessary to fire anyone for one mistake (however major). I do think Dixon, and not the staff member who wrote, is responsible - and I realise Dixon is taking responsibility. I think he needs to make sure it doesn't happen again.

The last thing the LP needs to do is start with the 'Washington-speak'. There are plenty of people IN Washington to do that already. Who wants more-of-the-same?

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Richard C. Evey said...

I have no problem with the Exit Strategy. It is about time someone or some org. get on the backs of these warmongers and tell them what "We the People" want OUR government to do. It is a message to the government and it has to start somewhere and by someone.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous GregD said...

Richard:

The people who joined and donated to the Libertarian Party did so because the LP had an established set of principles.

If the LP is now advocating something different, then the LP has collected money from these people fraudulently.

Do you advocate fraud?

If the LP had not issued this particular exit strategy, what would you propose?

What do you think the American people would propose?

More specifically:

Do you think the American people would support a troop buildup in Afghanistan and other parts of the mideast?

Do you think the American people would support foreign aid (or reparations or whatever you want to call it) to Iraq?

I think on this issue, Libertarians and the American people are in TOTAL agreement.

I think they both oppose fraud.
I think they both oppose having troops abroad (being the world's policeman)
I think they both oppose foreign aid or reparations or whatever you want to call it.

Libertarian ideas can be presented to the public in a way that is consistent with our platform and appeals to the public. I know this because I have done it and I am doing it.

I am not opposed to incremental steps in a Libertarian direction, but people who claim that a troop buildup in Afghanistan or a new foreign aid program for Iraq are incremental steps in a Libertarian direction are just making excuses for their lack of understanding of the benefits of freedom.

6:11 PM  
Anonymous phillies said...

Once the troops are out of Iraq, they are no longer in a country in which we have started a war. They are in a country where they are welcome guests.

With respect to the reparations proposal, reparations for causing damage is an appropriate reponse to prior wrong behavior.

With respect to the National Chair and committee, we are talking about a person or group of people who are so out of it that they or he first approved a computer software purchase at a wildly bloated price, failed to notify that the software did and does not work, and then launched it in the middle of a Presidential campaign without testing it. Unsurprisingly, it did and does not work. It cannot give downloads to my state that our membership secretary can read, because it can only download in a proprietary Microsoft^TM format. The notion that they cannot do much else right is not surprising.

Finally, with respct to 'deduce from libertarian philosophy or principles' I joined a political party, not a religious cult, and do not support the religious cultists who reject what is actually known about logic in order to claim that they can deduce all of our stands from a few basic principles. That's a claim for high school plane geometry, and the major advance of 20th century mathematics is to show that the claim that logic lets you derive all truth from a few principles and deductions is not true even about mathematical systems.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous nameless said...

I don't agree with some of the exit strategy, but I support its overall concept. And I really support the fact that the LP is actually trying to move policy in DC in a more libertarian direction.

Notice I said move it in a libertarian direction. The all or none philosophy does not help me as a voter. The all or nothing philosophy has enabled the Partiot Act and the "enemy combatant". We must, as a politcal party, engage in politics to achieve our agenda of a freer society.

The exit strategy was a great first step. It wasn't perfect, but it came on the heels of the Bush speach and was therefore very timely. Advertising could have been better, but I understand that Nationals hands are tied at the moment with Razor's Edge. But we cannot afford to tie the hands of our chair, we need him to do a job. I will not engage in the debate about who released the plan and with who's approval, I will trust that this fuss has solidified the need for the chair to put his stamp of approval on any forthcoming proposals. But these are the type of proposals we need to move policy.

This exit strategy should be pushed from the Democratic side. Other policies may ned to be pushed from the Republican side. And still others will need to be pushed from a purely LP perspective. The point being that we need to move policy in to the liberty side and these types of actions from our National office needs tha agility to make it happen.

A good policy NOW is better than the perfect policy two minutes too late.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous GregD said...

Nameless:

A new foreign aid program is not a step in a libertarian direction.

