Like many across the Liberty Movement, I have been following the ongoing saga after the shocking accusation made by Michael Heise of the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus alleging that Daniel Hayes, the chair of the LP’s convention committee, flat out rejected an offer to arrange for Ron Paul to be a featured speaker at the 2018 Libertarian Party Convention in New Orleans. Perhaps more shocking than these allegations, however, has been the response. Rather than outrage, it seems much of the scorn from many in the Party has been directed towards Heise, who has been able to produce screen grabs to backup pretty much everything he is saying. The responses range anywhere from dismissing Heise’s ability to pull it off to denying it ever happened (despite the screen grabs) and accusing the Mises Caucus attempting to foster further division inside the party.
I think both of these criticisms miss the point.
Among the allegations made by Heise and supported by the graphic shown below was Hayes telling him that Ron Paul “has no idea what the LP represents”. This was in response to an article by Paul released a few days prior suggesting that during the 2016 election the Libertarian Party had “yielded to prevailing attitudes on war, welfare, the Federal Reserve, and more”. He further criticized the party for “believing that winning was more important than standing for something”, adding that he would “still like to have some hope for the Libertarian Party, but to really fill its role as a challenger to our two-party system (that is actually a one-party system) it would need a major overhaul.”
Now, it’s not hard to see why someone in party leadership might be a little put off by this statement. The problem is, the concerns raised by Paul echo the exact concerns so many of us who have been involved with the party long before Gary Johnson and Bill Weld arrived have been screaming since the 2016 campaign began. Indeed, Heise says it best himself:
“Party leadership did nothing as the Johnson/Weld campaign acted almost as its own separate entity, completely distancing itself from libertarian marketing, trading principles of non-aggression, non-intervention, and Austrian economics for ‘fiscally conservative and socially liberal’ which excited and motivated almost nobody.”
For those of us who had any involvement with the campaign, none of what he said can really be disputed, although it is interesting to note that many of Heise’s harshest critics are some of the same people preparing an attempt to push Weld down the party’s collective throats as the 2020 Presidential nominee.
The fact is that there are a great many of us that are active in the Libertarian Party who were brought to this movement by Dr. Ron Paul. We were attracted to the movement by the vision he laid out of libertarianism, namely that we should never go to war unless we were directly attacked or threatened; that the Federal Reserve should not be allowed to manipulate the economy to the benefit of a select few; that we should never endorse or condone deficit spending; and that individual liberty should always reign supreme. Contrast that with a party who’s most recent Vice-Presidential candidate who called for an expansion of government rather than a reallocation of resources and/or complete withdrawal from the Middle East; who openly advocated for the suspension of due process and Second Amendment rights for citizens placed on government watchlists; and who even went so far as to tout Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine as a viable (some might even suggest preferable) alternatives to the Libertarian ticket.
I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t sound to me like it’s Ron Paul who “has no idea what the LP represents”.
Sadly, it is exactly the views like those of Daniel Hayes and Bill Weld that have kept a great many in the larger Liberty Movement away from the LP, and have many more active members of the Party ready to walk away for good. And for what it’s worth, it’s not just the Ron Paul crowd that is ready to bounce; many long-time activists are tired of giving their heart and soul to a political party whose leadership, when it’s not trolling its own base, seems content to play the role of the JV squad to the Republicans and Democrats. Even now, a quick pass through my Facebook news feed shows a lot of contempt from many in party leadership towards the base they should be trying to build and support.
The battle for the “heart and soul” of the LP appears to be coming to a head at the 2018 National Convention. I ask each and every libertarian who is ready to give it up and walk away to instead stick with us a little longer. Forget what you’ve heard, check out the Mises Caucus for yourself. Get to know Joshua Smith. I speak for neither but stand prepared to fight alongside both to bring our party back to the core libertarian principles of non-aggression, non-intervention in the affairs of others, and a truly limited government that advocates policies in line with Austrian economic theory.
This can be a great moment for the Libertarian Party, one where we finally seize our golden opportunity to put this party firmly on the path to political relevance; but this can only happen if you get involved. Join the fight to make the Libertarian Party “libertarian” again!
You can read more from Matthew McGowan on Think Liberty here.