Conventions · Coverage

Libertarians Meet in Worcester; Set Sights on 2014

By Joshua Evans
Libertarians Meet in Worcester, Set Sights on 2014

For many, the political process is a time when commercials between television shows start being wedged out by political ads, campaign fliers outnumber the falling leaves, and the threat of being overrun by signs replaces being overrun by weeds. But, put up with all of the intrusion, and the light at the end of the tunnel is just a few months away. For others, the political process is a lengthier struggle, filled with thankless hours, behind-the-scenes responsibilities, and no clear end in sight. For Libertarians, it goes even further, and that’s just an average day.

The Libertarian Association of Massachusetts, the state branch of the Libertarian Party, met in Worcester last week to continue their struggle to have a voice in state politics. Meeting in Tweed’s Pub Restaurant, party enthusiasts picked new leadership and national delegates, heard speakers from across the spectrum, and laid out plans for 2014.

Author Michael Isenberg discusses his newest novel.
Author Michael Isenberg discusses his newest novel.

While far from what David Blau, the Party’s Chairman, had hoped to see, roughly two dozen participants attended the convention. Attendees ranged from young to old, new to experienced, college professors to small business owners, but all were together under a common idea of how the Government should function. Joining them were author Michael Isenberg, who was showcasing his newest dystopian novel “Full Asylum”, Benjamin Selecky, Massachusetts director of “People Against the NDAA”, and teenager Andrew Barndt, a recent participant of the National NCFCA debate tournament who spoke about dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.

Members intently listen to speaker Andrew Barndt.
Members intently listen to featured speaker Andrew Barndt.

With focuses geared on recruiting more candidates, locating other elected members, organizing party structure, and clarifying the party message, much debate was discussed regarding what direction was best for the party.

Daniel Fishman, who in 2012 ran against former Republican Minority Leader Richard Tisei and Democratic Representative John Tierney, pressed for a more engaging approach to politics. Addressing the need of Libertarians to be more open and aggressive, Fishman openly addressed that members need to be as active as they can, wherever and whenever that may be.

“We need to combat demagoguery against libertarians” Fishman preached. “A fight for liberty anywhere is a fight for liberty everywhere.”

WPI Professor George Phillies questioning PANDAA director Benjamin Selecky.
WPI Professor George Phillies, with Robert Clark to his right, questioning PANDAA director Benjamin Selecky.

Robert Clark, an elected Library Trustee based out of Berlin, echoed Fishman’s point to get involved wherever you can. “In the decisions I make [as a Trustee], I’m injecting a little libertarianism in the road”.

For others, like Billerica Town Meeting Representative, and self-identified “Left-Libertarian”, Mary-Anne Wolf, it was equally important to clarify what the Party publicly stands for, and addressing the danger behind being “smeared with the brush of Tea Party kookery.”

“We want to replace government programs with a non-government equivalent. We don’t want to just shut down public schools. We want to give you a choice” Wolf explained.

A brief intermission for lunch and the casting of ballots for State Committee might have stopped the speeches, but it definitely didn’t stop the political discourse that defined the day from still taking place.

Party activists mingle over lunch.
Party activists mingle over lunch.

Mingling in the audience, newcomers Lawrence and Jackie Shea, of Springfield, discussed how they see the future of the Libertarian Party developing more at the state level. Lawrence, who first worked on Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for President, claims that “bringing in more people power” is what will trigger that development. “We could do more”, Lawrence said.

Jackie, a former Democrat and once supporter of President Obama, also believes that the future lies in both the power of people, as well as building relationships with others. “We’re all people.” she stressed. When asked about working with other movements and grounds, she added “[It’s] worth investing into. Same with charity organizations.”

A future in politics isn’t completely out of the question for the Sheas. When asked about considering the idea of local office, Lawrence added “I would see where it leads.”

Kenneth Van Tassle, Lawrence Shea, Jackie Shea, and Chairman David Blau listen to Trent Sullivan, candidate for the 5th Middlesex House seat.
Kenneth Van Tassle, Lawrence Shea, Jackie Shea, and Chairman David Blau listen to Trent Sullivan, candidate for the 5th Middlesex House seat.

Sitting across from them, newly elected State Committee member, Kenneth Van Tassle, looks forward to the future. “Plenty of major party candidates are libertarian on one or two issues and the public majority are libertarian.” However, like everyone else, he still sees a lot of work to be done within the party before anything can happen. “We need to call ourselves the [Libertarian] Party” Tassle explained, addressing the issue of calling the party the “Association” versus “Party”. “Linking up our social media presence would bring people in [and] is key to fundraising.”

After half the day, the convention finally drew to a close with the election of national delegates, who will represent Massachusetts at the 2014 Libertarian Party National Convention, set to take place in Columbus, Ohio. As party activists filed out of the banquet hall, the mood was high and enthusiastic. However, the work is never finished, and for the newest Committee-members, it has only just begun.

The Libertarian Party was founded in Colorado in 1971, and is dedicated to “Minumum Government and Maximum Freedom.”

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