Friday, April 15, 2016

Southern Vice Chair's Report 2016

Dear Friends and Guests:

Thank you all for coming to our little convention in Los Angeles. Many from very far away. From all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It’s been a long trip for some of you. So on behalf of us locals: thanks for coming.

It’s a pretty strange election year, huh? It’s beginning to feel normal for Republicans to parade ten people around through countless debates, with each of the ten vowing to bomb and torture more brown people than the rest. I guess it’s also normal for a strange and unappealing nominee to emerge from that circus. But it’s even stranger when the winner of that process turns out to be someone appearing to be a Democratic mole, who takes the party by storm quoting Mussolini! (Very strange.) Let me tell you another thing that’s strange: A dark horse Democratic Party candidate who appears pretty good on a lot of liberty issues winning against an old money progressive; and doing it in big states.

It is the world turned upside down.  I wouldn’t vote for either of those guys and I am certainly not trying to endorse them, but one thing is clear: The American people are on the verge of a total political realignment. 2016 is the best chance we’ve had in a long time, maybe the first chance ever, for us cap ‘L’’ Libertarians to play a meaningful hand in the duopolistic ritual that is the U.S. Presidential Election. A lot of people are going to be disgusted with the usual choices this year.
Meanwhile - have you been seeing and hearing our Libertarian presidential contenders this year? Did you see the Stossel debate last night? Are you feeling better about the LP than you have in a long, long time? I sure am. I mean, I am feeling really good about 2016. LP, get ready! Get ready to get noticed and get ready to get grown! And I mean now!

With that, I have some great things to report:

2015 was a good year for Libertarians in Southern California. We had our share of high points: We have activated a new affiliate in Kern County, led by Jonathan Hall. Thank you Jonathan.
We also have had a revitalization of our Riverside County affiliate by Jeff Hewitt bringing in a lot of fresh blood. Great job Jeff, we are lucky to have you on the team. Gene Berkman a stalwart for our cause in Riverside for many years is still energetically involved, and will continue to be instrumental there. 
Our region has produced not one, but two Libertarians running for senate: Gail Lightfoot in San Luis Obispo County, and Mark Herd, an activist newly recruited by our Los Angeles County affiliate, who is doing just a tremendous amount of work and shaking up West LA.

LPOC has been revitalized by Brian Kelly and his team. It’s great to see some organization and energy in the OC again.
And San Bernardino County never let hard times get them down. They just keep going, man. A lot of champions for freedom out there.

We did have a sad set back: We lost a strong asset and a great ally with the passing of Mike Benoit, Chair of San Diego County. He left us suddenly, and too early.

San Diego is carrying on. Our Southernmost county elected a new slate of officers at its convention early this year. It remains one of the largest and most active affiliates in California and is strong despite its recent tragedy.

Speaking of moving forward, have you seen Ventura County’s website? Really beautiful and compelling. Classic yet fresh. They are setting a great example for how to put a strong face on our organization.

For a really new approach, ya gotta check out LA County’s website at A team of young Libertarian volunteers designed it, they built it, and they are fine-tuning it to appeal to our future members, people like them. LA has a lot of potential Libertarians who are focused on social justice issues normally owned by the so-called “left.” Our guys are daring to reach out for new members from those who thought the LP had failed them. And you know what? I’m already starting to see evidence that the strategy is working.

To bolster the move, the team is calling for articles that demonstrate Libertarian solutions for tough subjects like “social justice”, “the environment” and “mutual aid” to help people in LA, who sadly have been indoctrinated to only consider progressive-authoritarian solutions, to escape their prisons of thought. 

This is a new direction for outreach, folks; an ambitious jujitsu move. It will be interesting to track our success. There is information on this effort in the hospitality suite upstairs. Check it out! In hand-to-hand combat, libertarian jujitsu - the art of redirecting your opponent's energy towards your own self-defense - provides a tremendous advantage. We are going to learn a lot from the exercise, win some new members, and make some new allies.

LA County is beginning to thrive with six active regions. We are working hard to activate more. In addition we are strengthened by a number of Libertarian clubs and associations. Alive Free Happy, which is active in a number of California Counties, is especially strong in Los Angeles and has brought in a healthy number of new and young Libertarians. The new Venice Beach Libertarian Club is making quite a splash engaging local governments on the West side of the city.
We are also joined by the Society of Libertarian Entrepreneurs, Liberty on the Rocks, the Reason Foundation,, YAL, SFL, Libertarian Law Council, Restore the 4th, Oathkeepers (to name just a few) who we will count as allies and with whose members we will engage in activism. And we cannot forget the Nevada LP, Brett Pojunis and Nancy Neale of Texas, who have been so generous with their time and talents to make this event and others a success.

