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Libertarian Crusader Diaryimage00310

1996 Campaign Era

 Published by Gary L. Fincher

Volume I, Edition V – June 1996

Lewiston, Maine

 

 

 

 

Emery at the Wisconsin State Convention in Pewaukee

Ron Emery at the Wisconsin State Convention in Pewaukee

 

 

Conventions, Conventions and More Conventions

 

 

 

 

About the time that Kay and I were finishing our contracted project to put Harry Browne’s name on the Maine ballot, the Maine Libertarian Party convention was held in Portland March 30.  Although I  mentioned the convention in April LCD, I thought it might be good to elaborate more in the June pages of LCD (oops, we were so busy we missed publishing a May issue!).

 

 

For Kay and me, there were three main objectives for the Maine LP convention that, if met, would deem the event to be a success.

 

 

 First, as earlier mentioned, there was the recognition by the Harry Browne carnpaign of a job well done.  Clearly, Mr. Browne was pleased to see that Kay and I were competently bringing the ballot drive to a successful close.  He even made a point to specifically mention it in his keynote speech that evening.

 

 

 Second. Kay and were seeking to head into the national LP convention with delegate status, as one of the items on the convention agenda was to elect such delegates to send to the presidential nominating convention in July.

 

 

 We didn’t know whether the selection of the six-member delegation would be competitive, if it would be a contested matter or not.  So we took no chances and actively campaigned for two of the slots.

 

 

 When the final vote was taken in the lightly contested race for the six delegate slots, Kay and I were happy to discover we’d made the cut and were going to Washington as delegates from Maine. It’s of interest to note that in the last presidential nominating convention, in Chicago in 1991, I chaired the four-member Maine delegation that went for Richard Boddie of California for president on the first ballot.

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The third objective we hoped to satisfy at the Maine LP convention involved a state party platform I’d authored and submitted not once, but twice, to the voting convention delegates for floor debate and vote on ratification.

 

 

 Back in 1992, before the Maine LP ever had a state party platform, then-chairman Nick Youngers solicited me to author a charter platform for the state party which he’d amend and submit to the ’92 state convention in Augusta for ratification.  After lengthy debate, the May, 1992 convention adopted a charter state party platform that was constituted roughly by 75% of my own original language.  This to me, was a shining achievement in my LP activist career.

 

 

 But by the summer of 1994, I was very busy working on the road from the Great Lakes to the desert southwest to New England and being forced to neglect my duties back home in Maine.  As a result, the charter platform I’d written in ’92 got “replaced” at the ’94 convention in Brunswick by a much shorter, less comprehensive and less cohesive document by another author.  This was nothing short of a coup d’état.  Yet, I was so preoccupied with other activities I had neither the time, the energy nor the vantage to challenge it.

 

 

 A chance at redemption and vindication came in 1996 when current chairman Dick Eaton sent me a copy of the “replacement” platform (of ’94 infamy) and asked me if I’d refine it.  Here I took the opportunity not to refine or amend the “replacement” platform, but the completely rewrite it, inspired by the original charter platform adopted at the ’92 convention, using only original language I’d written in ’92 in addition to new material drafted in ’96.

 

 

Anyway, Dick Eaton, unlike Nick Youngers before him, left intact all my own language and refrained from amending or editing the new draft, electing to submit my version as the third proposed draft of the state party platform at the ’96 convention in Portland.

 

 

 Debate began about an hour before lunch recess and bogged down on the first two planks.  Very slight modifications were made on those planks, leaving about 90% of my language intact.  It became clear that, if that type of debate were to continue, the platform session of the convention would overwhelm the other business scheduled.  Therefore, Jeff Ellis, convention chairman, surprised me by making a motion to vote to adopt the rest of the platform in its entirety.  In response to that, Dick Eaton stepped up to address the convention with a ringing endorsement of my authorship, assuring all the voting delegates that he’d reviewed the proposed draft and that it was acceptable.

