IPFS Karen Kwiatkowski

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Open Letter to Mark Hinkle, Libertarian Party National Chair

Open Letter to Mark Hinkle, Libertarian Party National Chair

Dear Mark,

Your email to me on March 30, 2011 expressed concern that in a speech I gave a few days ago, I criticized the Libertarian Party for becoming associated with pro-war rhetoric, and not sticking to libertarian principles.  You asked, “…why level a critique against the Libertarian Party for the pro-war support of a minority within the Party?” and wanted me to name names.

Because the LP has taken a very public stand that it is a party founded and based on principle, not popularity, it makes itself vulnerable to criticism for appearing unprincipled.  The 2008 LP presidential nomination of well-known conservative Bob Barr, and the promotion to Chair of the LP National Congressional Committee of the rabidly pro-war Wayne Allyn Root caused people of all political stripes to look at the LP and wonder whether the principle of the party was peaceful libertarianism, or just political experimentation and number-crunching.  

These less principled Libertarian figures may have represented the minority view of the party, but their names are strongly associated with the LP, hence my criticism.  In fact, even before the Barr and Root elevations within the party, in 2005, the LP published an “Iraq Exit Strategy” which called for troops leaving gradually, not coming home but instead being redistributed throughout the Middle East, and pouring in direct aid to Iraq’s nascent state-building efforts.  This proposal was not at all libertarian.  Shockingly, it was as interventionist and imperial as anything put forth by either a Left-Progressive or Right-Conservative think tank. 

Wayne Root, in particular, is allowed by the LP to speak for the party, and honest libertarians throughout the American population and within the LP are turned off.  You suggest that my criticism of these anti-liberty, pro-state LP voices are the same as criticizing the GOP for being pro-life because some minority members of the GOP are pro-life.   But when the GOP fields candidates and spokespersons, particularly at the national level, they toe the party line, and they don’t suggest that there is “room” at the philosophical table.  Our own LP table is already small.   Embracing statists and nationalists quietly within the party is one thing; making them front and center as a leading voice of recruitment and policy means that these types of unprincipled non-libertarian perspectives become the LP in the minds of everyone.

Why haven’t we, as a party, asked Wayne to simply join one of the war parties?  

I have a suggestion for the LP HQ strategists.  The focus on vote-getting at the national level has led the LP into precisely the situation that you are noting today (a criticism of the party within liberty circles).  I would love to see the party concentrate on supporting local elections of libertarians (which it does nicely), and in DC, to serve primarily as a rating and clearance site for Congressmen and Senators.  Take your issues (http://www.lp.org/issues) and create a liberty friendliness rating on each issue for each congressman, much like the John Birch Society does on conservatism. (See http://www.votesmart.org/issue_rating_detail.php?r_id=2151 ) or as the Heritage Foundation does for economic freedom in countries around the world.   This type of approach would make our positions politically applicable and measurable, and a “Liberty “rating will be something many Congressmen will welcome and seek (or angrily react to).  It would also allow many of us in the field to jump on it, further making the LP relevant.  This way we remain a “party of principle,” with the added benefit of being a party that is listened to, and donated to, because it is loud, proud, and principled.

I also think, that beyond the fleas the LP gets from lying down with characters like Root, and promoting him, we should be careful about our other bedfellows in DC.  The Cato Institute does fine work, but it is not as effective in gaining Libertarian friendly legislation and votes as is Jim Babka’s interactive and aggressive DownsizeDC, and nothing Cato has produced on constitutional foreign or domestic policy comes even close to what is done daily over at the Bumper Hornberger’s Future of Freedom Foundation in Reston, VA.   

Mark, my fundamental sense of betrayal and anger at the LP for its 2008 shenanigans and for its lack of creativity in the fight for freedom at home is far deeper than anyone would imagine from my limited criticism of the party, mentioned briefly in a long talk.   May I take your note as an opening for real change within the LP National Committee and a real commitment to win the battle for hearts and minds across the country? 

