Hello fellow Libertarian Party of Florida delegates! Now it's time to prepare for some bon temps in New Orleans. I've prepared a review of the upcoming Bylaws motions proposed for the LNC Convention, which I'll be posting for discussion.
As a default recommendation, I recommend voting nay on anything you don't feel that you fully understand.
Here is a link to the rules proposals - https://www.lp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/20180503_Adopted_Proposals_from_the_2018_Libertarian_Party_Bylaws_and_Rules_Committee.pdf
Here is a link to the minority report arguing against these proposals - https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-lJKkQNjSjj8LVRE879z7bZa66zRM3v9
I will not be copying the text of the motions inline in this page.
As usual, these are purely my personal views and do not represent any official position of the Libertarian Party of Florida nor the Libertarian Party of Orange County.
A. Allow Debate on Proposals to Delete Platform Planks
Strongly Recommend Aye
This seems like an obvious thing - deleting a platform plank is a very serious decision and should be debatable by delegates prior to voting.
B. Clarify Method of Electing Judicial Committee
I'm generally in favor of ballots or roll call votes when feasible anyways. The Judicial Committee appears to have constitutional review power to override LNC decisions, so this seems pretty important. I will trust the judgment of the Bylaws Committee that this is a good idea.
C. Appoint Credentials Committee Members Earlier
This changes the lead time for appointing LNC Credentials Committee members from 1 month to 6 months. This seems like common sense - the folks evaluating whether people are valid delegates are making important decisions and as such they shouldn't be appointed last minute.
D. Clarifying Procedures for Regional Alternates
This is a cleanup motion that clarifies that Region Representative Alternates are handled by the same rules as Region Representatives in terms of both election and removal. This is obviously a good idea.
E. Simplify Article 4 Language on Membership
This motion removes the LNC's stated discretion to add additional membership levels, and simplifies how a sustaining member is described as someone who either has donated $25 within the past year or is already a lifetime member. In of itself this seems like a good idea. However, it also removes language stating that only sustaining members are counted for delegate apportionment and are eligible for LNC office or President or Vice-President nomination. This may be fine, but I'd like to have a better understanding of the implications of this deletion before committing to this amendment.
F. Make Elected Libertarians Automatic Delegates at Convention
Strongly Recommend Nay
This proposal sounds interesting on the surface, but the devil is in the details and it has a LOT of unintended consequences and corner cases. The minority report does a good job summarizing them. The points that particular stand out to me are:
- This makes the total number of delegates unpredictable, which complicates both Convention planning, credentialing, determination of quorum and majority, etc. We do deal with this in the LPF Convention on a smaller scale, but it's definitely a step backward (personally, I'd prefer to see LPF have a fixed number of state convention delegates apportioned by county).
- This takes away from state affiliate autonomy in deciding which delegates represent the state.
- States with really bad ballot access laws are put at a disadvantage. This particularly hurts states like Alabama and Ohio. Conversely, Florida would heavily benefit due to our focus on First Step candidates and easy local ballot access - while nice for us, we already have a huge influence due to our population, so this is not ideal for the LNC as a whole.
- In some states, candidates from other parties can run as multiple parties including Libertarian, and this could make them delegates automatically if elected. Not a good idea.
- It's unclear to me whether this proposal includes appointed positions, either appointed to fill vacancies or possibly even local appointed boards, and the case of elected officials switching to or from Libertarian while in office has to be considered.
Given that most states have difficulty filling their delegate slots as it is, if any elected Libertarian can't get approval of their state to be appointed as a delegate, that should be a huge red flag about either the official or the state affiliate. It seems totally unnecessary.
G. Expand Report from the Bylaws and Rules Committee
Undecided (Pending Discussion)
This proposal appears to expand the list of Bylaws proposals to be presented by the LNC. Currently only proposals that receive a majority vote are presented. This would allow any proposal that receives at least a second on the committee to be put before the full delegation for a vote, with the committee's recommendation of "Adopt", "Reject", or "Reject to Amend" as part of the report. This does give the membership more options on proposals and more insight into what these committees are doing, but may also significantly lengthen the LNC business.
The minority report recommends rejecting to amend to just adopt the Platform Committee's existing process and apply it to Bylaws, which seems a much simpler and less risky approach. I agree with this approach at this point.
H. Condense Articles 6 through 8
Consider Aye (Pending Discussion)
Complete rewrites are a pain to review. However, after correlating the current vs. the final language, it appears that the vast majority of the changes are just reordering and repartitioning sections, and I absolutely agree that the new order and layout is a much more logical flow. I did notice the following minor changes:
- Removes duplicate language about appointing vacancies from the current Article 6 Section 8
- Combines and simplifies parallel language about the Judicial Committee into sections describing the National Committee to apply to both
- Makes the Judicial Committee scope slightly more specific
Please let me know if I missed any substantive changes.
