Greatest-Hits LP Platform
Message[All but five sentences/clauses of this draft Platform consist of language copied directly from the 1972, 2004, and 2006 platforms. The remaining five are paraphrases or elucidations. See if you can spot them without referring to the color-coded version and platform archive at http://marketliberal.org/LP/Platforms .]
PreambleAs Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others. We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized. Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power. In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles. These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.
Statement of PrinciplesWe, the members of the Libertarian Party, hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose. We hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.
1. Personal LibertyIndividuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make. Our support of an individual's right to make choices in life does not mean that we necessarily approve or disapprove of those choices.
1.1. Expression and CommunicationWe support full freedom of expression, and oppose government censorship, regulation or control of communications media and technology. We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others.
1.2. Personal and Bodily PrivacyWe support the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. We favor the freedom and responsibility of adults to decide what sensations and substances they knowingly and voluntarily consume. We favor the freedom of association among private parties to negotiate how they use information voluntarily disclosed to each other.
1.3. Sexuality and ReproductionWe favor the freedom of all adults to engage in any consensual amorous or reproductive behavior or relationship that does not violate the rights of others.We support the repeal of all laws restricting voluntary birth control or voluntary termination of pregnancies during their first hundred days. Parents, or other guardians, have the right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs, without interference by government -- unless they are abusing the children. We oppose all coercive measures for population control.
1.4. Crime and JusticeGovernment exists to protect the rights of every individual including life, liberty and property. Criminal laws should be limited to violation of the rights of others through force or fraud, or deliberate actions that place others involuntarily at significant risk of harm. Individuals retain the right to voluntarily assume risk of harm to themselves. We oppose reduction of constitutional safeguards of the rights of the criminally accused. We favor all-volunteer juries and urge the assertion of the common-law right of juries to judge not only the facts but also the justice of the law.
1.5. Self-DefenseThe only legitimate use of force is in defense of individual rights -- life, liberty, and justly acquired property -- against aggression, whether by force or fraud. This right inheres in the individual, who may agree to be aided by any other individual or group. We affirm the right to keep and bear arms.
2. Economic LibertyA free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of existing governments in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. We oppose all government interference with voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should be allowed to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.
2.1. Property and ContractThe owners of property have the full right to control, use, dispose of -- or in any manner enjoy -- their property without interference, until and unless the exercise of their control infringes the valid rights of others. Property rights are entitled to the same protection as all other human rights. We oppose all controls on wages, prices, rents, profits, production, and interest rates. We oppose all violations of the right to private property, liberty of contract, and freedom of trade. The right to trade includes the right not to trade -- for any reasons whatsoever. Where property, including land, has been taken from its rightful owners by the government or private action in violation of individual rights, we favor restitution to the rightful owners.
2.2. Environment and ResourcesPollution of other people's property is a violation of individual rights. We support the development of an objective system defining resource rights, including riparian rights, as individual property rights to prevent the inevitable over-exploitation of resources held communally and to manage negative externalities like pollution. Individuals have the right to homestead unowned resources, both within the jurisdictions of national governments and within unclaimed territory.
2.3. Government FinanceGovernment should not incur debt, which burdens future generations without their consent. We support the passage of a “Balanced Budget Amendment” to the US Constitution that restricts Congress from spending any more than it collected in revenue the previous year. We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.
2.4. Money and MarketsWe favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types. Individuals engaged in voluntary exchange should be free to use as money any mutually agreeable commodity or item. We call for the abolition of all regulation of financial and capital markets. What should be punished is the theft of information or breach of contract to hold information in confidence, not trading on the basis of valuable knowledge.
2.5. Monopolies, Corporations, and LaborWe seek to divest government of all functions that can be provided by non-governmental organizations or private individuals. We condemn all coercive monopolies. We defend the right of individuals to form corporations, cooperatives and other types of companies based on voluntary association. We oppose government subsidies to business, labor, or any other special interest. Nuclear power, transportation, and other industries should be governed by free markets and held to strict liability. We seek the elimination of occupational licensure. We support the right to associate or not associate in labor unions. An employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union.
2.7. Health Care and EducationWe advocate the separation of education and State. As an interim measure to encourage the growth of private schools and variety in education, including home schooling, we support tax credits for tuition and other expenditures related to an individual's education.
