How to Lose Elections (From a Member of the Libertarian National Committee)

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.

He writes:

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, Tim Cowles in Alabama, Bea Jones in South Carolina and Heather Scott 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.

MG continues:

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 ethics of the trade (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 potatoes.

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.

MG:

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 (1, 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.

97 Comments
  1. Stephen, LP candidates rarely get more than a couple percentage points in elections featuring both Dem and Repub candidates. Don’t you think that if they began getting a 1 of 6 share of the votes, while still not “winning”, this would result in a HUGE credibility boost to the party? I think the media would have to pay us much more attention and the wasted vote syndrome amongst voters would decline dramatically. I don’t understand why you feel the need to be so critical of anything less that victory. We cannot realistically expect to go from obscure third party also-rans to serious election contenders in a single leap.

  2. Robert,

    I think in politics there are two categories of candidates: Winners and losers. It’s a very objective measurement.

    The overwhelming majority of America feels this way, too.

  3. Even as a Libertarian purist I have to agree with Stephen on this one.

    There are two ways for the US to become libertarian again:

    One is through a revolution (however unlikely in the immediate future). And, while reforming the republic, we should undoubtedly do so in a manner consistent with purist libertarian ideals.

    However, the other option to arrive at a more libertarian United States is through changing the system we have now through elections, etc. In this method, we must play the game of politics, as Stephen asserts. What MG seems to be advocating is that LP candidates act like revolutionaries (refusing to spend money, etc).

    It is best not to mix these two; politicians should act like politicians, and revolutionaries should act like revolutionaries, if a revolution were to ever happen. Since we are dealing with the status quo, it is best to focus on what is better for America now–namely, electing the LP to public office in the same way the GOP and DNC does.

  4. DAP — I don’t see this as a purist issue. I’m pretty much a purist, but seperate the philosophical message from the political one.

  5. Great stuff! I get so annoyed by the deny reality mentality of those who think a coalition made up only of purists can do electoral politics.

    One nitnoid:

    “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.”

    Frankly, I think we are banging our heads against the wall trying to win this way. The R’s and D’s go into a campaign with 30+% of the votes already locked up. The publicly visible part of their campaigns may be targeted at the independents, but they also rely on their respective bases.

    To win above dog catcher, we need to get a decent BASE. It’s damn hard to win if you don’t start a race with a support base big enough so that you at least can have yard signs in yards in every precinct.

    A support based consists of those who DO know what’s in the platform, BTW.

  6. Hmm… I would be very interested in seeing the total state of the LP in Florida before weighing in on this. Are things truly as good as MG makes them out to be?

  7. Stephen, classifying the candidates was either winners or losers is indeed an objective measurement. But I fail to understand how any step that gets us MUCH closer to the win column, assuming Mr. De Lemos’ strategies are as effective as claimed, can be viewed as a failure.

    Wouldn’t you agree that the likelihood of winning increases substantially once you’ve demonstrated that you can draw a significant percentage of votes?

  8. Carl — I’ve got some polling data (which I’ll be posting over the next 48 hours) which you will find interesting, as in this case, the libertarian has the base and the Repub is marginalized.

  9. Stephen: “I don’t see this as a purist issue. I’m pretty much a purist, but I seperate the philosophical message from the political one.”

    As you should, that was the crux of my arguement.

  10. RM,

    I’d argue very strongly against turning down money, running a polling place with Libertarian signs (as opposed to the candidates name), and a number of other things which MG proposes which are the opposite of what winning campaigns do.

  11. Fair enough, Stephen. My point was never about the specific details of Mr. De Lemos was proposing, but rather what I perceived as your criticizing a 1 out of 6 result as a failure (by LP standards). I would certainly be willing to entertain any strategies that would substantially increase our vote totals, short of selling out our ideological principles.

  12. “detailed ideological to shine tour shoes training as straight Libertarian anarchists and minimal governmentalists ”

    Does this sound a bit odd to anyone else? Perhaps a little work on English would help?

    Mind you, several years ago one state legislative candidate here in MA got around a third of the vote and 42 % of the vote in some districts.

    Cmapaigns that do not build party ID as well as name ID are a waste of libertarian party members money, because they do not build for the future.

    And 140 hours of brainwashing on exact stands to take sounds unpromising.

  13. George,

    I’d argue that winning (with or without the party label) is the most important thing. Most people (outside of the movement) like associating with winners.

  14. GP — MG lost me on a lot of his article. He speaks decent English and I’ve seen other things he has written which made more sense.

  15. Stephen, what I wonder about is how a purist candidate would respond at a public debate (for example) if asked why he stands for slow, incremental change if he is infact a purist. Would he not be forced to admit that he advocates this moderate approach simply so that he can get elected? Would voters not be frightened by this response?

    I don’t see many GOP or Democratic candidates following this same ‘incremental change’ idea. They instead advocate a world not too unlike the status quo rather than working toward some absolute ideal. Perhaps this is why they get elected and we don’t. If this is all true, is purist libertarianism then incompatible with our political system?

  16. DAP,

    I’ve always responded one of two ways in interviews.

