It’s been an honor to serve as your Southern Vice Chair for the past three years. I hope you’ve been satisfied or happy or even proud to be a part of this ‘rockin So Cal PARTY, where “you can be different, and still fit in.” I’ve tried my best to be supportive, and to do the activism that I can.
2016 was a good year in Southern California, by many measures. The presidential numbers were more than three times higher than our previous record. A lot of folks were busy campaigning. Our membership grew. Our members were at peace with one another. We found ways to support one another despite our disagreements. People patched over old wounds, and moved on. When the vibe is good, when we follow our own principles of non-aggression, a lot of good activity blooms.
So there’s a lot to report and I don’t have much time. 2016 was a huge energy pulse that infused new members and a new positivity. I am so grateful to Gary Johnson and Bill Weld for attracting such fine members to us. Let’s multiply that gift, that positivity! Let’s grow those new members!
Aaron Starr fought a dramatic battle in Oxnard that is still ongoing. Susan Marie Weber (on the ExCom) won re-election in Palm Desert. Jeff Hewitt was all over the place for Calimesa. Our Chair Ted marshalled write-in candidates all over the state. Several made it on the November ballot. 4 of them right here in Southern Cal. Mimi Robson got 22% of her state senate district, with a tiny campaign chest. 22%! Baron Bruno ran an inspired, committed campaign in a three-way race in heavily Democrat territory. Both Mimi and Baron volunteered for the ExCom after their campaigns. Mike Everling was also on the November ballot, for state assembly. Alive Free Happy was all over the place, just doing a tremendous job, sending crews to staff booths at colleges and fairs, collecting data, building up infrastructure, building websites for local campaigns, leveraging the Johnson campaign to build up the local Party, too many things to mention. Judd Weiss ran for VP with John McAfee. Alicia Dearn ran for VP and became Chair of the San Diego LP. Angela McArdle ran for US Congress with a team of supporters. Jay Jones and Jill Pyeatt kept working hard to grow regional supper clubs. Mark Herd ran for LA City Council. I could go on, but you get the picture.
It’s great to see all that activity, and more than awesome to feel the good vibrations! Something new is blowing in the wind! But if we’re honest with ourselves, we face a long road ahead before liberty prevails over tyranny, before we conquer all the obstacles holding us back.
So let’s start with the fundamentals. If we want to make the world a better place, we’ve got to start by making our party a better place. We’ve got to avoid the venom, de-toxify our environment. I could see that happening all over the place last year. Not that everything was perfect - perfection ain’t possible, folks. If there was infighting anywhere, I didn’t hear about it. A lot of us had a great time campaigning, and doing other stuff together. I already talked about that.
The point is, we win by making this party a nicer place to be. By that metric, we are winning! People will come to a nicer place to be. When that happens, our movement gets bigger and more cohesive. As it swells, we gain political power, and the adversaries of freedom step up their attacks.
Sure, we have a long way to go before the ugly game of electoral politics gets better. But we are winning the culture wars, if you look at the long-term trending. The millennials are far more libertarian, as a group, than the generation before them. California legalized weed. The Cannabis industry is booming, festivals and commerce springing up everywhere. All those people are with us. The crypto movement, open source, gamer, sci-fi, fantasy, maker movements are growing. Take a look at Burning Man. Those people are all with us. The moderate sensible middle class people who liked Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, are with us. The organic natural food, live off the earth people are with us. The homeschoolers and unschoolers are with us. The religious freedom people are with us. The true conservatives are with us. Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach are with us. A lot of people in the entertainment business, a lot of musicians and artists are with us. In the cultural sense. We’ve got to let them know that we are with them.
And we’ve got to build a compelling culture. A culture of mutual respect, first. Add to that mutual support in the game of politics. With that ethical foundation, we’ll win respect for our words and deeds. Activists will have a reason to join, and do their activism with us. Candidates for public office will find meaningful support here. Our politics will be open, fresh, inspiring, respectful, winning!
There’s one very important fundamental that we can’t overlook. Practice what you preach. We must make this party a nicer place for good people to be. Nicer than any other party; nicer than people imagine a political party can be. By doing that, earn the people’s trust. So people know that we can and will use whatever office we run for to make their home better now and in the long term.
So I’m happy to report that the state of affairs for libertarians in Southern California over the past year was . . . nice. And the forecast for the year ahead is for that niceness to continue and grow. As we become nicer, we will attract new volunteers and allies to help us out in the great work ahead. That great work to make our party the nicest club one could ever hope to join. And by doing that, to win!