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Home » The N.C. Way » Some thoughts about the Mission Statement

Some thoughts about the Mission Statement

by Sean Haugh

Sean HaughI’m currently serving on the Bylaws Committee of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, and proposed that we adopt a Mission Statement copied from that adopted by the national party in convention in 1993.   This is something I sent to the committee in support of the notion.

Proposal: “MISSION: The Mission of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina is to move public policy in a libertarian direction by electing candidates of the Libertarian Party to public office.”

Folks, we are not the libertarian movement.   We are the Libertarian Party. The libertarian movement is broad and glorious and vital, and we are all full participants in it.   Yet our mission is unique within the movement.   We are the only organization in the movement that contests elections.

Education is good, and it is certainly useful to our purposes.   But you don’t need a political party to educate anyone.   If you believe in libertarian education, the Advocates for Self-Government, to cite just one example, is far better positioned to pursue this particular mission.

There are many ways to change public policy, and absolutely we need to avail ourselves of all of them.   But if you think developing and disseminating public policy proposals is the thing to do, well there are quite a few organizations ranging from Heartland and Cato to the von Mises Center that are doing a far better job of that than we ever could.

They don’t run candidates for election.   They don’t get on the ballot.   They don’t get into campaign debates, they don’t get media coverage for the candidates they don’t run, and they don’t even try to change public policy by getting elected officials seated at the table.

Only the Libertarian Party does those things.   Only the Libertarian Party *can* do those things.   And that’s exactly what we need to concentrate on doing.   We owe to the movement to handle our part of it.

Regardless of how moderate or radical a Libertarian one might be, the vast majority of people join the Libertarian Party for one reason – they want to contest elections and support Libertarian candidates.   When we run a lot of candidates, when we run strong candidates, when we get our Libertarian candidates in the news, our membership grows, our donations increase, our activists become more numerous and more energized.   Don’t listen to me, judge the results.   We grow when we vigorously contest elections, and we decline when we do not.

It was suggested that the wording of the mission statement confuses means and ends.   I see just the opposite.   What we have now is a collection of means labeled “purposes.”   We also have a strong statement of foundational principles.   What we are lacking is a goal, an end.   The mission statement provides the end, “electing Libertarians to public office.”

My experience as the Candidate Tracker guy has changed my views on how and why we run candidates.   I still believe in running as many candidates as possible, even more strongly than ever.   It is important to have a presence in as many races as possible regardless of the chances of victory.   And of course I will never budge from my view that our candidates are our Champions of Liberty who deserve all praise and thanks from us, even the ones who simply lend their names to the ballot.

What’s changed for me is the recognition that our progress to date is still very far removed from changing public policy through the electoral process. We actually have to start winning some races in order to gain the first bit of leverage.   In order to do that, we need candidates who actually run complete campaigns.

I tracked over 600 campaigns for the LP last year.   Only one ran what I would call a full campaign in a contested higher profile race and she won. Yes, many campaigns did a bang up job in one or two areas and we made a lot of advancements because of their great efforts.   But I saw far too little recognition out there that you have to do a great job in all areas of the campaign to even begin to compete.

In a way I feel a lot of empathy for those who have watched us do this for years and want to throw up their hands and give up on the strategy.   But I have to say, it would be quite inaccurate to keep doing an incomplete job of it and then conclude the job can’t be done.

We don’t win elections because we have the best ideas.   Elections are won by candidates who work hard in all aspects of campaigning and gain the most trust of the voters.   People won’t pay much attention to your ideology if you ask them to, but if they decide they like you then they will become interested in your ideology.   If we are going to be a real political party, then we have to get it through our skulls that politics is not an ideology business, it’s a people business.

I know I’m starting to sound harsh here, but frankly we need to be harder on ourselves.   We need to hold ourselves to higher standards to succeed.   We can’t allow ourselves to be satisfied with failure.   We need to no longer be afraid to measure ourselves against our ultimate goal.

