Sunday, May 2, 2021

Inside Baseball

WHAT is even HAPPENING?

Some people may be wondering what is going on in the LPD lately.  I've announced I'm no longer actively pursuing the position of State Chair at the June 5th Convention.  The "Liberty Speaks" event posted on the State FB page has been canceled with the note, "This is no longer and LPD affiliated event."  Some of you may have heard, though I don't think it's been very well publicized, that State Chair Sean Goward has resigned.  Some of you may have also seen a lot of drama over the past few months, mostly on Facebook, and some on Discord as well if you've been there.

There's a school of thought that it makes us "look bad" to be fighting with each other, so conflicts should be kept quiet.  Schisms should be papered over.  There's an extent to which that is true, at least in regards to the where and the how fights should take place in a party where we are all supposed to be on the same side.  However, we are also a party that believes in transparency.  Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and without publicly shared information, quiet rumors and disinformation is allowed to fester and take root.

I will admit and acknowledge that I have been central in this conflict from the beginning.  In mid to late January, Sean and a couple of other prominent LPD members stopped using Facebook, and no one has been as active as I have in utilizing the State Party's social media resources to promote the party or explain the activities of the State Board.  That makes my account of history biased, I will admit, but anyone else telling this story is probably biased as well, or doesn't have the background to confer the necessary context to understand these events.  It therefore falls to me to try to explain what has been happening in the LPD, the context of those events within the National LP, and to try to do so in a way that explains the actions of the State Board and myself as impartially as possible.  I don't doubt that individuals on the other side of this conflict will dispute my characterization of events, but I also don't doubt that they have been espousing their own to anyone who will listen and I dispute their characterization of events.  The difference now is that I'm going to try to recount the story, from the beginning, in public.  They can dispute what they like, but I have logs of Discord discussions, screenshots of Signal threads, and links and screenshots of Facebook posts as well.  I'm not going to dump them all into this post as that would overwhelm the narrative and wouldn't be a complete picture either based on what has been preserved and what has not, but I do have receipts.

So, from the beginning.  This will be long.  The first thing it is necessary to understand, that those outside the party and even many within it that don't pay attention to the palace intrigue of the National Party and its myriad factions, is the existence and temperament of the so called "Libertarian Party Mises Caucus".

WTAF is the "Mises Caucus"?

Accounts will vary.  On their face, according to their website, they're a caucus within the National Libertarian Party.  They have a platform.  Most of the policies it contains aren't dissimilar from items that exist in the National Party's platform.  It's much shorter.  The emphasis is very clearly on property rights and economic freedoms such as low taxes, minimal regulations, sound money, etc.  The group is named after "Ludwig von Mises", an Austrian economist, and the platform reasonably approximates his economic philosophy that did not address the broader concerns of the LP platform relating to social issues, free expression, etc.

That's all well and good.  Where they run into trouble is the structure and behavior of their "caucus" and its members.  There are many, probably hundreds if not thousands of "caucuses" in the LP.  Most of them are more or less a joke.  The "LP Alligator Caucus" began in 2020 after a National Convention Delegate from Alabama took issue with some of the time wasting at the first session of the convention and promised to work with Florida delegates to feed those responsible for the dilatory tactics to the alligators at the second session in Orlando.  It was an amusing and appropriate rant, and it spawned its own caucus.  There's also the LP Waffle House Caucus.

There are also several more serious caucuses.  Other than the Mises group, for the purposes of this post, I'm going to mention three.  The Pragmatist Caucus is focused on making measurable pragmatic achievements in promoting the LP.  Winning elections.  The Radical Caucus is focused on staying true to the LP's Statement of Principles and when I first joined the LP in 2010 as an active member, their conflict with the "Prags" was the central conflict of the National Party.  The Radicals (with some justification) feared that the "Prags" would sell out the values of the party to win more elections while the Prags considered the Radicals to be so focused on impractical end goals that they would push the party too far out of the mainstream to make any meaningful progress on issues where the LP and the public are generally aligned.  There's also an Outright Caucus that focuses on gender and sexual minority issues, with GSM being the preferred acronym for LGBTQ+ given that it's more inclusive and less verbose.  More general purpose.

The difference between these other caucuses and the Mises Caucus is that they have elected leadership and boards.  They're accountable to their members.  The Mises Caucus does not have elections.  They were founded by one person, and there is no mechanism for removing that one person from authority over the Caucus.  They're also a very insular and opaque group.  Whether it's the national caucus Facebook group or the local affiliate Discord server, only members are allowed in, and non-members are blocked out.  The language they use is also very confrontational in that they openly talk of a "takeover" of the LP as if they do not intend to influence the National organization to push it in a direction they're more comfortable with, but to replace that organization with one of their own.

