Obituary for the Libertarian Party

Written by Michael Badnarik

On May 30th I gave a speech at the LP National Convention in St. Louis which began with a eulogy for the Libertarian Party. I think I’m pretty safe in claiming that nobody expected the speech that I gave. Let me be clear. I do not hate the Libertarian Party, nor do I hate any of its members. I will confess that I am more than a little disappointed with the fact that Libertarians generally do little more than give lip-service to Libertarian principles. This does not apply to every Libertarian, of course. Just a significant percentage of them.

I was invited to speak at the convention only a few weeks before the event. It was suggested that my speech should rally the troops to help rebuild party membership. I was eventually given a fifteen minute time-slot early Sunday morning, only a few hours after most delegates stopped drinking and stumbled to bed. Even I am not eloquent enough to inspire people to rejoin the party in only a quarter of an hour, especially when the people to be inspired are not even in attendance. Therefore, I decided to highlight some of the reasons that party membership has been dropping in the first place. Please note that until now, I have avoided distributing my speech outside the convention where it was given. Many have insisted that my speech should have a wider audience, and that supressing it is futile since a video of my presentation is available on YouTube. Based on that reasoning, I reluctantly offer you the text of that seven-minute speech.

YouTube Part 1
YouTube Part 2


The Libertarian Party was born on December 11, 1971. At one time, there were over 225,000 voters registered with the Libertarian Party, making it the third largest political party in America. In its heyday, party members joined forces to rally enthusiastically for Liberty. Because of its strict adherence to the philosophy of the Founding Fathers it became known as the Party of Principle. Unfortunately its membership suffered from a chronic case of wishful thinking, and a personality flaw causing them to ignore their principles in order to choose what appeared to be “practical solutions”. Not surprisingly, the party’s frequent failures were followed by unpleasant periods of assigning blame. Sadly, its membership strength continued to diminish, and not long before the 2012 elections, the party simply ceased to exist. We are here today to mourn the loss of Libertarian Party, and to remember the idealistic hopes and dreams that it once inspired.

Much like the Ghost of Christmas Future, this is not a picture of what WILL be, but rather a picture of what MIGHT be. It is said that the uglier the truth, the truer the friend who tells you. I’m about to be your best friend because the truth, as I see it, is pretty damn ugly.

Our economy is so bad, and our political system is so blatantly corrupt, that nearly two million people descended on Washington D.C. to protest last year. The Main Stream Media has been forced to mention The Tea Party movement on every political talk show across the country. Angry citizens are joining the Campaign for Liberty, Oathkeepers, The Restore America Plan, Continental Congress 2009, the 9/12 movement, and even the Texas Nationalist movement which is advocating the secession of Texas from the Union. In the last two years, Americans have purchased 85 MILLION guns, and nearly all of the ammunition off the shelves.

Why hasn’t the Libertarian Party stepped up to be the “umbrella” organization for all of these Liberty groups? More to the point, why didn’t these angry citizens simply join the Libertarian Party in the first place? Why, when Americans are so desperately looking for the path to freedom, is the Libertarian Party more insignificant today than when it began nearly 39 years ago? Why? Because Libertarians couldn’t sell ice water in the desert!

Libertarians agree on 98% of the platform, but they spend 98% of their energy debating each other on the 2% they disagree on. Stop debating! You are incapable of doing it politely. Instead of respectfully agreeing to disagree, you resort to rude ad hominem attacks, accusing anyone who doesn’t share your view of being a socialist. Why would anyone want to join this family when we are so completely disfunctional? Never argue with a Libertarian fool, because no one will be able to tell the difference.

Libertarians proudly advertise themselves as the “Party of Principle”, but saying it doesn’t make it so. When Ron Paul announced his presidential campaign in 2007, many Libertarians complained that he would steal votes that belonged to the Libertarian Party. When I endorsed Ron’s candidacy, I was accused of abandoning the Liberty Party and becoming a Republican. I didn’t abandon the Libertarian Party. A significant percentage of the Libertarian Party abandoned the principle of Liberty.

