I followed the low rumble, and moved towards the cavern’s light source which started out as dim flickers on the wet stone walls. I reached the top of tunnel in a brisk pace, being pushed on by anticipation. I reach the top, the finish, to find a room with about 20 Liberty-minded people or at least 20 people with concern on their minds. They were there to speak their minds about the government’s latest push, which seems to be part of an ever present constant push these days. This gathering was hosted by Libertarians, specifically the Manhattan Chapter of the New York Libertarian Party. They had come to face the issue, not write about it on a keyboard remotely but to come and talk about Net Neutrality, or as one guest called it, ObamaNet in person, American to American.
Word had spread, rolled over mountains, across great rivers, skipped across streams, charged across the plains, even into the damp pockets of the deep South. Word of a gathering, a gathering of America loving, Liberty loving people. What spurred this? Something some people viewed as a threat to something very American. Apple pie used to represent all things great about America. Now, the unrestricted, unrestrained, unconfined freedom oozing internet does. Is that all about to change? With the proposed Net Neutrality, some Libertarians think so. Some Libertarians think it is just another freedom intentionally being eroded by an out of control government.
The Manhattan Chapter of the New York Libertarian Party has just over 30 members. On this particular occasion about 10 members were on hand, the rest of the attendees were visitors, guests, there to talk about Net Neutrality.
Some of our guests were Libertarians, some fans of Liberty, and some who just didn’t like the whole idea of the government sticking its beak in and regulating our beloved internet.
The Chapter’s Officers spoke on their respected areas, providing any information thought to be helpful in the effort of furthering the Libertarian cause here in Manhattan and to help the Chapter grow in size and scope.
Longtime Libertarian activist and current MLP Treasurer Mark Axinn spoke about the upcoming State convention (http://ny.lp.org/). Rob Power, also a Libertarian activist here in NYC and Director of Media, spoke of website improvements (http://manhattanlp.org/) and of the need for Libertarian centric articles for website posting (send articles to –firstname.lastname@example.org). Helene J updated the group on State Party activities and solicited feedback from everyone on several issues. Maggie M, Director of Politics, spoke about ideas and possible plans of finding and cultivating Libertarian candidates to run for positions (Send ideas to –email@example.com). Michael Smith, Director of Events, debriefed the crowd on his past efforts and future thoughts regarding chapter events. And finally The Chair of the Chapter, Brian Waddell gave a great summary of the Chapter’s near and long term visions and goals.
What followed Mr. Waddell was what IT IS ALL ABOUT, a bunch of like-minded individuals getting together to intelligently discuss a topic. This meeting’s topic, Net Neutrality, is really hitting nerves in the Libertarian community and frankly, with most Americans who are aware of the significance of what is being proposed.
We heard a full range of opinions. There was an attendee who was friendly to the proposal, making a point of telling us it will actually help lesser populated areas get decently powered internet signal that is currently being largely ignored by ISPs without the help of Net Neutrality. But this supporter was in the minority. Everyone else in attendance was opposed or strongly opposed to the idea, with some providing detailed presentations and some even citing and provided supporting documents on their stance. We had people who weren’t interested in Libertarianism at all, just the issue at hand, weighing in which is great too. It is always good to hear from a voice outside the Libertarian ‘echo chamber’. I think all who attended would agree that one guest in particular, Sheila, was the most passionate and well informed on Net Neutrality. If we didn’t know any better we would have thought she was a paid speaker on the matter, so a special thanks to her. Also, credit goes to Sheila for calling the proposal ObamaNet. Both members and guests alike had their opportunity to be heard if they wanted to give their input. Some just listened quietly, some motioned in approval or disapproval, and some commented. It ended being a very healthy and insightful discussion session.
We feel, these days, being heard in person carries a lot more weight than just spouting off online. When people start getting together, start gathering to discuss, plans start to formulate. Actions begin to occur, and change ensues.
Meeting venue – this was our 2nd meeting at the new venue, Big Daddy’s restaurant. The two issues from the 1st meeting there were addressed and progress was made. We will have at least one meeting there to see if it is a good fit for our group or not so please join us there for our April meeting and have some tasty sweet potato tater tots to go along with the lively discussions.