Another key feature of the Mises Caucus is what they refer to as a "bold and unapologetic message of liberty".  The basis of this feature is a claim that the national party and the establishment leadership of many state affiliates is too timid, weak, and unwilling to advocate for the libertarian message in a way that disillusions libertarians and makes them leave the party in frustration.  In practice, many long time activists have become disillusioned and frustrated with Mises Caucus messaging and tactics and have left the party for those reasons, but I don't have metrics to compare the number of people they've brought in to the number of people they've pushed out.

This brings me to another issue with the Mises Caucus, and one I'm sure they will dispute, but one that continues to come up over and over and over again.  The Mises Caucus has a very distinct "alt-right" flavor to them.  Since their founding, coincidentally or not, immediately after the "Unite the Right" protests in Charlottesville over Confederate statues that saw a woman killed as protestors chanted about "blood and soil" and declared that they "would not be replaced", a number of them and the people they affiliate with and defend and bring into the Libertarian Party have been accused at various times of homophobic and transphobic bigotry, racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia.  These are the Libertarians who believe that the election in 2020 was rigged by the "left wing establishment" (often referred to as "the Cathedral") against Donald Trump.  These are the Libertarians who believe that COVID was not just exaggerated as a threat to justify government interventions that make all Libertarians bristle, but a conspiracy and a lie such that anyone voluntarily complying with a business's requirements to wear a mask on the premises or to get a vaccination is a "blue pilled cuck" who can't think for themselves.  These are the Libertarians defending people who claim the Jews control Hollywood and the Holocaust never happened as "truth seekers" just "asking questions" when they invite them to Caucus events and give them a platform adjacent to and associated with the LP.

They're not all bad.  I haven't met anyone in the Delaware Mises Caucus who I've heard say anything as reprehensible as all that.  They are unquestionably passionate and enthusiastic about being involved in the broader liberty movement, and claim to want to help the Libertarian Party as well.  Maybe they do, but they associate with, promote, endorse and platform the exact person who defended the Holocaust denier.  They defended the pedestrian and simplistic, if not necessarily "offensive", comparison of vaccine passports to the Third Reich's yellow stars.  They've written statements, intended for LPD adoption and distribution, calling out Rahm Emmanuel using his middle name "Israel" in a manner disturbingly reminiscent of birthers referring to Barack "Hussein" Obama and referring to Democratic controlled inner cities as "enclaves" populated with "violent roving gangs" and then took offense when called on the bad writing without necessarily casting aspersions on the dog-whistling undertones that they are perhaps just too inexperienced to have noticed when they wrote them.

Another thing that sets them apart is that inexperience.  My concerns about their inexperience have been characterized by them as a hostility towards anyone "new" to the party without my 11 years of experience, but inexperience alone is very forgivable.  I have always been welcoming to new party members eager to learn about the LPD and try to get involved and make improvements to how we do things, but rarely if ever have I encountered a group that wears their inexperience as a badge of honor and combines it with arrogance that puts my own to shame that because they don't know about ballot access laws, campaign finance laws, legislative procedure, judicial civil procedure, the LPD's AoA and bylaws, the history of the LPD, the resources we do and don't have at our disposal, the traditions and experiences of the State Board, or apparently any experience talking to people outside their echo chamber who don't already agree with them, they are somehow uniquely qualified to dictate what the State (and National) Party should do and say to finally achieve success, as if in 50 years of the LP's history it never occurred to anyone to just be a bigger asshole.

What actually happened here?

So with all that background in mind, that brings us to the appearance of the Mises Caucus in Delaware.

I had never heard of them before 2018.  That year, we sent a delegate to the convention in New Orleans that has now left the state, but who is also a board member for the Mises Caucus.  I've never had any problems with him.  We've disagreed a few times, but without hostility.  They supported a candidate for the role of LNC Chair against a popular two term incumbent, Nick Sarwark, that full disclosure I have had a man-crush on since meeting him in 2010.  He's brilliant, herds the cats that are LP Convention delegates well, and in my view espouses a vision of the Libertarian platform that is not only pure to its meaning, but appealing to the general public.  The campaign was ugly.  There was a lot of mud slinging.  I didn't pay enough attention to it to tell you who swung first, but what I saw in the debates was Nick being classy, if a little smug and arrogant in a way I think he's earned, and the Mises Caucus candidate tripping over himself to lob insults that seemed very out of place against a man who had accomplishments under his belt from a man who did not.