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Floor debate on Gary L. Fincher-penned state party platform

The vote was affirmative, leaving me satisfied not only that I was back as the author of the state party platform, but that the convention had been a success.

 

 

 The convention in Maine was far from being the only convention for 1996, however.  On April 13, Kay and I attended (as legal voting delegates, believe it or not, due to our dual state memberships in the two states) the Wisconsin LP convention.  We had already secured delegate status from the Maine convention, so there was no need to pursue anything in that regard in Wisconsin.  We were just there to enjoy the convention and meet the three primary presidential candidates for the nomination.

 

 

 Harry Browne, the frontrunner, was there, of course, surprised to see us at another state convention.  Rick Tompkins of Arizona was there, and we had a chance to talk with him at length.  (I had previously met Rick when he coordinated the Arizona petition drive back in May, 1994, which I worked on in Tempe.)  And, for the first time, Kay and I met Irwin Schiff, the other presidential candidate, who was very warm and cordial to us.  (Irwin Schiff, author of several books on income taxes and how they relate to the Constitution, was the primary reason I became familiar with libertarian ideas back in the early 80s, which ultimately led to my discovery of the party in July, 1988.)

 

The 3 contenders for 1996 LP presidential nomination, in WI

Harry Browne, Rick Tompkins and Irwin Schiff: The 3 contenders for 1996 LP presidential nomination, in WI

A debate was held between the three candidates which was aired on WTSO radio out of Madison, Wisconsin.  Each candidate represented three distinctively different approaches.  Harry Browne took the practical approach with his recurring theme of “government doesn’t work”; Irwin Schiff assailed the income tax as the overriding obstacle standing in the way of a free society; while Rick Tompkins took the moral, principled approach by insisting that the Libertarian message should always center around the idea of inalienable rights – we don’t oppose a particular policy because it “doesn’t work” or because it’s too large and wasteful, but rather because it’s antithetical to our inalienable rights.  In the end I was swayed into the Tompkins camp and offered him my support for president on the first ballot.  Kay hasn’t committed to any candidate, yet.

 

 

 The Wisconsin convention was more about enjoying ourselves than being results-oriented as was the Maine convention.  Both were, however, only preliminaries to the “Big One”, the 1996 national convention in Washington, DC.

Harry Browne for president

Harry Browne for president

 

Kay and I will both go into the 1996 presidential nominating convention in Washington as delegates from Maine, at least one of us already committed to a candidate.  As I mentioned earlier, I’m pledged to Rick Tompkins of Arizona.  Rick is dedicated to the “purist” approach, i.e., we don’t need “limited” socialism or “limited” violations of inalienable rights.  Rick believes in individual rights, period.  No compromising.  And even though it will be Harry Browne, not Rick Tompkins, on the Maine ballot this November, I feel Rick would serve as the best standard bearer for our party and its principles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo Jorgensen for vice-president

Jo Jorgensen for vice-president

 

The cable network C-SPAN will be covering the convention, especially the presidential nomination on Saturday, July 6.  Be sure not to miss the state by state roll call culminating in the nomination of a Libertarian presidential candidate.  Kay or I could very well be seen on the C-SPAN cameras, so plan to watch:  C-SPAN, Saturday, July 6.

 

 

 

Rick Tompkins for president

Rick Tompkins for president

 

The national convention should be a lot of fun and excitement for Kay and me, as there will be a lot to see and do and a lot of prominent Libertarians from all over the country to meet.  But even though the convention will be highlighted by the presidential nomination (who will run against Bill and Bob this November), there is other important voting to take place.