I. Elevate Style Changes from Rule to Bylaw
I believe this amendment is necessary to actually make it possible to invoke the rule, since I don't believe it would be in order to amend the Bylaws, even just to fix grammar, using a rule not defined in the Bylaws.
J. Clarify that Alternates are not Members on National Committee
I believe this language, while probably not strictly necessary, ensures that Alternate positions do not screw up calculations of quorum or anything else depending on number of LNC positions. It's pretty straightforward.
I-2. Amend Style Change Provisions
This one is contingent on Amendment I being adopted, otherwise it is out of order. It is somewhat ironic that a rule on style changes itself had such clunky grammar and style. The new version is much cleaner. This also clarifies, since the LNC is otherwise authorized to delegate all of its powers, that this particular power cannot be delegated, so that's good.
K. Make Judicial Committee a Four-Year Term
I have no specific objections to this change, but I also have no specific reason to endorse it. I would like to hear the case for it before committing to it.
L. Elect LNC and JC Earlier
I agree with moving the LNC and Judicial Committee elections to before Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominations - the latter are the main draw on those years and it's possible delegates are more likely to leave after that's done. Moving it before Platform report may also be wise since it seems like those could go pretty long - certainly based on my prior experience at the state level.
M. Eliminate Unused Convention Rule 5.6
In favor of removing unused rules, and this one seems pretty oddly written anyways - "If time permits" is kind of sketchy, either commit to it or don't.
N. Require Endorsed Candidates to Affiliate with the Libertarian Party
Consider Nay (Pending Discussion)
So this particular change, while seemingly minor, has some odd implications that apply to state affiliates and, transitively, to county affiliates.
The current criteria for candidate endorsements is that they may not be a member of another party. This allows endorsement of independent no party affiliation candidates, but forbids endorsement of Republicans, Democrats, Greens, etc. In some states, the same candidate can run on multiple party lines, and the current language seems ambiguous as to whether endorsement would be allowed in that case if the other party doesn't require the candidate to be a member, but most likely not. Certainly any registered voter or otherwise official member of another party is not allowed to be endorsed.
The new language requires candidates to be a member of the national party, a state affiliate, or a registered Libertarian voter (in states that have such a thing) to be endorsed. It's unclear to me whether membership in a county affiliate transitively counts as an affiliated membership. This would allow more or less any candidate to be endorsed so long as they meet the criteria for state affiliate membership, which is not defined by the national party. So the end result is significant discretion to each state, and candidates running on multiple lines in states that allow that could be endorsed at the discretion of the state affiliate.
The new language would also allow any Republican or Democratic candidate to be endorsed if they merely signed the non-binding NAP pledge and filled out a form on lp.org - is that really wise?
In the absence of a compelling reason to support this, I think it should be rejected. Cross-party endorsements, while fine at a personal level, are out of place in a political party in my opinion. If we are going to allow them via a backdoor, we might as well just explicitly allow endorsing any candidate from any party as long as it's not for a different party running against a Libertarian - which is the current LPF rule, by the way.
Update: I've also heard from some county affiliates that they do not like the existence of this LNC rule at all, on the grounds that the national party shouldn't be telling state and county affiliates what to do. As such they like neither the current nor proposed language.
O. Reorganize Purpose Statement
Strongly Recommend Nay
As the minority report indicates, this change is not merely a reorganization, but demotes the Statement of Principles from being our mission to being merely one means to an end. The rest is just style cleanup. I may not be the most purist Libertarian out there, but I'm very leery of anything that even remotely weakens the Statement of Principles.
P. Nominate Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates as a Ticket
Coming from the two old parties, learning that the Libertarian Party delegates vote separately on President and Vice-President was a bit of a novelty. But I see the merits of the approach, since it requires each candidate to be qualified and supported by a majority of the delegates in their own right, and for candidates to be prepared to work with a broader range of the party. Candidates can still make the case for their preferred choice, such as Gary Johnson did with Bill Weld, but it is up to the delegates to decide whether to honor it.
If ain't broke, don't fix it.
Q. Add Alternative Certification Language for Membership
Strongly Recommend Nay
This proposal adds an alternative to the Non-Aggression Pledge. This seems like a misguided internet argument appealing to schools of anarchy that reject the Non-Aggression Principle rather than a real world problem. Signing the pledge has no real meaning to begin with since it's not legally enforceable, but it is a strong statement about opposing the initiation of force. Adding an alternative statement either means the same thing - in which case it's redundant - or it doesn't mean the same thing - in which case we're weakening the pledge.
At the state level in Florida I've supported proposals to consider membership to be based on Libertarian Party of Florida voter registration instead, since I see that as a far more concrete and difficult step than checking a box online, and the Non-Aggression Pledge is still embedded in our Statement of Principles and platform. However, no such comparable registration exists nationwide, and adding a different pledge is meaningless.
