Citing wide spread use of threats, affiliate hijacking and election fraud Libertarians in California stave off another takeover attempt by GOP agents.
You have to wonder what is in the heads of Republicans in California. They are clearly shaken. They are also up to their old tricks.
A Party ACTUALLY Stripped of its Principles
At the 2019 California Libertarian Party Convention this weekend (April 5-7 2019) a hostile takeover was thwarted when newcomers using familiar tactics tried and failed to replace the third party’s platform. They also failed in their bids to take key party offices and restructure the party. The floor fight was less spectacular than you might imagine but it did leave the California Libertarian Party in a particularly poor spot: It has NO PLATFORM!
“We think that an appeal to the Judicial Committee should restore the platform,” said Chairperson Honor “Mimi” Robson after the state party’s Executive Committee met following the convention. The party is in a panic because as the meeting began to wane in late hours as a late last minute proposal to replace the party’s platform instead erased it.
“Are we now a party without principles?” asked a convention delegate out loud as the convention closed Sunday evening. The party document which is now completely blank previously had within it a Statement of Principles that until recently defined the organization’s purpose. This could have been disastrous for the struggling third party but it was found that the state bylaws no longer pointed to its own documents for its purpose.
The Sabotage of Libertarian Affiliates and Campaigns
The entire gambit was a blatant act of sabotage. In the previous day one of the two vice-chairs in the party had reported that county affiliates had suffered greatly from newly trusted officers behaving very poorly. Several affiliates had suffered takeovers with some officers preventing members from attending meetings, preventing business, and rigging party elections.
“We regularly have to deal with GOP infiltrators,” said Jason Wu an activist in California and one of that third party’s millennial generation of movers and shakers. “It is just a fact in this arena. Unfortunately our party has a history of being too small to resist their numerous attacks. This is not conspiracy theory; this is the reality of how Republicans and Democrats maintain control. Fending off these attacks is resource intensive for us.”
“We did it this weekend. They may have gutted our forty-something year history, but we can get it back. Who they are and what they are up to is hanging out there for all to see.”
“We already beat them back at the elections. We kept most of our bylaws intact. We just lost too many delegates to needing to leave early in order to get to the distant airport. Business should never have been scheduled so late. The convention was organized by these new people. I’ve been a delegate every year since high school and I barely know anyone on the convention committee. New people snuck into key positions through the chaos they created last year.”
“On the platform vote, the body barely scraped by removing the entire platform, then failed to adopt the canned one they made. When we saw the delegate count was nearly down to half of the full quorum and that known hostile people were lining up to rewrite a whole new platform, we got worried. Several of us that remained removed ourselves from quorum and protected the party from sabotage by a handful of statists.”
“Roberts Rules is the basis of our bylaws and we do very little to deviate from pure parliamentarian order. In those rules, it makes it clear that for an organization to survive it must be fair to the entire body of its membership and true to its stated purpose. Today, people who have been in the party for less than two years were trying to change the purpose with hardly any of the membership left to be represented. It was uneven and had us headed for disaster.”
“We like volunteers and we are on a really strong growth path. It is easy for them to sneak in and do damage. They really screwed up a couple of our best affiliates for a while. They targeted the activists working on campaigns. They didn’t even really try to hide it except in a ridiculous facebook campaign that no-one was buying. Typical GOP bullying too. Take chair, drive out the membership. They were in for a surprise.”
Mr. Wu was not alone in his assessment. “Oh yeah, they did a real number in San Bernardino County,” said Tony Gemma, another 20-something activist. “I was like whoa! These Republican guys from the high desert tried to bury the county. They got caught in some clumsy lies, and ran away but left a lot of chaos in the wake. Same thing in Los Angeles but my friends out there they have it a lot worse. The county chair there is threatening people with the police if they go to their local meetings. They are electing people while membership is locked out of the meeting or unable to speak. I went out and saw it. The tactics were identical. The saboteurs even had coordinated narratives across the counties.”
“These officers run away with the meetings, don’t show up at the scheduled place, hold unannounced meetings in their homes where they illegally vote to override the central committee votes made days earlier. The meeting place in San Bernardino is in the bylaws but they responded to the Central Committee objecting to their un-libertarian agenda by moving the meetings 2 hours into the desert. It wasn’t just against the rules; this is just not the Libertarian Party way of doing things. We don’t do force or fraud. They exposed themselves.”
“Ouch, Los Angeles,” said Frank Chau a region representative in the Los Angeles County Libertarian Affiliate. Our chair in LA, I mean, if you want to call her that, is really hurting people. Everyone that was helping on the Jeff Hewitt campaign she was like going after.” Frank is also 20-something and a really sweet guy. You cannot imagine nicer. He even contorts a little in pain while talking about the uncomfortable. You can tell he is disturbed at a deep level.
“So, the chair has harassed the restaurant we have met at for like 25 years and got herself and her few friends kicked out. They did it on purpose, it is on tape, and wow, ouch. The chair is wrecking everything she can. She wrote to other officers about how she was going to use police to block members from attending meetings. Yeah, people couldn’t go to the Pasadena Meeting at all because of her.”
“She tried to shut down all of the meetings everywhere in Los Angeles, but we wouldn’t let her. Instead she declared some regions her own territory where members were not welcome – it was very confusing. Now she is holding secret meetings by video chat. That’s not right. She doesn’t tell anyone but her friends about them and if you join in you are muted. It is bad. I am a rep. on that board and she will mute me, and refuse to hear motions and keep us from raising them or objecting to her rulings.”