A troop build up in Afghanistan is not a step in a libertarian direction.

Those are steps AWAY from libertarian public policy.

Nobody is asking for all or nothing. All I want to see is that we take incremental steps in a libertarian direction. If we can't abolish all foreign aid programs at once, I will settle for reducing foreign aid programs or eliminating a few. If somebody proposes an increase in existing foreign aid programs or adding a new foreign aid program, I will say that we are moving away from freedom and increasing the size of government.

It would be nice if the proponents of this plan actually addressed the issues raised rather than accusing opponents of being "purists."

This is not an issue of "purity." It is an issue of inexperienced, immature kids in the national office trying to be public policy experts, Libertarians, and political professionals when they lack the knowledge and experience to be any of these things.

Somebody needs to be fired for putting out this plan and somebody needs to start eliminating the kids from the national office and replacing them with experienced and senior level staff.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

gregd,

That "Foreign Aid", in this situation, or moving of troops to other locations, in this situation, or NOT steps towards a more libertarian philosophy are areas I would consider to be debatable. I am happy to recognize that you, and many others, feel that those parts of the plan do not move us in a more libertarian direction. However, that is not true of all libertarians.

And just because we disagree does NOT mean that either of us is not a libertarian. I simply feel that there are certain compromises which must fall into place for an Exit strategy to meet with any success at all, and I see part of that as being addressed in this plan.

The idea of "Foreign Aid" in this case means, to me, assisting the Iraqi's in reqbuilind infrasturcture that our nation destroyed. Sure I didn't vote for the guy, or any of those folks in Congress for that matter, but I freely associate myself as an American and as such I feel we, as Americans, do have some responsibility to fix a problem we created. To do otherwise jsut doesn't seem particularly like the libertarian need to accept responsibility. Sure it may seem disjointed with the general libertarian ideals of non-intervention, but at what point is not intervening in something our own country caused actually more akin to intervention? It's a nice gray area and I can see your point here, but I think the line is fuzzy enough that there is room for what I think moves us in a more libertarian direction as well.

The same for troop movements out of Iraq into other areas, even Afghanastan. Many libertarians would argue whether or not Afghanistan was initiation of force, or defensive response to it. Either way I think it is MORE important to get troops out of Iraq, and if moving a very small portion of them to Afghanistan (remember that the plan calls for the vast majority of troops to actually come home) helps to do that, then I think it's a worthwhile step. THEN we can work on a plan to get troops out of Afghanistan by addressing the mission accomplishments there and getting those troops home.

In this respect, and others, I simply disagree that these parts of the plan do less to lead us towards libertarian goals. I still say that while they may not be in lock-step with some libertarian views, they DO move us in a more libertarian direction than this country is currently following. I think of plans like this as honey to attract the flies of our wayward politicians, rather than the vinegar of a far less palatable, but more strongly ideaologically libertarian, plan.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous GregD said...

Lenny:

You are the first proponent of the plan to actually address the issues I raise. Bravo! But I still disagree and here is why.

First, call it "foreign aid" or call it "reparations", I don't care. There are 3 important things to consider.

1. "Foreign aid" is not in the best interest of the Iraqis. See the paper from the Cato Institute at: http://www.cato.org/dailys/05-19-03.html . It explains that the Marshall Plan was not the cause of the post-WWII recovery, and indeed, "foreign aid" may delay economic recovery.

2. The American people oppose "foreign aid" so this does not make the plan more "palatable."

3. We do not owe Iraq reparations. They were in violation of the 1991 peace treaty and we invaded to enforce compliance. Whether or not you agree, this is the view of the general public. If you want to claim that we owe Iraq reparations, then explain why.

Second, this plan was supposedly in response to a recent poll that said 59% of Americans want us to get out of Iraq. Great! 59% of the American public agree with us. What is the basis for sending 10,000 troops to Afghanistan? Is it because there is a demand by the American people for a troop build-up there? If so, please provide the supporting references.

