Last month, a group of like-minded individuals gathered in Coconut Grove, Miami to attend a meeting of the newly-established Libertarian Party of Miami-Dade County. On December 11, part of the same group gathered once again at the same place, the casual Monty’s restaurant, this time to decide on a strategy for 2013.
For the first two hours, the eleven members debated and agreed on the party’s bylaws. Much was talked about, including the possibility of secession from the state Libertarian Party affiliate. Secession is a real and very dangerous issue when it comes to third party politics: back in 2008, part of the Constitution Party broke away from the central committee and formed the American Independent Party, fielding its own candidates; in 2000, the Washington State affiliate of the Constitution Party seceded from the national party to form the American Heritage Party. Even the Libertarian Party had to face secession when, in 2006, a group of anarchists were driven out of the party and formed the Boston Tea Party, costing thousands of votes to the LP.
Secession is probably one of the worst enemies of third political parties, behind strict ballot access laws. It divides an already mild support for parties that desperately fight just to receive 1% of the national vote. Understanding the notion, the members of the LPMD chose to raise the necessary vote to secede from the Libertarian Party of Florida from two-thirds to three-fourths of all active members of the party.
Another debated topic at the December 11 meeting was membership. Diane Thorne, party chairwoman, wants the party to grow considerably in size. “I don’t believe in dues,” she said, when talking about the idea of making members pay a fee to remain in the political party.
But while this stance offers ease for individuals wanting to join, it raises another question: funding. Not only 2013, but every single year from now on will be charged with local elections for such offices as mayor, city councilman, etc. If the party is to present a strong opposition to the county establishment, a lot of money is needed.
Eric Faden, LPMD vice-chairman and president of the Florida International University division of Young Americans for Liberty, seems to believe that the answer is within private donations. “There are many wealthy libertarians who might be willing to give some money to the LP,” he said.
At the end of the meeting, a decision was made to postpone the 2013 agenda for the January meeting, which many people might attend if Judge Andrew Napolitano ends up talking to the Miami Libertarians as expected.
But a note was left. The main focus of the party in 2013 will be on both funding and electoral victories. The party leadership is very optimistic and truly expects the local affiliate to have at some point as many as 500 members, which is itself a low estimate. But the Libertarian Party membership keeps increasing and libertarian-leaning voters are rising from the ashes of the declining political Establishment.
With as many as 16 cities and towns in Miami-Dade County entering the election cycle, there will be 16 chances for the LPMD to show what just a few libertarians with very limited resources can accomplish. And with candidate registration beginning in less than a week for the earliest elections, the party will have to start working as soon as possible.