Posts Tagged ‘Lee Wrights’


Platform Debates, Guest Speakers Set the Stage for LP Debate

Day two of the Libertarian National Convention here in sunny Las Vegas was again devoted primarily to internal party business.  With by-laws mostly out of the way, Libertarians took up the issue of revising the party platform.  Unlike the Democrat or Republican conventions you might be used to back in Iowa, there was little of substance for freedom fighters to advocate for, as most proposals sought to re-word or modify the already libertarian principles contained in the document.  For those not willing to devote their time to wordsmithery, the convention offered several breakout sessions featuring current and past party leaders.  Manny Klausner of the Reason Foundation gave a talk on using lawsuits to challenge big government.  His presentation ran the gamut of issues from affirmative action to ObamaCare.  Dr. Nancy Lord, the LP vice-presidential candidate in 1996 spoke on her area of expertise, medical research.  The FDA’s incestuous relationship with major drug companies, she told delegates, results in good medicines being tied up in the bureaucracy  whilst dangerous ones are rushed to the public.  From a past to a current candidate, one of the LP’s most promising challengers, Rupert Boneham of Survivor fame told a personal story of his path to libertarianism and his campaign for Indiana Governor.  By appearing in the debates, Boneham claimed, he was going to get not only his state but the nation talking about the ideas of liberty.

The convention is currently recessed to allow for setting up the stage for tonight’s Presidential debate.  In contrast to past conventions, only the top two candidates qualified to take the stage.  Governor Gary Johnson and Lee Wrights will square off live in front of a nationwide audience on CSPAN.  To determine eligibility, the LP uses a unique system of polling its delegates.  When registering, each delegate is given a “token,” actually a small postcard, on which they write the name of the candidate they’d like to see in the debate.  Only those candidates with a certain percentage of tokens gets a seat.  Johnson’s campaign has hustled for tokens from the beginning, urging supporters to get them in early.  Wrights’ campaign on the other hand, gathered them up and dropped them in the ballot box en masse this morning.

Make sure you tune into C-SPAN at 8pm Iowa time to catch the debate.  As always, we’ll be tweeting from the floor @IAFReedomReport using the hashtag #lnc2012 and will give you a recap as soon as we sober up from tonight’s parties, err, ah, have time to compile a full report.


Libertarians Try Debating By-laws, Give Up and Go Clubbing

The afternoon portion of day one of the Libertarian National Convention was devoted to a debate on bylaws of the party.  Much of the debated devolved into conflicts between the various factions and strong personalities within the party.  Without delving into the specific characters (some of whom we hope to introduce you do in future posts), we’ll look at a few which have relevance to our Iowa readers.  One interesting topic brought up for debate was the idea that the entire membership of the party should vote on either party leaders, bylaws, or both by means of e-mail balloting.  Currently, party leadership is voted in at each biennial conventions and bylaws adopted at the same time.  This of course means that only those Libertarians with the time, money, and interest to travel to a national convention run the party.  On the one hand, this is problematic as the vast majority of Libertarian activists have no say in how their party operates.  On the other, those who demonstrate an interest in party business  should logically have the most say.  If you suggest otherwise, you’d be joining our friends over at The Iowa Republican who are trying to push the idea that Santorum and Romney supporters should be rewarded for their unwillingness to attend GOP meetings by gaining national convention delegates vastly out of proportion to their desire to participate in the process.  All such motions were defeated on the floor, but all those interested in internal party politics (regardless of party) should take a look at the possibilities, good and bad, of this sort of thing coming down the pike.

Also of interest to freedom fighters in Iowa was a heated debate over what to do about those people who are not registered as Libertarian voters but who wish to take leadership positions in the party.  Again, both sides raised valid points.  To survive as a party, the Libertarian Party must have people committed to it in exclusion of all other parties.  Yet, to further the “small-l” libertarian movement as an ideological force, many Libertarians changed their party affiliation to support Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. Indeed, the mere mention of Paul’s name elicits more cheers from the floor than anything else that could be said.  Ultimately, a reasonable compromise was reached:  Party leaders must be registered Libertarian voters (if their state allows) but rank and file delegates would not be excluded if they crossed party lines on Paul’s behalf.