Even if you can supply supporting references, it is not a necessary part of the plan. Why talk about Afghanistan in an Iraq Exit Plan? Why do it if we must violate our principles to include it? It seems to me that we could have remained silent on the subject and still had a valid exit strategy that was consistent with our platform.

Somebody has gone out of their way to undermine our positions and platform. More and more it appears that the release of the plan was a malicious act.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Lenny Zimmerann said...

In truth it is not relly my place to support any of the actions in the plan. It does not outline the reasoning behind some of those actions and I did not frame it, nor do I know the references used in its creation. Hence I am, for all intents and purposes, ill equipped to defend the specifics of it.

I will assert, however, that statments like "Somebody has gone out of their way to undermine our positions and platforms." is rather vitriolic and is likely not an indicator of what is happening here. YOU, with others, believe that portions of this plane undermine our platform, I, with others, disagree that this undermines our platform.

I would certianly love to see further response from the framers of the plan and their resoning. I would love to see a calm, non-vitriolic, discussion of those concepts as a way to improve the platform. However cries of "foul" without all the facts doesn't do your position any justice, IMHO. It only emotionalizes the issue when what most libertraians tend to want, or so it seems to me due to the large core of intellectuals I have found who carry the libertarian label, is a rational discourse on the issues.

Rationally there are still many factors involved in something like this, however. So I still ahve no doubt that it all depends on yoru personal view of libertarian philosophy as to how much support, or lack thereof, you could lend to statments from the LP like this exit plan. I suggest that Rothbardians would throw it our the window immediately as utterly useless trash, consequentialist, however, will need to dig deep into the remifications of these actions to try and determine how the consequences of actions AND inactions will affect the overall picture trying to piece together a puzzle of what may or may not be "more" libertarian. Rothbard sure makes it easy, but I don't believe we live in a world where things are ever that easy, epsecially not when the exceptional diversity of human beings and human reasoning are involved.

12:00 PM  
Anonymous nameless said...

gregd, Lenny... very good debate. I cannot hope to represent either side more eloquently.

as I've said before, I don't agree with some of the strategy, and I'll remain silent on which portions I disagree. Like Lenny, I'm ill equipped to defend either side.

the part I like the most is that it IS a plan, it IS timely, and it IS plausible. It advances our voice politically. I would really like to be having this debate in a republican or democratic forum because that would mean we're having an effect.

I'm hoping this discussion leads to a more stream-lined and effective method of disseminating strategies like this. I'm not going to call for heads (this time). And I have no doubt that National hears this debate. Let's hope they listen.

8:31 PM  
Anonymous GregD said...

Lenny:

I have put out many facts. Rather than deal with the facts, you claim you are ill-equipped to defend the plan -- although that hasn't stopped you from advocating it.

Instead, you have decided to attack my hypothesis which has been derived from the actions of staff.

Prove to me that those people are not maliciously destroying the platform as they have maliciously destroyed the party database.

4:08 AM  
Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

Greg,

First off I'm not trying to "attack" anything. If my suggesting to you that I happen to like the direction this plan is suggesting for where the LP might try to go in the future, at least as a first step towards being viably politically active, then I must apologize. My statements are often surrounded with words such as "I think", "I believe", "IMHO" and such to express exactly that I fully realize my own statements are just an opinion I happen to have. I was not aware that having an opinion and expressing such implied and "attack", so I can only assume I must consider myself educated on that point. Rather I thought we were having a discourse here and I am sorry if I am presenting it as anything else. Further proof of my own human infallability.

That being said, let me move on. Suggesting that I refute your hypothesis that the staff of the LP are "maliciously destroying the platform as they have maliciously destroyed the party database."... well that would normally be the point of debating a hypothesis, wouldn't it?

At any rate how on earth would you expect me to disprove intent? I have yet to see evidence from you that proves this "malicious" intent. Or that these actions "destroy the platform". These are strong words and strong accusations, IMHO. To disprove I only need to say that I expect that the vast majority of people do not act with evil motivations, but that they are bsically good. Indeed that in this country the burden of proof does not lie upon the accused, but upon the accuser. Your statments here are quite accusatory and calling for firing of individuals who work for this Party. But I must ask what specific corporate policies have they broken?

