The Boston Tea Party was founded in 2006 by Tom Knapp, following a Libertarian National Convention with reduced attendence and a disappointing change to the platform. In May 2008, the Libertarian Party nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr. The frustration that many Libertarians had with the party's selection of a more conservative candidate brought some attention to the Boston Tea Party. The party saw an increase in membership in the month between the Barr nomination and the BTP's National Convention.
I am one of those new members. I was drawn to join the party for several reasons. First, I liked the idea of a party requiring no dues to join, but instead a simple endorsement of the party's platform. Ultimately, it was that simple platform that drew me to join the Boston Tea Party:
The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.
The party's founder Tom Knapp says that the platform allows it to be a "big tent," welcoming a diverse group of members and candidates who simply seek a decrease in size of government, whether they be Green, liberal-leaning, conservative-leaning, anarchist, or anything in between. What makes this party handle such a diverse group is the fact that the platform is so simple and that the platform can never be changed. It is attached to the bylaws.
How does the patform work? A Boston Tea Party candidate would approach each issue with a small government solution. This is very in line with how our Founding Fathers intended for us to run the USA. In a government "by the people, for the people," laws should only be made to protect people's rights, not to eliminate choice. Most government programs, even those that provide services, restrict the rights of some individuals to have a choice (i.e. Social Security).
When the membership of the BTP logs on to the party's web site to vote in the national convention, they are expected to vote with the platform in mind. The voting process uses approval voting, so a member may vote for all of the candidates who he/she feels are acceptable. I voted for two of the party's VP candidates, and some members may have voted for all three. "None of the Above" is also a fairly popular option that members may select. If NOTA happens to win an election, than the party will not run a candidate.
Every two years at convention, the Boston Tea Party adopts a program of no more than five stances on issues. The current program adopted August 21, 2006 is as follows:
1. The Boston Tea Party calls for a complete and unconditional withdrawal of US troops from, and a cessation of US military operations against or within, Iraq.
2. The Boston Tea Party supports repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act.
3. The Boston Tea Party calls for an end to the federal prohibition of marijuana and hemp.
4. The Boston Tea Party calls for the immediate repeal of the REAL ID Act and any and all National ID plans.
5. The Boston Tea Party calls for legislation adopting an annual, regularized increase in the personal exemption to the federal income tax of $1,000 or more, and the additional application of said personal exemption to all FICA/Social Security taxes paid by employees and employers.
The program allows the party membership to select which issues are the biggest priority and how they should be handled. If the government ever reaches a point where it is sufficient on most of the membership's priorities, there could be fewer than five points on the program. Just as if there is a sufficient candidate for another party that is sufficient to the membership, they may vote to not run a presidential campaign in that election.
The Boston Tea Party is a complete representation of libertarianism that will always represent it's membership. With no fees, no travel, and no extensive commitments necessary, and a one member, one vote convention, every member is represented in a truly democratic party.
I also feel the party's purpose to be a significant mission that I can support,
to empower lovers of freedom to reduce the size, scope and power of government through various means, including but not limited to: nominating and/or endorsing candidates for election and appointment to public office; affecting public policy through information, education & advocacy campaigns; and supporting the diverse and important work of the individuals and organizations comprising the libertarian movement.
It is for these reasons that I joined the Boston Tea Party just a few weeks ago. With the party being so young, growing, and accessible, I was able to take a leadership role right away. I utilized my skills and resources in Internet radio to host a debate for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates on RPI Radio. I also started an Indiana affiliate, the Boston Tea Party of Indiana, which is only one National Committee vote away from becoming official. I hope that our affiliate can make the message of libertarianism more accessible to the people of Indiana, be a force for promoting free and open elections in our state, and run successful campaigns for office so that me way inject libertarian ideas into debates and policy "at all levels and on all issues."
If you would like to join the Boston Tea Party, the only requirements are that you endorse the party's platform by signing up on the web site. If you are in Indiana, you may also join our state affiliate by joining its Yahoo Group. Visit the BTPIN's web site to stay tuned to the latest BTP news from Indiana.