This April marked the annual Libertarian Party of California convention, which this year was held close to home for us-- at the Marriot hotel in Santa Clara. Over the weekend, over 80 delegates plus many others met to hear reports from our elected officials, discuss and vote on revisions to the party platform and bylaws, and hear from influential speakers.
After an opening banquet on Friday evening, the convention kicked off on Saturday with a keynote from Richard Fields of the Pacific Legal Foundation, who spoke about the work that their organization has done to provide pro-bono legal support in cases where big government is encroaching on property rights, extorting entrepreneurs with huge fines or discriminating against individuals based on race. This was followed by reports from our Chair, Ted Brown, Vice Chairs Brian Theimer and Jonathan Jaech, and Secretary, Mimi Robson, covering the progress of the party, boasting upwards of 30% growth in many counties throughout the state.
Over lunch, we were joined by Eric Garris, Libertarian activist and founder of Antiwar.com and LewRockwell.com, who spoke about the detriment of war and gave a strong argument against military intervention overseas. Unfortunately, opposing unnecessary intervention has become a distinguishing mark of the Libertarian party, while the two corrupt parties in power can only seem to agree on clamouring for more war.
Rounding out Saturday’s agenda was the somewhat controversial bylaws meeting, in which members proposed changes to the party bylaws. Among those proposed was a new bylaw which would add a responsibility for the Secretary to distribute membership counts to all counties. Another, proposed by Kenneth Brent Olsen, laid out a plan to further divide the North and South regions. This would create a new Central Vice Chair to relieve some of the burden on the Northern Vice Chair, who is currently tasked with coordinating a whopping 48 counties. However, in true Libertarian fashion, after much debate, the only thing the delegates could agree on was to get rid of our own Convention rules-- specifically, Rule 4, which concerns tallying votes by county and has become obsolete and been suspended in prior years.
Saturday night there was another banquet which featured the CEO of Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, as well as Libertarian activist and entrepreneur Chris Rufer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend this banquet, so I can’t provide details about this-- sorry!
On Sunday morning, a somewhat groggy crowd reconvened to another great keynote from Matt Kibbe, President and Chief Community Organizer of Free the People. Kibbe spoke of entrepreneurism and the necessity of Liberty for innovation, as demonstrated through the story of Fritz Maytag, a businessman who poured his fortune into perfecting the brewing process of Anchor Steam and gave us craft beer as we know it today.
With everyone re-energized and somewhat thirsty for an IPA (maybe not until later in the afternoon), the convention turned back to perhaps the most important official business of the weekend; election of officers. To keep things short, I can say upfront that all these seats were filled with unanimous support from all 80 or so delegates who were present. Those re-elected were our Chair, Ted Brown, Southern Vice Chair, Jonathan Jaech, and the acting Secretary Mimi Robson. All these candidates showed strong enthusiasm for the growth of the party and were very well appreciated by their nominators and by the crowd. We especially took several opportunities to applaud Mimi Robson on her amazing progress after stepping in as secretary just a couple months prior-- thank you, Mimi! We also had a couple of fresh faces step into these roles as well, with Kenneth Brent Olsen passionately taking on the role of Northern Vice Chair and Steve Haug taking over as Treasurer. We at the LPSF had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Olsen already when he attended one of our meetings earlier this year, and we are not the only county to say this-- clearly, he has already made his rounds!
With a reinvigorated group of officers and delegates alike, we had the wonderful opportunity to hear from acclaimed economist, writer and anarcho-capitalist David Friedman. Over lunch, Friedman spoke about Feud Law as an alternative to the governments of today in which, essentially, there is no executive branch. He spoke briefly about the topics of his book Machinery of Freedom, in which he explores the potential of letting individuals form and enforce contracts as individuals and through private collectives rather than subjecting everyone to the rule of government.
Getting back to business, the delegates convened again to elect members to our Executive Committee. Again, all these positions were filled by impassioned individuals who have already made great contributions to the party and are eager to continue that role. Those elected to the ex-com were Robert Imhoff, Boomer Shannon, Alex Appleby, Wendy Hewitt, Tyler Kuskie, and Zachary Moore, plus Jennifer Imhoff and Baron Bruno as alternates. Congratulations to all elected!
For the final task of the day, Alex Appleby presented the Platform Committee's report, which included several proposals to revise the language and format of the party platform, plus the addition of a new section specifically to outline our stance on marijuana. This section, as some delegates pointed out, is already stated in other parts of our platform, however the majority felt that calling out this issue specifically is important to explain our stance. This is especially true after many saw the LP’s “no” recommendation on California Prop 64 as contradictory, but as well stated several times in our discussion, 60+ pages of regulations does not make you more free!
With these very successful and well thought out updates to our platform, the convention came to a close and everyone could go home to their respective counties-- except, of course, for the Executive Committee, who met just afterwards for several hours of what I can only assume was constructive debate.
And so closed the 2017 California Libertarian Party convention, the first I had the pleasure of attending, and undoubtedly not the last.
Photo of the 2017 Executive Comittee borrowed from the Libertarian Party of California Facebook page.