Was I the Only Libertarian at the Colorado Libertarian Convention?
[For more material about Mark Brophy's Libertarian nomination for the Colorado legislature, along with commentary about the Liberatrian Party of Colorado, please see Mark Brophy Updates.]
[Following Lloyd Sweeny's comments are additional notes by Rick Randall, the new Legislative Director for the Libertarian Party of Colorado, and Ari Armstrong. Sweeny has run for political office as a Libertarian and served as the state LP's liason to a minor-party coalition.]
Lloyd Sweeny, May 27
Was I the only Libertarian at the Colorado Libertarian convention?
Where did the principles go? Does anyone still care?
I thought I was a member of the party of principle. Well, principles weren't there at the convention I went to. Saturday, or Sunday. I was at the right place, at the right time. Where did they go?
The selection and designation of candidates was rolling along until Mark Brophy's nomination for Colorado Senate District 14. I'll spare you the details of what my faulty memory contains of the claims and counter statements.
The results? Thirty so-called libertarians voted to designate a gun-control advocate as an official candidate. I was the only Libertarian in the room. I was the only one that raised a hand to vote NOTA.
I guess it's "Damn the principles, full nominations ahead!" Right then I knew the libertarian party had grown up and joined with the Rs and Ds. "We don't need no stinking principles, we need votes!"
(If I were RMGO or GOA, I'd advise the membership to avoid supporting the libertarians in any way. This isn't rumor, this isn't inneundo, there's no mistake or misunderstanding, it's a matter of public record.)
I thought that vote was bad. It got worse.
I don't remember the candidate's name. I think the office was for Weld County Commissioner. The candidate was "Libertarian" -- except for the immigration (open borders) issue. I listened, and knew that I had heard that same sorry line from other angry white men (too) many times before.
He wasn't a Libertarian, he was (at best) a sorry example of a confused Republican. On the first vote, NOTA won. There was a flurry of activity, partly led by Dan Cochran, and the crucial question was asked: "Are you trainable?"
(A note here. Some believed that the nominee had simply used the wrong words to describe his stand. All he needed was some "guidance" and he would be an acceptable Libertarian candidate.)
The nominee said "Yes!", and eagerness to get just one more candidate on the ballot, not principles, would decide the next vote.
Two years after the Stanley Debacle, the libertarians have now set themselves up with a pair of potentially party-destroying candidates. Knowing full well, at the convention, ahead of time, what the obvious problems are.
The Rs and the Ds don't have to worry about the Ls. The Ls have already lost lots of blood from shooting themselves in the foot with one debacle. Now the Ls have two freshly designated bullets to use on another foot. It won't be long and they won't have a leg to stand on.
Given that the after effects of the first debacle have left us with about one third as many convention attendees as two years ago, it seems logical that if ANYTHING goes wrong, two years from now (the next election cycle), the libertarians won't need hotel convention space for the ten to fifteen people who will still care enough to represent what's left of the party.
Years ago, I pulled my financial support from the party. After this, I don't think I will support any of the individual candidates, either. It's sad to think that two short years from now, one election cycle, there could be 8,000 registered Libertarians, and no party organization left.
With a heavy heart, and a lonely sigh, I'm going to bed wondering:
"Should I re-register as an independent?" (probably by Labor Day)
"Can I find another active Libertarian -- one that still cares -- in Colorado?"
"Should I join the others, who moved out of state?"
Ari Armstrong, June 1
If you're going to call me silly names, why don't you at least have the honor and integrity to do it to me directly, rather than behind my back? I challenge you to write up your opinions about me, and Brophy's nomination, in a public letter, so others can independently evaluate the merits of our respective cases. If you can rationally defend the nomination of Brophy, then go ahead and do so. If you can't, then demand his resignation. No other option is available to an honorable man.
Rick Randall, June 1
[Y]ou wrote... "If you're going to call me silly names, why don't you at least have the honor and integrity to do it to me directly, rather than behind my back?"
To my knowledge, I have never called you a silly name; I have never called you any "name" other than Ari.
Ari, you KNOW that I STRONGLY disagree with you and what you're doing. We even agreed to disagree while on the phone with Ralph. I've never attempted to go "behind your back."
WHAT I DID say (and the comment to which I believe you are referring) was: "The Republicans, Democrats and Greens have no better weapon against the Libertarian Party than Ari and his 'Colorado Freedom Report.' Ari is NOT our savior. If anything, he is our Judas."
