1979 LP Presidential Nominating Convention Home
The convention was to be held in September in L.A. My electrical contracting business had received a Las Vegas vacation for two discount offer and I decided to take my Mom and combine that with my visit to the LP Convention.
We flew to Las Vegas. I took along my old copy of “Beat the Dealer” figuring I could continue the winning ways of my 1968 visit to the casinos. (Northrup Nortronics) However by then they had implemented countermeasures by dealing from two decks and I could only break even.
As a part of the vacation package were two passes for two to our choice of the Las Vegas shows available at the time. As a 60's hippie the music, jokes, and shows there were not real appealing to me, but mom and I were able to compromise on the first as she wanted to see Sheckie Green whom I had no interest in. However Bernadette Peters was his lead in and I thought she was hot so we went there.
We had a table in the balcony but during the show Bernadette wandered through the audience and wound up coming up to the balcony and as she approached singing a love song my heart began to flutter as I thought she was going to stop at our table but she stopped at the table next to ours and sung to a man sitting there.
I sat through the Shecky Green performance but it was a chore. His jokes just seemed a little shallow and too slapstick for me.
From there we went to another Hotel. As I remember it mom wanted to see Dean Martin and I could remember watching him as a kid with my parents on our new TV set. I could remember liking “That's Amore”, “Volare”, and “Everybody Loves Somebody” as a teenager. But I wanted to see Sammy Davis Jr. Sammy must have been the lead in for Dean because all I remember is seeing him. I'm not sure if Dean came on after him or not.
When I was in the Chi Phi fraternity at the University of Illinois in 65 & 66 I played drums in a rock band named “The Terminal Pros”. Everybody but me was on terminal probation. My roommate and fellow golf team member Lee Newell was from Midlothian, Chicago and would later introduce me to Vic Fein. Anyway Lee must have seen Sammy playing drums on TV because he began to call me Sammy Davis Jr. and the nickname stuck.
Later when Sammy started singing “Mr Bojangles” it had been a pretty popular song even among the hippie generation and it had been a favorite of mine. As we sat down at the dinner table fairly close to the stage I got into a discussion with a young Indian couple about the philosophy of libertarianism – about our belief in individual freedom and the market and how that required a very limited government and non-interventionist foreign policy and legalization of prostitution and drugs. They were politically aware and we had a ten minute talk before we got around to Sammy. I mentioned that I was just here to hear “Mr. Bojangles” and he'd better sing it.
I don't know whether I was talking loud or whether they had the tables wired but when Sammy came out he said a few words before he began singing his first song. During the course of that talk he somehow put himself in the place of the audience and their attitudes toward him and he said “...AND THE TURKEY HAD BETTER SING “BOJANGLES.” Which of course was just what I was thinking. Sammy had just blown my mind.
He began his performance and although he was a great performer the songs and his style didn't move me. I didn't care for the casual cigarette or drink in one hand while singing some smooth old standard. Besides I had seen Fred Sanford parodying “What Kind of Fool am I” so many times I just couldn't take it seriously. However when he got to Bojangles he completely captivated me. He had me tearing up when he finished. He must have performed that song thousands of times, but he could still put enough feeling and emotion into it to bring me to tears.
Soon after that a man sitting behind me began to yell “Send in the Clowns.” I didn't even know that it was a song he was asking for - I thought he was heckling. It wasn't long after that that he was escorted out. As I turned around to watch I heard the young girl next to him complaining that he was being asked to leave. I could see how upset she was. A couple of songs later Sammy said that the man's daughter had explained to security that he had been requesting the song and he was brought back in and Sammy then sang “Send in the Clowns.”
I have since learned that the song is a theatrical reference to a tactic used in show business. When the show is starting to drag the clowns are sent in. The singer is lamenting that she has just been rejected by a former lover that she had previously jilted. At the end of the song the singer says to forget the clowns – they are here – we are the clowns and fools. I miss Sammy.
I bid farewell to Las Vegas, rented a car and drove to LA where I dropped my mom off in Glendale at her Aunt's home where she was going to stay while I attended the convention. I drove to the new Bonaventure Hotel where the convention was being held and met up with Buck Walters, a libertarian acquaintance from Fort Myers who had driven out to LA with his mom and girlfriend.
As Buck and I sat down at a table to grab a bite to eat and catch up on happenings the area was empty except for three gentlemen sitting at a table next to us. We had chosen the table before Bucky noticed who we were sitting next to. Bucky informed me that they were three intellectual bulwarks of the libertarian philosophy and that Murray Rothbard was one of them. I don't remember if he told me who the other two were but I have a hunch that they were Nathaniel Branden and Roy Childs. Roy was at the time the editor of “Libertarian Review” which I was a subscriber to. I wasn't aware of what he looked like so I didn't know that that was him.
