Author Archives: Jason Pye

Brief recap of the Libertarian National Convention

This was originally posted at my personal blog, Stephen Littau asked that I post it at The Liberty Papers. I currently work as Gov. Gary Johnson’s state director in Georgia and blog regularly at United Liberty.

Last weekend, I joined several hundred Libertarian Party members at Red Rock Casino and Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada for our national convention. It was a long one, probably a day or two too long, but still a lot of fun both politicking and hanging with friends.

The weekend opened without much fanfare. Candidates running for the party’s nomination were seeking “tokens” from delegates in order to appear in the debate and be considered on the floor to represent the LP.

Most of the first two days were consumed with the typical wrangling over the party by-laws and platform. There were some internal issues addressed, such as a dispute between two factions in Oregon where the body had to choose what delegation from the state to seat (some of those not seated in Oregon eventually made their way to Georgia, where we had spots open).

Working (click to enlarge)

These first two days were particularly stressful for me since I had to work three delegations to ensure their support for Gov. Gary Johnson. The campaign gave me Idaho and Iowa as my ultimate responsibilities, but I also spent some time lobbying members from Georgia — after all, that’s my home state. When I wasn’t working on delegates, I was either sitting in the pressroom (where there was Internet access) or catching up with old friends.

On Friday evening, Gov. Johnson and R. Lee Wrights squared off in a debate before convention delegates (you can watch it here). The 2008 debate saw a number of candidates with varying viewpoints of libertarianism and the direction of the Libertarian Party. The debate between Johnson and Wrights showed the clear differences in approach to politics. While Wrights was lobbing one-liners and soundbites to delegates, Johnson was discussing a more political approach. Some friends were complaining that Wrights was only interested in appealing to Libertarians, others said that, since this was our party’s primary, a more “red meat” approach was necessary; no different from Democratic and Republican campaigns.

Most, if not all, of the folks that I talked afterward said that both sides did well articulating their message, and that they hadn’t changed their minds.

War Room (click to enlarge)

Saturday was when delegates selected the party’s nominee. Four candidates were able to get enough tokens to be nominated — Gov. Johnson, Wrights, Carl Person, and Jim Burns. Each candidates received some time to make their case for the nomination. We had heard going into the convention that some delegates were resigned to Gov. Johnson winning the nomination, but wanted to give a nod to Wrights on the first ballot. That was the case with a few folks from Georgia, despite my overtures that were would only be one ballot and that they should get, even what they admit, on the winning team. Thanks to a few of the delegates from Oregon and another couple from Nevada being sat with us, Georgia went for Wrights in a 10 to 9 vote. The other delegations that were assigned to me, Idaho and Iowa, broke for Gov. Johnson.

Boom! (click to enlarge)

And while we may have lost Georgia, Gov. Johnson took the nomination on the first ballot with over 70% of the vote. Wrights received over 25%.

Now, one may think that the stress was off and that we were done with the real work, but that wasn’t the case. You see, in the Libertarian Party, we run candidates for vice president separately. Gov. Johnson let it be known before the convention that he wanted Judge Jim Gray as his running mate. However, Wrights saw the writing on the wall and was collecting “tokens” for vice president as well (he asked me when I saw him on Wednesday evening). Some of were actually nervous here. Wrights is a great guy, but those of us working on the campaign were tasked with rounding up votes for Judge Gray.

But despite a strong showing from Wrights, Judge Gray took the nomination for vice president with 59% of the vote.

That’s it, right? Work is done for the weekend. It time to go drink and gamble. Wrong. Chris Barron, Andrew Ian Dodge, Jenny Everett (a new member from Georgia), and I decided that it was time for a drink, so we headed down to Yard House, one of the fine establishments in the Red Rock casino. The body had moved on to officer elections, and after to speaking to my good friend, Brett Bittner, we had contended that Mark Rutherford would likely win the race for chair. We figured we all could just give him our proxies and have some fun. So, off we went.

