Missives From New Orleans

Libertarian Convention 2018


From the Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Nevada

Many of you were following the events of the convention online with facebook, emails, texts and other mediums.  Much of the behind the scenes activity and work were not able to be conveyed efficiently, and I won’t be able to regale you with all of it, but I want you to know what was going on by our state representatives, as well as those we had interactions with from other states.  There is much to be proud of, and this is going to be braggadocious and clearly one sided (mine). There is some benefit to sitting in the chair :)

First off, as James Weeks knows, being a fat guy in a humid climate, clothes are sometimes optional and many times uncomfortable.  I will assure each of you, nobody got naked on stage, but I did have more changes of clothes than most of the “radicals” had costumes.  Most of mine had a collar, and all of them had pants. You can rest assured, our delegation was respectable and professional throughout.  I know this was a wild topic two years ago, and we can all be proud of the decorum showed throughout by most. I also would like to thank CSPAN for not showing up...just in case.  But next time, please trust us again.


The Chair race was one of the biggest questions, even up until the opening gavel...when we found out there would be a challenge to the chair race by someone not considered by most as “undesirable”, or otherwise an ally of white nationalists.   Through the debates and the platform and bylaws part of the convention, I am proud to say Nick Sarwark proved why he is the best choice for Chair. Suffice it to say, there were many opportunities for utter chaos and even violence to erupt, and Nick’s calm and dry wit defused each situation.  He is the consummate professional and the finest example I have seen in my 25 years in business of someone who can efficiently and fairly run a meeting. We all know why I had issues with his vote to keep Arvin, and he accepts the burden of each of our disappointment in that...but I have to say, by and large, I am willing to accept his vote and move on to allow him to prove by 2020 that he is, in fact, our best National Chair we have ever had.  We are not easy to impress, and he knows what he has to do to earn our esteem...but he has my vote and my confidence for the next 2 years.

I am sure many skipped to this paragraph...the Vice Chair race.  You missed a great “fat guy” joke...but under the circumstances, this was the most anticipated tire fire of the convention.  You will be disappointed if you wanted fireworks. Yawn. Arvin lost, he lost big. He lost before the election. He lost 12 hours after the debate where he said “if you are choosing your Vice Chair because of his ability to run a meeting, you are not looking at the most important characteristic.”  No, Arvin, it isn’t your complete lack of ability to keep a convention in order. Within 10 minutes of the gavel being in your hands, nobody knew what question was on the floor. Your decision from the chair was challenged twice, once by you, and Nick had to come back to the microphone on the floor and tell you how to overturn your own decision, and how to proceed.  And that STILL isn’t why you lost 90% of the people in the room. We saw through your hatred of public schools because you own a private school. We saw through your demand for automatic weapons because you prefer a society that can’t stop you from having sex with 8th graders. But if you want to give us ineptitude and bewildering looks of helplessness to judge you on...fine.  Get out. Your 15 minutes are up.

So, who won.  His name is Alex Merced.  He isn’t evil. He isn’t mean.  He isn’t a leader. He probably won’t do much damage...until he gets the gavel.  His weakness is his experience and his ability to inspire...but he is a hard worker, and he cares.  I’ll take it. I had a favorite, he didn’t have the fire to inspire enough support...but all said and done, we have someone that won’t embarrass us with antics, and maybe he will gain what he needs on the job to grow into the future of this party.  I am willing to congratulate Mr Merced, and look forward to seeing what he can do for liberty.

My biggest “pucker” moment was getting on stage and speaking to 700-800 people. I was asked to introduce and speak about the most feared member of the LNC.  This man got the most votes of ANYONE who ran for election. His name inspires fear and awe. He had one of the people running against him even say that he was clearly the best choice (that’s my interpretation).  This man who can be described as “That Libertarian” is none other than Nevada’s own “T-Rex” Tim Hagan. I have never seen a room fall in love with the kind of confident, dedicated quiet competency that our Treasurer exudes.  I could not be happier to have the Libertarian Party in this country acknowledge what we in Nevada already know. Congratulations T-Rex. You are without a doubt The Silver State’s most precious resource.

The LP Convention isn’t complete without multi colored dildos to signify to the “Audacious” who or how to vote.  There has to be costumes to show we aren’t “too stuffy”. What would we be if there wasn’t someone dressed up as the Statue of Liberty (minus the torch) with pink hair.  Our new Secretary is Caryn Ann Harlos, and besides the costume and love of attention, we have a capable and active member of our party in charge of keeping minutes and the leadership duties of an officer on the LNC.  Frankly, I thought Alicia Mattson was the epitome of professional, and a fantastic member of our LNC...but I have confidence that Ms. Harlos will do a great job as our new secretary. Congratulations. Alicia’s loss, however, was turned into a win, as she did win an At-Large position on the LNC.  I am glad her keen mind and practical nature will still be representing us.

