Our rights do not originate with government, but they are to be "secured" by government.
Formerly: Libertarian Party of Citrus county

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Are we a Serious Political Party?

It’s the Day after the election, the Libertarian Party, and the Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF) specifically performed as expected. We lost. Actually we didn’t lose; we weren’t even in the game. Not a surprise, not a shock, not a setback. No rational person would have expected any less, the leadership in the LPF keeps doing what it’s always done and keeps getting the same results. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” The LPF keeps doing the same thing and keeps getting the same result. Either as Libertarians we are insane or we don’t want to be a serious political party and win elections.

The Libertarian Party of Florida is run by the Executive Committee (EC). This consists of the Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, directors at large, and area representatives. The LPF cannot fill all the area representative positions, because that position requires a large expenditure of personal time and money. The State party doesn’t even cover the mileage area representatives put on their cars doing party business. As I’ve said before the LPF and EC acts more like a social debate club than the third largest party in the Great State of Florida. The EC meets regularly but if you are a mere LPF member or even an officer in a county affiliate you would never know. Since the beginning of 2009, as an officer of the Libertarian Party of Citrus County, I can attest that our local affiliate received exactly ZERO communications from the EC.

After the election of Obama, it became obvious that change was necessary because both the major parties were leading us down the road to socialism. So I like a lot of people decided to do something. The TEA party hadn’t started, I’d been a registered Libertarian for decades, so I decided to go to an LP meeting and get involved. I left that meeting as the affiliate treasurer and committed to creating a webpage/blog for the county affiliate. Now the Citrus County Libertarian Party, is very small, Citrus County has only about 150 registered libertarians, and fewer than ½ a dozen want to be active. I’m now the Vice Chair, and the Chair is Greg Lennon. Once our affiliate became real, both Greg and I started hitting the LPF for help, we were totally new to politics, and were hoping for some help. There wasn’t any help from the state. The state wanted our help, but offered nothing. Greg kept driving and driving the LPF to become more professional, asking hard questions and offering solutions, and put in countless hours to gather information. I don’t know all the ins and outs but before you know it, Greg was secretary of the LPF. His hard driving has forced some changes. In January 2010, at his request I researched and presented a plan to help the county affiliates look more professional, it was a small gesture to supply professional looking 10X10 canopies from EZ-Up so that the affiliates would present an uniform image of the LPF, look professional at political rallies, and so that the LPF would demonstrate some support for the affiliates. Because it was not free the EC shot it down completely. For an example of how do-nothing the LPF is, try to find a single expenditure for a table, booth, or participation in any rally, gun show, state fair, or convention of any sort in the state of Florida. Zero - Zip - Nada participation. When former the Region 2 Director asked why, the answer from the current LPF Chair Vicki Kirkland was “Because the LPF is too cheap.” At least it was an honest answer.

At the 2010 state convention the treasures report for the 2009 fiscal year indicated that the LPF spent a whopping $2400 in 2009. The State of Florida has the third largest number of registered Libertarians in the nation, and the party did all its business, support, advertising, and everything else spending less than $2500 all year, and still had about the same $50,000 in the bank it had at the end of 2008; clearly the party did not waste funds. So when the opportunity from the floor of the State Convention to comment came, I openly accused the EC of fiscal malfeasance. Not for miss use of LPF funds but for failure to use the funds entrusted to grow, promote, and further the LPF. Jesus told a parable about that, Mathew 25:14-30, Christ calld the man who did nothing with the gold he was entrusted, a “You wicked, lazy servant!” In no way could the third largest political party in the State of Florida be considered a serious political party and spend a less than $2500 in a year. Zero dollars were spent supporting candidates. Zero dollars were spent fund raising. The only money spent was to cover minimal administration costs. This includes all money the state party spent on the annual state convention. The leaders of the LPF have shown themselves to be wicked, lazy servants to the members of the Libertarian Party of Florida.

At the end of the summer I saw a new picture on the LPF web page for our chair person but it still had JJ’s name. Because Greg was secretary, and I’m fairly active, I know a couple of members of the EC. I called and found out that the EC forced the resignation of former Chair JJ McCurry. I asked a couple EC members why there was no news of this to the county affiliates and why the web page had a new picture for the chairperson with the old name. Within a day or two there was a brief welcome letter from the new chair and the web page was fixed, I called the Chairs of all the major metro area county affiliates, and of a few minor county affiliates, to find out if any of them had heard that our Chairperson had resigned (or if they knew he had been forced to resign)? None knew, in fact none had ever received any communications from the EC for years until this year when our secretary send out administrative requests for county affiliation. I was told by virtually all the active Libertarian Party county affiliates that they simply ignore the state, as it never does anything (see LPF financial reports for verification). Since we have gotten a new party chair, there have been a handful of emails from the Chair to the entire LPF email list. No details of EC meetings, or what the EC is doing but it is an improvement. The EC still totally ignores its county affiliates, and if not for the works of some new blood in the party would still do totally nothing. That might be unfair, the EC meets a lot, and probably does stuff, but it is not visible to the public, the libertarian party membership, or the leaders of Libertarian County Affiliates. So whatever it is that the EC does do is totally invisible.

