Sunday, May 28, 2006

A new direction for the LP?

In my recent phase of quiet contemplation, one notion I've latched on to is that we have to be bold to have any chance to succeed. The conservative approach, just trying to maintain what few resources we have right now, that's the path to oblivion, sooner rather than later.

My friend and publisher George Phillies keeps asking me if the LNC shows any concern over their limited fundraising of the last few years, and all I can say is "no, not really." To their credit annual funding has been stable between $1-2 million for the last three years. Times have been tight but no disaster looms either. But that's just not good enough. Grow or die is the law of nature.

Looking back several years now on leaders like Perry Willis, Steve Dasbach and Ron Crickenberger, the criticisms of each remain but you know, they did stuff. They were bold. They had visions and they weren't afraid to shoot for the moon in their pursuit of their goals. And the party not only grew by leaps and bounds through their efforts, we are still reaping benefits from their leadership even today. Their positive examples still resonate through our party's culture.

Things seem to go in cycles with us and maybe we are on the verge of reviving that spirit. We got a bit of a false start with Joe Seehsuen. Joe got it when he said the measure of political power in DC is actually moving public policy, and it was a real shame that he left out of frustration with a micromanaging and timid LNC. But as with those who came before him, I'll bet even his critics still wish we could keep the good stuff he did for us going.

I've always been a fan of Shane Cory. He's more practically minded and thus less spectacular than Seehusen, but a capable adminstrator who can carry out the vision of a Libertarian Party as a player in DC politics. He's a teambuilder and an organizer who is quietly putting the pieces together for our future success.

And now comes the news of Stephen Gordon being hired as our new Communications Director. I have long been a *huge* fan of Steve precisely because he dreams big and then busts his butt to make them real. If you want the LP to start taking a stand for everybody to see, Gordon is your man.

This is an extremely exciting development for the LP. Not only do I expect Gordon to be wildly successful, it speaks well of the party that they want to hire him. I am assuming that the main people with decision making influence here were Cory, Michael Dixon and Michael Colley, although there may be others involved. This move shows us that the party as a whole is ready to be bold again.

Next I would love to see the hiring of a Political Director who has a similar vision and record of action. If you give some money to the LP now that just might bring us closer to that next step.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Are you ready for the Arockalypse?

The greatest thing ever has finally happened. Finnish glam metal band Lordi has won Eurovision the highest score ever recorded in that contest. Eurovision is the annual contest previously famous for foisting Abba and Celine Dion on an unsuspecting world.

There has been nothing like this on the music scene since GWAR. They simply have to be seen to be believed. Check 'em out on YouTube.

All I can say is you better be prepared for the Day of Rockening, because it is already here.

p.s. I accidentally posted this on the wrong blog, but I think I'll leave it. Everybody must come to understand the power and might that is Lordi.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The new proposed LP Program

It has been an honor to work with Bruce Dovner of the California LP on a new Program. Regular readers may recall that I was named two meetings ago to the Program Committee, along with Bruce and regional rep Dena Bruedigam. This was a bit of a surprise to me considering I was on record calling for the elimination of the Program. But I figured, if I'm going to ask for that change in the Bylaws in Portland, at least the delegates should see what a Program could be so they could make a more informed decision.

The truth is that Bruce did all the work. My job is simply to bless his product, and I do so without reservation. The final draft has been submitted to the LNC for approval. You can view it in Rich text format(rtf) or as an MS Word file(doc). If you like it (or not) contact your LNC members and let them know. The goal is to have it approved in time for distribution to the delegates in Portland.

My conception of the Program is that it should offer some level of detail about what Libertarians could do immediately if elected to Congress. This presupposes that we would have to form coalitions and work with Democrats and Republicans to get its provisions passed into law. The focus then is heavy on transitional measures, with little to no posturing about the end goals which belong in the Platform.

I have always said that I would enthusiastically support any measure which moves us towards Liberty, no matter how great or small a step. There are some items in Bruce's proposal with which I could quibble, but would still support because I do not wish to make the perfect the enemy of the good. And Bruce's work is very good indeed.

Thank you Bruce for this offering. I am hoping the LNC approves this Program without amendment quickly.

Who is running for LNC?

With about a month to go to the convention, the list of announced candidates for the national committee is pretty light. I know of four candidates for Chair. Michael Dixon is running for reelection, being challenged by Ernest Hancock, George Phillies and Bill Redpath. There's a rumor that M Carling is running for Vice Chair. Treasurer Mark Nelson told me at the last LNC meeting that he will stand for another term to see through the issues regarding our relationship with the FEC. And yesterday I received an email from Michael Colley that while he cannot attend the convention he would consent to being reelected to his at large seat.

Who else is running? Will we only find out at the convention? If you are running or know of anyone else who is, please leave a comment or drop me a line. Thanks!

Friday, May 12, 2006

The new LP Life of Sean

I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been keeping busy with other things. After leaving my position as Executive Director of the LPNC, I’ve been examining and sorting through my life. Sorting is good – you figure out what is truly valuable.

