The convention’s second speaker, Bonnie Scott, represents The Woodchuck Report. She is a long-time active Libertarian. She currently serves as one of our delegates to the National LP and has her own public access TV show, The Woodchuck Report, which airs monthly on Channel 17. She will be speaking about being active in the causes of liberty in Vermont.
She spoke about being active in the causes of liberty in Vermont covering strategy, and what the Vermont Libertarian Party can offer to Vermont’s political scene.
Below is video footage of her talk:
Notes taken from her talk:
She has been involved with Libertarian party since the Harry Browne campaign back in the 90s, and attended her first Libertarian Party National convention in 1998. She became involved with Libertarianism by way of the legalization issue, an issue she cares a lot about. While in college, someone talked with her, saying “You believe in lower taxes and legalizing drugs, you must be a libertarian!” 20 years later, she is a well known Libertarian activist.
Calendar of events
Have you personally done something for Liberty this year?
She started off 2014 with second amendment issues – “Burlington’s Gun Grab”, where she met Eddie and Scott, which are members of other Liberty minded Vermont gun groups.
Burlington enacted 3 different ballot items to restrict gun ownership, so she started meeting with other Vermont gun rights groups for strategy.
Know what is going on
Each year in the Spring she spends on activism for legalization, namely the annual UVM 420 event.
In January, Shumlin made drug policy the major issue for Vermont, namely the heroin epidemic. Bringing up Ibogaine as an alternative treatment for addiction. She has met with SSDP in Poultney, and she was listed as the Vermont Director of Ibogaine research.
She also works with Vermonters for Liberty, they agree with us on the issues, but they are nonpartisan, as somethings need to be done by a political party, such as running candidates, but alligning ourselves with other organizations, we can offer an easier advantage to running for office.
What do we do as a party? Reach out to the community, and align ourselves with other groups with shared viewpoints.
The Nolan Chart: everyone above the ‘line of freedom’ should be approached by Libertarians, and focus on an issue by issue basis.
Watching the issues
Bonnie would have never believed the 4th amendment (Kelo) would be an issue.
Food issues: food sovereignty, raw milk, limited number of chickens allowed per household, etc.
Second amendment: Started with S32 in 2013, then 735 started back up to Burlington’s three gun measures.
Drug policy: medical marijuana, decriminalization, and industrial hemp. 2015 may be year for legalization.
This year Shumlin lead the media’s focus to heroin. Bonnie will then focus her Ibogaine information towards the legislature and media such as an info packet.
Healthcare: Soon there will be a time for opponents of the current healthcare system to speak out and suggest alternatives, so the party could start formulating other options, such as Letters to the Editor, talking to legislators and finding out who is on the committees, and Vermonters for Health Care freedom.
Obama won over Romney as a result of the get out the vote technology.
A good example to follow is Ron Paul’s campaign: money bomb, networking, spreading information online.
Vermont could use our own get out the vote software.
She is beginning a long term project called Advocate, so we can import voter databases, tracking the issues, to get out the vote for a ballot item, and share this information with our group allies.
Suggestions to improve the party
A mailing list for the VTLP tech team.
Perhaps separate mailing lists for the state party membership focused on different issues, such as drug policy, second amendment, then keeping fellow like minded groups in contact with those member lists.
We need to build up the party by focusing on the issues we have in common with people and other groups, no need to mention the other issues we as Libertarians believe in.
Q & A
The alliance building does work. We can place a few smart people on certain projects. We didn’t win on the gun issue, but the issue created a base to build on for the next fight. Don’t be discouraged from the first loss, as it is a long term issue.
Another item she is working on is scanning the legislation on the state site for issues groups are interested in, such as self defense issue to the gun groups in the state.
Bonnie would also like to get a Vermont Libertarian tech team together to start working on these long term projects.
Selecting issues by use of military tactics:
Flanking – issue where they do not have an answer, such as the state dealing with the opiate epidemic; State has no idea how to approach drug problem, possibly approach them with the Ibogaine alternative?
Overwhelming them at their weak points: Educational climate and system, We have ideas to offer quality education for Vermonters without breaking the bank. Repealing/replacing act 68, but need new ideas.
She has been talking to people on the ground about how the state is failing to implement their “hub-and-spokes” system of care, and throwing money at methodone, rather than other more effective forms of treatment.
Education and healthcare: [Libertarians] can be more conservative than republicans and more liberal than democrats on issues, as we have a solid economic basis, and an arguement for small government and less regulation and interference, while still arguing for civil liberties. We can also go beyond the left on drug policies.
You offered Ibogaine as a solution, but most people don’t know about the drug opiate issue, other than what news reports.
Dr Schorsch from Lebanon is a board-certified addiction specialist, he’s successfully treated thousands of patients with no complaints, but was not doing the required paperwork in order to help build trust with his patients. Buprenorphine was metioned as a better treatment method than methadone, but they are both maintenance drugs.
Vermont is at a good point to address the Ibogaine alternative for treatment, as the state is currently pushing it as the biggest problem, and Shumlin was quoted as saying Vermonters should have as many choices as possible. It is an issue that can be sold to both the left and the right.
Libertarian position on Healthcare? Difference in healthcare pricing depending on age?
First start with saying there is a problem with system, and it is not perfect.
Acknowledge the problem, and suggest Libertarian solutions: ability to buy insurance out of state, being able to buy drugs from out of the country, ideas that are economically efficient solution to problems with the least disruption to free market, and small moves to support the free market like voucher for insurance, as opposed to the government handling entire system.
Address supply, money spent on attacking crime of drugs works against treatment. What if you could take that money spent on the drug crimes and fund training of more addiction specialists.
Community ratings do not allow companies to charge different rates based off the patient age, lifestyle, etc.
Litigation as another possible option for healthcare:
Anyone that has to pay a penalty for no insurance could file a class action suit, where they repealed the employer mandate, which let the employer off the hook, but the employee has to pay a 20% of gross income fine.
Someone commented on Ethan Allen Institute with their problems associated with signup, as there is no legal way to get insurance in Vermont outside of the exchange as an individual, they cannot get insurance until the next open enrollment period.
That person can also be approached with the lawsuit option. Go to a group where healthcare is their focus, such as Vermonters for Healthcare Freedom and we can approach them with our options.
New London not on anyone’s radar screen?
Since then it has been set as a precedent where they can take anyone’s property just because someone else can make them more money in taxes.
In New Hampshire, they passed a law against eminent domain, making it harder for them to seize properties. Snatching victories out of defeats.
Second amendment, drug policy, healthcare, jobs, education, and taxes as main Vermont issues.
Pick a couple of issues you are interested in for outreach, follow the news and investigate it, then do outreach with groups, showing we are allies to help.
Focus more on the issues, and build our assets and tools.
Bonnie Scott of The Woodchuck Report was one of the six speakers for Vermont Libertarian Party Convention on April 26th, 2014. More notes to follow, stay tuned.