Less Antman on restoring the Libertarian brand name

by Less Antman. Also posted on my blog, among others.

In 1985, the Board of Directors of Coca-Cola committed one of the biggest marketing gaffes in history. After decades of establishing their product as “The Real Thing,” they accepted the findings of their research team that discovered a taste people preferred in blind tests, and proudly announced that they had improved the formula.

The New Coke was an absolute disaster. The anger of the consuming public was so great that they had to eventually accept hundreds of millions in losses and figure out a way of reversing their course. They announced the return of “Coke Classic”, to give people a choice, and then quietly shelved the New Coke once they had gotten rid of as much of the stuff as possible.

Now, far be it from me to describe the Libertarian Party of 1971 to 2000 as a best seller like Coke. Anyone who measures success by the election of LP members to office should have long ago given up and gone somewhere else (the Republican or Democratic parties, if they have any common sense). Still, it was a far more effective brand than people think it was: it served as a feeder organization for the entire movement, and many non-political libertarians of today can trace their first contact with libertarianism to the Libertarian Party. It had and has an intellectual respectability within the field of academia and the blogosphere, and some within the field of journalism.

Well, we blew it. In a year that screamed for an alternative, we were virtually ignored, and in a year that had thousands of young, idealistic people energized, we failed to convince them that we are the only logical home for the Ron Paul Revolution. I think it is because we failed to defend our brand.

Now, before someone thinks this is going to be a rant against the Reform Caucus, let me state clearly that it is not. I have substantial disagreements with Reformers on strategy, mainly because I think they have been insufficiently pragmatic and because most failed to implement their strategy consistently. Their preferred candidate should have been George Phillies, not Bob Barr or Wayne Root, and if the nomination battle had come down to Phillies vs Ruwart, I think we would have come out of Denver united and inspired, regardless of who was the final winner, with our brand strengthened and a lot of new, young activists making our future bright. Once Phillies was eliminated, Reformers should have switched to Ruwart, not Barr or Root.

We don’t all want exactly the same thing, but we’re reasonably close. What I want is a society with as little aggression as the real (not a fantasy) world can provide. In my view, the most practical society will be based on private property anarchism, but if you put me in a room with LP Founder David Nolan, who is explicitly a limited government libertarian, you’ll probably find that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference in our actual positions (with the possible exception of immigration), and our differences are mainly in how we predict societies with libertarian sensibilities will address security, dispute resolution, and collective defense. I think (I need more time to be sure) that I have more differences with, for example, Brian Holtz, but I also have differences with Rothbardians. None, in my view, is fatal to a successful alliance. In fact, as an admirer of Friedrich Hayek, I don’t think any of us CAN know how a free society will solve all the serious problems facing a free society, and I don’t trust anyone who claims to know. Even me.

What both Radicals and Reformers want is an appealing and DISTINCT brand that will attract people to libertarianism. Now, I happen to think that anyone who works within the LP has already made a decision to forego electoral success, but I wouldn’t mind being proved wrong and, in any event, neither an educational nor an electoral strategy has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding unless libertarianism is an inspiring and unique brand, incapable of being confused with either Republican conservatism or Democratic progressivism. I don’t think we’ve ever tried hard enough to brand it properly.

Our radical past is a myth. The LP before 2006 was NOT the product of decades of explicitly radical campaigns based on the Rothbardian platform of the LP. To this day, there has never been a presidential campaign that promoted anarcho-capitalism, and Radical Caucus candidates have, with rare exceptions, pretty much been as loathe to campaign on their ideal society as Reform Caucus candidates (I blame the misinterpreted and now-dead Dallas Accord for some of this, but not all). Similarly, the 2008 presidential campaign is NOT an example of the Reform strategy, as I understand it. Reform Caucus advocates are every bit as eager as Radical Caucus members to have libertarianism stand out, and not be viewed as merely a principled version of conservativism.

My view is that we must renew and strengthen our brand as the only consistent advocate of liberty, and that we must remain absolutely vigilant that we not appear to be a form of conservativism (or progressivism). To my fellow Radicals, I think it is time we accepted the less comprehensive platform on a permanent basis, working only to improve it where it strays from plumbline libertarianism (as I believe it does implicitly in the tax plank and explicitly in the immigration plank). To my friends in the Reform caucus, I think it is time you accepted the pledge and the Statement of Principles as keys to our brand, the Party of Principle.