 

Irwin Schiff for president

Irwin Schiff for president

Steve Dasbach is running for a second term as national chairman.  Steve is a good friend of mine and I’m supporting his campaign for re-election.  When I worked on the petition drive in the fall of 1991 to give the Indiana LP ballot status for the ’92 election, Steve and his family graciously hosted me at their home in Ft. Wayne and provided material and technical assistance to me as I collected signatures there.  On two other occasions since then, the Dasbachs have had me over and provided hospitality.  Steve’s a dedicated Libertarian and a true friend and I’m voting for him on the first ballot for national chairman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay & I with pres candidate Irwin Schiff

Kay & I with pres candidate Irwin Schiff

Me, with LP national chairman Steve Dasbach

Me, with LP national chairman Steve Dasbach

In addition, I announced at the Maine LP convention that I’m running for an at-large seat on the Libertarian National Committee.  I first voted Libertarian in 1988 and have been active in the LP since early 1990.  I’ve served on the executive committee of two state parties (Maine and Wisconsin) and have run for office as a Libertarian candidate.  I have extensive experience, of course, in the field of ballot access, having worked on 28 petition or registration drives in 22 states.  I personally know or have worked with Libertarians in about 30 states.  All of which makes me more of a national activist, a perfect credential as I look to take a seat on the national committee.  Augmenting my national ballot access experience is the fact that I have experience in running for office, coordinating projects, registering voters, public speaking and writing everything from press releases to outreach literature to columns and editorials to speeches to political platforms.

 

 I don’t know how contested the seat will be, but I think I’ve earned enough recognition in the LP – nationally – to be elected to serve on the national committee.

 

Planes, Boats and Automobiles

 It’s been a busy spring for getting around and seeing the country for Kay and me.

 

 In April, Kay and I rented a car and drove from Maine to Wisconsin and back.  Of course, we attended the state convention in Pewaukee I mentioned in the previous article.  But the trip mostly was about Kay getting to see her family back in her hometown of Appleton:  her daughter Crystal, her brother Will and her brother Jack and his wife Janet and family.  We were pressed for time while out in Wisconsin, but in travel, we got to see Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes and Thousand Islands in New York state; Kay’s old residence (circa 1968) in London, Ontario; and the cities of Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and Montreal.

Kay and I at Niagara Falls, New York in April 1996

Between work projects: Kay and I at Niagara Falls, New York in April 1996

I work Reform Party petitions near my birthplace, Killeen, Tex.

I work Reform Party petitions near my birthplace, Killeen, Tex.

For a brief period in late April and early May we were back working in New England, on a petition drive for a Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. 

 

But in early May, we got an offer to go to Texas (my home state) to make a lot of money in a few days.  Although not on the same page politically, we do like to make money, and so we went down to help Ross Perot get his name on the Texas ballot while he paid us $2 per signature.

The coordinator, John Woodruff, flew us from LaGuardia to Dallas/Ft. Worth on an airline we’d previously never heard of:  ValuJet.  After driving from Worcester, Mass., to New York City and after hanging out all night at LaGuardia airport trying to get some rest, we flew into Texas and went to work.  Most of our petitioning was in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, San Marcos and Killeen, and when it was over, we’d made $3,000 in about ten days.  This set us up really well to go to Brownwood, Tex., to see my daughter Jenny.

 

We rented a car in Dallas and set out to do a little bit of sightseeing ourselves in San Antonio (horse and carriage ride around town, dinner on the old river walk, view of the Alamo) and in Corpus Christi (the beach at Padre Island, tour of my boyhood homes).  Then we drove up through the Texas hill country to Brownwood, where we got to see Jenny and buy her some clothes, take her out to eat and even bought her a plane ticket to come to New England in July.

 

When we got back to New England ourselves, we briefly worked in Connecticut on Libertarian petitions (it was beautiful springtime back there) before Alan Lindsay, a friend of ours we’d worked for in the past, asked us to work on a project in Nebraska, and he flew us out there and back.

 

We drove down to Newark, N.J., in our car (stopping off for dinner in Manhattan and viewing the Statue of Liberty from Battery Park) and flew to Omaha.  We spent the next ten days working on that project in Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island, driving around in a used rental car, before finally flying back east.

