Libertarians battle over evolution of the revolution

The Libertarians may have 14 people running for president this year, but the bloody-knuckle fight of today is whether to restore the party’s platform, gutted in 2006 — including such controversial specifics as supporting a world with open borders and no passports, repealing child labor laws, the right to prostitution and recreational drug use, ending all taxation and abolishing the dollar.

Some 552 delegates representing nearly all 50 states at this year’s national convention in Denver are debating today how detailed the party’s guiding moral document should be.

Specifically, a hefty faction – including Libertarian Party Founder David Nolan — wants to restore its extensive platform that was abandoned two years ago. Nolan and other members of the so-called "Restoration Caucus" are critical of the move by what they term was a "small number of overzealous reformers" who reduced the platform from a 14,000 word manifesto to 2,000 words.

Libertarians represent the nation’s largest minority political party, with some 14 million votes being cast for candidates running for office nationwide in 2006. Traditionally the party has opposed all government intervention, including social and fiscal issues.

“We believe that the butchered version adopted in 2006 was a classic case of ‘throwing out the baby with the bath water,’ and urge the Platform Committee to undo the damage that was done in Portland," Nolan opined, in an op/ed being circulated at the convention. "We do not see this proposal as being either ‘radical’ or ‘reformist.’"

The restorers want to reinstall the Libertarian Party’s 2004 platform, which includes highly controversial positions on a number of issues involving both fiscal and social issues. Many of the recommendations being set forth for adoption this year have been reworded substantially from their 2004 versions.

However, others are arguing that that the platform should primarily represent an outreach tool to help draw more people to the party.

Here are just a few examples of modifications being debated by delegated on a number of issues, including terrorism, domestic security, civil liberties, national parks, international trade agreements and privatizing highways and the nation’s air traffic control systems:

Immigration

2004 Platform: Calls for the elimination of all restrictions on immigration, including an abolition of the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Border Patrol.

 

2008 Majority Committee Recommendation: Supports control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a threat to security, health or property.

 

Sex and Drugs

2004 Platform: Calls for the repeal of all laws that restrict the sale, possession and use of drugs, including for recreational use; and those regarding consensual sexual relations, including prostitution and solicitation, and the cessation of state oppression and harassment of homosexual men and women.

 

2008 Majority Committee Recommendation: Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have legitimate authority to define or license personal relationships. Favors the repeal of all laws creating "crimes" without victims.

 

Taxes

2004 Platform: Supports ending all taxation. All criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.

 

2008 Majority Committee Recommendation: Calls for the repeal of the income tax and the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service.

 

Money

2004 Platform: Calls for the elimination of all government fiat money and all government minted coins.

 

2008 Majority Committee Recommendation: Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item.

 

The convention, at the Sheraton in downtown Denver, continues through Monday. Much of Saturday afternoon will be consumed with continued floor debate over the platform.

A presidential debate is scheduled for Saturday night, between the 14 candidates who are vying for the nomination. Two high-profile candidates include former Republican Congressman Bob Barr, who was one of the leaders in the effort to impeach Bill Clinton, as well as former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who also ran as a Democrat for president this year.

However, many delegates have expressed support for other candidates who have been far more active in the party, including Wayne Allyn Root and Mary Ruwart.

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Cara Degette

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