We advocate the separation of medicine and State. We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system. We recognize the freedom of individuals to determine the level of health insurance they want, the level of health care they want, the care providers they want, the medicines and treatments they will use and all other aspects of their medical care.
2.8. Retirement and Income SecurityRetirement planning is the responsibility of the individual, not the government. The proper source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals acting in their communities, not central governments besieged by special interests in a distant capital.
3. Securing LibertyThe principles which guide a legitimate government in its relationships with individuals and with other governments are the same as those which guide relationships among individuals: no individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government.
3.1. National DefenseWe support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. We oppose the government's use of secret classifications to keep from the public information that it should have, especially that which shows that the government has violated the law. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.
3.2. International AffairsAmerican foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and the defense -- against attack from abroad -- of the lives, liberty, and property of the American people on American soil. We recognize the right to unrestricted trade and travel. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We support both political and revolutionary actions by individuals and groups against governments that violate rights.
3.3. Immigration and NaturalizationPolitical freedom and escape from tyranny demands that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a threat to security, health or property.
3.4. Franchise and DiscriminationGovernment should not deny, abridge or enhance any individual's rights at the expense of other people's rights based on sex, wealth, race, color, creed, age, national origin, personal habits, political preference or sexual orientation.
3.5. DemocracyWe support electoral systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. In order to grant voters a full range of choice in federal, state and local elections, we propose proportional voting systems with multi-member districts for legislative elections and instant runoff voting (IRV) for single-winner elections. We support the right to secede where: (1) secession is supported by a majority within the political unit, (2) the majority does not attempt suppression of the dissenting minority, and (3) the government of the new entity is at least as compatible with human freedom as that from which it seceded.
- I think that Brian's draft platform would be an excellent place
for us to start. His sections generally do a good job of defining the
libertarian principles involved; of course, we would need to add the
sections that define the issue, the libertarian solution, and the
action/transition steps to get there.
My major concern is the omission of any plank dealing with the
current erosion of our civil liberties which the current administration
justifies as necessary for internal security. As I showed in my
"Top-10" list, I consider this to be the single most important issue
facing our country today.
-- -- Henry Haller
On Mar 17, 2007, at 1:34 PM, Brian Holtz wrote:
> My major concern is the omission of any plank dealing with the(K) That is your top priority; for others it is drugs, abortion, or
>current erosion of our civil liberties which the current administration
>justifies as necessary for internal security. As I showed in my
>"Top-10" list, I consider this to be the single most important issue
>facing our country today.
> -- -- Henry Haller
national debt, etc. We shouldn't let single issues dominate
the entire libertarian spectrum.
If the plank criticizes the Patriot Act, it should also criticize
the wall of separation between the CIA, FBI, and federal
prosecutors. This wall was created by Gorelick, to shield
Clinton from prosecution for accepting illegal Chinese gov
contribututions and his subsequent giving them military
secrets. Suppose the CIA learns that terrorists plan to
detonate a nuclear bomb in New York harbor. Shouldn't
they be allowed to share this information with the rest
of the executive branch?
The project to divide every platform plank into four
sections has been going on for years, and has been
used as an excuse to not make substantive changes.
How many libertarians even remember what those
four divisions are, and what they mean? The planks
should be so general, that this wouldn't be necessary.
