It was a brisk sunny morning on Saturday. The warm sunlight poured into the dining hall, as excited attendees filtered in. Convention attendees enjoyed a delicious continental breakfast before getting down to business. All across the dining hall, political discussions could be heard, and there were more than a few people hurriedly reviewing the proposals to be voted on later that day. Eventually, people finished eating (though not debating) and everyone headed to the meeting room to begin the Annual Meeting.
Tables were draped in black cloths and bright yellow signs with district numbers led members to their places. Once people found their seats, the meeting was called to order. Phil Anderson, vice chair, and the acting chair, led the meeting. The officers gave their reports, followed by the committees, and then the affiliates. A common thread between them all was that membership and momentum were growing and the organizational structure and processes were improving.
After the reports were given, elections for the new executive committee began. The excitement was noticeable. The first election for chair was between Phil Anderson, the current vice chair and acting chair, and Scott Noble. Each candidate had two minutes to speak, and then five minutes to answer questions. Both candidates explained their vision for the party, and where they saw the most room for growth. Key aspects for both were fundraising, and membership growth. After the 5 minute questions and answer session, voting began. Members of each district passed their secret ballots to their district representatives who tallied them and reported to Andy Craig. Andy entered the numbers into a spreadsheet projected on the wall. Like an election night broadcast, the results updated in real time as the districts reported in. Members watched anxiously, eyes glued to the constantly changing percentages until finally, after all the votes were tallied, Phil Anderson won.
The election for vice chair was another hotly contested race. The nominees were Andy Craig, Robert Burke, and Peter Augelli. The candidates delivered lively opening statements and answered tough questions. Much of the discussion revolved around fundraising, outreach, membership initiatives, and what the candidate could offer to strengthen the party on these fronts. It was a tight race, and the excitement in the air was palpable as the vote counts came in. In the end, Peter Augelli narrowly won.
Patrick Baird was the only nominee for the treasurer position. His opening statement detailed his plans for the improvements he’d make during his term. He said he’d focus on fundraising and he had a few ideas to improve the efficiency of his position. He was voted in unanimously. Next up was the position of Secretary. Tyler Danke was the sole nominee. After his opening statement, which was a touch apprehensive, Tyler was unanimously voted in as secretary.
Next the districts broke-out to select their representatives for the executive committee and their seconds. After 20 minutes, the districts reconvened to report their selections. Once these had been recorded, the election for member at large #1 began. Nathan Gall was singularly nominated, and was elected unanimously. The real excitement came for the election of member at large #2. This 4-way race between, Matt Bughman, Chris Nass, Robert Burke and Scott Noble was the most contested election of the day. The candidates outlined their thoughts and credentials during their opening statements. Most of them wanted to increase fundraising and outreach, in line with many of the already elected officer’s plans. After a brief Q & A, voting began. After all the votes had been tallied, the vote was split amongst the four candidates. Per the procedures, another 5-minute Q&A session then followed before the second round of voting began. There was a slight shift in voting distributions between the candidates, but no one candidate had the majority needed to win the position. The chair announced the convention would break for lunch before the next round of voting. Members were instructed to bring their food back down to the meeting room so the meeting could continue as it was already behind schedule. Prior to the next round, Matt Bughman dropped out of the race and endorsed Chris Nass, and Scott Noble dropped out, and endorsed Robert Burke. The remaining candidates then had one final Q&A before a vote was held. Chris Nass won the position.
Next the convention reviewed the resolutions and proposed amendments and additions put forward. The first item was a resolution to abolish the Disciplinary Committee. There was a fair amount of debate surrounding the issues, during which, it was clarified this committee was separate from the Judicial Committee. In the end, the motion to abolish the Disciplinary Committee passed.
There was also a proposed addition to the LPWI Constitution, Article V, Section 4 to establish a Disciplinary Committee. Since the convention just abolished the Disciplinary Committee, there was a brief discussion before putting the addition to a vote. The motion failed.
The next item was the proposed amendment to the LPWI By-Laws, Article III, Section 2, to allow members to submit planks to Platform Committee up to four months in advance of the Annual Convention, rather than six months in advance. This amendment passed without much opposition.