Fast forward to 2020, the same LNC Chair candidate is running again, the campaign is even more disgusting, and seems to inexplicably be focused on Nick again who isn't even running for a fourth term.  I heard rumors that the eventual winner didn't exactly have clean hands, but from what I saw, especially in public, he was a perfect gentleman.  Aside from the candidates themselves, and more relevant to the present circumstances, the Mises Caucus members advocating for their candidate had to be the most juvenile, adolescent trolls I've ever seen.  As the guy who bought up my opponent's domain name in 2012 so I could post the Rick Astley video to "his" website, when I call someone an adolescent troll it's gotta be pretty bad.

Continue into 2021 and the heart of our story (finally).  The Jorgensen campaign is over.  One of the Delaware campaign managers for her national campaign has become the state coordinator for the Mises Caucus.  In her capacity for the national campaign she's been given access to the LPD's voter registration data.  The campaign fb group has been rebranded and remains under the control of the campaign team.  I start hearing complaints.

The Facebook page isn't active enough.

Ok, fair criticism.  There's a reason for it, but there's also about 8 people that have permission to post from the FB page so this isn't exactly my fault, although it's something I can and did fix in response to their complaints.  The reason, if it matters, is that after some historical drama where the State Party got ahead of a few disgruntled members, there was a lot less focus on posting content to the page unless it was content the State Board was prepared to defend.  Integrity of the message.  It's not a great excuse, but it was the reason, plus that we were all focused on a longer than usual national convention season with the split format of online in May and then in person in July followed by a presidential campaign.  Combine that with volunteers' real lives and updating the FB page with memes isn't necessarily a priority.  The solution that was suggested was that someone be allowed to "help".  Maybe this offer was genuine.  Maybe the complaint was genuine.  Given the "takeover" rhetoric of the Mises Caucus and the kinds of messaging they thing is acceptable though, maybe the complaint itself was just an excuse to get access to the party's messaging apparatus.  That would have required State Board approval and I fixed the problem mostly by myself in my capacity as Kent Chair and webmaster, so there was no need for their "assistance" and they acknowledged that the complaint was handled.  There was a whiny complaint about me being course in a State Board meeting discussing their complaints, but they mostly got over it.

Next, the complaint is that we don't take an active enough role regarding legislation in the General Assembly.  Again, I'm one of ten people on the State Board so this really isn't entirely my responsibility.  Most of the resolutions that end up getting passed by the State Board were written by me, but that doesn't mean that any of the other nine people can't write their own.  They can, they have, and then for a while they really didn't.  COVID was happening, the legislature wasn't doing much, and we had other things on our minds at the national level.

So SCR 8.  Gun violence is a "public health crisis".  It's a concurrent resolution.  It has no force of law.  It is propaganda.  It's languishing in the House right now while actual gun control bills are being passed.  This is some grave affront to freedom and a threat to apple pie and puppies.  I knew it was a thing, but I knew what kind of thing it was.  It wasn't a priority.  To me.  To anyone else on the Board either apparently.  We're representatives though so if it's important to someone in the party then we can look at it and maybe put out a statement.  In this case we were brought a statement.  It was atrocious.

I'm a fan of the West Wing.  I've watched the show a few times from start to finish.  There are two scenes in different episodes that apply to this situation.  In one, when a communications director edits a speech without telling a speechwriter before it's delivered, he says that, "This isn't government camp.  Everyone doesn't get to have a turn."  In another scene, the speechwriter from the other scene (in a totally unrelated story arc) compares the writing of party staffers to an eighth grade girl.  When called on the inference that girls can't be good writers, he says, "Well, not usually in eighth grade."

This was awful writing.  I've still got the first draft.  It's where my comments above about Rahm "Israel" Emmanuel and the "Democratic controlled enclaves of roving violent gangs" came from.  Before anyone whines, yes, the second one is a paraphrase, not a quote, but that's how it read to me and I wouldn't have been the only one if the LPD had put this trash out as its own statement.

I wrote a new one.  I couldn't save theirs with some polite revisions.  I trashed theirs and wrote something else faithful to the idea but using messaging that wasn't worthy of a cable news trash heap or an amateur podcaster and wrote something less awful.  I'm still just one person on a Board of (then) nine.  I don't control the LPD's messaging, but I'm not a pandering wuss either so if a group of people, no matter how big, write something crappy and want me to put my name on it, they're going to have a bad time.  I advocated for my own draft and I won.  I had offered to work with them repeatedly to come up with a compromise, but they didn't accept my offer until the battle was already over and no one else wanted to replace my solo work with their collaborative effort.  I don't control the rest of the Board and the Chair doesn't either.  It went how it went.  Learn something.

