It’s hard to believe, but the RLC celebrated its twenty year anniversary over the weekend with its biennial Republican Liberty Caucus National Convention and outreach effort at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
The activities began on Wednesday evening when RLC’ers Dave Nalle, Aaron Biterman, George Primbs, Shelby McCurnin, and Julian Babbitt set up the CPAC outreach booth. On Thursday, the day began bright and early with Republican Liberty Caucus outreach efforts at CPAC. This marked the first RLC outreach efforts at the conference in almost a decade.
Dave Nalle brought impressive RLC literature, pins, and t-shirts to distribute to attendees. RLC’ers used the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to help attendees identify their political leanings. Throughout the two-day conference, members and supporters of the RLC wore “I am the RLC” stickers and RLC pins to express unity and shared commitment to individual liberty and limited government.
Some RLC members attended speeches by Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Governor Gary Johnson, and events hosted by those three leaders of the libertarian Republican movement. On Thursday evening, both Johnson and the Pauls had their own respective events. On Friday, both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson spoke before CPAC attendees and were well received. On Saturday, the straw poll results from the CPAC conference were announced, with Ron Paul placing first with thirty percent and Gary Johnson placing third (after Mitt Romney) with six percent.
Clearly the momentum at CPAC has shifted over the past two years. The RLC is pleased with the inclusiveness of the CPAC event and is very excited about how popular the liberty message is with CPAC attendees. Congratulations to Dr. Ron Paul for placing first in the CPAC straw poll for the second year in a row!
On Saturday, Republican Liberty Caucus members from across the country — over 125 liberty activists from more than 30 states — gathered to attend the RLC National Convention. The day opened up with a presentation on libertarianism from an expert on the topic, Cato Institute Executive VP David Boaz.
After Mr. Boaz answered questions, a panel about the Tea Party’s relationship to Ron Paul and libertarian ideas ensued. The panel, moderated by Corie Whalen and including former RLC National Board member Dr. Murray Sabrin, columnist Todd Seavey, Ron Paul campaign veteran Joe Seehusen, and Tea Party organizer Chip Tarbutton, was well very timely considering the possibility of both Ron Paul and Gary Johnson running for President in 2012.
Also in the morning session, Christopher Doss of the Leadership Institute gave a presentation about communication skills and a group of RLC members who are active in their local Republican Parties discussed how to form RLC state chapters and influence the party organizations.
One highlight of the day was the panel of current and former elected liberty Republicans. The panel featured three former State Representatives, Ken Lindell of Maine, Terri McCormick of Wisconsin, and Jamie Callender of Ohio, as well as New York City Councilman Dan Halloran (see photo below).
Congressman Justin Amash, the second youngest member of Congress and a fan favorite of RLC members, met with RLC delegates while discussing the current Congress during the lunch session. Representative Amash is cautiously optimistic. World famous Professor Randy Barnett, the most notable intellectual critic of the Obamacare health law, presented his ideas related to “The Libertarian Roots of the Republican Party,” which centered on Salmon P. Chase.
The afternoon sessions focused on civil liberties, privacy, the War on Drugs, foreign policy, how to run a winning campaign, and constitutional reforms. Panelists discussed voting methods like Instant Runoff Voting, ballot access laws, term limits, recall, and initiative & referendum.
Gary Johnson won the 2012 RLC Presidential Straw Poll with 45 percent of the vote to Ron Paul’s 38 percent of the vote. Newt Gingrich received five percent and other candidates totaled ten percent.
The recommended Bylaw, Statement of Principles, and Rule changes were adopted without modification — with one exception: Proposed Amendment to Article III, Section 6 was modified to the following wording: “Any membership may be suspended or revoked by a majority vote of the Board of Directors of the Caucus or the applicable Chartered State executive committee for just cause, which may include malfeasance in office, misappropriation of funds, misrepresenting the positions of the Caucus, or conduct which reflects poorly on the Caucus, or conduct which reflects poorly on the Caucus. Any member suspended or revoked by a State charter organization shall have the right to appeal to the National Board of Directors within 90 days, and the National Board of Directors shall render a decision within 90 days of notification.” Delegates added a statement defending Personal Liberties to the RLC Statement of Principles.
The following individuals were elected to positions on the RLC National Committee: Dave Nalle (TX), Chair; Aaron Biterman (VA), Vice Chair; Jason Hellenberg (FL), Secretary; Matthew Nye (FL), Treasurer; and Ed Lopez-Reyes (NH), Bill Westmiller (CA), and Corie Whalen (TX) were elected At-Large Board members. Regional directors will be selected by state RLC chapters within 30 days after the Convention. Alternate Board members elected included Aleq Boyle (GA), Shelby McCurnin (VA), Jeff Palmer (NC), Erik Setzer (FL), John Underwood (NC), and Eric Wall (FL).
Delegates adjourned until dinner. The dinner portion of the Convention was particularly exciting. The co-keynote speakers were Peter Schiff, who gave booming yet pessimistic predictions about the future, and Governor Gary Johnson, who outlined what he did in New Mexico. Both speeches were very well received and showed the different styles of the two speakers.
Veteran RLC member Cliff Thies presented “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie” as “Bye, Bye Miss Liberty Bye,” which prompted an audience sing-along. And Laura Crockett, a longtime RLC member from California, presented a very special pictorial history of the Republican Liberty Caucus.
Convention award winners included: Aaron Biterman (Virginia RLC), Chairman’s Award for Service; Laura Ebke (Nebraska RLC), Outstanding Activist; Michael S. Murphy (Wisconsin RLC), Activist of the Year; and the New Hampshire RLC, Most Successful State Chapter of 2010.
After dinner, Convention attendees were joined by Campaign for Liberty members and other assorted liberty activists at Baileys Pub in Ballston (Arlington) for a reception hosted by the Virginia RLC. The after-party featured Governor Gary Johnson playing RLC’ers in checkers (and apparently winning!) and was attended by commentator and columnist Jack Hunter.
Twenty years. Fifty states. One goal: Liberty. The Republican Liberty Caucus National Convention was the place to be on Saturday. Some additional Convention photos can be found here. Thank you to Republican Liberty Caucus delegates and officers as well as our generous sponsors — each of whom did their important part to make the Convention a tremendous success.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.