I think that it's an accurate analogy.
Through your "Colorado Freedom Report" you are stoking the fires of dissent -- dividing the party, promoting in-fighting and backstabbing within our ranks. You seem to somehow think that we should only accept 100% perfect Libertarians as candidates... and only through subjecting our candidates to a Libertarian inquisition can this be accomplished. Apparently, you believe that if someone is only 95% or 90% Libertarian, then they are a bad candidate for the party.
While I agree that we should not be fielding candidates who are "loose canons" (e.g., Rick Stanley), I do not agree with our candidates coming under the scrutiny of an inquisition.
What I hear from others is that you once did a great deal of good for the party... and in "some" areas you still do good for the party. But two rights do not justify a wrong.
[You write:] "I challenge you to write up your opinions about me, and Brophy's nomination, in a public letter, so others can independently evaluate the merits of our respective cases. If you can rationally defend the nomination of Brophy, then go ahead and do so. If you can't, then demand his resignation. No other option is available to an honorable man."
Brophy can speak for himself. Mark Brophy: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm not going to enter into a lengthy e-mail argument with you -- or try to sway you from the path you've decided to take. I joined the board because I want to work to better the LPCO.
I would have preferred to respond to this e-mail via phone. But I do not have your phone number. Below are my phone numbers. I would be happy to chat about any of the above with you. However, we have a BIG disagreement. From my perspective, you're harming the party that I am working to better. Obviously, I will NOT support tearing down a party that I am trying to help build.
Richard C. Randall
Ari Armstrong, June 2
[Below is my reply to Randall. However, I also want to set the record straight on a number of factual matters. First, Randall did say some very nasty things about me in another e-mail, including the "Judas" comment. Second, I never "agreed to disagree," if that means I somehow approved of Randall's support of Brophy. Third, I have never claimed to be anybody's "savior," though my criticisms are obviously intended to set the state LP on the right path. Fourth, I have never called for anything like an "inquisition," if that terms means, as my Random House suggests, "an official investigation... characterized by lack of regard for individual rights, prejudice on the part of the examiners, and recklessly cruel punishments." However, in politics, particularly libertarian politics, it is essential that we learn the views of potential candidates. Those who express anti-libertarian views, such as Brophy, should not become Libertarian candidates. Randall ludicrously confuses an inquisition with a reasoned review of a potential candidate's publicly expressed views.]
You again completely ignore the central issue: Mark Brophy has expressed support for (among other things) registering gun owners with the state and imposing a waiting period for gun purchases. In no way are these publicly stated positions of Brophy's compatible with libertarianism.
You write as if this were a trivial matter. It is not. You continue to throw around such meaningless terms as "90% Libertarian" -- after I have repeatedly explained why the position you express is untenable.
Brophy has written on this matter THREE TIMES without justifying his positions. I have included all three comments on my web page.
You have failed to refute (or even address) even a single point I've made about Brophy's nomination. Instead, you have resorted to ad hominem attack. You have maligned me and made false accusations about me behind my back and unjustly impugned my motives.
You accuse me of tearing down the party, yet the ones doing that are those who nominated Brophy and who continue to support him, a candidate who has publicly expressed hostility to core libertarian positions. You, by supporting Brophy, are doing more harm to the state LP than you can ever possibly make up for. Most gun owners in this state will never take the LP seriously again. And real libertarians will refuse to participate with sham candidates. You claim I'm "stoking the fires of dissent," when actually I'm expressing the dissent that's been welling up among many long-time activists for many months -- because of unprincipled pretenders who are dragging the state party through the mud. If there is any hope for the state LP, its current "leaders" had better stop blaming the messenger and remember that the *entire* point of the Libertarian Party is to advocate libertarianism.
The proper standard for a Libertarian candidate is not perfection -- you are merely attacking a straw man because you obviously cannot counter my specific arguments -- it is instead an adherence to libertarianism. If I want some semi-quasi-sort-of- once-in-a-while- when-it-happens-to-be-convenient- "libertarian," I have plenty of Republicans and Democrats to pick from. The purpose of the Libertarian Party is to run *libertarian* alternatives to non-libertarians in other parties.
My phone number is 303.412.8366. However, if you wish to discuss Brophy's nomination with me, you may continue to do so in a public e-mail exchange.