The Iowa delegation swelled to its full strength of six members with the late arrival of some who elected to drive the entire distance from the Hawkeye state.  With bylaws debates dragging on late into the afternoon, most of the Iowans decided to try their luck elsewhere in Vegas.  A mixer was held by Americans for Prosperity at a local pizza joint owned by a Nevada LP member.  While AFP is often considered to be a partisan Republican group (and indeed, the Iowa chapter is lead by a noted gay-basher) staffers on-site assured Iowa Freedom Report that they are interested in issues, not parties.  At least not political parties, as their shindig was lively and well-attended, including by about half the Iowans.

The chief party starter of this evening is the star of the show, Governor Gary Johnson himself.  Johnson’s fundraiser/rave features a cash bar and a prominent local DJ.  For a more intellectual evening, there will be a debate between candidates for Libertarian Party Chairman in a penthouse suite hosted by a prominent Massachusetts LP leader.  The current chair, Mark Hinkle has provided the party with steady leadership for two years but has angered some who feel he has rammed through a more moderate agenda at their expense.  Ironically, his only prominent challenger also hails from the moderate wing of the party.  Mark Rutherford has held various party offices and worked independently as a campaign consultant.  Either would serve the party well, so it will be interesting to see how contentious their competition becomes.

The Presidential race is still the main event and is always in the background of the proceeds.  At this point the race seems to have come down to Governor Gary Johnson and Lee Wrights.  Johnson is the favorite of the “reform” faction who wishes to see the party put forth its most experienced and credible member.  Wrights is favored by the “radicals” who believe that for the party to grow, it must distance itself for the duopoly as far as possible, and cannot accept Johnson’s compromised positions on such things as the Fair Tax and certain military interventions.  Johnson is the frontrunner, but is taking nothing for granted, sending emissaries to poll every delegate in the room.  Rumor has it that Wrights is already thinking of throwing his hat in the ring for the Vice Presidential nomination, though his support from his home state of Texas gives him a lot of fans here.

We’ll be back to give you more reports tomorrow.  Be sure to follow @IAFreedomReport on twitter for shorter updates throughout the night.  Finally, a big shout out to all the IFR readers we’ve met at the convention.  While we have a statewide focus, its great to see we already reach a nationwide audience.

For more LP convention coverage, don’t forget our friends at Independent Political Report.


That’s What We Get For Waking Up in Vegas

Iowa Freedom Report is on the road this week in the Silver State embedded with the Iowa Libertarian delegation to bring you reports from the LP national convention.  We had hoped to publish a full primer, but we’ve been too busy with crucial convention business.  So instead, we’ll bring you sporadic coverage from the floor, leading up to the selection of the Libertarian candidate for President on Saturday night.  Be sure to follow our twitter feed @IAFreedomReport for more up to the minute coverage.  There will also be regular updates from our friends at Independent Political Report, whom we may or may not get pressed-ganged into writing for at some point.

On the first formal day of business, tempers flared and much time was wasted as the convention debated the Credentials Committee report.  Normally, this is uncontroversial, but a split in the Libertarian Party of Oregon led to two different factions showing up in Vegas to represent their state.  We won’t go into the excruciatingly boring detail, but one side is the recognized affiliate party and approved by the LP national Judicial Committee.  Inexplicably, the Credentials Committee elected to seat the other faction.  After an hour of debate, the Credentials Committee won out and the official/renegade faction has been dispersed amongst the other states.

Our Hawkeye State delegates are much less contentious.  Five are on the floor now with the remainder due to arrive later this evening.  Delegates have heard a keynote speech from Michael Cloud, a fundraiser and campaign manager whom Libertarians have dubbed the “greatest Libertarian communicator.”  Cloud’s speech focused on helping candidates and activists make the case for liberty in their hometowns.  When you ask someone how much they think government wastes, then tell them the Libertarian Party is fighting it, their only question is “where do I sign up?” Cloud claims.  Most of the Iowans then filed out to a breakout session in which the party’s Executive Director Carla Howell recounted her efforts to repeal the Massachusetts income tax.  A simple message back by promises of specific actions are the key to promoting Libertarian solutions, Howell says.

