I agree with former National Chair and Executive Director (and Indiana State Chairman) Steve Dasbach's analysis of the convention and its substantial modification of the national platform:
"Delegates wanted a better-worded platform AND they wanted to keep our principles intact."
The results in Portland are from years of efforts to get rid of poorly worded planks, not the principles.
What many who are claiming that the "Libertarian sky is falling" are choosing to ignore is that this part of the platform remains intact:
As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives, and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.
We believe that respect for individual rights is the essential precondition for a free and prosperous world, that force and fraud must be banished from human relationships, and that only through freedom can peace and prosperity be realized.
Consequently, we defend each person's right to engage in any activity that is peaceful and honest, and welcome the diversity that freedom brings. The world we seek to build is one where individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power.
In the following pages we have set forth our basic principles and enumerated various policy stands derived from those principles.
These specific policies are not our goal, however. Our goal is nothing more nor less than a world set free in our lifetime, and it is to this end that we take these stands.
I. Individual Rights and Civil Order
No conflict exists between civil order and individual rights. Both concepts are based on the same fundamental principle: that no individual, group, or government may initiate force against any other individual, group, or government.
II. Trade and the Economy
We believe that each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. Therefore we oppose all intervention by government into the area of economics. The only proper role of existing governments in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected.
Efforts to forcibly redistribute wealth or forcibly manage trade are intolerable. Government manipulation of the economy creates an entrenched privileged class - those with access to tax money - and an exploited class - those who are net taxpayers.
We believe that all individuals have the right to dispose of the fruits of their labor as they see fit and that government has no right to take such wealth. We oppose government-enforced charity such as welfare programs and subsidies, but we heartily applaud those individuals and private charitable organizations that help the needy and contribute to a wide array of worthwhile causes through voluntary activities.
III. Domestic Ills
Current problems in such areas as energy, pollution, health care delivery, decaying cities, and poverty are not solved, but are primarily caused, by government. The welfare state, supposedly designed to aid the poor, is in reality a growing and parasitic burden on all productive people, and injures, rather than benefits, the poor themselves.
IV. Foreign Affairs
American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and the defense - against attack from abroad - of the lives, liberty, and property of the American people on American soil. Provision of such defense must respect the individual rights of people everywhere.
The principle of non-intervention should guide relationships between governments. The United States government should return to the historic libertarian tradition of avoiding entangling alliances, abstaining totally from foreign quarrels and imperialist adventures, and recognizing the right to unrestricted trade, travel, and immigration."
The above is a really good platform - easy to understand, defend and for candidates to use. Indiana's equivalent of a platform is about 8 lines long and is also easy to understand, defend and for our candidates to use.
Now the national platform better states our priniciples but prevents us from becoming akin to a religious organization (which we are not and never should be) or like the communists in Russia after the Russian Revolution. Whenever a document becomes inappropriately sancrosant, history shows its leads to the purges after the Russian Revolution, the Crusades, the purges during the French Revolution and our current problems with some fundamentalist Islamic sects. As many of you know, I believed that the attempts to preserve the national platform without much change, which had become a voluminous document full of the rhetoric of special interest groups of as many as 17 national conventions, was bordering on it being treated as a religious document. And my religion is not the Libertarian Party.
Most rational "purists" and "reformers" I know who were at Portland thought the result was an opportunity to revisit the platform and write a better one in 2008. It also broke this "sancrosant" aura many had imposed upon it.
It looks to me that maybe the national Libertarian Party is growing into a political organization. This is something Indiana did years ago with great leaders like Rob Shuford, Steve Dasbach, Barbara Bourland, Kurt St. Angelo, Sara Chambers and Joe Hauptmann. The result is Indiana consistently being considered one of the top Libertarian state parties in the nation and political growth.