Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Why Hold Back if You're Not Going to Win?

At an LP gathering in May 2015, I was asked by a candidate for suggestions on presentation.  He was wondering if he should tone down his campaign messages so that it wouldn't appear scary to the average voter.

Before I could answer, another person sitting at the meeting said "Pandering?"

He said what I was thinking; and it was a good (albeit flippant) rejoinder.

In the early 1990's, then-state chairman John Buckley was basically asked the very same question.  His answer was immediate and without any hesitation whatsoever:

"Well, you're not going to win."

28 years later, I remember that response very well, and I repeated it to the current questioner.

"Are you going to win?" I asked.  He understood immediately the import of what I was telling him.

"That certainly gives me a lot more freedom, doesn't it?" he said.

Indeed it does.

Being honest about our goals -- even our end goals -- is liberating.  Being honest with ourselves about our prospects is also liberating.  If we already know we do not YET have the money or manpower to be competitive, then the object of running campaigns is to GET the money and manpower gathered to the Party, so we eventually will have them in sufficient quantity to win.

So how do we GET that money and manpower gathered to the LP?

By inspiring people to join, donate, and run.  Milque-toasty messages and candidates who refuse to say anything new or bold do not inspire anyone to join, much less vote for us.

I favor a message that will get the attention of the 1/4 of the population that is already BASICALLY libertarian, and provide them with the nudge they need to take a leap.  Only a bold message will excite those kind of people so much that they're ready to sign on the line and send in their dues and become active.

Libertarianism itself is an abolitionist philosophy.  Libertarians should always speak of tax abolition, rather than "tax reduction".  We should always advocate the full repeal of (drug) Prohibition, rather than just "reducing sentencing guidelines".  We should call for the abolition of entire agencies of government, rather than just "budget reductions" or "eliminating waste".  Don't "reform" government police agencies, or call for "citizen review boards" -- speak for abolishing them all outright.

As LP campaigns move "up-ticket", they should be more radical, not less.  A candidate for state legislator should use "abolish", "eliminate" and "repeal" much more often than a candidate for city council (although city council races can use a healthy dose of those things also).  A candidate for US House or Senate should use those terms even more often; and candidates for President should use them most of all.

Up-ticket candidates should know the talk, speak it well and speak well of it.

We should give more leeway for those running for more local offices; but the centerpiece campaigns should be bold and clear about what we want.

If you're only interested in "tinkering-around-the-edges" reforms that are tepid and fearful, why are you even in the Libertarian Party?  There are already two major political parties MUCH better-suited to dancing around.

Speaking just for myself...  One thing I insist on is that any campaign I am actively involved in (either via donations or volunteer time) will need to have a bold and radical message.  If I wanted "tax cuts", "less government", "mild government reform", and other things I can hear from a major-party candidate, I can spend my time much more profitably working for those things within the major parties.

I still have $1,000 waiting for the RIGHT Libertarian candidate.

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