Man, were we wrong. After our second round of drinks, we started hearing that there were some strange things going on. By our fourth round, friends were telling us to get back to the floor. By the time we got back, all hell had broken loose. Admittedly, I can’t give the play-by-play, but apparently, None of the Above (NOTA) was a strong candidate. All I can say is that I was incredibly frustrated, probably more than I have been when dealing with party politics or political campaigns. Because of time constraints, voting for chair was postponed until Sunday.

The reasoning for floor fight was because of shenanigans pulled before we even got to Vegas, such as charging a floor fee for delegates and having the convention roughly 15 miles away from the strip. Seriously, it cost around $50 to $60 for a cab ride from the airport or the strip. That was ridiculous.

Delegate Nobody (click to enlarge)

Despite staying until the early hours of Sunday morning, I managed to pull myself out of bed for another day of voting. It got…crazy. During the midst of the voting, Chris was arbitrarily removed from the Missouri delegation along with a couple of other folks apparently for voting the “wrong way.” He’d been voting for Rutherford, but there had been some sort of behind the scenes wrangling going on — or at least, that’s the allegation — to ensure that the delegates seated in Missouri that didn’t actually live there (Chris is from DC, but their delegation was full) would no longer have their votes counted. Again, that’s the allegation, there is no way to prove it. But at the very least, it certainly doesn’t sound good.

In the end, Geoffrey Neale, a former LNC chair who hadn’t even put his hat in the ring until Sunday, defeated Rutherford and on the fifth round of voting that day, won the race for chair. Lee Wrights, who had lost bids for the presidential and vice presidential nomination the previous day, won the race for vice chair. Wrights is a good guy. I don’t know Neale, but everyone I know seems comfortable with him as chair. He certainly understands that he doesn’t have a mandate. Nevertheless, I have confidence that they will serve our party well.

Also, congrats to my good friends, Richard Schrade and Brett Bittner, who were elected to leadership posts. Schrade was elected as the Southeast regional alternate to the Libertarian National Committee. He’ll no doubt serve Georgia’s interests well. Bittner was elected to the Libertarian State Leadership Alliance (LSLA) at as At-Large Representative.

Lee Wrights (click to enlarge)

In case you can’t tell from the brief mentions above, the evening parties were pretty neat. I didn’t do much partying at the last two conventions. We did hang out with friends, but I can’t recall doing as much as we did last weekend. Good times where had (RIP #3102) and I got to meet some really cool people, including Rupert Boneham, who you may know from Survivor. He’s running for Governor of Indiana as a Libertarian. I also got to meet Roger Stone, a former GOP operative who recently joined the LP. Roger may never read this, but I learned a lot from him in limited interaction.

And let me just say that Chris Barron is a really cool guy. My liver blames him for the amount of adult beverages I consumed in Las Vegas. As an aside, I was happy to see so many younger Libertarians at the convention. That was really encouraging.

My body has finally recovered from the week of debauchery and stress. I managed to catch up on sleep by Wednesday, though I think it’ll be awhile before I drink again. You can see some pictures from the weekend at my Flickr page. Bruce Majors has also shared his photos from the convention.

Downsizing Government

Our friends at the Cato Institute, the only think tank in DC dedicate to personal and economic liberty, have launched a new site,, committed to cutting waste from the federal budget.

From the press release:

The research on the site also exposes that many public outlays—though vigorously defended by the politicians who created them and the constituencies they purport to help—are remarkably ineffective at achieving their core aims.

“Some people have lofty visions about how government spending can help society,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute and the project leader for “But the essays on this website put aside such bedtime stories about how government programs are supposed to work, and instead focus on how they actually work in the real world.” is an ongoing project that launches today with detailed information on five cabinet-level agencies: Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development. Subsequent departments will be added as they are completed in the coming months.

The site offers detailed examples of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, redundancy and corruption inside federal government agencies. It provides charts showing federal spending by department, federal aid to states and the number of subsidy programs.

You can follow Downsizing Government on Twitter @DownsizeTheFeds and you can become a fan on Facebook.

