Short History of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina Project

I’m editing and updating a “Short History of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina,” using several resources, including Wikipedia (which I know is out of date and incorrect), SBOE records, several Google searches, some LPNC archive files, and a section of the legal brief filed in 2005 in LPNC vs. the State of North Carolina.

While I’m working from an old article, I’ve forgotten where it originated or the author (possible Sean Haugh).

I’m trying to reach out to as broad a network of libertarians as possible, which is why I’m posting it here. I’ve also sent it to a list of every activist, candidate, EC member, or anyone who was every involved with the LPNC I could think of and had email address for.

If you have an information, knowledge or experience with the LPNC history, especially the ’70s, or can correct, update or expand anything in this article, and are willing to share it, please email me directly at vicechair@lpnc.org.

Thanks for your help.

Here’s the draft.

Fortenberry withdraws from NC governor’s race

Ken Fortenberry has dropped out of the race for the Libertarian nomination for governor. The nationally recognized award-winning investigative journalist and former newspaper editor cited financial limits for his decision.

“Despite my hopes to give a ‘early foot’ to my candidacy, the reality is that after more than six months into the race I have come to the conclusion that the financial support necessary for me to run an effective campaign into the general election simply is not going to be there,” he said.

Fortenberry was owner and publisher of news@norman, a weekly newspaper serving the Denver and the West Lake Norman area before it merged with the Denver Weekly.

In 1987, writing for the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger, his coverage of corruption in the sheriff’s office led to federal prison terms for the sheriff, a bribery conviction of the sheriff’s replacement and changes to state law enforcement certification. During the investigation, his home was bombed.

Fortenberry only other foray into politics came in 2012, when he lost the Republican nomination for N.C.’s 10th congressional district to incumbent Patrick McHenry.

“I had wanted to be able to share the Libertarian message far and wide long before next spring, but without digging deeply into my own pockets, that is just not possible.”

He said by withdrawing now he hopes someone more qualified, perhaps younger and stronger financially, will be able to mount a strong campaign.

“I believe strongly in the Libertarian message of maximum freedom and minimum government, but I have decided to enjoy my retirement and leave the heavy lifting to someone else.”

The governor’s race is critical to the Libertarian Party. It must get two percent of the vote in that race in order to retain ballot status. In 2008, the Libertarians were the first party in N.C. history to meet that burden. The repeated the feat in 2012.

If the State is going to kill people, it must be open about it

It’s becoming standard operating procedure for the Republican-controlled legislature to ram bills through with little public notice or debate. Their latest exercise in oligarchical power is House Bill 774, with the factious title Restore Proper Justice Act.

The bill removes safeguards, removes requirements for public rule-making processes, allows for the state to withhold basic information about the execution drugs and protocols, and no longer requires doctors to be present. This will make it more likely executions will be botched, as has happened in other states.

North Carolina is not a democracy. It’s not even a republic. It is becoming an oligarchy, and not a very good one at that.

Rep. Leo Daughtry says the bill is not about the death penalty. He’s right. But it is about government integrity, transparency and openness. It is about the people’s right to know.

Even if you believe in state-sanctioned executions, it is a dangerous activity. Secrecy further increases the risk by hiding from the public information critical to ensuring an execution is carried out properly. Executing a person is one of the most serious actions the state can take. The process should be open and transparent. No government program should operate in secret.

For the record, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina believes state-sanctioned revenge never serves the cause of justice and therefore opposes execution of prisoners.

Independence Day to do list

Here are two things to do on the Fourth of July 2015, in between eating hot dogs and drinking beer, and before you watch the fireworks: 1) Read the Declaration of Independence, and; 2)  Read this excerpt from a speech by President Calvin Coolidge (you read that right) on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration.

“The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

coolidge“It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history …. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people.

“Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the corner stones of American institutions.

Continue reading ‘Independence Day to do list’ »

Legislators fail to pass budget – again

For the seventh time in 10 years, the General Assembly will be derelict in its duty to fulfill a major constitutional responsibility. The new fiscal year will begin without the legislature passing a state budget.

It’s no wonder North Carolinians have such a low opinion of government. Even though both houses and the governorship are controlled by the same party, they cannot complete this most basic government function. Although in session for six months, they’ve waited until the last minute to consider this important issue.

Not only were the competing budgets drafted in secret by a small, closed group of legislators, lobbyists and special interests group agents, these same people are now meeting behind closed doors to cut deals for a final budget. There’s nothing fair, impartial, or reasonable, and certainly not democratic, about this process.

Perhaps if legislators actually read the state constitution they’ve taken an oath to uphold this problem wouldn’t come up every year. Under that charter, the governor is responsible for drafting the budget. The state House and Senate can review it and make changes, and must approve it. But the fundamental responsibility rests with the governor.

There’s no need at all for both houses to separately, and secretly, draft their own budgets – other than to score political points and provide cover for political favors.

NC can save $383 million in its budget

The state can save up to $383 million in its budget if it uses a spending technique proposed by the John Locke Foundation in their latest Spotlight report. The technique is called “reverse logrolling.”

“Lawmakers can achieve these additional savings by using a technique called ‘reverse logrolling,'”  “It flips traditional budget logrolling on its head,” said Sarah Curry, JLF Director of Fiscal Policy Studies, the report author. Logrolling is a budget practice in which negotiators for both legislative chambers agree to accept higher spending levels for each chamber’s budget priorities.

