Lively Libertarians Convene in Ruther Glen

The Barns of Mattaponi Springs

by Bruce Majors

Meeting in rural Ruther Glen in Caroline County, Virginia, Saturday, December 3rd, at a rustic venue (The Barns of Mattaponi Springs) that usually hosts weddings and Christmas parties, 54 Libertarian Party (LP) convention delegates from Richmond, Charlottesville, Newport News, Virginia Beach, Annandale, Arlington and other parts of Virginia met to elect new officers and update their party’s Constitution and bylaws.

Some readers may remember that back on September 11 at a Zoom meeting of the party’s state central committee the former party chair, Holly Ward of Alexandria, led a small group of state central committee members — there were a number of vacancies, it has since become clear that were likely left deliberately unfilled — to vote that the Libertarian Party of Virginia would disband itself. Democrat publications, like the Virginia Mercury, covered this gleefully, which some thought odd, as there is a popular belief that Libertarian candidates are spoilers who “take” votes from Republicans and help Democrats. (The conservative website Breitbart, for example, argued that the 2013 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, Robert Sarvis, had thrown the election to former Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe, although this was disputed at the Virginia conservative blog BearingDrift.)

Perhaps Virginia “progressives” were happy instead that Ms. Ward was calling for dissolution because a new group within the LP, the Mises Caucus, had taken control of much of the LP (including the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia, as we exclusively reported in Bacon’s Rebellion). The Mises Caucus opponents portray it as radically “alt-right.” Among Ms. Ward’s list of grievances with the allegedly new “alt right” Libertarian Party (under the management of the Mises Caucus) is that it allegedly opposes suffrage for women.

Critics — often connected to some type of consultancy that seeks to earn an income by advising Libertarians on how to ingratiate themselves with mainstream media — had circulated a variety of rumors throughout the year about the nefarious associations of the Mises Caucus, often by citing one member or fan of the Caucus who was inclined to outrageous or edge-lordy tweeting. Ms. Ward at one time worked for such a group, People for Liberty, whose executive director Dan Fishman told this writer earlier this year that the Mises Caucus was a plot by Steve Bannon to take over the Libertarian Party. When I contacted both Steve Bannon and Mises Caucus founder Michael Heise about this story, I received no reply from the former and a denial from the latter.

This “anti-woman” charge seemed odd to many because the Libertarians, at their May 2022 national convention in Las Vegas — dominated by Mises Caucus delegates who won every vote 650 to 150 — had elected Angela Mcardle as the chairperson of the Libertarian National Committee. A now-pregnant Mcardle, who recently moved from Los Angeles to Austin, Texas, was scheduled to be the main lunch speaker in Ruther Glen but did not make it. She was in labor giving birth on the day of the convention. (Mom and baby boy Arthur are fine.)

At the Ruther Glen convention the delegates limited the powers of the state central committee so such attempts at “dissolution” by a small group would never again be possible. They then rescinded Ms. Ward’s election as state chair back at the February 2022 state convention in Glen Allen. And finally, not having read the memo about nixing women’s suffrage, they elected a new chair, longtime Libertarian Jennifer Leatherbury, a healthcare professional from Newport News.

I asked Ms. Leatherbury, who is not an original Mises Caucus member but is friendly to them, what she planned to do. Her answer: “To finally get some business done!”

Another delegate in our conversation said “To f**k things up!” — which made Ms. Leatherbury laugh. I asked her if she shared the Mises Caucus belief that you should concentrate mainly on hyper-local races, and she said that was good but she did not think statewide or federal races should be neglected.

Also in attendance was a speaker from the group, a candidate hoping to earn the LP’s 2024 presidential nomination, Bitcoin vendors, and Libertarians from other states. Looking at the ID badges not picked up, a FOX News contributor who is the spouse of a child of a former Senator and Presidential candidate had registered, but did not make it.

The special convention, which was live-streamed, moved faster than expected, in part because the secretary of the Libertarian National Committee, professional parliamentarian Caryn Ann Harlos, a Colorado resident, served as a convention parliamentarian. Having finished in less than five hours, delegates waited almost two hours for a post-convention party, as their ABC license did not become valid until 4 p.m.

Ironically, for a group of Libertarians, no one remarked on how they were only two days away from the anniversary of the end of Prohibition (December 5, 1933).