5.5%* 30 year fixed mortgage rate. Good credit refinance. Up to 5 free
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Henry Haller wrote:
HH> we would need to add the sections that define the issue, the libertarian solution, and the action/transition steps to get there. <HH
I'm increasingly skeptical of the issue/principle/solution/transition structure. Can somebody take a sample plank and walk us through how that extended structure has bridged differences instead of exacerbating them? The record of that structure in the 2004 platform is dismal. For example, the Transitional Action sections of eight of the 2004 platform planks demanded various "immediate" repeals etc. The language in the Transitional Action section is actually more extreme than the rest of the plank for these six other 2004 planks: Victimless Crimes, War on Drugs, Right To Keep And Bear Arms, Immigration, Trade Barriers, Election Laws. For many other planks, the transition section is just as extreme as the rest of the plank, or essentially restates what the rest of the plank says, or is an alphabet-soup list of laws and agencies that we demand be abolished. The "two sandbox" model -- if indeed that is how the structure has been intended to operate -- seems to invite the sort of extremism and editorial incontinence that many of us believe are the platform's two biggest problems.HH> My major concern is the omission of any plank dealing with the current erosion of our civil liberties which the current administration justifies as necessary for internal security. <HHIn a platform of ~20 planks, we don't have much room to devote a separate plank to restate our existing principles as a criticism of an administration that will have only six months left in office when the platform is adopted. We should organize the platform around positive and enduring assertions of our rights and liberties, as opposed to laundry lists of current trends we oppose and why our opponents are wrong. Is there a specific civil liberty being eroded that is not already affirmed (or not affirmed strongly enough) by the draft platform? If so, we can fix that. The only items in the Bill of Rights that are arguably not mentioned by the draft are the rights to peaceably assemble, petition the government, and not quarter troops. I haven't noticed these three rights being eroded lately.Guy McLendon wrote:GM> So again my question is with regard to the Atlanta consensus: “Does the LP have enough organizational spirit to complete one idea before we jump around to another?” <GMDid anything get written down about the "Atlanta consensus"? I for one am willing to be educated about the history and merits of the Atlanta structure. But I doubt that many of us will be easily persuaded by invocation of tradition for tradition's sake. :-) I was and remain willing to work on George's program of rewriting and consolidating 6-10 planks per convention, but with the Portland Platform Revolution we have what might be a one-time chance to scour away almost all the barnacles that have encrusted and obscured the Platform's shining principles. We should be prepared both to capitalize on that opportunity, and to make constructive progress if that opportunity eludes us.GM> it’s an absolute requirement that the Platform Committee be prepared to recommend changes that basically mend the Platform based upon its current form. [...] Perhaps the theme of the Denver Convention will be “Platform Café” … with two entrées on the menu. <GMOr more. People are proposing such good fixes to the Greatest Hits draft that I'm going to split it into two versions: one that keeps language from prior platforms whenever possible, and one that isn't shy about fixing problems in that language while remaining recognizably inspired by it. We probably can't sell the latter version unless we show its connection to the former.
Kevin Bjornson wrote:
KB> If the statements were general enough, they would satisfy puritans while at the same time allowing room for pragmatists. We don't need to make a neutral "issue" statement as a preface. <KB
KB> The entire platform should fit on four 8.5"x11" pages. That way, printing and mailing would be cheaper. [...] The first paragraph states the main idea, and a summary of 3-5 main arguments. Following are 3-5 paragraphs, one paragraph per main argument. Within each paragraph are sub-arguments. The last pargraph recapitulates the 3-5 main arguments [...] <KB
The Greatest Hits draft would easily fit on two sheets. But if you're looking for a piece of marketing literature to hand to the average voter, then don't author it by committee at biannual conventions requiring 2/3 approval under bylaws that also allow for random plank deletions, challenges to the Judicial Committee, minority reports, etc. The bylaws-mandated plank structure virtually guarantees that the Platform cannot make a good mass-mailing.
The goal of Platform reform is not to write the ideal voter outreach pamphlet. The goal of Platform reform is to remove the obstacles to writing voter outreach pamphlets that are ideal for each of the various kinds of voters.
We shouldn't make Platform reform harder than it already is. Let's write a Platform that does its job, so that our candidates and other marketeers can do theirs. The job of the LP Platform is to provide a comprehensive but terse reference document for looking up what direction the LP advocates for any important area of public policy. The job of the LP Platform is not to be a magical text that will convert to libertarianism 51% of the average voters who read it. No such text is possible, and we would be setting up the platform reform movement for failure if we frame our effort that way.
- --- Brian Holtz <brian@...> wrote:
> I'm increasingly skeptical of the issue/principle/solution/transitionI didn't like that project from the start.
> in the Transitional Action section is actually more extremeThe 2004 platform committee adopted as their task to split the
> than the rest of the plank for these six [...]
then-existing platform wording of each plank into the four
categories as best they could. It was more likely to be accepted
in one fell swoop at the convention if they could say it was
the exact same wording, just rearranged. Obviously, the
existing wording often didn't fit well into those categories.
However I think it was viewed as a "foot in the door" toward
more substantive changes to come later. I had a sense that
was what was going on and it was another reason I didn't
like the change.
- On Mar 21, 2007, at 2:40 AM, Brian Holtz wrote:
> HH> we would need to add the sections that define the issue, theBrian is correct about the inadequacies of the 2004 platform.
> libertarian solution, and the action/transition steps to get there.
