Saturday, March 4, 2017

8th Annual Southern California Conference of Libertarian Parties

Last week (this past Saturday, actually) I had the privilege and pleasure of emceeing the 8th Annual Southern California Conference in Santa Fe Springs, California.  It's not a huge affair yet, but there are already more interesting people to meet than time to meet them all, and the speakers typically bring a raw passion to their efforts that is infectious for the types of people who typically attend.  The speeches are always unique; in some years none have been heard elsewhere before and so it is for most of the speeches in the remaining years.  People of all types are welcome and it doesn't cost much.  There's a "linger longer" in the bar and often an after party.  It's a good energizing, fun time.

The speeches this year had an outstanding synergy and sizzle for an event of this size.  Unfortunately, the fates decreed that the spoken words would go unrecorded, so far as I know.  This leads me to record a few of my impressions before time fades them, as a way of remembering the event and honoring the efforts of those who participated.

I made a few opening remarks to kick off the day.  Apart from the thank-yous, those remarks went something like this:

Today we are going to hear from a uniquely inspiring group of speakers.  Each of them was deeply invested in a political campaign last Fall.  Each will tell a different story, and relate lessons learned, from a different perspective.

It was an interesting and high-energy campaign season, with a shocking ending.  Have you gotten over the shock of regime change yet?  Not sure that I have.  It's nice to see a new skepticism of federal power from the Democrats and the left.  It might not last, but there's been nothing like it since the Vietnam War and Nixon.

 On the right, things are cloudier, if not darker.  We are waiting to see if the lower-tax, less-regulation nationalist wall-building crony capitalism pushed by the Trumpers will make up for the oppression of all the people they dislike, plus maybe World War III.  

It's a mixed bag.  There are little impulses towards liberty on both sides.  We'll cultivate those impulses and help them grow, harvesting new comrades in the fight for liberty and justice without aggression.

TRIGGER WORD WARNING! Close your ears if emotionally sensitive.
Trump! Obama. Hil-a-ry. China!China.China? . . . ALLEPPO.

Let's put those words and the negative emotions they provoke out of our minds and focus on softer, more healing phrases: Building communities - FREE communities based on equal justice.  Building interpersonal trust. Empowering citizens to thrive. Ensuring that future generations will have no less opportunity for the pursuit and enjoyment of happiness than we have enjoyed ourselves.

Those objectives (maybe we can call them activities, or even industries) are at the core of true liberty and human thriving.  Those objectives are what we achieve when we campaign together according to the principles we hold.  Increase in those industries is the greatest victory that any political campaign can ever achieve.  So let's hear some stories from campaigns like that!
I have no notes to bolster my memory of the speakers' remarks, so here are some impressions purely from memory, with fervent apologies to everyone mentioned:

Robert Imhoff told a story about how he got involved in the Johnson-Weld campaign.  Robert had no real experience in politics, but did understand how to reach people, and had access to some modest amounts of capital.  He was bitten hard by the campaign bug, and threw himself whole-heartedly into campaigning.  California was not a "battleground" state for Johnson-Weld, so the national campaign mostly ignored him, especially early in the campaign.

Ted Brown introduced three local candidates who made the November ballot via a write-in campaign in the June primary, Baron Bruno, Honor 'Mimi' Robson, and Mike Everling.  Baron and Mimi were first-time candidates.  Mike is one of the old guard who ran to fill an empty ballot line with the libertarian label, being nearly the only registered libertarian in the district.  Mimi is now Secretary of the California Libertarian Party and Baron is contemplating running for the national Libertarian presidential nomination in 2020.

Dan Fishman from Boston Massachusetts told stories of his experience as Northeast (Connecticut to Maine) Regional Director for Johnson-Weld.  The Northeast was a battleground region, so there was more involvement with the top echelons of the campaign, than Robert experienced.  His frustrations were unique, and many opportunities that Dan labored on ultimately went unused.  It's difficult to unravel the full picture in the Northeast hearing only from one perspective, but it is clear that there are stories to tell and lessons to learn from what was experienced there. 

Nick Sarwark,  LNC Chair, led off his talk with an analogy about lobsters and for the most part avoided talking about the campaign.  He exhorted the audience that to grow the party, we are going to have to break out of old comfortable shells.  We are going make room for new kinds of people, who view liberty from a different perspective.  Our party is not about right and left, it's about up and down.  If you are for human liberty, you are a libertarian, whether you are liberal or conservative.  Increase human freedom and love one another.

Matthew Barnes finished up the conference with a short talk about Alive Free Happy and its participation in the Presidential campaign and local campaigns.  By that time, my head was full of what I been hearing all day, but I remember Matt showing pictures of some of the Alive Free Activists at campaign events, talked about tabling with the Nolan chart, building infrastructure by reaching out to voters during the campaign, and not missing the little victories that passionate and persistent effort will undoubtedly keep winning.