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A Rational Plan for Restoring Liberty

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The Libertarian Reform Caucus is a coalition of freedom lovers who want to have an effective libertarian party, one which is designed to win elections now in order to turn the tide from ever increasing statism to more liberty. The current Libertarian Party does not meet this standard. It's platform is far too radical to allow significant electoral victory in the U.S.; there are organizational matters that need to be fixed; and strategy needs to be improved.

It's Home Stretch Time!

We have two and a half months to LP Convention 2006! It's make or break time! Here are some things we need to do real soon!

  • Achieve a consensus. It's time to get voting!
  • Run more web ads and build up our membership numbers. The bigger we are, the more convention delegates will listen to us. This requires money.
  • Lobby the platform and bylaws committees. Many decisions will be made before convention time.
  • Plan our convention strategy. Members can discuss here.

What Else is New

(5/14) Part IV of "Political Totemism and the Dangers of Metaphors" by bestselling science fiction author David Brin is now up. Read it! This one is extremely important! It's long, but worth it. You might want to use the Printer Friendly link at the bottom of the page and then print this one out.

(5/3) We now have reports available on how the votes are going so far for platform and bylaws proposals, as well as how people rated the essays under Theory, Caucus, Party, and Strategy.

(5/1) Our magazine sized ad for the June issue of LP News has been purchased and submitted. It's a hoot! Check it out!

(4/30) For Members Only: there is now a discussion area for Caucus strategy. Comments there are visible only to logged in members.

(4/28) I also put the "Plank by Plank" list in a scrolled box to make it easier to find where you are at. A bit ugly, but handy. If ye want to go back to the old system, let me know.

(4/28) I added a "Bylaws" area to the top menu. I also rearranged the top menu so that more urgent subjects are closer to the left. (Party strategy can wait until after the convention. Platform and bylaws are more time critical.)

(4/23) We have a new look. What do you think? (4/27) And now I have finally replaced those old prev/next buttons I borrowed from (By the way, Xara rocks! Much better than Illustrator and a lot cheaper as well.)

(3/20) We can now accept donations online! Our online form is located here. We are using PayPal. You can either use your own PayPal account or simply use a credit card to donate and help us buy advertising.

(3/5) Have made significant ergonomic improvements. Log in and check out the new links in the upper left corner. more...

(2/19) Just created a new new trifold brochure for promoting the Caucus at LP state conventions and the like.

(2/18) We have our first celebrity contributor! Best selling science fiction author David Brin has contributed a four-part series entitled ”Political Totemism and the Danger of Metaphors.” Part one, Models, Maps and Visions of Tomorrow, is now up. (4/23) Part II and Part III are also up.

Membership currently stands at 574. Click here for more membership stats.

More people are linking to our site and search hits are bringing people in. Your webmaster is getting published in several places promoting the Caucus, including LP News, The Free Liberal, and the Free Market News Network. Details.

Recent Essays

Members are invited to submit essays on such subjects as how we should change the platform in general, better ways to organize the party, better strategies to get libertarians elected, and how the Caucus can bring these things about. Below is a list of the most recently posted essays.

2006-05-17 The Other Foe of Free Enterprise by David Brin. Part IV of Political Totemism and the Danger of Metaphors. Socialism is not the only enemy of individualism, freedom and open-market enterprise. There are older, more dangerous foes that are all-too-often ignored by libertarians. History shows that freedom-lovers need to watch all parts of the horizon, not only the one small zone we were taught to worry about. In doing so, we will also gain credibility that can translate into political success.

2006-05-17 Chasing Liberty: A Missing Component by Estelle Edwards. We could create more libertarians by teaching non-libertarians legal strategies to avoid government.

2006-05-09 Proposed 2006 Manifesto of the Libertarian Reform Caucus by Kristan Overstreet. This is a proposal for the message we, as a group, will send to the Libertarian Party and all its supporters. The time has come to make our proposals concrete, declare what we want changed this year, and call on other libertarians, small-l and big-L, for their support.

2006-05-04 Event: Libertarian Party National Convention by Carl Milsted. The LP National Convention is July 1-2 (officially), in Portland Oregon.

2006-05-04 Are LP Candidates Serious About Politics? by Lois Kaneshiki. The following essay was written by Lois Kaneshiki when she was Chair of the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania and At-Large member of the Libertarian National Committee. She had seriously ran in 1999 for county commissioner in Pennsylvania. It is re-posted here with permission. This essay questions whether LP candidates are serious about winning offices and the politics required to make change. It also asks whether the LP ia “political party” or just a philosophy club or think tank.

2006-04-25 It Takes Two to Compromise by Kristan Overstreet. Many people within the Libertarian Party claim that reformers and purists within the Party can work together towards electoral success. Unfortunately the purists and anarchists have no intention of working with us. Indeed, now that they know we reformers exist, they seek to drive us out of the Libertarian Party—by any means necessary.

2006-04-20 The Late Great Libertarian Bait and Switch by Carl Milsted. There are two definitions of the word "libertarian" out there. They are not consistent. One gets used to recruit and pump up our numbers. The other gets used internally. This constitutes a bait and switch.

Click here for a listing of essays that have recently been commented upon.

Recent Platform Proposals

Members are also invited to submit proposed changes in the Libertarian Party platform. Then, the entire caucus gets to debate and vote on these changes. We use approval voting in order to maximize consensus and avoid parliamentary wrangling. Here are the most recent proposals:

2006-05-17 Taxation Proposal 7. This is an LP tax platform plank that links taxes and services, eliminates (earned) income and property taxes, while maintaining other traditional sources of taxation. Modified from Thomas Knapp's proposal.