R. Define in Advance the Party’s Agreement with Presidential Campaign
Having been involved in (far simpler) contract negotiations in the Libertarian Party of Florida Executive Committee, I have a hard time seeing negotiated contracts by full delegation on the floor of Convention as going well or finishing quickly. Furthermore, since the actual nominee can then amend the contract (presumably the LNC is the group that can agree to such an amendment, though this is not specified) this doesn't necessarily seem that useful. I do think having a standard contract as a baseline seems reasonable, but that can be done by LNC action I think, much like we did for fundraising director contracts for the LPF. From what I've heard, the contract process could be done better and with more transparency by the LNC, but that's merely an argument for electing LNC members with those values as priorities.
S. Protect Party Name Rights for Affiliates
I'm not the biggest fan of intellectual "property" rights enforcement to begin with, although this particular use of it would fall under freedom of association. The minority report presents the interesting case that the Libertarian Party acquired the national trademark in 2001, much later than many state affiliates existed. So it would impose an ex post facto requirement on state affiliates that otherwise would be grandfathered in, which I'm also not a fan of. This seems unnecessary, overall. If we did add something like this, it should only apply to new affiliates.
T. Roll Call Votes for Committees
Strongly Recommend Aye
I'm a big fan of transparency and accountability, and as such also of roll call votes. I voluntarily publish my own votes on the LPF Executive Committee both before (as a voting plan seeking advice from constituents) and after the relevant meetings. Since state affiliates do appoint members to these LNC committees, we deserve to know how our appointees are voting and whether they are representing our will, and consider that when we discuss potentially recalling or reappointing these members.
U. Reduce Email Vote Time
I don't have strong feelings on this amendment - the difference between 10 days and 7 days is relatively minimal.
V. Require Credentials and Platform Committee Members to be Party Members
Recommend Nay to Amend
This adds a requirement for members of committees to be a dues paying member of the LNC. The minority report notes that this reduces state affiliate autonomy to appoint state affiliate members who, for whatever reason, are not LNC dues paying members. Some states, such as Florida, explicitly prohibit paying dues as a requirement for exercising rights of membership in a minor party, though it is unclear whether this would apply to a national organization like the LNC.
I agree with the minority report recommendation to reject the proposal to amend it to only apply to the five members appointed to committees by the LNC itself, which seems reasonable, and to allow state affiliates to set whatever criteria they see fit. Florida recently adopted a bylaws amendment to require committee appointees to be members of both LPF and LNC as well as a registered Libertarian voter.
W. Require Advance Notice of Bylaws Proposals
Strongly Recommend Aye
I hate surprise rules amendments on the floor. There is no more effective way to seriously pass bad policy than a bad actor to drop a seemingly-decent bylaws amendment on the floor and people voting on it without understanding the implications. For the sake of carefully considering such major changes, I believe 90 days is entirely reasonable and appropriate, and anything important to amend is important enough to publicly submit in advance.
If the Platform doesn't already have a similar rule, I'd like to see that happen too. Surprise Platform amendments also suck for similar reasons.
X. Abolition of Alternates on Committees
This motion abolishes alternates both on the LNC itself (slightly conflicting with motion J though presumably this is reconciled) as well as on LNC committees. I have been satisfied with how alternates have served in practice, and Florida alternates have participated meaningfully in many important votes. Alternatives also provide a path for up and coming stars to gain experience on the LNC. I don't see a compelling reason to do this.
Y. Duty to Defend Party Name
Strongly Recommend Nay
This motion, to the extent that it's enforceable, removes the LNC's discretion on intellectual property. I'm not a big fan of intellectual "property" rights enforcement to begin with, since it is a construct of the state and not the free market, and not giving the LNC discretion to ignore harmless cases of it is absolutely insane. As a practical matter, this would require the Libertarian Party to sue all currently existing caucus and any other groups that use "Libertarian Party" in their name other than duly recognized state and county affiliates. Suing our own activists is both a waste of money and totally insane.
Z. Restructure Libertarian National Committee
Strongly Recommend Nay
This motion adds another layer of abstraction to the LNC - the current National Committee is expanded to be effectively a large number of state-appointed representatives, and the Executive Board, which is elected by the Executive Committee, would function similarly to the current Executive Committee.
To put it bluntly, the LNC is not equipped to handle non-Convention meetings of that size. Nor does there appear to be any need or reason to do so. This also removes the power to elect officers and at-large members from the full Convention delegation. And in practice the Executive Board could still make the decisions, just subject to less member oversight than currently.
I'm deeply skeptical of drastic changes to this level without a compelling requirement or functionality gap justifying them.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This is a solution in search of a problem.
Z-2. Restructure Libertarian National Committee – Conforming Amendments to Rules
Abstain - Contingent on Z
This is a correlated motion contingent on Amendment Z passing, which I strongly recommend voting against. If Amendment Z does pass, then this amendment should also pass so that the rules are not left in an internally self-contradictory state.