This is in no way a criticism of all the wonderful work we already do.   It’s all very necessary.   It’s what’s gotten us to where we are now and I feel nothing but love and gratitude for it.   We just need a lot more of it and we need to start a lot of new activities too.   We need to attract the people to the Libertarian Party who will perform more and more of all this great stuff.   We get those new people interested in joining the party by contesting elections and gaining their trust that we should be the ones in office.

We have to be in it to win it.   I can tell you from personal experience how much media you lose when you admit that you won’t win.   It should also be obvious how little respect the average voter would give to a candidate who’s just happy to be here.   We aren’t doing this just to run our mouths, as fun and as necessary as that may be.   We contest elections because we want to serve in those offices.

We can disseminate all the information we want, we can develop plenty of new public policy proposals, we can lead protests, we can organize outreach booths and local affiliates on every campus and in every county, we can even recruit a candidate for every single race on every ballot.   In fact, as a political party, we must do all those things, or at least try our best.

But we need to recognize that all these things alone are insufficient to reach our goal.   We don’t do them just to do them and say we did something. We do them to help us change public policy by electing Libertarians to office.   That’s what political parties do.   That’s why we have a Libertarian Party.

 

Sean Haugh is assistant editor for Liberty For All. Sean is married to longtime Libertarian Pam Adams, and they have a family of three dogs and five cats.   Besides them, Sean loves God, Liberty, and Oklahoma Sooners football.   Write to Sean at seanhaugh@mindspring.com.

25 Responses to Some thoughts about the Mission Statement

  1. Brian Irving

    February 8, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    Well said. That’s why I am a member of the Libertarian Party. Your key observation is “People won’t pay much attention to your ideology if you ask them to, but if they decide they like you then they will become interested in your ideology.” I can testify to that by personal experience, both as a candidate and as an appointed city planning commission member.

  2. Steve Trinward

    February 9, 2007 at 1:26 am

    Although we have had this out before, Sean, I have to bang the door once more.

    As you correctly note, the segment you pulled from the existing LP Mission statement is intact, in itself. I’ll let it slide that you made no mention of the OTHER four, parts of that statement, which reads in its entirety:

    “ARTICLE 3: PURPOSES

    The Party is organized to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles by: functioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements; moving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office; chartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities; nominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office; and, entering into public information activities.”

    But I would like to note once more how that sentence is constructed, and then offer my own rewrite. It says: “… moving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office.” And even your reformulation into a syntactically correct sentence preserves this form for your own state’s purposes:

    “MISSION: The Mission of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina is to move public policy in a libertarian direction by electing candidates of the Libertarian Party to public office.”

    But as some may not noticing this does NOT say (as some would have it that the national Bylaws do) “The Mission of the Libertarian Party … is … electing candidates of the Libertarian Party to public office.” The latter part is the subordinate clause in the sentence (just like the one at the beginning of the Second Amendment to the Constitution?), and merely modifies the purpose itself: “to move public policy in a libertarian direction …”

    I would submit it would be far more useful to reformat the entire section of the Bylaws to read as follows:

    “ARTICLE 3: PURPOSES

    The Party is organized to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles. The Mission of the Libertarian Party is to move public policy in a libertarian direction by: functioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements; building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office; chartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities; nominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office; and entering into public information activities.”

    This would not only clarify the difference between the desired goal, and the various methods by which we hope to achieve it, it would also clarify the fact that EACH of those five functions may at various times, in tandem or on their own, advance the course of liberty to some extent. Moreover, it affirms that they are ALL at various times a proper function of a group seeking to advance and enhance liberty.

    at least worth discussion, I think.

    Namaste – Steve

  3. Tom Blanton

    February 9, 2007 at 2:24 am

    Perhaps the LP should consider this mission statement:

    “The mission of the Libertarian Party is to elect libertarians to public office”

    To say that politics is not an ideology business may be a grave error. It is an ideology business. Campaigning may be a people business in that candidates must motivate people. But, politicians are selling ideas and ideas are ideology based. In addition to selling him/herself, a candidate must sell hope, a vision for the future, and solutions to society’s problems.

