I generally believe that my representative on the LNC, Michael Gilson De Lemos (or MG, to most of us) is a decent, well-intentioned guy. After reading his advice about how Libertarian campaigns should be conducted, I’m convinced that he must be on the payroll of the Democrats or Republicans. On second thought, he couldn’t be — the Dems and the Repubs are too damned smart to associate with his kind.
First, the milestone to look at (in US) is Florida. They ran candidates with an average of 140 hours of detailed ideological to shine tour shoes training as straight Libertarian anarchists and minimal governmentalists with a common program and display items: a graphic of the exploding state budget and (several) the budget. If people remembered nothing else, they remembered that the first time they saw a budget was when the LIBERTARIAN walked through the door.
To begin, I’ll look at Florida when I see elected Libertarian officials there. The last time I checked, the best and brightest former Libertarian candidate in Florida understandably ditched the LP to run as a Democrat. In the mean time, I’ll look at surrounding and regional states with people like Ben Brandon in Georgia, in Alabama, Bea Jones in South Carolina and in Tennessee — where they actually do have elected Libertarians in public office. I’ll add that anyone who thinks they can win with 140 hours of whatever the hell MG’s rambling about is full of it. 140 hours per week may a bit closer to the mark — and I’ve certainly worked weeks like that.
They got 1 out of 6 votes, the best libertarian showing anywhere, and more important, accomplished many LP building goals, such as meeting over 30,000 community leaders and defining the third party process–and building quite a mailing list (they used petitions though they don’t have to–and keep the names). They were trained to never attack opponents but build relationships. They were to focus on specifics of the good work we were doing (you never sell anything bashing the other guy–it’s just free publicity for them)
The last time I checked, 1 out of 6 votes (unless it’s a 7 way race) is called losing. In political races, there is but one winner and multiple losers. Some people may have the goal of continuing our 30 year series of losses, but I sure the hell don’t. MG may feel free to wander in the political desert for 40 (or more) years, but he doesn’t have to take the rest of us down with him. BTW, his claim about “the best libertarian showing anywhere” is patently false, as I’ve already demonstrated.
I do agree that sometimes it’s best not to trash opponents, but sometimes it is. One should always be factual when conducting such attacks and subscribe to the ethics of the trade. Politics isn’t a contact sport; it’s full-blown war with rhetoric as a key weapon. If you don’t believe me, just ask Michael Dukakis about that little Willie Horton ad. If you don’t remember who Dukakis was, that’s because he freakin’ lost.
I’ll skip the next few paragraphs that MG wrote, because I haven’t a clue about what he was expressing. With respect to the(points five and six), this is indeed fair game. If you’re going to publish something, at least be coherent.
He wrote something which verges on making sense:
If you have a history of community participation, expect 5% and 20% respectively.
Disregarding the obvious sentence construction flaw, I’ll improve his idea this way: With a high enough level of community participation, the candidate is considerably more likely to win.
LOW BUDGET IS GOOD
This is spending very little money. Money is not a factor in LP races–legwork is. If you are not at those levels, you didn’t do what you’re supposed to, you’re a menace to the LP. Please stay home.
Low budget is only good for races where the oppostion has a considerably lower budget. That many in the LP think that money is not a factor has placed us in the position we currently sit: Philosphical winners but electoral losers. I’d suggest that anyone who thinks otherwise is a menace to the LP and should stay home, except that I’ll more than happily accept their legwork. It takes both to win and I’ll take all I can get of whatever anyone has to offer.
When you’re done, thank people like crazy post election. Never express disappointment. Most people who express disappointment did not take the time to talk to the fine minds available who know the score. Thank the public, media, opponents, everyone. And THE NEXT day after the election hit the ground running with another project.
I agree with some of this. Definately thank everyone. Don’t look like a loser in public. But people who don’t reflect on their losses tend to repeat them. Many people I know who are actually successful in business, the arts or politics become temporarily despondent after a loss. Fear of losing actually motivates some people to win. If you have it, use that fear to ensure you win the next time. Of course, some people don’t have a winning mentality…
Too much money and soon you do dumb things. Money is not the mother’s milk of politics, but of political consultants.
The last time I checked, money was considered the life-blood of politics. Maybe those articles I’ve read my entire life about campaign fundraising were all incorrect, though. As a political consultant, I’ll add this: TANSTAAFL. Looks like MG’s campaigns will be skipping quite a few meals. If one has the goal of getting one out of six votes, perhaps they can skip a few meals. I prefer my meat and .