We will build coalitions and foster cooperation with our allies.

Alive Free Happy. Have you heard of them? They’re the folks in the black T-shirts that read “Alive Free Happy.” Homegrown right here in Southern California. They put boots on the ground, man. And they train. And they work really hard. And they create opportunities for young people (and not-so-young). And they recruit. And they have fun doing it. If you’d like to know more, talk to some of the young people with us today (the ones in those shirts) and learn about what they do. It is a model worth understanding.

I am so proud to say not only about Alive Free Happy but also a lot of others here today: they approach politics as an exercise in welcoming. Every sincere and willing person is welcomed to participate in the fun. And by that participation our future learns the principles of liberty, starting with non-aggression. They show people how to engage the world actively with our principles, never getting discouraged because they count every success as a win.

So I want to finish on that note: Success through Non-aggression. Each of us has certified that we oppose the initiation of force as a means of achieving political and social goals. The art of non-aggression in politics and society can be practiced in a much thicker way. We have members who do that, they practice the art of what I like to call “Anti-Machiavellian Politics”.

What I mean by Anti-Machiavellian politics is this: gaining political influence without using aggressive tactics. Yes - renouncing physical force, the threat of force, and fraud, for sure. But also renouncing the use of fear as a political tool.

Let’s face it, fear is one of the very most effective ways to manipulate people, and often goes hand in hand with lies. Politicians use fear and deceit all the time. So do sales people, and lawyers, and on and on. We are barraged with messages of fear everyday.

It’s surely a challenge to reject fear as a political tool. Compared to the “bad guys” it is a bit like trying to tackle Mammoth Mountain on only one ski and with no poles.

But as snowboarders know, tearing down a slope on one board is completely doable. Maybe even more freeing and exciting that way.

We have to do politics differently than the other guys. We have to tackle the mountain on a differently shaped board but in doing so we are more agile, we are faster, we fly higher, and we have a lot more fun.

When we renounce leveraging fear and work to build a society of self actualized friends in Liberty, amazing things start to happen. People deeply need to belong to a strong and free community. They need to see self-governed societies in action, so that they can let go of the false sanctuaries promised by the Nanny State.
When we provide that at the local level; when we insist on creating a free and welcoming community for ourselves: momentum grows, and the ingenuity of free and fearless people emerges to resolve social issues without force. As Libertarians we promote a healthy and happy society of equals, with mutual aid a-plenty, and we do it without threats or lies. When we do that, we are doing the best kind of politics: the politics of non-aggression. And it works!
All of the wins we have had here in the South, the activity that is growing across the state, and the national presence we are mounting (I mean look at the slate of presidential contenders we have this cycle) gives me great hope. We are spreading the principles of non-aggression.

And who can criticize our goals? We want a society that just works better, with greater liberty and justice for all, where social problems are solved by free speech, free action, and free people, in which the whole participates voluntarily. So let us be bold. Let us insist on our goals! And you know what? Just by trying, we are already winning. And our message of Liberty - it will prevail!

In closing, I have been privileged to witness great wins in the last year, I am humbled by the wins I see going on right now in all of the amazing people in this room, and I am excited for the future. Our movement is growing, it is thriving, with truth and justice firmly on our side... with hard work and determination in our hearts... we are destined to WIN.

...And we are going to have a great time doing it!

* * *
Thanks to Frank Chau for assistance with images, 
and Matt Barnes for editorial insights. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Promises and Proposals Regarding The Requested Revision to The Bylaws

Yesterday evening the Executive Committee (Ex Com) of the LPC, asked the Bylaws Committee (BC) to prepare a revision of the Bylaws for consideration by the Central Committee (a.k.a. dues-paying members) at the next convention.  The Ex Com further asked the BC to conduct the development of draft revisions openly and to allow for participation by any interested members.

Just so it is clear to everybody, "revision" means a total rewriting of the Bylaws.

I would like to write a fuller report of my impressions from the 2016 LPC convention when I have a chance.  Tonight, I will just express my promises, thoughts and hopes regarding the responsibility handed to us, including how we might respond to the Ex Com request.

Besides myself, the other four  Bylaws Committee members elected are Kevin Duewel, Bill Lopez, Starchild, and Aaron Starr.  I requested the role of BC Chair and no objection was made.  I will continue as Chair for no longer than the BC allows me to.  To those who were nominated but not elected: I wish the limit of 5 members in the present Bylaws had not operated to exclude you from voting on proposed drafts.    

To all my fellow members, elected to a committee or not, who wish to follow or participate in the work of the BC: I promise to include you to the fullest extent possible that does not unfairly impede our work.  I sincerely want your thoughtful and civil input, even if it is to oppose the revision generally or any of its particulars.  I promise to consider and respond to any reasonable comments or suggestions.

