An editorial by Scotty Boman
Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs. - The character Gloria Clemente in the movie, White Men Can't Jump -
Yes. I know the Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM) fell short of the two-thirds vote needed for a formal endorsement of Proposal One. That doesn't really matter. What matters is that the Libertarian Party has advocated drug legalization since it was founded in 1971 and Michigan's electorate has legalized one drug in spite of stubborn resistance by both Democratic and Republican party establishments (until now).
We own this. There simply hasn't been any other political party that has steadily held their ground on the drug legalization issue for as long as the Libertarian Party. Sure the US Green Party has been supporting the legalization of the green drug, but they didn't come on the scene until the turn of the century. Marijuana has been a bit of a poster child in the drug legalization debate; it is demonstrably less harmful than many legal drugs (as is also the case with LSD and psilocybin mushrooms), and was more broadly used than other illegal drugs. This made legalization an easy sell, but health concerns were never our primary argument; it has always been a matter of personal choice.
Many political scientists view the role of "third parties" as being a vehicle to mainstream policy positions that Democrats and Republicans are unwilling to adopt or, in some cases, even discuss. The LPM has been filling that role quite well.
The legalization of marijuana is just one example of how Libertarians win in a big way; by making our marginalized issues mainstream. This isn't the first time. In 2006 we had two major victories: The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and Eminent Domain reform. Libertarians have a long history of opposing eminent domain as a form of theft. This proposal didn't do away with it all together, but it did eliminate one way of abusing it. Eminent domain can no longer be used to take property from one private owner to be handed off to another.
Most of the Libertarian Party of Michigan's attention that year however, went to the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI). This was a proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution to prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, ethnicity or national origin in government supported hiring, employment, and education. The first attempt to get it on the ballot was organized by Gregory Creswell whose goal was to put the measure before voters in 2004. This early effort was interrupted by court challenges, but got on the ballot in 2006 with the support of civil rights activist Ward Connerly.
That year none of the other candidates for governor would come out in favor of MCRI. In fact Republican Dick Devos and Democrat Jennifer Granholm both opposed the measure under the mantle of the pro-discrimination organization, "One United Michigan." Our candidate, Gregory Creswell, boldly used his candidacy as a platform from which to advocate for the measure. His words were amplified by a clever media campaign crafted by our own Tim O'Brien. The MCRI won by a landslide. Now many Republicans will act like it was their idea and the Democrats have come to accept it after some early court challenges.
The Republican Spence Abraham took the gun-owner vote for granted and wasn't going to take any positions that would appear radical; he figured being the lesser evil to the Democrat Bob Carr was good enough. Many of Michigan's gun-owners enthusiastically supported Jon Coon with contributions and time. He organized the first Brass Roots Rally at the Michigan Capitol, attracting about 10,000 supporters. On Election Day he earned 4.2 % of the vote. The highest percentage earned by a Libertarian on the statewide partisan ballot. This percentage was enough to convince the major parties (especially Republicans) that they could not take the gun-owner vote for granted. Coon then formed Brass Roots. Brass Roots focused like a laser sight on one facet of Michigan gun laws: the right to carry a concealed weapon. Their efforts made Michigan a "shall-issue" state, meaning any individual meeting an enumerated set of requirements would receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Michigan remains a shall-issue state and people who open carry are no longer treated like criminals.
In the long haul the Democrats and Republicans could adopt enough of our platform to take the wind out of our sails. That would mean even fewer electoral victories, but we would live in a state and country that had less aggression and more freedom. Consider how successful the Socialist Party was. The Socialist Party was initially doing even better than the Libertarian Party is doing now, but they have pretty much disappeared from ballots. If one looks at the list of industrial demands (and some political demands) they enumerated in their 1912 Platform, one will quickly realize that most of them have been adopted by the Democratic and Republican parties. Certainly we would like to reverse some of these and we can do it the same way. The longer we stay the course, the more we can change policy.
It is easy to get discouraged by low vote totals, but we have the power to transform our state with or without our candidates taking office. Our Federal candidates, including candidates for president can affect the course of our nation as well. That is where we can find our strength to continue and not get discouraged.