EDUCATE HARD OFF SEASON
Not too long ago an LNC member and Libertarian in local appointed office told me that Libertarians should stay off ‘pie in the sky’ subjects like military privatization–blissfully unaware that there are nearly a million hits on the subject is GOOGLE. The truth is, we have many LP leaders study and champion pure Libertarianism–and thus can’t even see the practical applications going on all around them.
The result is that the Libertarian opponent in many cases studies more
Libertarianism than the Libertarian candidate. Razor sharp focus does not happen in an environment not focused on education from ideology to nuts and bolts–but educating people to lose will.
How does YOUR affiliate work?
Open houses, book (I.e. discussion) clubs, web blogs, lunch clubs, citizen workshops, and meet with people in government worried about all those hyper-active Libertarians and their bloody book clubs. Just have separate meetings for different things–don’t send the activist to the book club, or anyone to the administrative official meeting, and then position it as a Robert’s Rule opportunity for future leaders. Do local activities–Adopt-A-Road (why spend money on a billboard when you can get one for a little social activity?) etc, etc.
If I understand MG correctly on all this, I generally agree. Their Adopt-A-Road program seems sound, and I really hope it works. But a million or two in the bank can be used more effectively to win elections. If you don’t believe me, ask real winners like Congressman (as opposed to wannabe Congressman) Ron Paul.
Keep organizing that list. You DO NOT need to win an election to make serious stuff happen if you have a mailing list of say 3% of the voters who are personally impressed with what you’re doing. You have the de facto largest civic group locally. Which is why you need those other activities to keep fellowship alive. Duh.
If you’re dependent on a list of “say 3% of the voters” there’s a technical term for you: Loser. I’ll take the hit on this one, as my best national LP list only has a bit more than 20,000 (voluntary) subscribers. The national LP campaigns which used this list lost, too. At a more local level, my lists are significantly larger and the pool is not quite as deep. Comparing my win-loss ratio on national to local issues directly corresponds to list size. Just ask any woman (except for your current sexual partner) — size does matter. I’m not afraid to expend some bucks to viagra the size of my lists. I’m also not afraid to ask for an honest opinion about the size of the political tools I use — a concept very foreign to many in the LP.
You are at this point spending maybe $300-$1000 bucks, and by the way getting press coverage as the low-budget, fiscally virtuous candidate.
I hate to say this, but “low-budget, fiscally virtuous” sounds like “loser who can’t even raise money” to the average voter.
If you want something else, use standard Libertarian Program literature (We used the Libertarian Viewpoint) and calling cards. But make sure you have 50 people out there with LIBERTARIAN stickers with phone numbers (Duh)–NOT ephemeral ones with your name.
I’m beginning to wonder if someone recorded my latest speech and passed it to MG to rebut. The pertinent lines from that speech are:
We’re after the “independent” voter — the man or woman who looks at individual candidates. Party identification may still play a role, but to the extent it does, we’re at a disadvantage and the party card is not the card to lead with.
The party’s candidates need to campaign on their identities and positions, not on their party affiliation. The typical voter’s interested in who you ARE, not who you’re WITH.
The party’s candidates need to campaign on their proposals, not their philosophical principles. The voter’s interested in Joe Candidate, not Ayn Randidate.
Yes, a Libertarian candidate’s positions and proposals should flow from their libertarian philosophical convictions. But the typical voter buys on the basis of benefits, not on features.
Back to MG:
On Election Day pay people (your bumper sticker brigade is a logical start) people $50 each to stand outside the polls with a sign, VOTE LIBERTARIAN! (NOT VOTE FOR JOE BLOW) and your calling cards–and greet all and sundry. If you have 50 polls) typical in Florida) that’s $2500.
Again, he’s half right. You need people at every polling place if you expect to win. $50 a day is a really good rate in most locations. I’ve payed more for homeless people in Alabama — and surely Libertarians with IQs typically over 120 are worth a bit of a bonus. Some winning elections around here have six digits allocated merely for “walking money” around these parts. Of course, that involves raising real money, a concept which MG apparently opposes.
This will up to double your result–point of sale people. The Libertarian sticks out. In Florida, we even had a guy who got a public employee union endorsement who held his signs. Polls with signs did 70%-110% better than those that did not (compare with one state LP that is attacking public service union members, calling for legislative restrictions–it helps if you understand Libertarianism so your policy guys aren’t shooting candidates in the back. Education, education, remember?