    Libertarian candidates often spend too much time selling libertarian principles (basic ideology) or the Libertarian Party when they should concentrate more on selling their specific agenda. Major party candidates identify a problem and propose a solution. They are prepared to explain and defend their solutions and are prepared to shred their opponents solutions.

    Of course, there are also the matters of strategy and finance. Pandering to the center and raising 1% of what an opponent raises hasn’t been a very successful model. For a third party candidate to raise money, the candidate must be able to create a certain degree of excitement.

    In 2006, the vast majority of LP candidates couldn’t even raise any excitement among LP members. Nerds in neckties waving the constitution and peddling gun rights, the Fair Tax, and baby steps in a libertarian direction aren’t setting the electorate on fire either.

    It seems to me that the libertarian movement is doing a lot to turn people on to libertarian ideas and the LP is doing a lot to turn these people off. It might just come down to that “vision thing” that Bush 41 used to talk about.

  4. Sean Haugh

    February 9, 2007 at 4:13 am

    Tom you make some excellent points. One thing I think about the Mission Statement that didn’t quite fit into the piece is that we have to support candidates of the Libertarian Party. Otherwise we are a coalition, not a party. Let us accept others’ invitations to join in coalitions, we don’t have to be the coalition ourselves. Let us freely cross party lines when it allows us to help enact Liberty, but we have to assert and defend our own identity if anyone is going to respect us as a coalition partner.

    If as a candidate you feel like you have to educate anyone, then you have already lost, and not just because you are sending out the “I’m smarter than you” vibe. Candidates are successful when they articulate what people already feel in their hearts. Let the public policy groups and think tanks do the educating.

    I absolutely agree that we are more successful when we show voters how different we are from our opponents. We have to give people a strong reason to make the switch. If we just sound like a variation on a centrist theme, we don’t attract people who want change. The challenge is not to water down the change we represent to find mass appeal. The challenge is to fully embrace the change we are and put it in those common sense terms that people will recognize as the change they themselves have always wanted.

    Bingo again on features vs. benefits. Every single voter asks just one essential question: What’s in it for me? We need to tell them not just about freedom, but about the freedom to have more money in your pocket, the freedom to give your children the education you want for them, the freedom to care about those you love, the freedom to be healthy, the freedom to be happy. Few love freedom for the sake of freedom, but everyone wants to be free to do or be something quite specific. Find out what that is for each voter and show them that voting for you is voting for giving that gift to themselves.

  5. Steve Trinward

    February 9, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I guess I’m writing in invisible ink. I’ll shut up now

  6. Fascist Nation

    February 9, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    “The mission of the Libertarian Party is to elect libertarians to public office”

    Nice and specific. How is that working out for you?

    Oh, let me guess … the reason for the paltry number of Libertarian candidates elected to partisan seats after over three decades of elections is all those wacky activists scaring the voters away for the Libertarian candidates at the polls. boo hoo.

    If you want to get elected to office, do the Ron Paul thing in either the R’s or Ds. This nation has a two party system. Live with it. But it cannot be ignored. As long as the R’s and D’s exist, there will NEVER be room for anyone else, except to influence public debate.

    The Libertarian Party was created by libertarians to use this tool of the state against the state as an educational prop to forward libertarian philosophy. If someone actually got elected so much the better for influencing the debate. But is a rare event, and even when it happened rarely involved assistance from the LP in achieving getting elected. Too often have I seen these few Libertarian candidate elected to office only to vote in favor of tax increases or spending increases or laws that expand government power at the expense of individual liberty.

    I will say it again, if getting candidates elected is your primary concern, you are in the wrong party, as that will never happen until either one of the two major parties falls apart … and then watch as one of the splinter groups will come charging in to sweep up the Libertarian Party to get back into power perhaps espousing some libertarian principles, but actively promoting the same policies of the R’s and the D’s. It isn’t what you say, it’s what you do.