    The side-step:

    My position on absolute drug re-legalization is not even remotely related to this race. There is no way candidate Joe Blow will ever be in a position to face that issue with the legislature we’ve had for the last 30 years. What is very relevant to this race is Blow’s position on ending the needless suffer of the thousands of people across the state who require medicinal marijuana to ease their pain or put on weight.

    or…

  17. The straight-up approach:

    Of course I’d like to eliminate virtually all levels of government — just like most of you in the room. However, it simply ain’t gonna happen in my lifetime, so I have to focus on what I can accomplish. Take the newly proposed bond issue as an example. This is an absolute waste of taxpayer dollars…

  18. Robert — another thing I took exception to is the claim that 1 out of 6 votes is “the best libertarian showing anywhere.”

    There are three possibilities. One is that MG is delusional and thinks that the Libertarian victories which have occurred about the county won with less than 1/6 the votes.

    The second is that his command of the language (or mental faculties) is so poor that he didn’t know what he was writing. I know this is not the case. An excuse of “I meant something else” should be enough to get him booted from the LNC.

    The third is simply that he was intentionally dishonest. Writing something one knows is not true is called a lie where I come from. At least it was a big whopper — I’ve got more respect for them than tiny white lies.

  19. George,

    You write:

    “Campaigns that do not build party ID as well as name ID are a waste of libertarian party members money, because they do not build for the future.”

    True enough — but there are some who argue for building ONLY party ID and writing the individual candidates off as essentially mules for smuggling the party’s name onto ballot lines as a way to get it into people’s minds.

    The best way to promote party ID is to have elected officials with little slugs next to their names, like, for example, “Sen. George Phillies (L-MA).” Right now, promoting the party ID won’t make a Senator out of George Phillies in any state-level election. But if George Phillies gets himself elected to the US Senate, you can be damn sure that that fact will cause the word “Libertarian” to register in voters minds with quite an impact.

    Tom Knapp

  20. Regarding building a base (which I agree is necessary to win), my experience has been that an individual candidate’s base is more effectively built by the candidate himself than by his party. As Stephen mentioned in his speech, a successful (i.e., victorious) candidate becomes actively involved in his community and begins building a strong support base long before running for office. Of the elected Libertarians that I personally know, most have developed a following based on their community involvement and leadership in civic organizations, churches, etc., rather than their party affiliation. In fact, these elected officials typically sold their neighbors on their ideas for solutions to real problems long before attaching the “L” word to them. Additionally, IMO, elected Libertarians are one of the most powerful tools for building the party — we need more of them!

  21. 1 in 6 votes is the best libertarian showing anywhere?!?!

    Apparently, he’s not paying attention to the race of Robert Dean for Mayor of Virginia Beach a few years back. In a 3-way race between a Democrat, a Republican, and a Libertarian, Robert received 43% of the vote. The incumbent, a Democrat, received 51%, with the token Republican getting 6%.

  22. MG is the philosopher king. But I wouldnt rely on him for objective advice about political concerns. The split within the party is not about “purists” vs. some other kind of libertarians but about who understands what politics is about, and who does not. We still have huge numbers of people that really think the role of the LP is about educating enough voters to become pledge takinglibertarians themselves, and only by that manner can we change America.

    Of course I totally reject that, and I’d like to see the success it has produced over the last 25 years. It hasnt produced any that I can see.

  23. My favorite quote:
    “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.”
    end quote

    In Politics,
    a lack of enemies generally indicates
    a lack of interest.
    The more virulent your opposition,
    the more (free) publicity you’re getting.
    (Doesn’t work if you antagonize everyone, of course)

    Do something, do anything,
    but don’t (as several I know) just sit there
    waiting for votes to come raining down out of the sky.

    Media don’t listen if they’ve fallen asleep listening to your drivel.
    You need to get their undistracted attention.

    Case in point:
    Although I have absolutely no time whatsoever for
    white supremacists,
    I do admire their ability to get media exposure.
    That such exposure is self-defeating is instructive, however.
    If your rabid message has principles of Liberty
    behind it utterly, then eventually you win.

  24. In order for the LP to begin making a real impact on America, a substantial amount of education on the topic of liberty needs to take place, IMO. However, that is really not the proper role of the LP; they need to focus on grassroots politics. The education role is properly the domain of outside organizations such as The Advocates, Mises Institute, ISIL, and many, many others.

    Until much more of the voting public has grasped the intellectual case for liberty, then the LP will either 1) continue spinning their wheels, or 2) begin compromising their principles to try to gain a bigger share of the vote. The latter is what I fear the “reform the LP” crowd is pushing for.

  25. “the voting public has grasped the intellectual case for liberty”

    The voting public votes for candidates based on name recognition, personal qualifications, charisma, and “what will you do for me” proposals.

    Most people support the Democrats or Republicans for equally limited reasons. This idea that the entire population would embrace the Libertarian Party if only they read a bunch of books on the philosophy of libertarianism is insane.

    What the LP needs are candidates for office that are actually QUALIFIED to hold the office they’re running for. Either through past political experience or other involvement in the community. Those candidates then need to be fully funded and run on a platform that’s relevant to the office they’re seeking. For a city council seat, don’t even mention “aboloshing the IRS” – just stick with cutting the sales tax rate by 25% over 2 years. That’s the only way to win elections and the only path to any sort of success for the Libertarian Party.

