If tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. -- James Madison
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Libertarian Party Dysfunction
Anyone who participates in the Libertarian Party for any length of time will observe a chronically dysfunctional organization. The various factions blame each other, but I think the dysfunction stems from a combination of (1) the nature of American third parties, (2) the libertarian ideology, and (3) the sort of people attracted to an ideologically libertarian third party.
A fuller explanation requires a book -- it's too complex to explain in a single post. Instead I'll just provide (yet another) eyewitness account of LP dysfunction.
Gail Lightfoot is one of the most respected Libertarians in California. She was one of the LPC's original founders, some forty years ago. She's long been one of the LPC's most successful perennial candidates (in terms of number of votes pulled). And she's long been regarded as a highly principled member of the "party of principle."
Yesterday Ms. Lightfoot resigned her position as editor of the Los Angeles County Libertarian Party's newsletter (which position she inherited from her husband, Richard Venable). Lightfoot apparently emailed everyone on her Libertarian list (myself included) explaining her reasons for resigning:
"I regret to inform you that I had made a decision not to continue to edit and publish the L.A. Libertarian in Richard Venable's place. This decision ... was based on the failure of the LPLAC members to provide copy in a timely manner, and often not at all, or to communicate with me as a member of LPLAC so that I might be more informed of the activities of LPLAC. Total silence on the issue of making changes to the publication makeup or schedule was simply the frosting on the cake....
"As an aside, I fail to understand why Libertarians are the least forthcoming, open, and honest, in their dealings with one another. It is a wonder any activist remains an activist after simply observing our behavior to one another.
"Anyone who sees our internal struggles would surely think we are not fit to govern at all. Back stabbing for control (as if every new idea or direction requires total control of the org.) and rudeness towards our contractors seems to be firmly imbedded in our culture.
"Perhaps it is time to change that culture as we face extinction and loss of ballot status in 2012."
Gail Lightfoot raises issues (LP rudeness, dishonesty, backstabbing, control freaks) that many others have observed over the years. Lightfoot herself has reported on the rudeness and dirty tricks she's observed at California LP conventions.
These are just a few examples of Libertarian Party dysfunction.
Small wonder that the Clintonesque Wayne Allyn Root finds support within the LP, even as the libertarian movement, and America as a whole, dismiss Root as a joke -- if they're even aware that he exists.
Small wonder that libertarians are looking outside the LP for principle, and are finding it in Ron Paul.