    Steve’s correct, this has been debated ad nauseum, but the good news for the “LP is a political party, not a debate club” crowd is they are winning, and the activists are losing more ground every year. Of course, as the activists go, the LP seems to be getting more critically ill … but that is another story.

  7. Eric Dondero

    February 9, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    “The Libertarian Party is the only political group in the movement that contests elections…”

    That’s quite a statement? Ever hear of the Republican Liberty Caucus? Or, Club for Growth?

  8. Joe Dumas

    February 9, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    “I tracked over 600 campaigns for the LP last year. Only one ran what I would call a full campaign in a contested higher profile race and she won.”

    Sean, thanks for your article and all you do to advance the cause of Liberty. I don’t know what you consider a “full campaign” or a “higher profile race” or whether you tracked my race or not. We ran what I would consider a full campaign in a county commission race in Hamilton County (Chattanooga), TN last year. We spent over $6,000 including 250 yard signs, dozens of radio spots, and a mailing to thousands of homes with registered voters. In addition to 3+ months of door-to-door campaigning (which helped more than any of the above). This was in a district of approximately 35,000 population in a county of well over 300,000 population. We polled 31% against a two-term, major party (tax and spend R) incumbent — one so entrenched, and so pro-government, that the Democrats didn’t bother to oppose him. We polled more votes than two Republicans who were running against Democratic incumbents. And, we did almost as well as the Democratic challenger who spent $50,000 trying to unseat his Republican incumbent commissioner. We were definitely “in it to win it.” And next time, if I have anything to say about it, we will win it.

    Proud to be fighting the good fight for less government and more freedom,

    Joe Dumas
    Signal Mountain, TN

  9. Jim Duensing

    February 10, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Amen Sean. Eric, I think Sean was talking about Libertarian political groups. Club for Growth doesn’t run any candidates and the Republican “Liberty” Caucus is not a political party it is at best an ineffectual caucus within the biggest government party we have.

    The Libertarian Party – America’s Third Party – is the last best hope the American people have for a peaceful solution to most of the problems that we are facing as a society. We can only effect that change by winnining elections, which we can only do by running campaigns better than the other two parties.

  10. Sean Haugh

    February 10, 2007 at 1:48 pm

    Steve, sorry to make you feel neglected. ;) The kind of thinking you present is exactly what I am trying to overcome here. Note that “Mission Statement” is a singular term, twice – if you take more than one sentence or cite more than one goal, it’s not a real mission statement. Your suggestions would make sense if the LP were attempting to be the whole movement.

    Thanks Joe, I didn’t count the Tennessee wins because they were in the spring, before I started tracking any races. So I only know *that* you kicked ass, not how y’all did it. The race I was referring to was Sara Chambers in Juneau.

  11. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Jim,

    You state that “we can only effect that change by winning elections.” You ran for Congress but did not win. Does that mean you think your campaign was useless or were there some benefits to running even though you lost? Did you think you might win?

  12. Michael H. Wilson

    February 10, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Sehan I hate to ask this question but will. What do you mean by education? At what point do we go from explaining the problem and providing a solution to education. A few years ago a group of us wanted to print a newspaper, eight pages, to be mailed just prior to an election in which a half dozen issues would be discussed along with the candidate. WE were turned down because that would have been an education function and the party didn’t do education. Can you explain were “getting the message out” ends and “education” begins?
    Thank you,
    Michael H. Wilson

  13. Michael H. Wilson

    February 10, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Sean I must apologize for sticking an “h” in your name.
    I must beg your forgivness and will wash the ground before you walk on it each day! I am a total dunce!
    MHW

  14. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 9:40 pm

    Sean,

    I agree with you on some of your points, but disagree on quite a few others.