  26. RM,

    I can’t speak for all in the reform crowd, but most I know aren’t interested in compromising principles but in actually engaging in real (as opposed to masturbatory) politics.

  27. Austin, you yourself listed “what will you do for me” as one of the important criteria for winning votes. People who genuinely believe in liberty, i.e. Libertarians, are not seeking to elect politicians who will *do* something for them, rather they want someone who will help limit how much the government is doing to them.

    I’m just saying that as long the broader public continues expecting the government to provide for their every want and need, liberty, and any party basing their principles on it, will continue fighting an impossible battle.

    Everything you said about candidate strategies and such I find perfectly agreeable.

  28. The ‘reform crowd’ (www.reformthlp.org) wants to change the LP from what it is now (a utopian debating society) into an actual and relevant political party. Politics is about compromise, so by definition a political party embraces compromise as a way to get things accomplished. If that means compromising principles, then so be it. Getting even a few things accomplished (e.g. legalizing medical marijuana) would be great compared to what the LP has accomplished in the last 25 years.

  29. Robert,

    Everyone who participates in electoral politics, most Libertarians — and most of those whom we ask to vote for Libertarians — included, votes on the basis of “what will you do for me?”

    There are lots of things that Libertarian politicians can offer to “do for” voters. Support tax cuts and eliminations, and oppose tax increases, for one example. Most voters who don’t just automatically vote a straight party line pick their candidates on the basis of the fact that they promise to DO a, b and c, not on the basis of the fact that they BELIEVE x, y and z.

    Libertarians should be courting voters who support our policy proposals. Success in doing that will probably result in more ideological conversions, but treating ideological conversion as a prerequisite to casting votes for our candidates is just a non-starter.

    Tom Knapp

  30. Libertarians do a good job losing elections. It’s the unqualified candidates and nutcases that ruin the elctoral experiences for those who are qualified. Even if you were to run for Congress you still don’t talk about abolishing the IRS! Yes let’s keep the public scared and keep being a political obscurity in American politics and public policy! It’s time to have LP candidates who are sensible enough to NOT scare the voters and embrace the fact that we are NOT going to get everything in the Libertarian Manifesto in one swoop. Step by Step is the process, not getting in yer car and going 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. Thatstrategy is killing Libertarians and activists alike.

  31. Timothy West wrote:
    > Of course I totally reject that, and I’d like to see the
    > success it has produced over the last 25 years. It hasnt
    > produced any that I can see.

    It enabled you to find us, so you could help us take the next step.

  32. I have to say, WHAT LIBERTARIAN POLICY PROPOSALS?

    This is one the national LP’s biggest failures: they dont poll, they dont find out where the political gaps are that wqe could be filling. They leave it all to the candidates – many of which have no idea how to do this.

    A actual political director that could poll for a national direction to go in, and make sure that message is delivered in the field would be gold right about now.

  33. Tom, just to clarify, I’m not trying to say that we must *first* make ideological conversions and *then* do the political work to get those votes. I’m just saying that the politics and the mass education/persusasion are both equally essential components for the LP candidates to begin winning more consistently and on bigger stages. As I said before, the education component is better left to outside organizations, individual activists, bloggers, etc…

    I basically agree that any given candidate’s strategy should be identifying items A, B, and C that he/she intends to deliver and that are consistent with our overall philosophies. Doing so may indeed win over some of these voters more completely to libertarianism, but I think it will be hard to build up more long-term supporters without the cultivation of solid philosophical base.

  34. Tim, polling is probably a great idea, but how does the LP respond if they learn that the voters want government to give them more health care, tougher drug laws, and more aggressive war on terrorism?

  35. Don, I have no problem with transforming the LP from a debating society to a relevant political party. Just because we accept that we “are not going to get everything in the Libertarian Manifesto in one swoop”, as Chris states, doesn’t mean we’ve necessarily compromised our principles. The principles are based on the ultimate, long-term objective of attaining maximum individual freedom, but any incremental steps taken in that direction should be welcomed. And we can still call ourselves the Party of Principle.

  36. Robert, the LP should do the same as any other party. Candidates should run on the issues which actually do connect with the voters. Pick and choose your issues (with things like polling and focus groups).

    There are always good issues on which Libertarians can run, but these vary from location to location and from election cycle to election cycle.

    The libertarian movement exists to change people’s minds on these issues, but candidates need to run to win.

  37. RM,

    Leave the mass education to the various libertarian organizations (i.e. Cato, von Mises, Reason, IJ, GOA, MPP, etc.).

    The LP is supposed to be a “political” party, not an educational organization.

  38. RM,

    A candidate that starts with the notion of what message he/she tends to deliver is probably in hot water from day one. Why not find out what the voter wishes to hear, and then craft the political message from these data?

  39. RM — I agree with that last comment. As long as the change is incremental in the proper direction, it is cool with me. This isn’t a sacrifice in principals.