There was a brief thing about SB60 where the Mises people released a statement that actually wasn't wiped on toilet paper and I asked if we could make a couple minor revisions and release it as the LPD statement.  This is frequently how it works with County affiliates.  We have three, they all pass some version of a statement, and then the State Board adopts it and releases it as the whole LPD's statement.  They refused.  They wanted a "co-branded" statement.  A joint release between the LPD and a caucus of its members.  Again, if the other members of the State Board wanted to do that, then they had every right to, but I have more respect for the State Party than to "co-brand" its words with a subset of its membership putting on airs.  So I wrote my own.  In my biased opinion it was better anyway.  The State Board passed it.  It was at this point one of their members left our Discord server with his panties in a twist because I was being "mean" to him.  I hope he never has to interact with the commenters on Blue Delaware or we might have to check him into a mental institution.  For reference, THIS is being mean to you.  That was telling you as gently as I could that you were clueless.

This brings us, more or less, to the present.  To the "Day of Liberty" events and the ultimate resignation of the State Chair.

"Day of Liberty"

The "Day of Liberty" was originally just "Liberty Speaks", and was pitched to the State Board in January during its 2021 Q1 meeting.  The informal decision that was made was for the organizer of the event to put together a plan, indicating what would be required of the LPD and the Board to move the event forward, and we would decide at that time whether or not to move forward.  A deliberate choice was made not to introduce any motions at that time.  By March, the organizer had settled on the Pizzadili Winery as the preferred venue as they were willing to offer the use of the venue for free.  It is not clear to me, and I'm not sure it's entirely clear to anyone, if the venue was offered for free to the LPD, or if it was offered for free to the event organizer, whoever she happened to be representing in that capacity by the time the event happened.

In any case, the State Board was asked to approve Pizzadili as the venue for now both Day of Liberty events, the 5k and the original Liberty Speaks event.  We did so in a motion worded to say, "being planned by [the event organizer] at the direction of the State Board and the Convention Committee" and included authorization for up to $200 to be reimbursed for printing costs to produce promotional flyers targeting potential speakers, sponsors, and vendors.  From that point, all marketing materials produced and released to the public, both by the event organizer and the party, included LPD branding as the host of the event, and the State Board and Convention Committee members were often consulted and asked for assistance to continue event planning.  One thing we did even before the venue was approved was to approve additional funds to reimburse the travel and accommodation costs for Spike and Tasha Cohen, Spike being the keynote speaker at both Liberty Speaks and the LPD Convention planned for the following day, so they could stay in Delaware for an additional night and attend both events.  It was perceived by everyone at this point to be an LPD event.

As planning continued, some minor disagreements over guest speakers and the order they appeared in promotional materials flared up and then calmed down, but issues finally came to a head over the selection of a website for processing payments for the Day of Liberty events.  The Treasurer for Day of Liberty contacted the Treasurer for the LPD while she was out of town, asking in a way that made the Treasurer feel rushed, to put the LPD's bank information into a website she had never heard of.  The Treasurer, being responsible for the money already in the LPD's accounts and for the banking information, was uncomfortable doing this and asked me what I thought she should do.  I told her to request a ruling from the State Chair as to whether this action was covered under previous authorizations to partner with the Liberty Speaks event or if a new motion should be made to approve this choice.  This would allow the Chair to make a decision and then for other members of the State Board, if they were so inclined, to appeal the Chair's ruling and put the decision to a vote.

The Chair ruled that the decision should be put to a vote, and no one appealed that ruling.  The appeal would have effectively served as a proxy vote on that question anyway so it would have been dilatory in that context to try, but I myself made the motion, the Treasurer seconded the motion, and the required quorum call to officially begin the ad hoc meeting completed quickly.  The Chair set time for discussion until 11a the next morning, we all took some time to look into the website and decide for ourselves if it was legit and appropriate for the Treasurer to provide the Party's financial information to this site.

By morning, the Treasurer of the Day of Liberty had seen that his request was being put to a vote, and was not satisfied by the decision, made by the State Chair, that the vote was needed.  He felt, if I can interpret his complaints for him, that he and the Day of Liberty organizers were being micromanaged by the State Board and that we should have just unquestioningly provided the same information required to initiate an automatic draft FROM rather than TO our Party account on his say so.  He further complained that if this management pattern continued, then they would have to seek approval from the State Board for every little decision that the event organizers were trying to make to complete the event's planning and conduct the event successfully.