Frank said it got worse as they got closer to elections, “I was helping do some IT work on a very winning campaign, and the whole time I am trying to get together with activists and get them to help, she just shut down our meeting. She was state secretary too and doing crazy stuff as a State Party officer. People in Los Angeles, activists like me helping; some of them got calls at their work making crazy accusations. Basically they harassed people’s work too! They would screw with your girlfriend and make horrible sexual references if you brought her to a meeting. It was really bad. Everyone she and her friends went after was working on campaigns against Republicans.”
“Now, wow! It was mostly her friends on platform; mostly her friends on bylaws committee. She thought she had scared everyone away. But the people she made victims of, they all came to convention and testified. They think that they can take offices and beat us up and win. No. Libertarians are smarter than that and we are tougher than that. We don’t do top down. We don’t run away.”
“The activists just kept working, but man, it was not nice that we could not meet new Libertarians and get them to help. No one new came along last year. Not since she became chair in L.A. It is a good thing we don’t care about gavels so much I think. All of our friends just ignored her. We won the election. But how do we help win more if we cant go to meetings, or if people see this stuff? What Libertarian would stick around if at their first meeting people were acting like cops and judges?”
Libertarians have a secret weapon: Fair Play
The activists painted a dark picture of American politics in general. The idea of a political party is to represent a social trajectory engaging the people year round, and then periodically engaging the electoral process to get a score card at each election. This is the purpose and essence of a political party. That Republicans and Democrats don’t look like this is why they are broken, and this is how we are beating them. We are honest and sincere and people love it.
The current system of electoral politics revolves around seeking the authority to move massive sums of money and hold hostage a large part of the economy and… well… tax it. The parties in power are undeniably laser focused on competing with each other for that money. To control that money, politics has some really poor habits built in that are not compatible with the Non-Aggression Principle.
Libertarians do not play these games this way. We cannot. So our party is structured differently. When new people come in and grab at offices, it is normal for the Libertarian Party. Offices have no “juice” and they shouldn’t. Instead the positions are usually relegated to narrow powers for administration sake. Then they get confused why they cannot tell people what to do. The offices are fairly weak against the Central Committee so these “kerfuffles” tend to do little lasting damage. With any luck the newbie member learns that the offices are not what they thought, and they learn something about their bent view of authority. Some turn out to be great administrators. Infiltrators look much the same at first.
Libertarians generally welcome people willing to do the hard work of meeting state compliance and give them titles appropriate for doing that job. But when those people are looking to disrupt, divide and conquer with a gavel, their lack of actual authority in the organization tends to expose them quickly. The GOP is a party of punishers and they cannot fathom a party of independent minded activists who do not care about titles. The difference in culture is disarming. The only way we have of telling the difference between an infiltrator and a “naive victim of government schools” is this destructiveness. Frustrated people seek solutions from the frustration. They negotiate. Infiltrators double down on damage.
The people driving the disintegration of the platform at the 2019 LPCa Convention were, to the person, the same people causing destruction in the counties, harassing campaigns and were the ones the members removed from and rejected for positions of trust. That this is all the result of a coordinated attack and attempted takeover of the LP is difficult to deny even through the most cynical of glasses.
The evidence of direct GOP involvement is hard to prove. It will always be hard to prove. One need only watch the documentary, “Get Me Roger Stone” to see it in action. It does not matter. We do not need to KNOW that they are GOP to understand that their behaviors are counter to the purpose of the party. We do not need to know that they are GOP when they use threats and fraud. We do not need to be able to prove a GOP connection to know that the GOP is scared, that they are scared of us and that they are no longer laughing.
We just need to be ready at all times to deal with both newbies that need to un-learn fine hat authoritarianism and then also be ready for infiltrators that seek to do damage. That means that as a group we need to consistently audit our party administrators and hold them accountable for proper behavior: Doing the paperwork and running a fair meeting led by the members. Membership drives the car in the LP not the officers. This structure is the ONLY reason we are growing and the only reason we are winning campaigns. We have to teach newbies what it looks like with consistent insistence for fair and open meetings.
This organic structure is what the GOP hates because they cannot control our activists or candidates. This structure is what keeps us alive when the enemy attacks. This structure is crucial to maintain and actively defend as it is the only thing that even comes close to representing liberty. Do not be fooled by people saying we need to “grow up” or “get professional”. Those guys are not winning elections. They see elections on TV and think they can dress the part and win the office. It doesn’t work any better than dressing up like a refrigerator, dancing around and pretending your pork chops are stying fresh.
Beware of anyone who claims that their plan, bylaw, platform rewrite or any party-wide scheme is the silver bullet. The road to success comes from wide collection of individuals not the individual collective. We need the opposite of control and curation, we need freedom and wild ideas. We need the heart of the left and the pragmatism of the right. Our philosophy actually represents the BEST of both worlds and it is time we generously fed it to a world hungry for a good honest and fair society. The party needs to be a welcoming and friendly place where people can network with their fellows, express their social wills and feel empowered. Those are the Libertarians that win elections.
What we don’t need are control freak officers, litmus tests, curated platforms or bylaws designed for central control. Those things LOSE elections – the weakness of that mechanic is is now demonstrated in the current state of the party platform. Understanding this is the secret of beating both the GOP and the Democrats at their own corrupt game.
The California Libertarian Party looks strong despite the unusual situation of an empty platform. While the ExCom still has residual negative elements diving for cover and wanting to regroup, the activist army that actually is the party continues to concentrate on educating the public, recruiting and empowering new members and on winning elections. Paperwork will get sorted out by people who like that sort of thing.”
“The damage these GOP miscreants did to the membership of the party over the last two years is significant and we will be working a long time to rebuild some of these organizations as we recruit and enculturate new people into our Libertarian paradigms – out of the terrible habits they learned from being steeped in a very un-libertarian system all of their lives.