Karen Kwiatkowski 


13 Comments in Response to

Comment by Mark Hinkle
Entered on:

Jill Pyeatt said:

"C'mon, Mark, give me a break!  You know darn well that Root does that ALL THE TIME.  Either you're disinguous or being deliberately obtuse.  His critics have asked him OVER AND OVER to stop saying things as a representave of the party, and all we get are idiotuc talking points."

This may come as a shock to some people, but I don't spend all, well frankly none, of my time watching or listening to Wayne Allyn Root on TV and Radio.  Between working full time for the LP, which btw, includes a fair number of media appearances myself, I just don't have time to track Root's many media appearances.

So, if you can point me to a specific web page or send me an video or audio file where Root says he's "the" spokesman for the LP, I want to know.  The LP Bylaws specifically states who the official spokesman is.  And it's the Chair of the LNC, not the Chair of the LNCC or anyone else for that matter.

You send me a link and I'll bring it up before the LNC on April 16th or 17th.

Yours in liberty...................Mark Hinkle, LNC Chair

Comment by J T Floch
Entered on:

Well written, Karen. I think the equation made between the pro-war and pro-life minorities within the LP is not fair to pro-lifers, since they represent a group that applies the non-aggression principle to the issue differently than does the pro-choice side, while the pro-war faction rejects the principle altogether when it comes to war issues. I would add the LP should be cut some slack as is still working out how to put all the elements together to make the party seem credible to the public without abandoning its principles. Sometimes that does involve making decisions as to how to best put pragmatism at the service of principle, in order for its ideas to be heard. Half of the attractiveness of nominating Ron Paul for President in 1988, for example, came not only from him being an articulate man of principle, but because he had been a senior elected politician. The party had not fielded a figure of that stature for President for the following twenty year, so tried again with Barr in 2008. The flaw with Barr was indeed his embrace of foreign intervention, but otherwise the attempt to demonstrate it can field proven, electable candidates is reasonable.

Comment by Carolyn Marbry
Entered on:

 I have to second Jill on this.  Root is an elected member of the LNC and routinely represents himself as the "professional spokesperson" (his words) of the Libertarian Party.  When I was still a member of the party, I said many many times to Mark and to other members of the LNC that those who are speaking on behalf of the party should represent the party's platform in that capacity -- the platform represents the positions agreed upon as "canon," for lack of a better word, by the delegates in convention, and the closest thing you will find to consensus in the party. 

Comment by Jill Pyeatt
Entered on:

 Mark Hinkle wrote in his comment above:  "if he is representing himself a "the" or "a" spokesman for the Libertarian Party, please let me know".


C'mon, Mark, give me a break!  You know darn well that Root does that ALL THE TIME.  Either you're disinguous or being deliberately obtuse.  His critics have asked him OVER AND OVER to stop saying things as a representave of the party, and all we get are idiotuc talking points.


Thank you, Colonel Kwiatkowski for saying publicly what many of us have been saying for years.

Comment by Mama Liberty
Entered on:

Exactly, Larken.

I left the LP in 1980 for the same reason. It was simply incongruent with the principles of non-aggression and self ownership that are the center of my life.

Comment by Mark Hinkle
Entered on:


I'd like to clear up some misconceptions about some of the comments you made.

You said "...and the promotion to Chair of the LP National Congressional Committee of the rabidly pro-war Wayne Allyn Root...".

This simply is not true.  First of all, the LNCC has virtually no connection to the LNC.  The LNC is the governing body of the Libertarian Party and it's members are elected by the delegates to our bi-annual conventions.  The LNCC is a private organization, that shares a similar name to the LNC, but the LNC has NO control over the LNCC.  The only connection between the two organizations officially is that as Chair of the LNC, I get to serve as 1 board member on the LNCC.  That's it.

 The LNCC, not the LNC, elected Wayne Root as it's Chair.  As near as I can tell, the LNCC is an private invitation only group that requires $1,000 to join and, I think, they are also suppose to be lifetime members of the LP ($1,000 membership).