Applied to issues, let me sketch out what I see the implications on a national level of a libertarian who wants a brand that is neither conservative nor progressive.

Foreign Policy – An end to military intervention in other countries AND an absolute stand in favor of global free trade.

Health – The abolition of restrictions on drugs and treatments AND the abolition of government subsidies for health care expenditures.

Economics – An end to coercively financed poverty welfare AND an end to corporate welfare.

I do think members of the Reform Caucus should acknowledge the Law of Unintended Consequences. I have enough respect for many of you to know that you didn’t want the absurd platform that came out of Portland in 2006 but, absent your strategy, it wouldn’t have happened. Many of you didn’t want Barr to be our nominee but, absent your strategy, he wouldn’t have been the nominee. Acknowledge that.

Let me also caution my fellow Radicals about People Who Live in Glass Houses. You talk a good game about other people not being open about the full implications of libertarianism, and you were eager to fight for a comprehensive platform in Denver, but I spent a lot of time browsing candidate web sites and reading newspaper clippings, and with rare exceptions, I couldn’t tell you which candidates were members of which RC if my life depended on it. When it comes to radicalism, either put up or shut up (for the record, you are all hereby invited to hold my feet to the fire on this issue as I expand my site, Anarchy Without Bombs, over the next several months: I’m human, and sometimes I’m weak, so if you catch me waffling at www.anarchywithoutbombs.com, I will be ever-so-grateful for your correction of my heresy).

This is not intended to be the final word on this topic, but to get us talking about the future. I’m more interested right now in hearing the views of others who care about the future of the LP than I am about defending this entire post. I think the Ron Paul Youth are still up for grabs, and that we still have the opportunity to inspire them to our side (especially once the Obama Presidency gets going and starts disappointing). How do we reach them?

47 thoughts on “Less Antman on restoring the Libertarian brand name

  1. Andy Craig

    Very good point that Barr’s de-facto “independent conservative” campaign isn’t even remotely what the idea was supposed to be. I still absolutely think that the LP will do best as a vehicle for a broad, open coalition for anyone who falls into the “libertarian” quadrant on the Nolan Chart. However, Barr didn’t do that. He didn’t move from radical niche to broad coalition, he just focused on a different niche: disgruntled conservatives. And he didn’t even do it successfully.

    Ultimately, though, the problem isn’t the particular ideological foibles of the Presidential candidates so much as the fact that we focus so much on them. You can’t build a party from the top down. Presidential, Senate, and Gubernatorial candidates are only worthwhile if they’re the PR spearhead for a whole slate of candidates all the way to down to small, local offices. There’s no point in trying to contest statewide offices if you’re not contesting things like city councils and state legislatures. It’s no coincidence that the states where the LP is taken most seriously, like Texas, are the states where the LP puts up a full slate of candidates. George Phillies’s idea of having a unified visual scheme for signs/ads was a great idea along these lines.

    I don’t want to come off like just an armchair general. I’m just trying to toss ideas out there about how we could do better.

  2. paulie cannoli Post author

    I’m more interested right now in hearing the views of others who care about the future of the LP than I am about defending this entire post. I think the Ron Paul Youth are still up for grabs, and that we still have the opportunity to inspire them to our side (especially once the Obama Presidency gets going and starts disappointing). How do we reach them?

    Well, for starters, by asking them to join.

    The LP does very little outreach. Most of the little outreach it does is geared towards older conservatives. Members are valued mainly for their financial contributions, far less so for their volunteer time. Young people tend to have more time than money. A top ranking LNC member reportedly expressed open disdain for activists, and is probably not alone in holding that view. Certainly, little has been done to encourage activism and volunteering – far less than has been done to encourage financial contributions.

    There is no field staff; only office workers, telemarketers and ballot access petitioners. Petitioning is not outreach; if we do any outreach while petitioning, it is against our economic self-interest. Most petitioning for the party is done by non-libertarians, anyway. I’ve proposed an independent alternative for youth/college/field outreach.

    The LP should be active and visible in demonstrations such as those against the war, for migrants rights, gay rights, and marijuana/hemp legalization. Many people take to the streets for these causes, yet the left reaps all the benefits because libertarians are seldom to be seen at these events, and rarely ever identified as libertarians.

