Earlier today, Paulie Cannoli wrote to suggest the rather clever idea that the membership figures were probably stimulated when many states adopted a bundled marketing concept, where joining the state party got you national membership at the same time. Apparently, that deal has gone away, and most states are now collecting membership fees independent of the national party.
Another thought that he mentioned was that the Harry Browne campaign may have been counting as members everyone who contributed at least $25 to the campaign, during those tawdry days of corruption when the national LP headquarters staff was nearly identical in material respects to the Harry Browne campaign staff. See my letters and L. Neil Smith’s editorials on this situation during the relevant period (1996-2001 or so) on ncc-1776.org for details.
Here is a graph derived from figures found on groups.yahoo.com/group/lpradicals in their files area. No doubt the party loyalists among the so-called LP Radicals are going to remove those files in order to prevent any further conversation about the figures. But, we have this lovely graph.
Whether I get it to display, I dunno.
Now, Microsoft Excel is not very good at graphing. The data peaks at 33,017 or so in December 1999 and the data set ends at November 2007 with a value of 14,017. That’s where I get my calculations found at http://bostontea.us/node/304 – in case the graphic doesn’t display here.
Since the end of April, when I joined as member 30 on the current site (the 2006 membership database having been lost due to a server problem), the Boston Tea Party has grown to encompass 417 people. During the last few months, 533 people have joined our group on Facebook, which seems to be a major source of new members, alongside the recent addition of Google ads. Many of those Facebook friends were invited by me with the note that “The Boston Tea Party is the fastest growing libertarian party in America. We are adding state affiliates and endorsing candidates from other parties who agree with our smaller government platform.”
But, you know what? It looks like the Boston Tea Party may be the only growing libertarian party in America. The LP is shrinking.
In the last few months, we’ve endorsed or nominated about 30 candidates, most of whom are either members of the LP and running as BTP candidates, or members of the LP running as LP candidates. Some, such as founder Tom Knapp, are doing both – he’s the BTP vice presidential nominee this year, and he’s running for Congress in Missouri as an LP candidate.
We’ve also had quite a lot of enthusiasm for running favorite son vice presidential candidates in states such as Colorado (Dan Kilo), Florida (John Wayne Smith), Arizona where our write-in registration lists Barry Hess, and Utah where our write-in registration lists Marilyn Chambers, the actress who was Charles Jay’s running mate in 2004 on the Personal Choice Party ticket. I should note that our Voter Guide suggests people in states that forbid write-in voting for president choose to write in Marilyn for vice if they seek to protest this limitation on their political sovereignty.
During this same time, we have added twelve state affiliates. In two of those states, Florida and Colorado, we’re on the ballot. In Florida, we are officially recognised as a party, so people living there may choose to register as Boston Tea Party voters. Finally, thanks to Paulie Cannoli, we were able to collect signatures to put our candidates on the ballot in Tennessee, making three states for our first presidential candidate. (John Hospers, the LP’s first presidential candidate in 1972, was on the ballot in two states. We don’t expect our vice presidential nominee to earn any electoral votes, though.) I’ve also been approached privately about several LP state affiliates which would like to consider affiliating with the Boston Tea Party, as well. It has been a very exciting time, and the growth in our party has been fantastic.
My friend Tom Knapp asked me to help him earlier this year, and I admit that it took me some time to find my feet. No doubt, I was helped enormously by a number of events in the LP, such as the choice of Bob Barr as presidential nominee by a narrow majority on the last ballot in Denver. A number of missteps by Barr and his team, as well as the raging controversy over whether Angela Keaton should be allowed to communicate LNC activities to her constituents, have added vigor to our party.
Most of the recognition and credit for the growing membership of the Boston Tea Party goes to the members who have chosen to join us. Membership is free, so it is never an economic choice. It is a matter of choosing to agree with our platform. Or not. And a great many have chosen to agree. I thank them.