That this was, as the Day of Liberty Treasurer pointed out, six weeks before the event and therefore a dysfunctional way to plan the event was not a point entirely without merit.  Why the event organizers were not able to present more of the plan to the State Board earlier will be outside the scope of this post, but because I agreed with him I drafted a motion to be considered after the vote on the website finished that would give the event organizer full authority to make decisions regarding vendors, prices, and other financial issues related to the event, on two conditions.  These conditions, requiring the event organizer to accept them, turned the motion into a proposed contract.  The vote on the website had finished by now, in less than two hours, and was unanimously in support.

So, the conditions.  The State Board was ceding decision making authority on all financial issues to the event organizer under the motion I had drafted, while also authorizing her to take out loans on behalf of the party to fund some of the upfront costs of the event.  The conditions were that she would accept responsibility for those decisions.  The loans would only be authorized to be paid back from the profits for the Convention Weekend events, and lenders would have to be aware of those conditions in advance.  Any choices made about vendors and prices would be her responsibility as well.  If the Treasurer was asked to put in the Party's financial information on some other website, and that information was compromised in a way that cost the Party money, those costs would have to fall to her since the State Board would not have been involved in the decision.  Finally with respect to reporting, any donations or expenditures in or out of the Party have to be reported to the Commissioner of Elections under Delaware Campaign Finance Laws.  Any legally compliant real or artificial person would have to report profits from an event like this as income, and unless that organization is a non-profit organization recognized as such by the IRS, they'd actually have to pay taxes on that income or be a political committee facing the same reporting requirements as the LPD.  If this event was going to take place under the auspices of the LPD, the LPD's Treasurer would have to do that reporting.  She should not have to chase down that information or be liable to the Commissioner of Elections for any mistakes that she was not involved in making.

I thought these conditions were perfectly fair, but did not introduce my motion without getting confirmation from the event's organizer that she would accept them.  No point in voting on a contract when the other party is going to refuse to sign it.  The event organizer had been online off and on over the course of the last week, but had not responded to a number of questions I had asked and did not respond to my question regarding this motion.  I resolved to speak to her about it in person at the weekly planning meeting taking place the following day.

Instead I was informed as I was driving to this meeting that the event would no longer be an LPD event.  This seemed an extreme reaction to what I would have assumed was a minor contractual disagreement that should be easy to resolve, but a reaction that I had no authority whatsoever to countermand and that the entire LPD State Board had a limited ability to change.  The event's volunteers were primarily members of the aforementioned Mises Caucus, including the main organizer, and if they decided they wanted their event to operate separately from the LPD then there was little the LPD could do to prevent them from doing so.

However, this did leave a number of unresolved questions, since the event had been planned up to that point as a joint effort and there were a number of areas of overlap that would need to be discussed in order for the State Board to determine how to move forward with the events that remained under its purview.  While the event organizer apparently spoke to the former State Chair, she refused to speak to me and has yet to address the State Board.  The event's Treasurer has been very vocal, though it isn't clear the extent to which he speaks for the event.  He is neither the primary organizer or the State Coordinator for the Mises Caucus, and to say his attitude has been confrontational would be an understatement.  No doubt mine has been too, but I'm on the State Board and have a responsibility to the Party to see that it is not tarnished by an event being hosted by a small subset of its members without oversight from the Board.  They are, of course, free to do what they want, but to use the LPD name to do it without explicit permission of the State Board would be appropriation and without any oversight or input from the Board in how this event happened could serve to embarrass the Party.

That isn't to say that we wouldn't embarrass ourselves anyway, but if the State Board has input, then the State Board is ultimately responsible for what happens and there's a chain of accountability through the Conventions that elect the State Board to the members and we own it.  Embarrassing or not.  For some random group of members to claim to speak for the Party and embarrass us that way is a different matter and one that the State Board is obligated to address, either by requiring the members to clearly distinguish their actions from official actions of the Party, making that distinction ourselves, or by explicitly condoning the members' choices and owning them as our own.

