Ryan Ramsey: Taking the Libertarian Party of Florida On a Tour of the High Road

The following press release was sent to ATPR:

Libertarian Party of Florida logo

6/23/2016
For Immediate Release

The Libertarian Party of Florida has new leadership, and in an effort to regain the trust of the voters and encourage candidacy, members of the State Executive Committee are assisting me in going beyond healing, and into reforms designed to move the party forward and mobilize for the coming election.
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Last fall, the former LPF Chair attempted to vote a candidate he did not like out of the party. The fallout saw the chair resign, and the creation of more division. I was personally maligned by the former chair, and had given a very robust defense of myself, culminating in my election April 9, 2016 to the LPF Executive Committee, representing
Bradford County, which I also Chair, as well as Alachua, Union, Columbia, Gilchrist, Dixie, Lafayette, Suwannee, and Hamilton Counties.
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I felt I had become a lightning rod, and that the whole thing was counterproductive. Alex Snitker and Adrian published one of my articles on the 1787 Network site, and gave me encouragement after I founded Jacksonville Open Carry in 2010 and went to the Florida Senate. In 2011 , I was part of successful grass roots effort for a major gun rights bill as part of the first big legislative push by Florida Carry Inc. It was stripped of the open carry provision, but I was back last session, and again the only way to beat us was by refusing to schedule votes because they knew we had enough. So I have always had a distaste for parliamentary muscle flexing by those in positions of leadership.

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Perception is often not reality, and the truth was I had been working behind the scenes to create a truce between the two factions. I felt it was a duty as I was one of the few people friends with both Augustus Invictus, and Alex Snitker and some in his camp. I did not expect this coming from Libertarians, and discovered LPF candidate lawsuits and people leaving the party to run NPA, and I realized this was a serious philosophical problem for the party. I came to the Libertarian Party out of a fundamental opposition to small bodies of people exercising control over what others could think or say.
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I emphasize small body, as the bulk of the LPF are some of the most passionate liberty activists I have ever met. They were instrumental in the Tampa bay area recently in passing a decriminalization policy that lets police find real criminals, and the South Florida crowd is impressive to say the least. Most of the smaller minds and judgemental attitudes left last fall, but it is almost as if everyone is so used to things being a constant power struggle, they have to keep forming alliances and factions, and I am still taking potshots from a few corners. In order to address it, I spent my first few weeks working on it, and was able to come together with Augustus and Alex, in what was dubbed, “laying down the knives” by Mr. Snitker. Even those who have crossed Alex tend to respect him, and he was one of the hardest working and most productive party members, but he left for the RLC this month. He is one of a long list of people I have been reading about who left, citing the same problems, going back a decade. They all represent a loss of charisma, activity, and many of the members they inspired left with them.
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Here was the announcement from April:
https://libertarianheathen.com/2016/06/23/alex-snitker-the-libertarian-heathen-and-augustus-invictus-make-peace/
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We now stand with over 25% of the electorate expressing our beliefs, and 40% of the state with no party. The Republican Party tried to undermine Donald Trump and alienated many of their base. The Democrats did the same thing, say what you want about Bernie, but the Democrats are socialists, he was their guy, and they got Hillary Clinton, a crony capitalist warmonger. She was shoved down their throats by party leaders who are more concerned with seniority, and paying back favors. Power brokering and ganging up on the little guy are the norm. The Republicans did it in 2008 to Ron Paul, and energized the libertarian movement. I was one of those people, and I am really glad I went to Jacksonville Beach with gun on my hip and a fishing pole, because this Party would have turned me off, and I wouldn’t be making a difference today.
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I thought the controversy over the Senate race would die down after the Chairman quit, but his faction was determined to undermine the young civil rights lawyer from Orlando. They threw around racist and white supremacist at a man with 4 Latino children. At me because of tattoos relating to my Norse and Celtic heritage. I do ride a Harley and look intimidating to some in street clothes, but I actually came here looking for activists to help me and to elect Libertarians to the State Legislature as part of an effort to reduce lawsuits against police and unethical conduct by law enforcement. The effort is in the name of Jason Westcott, killed in a senseless raid by police, and we have been working with his mother before we ever joined the LPF. The Republicans who have control in Tallahassee will help me with a firearms bill, but there is contention in the law enforcement community over the cameras. If they knew any of this, or who Jason was, they would not be throwing around Nazi at those they cannot defeat in an argument, as if we starred in a movie titled : “Night of the Cultural Marxist Living Dead”.
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pattiandus
With Patti Silliman, Jason’s mother, after meeting with a Florida House Representative

