Tag: Libertarian Convention

Chairman Candidates Go to War at LNC Debate

Paul Grindle | New Orleans

Last night, four candidates stood on the stage of the Libertarian National Convention to debate their candidacy for the contentious Libertarian Party chairman’s race. The two frontrunners, Chairman Nicholas Sarwark and Think Liberty co-founder Joshua Smith, mostly faced off against each other while former Johnson/Weld 2016 Ballot Access Director Chris Thrasher and Libertarian Socialist Caucus co-founder Matthew Kuehnel sniped at Sarwark and Smith throughout the duration of the debate.

Each candidate offered a similar overall vision of the party. With them as chairman, we’d fight among ourselves less and reach out to potential libertarians more. We’d fundraise more, run more and better candidates, draw in disaffected libertarian-leaning voters, and convince more people that they might be libertarians. The war of moderate vs radical would be irrelevant because the party would work with all libertarians. We would have bigger and bolder victories and become a political force to be reckoned with.

But when it came to the specifics of those platitudes, the devil was in the details. Mr. Smith, whose insurgent candidacy has energized the LP-reformist and right-wing portions of the libertarian movement, advocated for a more active and activist chair. While sidestepping the wedge issue of how to handle official Libertarian whipping boy Gov. William Weld, he took Mr. Sarwark to task for his controversial deciding vote to not pursue suspension of Vice Chairman Arvin Vohra for his anti-veteran, anti-teacher, and anti-age of consent messaging. He did not stop at mere criticism, as Mr. Thrasher did when he hammered Mr. Sarwark on the issue beforehand. Following Mr. Thrasher’s thrashing, Mr. Smith vocalized the frustration and distrust of the party’s leadership that propelled him from a barely known local activist to national libertarian hero to part of the movement: “Are you sorry?”

Mr. Sarwark broke from his characteristic stoic aesthetic several times in the debate, including at Mr. Smith’s request for his apology to the party. He also broke from his usual response of telling his critics to do the job better themselves. The two-term incumbent apologized for any actions he had taken which people felt were harmful to the party. Explaining that his skin in the game was to fight for a better future for his wife and kids, he promised only to do his best and suggested those who didn’t think his best was enough should vote for someone else.

Mr. Thrasher intended to be that someone else. Running as the anti-Sarwark moderate, he essentially ignored Mr. Smith and focused on appealing to the delegates with his experience as Ballot Access Director for Johnson/Weld and his attempt to court donors to the party. He cited his experience losing a large potential donor to the convention to the Satangate controversy and his disappointment in Mr. Sarwark’s critical questioning of those who felt the meme was out of line. But the image of himself as a party doer was hurt by his previous abandonment of the party, only to come back and run as chairman the day of the debate. Mr. Sarwark capitalized heavily on this in the candidate questioning. This isn’t the first time Mr. Thrasher has faced criticism for a change in allegiances. Mr. Thrasher had previously developed a bad reputation among some people associated with the John McAfee 2016 campaign. McAfee’s VP candidate Judd Weiss alleged in an interview that Mr. Thrasher sabotaged their campaign when he was their manager in support of Mr. Johnson’s campaign for the 2016 nomination, allegations vehemently denied by Mr. Thrasher.

Fundamentally, Mr. Sarwark and Mr. Smith presented mirror opposite views of what constitutes satisfactory success for the party. Mr. Sarwark promoted his record of growth in elected officials, fundraising, membership, and relevance as the best the party could do with the limited resources it has. He also mounted a vigorous public defense of Mr. Weld, arguing that he had not made the LP become Republican-lite but rather the LP had made him become more libertarian. He argued that Mr. Weld had stuck around after losing in 2016 while fundraising for and promoting candidates across the country, which is more than other 2016 LP candidates that have since packed up and left.

The same record Mr. Sarwark characterized as heartening progress was the very record that Mr. Smith explicitly ran against, arguing that we were doing better in 2000 and success should not judge ourselves by our relative improvements but the totality of our current status as a party. He argued for more fundraising and candidate support, citing the work he has put into campaigns such as Jeff Hewitt’s campaign for Riverside County Board of Supervisors. He argued for more coalition building, citing his inroads into the crypto community.