 

Before we got back to Connecticut, however, we were told that the drive in Connecticut had run out of funding and was suspended temporarily.  This left us scrambling to find alternate work and making phone calls.  One of our associates in Maine, John Michael, said that he’d have some work for us there and for us to come up from Connecticut.  So Kay and I decided that that’s what we’d do, but first we’d take the weekend off in the beautiful Pine Tree State and see some of it.

 

We drove to Lewiston/Auburn from the airport in Newark, N.J., and rented a motel for the week.  Then, we rented a car at Portland and drove up to Maine’s Moosehead Lake, on the edge of the wilderness area.  There we rented a boat and cruised the lake until stormy weather and high waves forced us off.  We even spotted a moose in the area.  From there, we drove down to Acadia National Park, New England’s only national park, where we drove around and

 

Texas playing (Padre Island)

Texas playing (Padre Island)

Maine playing (Moosehead Lake)

Maine playing (Moosehead Lake)

looked at majestic mountain scenery and beautiful rocky coastline.  We even took a side trip to Campobello Island in New Brunswick, Canada, and to Lubec, the easternmost point in the U.S. on the Bay of Fundy.  But when we dropped off the rental car and came back to Lewiston/Auburn, we discovered that the petition drive John Michael spoke of had, too, been scrapped for lack of funding.

 

The Petition Drives of Spring

 

After working on the petition drive for Harry Browne in Maine, there have been six petitions that we worked on; three that were going to work on, but didn’t; and one that we actually expect to work on.

 

The ones we worked on:  In Massachusetts, in late April and early May, we worked on a petition to put George Phillies, Libertarian for U.S. Senate, on the ballot.  George was hoping to get his name on the ballot to run against Bill Weld (the current governor) and John Kerry (the incumbent Senator) in one of the most hotly contested Senate races this year in the country.  Trouble was, since the Libertarian Party has major party status in Massachusetts, no Democrat or Republican could sign the ballot access petition.  George could only get signatures from registered Libertarians and unenrolled voters.

 

 

In Texas, in early May, John Woodruff had us get signatures to put Ross Perot on the ballot, even though we don’t approve of what Ross Perot stands for.  (We do, however, support anyone’s right to be on the ballot.)  There was a lot of anti-Perot sentiment in Texas, and even a lot of anti-independent and third party on the ballot sentiment.  The former I could understand, but not the latter.  If there’s going to be elections, everyone should have access to them.  The twist to that petition was that anyone who voted in a Democrat or Republican primary was ineligible to sign the petition.  But we did o.k. nevertheless on it.  It financed the trip to Texas for us.

 

 

In Connecticut, we worked on two petitions in May – one for Walt Thiessen, Libertarian for Congress, who is running against Gary Franks, the only black Republican in the U.S. House, and the petition for the Libertarian stand-in candidates for president and vice-president (after the nomination, substitutions on the Connecticut ballot will occur).

 

 

In Nebraska, in the project that Alan Lindsay begged us to come work on in early June (and lured us with free expenses on everything, plus $3 per signature) we worked on one for term limits and another petition related to casino gaming.  We made some good money on that one but missed out on the rest of the Connecticut drive in the process.  So much for doing Alan Lindsay any favors…

 

Kay in Grand Island, Nebr., in June 1996

Kay in Grand Island, Nebr., in June 1996

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alan Lindsay with me, with petition, in Lincoln, Nebr.

Alan Lindsay with me, with petition, in Lincoln, Nebr.

The ones we almost worked on:  In Maine in mid-June, the project that John Michael asked us to work on, but the funding got scrapped, was related to a referendum to go on the ballot so that voters could vote on video gaming in Maine.

 

 

In West Virginia in April, we were asked to work on the Libertarian ballot status drive in that state, but had other commitments.  Same thing for an LP drive in North Carolina.