Over the past two years the shinning achievement of the EC, and LPF leadership was to recruit Alex Snitker to be a Libertarian. Alex Snitker this year’s LP Candidate for U.S. Senate, has done more for the LP and motivated more LP members to be active, than the LPF leadership has done in several decades. At this year’s state convention, the members and representatives from the local counties, and Snitker had to shame the EC into doing anything to help local chapters, they committed to purchasing the canopies that they had earlier turned down, and getting T-Shirts to help with fund raising. The EC did let loose of $9,999 to help Alex Snitker pay the state fee and get on the Florida Ballot. The EC did not appear happy that the membership was forcing them to do something that they had previously decided they didn’t want to do.

So when I accused the EC of fiscal malfeasance, I was told that 2009 was not an election year, and we’d see the action and activity in 2010. Well it’s the day after the election and the LPF has around $35K in the bank. It looks like other than the $10K to Alex Snitker to get on the ballot, the money for rally canopies and some T-Shirts that the affiliates forced the EC to spend, and the usual minimal administration expenses; all financial indicators show that the LPF has again done nothing. This year we have all seen the people of the nation and State of Florida horribly upset at both the GOP and Democrats, the opportunity to expose the LPF to the citizens of Florida and have the message of Liberty heard has never been better. The current leadership of the LPF failed to act. Since they have shown that they can run the state party on a mere $2500 a year, what excuse do they have not to have spent every penny in the treasury to do everything they could to show Florida that the LPF is a serious party, with serious ideas, and a serious mission to protect the Liberty for every Florida citizen. The only visible activity of the EC has been lots of changes in EC membership, so it appears that the only visible actions of the Executive Council members have been political fighting amongst themselves.

Like I said at the start it’s the day after the election, the Libertarian Party, and the LPF specifically performed as expected. We lost. The LPF keeps doing the same thing (nothing) and getting the same results. Why? I believe it is because the LPF has poor leadership, and the majority of the EC just want a social debate club not a serious political party. The EC has done nothing to expose the members of the Libertarian party to the libertarian message much less the citizens of Florida. The EC has no vision: If the EC does have a vision it clearly hasn’t articulated it, and isn’t ineffective at reaching whatever that vision might be. The Executive Committee of the Libertarian Party of Florida with very few exceptions doesn’t do anything unless forced to. From inside the EC Greg Lennon is trying to make the LPF a professional political party; from outside the EC Alex Snitker and his campaign is trying to make the LPF a professional political party. Some members of the EC are good people trying to do the best they can, but they are not leaders, and are ineffective. The distinct lack of professional fund raising, the distinct unwillingness to take any actions, the political back stabbing in the EC against anybody who does try to do anything or who tries to make change, and the general elitist attitude expressed by “old guard” LPF leaders who don’t want to be held accountable, are all signs that EC has failed the LPF.

I was at last night’s “victory” party for Alex Snitker. Alex Snitker proudly, loudly, and assuredly proclaimed that he is and will remain a Libertarian. No attacks on anybody, no name calling, just a clear vision for Liberty and Freedom that the LPF leadership lacks. He also announced that he will be going after Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in 2012. Alex is a leader. The LPF needs leaders, not administrators. I’m sure he won’t take the job as LPF Chair because it would make running for office impossible, but we need Alex or somebody like him heading the LPF. There are people who hold titles at the top of the LPF, many of them may be capable administrators, who do the minutia of administering the party, but there is no leader, no visionary, no person to proudly and loudly proclaim what the Libertarian Party of Florida is and where it is going, and leads to that goal.

If the Libertarian Party of Florida is to be successful at the April 2011 state convention we must end the insanity. We must elect leaders with vision and drive, who will unite and energize the party. We must change the image of the LP in the eyes of the public. We must end the reign of the wicked and lazy Executive Council that has made the LPF appear to the public to be nothing more than an insignificant little debate club for crackpots and not a serious political party. If we the members and county affiliates of the Libertarian Party in Florida keep doing what we’ve always done and elect the same people we have for years, then we can expect the same results. We will continue to lose at the polls.

Tom Rhodes
Vice Chair Libertarian Party of Citrus County
11/3/2010

2 comments:

  1. nd there you have it, folks. One of the primary reasons that a Libertarian heart and minded person like myself has not REGISTERED as Libertarian. The facts laid out in this article are damnably shameful. It is time for the LP to grow up, or get left in the dust, because We The People are GOING TO FIND SOME WAY to get the job done. The LP would be the logical choice for the fed up, change hungry, and liberty loving, provided they actually DO something to assist the fed up masses in seizing the golden opportunity we have before us, if they would decide to start behaving like a 'serious party', as opposed to a cocktail party joke.

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