Friday, January 01, 2010

John Hospers Admits Libertarian Party Is Open to Corruption

In 1979, QED/Harper & Row Publishers released Robert J. Ringer's Restoring the American Dream. I read it in the early 1980s, and a passage stuck with me all these years; about the possibility of the LP becoming as corrupt as the Democrats and Republicans.

And really, why not? There's nothing magical or sacred about the LP. It's not a party of angels, or saints, or fictitious John Galts. It's a party of mere mortals, with all the usual human weaknesses and moral failings.

I've now looked up this passage for the first time after nearly 30 years. It's still there, as I remember it (on pp. 288-89 of Ringer's hardcover edition):

"The most disconcerting thing about the Libertarian Party is that it is a political party. While the party platform (a copy of which I strongly urge you to read) clearly spells out across-the-board freedom for everyone, much more so than even the Declaration of Independence, one cannot escape the Four Great Political Realities, particularly the fact that a politician must lie in order to get elected and, once elected, must commit aggression to make good on as many campaign promises as possible.

"If Libertarian Party leaders are serious about their total-freedom philosophy, the practical question is, how will they ever get a presidential candidate elected on a platform that does
not promise short-term, something-for-nothing solutions to expediency-minded voters? ...

"I once asked John Hospers, the Libertarian Party's first presidential candidate (1972), if the realities of The System would not eventually corrupt Libertarian office holders even if the Party did succeed in gaining the presidency. His answer was very straightforward and practical. He said that indeed that was a possibility, but that it might take fifty or a hundred years for the Party to become as corrupt as the Republicans and Democrats.

"In the meantime, not only would the people of this country enjoy fifty to a hundred years of drastically increased freedom and prosperity, but they would be buying considerable additional time in which to come up with alternatives to our present system before it collapses."

I think Hospers was overly optimistic. He suggested the LP might become as corrupt as the Demopublicans in about 50 to 100 years after attaining power. Yet the LP is already morally decaying even before attaining any power.

The LP is diluting its principles on antiwar, and other issues, for the mere possibility of, hopefully, maybe someday, attaining a smidgen of token power.

I've written before about the LP's craven sellout of principles in return for political crumbs.

Ironically, Hospers is himself an agent of corruption within the LP, endorsing Bush for President and supporting U.S. empire in general (albeit not his choice of words), and the Iraq War in particular. For instance, Hospers took the pro-war stance during a debate with Gary Nolan at the 2005 Libertarian Party of California state convention.

However, Hospers earlier wise words (from the 1970s) always stuck with me. The LP is just another party, like the Dems and GOP. Having an L before one's name is no more meaningful than having a D or an R.

Libertarian candidates and party officers brag that, unlike Republicans, they really stand by their small government principles. But how do we know this? How do voters know this? Libertarians have not much been tested.

The LP is already so full of opportunists (e.g., Wayne Allyn Root, whose "principles" and positions flip flop), I don't think the average Libertarian officer holder would be any more "principled" in practice than a Republican or a Democrat. Libertarians often talk a good game, but they've yet to prove themselves.

Of course, Ron Paul has proven himself to be a principled antiwar voice. But then, he has an R rather than an L before his name. (As if letters mattered.)


Eric Dondero said...

The Libertarian Party is "diluting its principles on AntiWar." Are you fucking smoking crack???!!!

Many of us Libertarian Party members left the Party PRECISELY! because it was taken over by a bunch of America-hating scumbag Leftists posing as "Libertarians."

We formed the Republican Liberty Caucus.

Thankfully, ex-LPers who are Pro-Defense have a place to go besides the largely Leftist-infested Libertarian Party.

Eric Dondero said...

Oh, btw, how ironic you're quoting Hospers, and seemingly praising him.

It was John Hospers, who was Honorary Chairman of Libertarians for Bush in 2004, who opted to Bush over Badnarik, PRECISELY! because he thought Bush would be more effective in the Fight against Islamo-Fascism, which he and others believe is the Libertarian cause celebre' of our Lifetimes.

Thomas said...

I praise Hospers's 1970s remark that the LP was open to being corrupted. He was prescient on that.

Ironically, in supporting the war, he's become the very corruption he warned against.

Anonymous said...
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LP Observer said...

The members appointed to the 2010 Convention Oversight Committee were: Michael Colley, Bob Sullentrup, Pat Dixon, Rachel Hawkridge and Stewart Flood.

The position of the Deform Caucus (Starr, Redpath, Sullentrup, Colley, Mattson, Sink-Burris, Flood, Karlan) is that when the LNC created the Convention Oversight Committee, and authorized Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised to fill in the gaps, that Committee was authorized to impose a registration fee.

RONR, V.10, Chapter 19, Page 593, discussing Credentials Committee responsibilities:

5) Registration – which normally includes these steps:

a) Submission, by the member intending to register, of evidence that he is entitled to do so;

b) Verification by the committee, or a subcommittee of it, that the member’s credentials are correct;

c) Recording of the member as officially registered, upon his paying the registration fee (which is sometimes sent in in advance) and signing the list of registrations; and

d) Issuing of the particular badge to which the member is entitled, the official program, and additional necessary information, such as time and place of individual section or committee meetings or workshops. "

It's unclear how many of the remaining LNC members (Jingozian, Dixon, Ruwart, Ryan, Hinkle, Lark, Fox, Hawkridge, Wrights) oppose that interpretation of the LNC's Bylaws and RONR, i.e., can the LNC grant authority that it does not presently have pursuant to its own Bylaws?

A separate question is whether the Convention Oversight Committee is authorized to impose a fee, or may only collect a fee that the LNC has imposed.

A game theory analysis of this development is that the Deform Caucus -- which effectively communicates amongst its members through back channels -- is attempting to discourage convention attendance by delegates not supportive of its agenda.

Delegates may also be discouraged from attending out of uncertainty of being credentialed, despite paying the registration fee (perhaps the Convention Oversight Committee and/or the Credentials Committee will deny credentials to those who don't adhere to a dress code, or decline to declare allegiance to the Deform Caucus agenda, or fail to provide proof of a campaign contribution to the Barr/Root campaign).

The Deform Caucus attempted to populate the Credentials Committee with such gatekeeping responsibilities in mind.

The Credentials Committee members are:
Jeff Dimit (SC)
Mark Bodenhausen (AL)
Scott Lieberman (CA)
Christiana Mayer (OR)
Emily Salvette (MI)
M Carling (CA)
Gary Johnson (TX)
Sean Concannon (FL)
Michael Johnston (OH)
Michael Houze

A low turnout at the 2010 LPNatCon by those who want to take back the LP would be unfortunate because it would enable Deform Caucus to continue its efforts to maintain the catatonic state of the Libertarian National Committee for another two years so the Republican Party can complete its co-opting of the "tea party" movement.