Transparency requires a full disclosure of motive.  Every member of the BC and any member who would like to participate in drafting of the revision (or in stopping preparation of any draft revision) should do at least this one thing: to announce their intentions honestly, as they become aware of them.  We cannot deal with each other dishonestly and expect any mutual benefit from our association and efforts.  The degree to which trust and mutual respect is magnified by our process of cooperation in responding to the Ex Com's request is far more important than any Bylaw Report we can ever hope to present to the Central Committee (CC).  "How you play is what you win" (Ursula K. Le Guin).

So I will lead by fully disclosing my motives and intentions:  I love the hope of an active, expanding voluntary association of people inventing, demonstrating, proving and sowing countless seeds of liberty and non-aggression until the idea that force or fraud can be used for any social purpose is widely understood to be as antiquated and as repulsive as medieval torture devices.  I will do what I can to make the LPC the center of activism for that hope in California.  I will preserve in any revision the presently stated purpose of the LPC, which is:

"The Party exists to uphold, promote, and disseminate the philosophy and principles of
libertarianism. To that end, it shall proclaim and implement the Statement of Principles of the
national Libertarian Party by engaging in political and informational activities in California."

I will not vote to approve any revision that omits a requirement for the non-aggression pledge for CC (voting) membership.

My specific intention for participation in the 2016 BC is to discover whether or not it is politically possible to propose a revision of the Bylaws that will be accepted by the Central Committee.  It is my hope that the Central Committee carefully considers our Bylaw Report and that no member votes to adopt it who does not sincerely believe that the improvements provided by the revision outweigh any risks that its unforeseen consequences might weaken us.  The adoption or rejection of a Bylaw Report by the Central Committee is not my goal.  My goal is to work diligently to improve trust and competence among ourselves by responding to the revision request to the best of my ability, while treating every other member interested in the process with fairness, civility and respect.

I propose the following schedule and general process:

April 4-May 1:  Members and participants obtain and study Robert's Rules of Order 11 ed., LPC's Bylaws, alternative model bylaws or other pertinent sources of information.  Action items:  report progress to one another and share any relevant model bylaws or sources.  During this time, we will not share drafts or proposals regarding revision language or structure, other than stating our own non-negotiable positions as I have done above.  The BC agrees to a calendar and process for drafting the revision.

May 1-Sept 3: Circulation of initial proposals and drafts, using a collaborative authoring platform (CAB) such as Google Docs.  I propose the following guidelines and objectives for circulating drafts and proposals, during this period:

1. Any proposal or draft written or submitted by any member of the BC is circulated to and revised by members of the BC via the CAB until at least three members have indicated agreement to it.  Proposals or drafts may be organized as the authors desire and may be submitted by any CC member with the cooperation of any BC member.  Any BC member who submits a proposal or draft is responsible for obtaining agreement of at least three other members of the BC to it, as submitted or revised.

2. Once at least three BC members have indicated agreement to a proposal or draft, a copy of it will be released (within 24 hours or so) for comment by any CC member who has indicated an interest in participating.  One or more of those members of the BC who have agreed to the proposal or draft will review and respond to every comment submitted via the CAB by any CC member.

Sept. 3.: Teleconference to decide whether or not it is feasible, based on progress so far, to complete the revision by the end of 2106.  If a majority of the BC agrees that it is not possible to complete the revision, we will report that fact to the Ex Com and either abandon work on the Bylaws together or shift our focus to regular amendments, as the BC members agree.

Sept. 4- no later than Sept 30: Continuation of drafting process.  If a revision is feasible, this will be mostly fine-tuning and organizing the agreed drafts according to the proposals into a whole draft revision.

The whole revision (if feasible) will be released in draft form for comments on the CAB as soon as possible, no later than September 30, 2016, provided that at least three members of the BC agree to it.  A copy of the draft will be sent to every member of the CC by email with an invitation to comment via the CAB.

~Sept. 30 - November 12:  The BC responds to comments and revises the whole revision draft, subject to continuing agreement of at least three members of the BC to any changes.

November 13:  The BC meets somewhere in person to celebrate and to release the Bylaw Report, consisting of whatever has been agreed to by that time.  Any interested members of the CC are welcome to celebrate with them.

If you have read this far and have comments, feel free to provide them.  Please keep your criticism constructive, meaning do suggest an acceptable alternative, if something is not to your liking.  I will ignore any merely negative criticism.

If you are anyone interested in following the revision at a high level only, follow this blog.  If you are a CC member interested in commenting via the CAB, please contact me in writing and you will be added to the commenters list.