This idea came to mind back in 1985 when I tried to stress, at the time, the fragility of the national LP organization design. The whole party was based on a charter, and in that charter laid the key to its own undoing.
If you control the delegate count at the national convention, you control the LP. Some issues take 2/3 vote. The national “Statement of Principles” requires a 7/8 vote. It all depends on what you want to do, how far you want to go.
Controlling the delegate count means controlling state parties. The delegate count is huge… way more than actually attend, so control of a minority of state parties is all that’s necessary to control the LNC and its affairs.
In 1985, I put a price tag of $100,000 to take over the national Libertarian party. Today, an easy million would do the trick. “Small pataytas” in the world of politics.
The key flaw is in the definition of “membership”. The LP isn’t set up like a normal political party. It’s set up like a local Lions Club. Membership dues doesn’t carry with it any other loyalty whatsoever. There are plenty of Republicans in the national LP, even in high level positions.
Take the Pennsylvania LP for example: “Membership” is still based on dues, and has nothing to do with actually registering to vote as a Libertarian. While 39,000 people are listed as registered libertarians in PA, only a few hundred are dues-paying members, many not registered or even residents of the state!
Let’s say I’m some rich guy wanting the national LP nomination, and let’s assume for a moment that I’m a dishonest man. (“Assume away”, as Zero Mostel said in The Producers). I would have to control the delegate count to accommodate a majority on the floor of the national Convention, and get people to fill those seats there and voting.
I think buses would be a good feature. Something like what Dick Armey or Sarah Palin has. You know…
The national LP today survives on its own insignificance. If the national LP were to have any real significance whatsoever in national policy making (other than being a lackey for the Republican party), it would quickly be purchased on Wall Street from a company like Montana Management.
This is not a prospectus! It is a warning to my fellow Libertarian activists that we are vulnerable. When we cast off sound policies of democracy over public policy, when we allow plutocracy to rule our political affairs, we are servants to the lenders.
Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty? I’m down with that. Let’s take a good look at the true, real-life, actual “alternative” we are presenting to the People, and take some ideas from our founders on the merits of a democratic republic over central authority.
I hope fellow members of my Pennsylvania LP (and across the US) take note of this issue and consider more closely the issue of "membership" and the broader issue of "democracy".