 

The one we’re going to work on:  Reluctantly, we’re going to take a two-week pre-convention trip to Georgia to work on a petition drive that will put the U.S. Taxpayers Party candidate on the ballot in that state.  We wanted to do Libertarian petition work, but it looks like there’s no time in the next two weeks to stir up any work there, so we have to act fast – we have to make enough money to attend the convention and entertain Jenny when she comes up on the heels of the convention.

 

Our Philosophy

 

We just expanded our mailing list of LCD and I guess there are a few readers now who aren’t familiar with the Libertarian Party and its philosophy.  Most of you already know all about it, but for those of you new on the list, I guess I need to provide a little background description of the LP and what it stands for.  This will give you some indication of why we’re out here working (or trying to work) on the LP’s goals and objectives.

 

 

Libertarianism is the body of ideas and principles that uphold the liberty of the individual was opposed to state or government power.  Libertarianism is rooted in the ides of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution.  It’s based on the idea of individual self-ownership, the idea that each individual owns himself or herself and should have sole dominion to do what he or she pleases with that life, as long as he or she respects the equal rights of everyone else to do the same.  These are called natural rights or inalienable rights or human rights or individual rights – whatever.  The notion is that these rights are inviolable, that no one or group can override them, not even those in government.

 

 

As long as someone isn’t harming or interfering with anyone else, he or she should be free to do what he or she pleases and should be left alone by government.  To a libertarian, then, the only thing that legitimately should be against the law is actions which aggress upon the liberty of others.  All other “laws” are illegitimate.  For example, when the government passes a “law” against smoking marijuana, for example, the individual is harming no one but himself, and such a “law” is illegitimate.

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Similarly, criminalizing the non-payment of taxes is illegitimate, and the forced collection of taxes is itself a violation of rights.  So, not only is the nonpayment of taxes not a crime, but those who collect taxes are the actual criminals (theft of an individual’s property).  America was originally founded upon these principles, and a revolution was conducted, but today’s politicians have come a long way and do not care anymore about individual liberty.

 

 

The Libertarian Party was founded in 1971 because neither major party addressed the issue of individual liberty and had actually become destructive to our liberties.  The LP defends everyone’s liberty on every issue…from fighting gun control to opposing taxes to defending free speech to trying to get rid of business regulation.  The LP is the only party to consistently defend individual liberty in every area, thus we support all civil liberties and free market economics, an interesting combination to some observers but, when you think about it, makes perfect sense.  Liberals usually defend personal liberty but oppose economic liberty; conservatives usually defend economic liberty but oppose personal liberty; libertarians defend both.

 

 

A recent poll showed that about 20% of Americans consider themselves to be politically libertarian, while the LP has been on the front page of USA Today and the Wall Street Journal.  On the internet, it’s  estimated that over 50% of users are libertarian, due to the individualist and free-mindedness of the medium.  The ideology that sparked the American Revolution is definitely making a comeback.

 

Political Commentary

 

It’s interesting to hear the government and the media, when describing the Freemen in Montana, use the term “extremist”.  Sure, the Freemen have been accused of engaging in real (from a libertarian perspective) crimes, such as writing bad checks.  But when the government and media use the “extremist” label, they usually do so by saying that they (the Freemen) reject all government authority.  (Come to think of it, does that make me an extremist because I, too, reject all government authority?).  Anyway, clue me in here.  Which is extremist:  to question the authority of a particular organization, or give total and complete blind obedience to a particular organization?  To say that the U.S. government has and should have total authority, that’s not extremist?  Come on!  Who are the real extremists here?

 

 

Hurray for the panel of federal judges who knocked down Bill Clinton’s attempted censorship of the internet.  Hopefully the government won’t appeal?  Or is it that Bill Clinton can’t stand the idea of someone having a little freedom?

 

Next Edition (March 28, 1997):

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/march-28-1997-lcd/

 

 

LCD Special:  11 Days with a 12 Year Old

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/march-31-1997-lcd-special-11-days-with-a-12-year-old/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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