My candidacy for the Libertarian Party’s Rules & Bylaws Committee

The Libertarian National Committee is currently taking applications for a variety of committees relating to the 2020 national convention. The Platform Committee, the Credentials Committee, and the one I’m applying for, the Rules & Bylaws committee.

The LNC will be choosing 10 party members to serve on the committee, and no more than 5 can be LNC members, so at least 5 members must come from LP members outside of the LNC. I hope to be one of them.

For many of the recent national conventions I’ve spend lots of pre-convention time on reviewing and commenting on the proposed changes that this committee generates. I’ve also crafted many bylaws proposals for the Libertarian Party of Maine’s bylaws over the years.

How much of a chance do I have of getting on the committee? I’m not sure. There seem to be quite a few usual members that keep showing up on the committee year after year, so there may already be plenty of qualified candidates to fill out the committee.

But in addition to my experiences above, I’ve been through the process of Bylaws approval as a convention delegate at nine prior conventions, and I’ve been a dues paying member of the national Libertarian Party for over 27 years now. I stand a better chance that the average LP member would.

My application will be publicly available on the national party’s website at some point, but I’ll reproduce it here after the jump:


Name

Shawn Levasseur

Email

ShawnL@ComicsPundit.com

How long have you been a dues paying member of National?

27 years.

Are you involved with your state or local party? How so?

Been a state committee member in some shape, way or form from 1996 through the present, excepting a gap from 2004 to 2007. I’ve held the positions of secretary, state chairman, and currently as treasurer.

I’ve run for state legislature three times, (1998,2000, and a special election in 2015).

I’m currently serving my second 4 year term as a committee member of the Knox County (Maine) Budget Committee. My first term was filling a vacancy, I was elected to my second term, and plan on running for reelection in 2020.

Have you ever served on a similar committee before? Do you have any reports or finished products you can refer the LNC to? What are your specific qualifications to serve on this particular committee?

In 2012, 2014, and 2016 I was a part of (or had been the entirety of) the state party bylaws committee. I contributed a few bylaw proposals in 2018.

Attached to this application are pdfs of LPME bylaws and the proposals I wrote to change them in ’12,’ 14 & ’16 . The formats of the proposal presentations were strongly influenced by the materials provided in the national convention manuals.

I’ve always considered myself a bit of a process geek, as rules and bylaws interested me far more than platforms do. (As seen by my encouragement of the Libertarian Party of Maine to adopt the “World’s Smallest Political Platform” in lieu of anything more detailed).

For as long as I can remember the Bylaws & Rules Committee has requested feedback from members in the form of a survey prior to conventions, I have always responded, usually with some commentary on each proposal.

I’ve also commented publicly on Bylaws proposals in many internet forums, especially on IPR. My comments on many of last year’s proposals can be found at https://independentpoliticalreport.com/2018/05/lp-org-bylaws-committee-proposals-for-national-convention/

What changes, if any, are you interested in proposing (please submit a sample proposed change).

With Maine’s adoption of ranked-choice voting (aka instant runoff voting) for presidential elections, a clarification is needed on the allocation of delegates to the LP National Convention

If the final round of tabulation is used, then an affiliate under this system could easily be considered to have had no votes at all for the Libertarian candidates, or if in the position of gaining more votes in later rounds (unlikely, but theoretically possible) have an unfair advantage over other affiliates without RCV.

With that in mind, I’d propose the following to be added to bylaws Article 10: Conventions; Section 3b:

“If a state conducts its presidential election via Ranked-Choice or Instant Runoff Voting, the first choice ballots for the Libertarian candidate as tabulated in the first round of ballot counting will be used for this purpose”

Have you read the Statement of Principles? Do you agree with it?

Yes, and yes.

Even before I’d even HEARD the term Libertarian, I considered government power to be overrated. So the first sentence phrase stating that we, “challenge the cult of the omnipotent state” is one that I particularly loved and never understood the problem some had with it. Maybe the term “cult” is a bit loaded and overshoots the mark, but that’s the worst I can say about it.

I feel the 7/8ths barrier to change it is overkill, especially as it is 7/8th of all credentialed delegates. Better that it be 7/8ths of delegates present, given the difficulty of getting that many of the registered delegates on the floor at any given point outside of presidential nominations.

It’s still a high standard but if that many delegates really object to the statement, it merely creates an awkward situation where a party actively is trying to bury a statement that it isn’t holding to, and it would be doubtful that delegates would be electing an LNC, or Judicial Committee to enforce the principles in that scenario.

Will you commit to show up and actively participate in committee email discussions and any in-person

I live on the internet and have started setting “LP office hours” for myself to make sure I keep on top of my commitments. Better that I spend my commenting time on something practical than on other people’s blog posts.

Which is my long-winded way of saying “yes” to actively participating in email discussions

I have the flexibility with my work to be able to travel every now and again. If we’re talking about 4 or more, that may be more than I can take on, but fewer are doable presuming that they are weekend meetings.

Which national conventions have you attended?

’98, ’00, ’02, ’08, ’10, ’12, ’14, ’16, ’18

Please give a brief (a few sentences) summary of your understanding of Libertarian philosophy.

Government is overrated.

The smaller, more local the government, the better, with the ideal being the individual governing his or herself.

Social goals are better attained by direct action on those goals, not lobbying governments to do it on their behalf. Communication, persuasion, association, and understanding the interests of others are the tools to use in lieu of government power.

(optional) What is your position on committee transparency (should all meetings and emails be open to observation by Party members or should there be limitations)?

I have no objection to it.

In fact, given that all the committee’s work ultimately has to go to the convention for approval, it seems logical to do it that way.

I’ve heard enough paranoid theories about rules & bylaws proposals that the more open the better. (Although some will remain suspicious no matter what)

I’m willing to entertain reasons why some communications should be private, but exceptions could easily be abused. (Case in point: A recent executive session of the Knox County Commissioners was accidentally broadcast on the internet, revealing discussions that legally shouldn’t have taken place during executive session,)

I’m used to the concept of total transparency, as Maine law requires it of most municipal and county communications of elected officials. Even to the point where we CAN’T communicate in group emails about the budget committee matters outside of providing information that is already publicly available. I was even required to take training on this prior to becoming a member of my county’s budget committee.

(optional) What are some of your most important accomplishments?

Within the context of the LP: Keeping alive the LP of Maine during some low activity points. Running for office. Serving in office.

In general: Maintaining an ability to understand the concerns of those who disagree with me, and the humility to work with them.

(optional) What kind of people annoy you the most, and how do you deal with them?

Those who insult, belittle, or demonize others as a means of (or substitute for) debate. My ways of dealing with them:

  1. Don’t. (One of the great things about the right to free association is the choice to not associate yourself with people if you choose)
  2. Try to show them the honest motivations of others, and how their methods hurt their own image. If that doesn’t work, shrug, and go back to #1, knowing you gave it a shot.

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