    Give me a tax cut, defeat that tax increase, get rid of that bond issue, etc. are much more winnable than a total elimination of all taxation.

  40. [Note: That last comment of mine was identified as “from Tamara Millay” — we use the same computer and I forgot to change the default form fill-ins. Sorry – TLK]

    There’s a lot of misunderstanding around terms like “incrementalism” and “compromise” and “find out what the voters want and offer them that.”

    I don’t think you’ll find many LP activists who believe that Libertarian candidates should find out that their likely constituents want, say, total gun confiscation and then run on that platform. Nor should they.

    Libertarian candidates should find out (through polling and other means) what issues their constituents are interested in, and on which of those issues significant voter blocs would be supportive of a move in a libertarian direction. Then their campaigns should highlight those issues and seek the support of the voter blocs which are in agreement. If 70% of those polled list taxation as a major issue, and half of those are on the “cut taxes” side [contd]

  41. [contd] then make taxes a central campaign issue and pitch to that supportive 35%. The voters also decide what the pitch is. Maybe they just want to defeat a proposed tax increase this time … maybe they’d eat up a bold tax cut … or maybe they’d even vote for a candidate who wants to eliminate a particular tax. A credible offer to give them what they want is going to be better at getting their votes than an incredible offer to eliminate all taxation, and there’s nothing un-libertarian about it.

    It’s not “compromise.” You’re not giving anything up (i.e. it isn’t “10% tax cut, but the death penalty for pot possession”). It’s a move in the right direction. It shows people you’re on THEIR side, gets them on YOUR side, and hopefully gets you elected.

    Some may investigate and become ideological libertarians. Which pulpit is better for you to convert them from. “Hi, I’m councilman Joe,” or “hi, I’m Joe — I got 2% in the last city council election?”

    Tom Knapp

  42. ******
    Leave the mass education to the various libertarian organizations (i.e. Cato, von Mises, Reason, IJ, GOA, MPP, etc.).

    The LP is supposed to be a “political” party, not an educational organization.
    ******

    Stephen, please re-read my posts. I’ve stated at least twice (#24, #34) that the education role is best provided by outside organizations like the ones you mention, while the LP should focus on the grassroots political work. I think we’re in complete agreement on this.

    The only reason I brought up this idea in the first place is that I don’t believe political efforts alone are going to get LP candidates elected in significant numbers because many of our positions are hard to sell with mere soundbites. I think most of us are (L)libertarians because we’ve examined the philosophy and we “get it”. But, in politics you’re at a severe disadvantage when your intellectually correct case faces your opponents’ emotion-driven case. We need America to reclaim its culture of liberty.

  43. Robert — sorry, I think fatigue overtook me on that one. Was up late last night and had to leave early this morning for a press conference.

    I generally try to approach as many issues as possible with emotion driven rhetoric. It works with guns, taxes, mmj, eminent domain, and about any issue I can think of. I rarely spout dry economic data and never use philosophical with the mainstream.

  44. Steve is talking about dreams of winning a battle throwing all with one man with one punch–tactics. Great. I discuss researched strategy so you train and position teama to win a war on all fronts. He talks about how money is good. I show money is better when you’ve learned to use the 5% that gets 95% done. He boasts his candidates work hard. I point out that first they must train hard. Erc. As for his comparisons they simply prove my point.Our friend who turned Democrat DID NOT follow the part of running by petition by keeping the names. He did not build the organization to support a second bid (though he has other concerns as well). The states he mentioned have lower elected/appointed Libertarian (EALO) ratios per million population than Florida. Florida’s best counties exceed most of the State parties! And his national list is exceeded by a FL county built on this method: National refused to use it as ‘unfair to other affiliates’ in 2005-ouch. Walk,then run,as a growing team.

  45. MG,

    I’m not talking about dreams, but real campaigns that have really won. I’ve never worked a one man show — it generally takes a pretty committed team.

    The way I figure it, getting 95% done is getting 47.6% of the vote in a two-way race. Where are you guys doing that?

    If your friend (Frank Gonzalez is his name) gets more votes as a D than he did as an L, will you eat your words?

  46. MG,

    Are you stating that you have over 20,000 Libertarians on one county list? If that’s the case, let’s shut down the Free State Project and all move there. The weather is certainly nicer. :)

  47. (CONT’D)Ask yourself if you’re better off –wiining or losing–doing what the article says folks;
    –Trained candidates in ideology, methods and listening to people’s actual issues with a record
    –3% of voters organized to support your initiatives;People getting elected to offices or appointed on a regular basis and supporting each other
    –Spending money FIRST on key stuff that gives continual results: Bumper stickers about the LP, people holding up cards at booths that double your result and collect names
    –Developing more supporters, activists, coalitions that get things done
    –Not–as most LP candidates do–come close to winning and mess it up on an insult or unsupported issue
    –Build a farm team to create electable candidates on a record of benefits voters care about
    –Actual change in public focus
    Steve’s winner urge says sell benefits, campaign on proposals,websites,etc.I agree:My point is how Libs actually do get in office or attract votes–and it takes little to start.

  48. I’ll agree that candidate training is important. Getting people appointed is a help, and certainly use that (you guys have done well at low level appointments). Try to get them appointed at a higher level, too.