It is my understanding that these kinds of press releases previously had to go through the LNC, but the process was too long and arduous and proved innefective to their timely release. So the LNC, your elected representatives in the LP, decided to do away with that policy. So now no approval process is required at all. So it should come as no surprise that members of the LNC did not see this press relase beforehand. One could argue that it might be most appropriate for Mr. Dixon, as the chair, to have seen and/or approved this release, but his own statements on the LP web page suggest either that he did see and/or agree to it or that he at least give approval after the fact, effectively making it a non-issue at the top spot of the elected side of the LP.

The ED, on the other hand, is hired by the LNC. The LNC can decide how they wish to run the front office in whichever manner they prefer. If you don't like the way the office is run, talk to your representative and have them bring it up with the rest of the LNC. If you think your representative is not doing the kind of job you think they should be doing, then be sure to vote in someone you do think will do the job better, or even run for the office yourself.

I simply suggest that throwing out accusations calling for unnamed individuals to lose their job over a a press release that, by more than a few folks' opinions, was NOT inconsistent with the LPs stated principles (not necessarily the PLANKS, mind you, but the Statement of Principles), seems to be, IMHO, a bit of an overreaction. Calling for someone to lose their job can have grave consequences for them and their family and I would certainly want some assurances that individuals obviously and knowingly acted with "malicious" intent before possibly throwing some otherwise innocent individual out on their tail feathers.

You've made more than a few assertions that the plan was effectively drafted by individuals who "do not have the expertise to be issuing such a document". Yet I have not seen anywhere a full listing of all the consulted individuals who were fully involved in the drafting of the plan. I'm not sure I could accuse them of not having this expertise when we don't even know for certain what experts may or may not have been utilized. I'm sorry to say that I simply think that at this point I cannot help but feel that your accusations are unfounded.

I am not unwilling to be swayed. I am not unwilling to accept that there are ways to improve the plan. But you are place a burden of proof on me, as an individual, that I could never accomplish and that I should not need to accomplish because I'm not the one making the accusations here. I would emplore you to launch an investigation since you seem so convinced that this is a grave travesty. Root out the evil doers you seem to think are trying to destroy the principles of the LP and expose them to the light of truth, with evidence in hand. If your indignation is indeed righteous then your cause should be vindicated.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure everyone knew what I meant to say at the end of that first paragraph, but if not the sentence itself should be proof of my all too human fallibility, not infallability. Wouldn't it be nice to be infallable? :)

9:32 AM  
Blogger Sean Haugh said...

I deliberately wanted to wait to see what others had to say before I jumped in. Good points all around. I think I'll just answer them all in sequence.

Greg, frankly I'm not too big on political policy expertise. I've met 14 year olds that have a better grasp of sensible policy than most elected officials. You don't need credentials to have a good idea.

As far as I can tell, Michael Dixon genuinely supports the plan. It's not as if Mr. Dailey just did this on his own. He had plenty of help and supervision from staff and others within the party. Maybe not as adequate supervision as we would like, but it was a group effort with a primary author.

George, I for one am a big advocate of libertarianism as a lifestyle, and am not at all ashamed to say it is the one of the twin pillars of my lifelong spiritual practice (the other being gratitude), regardless of how I have labeled it over time. But I would agree that this is not and should not be required to be a party member.

nameless, oh yes staff reads this blog. It's one of the reasons why I put this post up, to attract some feedback for them. But mostly I am truly interested in the answers to my questions.

While I do not agree with Greg that there is actual malice involved, he is right to question how much damage this has done to our reputation. One thing I said to Susan in the debate on the LPNC list is that this definitely is not a document I would use to explain to people what Libertarians are all about. As you can see from my eye on our brothers and sisters in Costa Rica, I am very deeply concerned over when and how we might sell out once we get more power and influence.

