Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Split The LP?

 
Tom, it sounds like you think you just proved that the most effective way to work for less government is to work for no government.  If so, then stating your conclusion pretty much refutes your proof.
 
Regarding "bias" in Alicia's first survey, that urban legend is debunked at http://knowinghumans.net/2008/02/platform-survey-rebukes-silence-and.html.  Her second survey is nothing more than the text of the Platform Committee's report, so it would be odd to claim she tried to "bias" it.
 
I agree with you that shockingly few of our nomination-seekers exhibit much grasp of how they're perceived by the people who they're asking to nominate them.  Phillies and Kubby are the primary exceptions, and I expect Ruwart will prove to be such as well. Root at least shows signs of trying to acquire such a perception and then trying to respond appropriately. I worry that the fault isn't entirely with our candidates, and that maybe our party culture has failed to send the right signals.  It of course has not been the amputation of the Platform that has brought all these candidates out of the woodwork, but I'm surprised that platform revanchists have not yet desperately tried to connect these two widely-separated dots.
 
I also agree with you that there will be no mass quitting by reformers the platform revanchists "win" -- which would be quite a trick, since they're now on record as opposing about 50% of the 2004 Platform.  There's zero prospect of mass reformer quitting over any particular candidate being nominated.  LP Platform and POTUS politics are quite decoupled, thank gods.  More worrisome than a 1983-style exodus/purge is the continuation of the burnout cycle that both reformers and radicals seem to agree operates among LP activists.  I tell reformista quitters to their face that they're just as bad as any radical if they cannot suck it up and practice internal incrementalism in their efforts to get the LP to practice external incrementalism.  People on both sides need to let go of this idea that LP activism is primarily for indulging in more-libertarian-than-thou or more-realistic-than-thou moral exhibitionism.  Despite all the talk among Libertarians about America's slide toward "fascism", things must be pretty damn good in this country if all the armchair freedom-fighters on both sides feel they can afford the luxury of refusing to practice ideological and strategic ecumenism, respectively.
 
Michael, the problem isn't entirely the length of the old Platform.  The problem is the insistence by one kind of libertarian that the Platform be used to certify the moral superiority they claim to feel over the other major kinds of libertarian.  If there really aren't more than a business card's worth of libertarian principles that most kinds of libertarians can agree on, then our cause is already lost.  "Liberty now!" is as vacuous as the Reform Party's "reform now!"  It's only NOT vacuous to the extent that we can write down what we mean by "liberty".  That we can write 2500 words -- or even 18,000 words -- on that topic doesn't mean we're swearing to recite every one of them any time we pitch the idea of liberty to a prospect.  I agree that the highest priority for the Platform is to make it not be an obstacle to the Party's efforts to move public policy in a libertarian direction.  A vacuous business-card-sized Platform would be as much an obstacle as would a platform customized to any one faction's ideological wet dream (as our Rothbardian platform has been).  (My ideological wet dream is http://ecolibertarian.org/manifesto, but you don't see me trying to force it on the entire party.)
 
Sherlock, Communist success outside America isn't really relevant, except perhaps to those who would advise our radicals to set up shop in some nonarchist paradise like Somalia.  The Socialist platform that Milton Friedman famously said has been enacted was that of 1928. I suppose an LP reformer could argue that having a separate Communist party in America is what left the Socialist party free to adopt its relatively moderate 1928 platform and then outpoll the Communists 8:1 in 1932 to win 2.2% of the vote and pressure the incumbents to enact that platform. I don't know the history well enough to make that claim.  But I would only support splitting the LP if one faction had the intellectual integrity to call itself the Anarchist Party (or Nonarchist Party or Zero State Party or whatever).  That would technically satisfy my requirement that there not be multiple parties "inside" the libertarian Nolan quadrant, since the Nonarchist Party would be safely out of the way, occupying an infinitesimal point on the Nolan plane -- and busy defending itself from the voluntaryists criticizing it for not jumping off the edge with them.  But if there were multiple parties calling themselves "libertarian" and both trying to attract votes from non-nonarchist libertarians, that would be utterly self-defeating.

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