    Developing coalitions is incredibly important — I’ve never seen anyone who was elected that didn’t do that.

    A lot (not all) of this comment makes sense. I’ll get to the rest in a minute.

  49. RE my election to LNC, the main reason for a division of the region was, many felt, an attempt to oust me by people in Florida who had started an outrageous whisper campaign and wanted us to STOP running candidates. I’m told some outside of GA and FL, with Steve, saw this as an opportunity to create their own region. They found they could not because they miscounted and came back–which also helped my seat and swung FL around, given the vocal support of others in the region. The conception this was a FL/GA conspiracy is mistaken. My work is mostly behind the scenes on LNC–many of the key things that are going right I conceived or co-supported based on region feedback and member suggestions (some LNC members have staed that they do not consider addressing members suggestions their job). I was alternate rep before and am asked to seek that again next time–I took rep only with reluctance given Mr. Farris’ inexperience, and made clear that I would attend a minimum of meetings. Thanks.

  50. What “continual results” have decades of LP bumper stickers brought about? I see 30 years of almost absolute failure to win a credible amount of the vote. I’d rather place my $$$ on something with a higher of success that a sticker that says “Vote Libertarian” and has the 800 number on it. (there are some cute stickers out there, but the LP doesn’t sell them)

    The people who might vote based on an LP sticker are already going to vote Libertarian. We’ve got to get to the 98% which doesn’t automatically feel this way.

  51. I didn’t miscount seats and preferred a SE super-region — although I didn’t get into that debate because of my other duties at that convention.

    After the deal between GA and FL was cut, I didn’t notice MG standing up and saying that it was unfair that most of the states in the region were denied a vote. If I had been in that situation, I would have called for a new and fair vote.

  52. MG — what regional feedback? I’ve never been asked for it from you (or even heard of it having been asked) and I’m on 4th term as a regional state vice chair.

    I’ve never seen you inside the state of Alabama (one of your states, remember). I used to send you e-mails for LNC issues, would get no response, so I’d contact Sean Haugh.

    I’ve never seen any request for feedback from you at any state executive committee meeting. What are you talking about?

  53. “and made clear that I would attend a minimum of meetings.”

    This was not made clear to the people from TN, AL, SC, NC, etc. who weren’t allowed in the meeting or to vote on the issue. How could it be, as only GA and FL were there?

  54. FROM MG:
    Now some comments on those kind enough to add their thoughts.

    >>think in politics there are two categories of candidates: Winners and losers. It’s a very objective measurement.
    MG: I agree. I’m discussing how Libs are indeed getting in the ring, surviving a few rounds, and actually winning –and it has little to do with several party nostrums

    >>What MG seems to be advocating is that LP candidates act like revolutionaries (refusing to spend money, etc).
    MG: Most of the money D & R’s spend has little to do with anything except fighting each other. Our problem is not money but how it is spent, and making a virtue of a little spent for first things first is wise.

    >>Are things truly as good as MG makes them out to be?
    MG: They are superior to most states but far from where they wish to be be. FL is developing on all vectors–other staters focus on one (registereds, elected wins) but find they can’t sustain them due to the missing vectors. Costa Rica is a good.

  55. MG,

    D and R’s are fighting each other in order to win. They aren’t fighting us because we are marginalized. Don’t you get it?

  56. >>running a polling place with Libertarian signs (as opposed to the candidates name)
    MG: By all means have a candidate name present, but tests showed people notice and need the LP info first
    >>And 140 hours of brainwashing on exact stands to take sounds unpromising.
    MG: Again, facts. The workshops were designed with candidate input. They learned to brainstorm positions as a team. The format was 2 hours of concept followed by group practicum and then presentations by Libertarians who had wone or done well. Each section involved going back to do a concrete action.
    >>another thing I took exception to is the claim that 1 out of 6 votes is “the best libertarian showing anywhere
    MG: The stateement is from the LP Political Director on US State House races as a whole of that size, which was what was being discussed.

  57. >>True enough — but there are some who argue for building ONLY party ID and writing the individual candidates off as essentially mules for smuggling the party’s name onto ballot lines as a way to get it into people’s minds.
    MG:This is not what is suggested.
    >>my experience has been that an individual candidate’s base is more effectively built by the candidate himself than by his party.
    MG:The article discusses candidates working to do both.
    >>that really think the role of the LP is about educating enough voters to become pledge takinglibertarians themselves, and only by that manner can we change America.
    Of course I totally reject that, and I’d like to see the success it has produced over the last 25 years
    MG: Pledge education is one key factor to create demand and leadership. It has not been an LP focus–it has been on the whole more like what Steve describes–and where it is being done works well. All factors work best together–education, activism, political.

  58. Who, excepting perhaps a bumper sticker salesman, would claim that bumperstickers even are effective, much less the main tool in an election? I’ve managed one (winning) issue campaign in Florida, and we did the renta citizen thing, having about 6 or so hired “community leaders”…who knew there were 30,000?

    And Stephen is absolutely correct about the 140 hours being one really good week’s work…hardly a campaign total…if you are doing it right, you are too tired to know what time it is; and that is one reason you need help, even if it means you must hire some of those hated consultants.

