2016 Libertarian Party of Iowa State Convention

Professor Yuri N. Matlsev delivers the keynote address.

On Saturday March 20th the Libertarian Party of Iowa held its annual state convention. Normally held in the Des Moines area, this year’s convention was held in Cedar Rapids at the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center. Although I’ve been a dues paying Libertarian for many years I had never attended a convention before. Since this convention was on my side of the state I had no excuse to miss this one.

At 9am Iowa Party Chair Keith Laube welcomed attendees to the convention. The next few hours were spent on rather mundane party business such as amending the party’s Constitution and bylaws. Although I recognize its necessity,  I have to admit the parliamentary gobbledygook isn’t really my cup of tea. Wake me up when we can grab the muskets! The interesting part was hearing the reports from members of the several active county affiliate parties in the state who told about the various activities they’ve been involved in.

Dr. Lee Heib discussed the work of the  Harrison County Libertarian Party which has been trying to get their county to contract out (privatize) some of its roadwork. Nate Newsome spoke on the activities of the Linn County Libertarian Party. He said they hold regular meetings, write letters to the editor of local papers and even spoke to a local high school civics class. (The Republicans and Democrats were invited to speak at the school session as well but didn’t show up, proving, I guess, that they have “no class.”)

There was also a presidential straw poll of the members which former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson won handily. (You can read more about the straw poll here.)

The group then accepted nominations for candidates for state office. The following candidates were approved: Don Brantz for State Senate #24, Brian Cook for Senate # 48, Bob Boyle for State House #20, Joe Gleason for House # 31, Jeff Meyers for House # 38, Dr. Eric Cooper for House #45, Joshua Miller for House #78, Garrett Byrd for House #80 and Rick Stewart for Linn County Sherriff.

After lunch, awards were handed out in recognition of the 2015 candidates, the county affiliates, committee members and volunteers and lifetime members. Then it was time for the convention’s two guest speakers.

First up was Cristina Kinsella, the Advocacy Coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, who spoke about the work of her group that she thought would be of particular interest to libertarians.  She explained  SF 2262 which would modify current law and allow police to retain seized property only after a person has been convicted of a felony for which forfeiture is expressly authorized as a penalty. The bill is still hanging on by its fingernails in the statehouse.

She said the “warrantless detention” bill was dead for this session. This would have required Iowa sheriffs to hold prisoners beyond their approved release date if federal agencies requested it. Twenty-six sheriffs had already said they would not hold prisoners without a warrant. She also said that a medical marijuana bill was still alive at the statehouse, although was much more restrictive than the original wording. She said the ACLU of Iowa continued to fight racial profiling and increased sentencing bills.

Kinsella then fielded questions from the interested group. A couple of members asked about the ACLU’s apparent lack of concern for Second Amendment rights. Ms. Kinsella graciously explained that since there was some debate  among ACLU of Iowa members as to what the Second Amendment entailed and since the Second Amendment seemed well represented by other groups, ACLU of Iowa chose to focus its resources elsewhere.


Next up was the convention’s keynote speaker, Dr. Yuri N. Maltsev. A professor of economics at Carthage College in Wisconsin, Maltsev worked as an economist on Mikhail Gorbachev’s economic reform team before defecting to the United States in 1989. He is a Senior Fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and serves as a member of the advisory boards of the Foundation for Economic Education, Heartland Institute and the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics.

Maltsev said that the USA was much freer when he came here in 1989, noting the county’s tumbling score on the Fraser Institute’s annual rankings of freedom among other things. This distressed him, he joked, because he was getting “too old to defect again.”

Professor Maltsev spent well over an hour laying bare the sins of Soviet Communism, then showed that it and Nazism and Socialism and modern liberalism are not opposing ideas, but basically one in the same.  When any of them get far enough along they will require massive coercive force and murder to function. That is why some 200,000,000 people were killed by “socialist” governments (of one stripe or another) during the 20th Century.

Maltsev said that “The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich von Hayek was a book that changed his life. He also recommended the 2008 documentary film “The Soviet Story.” I’ve already read von Hayek’s book before, you can bet I’ll be watching the film soon.

The convention closed at about 5:00 and I was glad I went.

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