PLEDGE was a group organized to campaign against a set of changes being proposed for consideration at the 1993 Convention which had as their aim making the LP more "inclusive" -- the most controversial of which were the elimination of the "membership pledge" and a complete rework of the style of and procedures for adopting the Platform. In announcing its formation, the group said its name stood for "Principled Libertarians Endorsing Diversity, Growth, and Effectiveness".
PLEDGE was formed to respond to the actions of the "Atlanta group", which later organized under the name "Committee for a Libertarian Majority" (CLM). A group of 16 activists, including a large number of LNC members, held a meeting in Atlanta one week prior to the December 1992 meeting of the LNC, but without informing the rest of the LNC, and came up with a set of recommendations which they presented for adoption at that meeting. This was met with fierce opposition by other LNC members, who either felt that they had not been given adequate notice for proper debate or that they had been intentionally "ambushed" by this approach. Many of the recommendations were adopted by the LNC at that meeting, but opponents resolved to fight back by working for repeal of some of them at later meetings and to block the ones that would require action at the upcoming convention.
As of the initial announcement of the group in February 1993, it claimed the following as members:
- President: Steve Alexander (who had been an LNC member but resigned in protest of the December action)
- Current LNC members:
Position on the Issues
The main issues leading up to the convention were retention of the membership pledge and a comprehensive, incrementally amended Platform. PLEDGE explained its position on these issues as follows (as published in advertising in LP News):
What Are The Pledge And The Platform To Us?
Most members of the Libertarian Party must be puzzled by the fight over the membership pledge and the platform. Both sides say they are committed to Libertarian principles and to party growth. Yet CLM says the pledge and the current platform process must go, while PLEDGE says they must stay.
Why does PLEDGE defend the pledge and the platform?
The statement that each person makes to join the party creates a sense of membership. We’re not customers or subscribers or observers of the Libertarian Party; we belong to it. We are dedicated to it. We participate in it. The comprehensive, enduring, and evolving platform creates a sense of ownership. The Libertarian Party belongs to us. It reflects our views on public policy. Any member can be a delegate. Any delegate can propose changes to the platform. Any delegate can vote on every change to the platform. And that member’s contribution endures.
The pledge and the platform are also our bulwarks against ideological drift. Ideological drift is the process by which an organization loses its original principles and goals, sometimes so much as to reach the opposite principles. The Democrats drifted from Thomas Jefferson to William Jefferson (Clinton). The Liberal movement once stood for liberty and now stands for the welfare state.
There are no masses of libertarians who would flock to the party if we had a "Reader’s Digest" throw-away platform and no membership standards. If there were, we would know about them.
The Libertarian Party paid membership is growing 24% per year. Our finances and management are strong. The 1992 election got us more media coverage and respect than we had in 1988.
We can improve, but only if we change the right things. If we want more new members, let's be more responsive and attentive to inquirers and visitors to our meetings. If we want to keep our members active, let’s be more considerate of each other. If we want to win elections, let's choose our races realistically, work as hard, and spend as much as our competition.
This summer, PLEDGE will propose a plan to build the Libertarian Party. At the national convention we will defend the institutions that keep the party libertarian. If you believe that growth and principles don’t conflict, and we must have both, join PLEDGE. Declare yourself.
LP News Advertising Campaign
PLEDGE reached out to convention delegates by placing full-page advertisements in LP News, which was the primary vehicle for communicating with the membership in that era. Advertisements ran every month for five months, from April 1993 through August 1993, leading up to the convention which was held Labor Day Weekend.