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.