    I believe the Juneau election you referred to was a non-partisan election. Therefore, according to your analysis, no Libertarian candidate for a partisan office ran a “complete campaign.” I can’t necessarily disagree with you on that point, though I do believe having more candidates who do whatever they’re able to is better than not having candidates. I recognize there’s plenty of disagreement amongst Libertarians on that, which is why I support different states trying different approaches.

    In my opinion, many winning Republican candidates were doing what I would consider “educating” the public that terrorists want to destroy America. Additionally, I think many winning Democratic candidates were “educating” the public that Global Warming is happening and therefore voters need to elect Democrats to use the government to save the world. For the record, I disagree with both of those lesson plans. Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to call promoting fear of Terrorism and Global Warming a form of education (or mis-education).

    I agree that educating the public on the issues, or convincing voters to change their minds on an issue shouldn’t be the primary focus of Libertarian Party candidates, but it is an integral and normal part of campaigning for office.

  15. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Which candidate for office in a CONTESTED PARTISAN election got the highest result in America? In all of America?

    I believe Matt Finkel, candidate for Travis County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 2, (Austin, TX) got the highest percentage (34.5%, receiving 19,932 votes in a two-way race) of any candidate in the U.S. appearing on the ballot as a Libertarian, with the exception of two UNOPPOSED candidates in San Miguel County, Colorado. (Sheriff and coroner—they each got around 2,000 votes.)

    Is it worth knowing how or why that happened?

    Finkel was slightly more than a paper candidate. He spent about $120 on his campaign, most of it on an order of business cards.

  16. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    Sean says “I can tell you from personal experience how much media you lose when you admit that you won’t win. It should also be obvious how little respect the average voter would give to a candidate who’s just happy to be here.”

    Sean, your rigorous analysis to prove this point is far less rigorous than the Global Warming Terrorist propaganda. I assume you’re relying on some anecdotal evidence that you haven’t shared, although I know you can find an annecdote to support just about anything.

    I routinely admit to the press and to voters in Austin that our candidates probably won’t win this election but we’re working to increase our percentages. I think those reporters and voters respect my honesty and our percentages have gone up. I think it’s possible the media and voters have less respect for candidates who claim they’re going to win when they end up getting 4% or less.

    Again, the highest percentage by a Libertarian in a PARTISAN CONTESTED race was here in Austin where I am routinely honest with the press and voters. (Probably I should say “somewhat honest.” There’s some strategery going on too.)

    I also disagree with many Libertarians who think you shouldn’t run for office unless you will claim you are going to win. You might think that asking only for candidates who are going to claim they will win might produce a stronger slate of candidates. However, intelligent and realistic people can look at a long history of results and come to the realistic conclusion that results will likely only improve a little bit at best over past attempts (with the exception of tiny districts of 5,000 or less).

    If you restrict your slate of candidates to those who will claim they will win, you may limit yourself to the most naively optimistic or unintelligent, or liars (the Liartarian Party?). The press and voters will realize that, and I’m not sure they will give you more respect for being naively optimistic or unintelligent, or lying. I know my respect for candidates doesn’t go up the more naively optimistic or unintelligent they are. I’m not against a significant amount of over-promising, but there’s a point at which ridiculous claims can sound . . . well, ridiculous.

  17. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 10:48 pm

    Are we a real political party or what?

    Let me repeat. Are we a real political party or what??!!!

    Therefore, [insert whatever claim, true or false, you want here]

    It seems to me there’s a rash of using the “Are we a real political party or what?” to justify whatever.

    Bush: Are you with us, or against us? Therefore, [invade, etc.]

    Gore: Are you a Global Warming denier? If not, [stuff].

    The “Are we a real political party or what” mentality I believe is having a negative effect on the LP. National LP statistics are quite negative. I can’t prove the correlation, but I suspect there is a correlation.