So this is now where we find ourselves.  For my part, in keeping with the organizers' wishes that their event is NOT an LPD event, I felt obligated to inform the six guests that I personally invited to an LPD event that the event I invited them to is not an LPD event anymore.  I removed the event from the LPD's Facebook page, because it is not an LPD event anymore.  I am the webmaster and a member of the Social Media and Marketing Committee.  In that capacity I unilaterally chose to create that event at the request of the event organizer based on the understanding that it was an LPD event, so when that understanding became incorrect, I fixed my own mistake and removed the event.  Some people have taken issue with that decision, and I admit that I could have run my intentions by the Social Media and Marketing Committee, since the State Chair's resignation has effectively frozen the State Board in the middle of nominating a replacement point of contact to the venue for the Convention and the Dinner taking place afterwards with Spike and Tasha.  A motion passed to have a ballot with open nominations, to be closed by the State Chair.  The State Chair resigned and the Vice Chair has been much more difficult to get online to participate in State Board activities.  When he finally did come online, he ruled that nominations would stay open until our meeting on Sunday, so we're stuck.

In any case, that's why I didn't ask the State Board and why I felt obligated to act unilaterally within the scope of my authority as the webmaster, a member of the SMM Committee, and the guy who created the event unilaterally in the first place.  I should have asked the SMM Committee first, but I didn't think of it until after and I'll own that mistake.

So now the State Board has to decide how and to what extent we will associate with this event that is being planned without our input, with no ability to overrule the one organizer who has taken it upon herself to make unilateral decisions about all aspects of the event, an event she admitted she has been planning for over a year since before she was even a registered Libertarian.  An offer has recently been made by the event's Treasurer, whatever authority he has to make such an offer and to bind the event's other organizers to that offer's terms, to donate all profits from the event to the LPD and to provide the LPD with a free table at the event.  It has not explicitly been offered as a quid pro quo, but instead is being painted as a gift to the magnanimous benefit of the LPD that we will still be allowed to put our branding on the event, appearing on the t-shirts and whatever other marketing materials exist.

Except that isn't a gift to us.  It's a gift to them.  At least some of the six people I had to inform that this event was no longer an LPD event have hesitated to commit to participating in this new event.  Our previous planning for a joint event included advertising the event through the Party's social media and other internet channels which whatever their admitted weaknesses are wider reaching than the ones currently at the disposal of the event organizers.  To associate the LPD with this event officially would carry clear benefits to the event organizers.  The benefits to the LPD, on the other hand, are harder to evaluate, especially without transparency into the event's planning and assurances regarding the extent to which the benefits of a table and some share of their profits are in exchange for that association vs coming to the Party anyway.  This topic will be part of a State Board discussion and the result will be interesting, but I'm against it.

Before the event broke off from the LPD, a number of their invited guests would not have been my choice.  Not only have they invited the founder and endorsed LNC Chair candidate for the Mises Caucus, but they have also invited the State Chair of the Delaware Young Republicans.  The Chair candidate, by the way, is the person who was defending the Holocaust denial and Jewish control of Hollywood as "truth seeking".  The founder is his own can of worms that I've only touched on above.  Even if they were both saints, the LPD is way too small to be taking sides in national caucus squabbles.  We get four delegates to the national conventions out of over 1,000 and pissing off the other caucuses by aligning ourselves with one of them, especially one that doesn't actually win, is a bad plan.  I balanced these invitations, for an LPD event, by inviting the current LNC Chair and representatives from the other three major caucuses I listed above.  I'd have invited the Alligator Caucus too but I couldn't think of who to contact for an official representative.  In the name of balance.

Balancing the Young Republican was a more difficult matter.  I personally like the guy and will vouch that he's got some Libertarian bona fides, but he also got some publicity at a "Stop the Steal" rally wearing a particularly tacky Donald Trump t-shirt and I really just don't think he's a good look for an LPD event.  We've invited him to conventions before as a cannabis legalization activist, but that was before, this is now, and people I know in the LPD weren't thrilled about the idea.  I watered him down since "balance" was difficult by inviting leaders of other local activist groups that were more issue oriented and aligned with Libertarian priorities.

Some of these people I invited are no longer interested in attending an event that isn't an LPD event.  I don't know how their effort is going selling ads and vendor tables otherwise, but I know that an unknown organization running a first time event is going to have a harder time getting anything along those lines than an established organization, even one with a questionable reputation in some circles.

Point being, I don't think this is a gift, "letting" us sponsor their event for free.  I think without our name attached to it, it's a much less credible affair and realizing that is why their offer went from "give us $200 and you can be a sponsor too" to "please sponsor us and we won't charge you anything at all".  After being told that a vendor table and two chairs will cost them $30, they're now offering to eat that cost and give us a table for free.  I think this "peace offering" is a bluff.  I think they are like the Michael Scott Paper Company in that story arc from The Office where a small number of Dunder Mifflin employees splinter off to start their own paper company, realize that they're in trouble and about to go bankrupt, and then manage to sell themselves back to Dunder Mifflin in exchange for their old jobs.  The difference here is that the Michael Scott Paper Company and the dedication of Michael Scott presented an actual threat to Dunder Mifflin, while the Mises Caucus's little event is no threat at all to the LPD.

