Southern hospitality was alive and well once again at the Libertarian Party of Tennessee’s Annual State Convention this past weekend in Nashville, as evidenced by outgoing Chair Jay Polk’s opening remark to attendees: “I love you all.”
Despite twelve-plus years of perpetual warfare, eroding civil liberties and excessive government intervention in the economy, there is still reason to be optimistic. The relative success of 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gov. Gary Johnson continues to grow the party, as attendance at the state convention increased almost 100% year over year.
Johnson’s campaign seems to have left a mark on the LP-TN, as his 2012 Tennessee State Director, Jim Tomasik, was elected as the party’s new Chair during the morning business session. Gov. Johnson reacted to the news via email, saying, "I have no doubt that Jim will be an outstanding Chairman. He is an articulate messenger for the principles of liberty, and will be the kind of leader who can advance those principles to voters who are ready to embrace them.”
Jay Polk remains enthusiastic for the future:
"I’m very excited about the growth of not just the Libertarian Party but the liberty movement overall. We have groups like Young Americans for Liberty, Students for Liberty, and Liberty on the Rocks with so many different people that are excited and motivated to take action.
We have a new Chair, which I’m very excited about, and I think Jim’s going to do a great job. My role going forward will be to continue on the local and county level, which is part of our goal to begin with – building our local affiliates and getting more people involved at the grassroots level gives us a great foundation moving forward. I have no doubt that it’s going to continue as the liberty movement grows. The Libertarian Party is going to be very visible in capturing that energy and excitement. I’ve said it before, but the future is looking very libertarian!"
The afternoon session included an impressive lineup of presentations from Libertarian National Committee Vice Chair R. Lee Wrights, Fair Tax Nation’s James Baird, Young Americans for Liberty’s Michael Lofti, Free Press opinion page editor Drew Johnson, ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg, and Huffington Post senior writer and author of the forthcoming book Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces, Radley Balko.
Newly elected LP-TN Chair Jim Tomasik is confident he can build on Polk’s efforts and bring liberty to prominence in the state of Tennessee:
“I’m extremely honored to have been elected, and if it wasn’t for Jay Polk I probably wouldn’t be the staunch libertarian I am now.
It’s extremely important to ensure that the party itself is structurally fit to support candidates, wherever they’re running, in the state. We have plenty of work to do, but there’s no shortage of liberty-minded people in Tennessee, and we just need to coordinate and organize for the future. With a solid coalition we can introduce ballot measures, influence the state legislature, and impact local and statewide elections.
The marijuana legalization initiative, for example, is a good one that we can use to form such a coalition that will take it to the people and politicians – and it needs to across the board. We may not succeed right away, but we need to start the conversation. You’re going to find a whole lot of Republicans and Democrats in the state that might never vote for Libertarian candidates but support the legalization of marijuana on several fronts.
Democrats tend to support the civil liberties aspects with Republicans taking a more fiscal conservative approach, and both views are consistent with the Libertarian Party. It’s a great example of building issues-based coalitions for libertarian causes that pull support from both major parties. But if we don’t talk about it, it’s never going to happen.”
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