He also defended a controversial endorsement he received from Liberty Hangout, a Libertarian media organization, as evidence of his style of outreach being successful. According to Mr. Smith, their recent purge of alt-right contributors at the site was a result of his campaign. He unapologetically declared he’d rather push groups like them in a libertarian direction rather than ignoring them.

Surprisingly, the candidate who gained the most from the debate in absolute terms was “Chairman Meow,” Mr. Kuehnel. An avowed anarcho-communist who promotes Medicare-for-all as libertarian pragmatism and abolishing private property as libertarian radicalism, his campaign was by his own admission never intended to give him the role he was seeking. It instead sought to give his Libertarian Socialist Caucus and its sister caucus, the Audacious Caucus, more visibility and legitimacy within the party.

Starting at near-zero support, there was little possibility he could’ve had any less support than he started with. Therefore, any delegates who became more sympathetic to him would constitute a win in its own right. Though many delegates remained comprehensively unconvinced of his ideas, by withstanding a room full of vehement and constant boos while arguing that the bottom half of the political compass needed to band together to fight the state, he was able to get his message out to potentially susceptible delegates who would not have otherwise noticed his Facebook jihad for a left-right libertarian alliance.

His campaign was also intended to ruin Mr. Smith’s chance of winning the election. On that front, he has had far more success. His relentless campaign against Mr. Smith on almost every conceivable issue under the sun has hobbled the Mises Caucus’ candidate and it bled over into the debate. In his opening statement, Mr. Smith came out with an immediate acknowledgment that his struggles with child support and family are weighing on some delegates minds, as previously reported by various libertarian and third-party websites. Mr. Kuehnel’s attacks on Mr. Smith as a deadbeat dad and domestic abuser over his unpaid support and ex’s uncorroborated claims of abuse were potentially defamatory enough to bring about a lawsuit by Mr. Smith against him. But that lawsuit allowed Mr. Kuehnel to claim Mr. Smith was utilizing the state against him, a charge Mr. Smith not only accepted but doubled down on.

The defamation charges themselves are nested in a larger suit against the feline socialist. Mr. Kuehnel’s threats to leak an internal chat log from Think Liberty that contains aggressive and offensive rhetoric by Mr. Smith if he didn’t drop out of the chairman’s race provided the backdrop of a blackmail lawsuit against Mr. Kuehnel. Though the lawsuit was panned for its citation of potentially inapplicable federal statutes and Mr. Smith’s claim it came from his lawyer despite its document header claiming the suit was pro se, Mr. Smith claimed it was a rough draft of what will be his attempt to fight back against unjustified aggression and fraud against him.

The self-titled “Communist Cat” defended his attempt to pressure Mr. Smith out of the race in a dark admission that this is how the game is played.

“Welcome to politics,” he meowed.

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The Libertarian Party Doesn’t Want Ron Paul & Judge Napolitano To Speak At Convention

By Spencer Kellogg | UNITED STATES

71 Republic has received screenshots that show The Libertarian Party rejecting an opportunity to have both Ron Paul & Judge Andrew Napolitano speak at their national convention in July. Regardless of your libertarian leanings, there is no doubting that Ron Paul is the single most important living figure in the libertarian movement today and Judge Napolitano has been one of the leading advocates for libertarianism in the past decade through his show on Fox Business that was paramount in expanding the ideology and base of the Libertarian Party. Michael Heise, leader of the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus – http://lpmisescaucus.com (a break off organization dedicated to spreading the ideas of Austrian Economics), has been at the forefront of cryptocurrency and anti-war advocation in recent years and his outreach to bring Mr. Paul and Judge Napolitano to the convention seemed to prove fruitful at first. However, correspondence with Daniel Hayes, chair of the LP’s convention committee, shows that many in party leadership do not want Mr. Paul or Mr. Napolitano to have an opportunity to voice their concerns at this summer’s biannual meeting. Even more startling is Mr. Hayes suggestion that Glenn Beck be a featured speaker. In the following screenshots, Mr. Heise from the LPMC is in blue and Daniel Hayes of the LP committee convention is in grey:

