My fellow “big L” Libertarians,
I wanted to wait until the new permanent Executive Director was announced before publishing this. I am delighted that Tyler Harris was selected as permanent ED. Were I to have had any input, he would have been my first choice.
I believe very strongly that there needs to be an excellent working relationship between the chair and the ED and I am confident that Joe and Tyler will do great things together. And I believe the chair should get to choose their Executive Director.
I am however concerned that the disjointed terms of service for Executive Directors at the LNC make it difficult for an ED to create significant momentum. Having been there, it takes quite a while to get the feeling for what the job actually entails and how to be effective as an executive in an organization of Libertarians while serving your chair. Since 2009, including interims, there have been 5 Executive Directors seated (Wes Benedict served, left, and came back and served again). 80% of them served less than 2 years. In my opinion, that is too short a period to run a long-range program for sustained growth. I think we also significantly impact the type of candidate who will apply for a job, knowing that they are very likely to serve less than 2 years.
I don’t know who the candidates will be for the chair in 2022, but I can now publicly hope that Joe Bishop-Henchman is given another term. However, should he choose not to run in 2022 or not be re-elected, we could see ANOTHER Executive Director appointed.
This is why I think the Chair should be elected for a four year term.
I have a few reasons for advocating for this. Firstly and foremost, we need more continuity and less political infighting. The chair’s race being every 2 years means that almost as soon as a new chair begins service, his opponents have started to run against him. This disruptive public display of factionalism makes it very difficult for the party to function well. With the battle lines ALREADY drawn for the 2022 chairs race and supporters criticizing the LNC, it also means that it’s difficult for a chair to bring a longer range strategy to bear should it require staying a painful course longer than 2 years. A chair might feel forced by party politics to focus on actions that have immediate returns.
And from personal experience, I can tell you the Executive Director is under enormous pressure from those races as well. I was told by operatives of both chair candidates (but not the candidates themselves) that I was going to be replaced as early as March of 2020. Had I needed the job for fiscal security, I might have been very tempted to be much more obsequious — even though the job (imho) demands that the ED speak truth to power.
Secondly, I think the party has enough drama at Presidential nominating conventions. I think the Chair (and the rest of the Executive Committee) should be elected at non-Presidential (midterm) nominating conventions, and then serve for four years. This has the advantage of leaving us much more time at Presidential conventions for other business (judicial committee!) as well as allowing the Presidential candidates a cleaner environment to run in. I think it’s an incredible disservice to our Presidential candidates that they can get caught up in the factionalism of a chair’s race. And even under the best of circumstances, the changing the head of the party in the middle of a Presidential election is disruptive and the transition period hurts the Presidential nominee. No other party changes leadership in the middle of a Presidential race.
Lastly, greater continuity provides some security to donors. As Executive Director I spoke with donors in the spring of 2020 who were concerned that a change in leadership might disrupt the effectiveness of the party and that limited their donations. A four year term allows a chair to build true relationships over time with major donors. As our chair is currently unpaid, that means that few chairs are elected with a preexisting working relationship with most of the major donors. We help the chair and the party by letting chair and donors know that the relationship has some permanence.
In Reno I intend to sponsor a change to the bylaws to change the terms of the Executive Committee to 4 years and to hold their elections during midterm conventions. This idea may not make it out of committee — it may die on the floor. I hope however to convince people that the elimination of the animosity caused by our fierce LNC races every 2 years will go a long way to helping us unite more as a party. Right now the caucus fighting is (at least to me) exhausting. I see it as the largest single waste of our precious Libertarian activists’ energy. I love the idea of a Presidential nominee not burdened by bitter battle between brothers during primary season.
I look forward to hearing from you about this. You can email me at email@example.com and I welcome your criticisms and suggestions about what will make this idea better.
We have one basic concept: don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff. So long as someone isn’t doing that, they aren’t your enemy. (Thanks to Matt Kibbe for the phrase that keeps on giving!)
We’re going to set the world free in our lifetime. We’re going to make everyone see that coercion is always morally wrong. To do all of that we’ve got to stop beating the crap out of each other and model true tolerance.
So that’s my first open letter to you — make of it what you will. I hope to see you at a convention soon, and I remain
Your friend in Liberty,