  59. >>I’m trying to think of any winning race that didn’t attack the opposition
    MG: The approach is not to attack the opponent personally but stick to putting out one’s policies supported by the community. An agreement not to attack leaves no where to go for the opponent. If they fail to agree any attack is at a disadvantage.The common practice of personaly attacking without any base has torpedoed potential LP winners, and distracted from the opponent’s own people who often are attacking him for you. You can say your opponent’s policies are mistaken. But saying he’s an idiot makes you lose, and harms other LP candidates by keeping us from steps to control the discussion long term both in substance and tone.

  60. MG,

    No matter how we talk about vectors and sustainability and such, we simply are not winning. Despite the hype coming from previous people in the national office and some LNC members, we have very little to show for 30 years of our efforts.

    It’s really simple. To virtually all the people in the country (except for us mental masturbaters) there are two political parties: Ds and Rs. We may attack them for this (such as I did today on ballot access issues) but the key problems come from within. The key one is that we don’t have a winning attitude.

  61. MG: If the opposition candidate has affairs (Hart), has the personality of a log (Gore) or frees a bad guy (Dukakis) — attack, attack, attack!

    It works, that’s why “they” do it.

  62. I do agree on this:

    “All factors work best together–education, activism, political.”

    I’d like to add a few million dollars to that mix.

  63. >>In order for the LP to begin making a real impact on America, a substantial amount of education on the topic of liberty needs to take place, IMO. However, that is really not the proper role of the LP;
    MG:This is ONE key LP role–no one else is or positioned to be turning out pledged Libertarians interested in political action or even aware of the LP specific local issues–CATO sure isn’t. A key part of that education is also pointing to every LP success and training people to replicate them. No one else is doing that, and the LP as a whole can improve.
    >>The voting public votes for candidates based on name recognition, personal qualifications, charisma, and “what will you do for me” proposals.
    MG: Hence my article on how it’s happening–and how to focus on showing what the Libertarian approach does to solve these matters. Candidates should indeed stick to what they actually can do, which was a key element in the training.

  64. >>There are always good issues on which Libertarians can run, but these vary from location to location and from election cycle to election cycle…A candidate that starts with the notion of what message he/she tends to deliver is probably in hot water from day one.
    MG: Exactly. My experience is many communities–and people in office– are quite ‘radical’ on some one issue, and have interst in major steps in other. The candidate needs to get out there doing petitions, building coalitions etc, to identify and create his base with the local affiliate.

    The article addressed those who thought that Libertarians are just getting a few points in elections because they’re broke, are too radical and we should ignore support functions–just ‘do politics’ It gave cases that,and how, Libertarians are getting well over that, leverage losses into influence and also winning as Libertarians while making effective changes–and the reader for a few bucks can suit up, show up and play the game.

  65. Hi Steve–thank you for your intelligent critique.
    >>Developing coalitions is incredibly important — I’ve never seen anyone who was elected that didn’t do that.
    MG: Steve, many LP members hear ‘just get elected–we need money’ and think that means no coalitions, hence there’s nothing they can do.
    >>BUMPER STCKERS
    MG: Bumper stickers increase awareness. Most have been dismal.A major complaint is they don’t give contact info. Conversely, LP bumperstickers sell prospects and visibility long after an election. In the articlethe discussion is about using them as part of a docused, continual process in a local area–which is rarely done.
    >>The way I figure it, getting 95% done is getting 47.6% of the vote in a two-way race. Where are you guys doing that?
    MG: In one local race the person did quite well–until he attacked his opponent.He got 40% something, but left little behind as he also neglected to vuild locally. LP Legislators who’ve won I’ve talked to did this as well.

  66. >>After the deal between GA and FL was cut, I didn’t notice MG standing up and saying that it was unfair that most of the states in the region were denied a vote
    MG: I made my views plain at several meetings, including one held by the non-FL/GA delegates to explore having me as their delegate anyway, and the actual election. I think you were at different places and saw different things.
    >>MG — what regional feedback?
    MG: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LNCSouthEast I’m told this is the only regional such group but I may be wrong. I periodically check with chairs and get a member e-mail about daily on something. I regret I have been unable to attend AL meetings. My phone is 727-344-1038

  67. >>Eat your words
    MG: I helped get a Dem elected some years ago using basically these methods. CR is also doing well. They are not ‘my’ methods–they’re what’s working.

    >>I’d like to add a few million dollars to that mix.
    MG But of course. The article is about getting candidates and an organization that can generate that by taking simple, low cost initial steps. Speaking as an affiliate Chair, my problem reflects the article. I don’t have enough Libertarians to seek the appointed and promising candidate positions available. I do have a lot of LP menmbers happy to explain why what u say can’t work. And it doesn’t work–for them.

    >>List
    MG: That was a list built privately using the Libertarian Program tools and items such as in the article over several years. It consists of people interested in Libertarian policy. The LP had a one time offer to follow through on a promise to develop the list. It did not, and sent it back with a note after.

  68. A key part of that education is also pointing to every LP success

    Most LP success stories are hype jobs and aren’t selling to anyone but LP contributors.

