The membership structure of the national Libertarian Party has long been criticized. Mainly, there are thousands of people who vote Libertarian, but for every 1,000 who do, only one person has joined the party. The membership fee has been cited as the primary obstacle.
Because those fees led to a funding program for state affiliates (in addition to supporting the national office), a doubling of the fees was recently considered. Price elasticity and all.
Today, the Libertarian Party announced the end of membership fees altogether. The best thing is that focus will shift from trying to build membership to winning elections. There's a novel idea! From the LP's website:
The shift to a zero-dues structure will essentially move the National Libertarian Party from an organization heavily focused on membership to an organization that is focused on winning elections above all else. The national staff has already started planning to make a seamless transition to zero dues and is beginning to develop training programs to assist the states.
The membership drive was carrying on over the last few months. For my own part, I have struggled with the renewal of my national membership. Mainly, I would like the focus to shift to property rigths and fiscal issues. But, I only have so many dollars to ladle out, and because I believe so solidly in the Libertarian Party of Indiana, for the most part, my money has stayed at home, supporting my state affiliate.
I am pleased that membership remains a feature for those who wish to declare themselves members. With the cost barrier removed, I think we'll see a good many who've resisted come to us.