In the screenshots, you can see almost six weeks of radio silence and stonewalling by Mr. Hayes before he finally returned correspondence with a link to an article by Ron Paul. In the article dated December 04, 2017 (Young Americans Want New Political Party), Mr. Paul was critical of the Libertarian Party by writing: “The Libertarian Party has failed to live up to what should have been its role as an ideological alternative to Washington’s one-party system. As was quite obvious in the 2016 presidential election, the Libertarians yielded to prevailing attitudes on war, welfare, the Federal Reserve, and more. In believing that winning was more important than standing for something, they ended up achieving neither.” As is often the case with the Libertarian Party, any criticism of their nationwide and local failures are met with combative discourse. Mr. Paul is right in his assertions that the Libertarian Party not only missed a phenomenal opportunity to grab our fractured political landscape by the horns but also that the party and its membership has trended away from the foundational principles that define us as libertarians. While Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency space, in general, has boomed in the later part of 2017, the LP has remained dreadfully quiet and missing in terms of their understanding of the space and their implementation in regards to using these assets to overhaul the mind numbingly corrupt Federal Reserve. On the issue of war, the Libertarian Party has also been surprisingly quiet as our nation continues its daily bombings of the Middle East while threatening the Korean peninsula with fire and fury. “Taxation is Theft” has been met with sneers and grins by many in leadership and too often we have watched as party leadership lowers itself to social justice discourse to try and pull leftists into the party.

What is all the more puzzling and terrifying is the fact that the leadership in the Libertarian Party seem dramatically out of touch with the people who have helped grow the movement. Without Ron Paul, libertarianism and the modern Libertarian Party wouldn’t even be on the national radar screen. His work to advance the cause of liberty in a positive and respectful manner signaled a breath of fresh air to many disenfranchised Republicans and Democrats who have since joined our movement and carry forward the message of limited governance. Mr. Paul’s 1988 Libertarian Presidential campaign remains perhaps the most principled representation of the ideology ever put forward on the national stage. The fact that the LP won’t let him speak should be evidence enough that they, by and large, do not count Big L libertarians as important to the movement and also appear to have no respect for the history of our party or those who have carved the path before them.

The dismissive tone toward Ron Paul and Judge Napolitano is not surprising to many active libertarians who have grown frustrated with the direction of the national Libertarian Party. In the past year alone, Austin Petersen, 2016 Presidential Nominee for the Libertarian Party and one of the brightest stars in our movement has left the ranks to represent the Republicans. We have also heard from Vice Presidential Candidate Judd Weiss, (John McAfee’s VP Pick On What Really Happened At The 2016 Convention), who suggested that party leadership was adamant about a Johnson/Weld ticket and did everything in their power to ensure it would happen. This smacks of the same hypocrisy and anti-freedom tactics used by the Democratic Party to smear Bernie Sanders in their bid to make sure Clinton was the nominee. For many, Johnson did great damage to the message with his soft sell of “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” libertarianism and his several slip-ups on national TV remain the defining moment for our party in 2016. Also, his Vice President pick, Bill Weld, hawked for Hillary Clinton in the days leading up to the election because he didn’t like Donald Trump. How very principled.

Libertarians are frustrated with poor electoral showings and rightfully embarrassed by our non-existent representation at state and national levels. We have been made into a joke by the media and by the majority of American voters who are yearning for new ideas but are continually let down by poor messaging and broken infrastructure from the Libertarian Party. Many of the diehard activists to come through the Libertarian Party in recent years have left the maligned party behind and moved on to opportunities that don’t include bowing before a committee that resemble statists more than free thinkers. To think that the Libertarian Party does not want Ron Paul to give a speech at their convention smacks of everything we have come to expect from the braindead leadership who grow more out of touch with their base by the day. A party that is supposed to stand on the ethics of free speech is not allowing their greatest advocate and needle mover to address a crowd of adoring support. Let that sink in for a second and then tell me if you can stomach the current LP. They think he doesn’t “know what the party is about.” Well I think they don’t know what the party is about.

We have one recourse and that is our vote. The only way we change this beleaguered and softened representation of our constitutional rights is to become state delegates and meet in July at the national convention to vote these slick talking, suit wearing, small L libertarians back into the dustbins they came from. We are at a pivotal moment in the Libertarian Party. It is obvious that the leadership is lining up Bill Weld for another ‘experienced’ run, this time at the presidency, and there is the very real possibility that we gain debate access in 2020. If Bill Weld is the first person to represent us on that stage, the dream of Rothbard, Konkin, Mises, Paul and Nakamoto dies. The time to take real measurable human action is now before it is too late!