Thursday, May 17, 2012

Late Report, Libertarian Convention, Part 2

While I was excited about Johnson's win as nominee for President, I was crushed by Mark Rutherford loss in the election for LNC Chair.

You may recall that I previously endorsed Rutherford. Mark was great for the LPIN, teaching candidates to focus on issues of greatest importance to the voters, not self, first; and of relevance to the office which you seek. He also tried to shape the LPIN's Central Committee to mirror boards of successful civic or public institutions, such as hospital boards of directors. This is important, because Libertarian Party boards tend to focus on the finest points of policy rather than creating a top-notch organization. In my opinion, the LNC has often been the most guilty of all Libertarian Party organizations of this wheel spinning.

After all- the point of a political party is to get people elected towards moving policy in your direction, or to do other things, such as lobbying or issue advocacy that moves policy in your direction.

Internal debate for correctness achieves none of this.

So, on all these considerations, the 2012 LNC elections were a complete wipe-out. It was bad to lose, but bitter because the losses were so narrow.

Several votes were taken, and it was weird. At the end of it all, Rutherford lost to Geoff Neale by 7 votes.

Many thanks to Doug Masson, who followed my Facebook live blogging and summarized here. Also see Reason Hit & Run blog, here and here, with vote totals.

My lasting disappointment is with Geoff Neale's track record and what that portends. When Neale was previously Chair (2002-2004), the LP lost membership and his reputation was that of being stand-offish and uncommunicative. He was remarkably later elected LNC Treasurer (2006) and resigned a year afterwards. As was pointed out to me, a Treasurer of an organization doesn't resign. It's a malfeasance to do so, because it sticks the organization in a perilous position- especially as a political party, where one mistake on a filing can result in the organization being taken down.

And, even at this election, he threw another former Treasurer, Bill Redpath, under the bus, blaming him for the problem that led to his resignation. I thought that pretty well foreshadowed that nothing has changed with Neale- stand-offish, divisive, unable to own up to human shortcomings. In sum, a loser.

Rob Place sat next to me during much of the convention and he remarked in his wry way, "Remember how I was saying the worst case scenario was that Hinkle beat Rutherford? This is ten times worse than that. I wish we could have had yesterday's worst case scenario back." I couldn't have agreed more.

As regards Indiana, fortunately, we have a strong party and will survive and thrive despite the anticipated non-assistance and self-inflicted wounds the next two years will bring. Other state affiliates won't be so lucky.

Fortunately, Gary Johnson has won big elections before, and he has Ron Neilson, his campaign chair from both of Johnson's gubernatorial wins, on board as his chair once again. They will build a strong and potent team without the LNC. 

In one way, the clean sweep of the LNC might be a blessing. The past two years were marked by charges of an 'evil cabal' of Wayne Root, Mark Rutherford, Alicia Mattson, Aaron Starr, and others on the LNC sabotaging Chair Mark Hinkle. While I saw it as Hinkle being a weak Chair and failing to make the case on items to win over the LNC members, the 'evil cabal' charges had an impact on Rutherford's chances. (Remarkably, Wayne Root, the focus of so much antipathy by those who dislike the pragmatic voices in the LNC, was re-elected. The only one of the so-called 'cabal'.) Anyhow, the 'cabal' and the pragmatics are out, and the radicals are in. Divisiveness should not be an issue. That will be a relief.

At the end of the day, if Neale and the radicals fail to accomplish anything in the next two years, they won't be able to blame anyone but themselves. Given the track record, I expect failure once again. I hope that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results at last comes to fruition, but I won't be holding my breath.

1 comment:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thanks for this post, Mike. I was at the convention after a very long hiatus from the LP's internal politics. I met Mark Rutherford at the convention and thought he would have made a good chair. I agree with you on pretty much everything you said. In watching the shenanigans at the convention, I got the sense that there is one or more faction (radicals or whomever) who forget that the purpose of a board such as the LNC is to run a political party, not enforce the fine points of orthodox philosophy. I was very disappointed to see that the party has not learned very much over the past 40 years, and I although I hope for the best, I am prepared for the worst. Fortunately, we have the Gary Johnson Campaign to focus on for a while, and that may help keep us on track.