Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Purpose of the LP

Susan Hogarth wrote:

BH) The LP's job should be to unite all the voters who seek both more personal liberty and more economic liberty behind the electoral choices that will most move public policy in a libertarian direction. (BH

SH) What about legislative choices? (SH

All legislative choices in a democracy are supposed to ultimately be driven by electoral choices.   The way to generalize "electoral choices" here is to look not at what choices are being made (e.g. by legislators or judges), but rather at what Party members can do to exercise their franchise.  In principle, a Party should focus on the exercises of franchise whose effectiveness is magnified when the franchisees act in concert rather than through competing organizations.  In practice, a Party should focus on the political activities that other types of organizations are hindered from doing.  Together, principle and practice point to a few core activities that Parties are best suited for, like:

  • putting candidates on the ballot -- even in races that the party can't win
  • getting voters to vote for or against a particular candidate -- even ones that can't win
  • organizing and disciplining elected officials to maximize their effectiveness for the party's cause
Some other political activites are not harmed by possible competititon among liberty-promoting organizations, but can't be done by all of them for legal reasons, such as:
  • endorsing and supporting candidates (regardless of party) and ballot measures
  • lobbying elected officials about particular legislative proposals
  • educating the public about particular legislative proposals
  • gathering signatures for ballot measures or otherwise supporting them
Still other political activities are positively aided by competition among liberty-promoting organizations, many of which are more optimized for such activities due to their exemption from legal restrictions on parties. Examples:
  • educating voters about the general merits of various legislative approaches and political principles
  • educating policy-makers about the above
  • educating journalists, students, academics, etc.
  • advocating that people build alternative institutions to government
  • actually building alternative institutions to government
This doesn't mean that a party should never engage in education.  Rather, it means that parties should specialize in the kinds of education that are best done by parties, along with the other activities above that are best done by parties.

SH) Working for particular pieces of legislation rather than helping elect folks who cannot subscribe to our platform allows us the flexibility to form coalitions without losing our integrity as an organization. (SH

I still don't see how, under your notion of "integrity", you or the LP haven't already lost it if neither of you subscribe to something vanishingly similar to the No 1st Force Pledge.  I'd love to hear you explain, for each element of the Pledge that you decline to endorse, why the LP would still have "integrity" despite declining to take that stand.  It seems to me that only something like this Pledge could defend you from the criticisms of anti-partyarch radicals who say you are giving tacit moral support to the force-initiating political process merely by not boycotting it.

You anarchists are always trying to put us minarchists on a slippery slope to nanny-statism (or worse), but when I try to point out the slippery slope from anarchism to anti-partyarchism, you radicals -- Hogarth, Gregory, Starchild, even Knapp -- clam up.  Once again, we LP members are left wishing the Radical Caucus would "educate" us about how Libertarian "principles" allow for any participation in the force-initiating political process in the first place.

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