Ideally I'd like to see an atmosphere where the party can promote any and all solutions which result in more liberty, while not hiding our principles and eventual goals. Popularity only has value to us if we make our ideas popular, but not at all if we sell out our ideas in a vain attempt to become popular or swim with the current of public opinion. If the plan serves as an introduction to the party or allows us to gain greater influence, that's great. But we can't stop there, we need to draw people in further so they can see what we are truly all about.

One conclusion I have drawn is that we need the APRC now more than ever. (Lenny, that was the committee to which the LNC delegated these matters before they abolished it and then turned their backs on the responsibility entirely.) In this kind of situation one couldn't say it's an extra layer of bureaucracy, since the plan went through a similar review process before publication.

So I guess I am talking myself back into the view that all our plans and policy proposals must be consistent with the platform. I'd still rather treat this incident as a learning experience than cause for lopping off heads, but we do need to learn something from it.

I have always beleived that it is not too difficult to explain our platform views in a socially and politically acceptable way, so I do think the plan could be greatly improved. But I very much agree with Lenny about timeliness. Something good right now is far superior to something just right that's too late.

LNC meets in three weeks in Kansas City, and this most certainly will be discussed. Now would be a good time to lobby the LNC with your views, whatever they may be.

3:00 AM  
Anonymous Lenny Zimmermann said...

I do think that an important aspect of all of this, which seems to have been brought to the fore in LP politics in recent months, is finding that balance of how the LP can make itself more politically active, viable and appropriate in modern American politics, while never losing sight of the ultimate goals of what being libertarian means. It is exactly that kind of thing that has actually attracted me to the LP in these past few months, where I had never joined the Party before because the stance has always been... well, too Rothbardian for my taste and I never felt the LP had been in a position to move the cause of liberty forward.

I would suggest one thing, while there are those of us who do think the platform needs to change, or at the very least the transitional section greatly expanded, I do think that if such a committee were reinstated that they at least consider how plans, like the Iraqi Exit Strategy, might fit within those transitional planks, and be willing to support how their conclusions were arrived at.

It's been my experience that libertarians tend to be a pretty smart bunch of folks and more then willing to dig deep into things. They seem to often enjoy the scientific process of hammering at a hypothesis until it is either broken, or forged into something stronger. Certainly the LP needs to be able to react in a timely manner to current events, but it certainly helps to keep the whole process as open as possible to the LP constituency, I would think. Members bringing up items like the Cato brief that Greg brought up above might have been missed in the initial creation and there is certainly nothing to say that a plan once created cannot be modified and improved ever balancing the need to be politically relevant while always keeping an eye towards more liberty. As someone on the LP blog stated, and I paraphrase greatly here, it is not that political compromise is a bad thing, it is only that the LP must become adept at determining which compromises on the balance will move us towards more liberty and which will strip us of that liberty in the long term.

Moving troops to Afghanistan, as a conjectured example, may not be libertarian in and of itself, but it may be required to affect a persuasive argument to military commanders in the region, while getting troops out of Iraq (and moving most of them home) and moving us a step closer to putting forth an exit strategy for getting out of Afghanistan, and once again getting more of those soldiers home.

Or, again this is conjecturally speaking as I do not know the basis upon which the plan was created, perhaps the concept of "Foreign Aid" here balances how much cheaper it will be for America to have gotten those troops out of Iraq with assisting them in rebuilding their infrastructure. Instead of our troops doing it, Iraqi's would be doing it. In the long run the cost savings could be much greater than current estimates seem to suggest if we keep troops there to do much of the same thing (plus it would be American troop and American contractors paid for by the American government to American plans for rebuilding that infrastructure, instead of letting the Iraqi's do it.)

Of course both of those scenarios may be utter BS and completely unfounded (hence my desire to say that I simply cannot defend the details because I do not know how and with what information they were arrived at.) The point, however, is any plan should likely be weighed to see if we can determine, on the whole, if it will move us more towards libertarian goals, thereby maintaining our principles AND offering a politically viable solution to real world problems.