When one doubles 1 out of 6, the result is still “loser”. Back to the notes for my speech:
Our national bylaws charge us with: quote — moving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office — unquote. There are multiple organizations out there which excel at moving libertarian philosophy to the mainstream — ranging from the Heartland Institute to the Von Mises Institute to CATO, as well as single issue organizations like Gun Owners of America and the Marijuana Policy Project. The libertarian movement has media arms like Reason and Liberty Magazines and legal arms ranging from the ACLU to the Institute for Justice. They tend to do a pretty good job at their respective missions; it’s time that we place greater concentration on our primary mission — which is electing candidates.
Our opponents have bad ideas, and they offer worse proposals. But they’re better at reaching the voters with those ideas and proposals, and that’s what makes the difference between victory and defeat. We will remain better philosophers than our opponents … but we need to become better mechanics, too.
It can be done, but we need to decide if our emphasis is gonna be on the word “Libertarian” — or if it’s gonna be about a political party. If we truly decide to become serious about politics — and in winning elections — then we’ll really have a reason to party.
There are plenty of near misses that didn’t do this: they attacked their opponent…they focused on one election…they pooh-poohed education…they stopped going out in the AM to get elected by waving at the cars. They gave some silly watered down version of Libertarianism and their opponent (correctly) said: “I know Libertarianism better than you. How can you implement it?”
I know a judge who spent a quarter million on his campaign, reputedly, and got a small percentage, He bitterly urged the LP to get real and come up with more money. I know a candidate who refused a similar am mount and did at the level I’m talking about after training. He’s a community leader.
To begin, I’m trying to think of any winning race that didn’t attack the opposition. I’m sure their must be at least one out there. However, people attack in politics for one simple reason: It works. Waving at cars is cool, and it certainly can help. Burma shaves are a good tool, but not enough to win an election, though. I doubt anyone can go after me for ever soft-soaping libertarianism. My record is very clear and easily researchable.
I expect the candidate in question is Jim Gray. I suggested to him that he shouldn’t run for Senate in 2004. I also steered (don’t have the exact amount) thousands of dollars in his direction. This said, he’s been elected as a judge and still holds office. I’ll argue that if the LP had raised a few million, there would be a Ron Paul in the Senate.
I know people are excited about people getting elected. These are often the same people who poh-pooh appointed office while saying we’re wasting money on ballot access and Presidential races. But only a group that thinks like a cultural group can elect anyone.
We’ve had two (2) state level such appointees in Alabama. What’s that Florida record, again?,
To get an idea of the power of my list, here is the top GOOGLE story for the recent local mayoral candidate–courtesy people clicking GOOGLE to hear him on my radio show (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=ed+helm)
If I was MG, I’d steer very clear of this stupid penis size contest about Internet traffic.
As for ballot access and a Presidential candidate, Speaking for my affiliate the costs are negligible. People expect a candidate. If you’re not running one, they think you have internal problems.
When the costs are negligible, the results (generally) are too. Contrary to certain opinions, ballot access costs real money in some states — yet some of those states are still on the charts of those making effective political change. What’s Florida done for me, lately?
I can raise that in a week from REPUBLICANS interested in what we’re doing.
While I’m not from Missouri, please show me. Four percent (nominally) of our readers come from that state and their candidates could surely use the money…
I don’t need it. I do need people training themselves to be Libertarians in office, activists, educators. That takes a phone call and time.
I do the phone calls. Here’s a pic (sans human operators) of the automated equipment. But that costs money — something which MG apparently despises.
Finally, if you get elected, GET A WEBSITE! How can people–including other Libertarians and media– know what you’re doing if you don’t?
Apparently MG is not aware that real winners get websites — like the ones I previously showed from his surrounding states.
Do cheap stuff that’s high impact. Use a yahoo group as a website or something cheap starting out.
Back to that Missouri thang again — show me a Yahoo Group (I’ve been known to use them many times) that ever won an election.
Sternly refuse contributions over $1,000.
Only if you wish to be a loser.
The primary reason that MG is on the LNC is because GA and FL cut a deal at the 2004 LP National Convention to exclude the votes of the rest of the other southeastern states. It was IAW the bylaws but clearly not reflective of libertarian principals. In other words, people from states like AL, TN, and SC who actually elect people weren’t even allowed to vote against MG. He rarely shows at meetings (he’ll likely present his six month track record — take a look at the four year record, though). He doesn’t wish to be bothered with LP politics; he’d rather stand in the way of LP victories.
I already get a lot of hate mail from Libertarians for describing what I see as the road to victory. I’m beginning to get the picture that there isn’t room for both of our views. If this is the case, kick me out of the LP – I could give a rat’s posterior end. I’d rather promote liberty-oriented candidates who actually prefer to win.