> I'm increasingly skeptical of the issue/principle/solution/transition
> structure. Can somebody take a sample plank and walk us through
> how that extended structure has bridged differences instead of
> exacerbating them? The record of that structure in the 2004 platform
> is dismal. For example, the Transitional Action sections of eight of
> the 2004 platform planks demanded various "immediate" repeals
> etc. The language in the Transitional Action section is actually more
> extreme than the rest of the plank for these six other 2004 planks:
> Victimless Crimes, War on Drugs, Right To Keep And Bear Arms,
> Immigration, Trade Barriers, Election Laws. For many other planks,
> the transition section is just as extreme as the rest of the plank,
> or essentially restates what the rest of the plank says, or is an
> alphabet-soup list of laws and agencies that we demand be abolished.
> The "two sandbox" model -- if indeed that is how the structure has
> been intended to operate -- seems to invite the sort of extremism and
> editorial incontinence that many of us believe are the platform's two
> biggest problems.
However, there was a reason for that. In order to be able to get this
major revision passed by the convention, we constrained ourselves to
simply rearrange the language in the existing planks into the four
sections rather than create any new language. (There were a few
exceptions to this rule in cases where there just simply was not any
language in an existing plank that could possibly be interpreted to
fulfill one of the four sections; these exceptions were pointed out in
the committee report.) Thus, the convention was not being asked to
approve wholesale additions to the platform, but instead just a
reformatting of the existing language, with minor additions. The
strategy worked, in that the revision passed. However, many of the
sections were very poorly written due to the constraint of only using
existing language. In particular, the transition sections were very
poorly written because there simply was not any transition language in
many of the existing planks. The plan was to correct as many of these
inadequacies as possible at the 2006 convention, not anticipating the
train wreck that would result there.
I still think the 4-part format is the only way to create a
platform that will satisfy our different constituencies. The Principle
and Solution sections serve to keep us on principle, while the
Transition section, if properly written, can satisfy those who want to
see a short term agenda for the next election cycle. If we choose to
ignore either of these two constituencies, we risk a major rift in the
party that we can ill afford. If anyone has a better solution to the
question of how to keep both sides happy, please share it with us.
-- -- Henry Haller
MessageHenry Haller wrote:HH> The Principle and Solution sections serve to keep us on principle, while the Transition section, if properly written, can satisfy those who want to see a short term agenda for the next election cycle. If we choose to ignore either of these two constituencies, we risk a major rift in the party that we can ill afford. <HHBoth of those constituencies are misguided. Given the available principled and self-consistent varieties of libertarianism, it's self-marginalizing for the Platform to pretend that absolutist zero-aggression anarcholibertarianism is the only thing that can "keep us on principle". It's equally unwise to try to keep the Bylaws-encumbered Platform up-to-date at each Convention as a legislative agenda for the next election cycle, especially when the Cato Institute already does such a good job with its biannual legislative handbook.HH> If anyone has a better solution to the question of how to keep both sides happy, please share it with us. <HHI'm not sure I'd even call it a "solution" to splice together 1) our most extreme anarchopurist vision with 2) our most pragmatic recurring short-term effort to propose legislation for the next Congress. What we need instead is a principled statement about the libertarian direction for each policy area -- a statement that is not so specific that it either 1) mandates a particular faction's goal state or 2) rules out commendable ways to make progress in the libertarian direction. Our Bylaws state that our purpose includes "moving public policy in a libertarian direction". Our Bylaws do not state that our purpose is to be an Underwriters Laboratory that tests public policy proposals for conformity with 1940's-style anarchopurist utopianism.The way to unify the LP around a Platform is not to just paste together contradictory wish lists from each LP faction. The way to unify the LP around a Platform is to write down what most liberty-lovers should be able to agree on, while not taking sides on the issues over which large numbers of liberty-lovers disagree. There is surely enough writing talent in the Platform-interested LP community to eloquently and elegantly describe what the Bylaws mean by "a libertarian direction" in public policy. If we can't do that, and instead insist on using the Platform as a battleground for disputes over tactics and issues and ultimate visions, then we as a party deserve the continuing failure that this will guarantee.We've heard prominent LRC members express approval of the approach underlying the draft Greatest Hits platform. I'm glad we have some self-described purists here, because we'll need to see if they agree that the draft describes a libertarian