The Libertarian of Vermont

January - February 1998

Table of Contents


The main purpose of a political party is to advance its political agenda by nominating candidates for public office. If we run only a few candidates, we are not seen as much of a political threat. But with a lot of candidates, the public and the media take us much more seriously--even if many of our candidates do not run active campaigns.

Any third party that contests a substantial portion of elective offices becomes, instantly, a threat to the Establishment. Why? Because it presents the possibility--howsoever remote--that if elected they would unbalance, if not actually control, the legislature and therefore the government. It forces our opponents and the media to address Libertarian ideas.

This year the Libertarian Party faces a golden opportunity in Vermont. One reason is that we have earned full ballot access by caucusing, by forming town committees, and by receiving state certification. Your State Committee is now empowered to place Libertarian candidates on Vermont election ballots at all levels without paying fees or collecting signature petitions. Another reason is that much statist legislation has come out of the legislature this year with the support of incumbents of both major parties. As a result, a substantial portion of the voters of Vermont are angry, disillusioned and disgusted with both the Republicans and Democrats. The time is ripe for Libertarians to gather a meaningful percentage of the vote .

It does not necessarily mean we will win public office at this early date--although it will certainly be possible in certain districts--but it does mean that we have a good chance to get enough votes to increase dramatically our influence, exposure and growth. But this will only be possible if Libertarians are willing to be placed on the ballot, even if only for inactive campaigns. We realize that some of you will balk at running for office. You do not, you may say, have time or resources for such an effort. Our answer is that it will require no time or resources at all if you do not wish it for even a completely passive campaign, but if your name is on the ballot it tells the public that we are here--and we will pick up votes!

Some of you might feel that it doesn't do any good to engage in inactive campaigning. This is an error. We will have some very active candidates this year, and people will not notice if many of our candidates are inactive. But they will notice if their election ballot is full of Libertarians --especially this year. This is of critical importance if we are a serious party. We repeat, nobody takes a party seriously that runs only a few candidates.

Some of you, I know, are eager to go on campaign in 1998. You have already selected the office you wish to contest, and will run active high profile campaigns. Others have already agreed to be on the ballot in a passive role. But the Party needs many more names on ballots, anywhere in Vermont. Also, we have mapped out districts where we there is particularly strong sentiment against both major parties, and where we believe we can pick up significant votes just by being on the ballot.

Over the next several weeks, we will be contacting many Libertarian Party members and asking them to lend their names to the Party for the fall election ballots. If you are already interested, call the Party Chair toll free (on 1-800-891-6908), or write (Chris Costanzo, P.O. Box 276, Randolph, VT 05060). It is the second most important thing you can do for the Party. The first was to caucus last year. Without it we wouldn't be a party now. You came through with flying colors. The next thing is to be on the ballot. It is our reason for existing, and it is the whole point of our effort.

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The Vermont Libertarian Party will hold its State Convention on April 11, 1998 beginning at 1:30 PM in Montpelier. Per Vermont law, the convention must be held to determine the Party's platform. In addition, our By-Laws require the State Convention to select delegates to the Libertarian Party National Convention that will take place in Washington, DC, on July 2-5.

Our State Convention Committee is organizing a program that will include guest speakers from various interest groups in Vermont, as well as a national-level speaker. There will be an opportunity to dine and get acquainted with other Libertarians in our state.

According to our By-Laws, all members of the Vermont Libertarian Party have status as voting delegates to our State Convention. Therefore ALL Vermont Libertarians are requested to attend. In this letter is an insert with more information, and a coupon which we ask you to fill out and send in to signify your intent to participate. We need your feedback for planning purposes.

Our Party, which was in disarray only a few years ago, is now in full array. We are established, legally recognized, and poised to gather impressive electoral support this fall. We not only need Libertarians on the ballot as our first priority this year, as we state above in this newsletter, but we also need your attendance as voting Libertarians at our State Conventions.

And, of course, all liberty-leaning Vermonters and visitors are also invited to fill out the coupon and attend, even if not as voters.

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The four-page insert to this newsletter contains the Vermont Libertarian Party's Legislative Watch List of bills before the Vermont legislature this year that are of Libertarian interest. In this election year it is vitally important that we raise our profile. I appeal to all of you to send letters to the editor of your local or state-wide newspaper giving the libertarian view regarding the bills you support or oppose. In Vermont, editors are eager to receive and publish such letters--not only in the small local papers, but the major ones as well.

To help our cause, the letter should bear the word "libertarian" somewhere in it. It can refer to our doctrine in generic terms (e.g. "I must think as a libertarian on this issue" or "One should be a libertarian in this case"), or else cite our Party specifically (e.g. "The Libertarian Party's position seems to make more sense," or "Speaking as a Libertarian it would seem that. . ."), or else if you hold a Party position you can sign your letter with your title (e.g. "Emil Kiffutz, Secretary, Mudpond Libertarian Town Committee). If you hold no party position but are interested in writing about a certain bill, the State Chair would be glad to name you to a position (e.g. "Libertarian Party House Bill Spokesman"). Please contact the State Chair by calling 1-802-234-6908.