The Libertarian Executive Committee (LEC) met on November 14. With the 2018 general election behind us, one of its primary tasks was to start planning the 2019 Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM) state convention.
Our Bylaws require us to hold a "regular" state convention between April 1 and July 31 in odd-numbered years, for the purpose of electing state party officers and LEC representatives to 2 year terms, and consider changes to our Bylaws. The consensus of the LEC was that we should target the weekend of April 13 or 27 to hold our 2019 convention, to locate it somewhere in the middle to middle northern part of the Lower Peninsula, and combine it with our annual LibertyFest banquet.
With that in mind, we are seeking volunteers to pitch in and help out. We need a convention chair, and persons to serve on the convention committee to help perform tasks like site selection, setup, registration, convention packet preparation, and programming. We also need a credentials committee chair and committee members to administer delegate selection caucuses for those parts of the state without organized affiliates, process delegate lists submitted by affiliates, and credential delegates as they arrive at the convention.
We are also seeking a Bylaws committee chair and committee members to consider changes to our Bylaws. While our 2017 Bylaws were written to work whether or not we maintained primary party status, we now have 2 years of experience with our new Bylaws, and some changes may be desired. For example, I know there is some sentiment to add language describing procedures for revoking candidate endorsements, admonishing candidates for taking positions contrary to our platform, and revoking LPM memberships.
We need volunteers to plan the LibertyFest banquet, serve on the Libby awards committee, and line up a speaker for the banquet. One suggestion was that Mary Ruwart, author of Healing Our World, might be willing to return to Michigan to speak. Often in the past, a local affiliate has taken responsibility for organizing the LibertyFest banquet from start to finish. If your affiliate is interested in doing so, that would be an argument for holding the convention in your affiliate region.
In the past we have been blessed with volunteers willing to step up to perform these tasks. This is a great opportunity for you to take a direct role in building the LPM by staging a fun convention designed to energize and educate our delegates and activists.
Please email LPM Chair Bill Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to volunteer for any of these roles, or have any questions or comments on convention planning. We expect to announce initial appointments to committees at our next LEC meeting on January 13.
Now that the 2018 general election is behind us, two tasks the Libertarian Executive Committee (LEC) is taking off the table and pursuing are forming a special project committee to prepare an LEC Policy Manual and activating a Libertarian Party of Michigan (LPM) Historical Committee. In past meetings, the LEC discussed and recognized the value each can provide to the LPM.
Often the LEC finds itself considering matters addressed by past LECs, but may not realize it. For example, many years ago a past LEC adopted a policy for how news releases are prepared and distributed, but the only reason the current LEC knew of that policy was because I was also Chair at the time the past LEC approved it. The current LEC has also considered, debated and adopted a number of policies, including policies for legislative committee procedures and financial reporting.
The solution the Libertarian National Committee and some state LPs have used to address this problem is to assemble a "policy manual" that collects standing resolutions and policies. This allows them to be easily consulted and avoids the problem of having to "reinvent the wheel" whenever the same issue arises in the future. Once created by the committee, the policy manual becomes a living document, updated by the LPM Secretary as new policies are adopted by the LEC. LEC members believe it will save time and provide value to future LECs.
For the Policy Manual Committee, we are seeking a chair and volunteers with strong organizational and writing skills and an attention to detail to research past LEC minutes and assemble adopted policies into a policy manual. If you have served on the LEC in the past, then your memory of past policies may help in this effort. Please email LPM Chair Bill Hall at email@example.com if you are willing to volunteer for any of these roles, or have copies of past LEC policies to contribute to the manual. We expect to announce initial appointments to the Policy Manual Committee at our next LEC meeting on January 13.
The LEC appointed Greg Stempfle as chair of a new LPM Historical Committee, the mission of which is to preserve the history of the LPM. Specifically, the committee will work to digitize older party archives, collect modern party archives, and encourage party members to donate materials to the party archives. If you are interested in political history, enjoy organizing materials and/or have the skills to digitize materials, this committee would be a good way for you to help the LPM. Please email LP 2nd Vice Chair Greg Stempfle at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are willing to volunteer for any of these roles, or have any questions or comments concerning the LPM Historical Committee.