“This practice often results in a poor outcome for average citizens, as lower-priority or so-called ‘pork-barrel’ items are funded and mediocre legislation enacted,” Curry said.

Budget negotiators should take the opposite approach, Curry said in a press release. “Rather than one set of budget negotiators accepting particular programs or higher levels of spending from their counterparts, with the expectation that those counterparts will do the same, legislators should agree to accept the lower spending numbers for each departmental budget,” she said. “After all, a majority in at least one chamber already has decided that the lower spending figure will satisfy citizens’ needs under current budgetary constraints.”

She outlines how these savings can be achieved in the report, included a spreadsheet of potential department-by-department savings.

This is a commendable effort, which Libertarians support. The greatest obstacle we see is to get Republican and Democratic legislators to kick their spending habit.

JLF Press Release

JLF Spotlight Report

Libertarians seeking new executive director

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina is seeking a replacement for executive director Brad Hessel, who will step down June 30 to pursue other business interests.

“We’ll be focusing our search on candidates here in North Carolina,” said J.J. Summerell, LPNC chair. “We’re looking for someone with strong managerial and communications skills, preferably with experience in politics or non-profits.”

“Hessel will be a tough act to follow,” he added. “But if we have to make a change, on off-year in the election cycle is a good time to do it.”

“We’ve achieved much in the last 18 months,” Hessel said. “Individual contributions were up 81 percent in 2014 and are up again so far in 2015. Last year, Sean Haugh’s U.S. Senate campaign garnered the most votes and highest percentage ever for a Libertarian running a statewide race in a non-Presidential year. And our candidate lineup for 2016 is shaping up to be very strong.”

He noted that the party now has affiliates in 21 counties, including all of the ten most populous, up from 16. More and more voters are registering as Libertarian or unaffiliated, a clear sign people are dissatisfied with the old parties.

Hessel, whose knowledge management consulting firm Intelledgement, LLC was contracted to provide his services part-time as executive director, will continue to perform limited volunteer work for the LPNC. He will be appointed IT manager for the party effective July 1.

“I wish I could continue to do more, but I’ve got bills to pay and the LPNC is not yet at the point where they can afford a full-time executive director,” he added. “Evidently if my objective were to make money in politics, I would have had to work for the Republicans or the Clinton Democrats.”

Prospective applicants should contact J.J. Summerell at chair@lpnc.org for more information.

Republican, Democratic voters ruled by fear of the other

The most important factor in the 2016 presidential election won’t be the candidates but the fact that the American electorate is now divided into two warring partisan camps. Moreover, this blind party allegiance won’t be based on support for “their” candidate, but on fear of the “other “ party – and its members.

That is the conclusion of an essay “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is the Other Party,” by Alan I. Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University.

“In the seven decades since the end of World War II, Democrats and Republicans have never been as divided as they are today,” they wrote. “Intense dislike of the opposing party and its candidates by supporters of both parties means that party loyalty and straight-ticket voting are much more prevalent than in the past.”

Abramowitz and Webster discount the 10 percent of Americans who identify as independents, concluding that their vote will almost evenly divide between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Their essay notes that the rise of “negative partisanship” has drastically altered the nature of electoral competition in the United States. This is part of “a vicious cycle of mutually reinforcing elite and mass behavior” and negative views of the other party “encourage political elites to adopt a confrontational approach to governing.”

This essay reinforces some of the points made by political analyst John Davis in his “Strike While the Ire is Hot” presentation to the 2015 Libertarian Party of North Carolina Convention.

Legislators should uphold governor’s vetoes

by Brian Irving
Vice Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

We commend Gov. Pat McCrory for courageously vetoing both Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 405 and we hope a sufficient number of state legislators have the equal courage to sustain these vetoes.

HB 405 was called the Property Protection Act, but it was clearly intended to provide cover for business owners who allowed unsafe or inhumane conditions in their businesses, and to punish anyone who took a job to expose the practices.

SB 2, with the equally disingenuous title Magistrates Recusal for Civil Ceremonies, would allow magistrates to refuse to do a job they were hired for, under the cover of claiming “any sincerely held religious objections.”

Both bills passed with bipartisan support, another proof that when it comes to expanding government power at the expense of individual liberty, both Republicans and Democrats find common ground.

Nor was either bill the result of any grassroots effort. They were pushed through a sham legislative “process” by those select few legislators and special interest groups who hold the real power in the General Assembly. What little debate there was consisted of straw-man arguments promulgated on both sides of the issue.

In short, a demonstration of everything that’s corrupt and dysfunctional in our legislative process.

Voter suppression or voter apathy?

Progressives, and the News & Observer, are up in arms again over another alleged attempt at voter suppression. This time they claim the Republicans have deliberately prevented people from registering to vote. The basis for the charge is that the number of people registering to vote while applying for public benefits or a driver’s license has decreased.

Under the federal National Voting Registration Act of 1993, state agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to boards of elections, must give anyone who uses their services the opportunity to register to vote.

Groups including Democracy North Carolina, Action NC and the A. Philip Randolph Institute claim applications at these agencies have dropped more than 50 percent in the last two years.

While admitting that the reason for the drop was unclear, a May 17 News & Observer editorial concluded, “The likely explanation is that when the McCrory administration took over, new leaders at DHHS, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the State Board of Elections simply overlooked the requirement.

Oddly, the editorial notes this has happened before – ten years ago when Democrats controlled state government. So it appears such manipulation of the electoral process may be a bipartisan practice – like gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access barriers.

Continue reading ‘Voter suppression or voter apathy?’ »