Almost equally important is that you write your legislator, again mentioning "libertarian" or "Libertarian" or giving a Libertarian title. A high media profile is essential throughout 1998 to complement our balloting strategy for the fall elections. Our Party will not gain the respect it needs unless its name and voice is repeated before the public.

If you are hesitant about the wording of your letter, please contact the State Chair or else Fred Woeckner (Chair of the Hyde Park Libertarian Town Committee, 1-802-888-7626). We will be glad to provide you with appropriate language. And of course, please forward the Chair a copy of your final letter for our Party records.

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As many Libertarians know, a 1997 Supreme Court decision declared unconstitutional that portion of the Brady Law that requires locally elected officials to perform background checks on gun purchasers for the federal government. The law does not, however, prevent state and local officials from performing such checks voluntarily. In order to plug this loophole and guarantee privacy rights for gun purchasers, Libertarian Party members have secured the introduction of House Bill 461 and its equivalent, Senate Bill 215, in the 1998 Vermont legislative agenda. Eddie Cutler (Chair of the Westminster Libertarian Town Committee and President of the Gun Owners of Vermont), Chris Costanzo (State Chair, Vermont Libertarian Party), and other Libertarians met with legislators in the State House on January 6 to discuss strategy for passing these bills which are listed in the enclosed 1998 Legislative Watch sheet. We urge all Vermont Libertarians and friends of liberty to write their newspapers and legislators in support of these legislative proposals.

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On January 6, 1998--the day the Vermont legislature re-convened--P.O.S.T. (Property Owners Standing Together) held a rally in front of the State House to protest last year's Act 60 (which took educational property taxing authority away from local democratic control), and Act 15 (which took timber cutting rights away from private property owners).

Present at the rally were a number of Libertarians, including State Chair Chris Costanzo, Vice- State Chair Scott Berkey, Westiminster LP Town Chair Eddie Cutler, Bradford LP Town Chair Neil Randall, and others. Libertarians carried signs, distributed literature, and talked with many people in the friendly and sympathetic crowd.

State Chair Costanzo addressed the crowd on the steps of the State House, pointing out that government must hold private property and private wealth sacrosanct, and that taxation should only be for the purpose of raising revenue to run the government, not to confiscate and redistribute private wealth for political advantage. Costanzo also pointed out that the Libertarian Party was the only political alternative to what the major parties were doing.

Costanzo was followed by Libertarian Tom Morse, our Party's candidate for congress in 1996, who pointed out the unconstitutionality of much of the legislation that is currently coming out of the State House, and urged citizens to stand together to take back our rights and to insist on government's adherence to our national and state constitutions.

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The Libertarian Party of Massachusetts will be holding its 1998 State Convention February 21, 1998. It will be held at the Sheraton Needham Hotel, 100 Cabot Street, Needham, Massachusetts, from 9am to 10pm. Speakers include Barbara Anderson, from Citizens for Limited Taxation and Government, Michael Cloud and Steve Dasbach from the National Libertarian Party, and the Featured speaker of the evening will be the well known and respected radio host, author, media critic and national celebrity David Brudnoy. The cost is $59 per person if registered by February 1st. Please call 1-888-672-6698 to register.

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The Ludwig von Mises Institute, founded in 1982, teaches Austrian economics and classical liberalism, on campuses and to the public. In the tradition of Mises and its long-time academic head, the late Murray N. Rothbard, the Institute opposes government power as economically and morally destructive. If you would like information on the institute's publications and other programs, write : The Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, Alabama 36849-5301. They can be reached by phone on 1-334-844-2500, by fax: 1-334-844-2583, or by e-mail at: [email protected] Their web site is at:

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There is NO fee for attending the convention. Non-members, supporters, and friends are invited to attend as non-voters.

We have tentatively reserved as the location of the Convention: The Capitol Plaza Hotel & Conference Center, Montpelier, VT

In addition to debating the Platform and electing delegates to the National Convention, we will hear speakers from various Vermont political groups. We expect as our principal speaker to have a nationally known Libertarian Dr. Mary J. Rewart, author of Healing Our World

We need an estimate of how many will be attending, so please check the box, fold over and staple this sheet and mail to the address on the reverse side.

Yes, I will attend
No, I cannot attend this year

Name (s):_______________________
Mailing Address:_________________________
(You will be contacted soon!!!!)

The Vermont Libertarian Party solicits and needs donations to cover the expenses for this event. Please circle any amount you are willing to pledge.

$5 $10 $15 $20 $25 Other______

There will be a dinner served at $20 a person!!!

Yes! Please reserve_____dinners. No. I will not be having dinner.

Fill out and mail this form to:

Brendan Kinney
VLP Convention Coordinator
5 Concord Green
Burlington, VT 05403

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