LPCO's 2002 Convention

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

LPCO's 2002 Convention

by Ari Armstrong, June 30, 2002

Libertarians from around the state gathered May 17-19 in Leadville for their state convention. Carol Hill, a Libertarian on Leadville's city council, helped me organize the event. The Delaware Hotel hosted a social Friday evening. 186 people attended the banquet Saturday night. To read my account of the business meeting, see lpbus.html. Terrific speakers addressed the audience Saturday and Sunday.

Dr. Shawn Elke Glazer and Tom Parker chat Friday night at the Delaware.

Linn and Sharon Armstrong are shown in the foreground with Sheriff Bill Masters. Tony Ryan, Steve D'Ippolito, and Mike Seebeck are in the background.

Peter Saint-Andre came up Friday night to perform at the Delaware.

Author L. Neil Smith and his family socialized Friday night.

L. Neil Smith began the afternoon with an overview of his next novel. One of the characters is a young woman from low-gravity who struggles to compete in ice skating on earth. A central element of the plot is a voluntary effort to save the earth and other human settlements from collision with large stray space rocks. Smith also put in a plug for fully informed juries. Smith has won the Prometheus Award three times. His recent books include The American Zone and Hope. He signed copies of his works for convention attendees.

Gregg Stone, known as "Uncle Nasty" on his radio program on 106.7 KBPI, focused on the importance of the right of free speech. Free speech, he argued, is intimately bound up with social tolerance. In a free society, we must allow others to express themselves the way they see fit. Stone is a former recipient of the Friend of Liberty Award from the Libertarian Party of Colorado.

Stephen Raher offered some historical insights into the war on drugs. He noted drug prohibition is largely rooted in racism. Many of his ideas may be found in an appendix to Sheriff Bill Masters' book, Drug War Addiction.

Ed Quillen's delightful speech about the Colorado Constitution may be read at www.freecolorado.com/2002/06/quillen.html. Quillen is a columnist for the Denver Post.

Diana Hsieh plans to attend graduate school in philosophy at CU, Boulder, this fall. She will also lecture on the foundations of Objectivism for the Objectivist Center this summer. One of Hsieh's projects is a study of honesty from the perspective of rational self-interest.

In her talk, "The Philosophical Underpinnings of Capitalism," Hsieh concluded, "So a defense of capitalism, of freedom of trade, requires these four philosophical ideas: reason, egoism, harmony of interests, and mind-body integration. The rejection of any of them generally leads to statism. The rejection of reason leads to the paternalistic state. The rejection of egoism leads to the welfare state. The rejection of the harmony of interests leads to the egalitarian state. And the rejection of mind-body integration leads to the theocratic state."

Her complete talk may be read here.

Several people thought Douglas Bruce gave the best speech of his life Saturday afternoon. Bruce, the author of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights and founder of Active Citizens Together, discussed his recent troubles with the city of Denver and the erosion of property rights. Bruce plans to keep fighting for lower taxes, property rights, jury rights, and petition rights through his new group.

Joe Becker currently works on the legal team of Mountain States Legal Foundation, a property rights group. Before his move to Colorado, he served with Congressman Ron Paul in Washington, D.C. Paul sees his office largely as an educational effort, Becker said. He elicited smiles from the audience when he told anecdotes about lobbyists. When somebody would come in asking for Paul's support on this or that government project, Becker would ask, "Where is that authorized in the Constitution?" Paul is known as "Dr. No" on the hill because he votes against almost every bill, on the grounds that most proposals are unconstitutional.

"Sometimes people are surprised to find I'm a real person," said author Boston T. Party to close out the afternoon. Boston is also working on a new book, this one a novel about what would happen if libertarians took over a single state in the nation. He noted parallels between his work and the efforts of the Free State Project, which Elizabeth McKinstry discussed the next day. Boston is the author of books like You and the Police, Boston's Gun Bible, and Bulletproof Privacy.

On Saturday evening, Sheriff Bill Masters gave the best speech I've ever seen him give. He related some of his old stories, and some new ones, detailing the troubles with drug prohibition. He is also a keynote speaker at this year's national LP convention.

I also served as MC for the event.

Carol Geltemeyer's new baby George decided to appear a little early so his parents could attend the convention. John Geltemeyer holds Hattie.

Desiree Hickson holds Lilith at the business meeting. Desiree is running for Lt. Governor with Ralph Shnelvar.

Long-time libertarians Ken Riggs and Jan Prince attend the banquet Saturday night at the Mining Museum.

Colorado Libertarians earn the Light of Liberty Award from the Advocates for Self-Government.

Sheriff Bill Masters offers the keynote address at the banquet.

