We have a wealth of talented, professional, and good people on the Libertarian National Committee. What in the world is driving them to act like an out of control Donald Trump at a press conference? How can we help them get through this with the Libertarian Party intact?
Let’s take a deep breath, step back, and reflect rationally on what might be behind this out of character behavior.
To start with, LNC members are under a huge burden of stress with the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting need to reschedule and relocate the 2020 national convention. But LNC members normally handle crises well. What else could explain their out of character behavior.
Are convention rescheduling concerns and blaming leadership for proposed convention options a legitimate justification for their out of character behavior or a convenient cop out? I leave that for the reader to judge. Regardless, how can we help them get through it?
It may be more productive to examine other possible causes than might suggest constructive solutions. However, before we get to solutions, here are some additional mitigating circumstance to consider.
First, does politics as usual bring out the worst in us? Absolutely, in my opinion. However, given the explicit political nature of our organization, that is a problem that will not go away and we must counter by applying Libertarian principles. The reality is that most human actions have a political element under the hood. How we channel our political behavior is another matter.
Second, is the LNC authoritarian top-down structure also a cause for dysfunction? Yes, in my opinion. However, we are stuck with a top-down structure as long as the LNC is an elective body.
The LNC, like most political party national committees, is made up entirely of elected members. The LNC includes officers, At Large members, regional representatives, and regional alternates, all elected by national convention delegates. The LNC is by definition a top-down structure. Whether it is an authoritarian top-down structure is open to debate. My assessment is that all top-down structures are authoritarian by design and typically but not necessarily in practice.
There is no simple way to change the LNC top-down nature, which flies in the face of my understanding that the purpose of the Libertarian movement is to fight top-down institutional authoritarianism at every turn. Regardless, there is no choice today but to accept the political nature and top-down structure and commit to circumventing those limitations if the LNC is to succeed in achieving the Libertarian goal of freedom.
Given that the LNC is saddled with a political nature and top-down structure, what facet of the LNC structure can the LNC control? Perhaps the operational purpose? That begs the question: Are you willing to consider the possibility that the LNC’s function is not appropriately purposed?
Perhaps looking at LNC strengths and weaknesses would be a useful method to analyze the possible issue of the LNC being mispurposed. What strengths and weaknesses can we distill from the LNC’s top-down structure and diversity of elected representative views and purposes?
First, here are specific LNC weaknesses that are outside their control:
The elective structure and diverse views and purposes present considerable challenges that are outside LNC control. As a restult, the LNC has considerable difficulty agreeing on what to do, why to do it, how to do it, when to do it, and how to pay for it, all of which are preconditions to getting stuff done successfully. This inherent weakness is difficult to avoid in a top-down political structure.
Another weakness outside LNC control is the fact that the LNC is NOT an organization composed of individuals who volunteer to work together based on a comprehensive list of shared views and purposes as is the case with volunteer projects.
The LNC is an elective body whose individual members are theoretically expected to reflect the will of the majority of the constituents they represent despite the wide range of diverse views and purposes of their constituents, not to mention minorities whom they also are supposed to represent but in name only because the minorities differ from the majority with their own set of diverse views and purposes.
Unfortunately, the LNC is stuck with elective representative top-down structure weaknesses that are outside their control and limit their ability to get stuff done. Further, the top-down structure fosters passing the buck on responsibilities and stifles innovation. We must face the fact that In the foreseeable future we cannot change these inherent weaknesses that are outside LNC control. What to do?
Not all is lost. Despite the top-down structure and elective diversity limitations, elective committees are exceptionally well suited to act as think tanks to brainstorm project ideas. The diversity of LNC member backgrounds and rational talents works well to ensure an over-brimming melting pot of innovative ideas.
LNC members are also good at communicating their innovative brainstorming ideas to those outside the top-down structure, including affiliates and independent volunteers who are willing and able to take the bull by the horns and run with LNC project ideas on top of their local projects.
The same talented people who struggle to get stuff done within a top-down elective structure have remarkable talents best expressed outside their parent top-down structures as the ability to tackle and carry innovative projects through to successful conclusions. We see it all the time. Our talented LNC members are no exception and excel at it.
When committee-bound folks, limited by top-down constraints, step outside their confining structure, their accomplishments are amazing. They take the bull by the horns, surround themselves with like-minded folks outside their structural constraints, lead by example, make and keep commitments, and get a hell of a lot of amazing stuff done.
Other strengths that the LNC could leverage despite their top-down and elective diversity limitations are the underutilized talents of LNC members to act as project liaisons and facilitators when invited, and providers of moral and logistical support to those outside the structure who are accomplishing projects critical the Libertarian movement agenda of achieving freedom goals.
Is the LNC open to reconsidering the purpose of their operational strategy and leveraging their brainstorming, liaison, facilitation, and moral support skills of their talented members in order to circumvent their top-down and elective diversity constraints? Time will tell. The long term success of the LP and Libertarian movement may depend on Libertarians’ willingness to reexamine the purpose of the LNC and modify it as necessary to better suit members skills within a top-down elective structure.
As Ken Moellman, our over-achiever Libertarian from Kentucky, wisely said, it is time to “take a deep breath”. In this time of pandemic turmoil and convention concerns, let us take a time out, smell the sweet scent of freedom that Libertarians seek, and tackle our Libertarian and LNC challenges with a refreshed and renewed sense of purpose.
D. Pratt Tseramed, May 14, 2020