It might be said that since last May, a year ago, I have come back and been more active again in the Libertarian Party. The last 6 months for me since really re-establishing contacts and being involved in doing good works, like with Outright Libertarians, and spreading the message of Liberty, There have obviously been growing pains within the party. Many are the same old, “thick”vs. “thin” arguments (essentially those who are “pure” and those who subscribe to only part of the philosophy, but are politically active), and the inevitable arguments about those who are radically principled, and those who are “pragmatists”.
Lately this exploded in a major way, almost as soon as I entered the national level scene after getting my bearings in a new place and a new home, with a new job.
As a GSM (Gender and Sexual Minorities) person, and one of the few prominent trans people in the Liberty movement, its really hard not to end up in a national level spotlight, I have never been particularly afraid to stick up for my own principles, even when it places me at odds with those I care about (honestly, you cannot be trans, and survive this long without being able to do just that), and evidently, who knew? People like what I have to say, and what I stand for. I never feel completely comfortable in any sort of spotlight, but here I am, again, as it always happens in communities I am part of. I’m honestly not that special, and to be honest, I am more proud of people like Traci Baker, who is young, principled, and has wisdom that I only came by later in life. I know I have said this before, but I strongly strongly believe that the young people we foster in Liberty today, will be the leaders who ultimately lift us out of the power of an omnipotent State, and I am truly grateful to know so many young Libertarians, and young people in the Liberty movement as a whole.
I entered back in just as the Libertarian Party and the movement as a whole has made some incredible strides. I know people complain about Gary (and especially Bill Weld, given his extraordinary flip in the last months of the election that made many of us feel like like we had been betrayed), but the fact are that despite their faults, they put us in an incredible position, but we have an issue, and its largely one that hampers us from growing more, in a time where growth should be even higher, especially with the discontent with how the Election actually turned out (Don’t blame me…. I voted Libertarian!)
The issue is….
If anyone was to look at our Party, right now, they would see the same belligerence that hallmarks those going through puberty, and the conflicts that one goes through, in that uniquely hard period of life.
Lots of this focuses on our current Vice Chair, whom I can honestly say, is actually a very principled person (despite being the same type of boneheaded 20-something as I was at his age, that in and of itself can be infuriating – as it’s one of those things people need to learn on their own) , as Larry Sharpe said, the strongest advocates for Liberty are the converted, and I can honestly say, from when I was involved before, our party has grown, and we have a LOT of the converted. We also have those, like myself, whom may have been pragmatic minarchists at one time, have moved further and further into Civil Anarchism. This also carries with it the zeal of the Converted.
In January, Arvin Vohra, the aforementioned Vice Chair of our National Committee, had made some statements that were false about the treatment of trans children in this country, I also felt he did not have the information, that should be needed to come up with a rational reason for saying so, and it also was the same type of arguments that those who are anti-trans use when trying to stoke misunderstanding and hatred toward trans people. Outright tried to contact him, then made a statement publicly and I moved on.
Then came VetGate. Similar situation. Arvin made sweeping comments about Veterans… and I felt this was the same thing, the same pattern…
I am convinced that Arvin meant no harm (but certainly caused it), but maybe didn’t consider that now that we’ve hit our Political Puberty, that we’re making gains, we’re attracting people from all walks of life, that the rules might have changed in the level of influence his comments could have. He did dig in, because he was convinced on he underlying truth of his statements, and there was, certain a grain of truth to them, but we had to go looking deep. Deep beyond the hurt, the pain, the rawness that he touched there. It felt like a kick in the teeth, that the Vice Chair of the third largest and fastest growing political Party in the US felt the need to alienate those members of our party, many doing tireless work for Liberty, many times because of what they experienced.
I think in many ways, he didn’t realize the difference between how a child political party is treated (they may say some immature things) to what is expected from us in our transition to Political Adulthood. The Game changed, and Arvin was still playing the same game of the last 4 years…
The problem with social media is this: Unless you pay attention to what you say, and trust the people you say it to, then it always has the potential for some harm and blowback. In this case, it harmed a lot of outreach efforts, the ability for us to welcome all to Liberty. Many State affiliates found their efforts hampered, seeing as one of the best demographics to target are those who felt that their service would help enable Liberty for all, and maybe it didn’t. Current members felt betrayed, and many packed and walked away, with good reason; a lot of work was undone by some unwise choice of words.
We should have these conversations with each other, sometimes we even need people as blunt as Arvin to keep us honest, but these days, we need to blow up on Mom (Democratic Party) and Dad (The GOP), not everyone around us…. so we must all take care, unless we are around people we trust, to make sure that we’re managing perception. Trust me, every kid going through puberty has their issues, and they certainly seek support from their friends, but most people are still working hard at school, or sports, many don’t see the internal struggle from the outside, and many will never get involved in the party on the level my colleagues and I are. Lets get Straight A’s in the minds of those who are going to register Libertarian in those states where in some cases, its the first time we can, the voters who want us to help fix things, not argue like Mom and Dad are arguing.
Let’s be different, and when we’re all grown up, we’ll be better people for it.
I had a nice talk with Arvin at the LPRI Convention yesterday, and I am personally satisfied he understands these things now, and I salute my colleagues who are Vets who were patient with him in Q&A, and I especially thank Larry Sharpe, who has been about as patient as can be, under the circumstances, and for sharing his knowledge. And I will thank Arvin for finally being humble enough to see where he’s wrong, and where he is still right.