 I would also direct you to view a recent Blog posting by Wayne Root concerning the new war in Libya:


This statement puzzles me: "Wayne Root, in particular, is allowed by the LP to speak for the party, and honest libertarians throughout the American population and within the LP are turned off."

Wayne speaks for himself.  I am the official spokesman for the Libertarian Party.  Are you suggesting there is some method of censorship that we should try and enforce on Wayne Root?  Even if we wanted to, we couldn't.

Press inquiries that come into the LP HQ are directed to either myself or Wes Benedict, our Executive Director.  To my knowledge, none of them are referred to Wayne Root.

When speaking, he can certainly identify himself as a member of the LNC, because he is.  I suspect he chooses instead to identify himself as Chair of the LNCC or as our former Vice-Presidential candidate.  Either the LNC nor I have any control over how he identifies himself.

If he is identifying himself as "the" or "a" spokesman for the Libertarian Party, please let me know and I'll bring it up with the entire LNC at our upcoming meeting in DC.

And finally as to your last paragraph regarding real change within the Libertarian Party.  Yes, I ran for LP Chair because I was disturbed both by the poor administration of the LP and by some very un-Libertarian statements issues from the LP HQ over the last decade.  I don't think you'll find fault with either under my administration.  But, if there are, I trust you'll let me know.  And I will listen.

Yours in liberty..................Mark Hinkle, LNC Chair

Comment by Ken Valentine
Entered on:

 Back in the olden days, a group of  "Consolidationists" got together and called themselves "Federalists." This made it possible for them to label the REAL Federalists -- those who wanted a Federation of States -- as "Anti-Federalists." 

And so it goes. When the Federalist agenda became visible, they were no longer electable, so they infiltrated the Democratic Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson.

In turn, Thomas Jefferson encouraged a couple of visiting politicians -- Martin VanBuren and Thomas Hart Benton -- to start a NEW party. They latched onto Andrew Jackson as their first presidential candidate, and the Democratic Party was born.

The (former) Federalists started their own "New Party," calling themselves Whigs, which was another lie -- the Whigs soon after evolved into the Republican Party.

And on it went.

When the Libertarian Party began to grow, Statists began to infiltrate the L P, and it became "cool" for people to call themselves Libertarian -- even if (perhaps especially if) they weren't.

I joined the LP in 1978, and by 2004 the party had changed so much that I left it . . . in disgust.


Comment by Jefferson Paine
Entered on:

This is a perfect opportunity to remind everyone of the natural attitude of the Freedom's Phoenix crew and its longtime allies. The LP has only one effective role: to be an anti-politics party taking advantage of the right to organize as a political party. That gives the LP a bully pulpit from which to educate people on what freedom and liberty are. 

Personally, I like the idea of the LP fielding candidates that are obviously clowning around, using the primary season to do a "Tastes Great!" "Less Filling!" routine. [For those of you too young to recognize the reference ... I'm jealous ;-)] One candidate does an outrageous caricature of the Dems, another does the same for the Reps, and a third lays out the actual freedom line.

Our motto (at least one of them) is that doing politics should be fun. That approach should be a laugh fest!


Comment by Michael Benoit
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 Well written Karen with much truth included. One truth ignored is that if more people like you and me went to the annual convention and voted, people like Barr and Root would be insignificant. If more people like Larken Rose saw value in stopping tyrants through the political process, instead of thinking, if we ignore them they will go away then those who are liberators instead of prohibitors would win the day.

Mike Benoit

Comment by Gerhard Langguth
Entered on:

The problem with the "Federal" Libertarian Party is the same thing that is wrong with all organizations headquartered in WDC (Washington District of Corruption). Just drinking the water or breathing in the air of power for a few months is guaranteed to turn any normal human into an insta-dictator. Bill (War-Red) Path is a good example.

He used to be a really nice guy but after a stint as LNCC he is now a confirmed lapdog of the military industrial fascists. And not to be out done left wing has their share of Enviro-Nut Communists.

