Document:Letter 17 July 2009 on Party Principles to the LNC by David Nolan

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Herewith, my best wishes to the members of Libertarian National Committee as it convenes for business in St. Louis, Missouri. You are voluntarily spending your own time and resources to advance the cause of liberty in America, and I commend you all for your commitment.

I hope that you will proceed in a spirit of amity, and urge you to use your time productively. Do not waste it on internal bickering, attempts to censure or expel other Libertarians, and other such trivia. Our country is in deep trouble. Now, more than ever before, the Libertarian Party must offer a coherent and compelling alternative to the stale policies of statism. People are ready to hear our message — if that message is stated clearly and boldly. The success of Ron Paul's 2008 campaign and its outgrowth, the Campaign for Liberty, show that millions of Americans are hungry for real change.

And there is an important lesson to be learned from the success of the Paul campaign and the C4L. That lesson is that it pays to be bold. Notice that the grassroots uprising sparked by the Ron Paul campaign calls itself the Ron Paul REVOLUTION. Not the “Ron Paul gradual reform movement.” They're calling for ending the Federal personal income tax, not just mouthing empty platitudes about “lower taxes” or “more freedom.” (Compared to what? What we have now? Obama's proposals?) And they are gaining adherents far more rapidly than the Libertarian Party is; the C4L currently has five to ten times as many members as we do!

As I see it, the Libertarian Party has gone far astray from its original mission. Somewhere along the way, our commitment to being The Party of Principle was replaced by a shallow, opportunistic goal of “winning elections now” — any election, anywhere. Principles be damned, according to the proponents of this vision. We should back off from “scary” positions, tone down our rhetoric, find out “what voters want,” and tailor our message to what they want to hear.

The nadir of this mindset was reached in a “Monday Message” dated March 9, 2009. It carried the heading “The most important principle is winning.”

I would be hard-put to come up with a statement more antithetical to our beliefs and purpose. Just for starters, “winning” is not a principle at all; it might be a goal, or a strategy for achieving our goals, but it's not a principle. And if it were, it's not our principle. This is pure opportunistic rubbish — exactly what you'd expect from a Republican or Democratic party hack.

No, the most important principle, for libertarians, is the principle of self-ownership, as set forth in the Preamble to our Platform, and our Statement of Principles. These are the standards by which every policy statement and every campaign must be judged. Anyone who is uncomfortable with this yardstick probably ought to be in another party — one where “the most important principle is winning.”

My fellow Libertarians, our party is at a crossroads. Either we stand up boldly for liberty, or we lose all relevance. The voters who want real, meaningful, substantive change will direct their energies elsewhere, while opportunists who seek short-term electoral victories will support the Republican and Democratic politicians who offer a far better chance of “winning now.”

I urge each of you to bear these thoughts in mind during your upcoming meeting.

Yours in Liberty,
David F. Nolan
July 17, 2009