  18. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Sean,

    You say you support recruiting and running lots of candidates. I agree with you on that. Tell us more about your experience recruiting candidates. I know you’ve done lots of that. Tell us what you really did. I tell people that when I recruited candidates, I could get one every 30 minutes by phone. When I say every 30 minutes, that means 30 minutes of attempting. The actual conversation to recruit the candidate was about 5 minutes. As many folks know, our databases have lots of bad phone numbers, etc. People aren’t home. I think all the talk about having to win today scares lots of good people off. States spend months and hundreds of people-hours debating what to do and never get anything done. They get scared to try.

    Your posting sounds like your criticizing people who try. Like I said, a tiny bit of encouragement during a 5 minute phone call is all it takes.

  19. Wes Benedict

    February 10, 2007 at 11:42 pm

    Regarding the mission statement, whether National or state, I admit they may not guide me since I don’t read them very often. They’re products of democratically elected committees.

    I do support Libertarians winning as many elections as possible, whether they are partisan or non-partisan, though I consider a partisan win much more valuable than a non-partisan win.

    When it’s obvious a Libertarian can’t win an election, I support running a candidate and striving to get the highest percentage result possible, hopefully improving on past results.

    I believe most of the Libertarians who have won elections have done so in very small races, or they have won multi-seat races (elections where the top X vote getters win). Probably 95% of Libertarians don’t live in places with those kinds of opportunities. For 95% of Libertarians, they should run for office attempting to improve the Libertarian vote percentage to build momentum for possible future wins.

    I expect that if you studied the races where Libertarians won, you’d find that most of those candidates won without broad support (or interference) from Libertarians outside of their districts. That’s why I’m skeptical of the “pooling our resources and maling checks to a single candidate” approach.

    Most Libertarians need to work to build the “propensity to vote Libertarian” base. Worthy Libertarian candidates in small winnable races will benefit from that base, but will most likely win due to their individual efforts meeting individual voters. Checks from far away will only have a small effect.

  20. Billy VerPlanck

    February 11, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Dear LPer’s

    It would seem that the people these of these United States are discovering the principle, “that government does not work” [Sound familiar? Thank you Harry Browne.]

    The Libertarian party, is the party, of Washington, Jefferson, and the Party of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, “That does Work” and it did for over one hundred and twenty five years. And with that fact. The Libertarian Party can truly claim to be The Only True American Political Party of Principle as it should have been known all along. because it then has something to be principled about.

    The Libertarian Party should be emphasizing this point. The Libertarian Party is the only party that protects The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. The Republocrats and the Demopublicans are constantly violating
    the Constitution and The Bill of Rights and are destroying lives, freedom, and our private property everyday of the year on and on.

    We get all the bads from the press, television, and the blog’s loud, plain and clear. The Demopublicans, and Republocrats do not defend The Constitution and The Bill of Rights, which forbids centralized power, The D’s and R’s are all fighting over each other for their mad lust for power over all us.

    Here are some of the points that separate the Libertarian Party from the rest:

    Government Does not protect life, example: 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans after being warned a year in advance of just that possibility.

    Government does not protect Liberty, you are not free to walk in the streets after dark or even day light for fear of getting robbed, beaten, or murdered by drive by shooting in our major cities and even in small ones.

    Government does not protect Private property. Example” Criminal Takings via Eminent domain the legalized governmental stealing of private property and giving to political friends for their own private property. Check out Long Branch, NJ.

    I hope the Libertarian Party backs Ron Paul in 2008 or least not get in his way.

    In Liberty, Billy VerPlanck, Clifton, NJ

  21. disinter

    February 11, 2007 at 2:43 am

    Speaking of winning elections… how about we all get behind this guy and actually elect a libertarian to a real office in 2007??

    http://disinter.wordpress.com/2007/02/09/simes-oppenent-has-little-local-support/

  22. Tom Blanton

    February 11, 2007 at 8:24 pm

    Wes writes:

    The “Are we a real political party or what” mentality I believe is having a negative effect on the LP. National LP statistics are quite negative. I can’t prove the correlation, but I suspect there is a correlation.