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The good news is all the people who are of a different race or sexual orientation have been amazing. They have been almost unanimously supportive and helpful. I don’t know what it is about old white people in Central Florida, I guess Nazi is the new “N word” to use on those who are different. I just keep offering the olive branch, they will come around eventually. It did not slow me down, and I was able to meet some amazing law enforcement who fight.on our side now, and are giving good input so the bill can be something everyone agrees on. After the election I will be seeking sponsors, and Augustus is helping draft the legal language. If people put the energy they used throwing epithets around into helping, we may be farther along. We now have a Chairman, CharLez Braden, who wants things to go in a different direction. He has thanked me for my efforts, and I thanked him for his.
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The desire to prevent Mr. Invictus from running on the LPF ticket, when the law says he can do so anyways, and the primary is automatic and enshrined in law, is becoming an obsession. The opponent nobody ever heard of, and those who love to hate Augustus, engaged in some behaviors I found to border on unethical to get someone from “their side” into an EC seat. The goal was to ensure that if Augustus got a favorable mention from the Selection Committee, they could stack the EC to vote against him. A conference was held last Saturday in Palm Coast, and “their guy” won. So I gave an impromptu speech I hope Mr. Stanton and the others took to heart, pardon the video quality, but I am limited on what I can carry on the motorcycle.
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There is an Email vote to confirm him now underway, and of course, we are expected to oppose “the other guy”. The man likely to be the new Region 7 Representative is named Gabriel Wozniak. He is an officer in his newly formed affiliate in Volusia County, and works on the campaign of Paul Stanton. Somebody has to stop the madness, so rather than prepare another counter attack, it is time for me to lead by example, to be the change we want in the world.
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I discussed an idea I had to set a better tone, and lead by example.I suggested we both confirm both candidates, and urge others to do the same. I decided to vote to confirm him before he wakes up today, lest he construe my offer as pressure to get my vote. He talked things over with me like a man, and I believe he is genuine in his beliefs. I cannot wait for the debate between the two candidates, because I think Augustus will give him a good thrashing….and he REALLY has it coming to him. The pen and the podium are far better outlets than I have seen used the last 12 months. I say we challenge each other to register the most Libertarians before the primary, rather than plot and scheme. If every Facebook message one person alone in Pinellas County sent with my name in it, was sent to a prospective voter, the primary may have been easier for “their guy.”
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Below is a copy of the email I sent to the EC and Chairman. I hope they appoint me to the Selection Committee Chair. Any other person is going to have to be hated by someone no matter what they vote. I live by a code of “do right and fear no one”, and I am proud to have friends that respect integrity, and will not put me on an enemies list. I think “my guy” has better ideas and more charisma. He will do very well in a free and open marketplace of ideas. I think the LPF voters will make the right choice, and I can respect a lawful vote in a way I cannot respect ad hominem orgies.
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I now am looking for a few good people in Gainesville, and plan a big Libertarian awakening for the University of Florida over the next school year. I want to teach these younger people, in the accessible city and county government, and build a team to take with me to Tallahassee in the next 24 months and see the Governor sign the Justice for Jason Westcott Body Camera Act. Let us all get so busy working for freedom we do not have time left to worry about how the “other guy” chooses to express himself, or who he hangs out with. If we only associate with other Libertarians we will never grow. I recently founded the LP Veterans Caucus, and I hope to find a volunteer for the LP Biker Caucus I have in mind. I also intend to help a bunch of non violent felons get their rights back, so if any of these sound like good ideas, PLEASE get in touch.
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If anybody lives in the counties listed, it is a great opportunity to make a difference in your community. I came to a region with zero activity. I affiliated Bradford County, and the goal is 3 by next spring. We have a meet and greet Thu, Jun 29, in Starke. Quit yelling at your television and I will put you to work!
Contact us: bradfordcountylpf@gmail.com
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6/22/2016
Chairman and fellow EC members,

I have spent the last couple of days talking with the prospective Region 7 Representative, Gabriel Wozniak. I believe he is genuine, and I am glad there is more young blood on the EC. “The Party of Principle” will not be well served if I betrayed my own, by showing bias based on his campaign work for a candidate I do not support, Paul Stanton.