The rest of the At Large reps were Joe Bishop-Henchman, a bulldog genius tax fighting hybrid that, if we had 10 of, we could rule the world.  Sam Goldstein, a brilliant and dedicated Libertarian who is going to represent us brilliantly, Bill Redpath, a proven leader and someone who can help our LNC stay on course and get things done, and Joshua Smith, who lost his chair race by 80% and I won’t say much more because 80% of the body knew why he should never speak for us. On the whole, I would say this was a resounding victory for the LP.  We will not have to worry about leadership embarrassing us for the next 2 years. I say that...and I haven’t even gotten to the best part...the part that makes me proud and glad I booked my trip to NOLA. Start the bragging……...now.

I was approached by some state chairs, executive directors of other states, LNC members and even some very prominent “leaders” within our party.  Many names you will know, some you will know soon enough. I won’t call them out here, because the topic may not be what they want their state members to know.  I was asked how I run a state with so few problems, distractions, setbacks, angry mobs, destructive elements and, of course, how we got so much done. I even shared a moment at a bar with another state chair, I was celebrating who we are, and he was having another one to deaden the burden he feels from a state that needs help.  Beer...it’s so versatile. If any other states are listening...I am about to let you in on the secret.

This state doesn’t need me, its Vice chair can handle any issue, address any topic, and lead the team we have with confidence and respect.  The answer...is not me. The treasurer, Tim Hagan, makes sure we don’t have money issues...a problem many other states would trade almost anything to be able to say.  Our secretary, Lou Pombo is much younger than me, but has as much, if not more, experience in official Libertarian groups and activism than I do...along with his brilliant and efficient understanding of his duties and formalities our state requires of our party.  Debra Debmon told me “yes” when I asked her to advise me, be on our executive committee, and help me...because she has a house full of babies to watch after as well as make sure I am on the ball...without people like Deb...we are not who we are. Wendy Stolyarov has made us a party of doers instead of wanters.  We don’t need to say what we want and hope it gets done, we have the firepower and abilities wrapped into one of our executive committee members who literally bends the legislature to our will. Get a couple of her on your excom and then see how easy it is to be Chair. Of course, I had to speak with executive directors from other states, many who candidly told me the pay wasn’t enough to do everything on their plate.  I laughed, and not silently to myself. I looked at them, and proudly grabbed Alex Dibenedetto by the arm and said, “This is Alex, he handles LPNevada. We don’t pay him, and he has to manage division directors, media, fundraising, county affiliates, candidates and website issues. He is in charge of dozens of people whom he coordinates, while also chairing the Pragmatist Caucus (the big winners of the elections at National), and still has a job and referees youth soccer.  So...what were you saying about your plate?” Egos need to be checked at the door...nobody is getting rich off the LP...and if you need help...then you need to grow and delegate...and find people who are better than you are...and don’t be afraid to let them grow to be the leaders of this party. That is the secret. Are you big enough to admit you are not big enough to do it alone?

There were countless other conversations over the 4 days.  I explained what having a Troy Swezey does for social media.  I explained how 365 days in a row is not a healthy way to approach what we do.  I told people about Sam Toll and asked them to check out our website and podcast for ideas of how to keep content fresh.   Even with a Treasurer, we have Erin McHam doing spreadsheets and maintaining financial discipline within our directors. Members sometimes get busy with their lives and forget to volunteer for things, so Kathy Young and Drake Snow are reaching out to members and volunteers to keep the blood flowing through our veins.

This is why people ask what is Nevada’s secret.  The secret is you. I can’t say enough how proud I was to speak about my state and those of you who make us the envy of the country.  Keep it up. Don’t get discouraged by facebookers who weren’t even at NOLA. And I will give you one last insight...one that makes me happy I went and represented. One thing that is personally a challenge to me, and my greatest weakness.  I am deathly afraid of large groups of people...because generally they make awful decisions. It is this fear that has made me wary of national conventions. It is backed up by the malcontents on facebook and twitter who do nothing but gripe and whine.  It is this fear that I went into New Orleans dreading that I would be writing Nevada Resolutions condemning the results of our National Body. It is how wrong my fears were, that have me sitting in my home writing this to you today.

I won’t mention all of the motions on the floor, or all the amendments to bylaws and platform, however, a few made me worry about whether our party was open to loopholes for those who prey on children, are white nationalists, or support the drug war...but overwhelmingly, and decisively, these people were roundly rejected by the body of Libertarians who hold our values and principles over all else.  I am proud to say the Libertarian Party made me proud, and I am excited to see what we can accomplish in the next two years. I, for one, am going to renew my National Membership...and even pay the $25 to be a sustaining member. I am That Libertarian. Will you be one too?

With my heart and soul in Liberty,

Jason Smith
Libertarian Party of Nevada