by Charles Curley
Special to L. Neil Smith’s The Libertarian Enterprise
Murphy knows the Libertarian Party has the reputation of being fools, buffoons, knaves and worse. L. Neil Smith, after putting a lot of effort into it during its early years, withdrew and excoriated it for years thereafter.
The recent convention did nothing to improve that reputation. There were the shenanigans of the This Caucus and the That Caucus. Embarrassment enough. I suspect that Ludwig von Mises, kindly soft-spoken gentleman that he was, is spinning in his grave at things done in his name.
But, no, that wasn’t enough. They had to top that. Now if any other political event were live streamed on YouTube, I’d say, good on them. But in this case, even that was an embarrassment. I tuned in to catch the tail end of Justin Amash’s keynote call for unity and cooperation. It was a good speech. But behind him on the stage were a gaggle of convention staff counting something, tokens or ballots or some such. Excuse me, couldn’t that be done in another room? At a minimum, off camera? There’s a military term for blunders of that magnitude, and its first two syllables are “cluster”. The outgoing Libertarian National Committee owes attendees, viewers, and a likely LP presidential candidate a sincere and profound apology, complete with a full proskynesis, followed by ritual sepuku. Their successors should then find someone who actually knows how to run a convention.
Let us now turn to the wilds of Wyoming, and the dull dry mechanics of how a typical legislature, such as Wyoming’s, works. I promise I will return to the LP.
Wyoming is a heavily Republican states (70% of voter registration), just as California is a heavily Democratic state. In both of those state, the majority party desperately needs a real party of opposition, what the British call a loyal opposition. In Wyoming, that isn’t the Democrats. In Wyoming if you want to get elected you pretty much have to be a Republican. Which means that Wyoming has a large RINO infestation. The result is that the Democrats don’t oppose the Republicans so much as they lead them onward. The Republicans need a party who will oppose that trend.
Most legislative bodies in the world are divided into two or more political parties. What almost all of them have in common is that there is a majority, or ruling party, or coalition. And there is a minority party or parties. The majority party nominates the speaker or president, and other officers. No prizes for guessing who gets elected. Similarly with committee chairmanships.
In addition, Wyoming has what it calls the Management Council. It oversees the day-to-day operations of the legislature, such as hiring staff and funding the Legislative Services Office. It is composed of the officers of the two houses, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and the two party leaderships. The practical reality is that the Management Council is almost a legislature within the legislature, much like the Cabinet within the British House of Commons.
Right now the Republicans have a huge majority in both houses: the Democrats have two Senators out of 30. In the House, the Ds are a bit better off: 6 out of 60, plus one “independent” who previously sat in the House as a Democrat. Oh, and one Libertarian, Marshall Burt.
So how’s this for a goal: make the Libertarians the minority party in Wyoming. This guarantees them seats on the Management Council. It guarantees them ranking member status in committees. And it can be done. The Wyoming Libertarian Party has just nominated some 12 candidates for various offices, including for the legislature. That includes nominating Mr. Burt for his second term. And that’s the plan. They only have to flip four D seats in the House to be the minority party there. But the Libertarians are equal opportunity disrupters: they’ll cheerfully take Republican seats if they can get them.
And who, pray tell, is going to pull off this electoral coup? The LNC looks like it couldn’t organize its way out of an open space.
Mr. Burt was put into office by the Libertarian Frontier Project, which raised funds and ran several campaigns. Since then he has been appointed to the Corporations Committee, a plum assignment and a rarity for a freshman. His tripartisan bill reforming motorcycle laws was one of the few personal bills to pass.
It supported Bethany Baldes, who, in 2018, came within 53 votes of unseating the House Majority Leader. Two years later, she came within 33 votes of winning the most competitive race in the state. And she will be running again in 2022.
The Frontier Project also supported city council candidates in other states, some of them elected.
The Frontier project is strongly supported by the Wyoming LP, who are studiously ignoring the national LP’s shenanigans, and several of its county organizations.
For 2022, the Frontier Project has renamed itself the Libertarian Legislative Campaign Committee (LLCC).
There, dear reader, is the Reality Caucus of the Libertarian Party. Nurture it. They have set a goal they can achieve: to give the Wyoming Republican Party a real party of opposition.
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