direction that can be interpreted as leading to where they want to go. I'm still waiting to hear the first substantive criticism that it doesn't do so.Dave Dellinger writes that principled vs. pragmatic is a false dichotomy, and I agree in both the sense he intends and in another sense. I agree not only that it's possible to define a pragmatic transitional path toward an ultimate goal of principled anarchopurist utopia. But I also think that there are self-consistent principled libertarian waypoints along the way, and that we should not dismiss as compromisers those who want to get off the Freedom Train when it reaches their ideal stop. For example, I'm a fire-breathing economics-oriented minarchist who's fully prepared to argue that his position is more libertarian -- i.e. more liberty-maximizing in the real world -- than aggression-abstaining ZAPsolutist anarcholibertarianism. But I reject the notion that this debate has to be settled before we can get the Freedom Train moving. And I of course utterly reject the notion that it's been settled that aggression-abstaining anarcholibertarianism is the "most libertarian" of the various flavors of libertarianism. It's indeed the most distant from the current American mainstream, but one blatantly begs the question if one assumes that degree of libertarian-ness is measured by degree of nonconformity with the status quo.Kevin Bjornson writes:KB> Self-described "anarcho-capitalists" don't literally advocate "anarchy" since they would still have agencies of retaliatory and defensive force. Many or most "anarchists" don't call such agencies "government". However, such are governments, because the dictionaries don't make that distinction. <KBYes, I'm aware of the anarcholibertarian distinction between law and government. "Govern" has multiple senses in the dictionary, but the sense understood by most native speakers of English in the political context includes the notion of sovereign authority. Anarchists need to forswear bait-and-switch and have the courage to give us a name that describes all and only the institutions that they oppose. In mainstream political theory, that name is "government" -- by which I understand that institution, or hierarchy of institutions, that maintains a formal monopoly on the initiation of force in a given territory. An institution does not count as "government" in the political sense if, like a book club or condo association, it has no power to initiate force. The Zero Aggression Principle is inconsistent with having any such force-initiating institution(s) whatsoever. This is clearly the meaning of "government" that has been intended in every LP Platform since 1972. Thus it's fair in this context to define anarchism as the belief that institutions meeting this definition of "government" are unnecessary and undesirable.
Like Henry, I'm not so sure the Atlanta Consensus feature should be
eliminated from the platform ... esp in 2008. That's not to say that
a very shortened version will not eventually be the correct answer.
Before such a drastic change is adopted, I strongly believe the
Purists are going to have to warm up to the idea of very short
planks, and actually embrace it. This is not a change that can be
rammed through. In 2008, if we can bring to closure the vision from
Atlanta, albeit in a shortened platform, so we have an epic, tight
Platform ... using basically the Atlanta plank structure ... we'll
have done a great job. I urge us to complete the business we've
started before zig-zaging to & fro ...
Like yourself, I 100% agree the platform should focus on Common
Ground ... with a strict radar lock on topics that 80% of
libertarians, small L, agree upon. Hence, I urge the Platform
Commmittee & delegates to consider "Common Ground" in our selection
of plank topics. Further, don't look solely at the "Common Ground"
of the persons present in Denver 2008, but rather look at what the LP
constituency must be ... when we're able to tip the balance of power
in the House of Representatives. The LP must earn the trust &
confidence of the remaining Americans who yearn for limits on power
of public officials.
When I say "tip the balance of power", I'm *NOT* talking about
getting 50 LP folks elected to Congress on the LP ticket. We don't
have the cash & media coverage for such a frontal assault. IMHO, we
can do the tipping as a party without directly winning the
campaigns. As a teaser, think "Jim Jeffords" & "Sun Tse" ...
Also like George Squyres, I agree the platform should not use too
much jargon, and be written in "Soccer Dad/Mom" English ... using
simple yet elequent language that will resonate with many citizens.
In response to
BH: Dueling wish lists or a statement of common ground?
Henry Haller wrote:
HH>If we choose to ignore either of these two constituencies, we risk
a major rift in the party that we can ill afford. <HH
HH> If anyone has a better solution to the question of how to keep
both sides happy, please share it with us. <HH
BH: I'm not sure I'd even call it a "solution" to splice together 1)
our most extreme anarchopurist vision with 2) our most pragmatic
recurring short-term effort to propose legislation for the next
The way to unify the LP around a Platform is not to just paste
together contradictory wish lists from each LP faction. The way to
unify the LP around a Platform is to write down what most liberty-
lovers should be able to agree on, while not taking sides on the
issues over which large numbers of liberty-lovers disagree.