1776 Project

A friend has started an organization called the 1776 Project, which he’s kicking off today “hoping to inform and educate voters by promoting the values and principles of a Constitutional government.” Here’s press release explaining the motivation:

The 1776 Project stresses that our Constitution is the single most important civic document in governing our nation. Its provisions, protections and prescriptions are all that is necessary and sufficient to the operation of a good, just and efficient government.

Organizers of the 1776 Project reject the notion that rights are given by government, instead believing the Bill of Rights protects the basic, individual liberties that are derived from natural rights that promote the pursuit of happiness.

Further rejecting the idea that the Constitution can be interpreted and changed however any political party wants to suit their needs, the organizers of the 1776 Project believe the document that created this Republic can only be changed by the process specifically laid out in Article V of the Constitution.

“Government cannot provide happiness, that is not its purpose,” says Jorge Gonzalez, founder of the organization. “It is up to each one of us, as individuals, to pursue our own desires and versions of happiness. This is the only way that we can really be a country united in one purpose.”

The 1776 Project will be announcing more events and providing information, resources and offering solutions on how Americans can take back their government through peaceful revolution and community outreach. Organizers welcome anyone who agrees with these values, regardless of political party, to join the 1776 Project to bring back a Constitutional government.

Check out the organization’s website and get involved on Facebook and Twitter.

In defense of rhetoric…

In response to Brad’s post below, he fails to point out that the Obama Administration and Congress, with its seemingly (though not literally) infinite wealth, pushed the stimulus bill through with the explicit purpose of creating jobs and even presented the public with a graph showing unemployment with and without (pg. 5) the passage of the bill. Of course, those of us here at TLP and other likeminded blogs knew that the stimulus bill would be a failure and could possibly lead to more unemployment, if not immediately then definitely over the long term.

This isn’t a corporation building a skyscraper, it is the government errantly pouring $700+ billion into the economy, ostensibly taking money away from future generations to invest and create jobs. There is a difference between actual investment, such as a private corporation expanding, and waste, which is the very definition of government spending.

The Obama Administration absurdly claims that the stimulus bill has created 150,000 jobs. They offer no evidence to back up the claim, when in fact the economy has lost around 2.8 million jobs since the beginning of the year. It’s a win-win for Obama because, as Steve Chapman recently pointed out at Reason, the administration and majority in Congress can claim that the stimulus wasn’t big enough if the economy fails to recover or he can take credit for any rebound we may see.

I’m tired of Obama pulling everything he says out of thin air with absolutely nothing to show for it. Whatever the amount spent per job, and of course the costs of raw materials are included, it’s much more substantive that anything the Obama Administration has used a talking point for pissing away our future.

Was it a rhetorical point? Absolutely. I make no apologies for it.

US still likes the Constitution…sort of

Ramussen has a poll on the public’s perception of the Constitution:

Eighty-three percent (83%) of voters nationwide rate the U.S. Constitution as good or excellent, and there is little public support for changing the document.

However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% believe the Constitution doesn’t place enough restrictions on the government. Only 10% hold the opposite view and say the nation’s governing charter places too many restrictions on government. Thirty-eight percent (38%) say the balance is about right.
Despite the desire for more restrictions on government, 93% of Americans say they would vote for the Constitution if it was on the ballot today.

Sixty-six percent (66%) say that no changes are needed in the document while 27% see a need for minor changes. Four percent (4%) believe major changes are required, and one percent (1%) want to scrap the document and start over again.

Too bad the meaning of the Constitution is often changed, misinterpreted or ignored by the judicial branch, which sidesteps the Article V process for amending the document.

Do Americans like the Constitution and it is written and can be easily understood or do they like the Constitution as they’ve learned it in government schools? That’s a question I’d like answered. You can sort of get your answer to that by this part of the poll:

Thirty-nine percent (39%) now believe that the legal system is too worried about individual rights over national security. Just 24% hold the opposite concern.

I don’t need to remind you what Ben Franklin said about trading liberty for securing.

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