Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

National Libertarian Party abandons dues requirement for membership effective 1/1/06

The National Libertarian Party announced today that it is moving to Zero-Dues Membership system.

For its entire life the National Libertarian Party has based membership in two things: (1) payment of annual dues, and (2) certification of a non-aggression pledge. This past weekend the Libertarian National Committee voted to set the dues requirement at zero, leaving only the pledge requirement for membership in the party. The move to the zero-dues structure will take effect on Jan. 1, 2006.

At the same meeting the LNC voted to end the United Membership Program (UMP) that served as an agreement between the LNC and the Libertarian Party's state affiliates. Through that agreement, states where provided with revenue based on how many dues-paying members they had. The UMP will begin phase-out on Sept. 30, 2005. The party announced its intention to develop training programs to assist states in making the transition, but the announcement provided no specifics what those programs would entail.

While at first blush this may seem to be a mistake, we must recognize that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans require payment of dues to be considered party members. Both operate almost exclusively on donations.

I believe this decision will ultimately strengthen the party. I think voters are far more likely to join the party if joining is merely a matter of endorsing a non-aggression pledge. I also think potential donors are far more likely to donate sizable amounts if they know the party doesn't have a dues structure to depend on.


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