2006-05-04 The Membership Pledge Proposal 15. An LP Pledge based on the Declaration of Independence. Sometimes we don't improve much on the original, other than by updating the language.

2006-05-04 Colonialism Proposal 1. Adds Puerto Rico to the list of colonies mentioned and points out the responsibility of such terretories to govern themselves.

2006-05-04 Individual Sovereignty Proposal 1. Narrowing the purpose—There's plenty of language in the platform about individual rights. "Sovereign immunity" should be addressed in a very focused and legalistic manner, rather than (as in the existing plank) being overloaded with an excess of ideological verbiage.

2006-05-02 The Statement of Principles Proposal 7. while i think i like Proposal 4 best of all so far, but i wanted to offer a more incremental proposal that might have a better chance of passing on the floor at Portland. i borrowed this idea from the LPNC, which only modifies the first sentence.

2006-05-02 Government Secrecy Proposal 1. Government is the servant of the individuals who comprise this country. Classification is a privilege granted government solely for the purpose of protecting information which disclosure of would threaten the security of the country itself.

2006-04-25 Taxation Proposal 6. An LP tax platform plank should be simple (lower taxes), targeted (toward linking taxes and services) and open-ended (no need to argue over ultimately keeping a few taxes or eliminating them all).

Click here for a listing of platform proposals that have recently been commented upon.

A Rational Plan for Restoring Liberty

Restoring liberty in the near future is feasible. Given the constraints of the U.S. political system, the logical course of action follows:

Observation 1: The Democratic and Republican parties are loath to nominate libertarians.

Corollary 1: The cause of liberty requires a libertarian party to get libertarians on the ballot.

Observation 2: The United States elects its legislators using district-based elections.

Corollary 2: Winning office requires actually winning elections. Garnering 5-10% of the vote at-large wins nothing.

Conclusion: Fringe politics does not work in the United States. A political party must appeal to a plurality of voters (effectively, at least 40%) in some districts in order to win elections. Since districts vary, such a party could get away with appealing to less nationwide, but it must at least appeal to 20-30%.

In other words, for the Libertarian Party to be effective, it must appeal to the top 20-30% of freedom-lovers. Appealing to the tiny minority of freedom-lovers who want no government at all, or something very close to that, is a recipe for failure.

The platform and message of the Libertarian Party is extreme, sacrificing practicality and political appeal in favor of philosophical consistency with a single axiom. As such, the party currently appeals only to a tiny fraction of the voting public.

The Libertarian Reform Caucus is working to reform the Libertarian Party, to turn it into an effective tool for increasing liberty.

As a first step, we are working on an improved Libertarian platform, one that LP candidates can proudly quote and still win elections. To broaden the more...

Statement of Purpose

We, the members of the Libertarian Reform Caucus believe that America needs a real libertarian party, a party that promotes liberty while being conscious of political reality, a party designed to win elections and begin rolling back excess government now. In particular, the party needs:

  • A platform that proposes a realistic vision for the next few years, as opposed to an idealistic vision of a libertarian future. The public expects a party platform to show what a party's candidates intend to do during the next term of office. If the party wants a long term vision statement, it should be in a separate document labeled as such.
  • A platform that unites libertarians rather than dividing them. Where libertarians disagree, the platform should be silent. The party should be a tool for all libertarians.
  • A platform based on the realization that there are other important values in addition to the non-initiation of force. Freedom is extremely valuable, but it is not the only value.

Who We Are

Anyone who agrees with the above Statement of Purpose is invited to join us. This includes:

  • Libertarian Party members who have grown tired of losing.
  • Former Libertarian Party members who got tired and left -- but are considering returning if conditions improve.
  • Small-l libertarians who are considering joining the party if the party shows real interest in winning.
  • Small-l libertarians who are considering joining the party if the party backs off from some unacceptable positions.
  • Moderate libertarians who want to shrink government.
  • Radical libertarians who realize that to shrink government a lot, we must first shrink it a little.
  • Anarcho-capitalists who realize that to eliminate government, we must first shrink it.
  • more...

If any of these fit you, consider joining us. Please read about our plan of action and see if you would like to participate.

Join Us!

Membership is free. All you have to do is agree with our Statement of Purpose and provide a valid email address (which we will not give out. Members can:

  • Propose changes to the Libertarian Party Platform.
  • Submit essays in any of the categories you see on the site: party strategy, party organization, natural rights theory, selling liberty, and more.
  • Vote on changes to the platform.
  • Rate the essays (which will determine our future actions).
  • Comment on the platform proposals and essays.

In addition, members receive our (infrequent) newsletter which provides notification of site updates, upcoming events, and new proposals/essays.

Click here to sign up now!

What's Classic

For those of you new to this site, here are a few webmaster's picks from the older essays, based on mainly on current popularity ratings.

What is a Political Platform? by Carl Milsted.

Incremental Freedom by S. Michael Moore

Is it Time for the LP to Take a Moderate, Populist Approach? by Robert Capozzi

Moderate or Radical? It's Time for New Libertarian Tactics by Bill Woolsey

What it Takes to Win by Carl Milsted

A Two-Pronged Strategy for the Libertarian Party by Bill Woolsey

There's More to do Than Changing the Platform by Myron Pauli

A Realistic Vision of Victory by Carl Milsted

Harnessing the Power of the Internet by Stephen Bach

A Pledge for Officers and Candidates by Timothy West

This list is not complete!

Since 2/8/2006 .