I had read some of Rothbard's work particularly his anti-central bank writings and his “America's Great Depression” which had pinpointed the bubble of the 20s as the problem - not the inevitable market collapse in 29. I was a big fan of his as was most every other libertarian but I had never seen him before. As we sat there I became a little self conscious as they had noticed us and I felt a little awkward trying to pretend that I wasn't sitting at a table right next to one of my intellectual idols who seemed to be interested in our conversation. The only interest that I knew I held to the LP at the time was as a financial contributor so I wasn't sure what interest they had in me. Maybe it was Buck's good looks they were commenting on.
That evening a get together was held where the public could meet some of the more famous leaders of the libertarian philosophy. I attended and saw a heavy set man standing by himself against the wall and went over and asked him if he was one of the leaders I was supposed to meet. My attitude was a little irreverent at the time. I wasn't aware that the man was Roy Childs, the editor of “Libertarian Review”; a magazine I had subscribed to for several years. It must have been out of respect for his elders that he didn't tell me what a moron I was.
Later I noticed this attractive young blond woman wearing a low cut dress standing alone and I introduced myself. I had not had any sex to speak of since I had left Champaign-Urbana in 72. (See my sexual history) As we were talking I couldn't take my eyes off of her breasts and finally she asked me why I was staring at her breasts and not her face. I told her “because to be honest with you right now they look awful pretty, prettier than your face to me.” She had an attractive face but for me it couldn't compete with what I was seeing emanating from her bosom. She didn't know whether I was flattering her or insulting her. If I hadn't been such an incompetent, inexperienced lover I probably could have gotten some pussy that night. Later I met another nice looking LP activist whom if I would have known what I was doing I could have scored with but she had to be left to more competent hands. I've never understood why young white boys aren't taught how to fuck. I've never met a black or south American who wasn't educated at an early age.
The next morning the head of the Florida delegation approached me about becoming a voting delegate which would mean I could be on the convention floor as opposed to the gallery. So I moved down to the Florida delegation table on the floor. Later there was a dispute over who should be seated and we were to have a drawing. There were two seats available.
The head of the Florida delegation and I got along well and he knew I favored Ed Clark as he did so he wanted me as a delegate and when it came time for the drawing I was sitting down and he was standing up with a hat with numbers on them. The drawing would continue until the numbers one and two were drawn. When I reached up to put my hand in the hat I felt him raise the hat up as if to say take the one on top. So I did and it was the number one. So I was in. I guess there lies a very good argument for limiting the size of government. The power of the state will always be used in the perpetrator's self interest.
As the floor convention began I noticed the key note speaker was the young man I had approached the previous evening and I realized that his name was Roy Childs and he was the editor of the “Libertarian Review” which I had a subscription to. Now I did feel a little like a moron.
After the first day of speeches the next day I believe we began to get into motions concerning the platform. I know the political platform for the other two parties was not taken very seriously but Libertarians considered it very important and it lasted for several days.
Eventually we got into the nominating process and I was a little embarrassed by the floor demonstrations for the two candidates. It reminded me too much of what I had seen through the years at the other two parties' conventions. While the theme of the convention was “Toward a Three Party System” it seemed to me that this Party should be different. It was not the candidates that we should be claiming were so important but the ideas. There were plenty of challenging ideas being presented in the speeches and literature. I was thinking more along the lines of "Toward a No Party System." Before the vote Murray Rothbard entered the room and was given a respectful applause before being seated.
The candidate opposing Ed Clark was a man named Bill Hunscher, a tall man resembling Abraham Lincoln in appearance, who was pushing a grass roots approach of building up local party strength in communities as opposed to the Clark-David Koch approach of an expensive national media blitz to familiarize the LP and Clark name. Ed had strong personal appeal to me with his soft spoken, friendly, honest, and moral aura. However Hunscher's stategy seemed to me to make more sense in the long term. I mean we weren't going to win this election so rather than going for national name recognition for Clark and the LP shouldn't we begin to build the political base for the future LP?
Right before the vote I approached the head of the Florida delegation, who had been responsible for my being a delegate because of my support for Clark, with my concerns. I could see he was startled as the vote was fast approaching and he did his best to convince me that Ed would be the best choice. Then he turned me over to another Clark delegate who started pleading with me.
Their arguments did not really change my belief about long term strategy but I decided to vote for Ed mostly because I knew and liked him and I wouldn't have felt right going against the head of our delegation after he had given me the chance to vote. Another reason for limiting the power of government I suppose.
Ed won and there was much typical political party convention silly celebrating and closing speeches after which the convention was officially ended.
As I was preparing to leave, my mom and I (she had been dropped off at the hotel by her aunt) were standing in a large luggage room looking for luggage when Ed Clark came into the room at the other end of the room. I told my mom that that was Ed Clark. She knew little about libertarianism. In fact she would refer to us as libertines. Ed noticed us and approached to say hi. I introduced him to my mom and in the course of her and Ed's brief introduction she mentioned the word libertines again. I was totally embarrassed and reminded her how many times I had told her it was libertarian not libertine. Ed was very gracious and mom was thrilled to have met him and I'm sure voted for him in the 1980 election. I didn't tell her we would want to do away with social security.