We can host speakers at our convention.  We can do a silent auction.  We can even sell vendor tables and ad space if we really want to.  The cost to do so would be minimal.  It wouldn't be as extravagant as whatever they've been planning, but it would be enough, it would make the party some money we KNOW would actually go to the party.  It would save us the embarrassment of attaching our names to an event hosting conspiracy theorists and apologists for bigotry.  That's a good deal at twice the price.

Resignation of the Chair

Let me start by saying that I love Sean dearly.

He and I have been friends for 8-9 years now.

His resignation and the fact that he blames me for it hurts me.

I do not accept responsibility for his resignation though.  I acknowledge that the last few months of conflict have been hard on him.  As the Chair, he has a presumptive duty to be neutral and ensure that the interests of all members are heard and represented, and when there is conflict between members, that becomes difficult.  Mediating between an immovable object and an unstoppable force is a thankless job and it's more than he signed up for.  That being said, in his statement announcing his resignation he accused me, without naming me, of "silencing" members of the party and of "acting without the knowledge or consent of the [State] Board".  Both of these things are patently untrue.

I am the head administrator of ALL of our internet platforms.  I have the power to unilaterally block these people from our Facebook groups and our Facebook page.  I can boot them out of our Discord server.  I can dirty delete their messages and comments.  If I wanted to silence these people, there are plenty of ways I could have very effectively done so.  I wrote the Bot that runs the Discord server.  I could delete their messages from the server before anyone else even saw them.  It would not even be hard.

I didn't do that though.  On occasion I revoked their privileges to post in channels they had only guest access to for a specific purpose once that purpose was done.  I didn't offer them unfettered access to the Party's internet platforms since I was never given permission by the State Board or the Social Media and Marketing Committee to do so.  I serve as webmaster at the pleasure of the State Board and am bound by contract to perform the duties they require of me.  I have NEVER acted without the knowledge or consent of the Board.  There are times where I've assumed consent to do things they didn't explicitly ask for, but I have never done something they asked me not to do and have never done anything I did not or at least was not willing to discuss with any Board member.

In any case, if Sean believed the things he said then the thing I feel he should have done was to call me to account for them and fire me.  The State Board has that authority and I am bound by contract to let them, and turn over access to all of the accounts upon request.  By resigning and leaving us with a Vice Chair who is not active on the channels where our business is done, he has hamstrung the State Board at a particularly vulnerable time for the Party and tarnished my good faith efforts to protect the Party from an arrogant group of naive but well intentioned people at worst, or to protect the Party from a hostile faction intent on taking over the LPD to serve the interests of a puppet master in Pennsylvania at best.  Either way, I'll admit to making mistakes and being undiplomatic at times, but I never silenced anyone or in any way prevented them from fully participating in the LPD.  I disagreed with them, fought them, and by persuading a majority of the other people on the State Board that I was right I won.

I still love Sean, but I think he screwed us and he screwed me by quitting like that.

What's Next

As I'm writing this, there is a State Board meeting later today that will resolve (I hope) the pending questions regarding the Convention Weekend events.  We will decide to accept the "free" sponsorship of their event, or not.  We will try to interpret the offer of the Day of Liberty's Treasurer and what it means we can reasonably expect from the event organizers as a whole.  We will determine the character of our own convention and what will be part of it and what won't.  What will overlap and conflict with the Day of Liberty events and what won't.  That will be one small and relatively insignificant part of a much greater struggle.

What's really next is that we have a convention on June 5th.  Registered Libertarians who have been registered for at least 60 days will be eligible to vote.  A couple of proposals are pending that will expand that criteria to include National LP membership as well, but still for at least 60 days.  So who the voters could be is already baked in.  Who will show up is not.  For better or worse, I have acted in the last three to four months on behalf of all 2,130 registered Libertarians in Delaware to represent them and their beliefs as well as I could.  Far too few of them are active at local county meetings, so a lot of times I have to guess based on what makes sense to me and what I am told by Libertarians I know, trust, and respect.  I also have to think about the politically engaged people I know and respect among the other ~758,000 registered voters in Delaware and what I hope will be the areas that they and the LP can align and collaborate on.

