Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Inside the Battle Over the Soul of the Libertarian Party

Some “inside baseball” about the intra-LP civil war. Increasingly, civil wars are brewing in all political parties.

By Brian Doherty, Reason

Joseph Bishop-Henchman resigned Friday as chair of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC), after a controversy that began three months ago with provocative tweets, intensified two weeks ago with an attempted schism of the New Hampshire Libertarian Party (LPNH), and has now turned into a battle for the soul of America’s third-largest political party.

Two other members of the 17-person LNC, Tucker Coburn and Francis Wendt, have also resigned in wake of the tumult. The long-influential Pragmatist Caucus, associated with the two presidential campaigns of Gary Johnson, has dissolved as a direct result. And one of the party’s few elected officials, DeKalb, Illinois, City Clerk Sasha Cohen, resigned from the national Libertarian Party (L.P.) in protest, saying in an LNC Zoom meeting that “we are a big tent party, but no tent is big enough to hold racists and people of color, transphobes and trans people, bigots and their victims.”

A “toxic culture has recently been harnessed in the service of a grouping with a declared goal of taking over the party and making it as repulsive as possible to everyone except themselves,” Bishop-Henchman wrote in his resignation letter, referring to the party’s ascendant Mises Caucus, which for the past few years has been advertising its intentions to launch a “takeover” of the L.P. to realign it more with the policy and messaging associated with Ron Paul and the Ludwig von Mises Institute. “I will not chair a party that knowingly and has now affirmatively chosen to stay affiliated with the toxic garbage that was being spewed by the New Hampshire party and similar bad actors in other states, the violent threats emanating from these people, and the deliberate destruction of the party’s ability to appeal to voters and win elections.

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