The two main contenders for the Presidential nomination, Governor Gary Johnson and longtime LP leader Lee Wrights are making the rounds.  Johnson’s campaign is throwing a bash tonight that we’ll certainly attend and may or may not report from.

Stay tuned to IFR, and we’ll be back with more updates as the convention proceeds.


Libertarians Seek to Open Minds

Keynote speaker Beth Cody of Iowa City explains how she uses fiction to introduce Libertarian ideas to a skeptical public.

The famed patriot John Adams once declared that it did not take a majority to prevail, only a tireless minority dedicated to setting brush fires in the minds of the public.  When, some twenty or so such patriots gathered this weekend at the Hilton Garden Inn in Johnston for the 2012 Libertarian Party of Iowa convention, opening minds was the topic of the day.

Party chairman Ed Wright encouraged delegates that libertarian voices are growing.  He mentioned movements like the tea parties and Occupy that, while not wholly dedicated to liberty, were at least standing up and challenging the statist quo.  Wright urged Libertarians to educated themselves, reading up on the founding documents, and not relying on a government school system to teach resistance to government.  Once educated, he exhorted Libertarians to “urge others to come to terms with the solutions that freedom brings.”

Keynote speaker Beth Cody, a columnist and author from Iowa City, demonstrated how she turned to fiction writing to broaden her outreach to those who would not be interested in her political columns.  “Time and free markets can make everything better,” she told the crowd, “even political systems.”  With fiction, new ideas can be introduced, to show people that a better way is possible.  Her new book, Looking Backward, does just that.  The novel is a take-off on the utopian socialist fiction of 19th century writer Edward Bellamy.  In Looking Backward, Bellamy’s Professor Julian West wakes up, not in a worker’s state but in a glorious libertarian future circa 2162.  For those not literary-minded enough to be familiar with Bellamy, its essentially Futurama but with Earth ruled by the disembodied head of Ron Paul rather than Richard Nixon (and no Zoidberg).

The convention also featured a surprise guest speaker in Gary Roeve, who was one of the founders of the LPIA in the 1970s.  Appropriate for a party celebrating its 40th year, Roeve gave an impromptu speech on the early days of Libertarian activism.  Inspired by Ayn Rand, Roeve began to work with Ben Olsen to start an Iowa chapter of the newly-minted LP in 1972.  Finding others brought on board by the presence of an Iowan on the top of the ticket, a chapter was formed in Ames in 1975.  Roeve would go on to work on policy for the 1976 Roger McBride and 1980 Ed Clark Presidential campaigns as well as several local races, before despairing of the task moving the state towards freedom.

Awards were given to party members who competed in local 2011 elections.  Nick Taiber won re-election to the Cedar Falls city council and Roger Fritz was elected for a non-consecutive term as Roland mayor after his neighbors wrote him in.  2010 CD2 Congressional candidate Gary Sicard lost his race for Robins city council in a multiple candidate field, but was optimistic that the experience he gathered would propel him to victory in a one-on-one mayoral race this fall.  LPIA Executive committee member Casey Head of Des Moines hailed the candidate’s efforts stating that in the LP, “if you have a will to make change, you can do it.”

The Presidential race also featured prominently in the days activities, although no campaigns had a formal presence, unlike in 2011 when then-candidate Roger Gary appeared and Lee Wrights deployed his campaign manager as a surrogate.  Governor Gary Johnson dominated the straw poll with 13 votes to 1 for publisher Sam Sloan and one for perennial LP vote-getter NOTA, an 87% randslide victory for the LP frontrunner.

No other candidates for 2012 were announced, other than Sicard’s mayoral race, though there are rumors that Libertarians may field two Congressional challengers.  IFR will hold off on publicizing them until they officially enter, but suffice to say, they are two somewhat prominent refugees from the statist parties.  With some money in the bank, the Libertarian Party will be in a position to make some incumbents sweat out their positions in the fall.