The next proposed addition was more contentious. It was the proposed addition of Article XI to the LPWI By-Laws stating, “No person holding any title within the LPWI or any of its affiliates may use that title in the endorsement of any person who is a member of another party for public office in any partisan election.” There was a lengthy discussion related to this. Some took the position this was too authoritarian, others that it was too centrally planned, while others argued that it was necessary to send a consistent message from the Party. A few members said would support it if they didn’t include the affiliate officers, and some said it was necessary to include not just the affiliate officers, but also the affiliates themselves, if we were ever going to present a united front. In the end, it was voted down.
The next proposed amendment was to add language to the LPWI By-Laws, Article I – Affiliate Parties requiring that they hold in-person meetings quarterly and submit quarterly reports with their district representatives maintaining current officer information. It also stated that affiliates could have their own membership and membership dues structure. There was a healthy discussion on this item as well. Many of the concerns voiced on the previous item were reiterated here. Some affiliates didn’t want the additional measure in the By-Laws but didn’t have issues with the idea. Others thought it would be a good idea as it could give affiliates more ground to ask the LPWI for their share of the membership dues. Ultimately this measure failed to pass.
Another proposed amendment to the LPWI By-Laws Article III, Section 1 proposed to change the language in the currently By-Laws to require the Executive Committee to meet ten times per calendar year. The existing language read “at least quarterly”. It was noted that the executive committee met monthly normally, and sometimes more frequently. There was not much debate on this item before it was put to a vote and failed to pass.
The final proposed addition to the LPWI By-Laws, Article XI was the creation of an article to deal with online and digital assets, who was to manage and have access to those assets, and how they were to conduct themselves. The author of the article tried to withdraw it, and when he was informed that was not possible, he spoke out against the proposed addition. Not much discussion followed and the measure was voted down.
The meeting then adjourned approximately and hour behind schedule. The restless attendees were more than happy to get out of their seats and off to their workshops. The first round of workshops included “Campaigning for a Candidate”, taught by Andy Craig and Jordan Hansen; “Earned Media”, taught by Glenn Klein; and “Campaigning as a Candidate”, taught by Phil Anderson and Robert Burke. The second round of workshops included “Starting a Local Affiliate”, taught by Holly Lebeck and Stephen Nass; “Events 101”, taught by Chris Nass and Robert Burke; and “Social Media Warriors”, taught by Patrick Baird. The workshops were well received, and generated a lot of positive feedback.
The final workshop, led by Professor Joseph Daniels , discuss the state of US trade. His presentation explained the fallacies and confusion surrounding the US trade deficit and how it misrepresents the actual economic activity, how tariffs disproportionately hurt the poor, how subsidies to various industries distort the market and lead to unintended distortions and trade wars, and how manufacturing has fundamentally changed in the US, and what manufacturers are currently doing globally. It sparked many questions from the audience. Even after the convention adjourned for dinner, discussion continued.
Dinner was a wonderful assortment of grilled sausages and hamburgers, served with various condiments, coleslaws, pasta salads, beans, and chips. There were several kegs of Great Dane beer and even a few bottles of homemade wine present. People milled about on the various decks and terraces of the Treehaven resort, enjoying the warm and beautiful evening. The view of the sun setting on over the northern Wisconsin forest was enchanting. Paul Ehlers, former Chair of LPWI, kept the atmosphere lively with the help of his band, Crazy Chester.
After Miles Kirstan corralled everyone together for a group photo at the amphitheater, everyone settled down for a brief award show before the Libertarian National Committee Chair, Nicholas Sarwark, took the stage. He delivered an insightful, yet humorous, talk about how to spread the ideas of liberty to the general public or even members of the other parties. He proposed techniques like: find common ground, actually listen to what they have to say, be respectful when you engage them, and be nice in general. It caused more than a few to self-reflect and inspired all. He reiterated we are the only political party in America that is growing, and that many Americans agree with our principles, even if they don’t know it yet. The message hit home for the audience, and he received standing ovation.
The night continued on for many hours more, with something for everyone. A small group went on a night hike in the woods to see the meteor shower, a few others started up a game of Euchre, and still others gathered around the fire and discussed political strategy, candidate selections, and whether taxation was theft or slavery. Laughter, debate, and the warm glow of the fire permeated the evening. As the night wore on and the fire dimmed outside, people one by one headed to bed, until all that remained was the soft chirping of crickets and the delicate blue glow of the handmade “Taxation is Theft” sign.
Treasurer - LP Dane