The Mises Caucus folks constantly brag that they have 15-20 active members that have all come around in the last 6-8 months.  That's truly an achievement and one that I would like to see become a consistent pattern for the party more broadly.  Active members are truly an asset that cannot be undervalued.  The Party has grown by about 100 members just year to date though.  In four months.  Who can say if that number would have been higher or lower without the Mises Caucus and the abrasive messaging they have brought with them, and the conflict they have created within the Party?

As I've said in previous posts, I am a Libertarian and as long as I've known the word I always have been.  I was not active in the Party until 2010 but at this point I truly don't know if I can sit on the sidelines and not be engaged in local politics.  I know too many of the players and follow them on social media and can't help myself.  I will not defend the Mises Caucus brand of Libertarian messaging though.  I will not contribute to spreading it.  An LPD and a National LP that is dominated by the Mises Caucus is not one that will have my support or assistance in anywhere near the kind of way it has had it for the last 11 years.  I will fight it both inside and outside the Party, to the extent I'm able.  I will continue to advocate for Libertarian policies.  If the Mises Caucus controls the LPD though they'll run it without me.

Conclusions

I deeply regret that Sean felt the need to resign over this conflict.  I deeply regret any of the many times that I have been more smug, arrogant, confrontational, or distrusting than I had to be.  I'm still not 100% sure of when I had to be and when maybe I didn't, but I think that my reasons for distrusting this group of people aren't without merit.  This is nowhere near as simple as a "group of new people that want to get involved in the fight for liberty".  Would that it were that.  I have welcomed such new people into the party with open arms in the past and will continue to do so in the future.  Instead, this is a group of people that have set themselves up in conflict not only with the leadership of the LPD, but with the leadership of the entire LP associating with a group that openly plans to "takeover" the LP and associates far too closely for my comfort with groups and individuals that espouse views that, while they are often associated with the LP, do NOT represent its character as I have come to know and love it.

We're a surly bunch.  There are countless memes about Libertarian infighting and jokes about herding cats and factionalism and relentless debates over who is and isn't a "real" Libertarian that have been happening since I first joined in 2010 and that I'm sure will continue in perpetuity.  There is a line in the national platform though that states, "We condemn bigotry as irrational and repugnant."  From many of the people this group associates with, I see bigotry that is clearly irrational and repugnant.  I have been involved in this movement for 11 years and I have seen and tried myself strategies that don't work.  I don't pretend to have all the answers or I'd be the first Libertarian president already, but we've already tried growing the Party and growing the movement by being more confrontational and less nuanced and we get laughed at.  I've seen it.  It's not the kind of "we're finding ways to make fun of you to discredit you" laughter that we should expect as a threat to the status quo but the well founded criticism that many of us have absolutely no idea what we're actually talking about that proves we're no threat at all.

This is the kind of event I feel duty bound as a member of the LPD State Board to ensure we DO NOT put on and DO NOT associate ourselves with.  We should not embarrass ourselves and squander what little credibility we have hard won by promoting a "bold and unapologetic message of liberty" that we really should apologize for because it is ill informed, ill tempered, and alienates people who should find themselves naturally allied with a political movement that wants to take the boots of government off their necks but is too busy gratuitously offending them to actually make that argument to them.

If anyone has bothered to read this whole thing other than the people looking for ways to shit on it and call me a liar, then I am already grateful to you.  Obviously, I am biased, but I am admitting that upfront and confessing to mistakes I have made so I hope that you will believe that in spite of my bias I am also honest in reporting the events of the last few months.  If you, like me, want to preserve the character of the LP and the LPD as a party that is welcoming to people who are different and welcoming to people who are relatively orthodox but just want less government than they've been getting, then please come to the convention on June 5th and help to fight for it.  Or don't.

It's entirely likely that I have alienated too many of these people by fighting them when I felt they needed to be fought, and the low activity within the LPD before they came onto the scene means there are just too many of them to win that fight when it will matter most in June.  The LPD may be a lost cause for now.  The record cannot show, however, that these events unfolded because I was mean to a group of well intentioned and enthusiastic new Libertarians.  That's not what happened.

What happened is that I fought, in good faith, for the LPD and for the principles of the LP.  I fought against an organized group lead by an unaccountable out of state organization that has focused its efforts on subverting and supplanting the existing LP leadership structure at the national level and in state affiliates around the country, and that I did it mostly by myself, and that I was overwhelmed and I lost.  This time.  There will be a tomorrow, and this new group, should they take control of the LPD, will find themselves hobbled from what they had before because I am no longer there to do it for them.  I will continue to be an activist for Libertarian principles, but I will not do it to benefit a group that I believe is subverting and discrediting those principles.  I will continue to do it, and I will be back.