Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Future Of The Libertarian Political Movement Conference In Manchester, New Hampshire Draws Few Attendees & Offers No Solutions To Revitalize The Libertarian Party

A one-day conference entitled The Future Of The Libertarian Political Movement was recently held on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at the Highlander Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire. George Phillies organized the conference, co-sponsored by the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire and the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts,  and promised to cover any losses. He had support from his State Committee, Angela Keaton and Rich Tomasso.

The conference keynote speaker was Judge John Buttrick of Arizona who spoke at the luncheon. Other featured speakers included Angela Keaton of AntiWar.com and Outright Libertarians; Joe Kennedy, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate; Ernest Hancock, publisher of Freedom’s Phoenix; Mary Ruwart, author of “Healing our World” and member of the Libertarian National Committee, and Don Gorman, past LNC at-large representative, former Libertarian N.H. state representative and the most-elected libertarian in the country.

The conference featured the following panels and sessions, which were divided into two tracks:

■ Electronic Security and Activism in the Age of Anonymous

■ Campaigns for Congress and running large-scale campaigns

■ Future Outreach to Youth and Students

■ Future Outreach to the GLBTQ Community

■ Libertarians and the anti-war movement

■ Recruiting Candidates

■ New Hampshire Politics and the Free State Project

■ The State of the States and reviving state parties

The conference also featured the first debate of candidates seeking the Libertarian Party's Presidential Nomination in 2012. To qualify for participation in the debate, candidates needed to prove they had an extended continuous record of Libertarian Party activism, completed their FEC filings and had a substantial campaign team in place. Three candidates qualified for participation: R. Lee Wrights of Texas, Carl Person of New York and Roger V. Gary of Texas. George Phillies moderated the debate.

The Massachusetts delegation promised to award one LPUS 2012 National Convention Delegate to the candidate who won the Straw Poll of attendees after the debate. Twenty-two people voted in the Straw Poll: 12 voted for R. Lee Wrights, 7 voted for Carl Person and 3 voted for Roger V. Gary. Wrights won the Massachusetts Delegate. The New Hampshire delegation caucused separately eventually committing one delegate to N.O.T.A. and one delegate to Albert Max Abramson, who declared his candidacy for the LP Presidential Nomination at the convention. Mr. Abramson was not permitted to participate in the debate and failed to mention to the convention attendees that he is currently a candidate running for State Representative in the Republican Primary in an upcoming Special Election.

Mary Ruwart, a member of the Libertarian National Committee, reported to conference attendees that membership in the Libertarian Party has recently been flat and only went up slightly during the past few months because Wes Benedict,  Executive Director of the Libertarian National Committee, has been personally calling former members to ask them to renew. She stated most of the LNC is in denial about membership. George Phillies personally told me "a highly reliable source" told him Mark Hinkle. LP Chair, "is aware of the (membership) decline and blames it on Wayne's (Wayne Allyn Root) bizarre and very public political stances".

Despite the low attendance and the failure of conference attendees to offer possible solutions to address the decline in Libertarian Party membership, George Phillies was very positive about what the conference was able to accomplish. He said:

The convention was a fantastic success. We had better speeches, and more choices of panel, than you will see at any other libertarian convention this year.

Carl Person, one of the Presidential Debate Participants, had this reflection about the conference:

George Phillies was a gracious host. He treated early-arriving participants to dinner on Saturday night and did an excellent job moderating the debate. The main point I walked away with is that the Libertarian Party must start to capture members from the ever-increasing number of voters who agree with libertarian principles and who are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the Republican and Democratic parties.

The Future Of The Libertarian Political Movement conference was held on Sunday, June 19, 2011 at the Highlander Inn located near the airport in Manchester, New Hampshire. Registration for the conference, which included meals, cost $100.00, although a half-day fee of $50.00 was also available.

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