However, to say that we do not need a Libertarian Party is also absurd. What we need to do is abolish DC. Close the national office and lay off, no make that FIRE each and every miscreant with their gold plated 401(K)s. Oops scratch that - their Tin Plated 401Ks now! The WDC contingient of the LNC should be a "political director," one secretary and a cubbyhole hole office with a small conference room. Limit their combined salaries and operating expenses to $100K or 100 gold eagles (1 OZ of AU) per year. Term limited to 4 years and permanently prohibit ALL benefits - ie no medical, no dental, no retirement - nothing. You go to SERVE the people and shall get NOTHING in return. Period.

All of the functions would be transfered to 4 or 5 regional offices. And not these stupid "fiefdom" regions where the only goal is to ensure the personal power of some third rate political hack. The State Parties in each region would be required to pay for their regional offices expenses on a per capita basis and these regions would "compete" for contracts to do what USED to be done in WDC.

Political parties are kinda sorta like micro gubamints. How they conduct their internal affairs says as much about who and what they are as anything else. Right now the National Libertarian Party is in disarray and less functional then the Fed. Same can be said for many of the States both LP and gubamint.

One of the great ideas behind our Republic is that each state is an independant test bed. And like Texas - a whole nother country - where groups of people can live the way THEY want to and have as much or as little government as they wish. Want to live in a Communist state, try Calif - fall into the ocean - fornia or TaxAChussets. Want to live in a fascist dictators ship try Motor City or New York. Military Industrialist - Texas. Polygamists - Utah. What stays in Vegas ... you get the idea.

Its used to be called federalism.

Everything sounds good on paper. And any butt wipe can pretend to "know it all." Self included. The question is who has the courage to actually crawl out from behind their monitors and create a reality that other people can touch, feel and become a part of. We need the LP so we can create those models and perfect the ideas BEFORE they become "The Law of the Land."

The Arkansas LP Convention (see www.lpar.org ) is April 9th. Bill R will be there. So will Mary R and R. Lee W. Tickets are only $35. I expect a lively debate regarding WAR and no MORE W.A.Rs.



Comment by Ernest Hancock
Entered on:

Ahhhhh,... never mind

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:

No, no.  The LP is Pro-W.A.R., not pro-war. Now the fact that Wayne Allen Root (W.A.R.) is a vicious, prancing, war loving neocon is immaterial.  The NLP loves him. And that nice pro-war CONgressman, former CIA and federal drug prosecutor Bob Barr.  But don't worry---theyve grown.  And the NLP have pro-war talk show host "libertarian" Neil Bortz on their side too. 

Comment by Larken Rose
Entered on:

Is the Libertarian party hypocritical? Absolutely. Does it forsake the principle of non-aggression for political purposes? Yep. Can it ever do otherwise? Absolutely NOT, which is why the "party" is 100% worthless--always was and always will be. 

The fact that there are war-mongers trying to wear the libertarian label would be hilarious, if it wasn't so tragic. However, it is just as laughable for there to BE a "Libertarian" political party at all. If one accepts the principle of non-aggression, how would that principle manifest itself by way of a political party?

Well, no "taxes," for one thing, since "taxes" require aggressive violence. I don't mean less extortion, or more benign extortion--I mean NONE.To compromise on that is to betray the principle of non-aggression.

And no more elections, since the cult of democracy implies a RIGHT of the winner to rule (even if in a supposedly "limited" manner). Any ruling class is incompatible with non-aggression. And for any politician to bicker over "legislation" is to ABANDON the principle of non-aggression, and to concede that whether we are free or not is up to the "law-makers" to decide. If initiating violence is wrong--and it is--then so-called "laws" instructing aggression should be IGNORED, if not forcibly RESISTED. To call for their "repeal" is to LEGITIMIZE the notion that aggression is okay if it is "legal," and that persuading the parasites to LET us be free should be our focus. (Gack.)

Anyway, I'll cut my rant short--or at least shortER than it would have been. The point is, the Libertarian party is not merely hypocritical when it comes to war-mongering; it is hypocritical when it pretends that libertarianism can ever be compatible with a "political" party at all. If I own me--and I do--then I don't need the "legislative" permission of ANYONE to be free. People who understand that don't run for office, and don't vote.