I won't say that's an easy task, but I think we have the intellectual abilities spread throughout the LP to certainly rise to the challenge.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous nameless said...

Sean, at this point I would like to voice my opposition to the APRC. Being the free thinker that I am, it sounds like the "thought police". I'm not saying it wouldn't be helpful (it may be, the exit strategy may have put our necks way out in the open), but in my humble opinion, the APRC may swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.

This exit strategy needs to be looked at as a growing pain. If we learn from it, we will get stronger. But please do not tie the chair's hands behind his back. If he is going to fight our fight for us, he must have use of both hands (and maybe even his teeth). He needs to be agile and responsive to be effective.

That said, I do NOT think he should have free reign, total power, and the ability to completely ignore the platform. Could the matter be handled with an LNC resolution effectively instructing the Chair to establish executive procedures for issuing such proposals and strategies to ensure the policies advance liberty without sacrificing principles? Maybe place some minor oversight in place for accountability? He may have to get creative with some strategies, but creativity is what we're seeking.

I understand the need to prevent loose cannons, but there is also the need to engage in politics at the highest possible levels. Why else are they inside the beltway? If he has to ask permission from a committee to put forth any policy, then he is effectively disarmed from any negotiating authority, and will not be taken seriously by those able to effect policy.

Let me give an example. Mr. Dixon was on the Alan Colmes show because of this exit strategy. What if a major democrat was listening and became interested in using the proposal to try to force Bush's hand and offers to make it a joint proposal with press conference and all the other shenanigans; but he wanted to make some changes. So he calls up Mr. Dixon and set's up a lunch. If Mr. Dixon has negotiating authority, he can hammer out the details, run through a few quick internal checks to ensure it is still worthy of a libertarian stamp, and they issue the call the next morning.

I know it's far fetched, but I'm not sure going through an APRC would enable such a quick response. This exit strategy may have exposed a flaw, but we cannot afford to take one step forward and two steps back. He may need to be VERY agile if we hope to have any effect or input on the Supreme Court nominee.

If the APRC is unavoidable (and I really hope it isn't), might I suggest a quick response procedure? I don't know how many members were on the previous board, but let's say there are 7 in any newly formed unit. A quick response procedure may only require the approval of 2 to enable a press release or resolution with susequent review by the entire board for final say. Even this, in my opinion, would be highly restrictive and undermining to the chair's ability to function, but it may assist in agility.

But please, I beg you, don't tie his hands. He is starting to inspire and draw exernal attention to the LP. Internally, there is almost as much buzz in the party as there was during the Badnarik campaign. Yes there are some arguments, but it's a healthy debate and it's making people want to be very active in the party, no matter how they felt about the actual exit strategy. Give him a chance to see if he can affect policy and increase my liberty.

I'll get off of my soapbox now. thank you, Sean, for this medium. I look forward to the next update.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Sean Haugh said...

Actually nameless, your concerns were addressed as the APRC was previously constituted. Time sensitive materials such as press releases, LP News and fundraising letters were only reviewed after the fact, and on the other items the committee had a short time limit to respond or their approval was presumed.

In the case of the ES itself, the paper was already passed around and vetted by others of the author's choosing, so I can't see how another concurrent review would slow anything down.

It is essential that APRC members and staff take a cooperative attitude with each other. The last incarnation of the committee was myself, Lee Wrights and Dave Dellinger of Georgia. We found that staff was initially apprehensive of us for the very reasons you suggest, but after a short time they welcomed and even solicited our input. They came to see the APRC as very helpful to them, to make their messages and materials even stronger. Remember, we have been hiring people lately because of their real world resumes instead of their Libertarian ones (thank God), so they cannot be expected to know the platform, our history and centuries of Libertarian theory inside out. The APRC then becomes like a panel of consulting experts that add to the final product.