Libertarians as a whole are lazy. They’re always looking for a short-cut. They’re always looking for a silver bullet. In 2008 the membership nominated the candidate with the highest celebrity status, apparently on the assumption that after several television appearances, Americans would suddenly understand the principles of Liberty, Party membership would skyrocket, and we would all live happily ever after. There is no silver bullet! The only way to restore our Constitutional republic is to work 18 to 20 hours a day promoting the cause of Liberty. Needless to say, very few of us are willing to work that hard.

I guess we are fortunate that Libertarians have all the answers. I know this to be true because so many of you came up to me after my presidential nomination to tell me, “Michael… all you gotta do to win the election is…(fill in the blank)” Everybody knows what they want the other guy to do for Liberty. DO IT YOURSELF! We have too many chiefs and not enough Indians. If you have a great idea, find the resources and volunteers to make it happen. Tell me about it after you’ve been successful. Stop telling me what *I* ought to do. I don’t get enough sleep the way it is.

So here’s the bottom line. The Libertarian Party is an endangered species. Unless you dramatically change the way you do things, the Party will soon be extinct. If you REALLY want to save the Party and restore Liberty, I have a few suggestions.

* Establish a dress code. If you want to be a major league player, you’ve gotta wear the uniform. No T-shirts. No shorts or blue jeans. No flip-flops. Jackets and ties for men, skirts or dress slacks for women. Pretend you’re going to the prom.

* Eliminate paper candidates. If you’re not going to run to win, then stay at home. Better yet, volunteer for a candidate who is committed to going all the way. We have limited campaign resources, and its stupid to waste money on someone who’s not going to do any more than answer a few surveys. Contrary to popular theory, paper candidates do NOT generate credibility for active candidates. People simply assume that ALL Libertarians are paper candidates with no chance of winning.

* If you can’t learn to like each other, then at least learn to work together. I’ve never been associated with an organization as hostile and self-destructive as the Libertarian Party. Most of what passes for conversation at Libertarian events is rumor, gossip, and viscious personal attacks. If you can’t say something nice about someone, then don’t say anything at all. If you hear someone else spreading rumors, then have the guts to confront them and demand that they stop.

* Elect people to the LNC because you trust them, not because they’ve been there for years, or because nobody else is dumb enough to want the job. Perhaps you should nominate yourself for the position. You probably consider yourself smarter than the people on the committee, anyway. And if there is anyone on the LNC that you DON’T trust, then form a coalition to have them removed. It only takes one insane pilot to fly a plane into the ground. It only takes a handful of neo-Libertarians to destroy what little is left of the party.

I’m fairly certain this was not the speech you expected. Please do not applaud when I finish. Applause just means that you didn’t hear or understand the speech. I began by eulogizing the death of the Libertarian Party. Respectful silence would be more appropriate under the circumstances.

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1 Comment

  1. Michael F.S.W. Morrison

    Michael Badnarik, you are one heck of a writer.
    And your “obituary” here is really rather mild.
    I write on 4 February 2022, and things seem to be only worse.
    What a shame. Members, of the party and the LNC, seem not to care, or care much, about the Statement of Principles, and they do seem to care about petty back-stabbing: One of the hardest-working members has been kicked out of her job on the LNC, for reasons I still don’t know.
    I have resigned from the party, and my minor position in the local party here in Cochise County, Arizona.
    So many others across the country have also quit.
    Whither the LP? Apparently straight into that proverbial dustbin of history.
    Maybe, though, it’s not completely dead. Maybe there will be some kind of revival because of the resignations and angry departures. Maybe those remaining, or some of them, will perk up and demand some improvements. Maybe.
    If anyone hopes to change this culture, this society, this government, probably no other vehicle offers the possibility except the Libertarian Party. And right now it doesn’t.

    [mjb: Thank you for your comment. Sadly… this was too easy to predict.]


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