As a lifetime member of the Libertarian Party (I’m also a member of the Boston Tea Party and At-Large Rep. to the BTP National Committee), I took advantage of attending the LP Platform Committee meeting in Las Vegas (December 12-13, 2009). I’m sure some members of the LPPC will disagree with me on this, but my take on the meeting was a group of people making petty arguments over trivial wording. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that words have meanings, but I believe a simpler platform would be more appropriate.
Take for example the one sentence platform of the Boston Tea Party, “The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.”
The Platform Committee has approved 24 recommendations that will be presented at the 2010 National Convention and recently sent a survey to LP members asking for feedback on the proposals. Jennifer Lokken said, “that is something Republican and Democrats do at their conventions and that is worry about wording and other such non-sense. We really need to realize as libertarians that we don’t need to run ourselves and have our platform be just like GOP or the DNC.” Some of the proposals are “good”, but none stay true to the “Dallas Accord”, which many Libertarians no longer support.
LPedia explains, “The Dallas Accord was a compromise between moderates and radicals at the 1974 Libertarian National Convention.
The result was that the 1974 Libertarian Party Platform was not to state explicitly whether or not the state was recognized as legitimately existing. The intent of the compromise was to make the Libertarian Party a suitable home for both minarchists (i.e. libertarians who advocate a small but existing government, or what Robert Nozick would call the “night-watchman state”) and anarcho-capitalists (i.e. libertarians who believe the free market can effectively replace all government functions). In other words, the Libertarian Party was to serve as a “big tent” party wherein both radical and moderate libertarians could work together to further their shared goal of decreasing the size, cost, and scope of government.
Full adherence to this compromise lasted for decades, ending in Portland in 2006 with the inclusion of the following language: “Government exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property.” This alteration was mostly the result of the efforts of the Libertarian Reform Caucus, an organization which also cut the length of the platform down to one-eighth the length it was in 2004. “
Tom Knapp wrote on Rational Review, “The Dallas Accord seems to be lost in the fog of history. I don’t know the names of the principals who hammered it out, or in what official manner it might have been endorsed, but it came down to an agreement that anarchists and minarchists would set aside their fundamental disagreement over the legitimacy of government per se. While working for more freedom and less government, the Party would, in its official operations, make no comment on the ultimate question of whether government should be dispensed with entirely or kept alive, albeit as a shadow of its former self…
The Libertarian Party should become an open organization, not only representing, but welcoming, all people who want less government and more freedom.
That means doing away with the “membership certification,” a pledge with which I, as an anarchist, am comfortable, but which non-anarchists must be kept in the dark about or fudge on in order to become signatory to it: “Members of the Party shall be those persons who have certified in writing that they oppose the initiation of force to achieve political or social goals.” (Bylaws of the Libertarian Party, Article 7, Section 1)”
I plan on attending the 2010 LP National Convention and will propose replacing the entire platform with the following, “Libertarians believe that no one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being for any reason whatever; nor advocate the initiation of force, or delegate it to anyone else. And that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to individual liberty, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.”
I’m not going to pretend that I expect this proposal to pass, but I do believe that this short two sentence platform will stay true to the “Dallas Accord” and open the “doors” to the “big tent” that so many members of the “Reform Caucus” are wanting open.