While I agree a "purity police" is an ugly thing to contemplate, the fact remains that the LNC is ultimately responsible for the political content of what is coming from HQ. Their current policy of completely tuning out the membership has been a public relations disaster. Somebody has to hear the complaints of members when they invariably occur, and somebody has to take responsibility to correct matters if they get out of hand. The APRC allows the LNC to delegate the responsibility, and gives a middle avenue between just letting everything slide or firing people.

Finally, a semi-independent body such as the APRC has a much greater ability to end arguments. If they behave in a manner that commands respect, they can bring people on either side to a mutually acceptable view. When staff has APRC approval, it's a shield against extremist criticism, and when the APRC offers staff a correction, it can be done in a way that staff can accept it and use it without losing face.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous nameless said...

Sean,

very good points. While I still disagree with the need for the APRC, I do not have a viable alternative. So I must concede the debate.

One of my biggest concerns with the APRC is the perspective of those on the committee. If they are willing to be productive and considerate of the way that those outside of the party will view the documents (while still maintaining platform adherence) then I could see it working. But if they are obstructing and stubbornly uphold the use of purely "libertarian jargon", then it will only be an anchor to the party.

Most likely the truth will be somewhere in between.

Awareness of the target audience is key.

You had originally asked a few questions for this entry, so I'll take the time to try to answer as best I can.

"Does every policy suggestion made by the LP have to be perfectly in agreement with our platform?"

Unfortunately, I think with the tussel over the exit strategy has shown that the answer could possibly be yes. However, I think a main reason for the outrage is that some people felt that the strategy contradicted the platform. The strategy could have been more widely received internally if it were actually silent on some issues (but I don't know about externally). I think good strategies and proposals leave some room for negotiation and interpretation. These types of proposals are geared towards an external audience, so I don't think they must be perfectly in agreement with the platform, but they cannot directly contradict it and also advances liberty. A big question might be, "net liberty gained". In any event, the true test would be the implementation, which I'm not sure if any of our policies have had much success in getting implemented.

"Should such major policy pronouncements have the prior approval of the Chair and/or the LNC? Or is it OK for staff to do this work on their own?"

Definitely the chair, and possibly the LNC on a policy of the scope of the exit strategy. But it would depend on the time constraints. Endless philosophical debate achieves nothing politically. And I have found that the LP in general is VERY good at endless debates. I think the chair should have some latitude to make decisions when debate is inconclusive. It's been said here before and I think it's a good mantra, "a good plan now is better than the perfect plan too late".

"Does every document we issue have to give a holographic view of the party, that is, must it be something that fully explains the Libertarian view and allow the intelligent reader to see or at least easily deduce our principles from it?"

In my opinion, absolutely not. We are in the business of politics, not teaching philosophy. Again, there must be a keen eye to the target audience. The newspapers will not print long, philosophical position papers. They should be clear, concise, timely, and on point.

"Is it wise to engage DC policymakers on their terms, using their language? Or are we better off if we only address policy on our terms, insisting on our own language?"

In my opinion, we should take the fight onto their turf, using their language. One thing that I really disliked when I first came to find the LP (and still do to a great extent) was the massive quantities of jargon used by most LP members. 90% of the population has no idea what many of the terms mean and they therefore tune them out. The same will hold true to our policy position papers. By using our own terminology, we are merely "preaching to the choir".

Lose the LP jargon. It does not help our ideas attain greater dissemination and does nothing to advance our liberty. And more importantly, we lose nothing by dropping the jargon; one can certainly remain in-line with the platform without ever using jargon. In fact, we might even make great gains by expressing the ideas to the general public at an eighth grade reading level.

The general population should not have the idea that there is only one way to think in the LP. Free-thinkers are drawn to this party for the promise of liberty, not conformance. Give them a teaser, if they are truely interested, they will find their way to the LP. But in the meantime, we have to move policy. And LP jargon just gets in the way.

By the way, has anyone considered regularly putting out a "talking points" memo? It seems to work well for the other two parties.

12:28 AM  
Anonymous nameless said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:28 AM  
Blogger Sean Haugh said...

The removed post was a duplicate.

11:31 AM  

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