But I ain’t been doing nothing. It’s funny, since my “retirement” in some ways I’ve been even busier with Libertarian stuff than usual. The difference is I’ve only been doing the things I want to do.

Since mid-April, I have:

* appeared on a panel for Leadership Durham, a local politician school,

* participated in Springfest at East Chapel Hill HS, speaking with three classes full of students,

* appeared twice on Matt Mittan’s show on WWNC in Asheville,

* spoken at the Georgia LP state convention,

* spoken at a luncheon following the NC Green Party’s convention,

* attended the hearing of the state’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit,

* lobbied state senators about our ballot access bill now that the short session has begun,

* attended the LPNC convention, where I mostly played nice and was elected to the LPNC Judicial Committee,

* taken on the role of Treasurer for two campaigns, Phillies 2008 and Mike Munger for NC Governor (both sites still works in progress),

* continued my work on the national LP Bylaws and Program Committees (although to be honest Bruce Dovner is doing all of the work on the latter),

* and kept up with the weekly meetings of the Durham County LP, including being reelected as Chair.

The common thread in most of these items is that they are about getting out of the house, away from the computer and spreading the good word to others. As I mentioned in my “retirement” section of my last LNC Meeting Report, I feel I have spent way too much time on internal party workings and it has been getting me down. Nothing like taking the show on the road. Whether it’s high school students, our Green allies or anybody else, I’ve been having lots more fun and success lately talking to folks outside the LPNC in ways other than email.

Does this mean I'll be posting more regularly again? No promises. I may be having too much fun.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sean on the radio today

I just got a call from Matt Mittan up in Asheville who wants an interview by phone today about our ballot access lawsuit. Should be on somewhere in the middle of his 3-6pm show on WWNC. You can listen to the stream here.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Victory in Court!

Dear friends in Liberty,

On Friday we won an important victory in the lawsuit brought by the Libertarian Party of NC against our state’s extreme ballot access barriers. Judge Orlando Hudson has signed the order denying the state’s motion to dismiss our lawsuit. This is excellent news!

Now we move on to the real heart of our case. All of the preliminary motions are out of the way and we can have our case heard in NC Superior Court.

This means the state will have to explain to the judge precisely why they have set the ballot access barriers so high in North Carolina. It also means we get the opportunity to present all of our evidence in court and put the arguments of both sides into the official judicial record.

Our attorney, Michael Crowell, has briefed us on the next step. We will need to discuss with the NC Attorney General’s office how much is needed in the way of discovery and set a schedule of future hearings. Our goal is to get a Superior Court ruling in time for the elections coming up this November. Fortunately, the good will we have developed over the years with the State Board of Elections and the Attorney General’s office is now paying off, and they are fairly cooperative in setting these schedules to meet our needs.

Although the victory is procedural, its importance cannot be underestimated. According to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, no one has won a ruling below the state Supreme Court level in any similar ballot access lawsuit since 1982. Today’s victory means we get to argue our case on our terms and gives us the momentum going to the next level.

But our lawsuit is unlike any similar suit that has been brought before. Our challenge to the state is not just that their ballot access restrictions are unfair. We are alleging that these restrictions are part of an entire scheme of election law which favors Democrats and Republicans over anyone who does not want to be part of those two parties. Many have fought against ballot access laws before and lost, but we are the first to try to show that these oppressive laws are part of a broader scheme to prevent the equal participation of all voters in our elections.

This strategy has allowed the NC Green Party to join our lawsuit, and leaves the doors open for other parties, independent voters and even non-voters to join with us. The Greens have jumped in with both feet. They have enlisted the support of the ACLU to represent them.

ACLU involvement is our lawsuit is a huge asset for us. The Greens’ lawyer, Hoppy Elliott, works very well with Mr. Crowell and together they made a very powerful and effective presentation for us at last week’s hearing.

Although the ACLU works for free, our lawyer does not. Right now he is owed over $5,500, and the next phase of trial will be the most expensive. He is giving us a discounted rate and happily working away even while we are behind on the bill. We made the decision to hire the most experienced election law attorney in the state and he is doing an excellent job of representing our interests.

Please take a moment right now to go to the website of Freedom Ballot Access to make your best possible donation. We take credit cards and PayPal at the site, and also provide you with an address if you’d prefer to mail a check.

Why Freedom Ballot Access? It is organized as a federal “527” organization, which frees us from all of the limits placed on other political groups in their fundraising. You can give an unlimited amount and your donation does not have to be publicly reported. While we are engaged in many ballot access struggles on a nonpartisan basis, all donations from North Carolina will go towards paying for this lawsuit. Our nonpartisan status also allows us to solicit donations from anyone, not only Libertarians, and protects your donations from any other political concerns.

If you have any questions about the lawsuit or Freedom Ballot Access, feel free to reply to this message or call me at 919-286-0152.

Today we have won an important victory! Now we need to take it to the next level. Please make your best possible donation now at to help ensure that all future elections in NC shall truly be free. Thank you.

yours in liberty –
Sean Haugh
Treasurer, Freedom Ballot Access