I have been studying the LPF history, and the last decade is a story leadership waging war on each other over rival candidates, with their respective supporters joining in. The fallout costs us good people and the scars keep us from being able to work together. We keep “the other guy” off the committee or the EC, we undermine their legislation or call them names. We should be holding debates between our candidates, promoting free speech, and getting people interested in the LPF.

I do not see why we shouldn’t run 2 pieces of legislation addressing the same issue, maybe one passes and gets us a little closer. Perhaps it paves the way, and the other one follows in another session. It is pretty awesome to have a Libertarian Primary in Florida. The appropriate way to criticize or praise is the pen or the podium, and it should be beneath the leadership to enter into these petty contests. Just a few months ago, I felt like the leadership was putting pressure on me to discourage my participation. I will not perpetuate the cannibalism on my own tribe.

When I got out of the Navy, one of my mentors gave me some simple advice that proved to be one of they keys to my success. He told me never present a problem without proposing a solution. My critiques of any candidate leading up to the primary will be based on facts I can document, and as part of a general effort to “raise the bar”, that I hope all of you will participate in.

I presented the idea to Gabriel that we should both vote to confirm both candidates. I have had an opportunity to see the questionnaire of Augustus Invictus, and should the Selection Committee not confirm him, we are going to look as if we have once again played the tired old political games that voters come to the Libertarian Party to escape from. The sudden resignation of the Chairman of that Committee creates another minefield, with nothing but more division as the likely result, should one side or the other get “their guy” in that seat. I would like to solve that problem by seeking the vacant chair, and confirming BOTH candidates. I trust the members of the LPF to make the decision. Ultimately we represent them, not the other way around. The fact that they have a choice is historic and we should not tarnish it by more bickering.

I am proposing that in the future, we eliminate the Selection Committee entirely. I will document the history of hate and discontent surrounding the party leadership in the past using it against opponents. I not want future LPF elections to leave a legacy of controversy and bad blood. If you give people power, they will misuse it, and we are all still people. This principle is so fundamental to our beliefs, I find the amount of energy expended over the years fighting over who gets to be the “official” LPF candidate an absurdity. The State says they can still be on the ballot and the primary is automatic. I understand the position that party money is an issue, so I am proposing that we amend the Bylaws at the next convention to eliminate the Selection Committee, we concurrently add a Bylaw that AFTER the primary, or the primary date if only one candidate files, the EC can prevent party money from being used and issue a statement explaining why with a 2/3 vote.

This should encourage people to run, even if they are not power players. New ideas take time to catch on, these candidates deserve a chance to market their ideas to their fellow party members and the voters without being subject to a collective body working against them. The Libertarian Party should be the change we want in the world. To that end I have also commissioned a new website, and invited our Communications Director and At Large 1 Representative, Alison Foxall, to participate. I do not expect the party to pay for something just because I had an idea. It will have open source email, so that the public and the members can have a better idea of how decisions are made, and a place for them to provide input, as well as leadership to post documentation to support the reasons for various votes or policies.

I will begin voluntarily using it for all official business as soon as it is up and running, and inviting all EC members and committee members to do the same. The Sunshine Law in Florida was a good thing, We can set ourselves apart from the other parties, and I believe it will help us grow, as people are looking for something different than politics as usual. I hope to persuade the members and leadership of the merit of holding ourselves to a higher standard, make it mandatory that all official business is done in full public view, and donate it to the LPF at the next convention.

Gabriel wasn’t feeling well, and he asked we continue our discussion in the morning. I did not want him to think that I was using this confirmation vote to influence him to join me in voting for both candidates, so I ask the Secretary to note my Yes vote to confirm the appointment of Gabriel Wozniak as the Region 7 Representative for the LPF. Hopefully the new EC will join me in my call to let the voters decide, should his conscience not allow a confirmation of one or the other, I will respect his decision.

I also formally declare my candidacy for the recently vacated Chairmanship of what I hope to make the last Selection Committee convened before a primary by the LPF.

Ryan Ramsey
Region 4 Representative and Bradford County Chairman,
Libertarian Party of Florida

Bradfordcountylpf@gmail.com
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garyjohnsonus

Ask me why you should give Gary Johnson your vote

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