  69. >>MG: If the opposition candidate has affairs (Hart), has the personality of a log (Gore) or frees a bad guy (Dukakis) — attack, attack, attack!

    It works, that’s why “they” do it.

    MG: So we stand for sexual intolerance, personality attacks, and blind punishment? Just address the policy and talk about what yopu’re going to do for your organized base.

    Bush does follow LBJ’s dictum: “Never say your opponent has sex with hogs. Say if you must those awful charges the hog brought up are irrelevant to the race. He can’t prove it, and he can’y deny it. But you’re best off if your opponent agrees you did something right by hogs at the beginning of the race. Talk about that to the hogs, and have a record of sternly refusing sex.” Except I think he said it with more color. Whatever that is.

  70. MG — America, as a whole, does not care enough about liberty to drop one of the two parties they see as winners. But we can reach the immediate things they do care about without compromising on principle.

  71. MG — thanks for the debate. Hopefully the cause with which we both agree with do better as a result.

  72. “They are not ‘my’ methods–they’re what’s working.”

    They aren’t working — the LP is not working. 30 years and how many Congressmen and Senators do we have?

    I’d like to change this before my children have children.

  73. >>After the deal between GA and FL was cut, I didn’t notice MG standing up and saying that it was unfair that most of the states in the region were denied a vote
    MG: I made my views plain at several meetings, including one held by the non-FL/GA delegates to explore having me as their delegate anyway, and the actual election. I think you were at different places and saw different things.
    >>MG — what regional feedback?

    Whatever meetings those were, I wasn’t informed — as I certainly would have been there. I’d add that I’m perhaps the most informed person in the region — and I certainly travel quite a bit for the cause.

  74. >>The key one is that we don’t have a winning attitude.
    MG: I would hesitate to say ‘we’ don’t have a winning attitude, but I agree many in the LP need to be encouraged in that direction. I have met many people in the leadership who say, ‘Well we can’t win.’ and explain why something is impossible when actually it’s happening somewhere. They then explain it isn’t enough, etc. This demoralizes people. Also, you don’t attract winners by being shy about your triumphs, however small. You can say, “Gee, we only got 3% of the vote–we can do nothing…” or you can say “We’re making progress. We’re organized 1 of 3 who voted for us. People are asking about us. We’re doing A, B, C. We’re working with community coalitions on X, Y, Z. etc.”

  75. I always liked that LBJ line, because it captures the flavor of real (as opposed to masturbatory) politcs.

    The bottom line is that Rs and Ds do what it takes to win. It seems that LP candidates do everything which is likely to make them lose.

  76. >>Most LP success stories are hype jobs and aren’t selling to anyone but LP contributors.
    MG: I have a similar impression in some cases. What I’m talking about is concrete data or short stories people can repeat that change the system–many of our candidates, once elected, complain they are ‘orphans’ with little organization to adress or items to duplicate. I have found that the LP Platform is an easy sell with concrete initiatives and examples to agree on.

  77. >>D and R’s are fighting each other in order to win. They aren’t fighting us because we are marginalized. Don’t you get it?

    MG: Sure. So what? My point is they’re actually often not spending that much on the election. Their advantage is organization and public acceptance. Money can’t cure that. Getting out there does. Their history is they go after Libs when they win–and the LP history is the winners are sitting ducks because they did not have the constituency organized to protect them so the attacks backfired.But we also have a history growing where they don’t attack and are viewing it as being as unprofitable as attacking Cath olics for being Catholic–and it makes more sense to just work with us.

  78. Contrary to many of my reformist friends, I’ve never really worried about the LP platform.

    While I’ll challenge my friend Lew Rockwell on philosophical issues ranging from Iraq exit strategies to corporate cronyism with respect to Wal-Mart, I prefer to engage the actual enemy in real politics.

    If someone (regardless of party — i.e. Ron Paul) is the most liberty oriented candidate, they get my support.

    I’m not a party man, but think the LP is the best party out there. I just wish they’d give a [fecal matter] about actually winning.

  79. 1) They don’t attack because marginalization suits their purposes better.

    2) They are spending 100% on the election. That’s why they win and we (generally) don’t. Their goal is electoral victory, ours is a moral one. As a political party, we need to change this.

  80. >>MG — America, as a whole, does not care enough about liberty to drop one of the two parties they see as winners.
    MG:This sounds like pure theory to me passed off as ;practical politics’–and also is precisely what I would call a non-winning attitude that demoralizes members. How can you know that?

    The percent testing Libertarian receptive is higher than ever–I believe we need to involve them politically, culturally and get them focused, the community leader types at least, while changing the laws on elections as we’ve been doing.

    >>But we can reach the immediate things they do care about without compromising on principle.
    MG: Absolutely.There is a false discourse in the LP on this. It is perfectly consistent to say something must and can be done now while offering some confidence building transition steps–or better yet, getting the other guy to offer them. Say, ‘Gee no taxes would be great. How do we do it?’ They talk and say what they CAN do WITH US, and we’re off, no?