    Well, Wes, I suspect you are correct. I also suspect that it has a negative effect on the general public regarding the LP.

    The very vocal “reformers” making the case that the LP is a party of anarchists probably also has a negative effect on the general public that has little idea of what a libertarian is – much less what an anarchist in that context is.

    The notion that centrists, small government conservatives and moderate liberals are libertarians has a negative effect on the general public regarding the branding of the LP as this confuses many as to what it is the LP stands for.

    The acceptance of individuals as libertarians who wish to vastly increase the role, scope and power of government in order to fight “Islamofascism” while pretending that a small group of extremists could take over America and impose Sharia law most certainly has a negative effect in that a large majority of Americans reject this absurd propaganda. Like it or not, one such “libertarian” (Neal Boortz) is perhaps the most visible “libertarian” in America among the general public.

    The meme that LP candidates can’t tell the general public what they really stand for as a strategy for a winning campaign probably hurts the perception of the LP by those in the general public who are made aware of such arguments within the LP.

    Imagine if dozens of Republican blogs were filled with strategic arguments that the general public shouldn’t be told what the Republican Party really wants because the public “isn’t ready for it”.

    A profound lack of credibility also has a negative effect on the public perception of the LP. How can a candidate polling at 3% (who has raised 2% of the funds raised by opponents) be taken seriously when he/she claims they can win an election against all odds?

    Why would someone want to vote for a candidate who misleads the public about their chances of winning – especially when there is doubt as to what the candidate really stands for?

    It often seems the LP plays into the hands of all critics by the inability or unwillingness to defend ilbertarian ideas. If other elements of the libertarian movement apart from the LP educate the general public about libertarianism, and large numbers of the general public accept libertarian ideas, who will they vote for?

    Will they get excited about a LP candidate running as a small government conservative centrist?

  23. Jim Duensing

    February 12, 2007 at 1:08 am

    Wes,

    The benefits of my losing race in 2006 all relate to building toward electoral success in the future.

    I ran for Congress rather than a smaller office because I couldn’t raise the funds to run a competitive race for State Assembly (the smallest partisan race open to me in 06), you get more press for Congress, and we need to run certain races for ballot access requirements.

    It is not my contention that if you lose an election you have not helped the political party. My campaign was run in conjunction with several other Libertarians in the state. By being on television and passing out more tha 100,000 professional quality full color brochures, we were able to help build our organization to the point that it can compete with the other two parties. We’re not there yet, but you have to start where you have to start.

    My point was that we are the political wing of the freedom movement. As individuals, we may participate in other freedom movement activities (MPP, GOA, CATO, homeschooling, etc. etc.) However, our political party is the only portion of the freedom movemnet that runs candidates. Our success as a political party is measured by counting votes. That’s it.

    We do need to educate people in order to win elections. However, I prefer to educate people that they already agree with my positions on the issues that effect them daily, rather than educating voters they are wrong on an issue that is well removed from their daily experiences and that they should change their opinion, adopt my whole philosophy, give me money, volunteer their time, and vote for me.

    Campaigns are exactly the wrong time to educate people. The examples you cited, global warming and Islamofascism are ideas that a significant portion of the voting population already had in their heads in the two months in whic the eleciton was waged. Now, the other two parties and their respective issue advocacy groups had been lobbying the public to agree with those issues for years. But, when it came time for elections, they tried to talk to the voters where they were. They did not try and change the voters. They just tried to sell the voters that they already agreed with them.

    This is our task. It is not difficult. It does not require us to compromise our principles. We need to champion issues that the voters agree with us on and that the other two parties will no support. For example, School Choice Scholarships and Bring our Troops Home Safe and Soon. Neither of the other two parties will support parental control over education and neither supports ending the war in Traq despite the voters’ desire for change on these two specific issues.

  24. Wes Benedict

    February 15, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Jim,

    Thanks for your clarification, most of which I wholeheartedly agree with. Keep it up.