Directional Principles Subcommittee

The opinions on this page are those of Brian Holtz, and aren't guaranteed to reflect the opinions of the DP subcommittee.

Definition and Criteria

The Directional Principles approach is to have a Platform that for each broad issue states the enduring principles that unite most Libertarians around what the Bylaws call "a libertarian direction" in public policy for that issue, thus yielding a Platform consistent with both incremental reform and radical ultimate goals. A DP platform can be seen as an attempt to satisfy at least the following Platform Criteria (each of which had been endorsed by a majority of the first five people to join the DP subcommittee):

  • avoids extremist/destinational language/rhetoric that makes our party and candidates easy to ridicule;
  • starts with a clean sheet of paper (i.e. not necessarily keeping any of the 15 current planks);
  • is written to resonate with the views of the 16% to 20% of voters who polls show fall into the libertarian quadrant;
  • is ideologically broad enough for the vast majority of Libertarians to stand on comfortably;
  • helps educate Libertarians in developing a comprehensive Libertarian philosophy;
  • should be significantly shorter than recent Platforms;
  • makes destination and transition implicit in broad principles explaining what the Bylaws mean by "a * libertarian direction" in public policy;
  • consistent with the major schools of libertarianism without endorsing one of them as best;
  • has comprehensiveness approaching the pre-Portland Platform; and
  • avoids expanding our the Platform's description of our common ground with issue complaints, theoretical justifications, and marketing promises.

The DP subcommittee was formed on 2007-10-06, initially consisting of Bob Capozzi, Henry Haller, Brian Holtz, Alicia Mattson, and Guy McLendon. In its first conference, Holtz was elected Chair and we decided to modify the "Greatest Hits Draft Platform" draft platform to form a "baseline" proposal.

In January 2008, David Aitken, Steve Burden, Donny Ferguson, Audrey Capozzi, and Jon Roland joined the DP subcommittee.

Pure Principles

This Platform draft is designed to maximize the chances of comprehensive Platform repair, and minimize the chances of the LP going another two years with an amputated Platform. The subcommittee's draft evolved significantly from the Greatest Hits draft that Holtz originally proposed. The subcommittee started referring to it as the "DP draft" to emphasize that evolution. After the subcommittee had decided that the draft should consist of 100% recycled proclamations of principles, and a server crash created the opportunity to take the old GH name out of the URL for the draft, Holtz starting calling it the "Pure Principles" draft. If and when the full PlatCom adopts it, it will just be called the 2008 PlatCom draft Platform.


In addition to being 100% recycled, the next thing to notice about the DP baseline is its section structure. The pre-Portland Platform scattered economic issues across two sections named "Trade and the Economy" and "Domestic Ills". It labeled as "Domestic Ills" such things as Agriculture, Election Laws, and Consumer Protection — which don't sound very much like "ills" at all. Instead of organizing our platform around the problems we don't want government to try to solve, or the government "solutions" that we oppose, the DP baseline organizes itself around the enduring liberties that the LP stands up for. In his 1971 essay "The Case for a Libertarian Political Party", David Nolan divided those liberties into two categories — personal and economic — and that timeless distinction is the best way to organize our Platform's assertion of human liberties. That leaves a handful of other issues — relating to foreign policy, franchise, and democratic procedure — that can collectively be labeled "Securing Liberty", since the correct policies on these issues will safeguard all personal and economic liberties equally. This is why the baseline has three sections: 1) Personal Liberty, 2) Economic Liberty, and 3) Securing Liberty.

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