  81. >> Their goal is electoral victory, ours is a moral one. As a political party, we need to change this.
    MG: This ‘we’ is again is kind of broad, but I’ll run with it and talk about LNC. When I got on in 2000 I polled the LNC. Most admitted they a)thought our business was to a great degree elections and b) we couldn’t really win. Those who thought we needd to focus on elections and appointments thought that meant stopping getting members, doing outreach, activism, and coalitions. I’ve been working to change these attitides and get some factuality in there. we spent month on an Strategic plan just to get consensus.

    Right now we have some serious lacks all pushed by the ‘practical’ group on LNC. We have no Political Director. We almost didn’t have a LLS. Our website does not presently support candidates–in election season.Ballot efforts are limping.You see that mission statement in the LPNEWS? I sweated blood for months to get it there.But we have some things like the CongressPAC.

  82. MG may not have everything just right but the basic system works for me. I’ve been appointed to an advisory board, and I’m having a ball.

    I’m new to the LP and sure don’t feel like a loser.

  83. I hope this isn’t representative of the LP.

    I disagree with parts but MG’s articles inspired me, and now I’m considering a run–nice and easy a few times as he says for a higher office while building up the area, understanding the local issues, building LP loyalty. I’m happy to pave the way for someone more politically astute who’ll have something to work with, and will make me hard to dislodge if I do win. Anyway, I was inspired, started getting involved–now I’m on a board and working on a coalition as he says.

    At an LP convention that I attended some said they were re-elected and dominate their board by doing the same. One person said that in 2002 much LP officeholder growth in the last few years was from people following his best practice studies–about 15% of the people in office, many from Florida. When the Costa Rican Libertarians were here in Florida they told everyone in sight to listen to MG to get started. As far as I can tell this is common sense based on what is.

  84. I still don’t see why these “effective” campaigns haven’t resulted in a handful of Senators or enough Reps to swing a vote toward more liberty once in a while. The attitude seems to be that if we just keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll have more victories. And we may.

    But the victories so far have been local Dogcatcher or Assistant to the Regional Assistant of Water Department Complaints–positions the LP really gushes over. When a political party’s website recounts the hard-fought battle for Nowhereville, USA’s coveted septic tank inspector’s position we are hardly even a remote threat to the entrenched one-party system and it is no wonder they snicker at us.

    And trust me–Florida is hardly a bastion of freedom. Free-Staters would chased out of here by blue hairs with canes for even mentioning Medicare and liberty in the same sentence.

  85. Stephen: The reason why I, and many other reformers, care so much about the platform is that it affects our BASE. While the average voter does not read a platform, those who choose to actively participate in a party do. If we limit our base to 95-95’s or better on the Nolan Chart, it is very hard to distribute yard signs, get people to put our bumper stickers on their cars, do letters to the editor campaigns, work polling places etc.

    I have grown sick of doing all-nighters for losing campaigns because our base is so tiny. And I really have a hard time getting excited about races lower than state rep.

    I want to build a pro-freedom party that’s big enough that candidates walk into the race with at least 35% (in two-ways) the moment they are nominated.

    This cannot be done with a “Party of Principle” which has zero taxes as a principle. I have done the polling (which is scheduled to be published in LP News soon). Zero taxes is less popular than legal cocaine.

  86. Carl, you wrote:

    “This cannot be done with a “Party of Principle” which has zero taxes as a principle. I have done the polling (which is scheduled to be published in LP News soon). Zero taxes is less popular than legal cocaine.”

    You added that the LP News will be publishing results of your polling to prove that proposed platform changes are key. How about a poll (or a survey, or whatever dull and literally pointless exercise will make the studiously–tediously–inclined among us happy) to show how many voters ever read a party platform?

    As for your comments on absolutist positions on cocaine and taxes, the consumption of the latter and avoidance of the former disprove what I take to be your point.

  87. Carl,

    I’ll be interested in seeing the data when it comes out. This said, there will always be something on any platform with which people will disagree. From a political angle, the goal is to minimize that.

    My perception of the average voter (and LP candidate) is that they don’t even get people excited enough to read the platform.

    BTW, at a state level, we don’t even have a platform. :)

  88. John and Carl,

    I just don’t see the platform as being the key issue. I see running candidates on any party platform as opposed to their personalities, voting blocks, support groups, and record in real life as the key problem.

  89. Let me say it again: THE PLATFORM AFFECTS THE BASE!!!

    Get yourself a copy of “The Tipping Point,” that masterwork on viral marketing. In any field, there are self-appointed experts, called “mavens” in the marketing world, who heavily research whatever it is they have decided to be interested in. These people are listened to by those who don’t bother to do the research.

    This is how retail arbitrage actually occurs. Most people don’t bother researching which store has the best deal on toothpaste, but a few people do. Those people tell others — who listen. The same goes for political platforms. Put in a plank calling for zero taxes and defaulting on the debt, and political mavens will point this out the minute you have a candidate who is getting any real traction.

    Political mavens are also the ones who put up yard signs, make donations, work precincts etc. THEY read the platform.

  90. Carl,

    I’m not saying that platform issues aren’t important, merely that I believe we have more significant things to address first. And I’m very interested in your data.