To start off Sunday morning, Dr. Shawn Elke Glazer and San Miguel County Coroner Robert Dempsey discussed issues surrounding medicine. Glazer revealed she has an illness that might eventually be helped through stem cell research. She also believes medical marijuana can help some patients with symptoms like nausea. Unfortunately, government regulations make it more difficult for doctors to do their jobs or even offer their services on the market. Dempsey was a Republican -- until John Ashcroft took on Oregon's "right to die" law. Dempsey believes a person should make the choices that affect his or her body. This year both Dempsey and Masters are running for re-election as Libertarians.

The Sunday crowd split. One group heard the lectures, while the other attended a candidate training seminar with Steve Givot.

Terrence Carroll, whom I came to know through the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and the effort to reform asset forfeiture, addressed the issue of civil liberties in the age of terrorism. Carroll worried such vast powers as granted through the USA PATRIOT Act will eventually be used to harass American citizens. The broad definition of "terrorism" in that act could be applied even to peaceable Americans engaged in political activism. Carroll also warned against racial profiling. A former police officer, Carroll said he understands the importance of looking for specific suspects. But to target an entire class of people is unjust as well as unnecessary. Carroll, who also serves as a Baptist minister, plans to attend law school starting in the fall.

Blake Harrison is trying to repeal Colorado's prohibition on Sunday liquor sales. He brought petitions with him to Leadville and asked for volunteers for his cause. Harrison described how the liquor stores, the grocery stores, and some of the large brewers conspire to keep liquor sales illegal on Sunday. However, most Colorado citizens agree the law should be loosened. To read more about the issue, see www.freecolorado.com/2002/06/bluelaws.html.

Troy Dayton and Kris Lotikar help run a company called Renewable Choice Energy. Predictably located near Boulder, the company sells wind energy on the free market. The pair described their work and also how libertarians can better connect with reasonable environmentalists. The Political Economy Research Center from Montana focuses on free-market environmental issues.

Elizabeth McKinstry discussed the Free State Project. The idea is that 20,000 libertarians would agree to move to a single state and establish a much more libertarian system of government there. The purpose of the Free State, in addition to securing liberty for a large number of people, is to show the world what's possible in a free society. Writers such as Claire Wolfe and Boston T. Party have commented positively about the idea.

Joe Johnson, assisted by Elizabeth Bennett, tried to sell Libertarians on the idea of salesmanship. Johnson and Bennett are the main force behind the LP's outreach at gunshows, and they are active in innumerable other outreach efforts on behalf of the party. Johnson said that to "close the sale," Libertarians need to ask for specific action from people.

To close out the morning, Larry Welshon spoke about market education. He helps run Alpine Valley School. Welshon talked about his school's philosophy and how it allows students to develop their own interests and skills. He said he doesn't support vouchers, because he fears they would bring with them more government regulation over now-private schools.

After lunch, Wayne Laugesen gave one of the best presentations of the convention. Laugesen works for the Boulder Weekly and he spoke about "Media in a Free Society."

The role of the media is properly to "act as a check on government," Laugesen argued. Unfortunately, many reporters are "liberal democrats" who see their role as promoting "popular opinion enforced by the state." They "do not understand that we live in a constitutional republic," not a democracy. Pure democracy would also result in the loss of the First Amendment, Laugesen pointed out. Also, many reporters are "not familiar with Second Amendment literature," Laugesen noted. "They cherish governance by poll." Worse, "journalists have become dependent on government to tell them what to do."

Laugesen believes most journalists receive a poor education. "Journalism school is not teaching history." "A [classical] liberal education liberates," he argued, and it creates the "role of the press as relentless government watchdogs."

Fortunately, alternative media outlets are getting back to no-nonsense reporting. And libertarians can help restore integrity in journalism. "Remind journalists of their role as government watchdog," Laugesen urged. Libertarians should develop relationships with reporters and help them understand the issues from alternative points of view. "Give the libertarian message, because it's a compassionate one," he said.

Carol Hill closed out the convention. Libertarians need to "pick and choose our battles," she said. The budget is more important than most other issues, at least in a small town. It's important for Libertarian leaders to build consensus and persuade people about their proposed ideas. "It's really easy to scare people," she warned. Hill works with fellow-libertarians Lisa Dowdney and Ken Cary on Leadville's city council. The mayor of the town has attempted to disparage the so-called "Libertarian agenda" -- something that's largely a fiction of his own creation -- but Hill seemed confident she can get the situation settled down and get down to the business of promoting a frugal and responsible government in the mountain town.

Carol Hill poses in her bookshop, The Book Mine, with a copy of Sheriff Bill Masters' Drug War Addiction.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com