Benjamin Brixey: The National Libertarian Convention Through the Eyes of a Missouri Delegate

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Photo: Benjamin Brixey

By Benjamin Brixey, BenBrixy.com, May 30th, 2016:

The most ambitious time in history to be a Libertarian is now, right now! The most factional, dramatic and energized National Libertarian Convention in history is over. This beautiful weekend brought together a record number of libertarians and approximately one thousand delegates were on the floor. In fact, I am extremely proud to say that I was also on the convention floor making history; all at the meager age of 25. After such a life changing experience I have been moved to write a quick review for the Libertarians who could not attend. First, let me introduce myself to the reader. Then let me summarize my personal experience and attempt to convince you of the fantastic future our party is moving towards; by waving the flag of enthusiasm before the readers eyes.

My name is Ben Brixey. I have been a Libertarian for five years and I am currently the Secretary of my local chapter, the Greene County party, located in Southwest Missouri. I ran for Greene County Presiding Commissioner at 23 years old, in 2014, taking on a college professor overjoyed with the police state. I am currently carrying the flag for United States House of Representatives in the 7th District and without a doubt our party is not going back into the undeserved hiding place. Occupying the dark corner of the media black out precisely due to the fact the millennial generation won’t allow it. A generation demanding results, principles, honesty, revelation, impossible effort and wild fire pride! My generation won’t allow their voices to be silenced any longer and this convention was filled with new blood; all boiling for their respective candidates!

Fortunately, for all these energized delegates the media was there to catch ever bit of the action. CNN, FOX, MSNBC, CBS, CSPAN, POLITICO, Reason and many other outlets were flying around the giant Orlando convention center. Their job entailed pulling candidates from the endless attention and controversy pouring from Libertarians. The lines for the major candidates were in queue at all times with supporters just waiting to take their selfie picture. This experience was also backed empirically when the chair of the Convention praised the increase from 20 media requests, at the previous convention, to over 225 media requests at this convention.

Austin Petersen had quite a loud minority not willing to bend their principles pertaining to abortion and anti-discrimination law. The all or nothing energy reminded me of my days in the Ron Paul 2012 campaign. Where not a single word of criticism would be tolerated and every positive quality was magnified by the bright stars in their eyes. The Pro-life Caucus is growing in strength and Austin Petersen, including his supporters, will not bend on this important issue. Austin carried several states including his home state of Missouri.

Another candidate named Darryl Perry was the voice of the Radical Caucus who believed that every function the government is doing could be better completed by voluntary cooperation through business or charity. The Radical Caucus believes taking the Non-Aggression Principle to its maximum conclusion, which would eliminate the government in its entirety. This faction was also loud and their call for purity had influence. However, the Radicals did not have quite enough influence to win crucial positions even with carrying his home state of New Hampshire.

Gary Johnson representing the Pro-Choice Caucus eventually won the nomination for president; however, it was not an easy feat. His late pick for vice-president, Bill Weld, caused a massive split among the delegates. Uniting Austin Petersen, Darryl Perry, Marc Feldman, and John McAfee forces. Pushing the presidential and vice presidential vote to a second ballot. Gary’s eventual win was spurred on by his credibility, professionalism and honesty; which, touched the delegates who voted for him. Gary’s ability to admit his imperfection and his willingness to listen to deeper libertarian values won enough pure Libertarian hearts.

To be honest, the previous paragraph just can not illustrate the intensity of the factions. Therefore, let me try to color in the details of the caucus for the reader: I was sitting in the third row with my other Missouri delegates and my support was always going to Gary Johnson. However, when you sit on the floor ready to turn your ballot in the strategy you walked in with becomes irrelevant. I was excited to see how many enthusiastic Austin Petersen supporters were sitting in every state, specifically my state. This man deserved to get to the second round; thus, I voted for Austin in the first round knowing it would give him a chance for a coalition in the second.

I was preparing for a battle and when the results of the first round were put up on the screen the battle had begun. Gary fell short by a small margin and a coalition of the other factions could have pushed the voting into further rounds. This was the Petersen plan and his delegates rose to their feet to caucus. They grabbed their signs and started chanting, “Austin, McAfee, Perry, anybody but Gary.” The Chair had to ask them to leave the floor and move their cause to the hallway.

Ironically, the hallway happened to be where Gary Johnson was trying to conduct an interview. The Petersen supporters were loud enough, and numerous enough with their chants to shut the interview down for a short time. They circled Gary and this frustrating act made Gary supporters start chanting back, “Gary Johnson, Gary Johnson.” Eventually, the crowd calmed down allowing Gary to conduct his interview right in the middle of a rebellious Pro-Life Caucus.

As soon as the passion seemed to wane, Austin Petersen stepped into the hall. The Pro-life Caucus rose again, but this time Gary supporters were circling Austin, calling him out for his views. Austin was standing in the middle of a circle, answering questions and responding to attacks. His voice rising with every question and the passion from every faction could be felt. I took my Austin Petersen button off, as I was wearing both main candidates, and muttered to the person next to me, “it’s time to caucus!” When the caucus came back to order, my vote for Gary was submitted and the results for the second ballot were posted. Around fifty votes from Darryl Perry had most likely moved to Austin. However, around twenty votes had flipped to Gary, giving him the nomination.

In conclusion, the energy and passion Libertarians carried around in their quiver this convention can not disappear. We are the rising stars of the political arena and the world is watching. I felt immense agony when I was a delegate for Ron Paul and lost at the Missouri Republican State Convention in 2012. It was an eye-opening experience back then and this convention has opened ever more avenues for success. We need everyone to come together and be Libertarian in 2016. John McAfee has the correct strategy when he speaks about helping local candidates running for office and we need to harness his ideas. He has even backed this rhetoric with a new organization called “Vote Different.” This organization along with many others will help build up the base of the Libertarian Party for the future –– a proud Libertarian future.

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