Sunday, February 05, 2006

LSLA Conference Report part 2

Again thanks to Special Correspondent George Phillies:

The Sunday event was focused on national-state relations. I was the only person there from Massachusetts (indeed, the only other New Englanders were Hardy Machia and Bonnie Scott of Vermont) so I stayed to listen.

The opening theme from the LNC was that there are presently no state-national agreements. We were reminded from the podium that 'in 2000 a state affiliate refused to put our Presidential candidate on the ballot' suggesting the need for an affiliate agreement.

Now, some people do believe that at some point one should stop bringing up history of people no longer active in the party. However, when that history is being used to guide current policy, it is of current significance. Basing policy on wrong history is not a good idea. Those of you who want the read the full details may consult my book Funding Liberty.

To make a long story short the official version of history as presented from the podium was exactly backward. In 2000, the LNC's Arizona affiliate was happy to put our candidate on the ballot. However, in 2000 our affiliate had no ballot access. There was a Libertarian group in Arizona with ballot access. They had previously been our affiliate, but the LNC had revoked their affiliation. The National Convention seated the delegates of our affiliate. The people with ballot access did send delegates to NatCon, but the Convention refused to seat them as the Arizona delegation.

The people in Arizona who did not run Harry Browne for President were not our affiliate, and claims to the contrary are untrue. You could read details in the LNC minutes on the LNC web site, but that web site has stopped carrying the old LNC minutes.

Procedure was debated. A brainstorming session was held listing things that might be desired in an agreement. Committees were formed to discuss the agreement in general, and the database issues in particular.

The LSLA elected officers for next year. Jeremy Keil was re-elected as secretary. Aaron Starr was nominated for chair. He managed to persuade Pat Dixon, the LPTX chair, to run for re-election. Dixon was re-elected by acclamation.

Several people referred to our 51 affiliates. I suggested that several affiliates did not appear to be there, based on the experiences of the Russo and later Badnarik campaign.

I had a prolonged discussion with several LNC members about membership numbers for the past two years, showing constant numbers from 12/03 to 12/04, and a 30% fall in 2005. They opined that the 12/2004 number was incorrect, and that the real number for 12/2004 was well under the 22,000 I quoted from the party web pages. I asked if it was not the case that the 12/2004 number that they questioned had been used to calculate some salary bonuses. They did not deny that I was correct.

I had a fairly long conversation with a Badnarik staffer who questioned my article in Liberty for All questioning Badnarik's claim to be an orthodox libertarian. Discussion focused almost entirely on the question of whether or not there is a legal requirement to have a driver's license to drive a car, the other side maintaining that there were good reasons to believe that such a requirement does not exist. I maintained that this belief is silly, and does not have anything to do with being a libertarian. My other criticisms of Badnarik were not discussed at length.

I call all readers attentions to the potentially worthwhile Local Membership Program proposal on the dues question, namely that states would identify members and forward them to national, paying national $10 per year for every member. State representation at NatCon would be determined by the average membership over the past two years. This proposal comes from the LP of Nevada and its thoughtful chair Brendan Trainor. You would all find it worthwhile to examine closely.

I was initially put off by two aspects of their flier, but one of these is an infelicity of phrase, and the other they agree is a side issue. The poor phrasing is that they initially represented the possible NatCon dispute as lying between the "Zero Dues" faction and the "UMP" faction. They then quote reasons to reject UMP and reasons to reject Zero Dues. In fact, I heard no support whatsoever for the UMP dues-sharing program at the State Chairs convention. I found reasons for opposing UMP 'topdown' 'unlibertarian on its face' to be very similar to those raised when UMP was created most of a decade ago.

"Dues" and "UMP" are entirely independent questions. You can have or reject either without having the other. The real dispute is between the Dues and No Dues factions, and LMP really speaks to the Dues/No Dues dispute. After some discussion, I think I got their key supporters to see why I was proposing this point, though it is hard for some people to envision a UMP program if there are no national dues.

The side issue that they raised is the notion that in states with voter registration by party, you must Register Libertarian to be counted as a member. I gather they received considerable negative reaction to this minor aspect of their proposal. The side issue that they did not raise is that the states actually cannot give the money to LNC, Inc for FEC reasons. This is not an important question——the money could also be given to a body allowed to receive it and doing libertarian educational efforts.

It was a good meeting. I'm sorry that Sean Haugh was unable to attend to give you a better and more detailed report.


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