    It should be emphasizing peace and civil liberties issues (click on the link for a partial list), and opposition to corporate welfare/personhood/nonconcensual limited liability.

    It needs to be presented in a way that young people relate to, with music and art and so forth. Bureaucrash makes an effort, but is too tied in ideologically with Randian apologia for corporate power (rather than the left libertarian message we should be promoting).

    It should be radical and daring, speaking the language of anti-authoritarianism. Cargo cultism should be dumped out the window. It should be theatrical and fun, with V for Vendetta masks and the like.

    Those are some places to start.

  3. Andy Craig

    Trying to push an exclusively left-libertarian message will be just as much a failure as trying to push an exclusively right-libertarian message. The only way you can portray libertarianism as unique is to not tie it in any way to the left/right spectrum, except perhaps in explaining how it’s in equal opposition to both.

  4. chuckmoulton

    Paulie is absolutely right that we need to outreach more to youth. He’s also right that national (and many states) needs stop looking down its nose at volunteer time as a way to contribute for those who can’t afford much in donations. I’ve seen the culture of disdain for those who can’t write checks.

  5. paulie cannoli Post author

    One major difference I noticed between Ron Paul groups and LP groups.

    When you join most LP groups they ask you to… send money, and maybe come to a dinner club once a month with a bunch of mostly stodgy old white men to sit around and whine and moan about the downfall of the (mythically golden libertarian) past. If you are very lucky, they might protest against the income tax once a year.

    When you join many Ron Paul groups, they ask you to come out with a bunch of people of all ages, many young, and with a healthy proportion of women, and do stuff. Granted, some of that stuff, like waving signs at intersections, was not terribly effective – but it involved outreach of some sort.

    Activism attracts activists; inactivism attracts inactivists. The LP has mostly attracted inactivists so far. That should change.

  6. rdupuy

    George Phillies shouldn’t even be allowed as a member of the Libertarian Party.

    Do you think Hillary Clinton was excited to lose the nomination for the Democratic party? At the time she lost, don’t you know, she thought she would be more likely to win the general, than Barack Obama?

    She did.

    But what stopped her from destory Obama’s campaign was the cold knowledge that democrats expect the loser to support the winner.

    George Phillies not only did not accept his defeat, he actively worked against the nominee.

    He should not be a member of the LP any longer, and he will never garner my support, not ever.

    Thats a very basic principle of respect for fellow party members that Phillies doesn’t understand.

    Remember Ron Paul ran in 1988, and he didn’t do all that well. Ron Paul got more support in 2008, but it was precisely becuase he was running as a Republican.

    The arguments against 3rd parties are huge, and start from the time you are in elementary school…in 2008 students around the country participated in mock elections, with simplified ballots that included only Democrats and Republicans.

    Bob Barr did a great job. Ron Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin, and Chuck didn’t do any better than other 3rd parties. In other words, Green, CP, LP were all up about 25 percent 2008 vs. 2004…Ron Paul’s endorsement doesn’t appear to have done anything at all.

    Thats not Ron Paul’s fault…he knows very well 3rd parties don’t do well, and there is a huge resistance at this time to supporting them. From Bob Barr to Ron Paul, to Chuck Baldwin…no one has figured out how to overcome that resistance yet….except incrementally, through slow growth over the years.

    Wherever the LP goes, it needs to do so, with political savvy ppl…and toss out the Phillies of this world.

  7. paulie cannoli Post author

    Responses @ LFV

    #
    1 Richard Winger

    The Libertarian Party polled over 1,000,000 votes for its candidates for US House, for the 4th time, in 2008. Breaking the 1,000,000 vote for US House candidates is something that no other party (other than the Dems & Reps) has done since 1914. This was achieved in 2008 despite the fact that we had candidates in only 126 districts.

    The Libertarian Party is now ballot-qualified in over half the states. No other parties, except the Dems & Reps, can say that. Our presidential total has gone up 3 elections in a row, something that was never true before, except in the series 1972-1976-1980. Barr’s vote has topped 500,000; no other Libertarian running for president except Ed Clark did that.

    A Libertarian running in a partisan election carried Fulton County and DeKalb County, the two biggest counties in the Atlanta meto region.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 1:00 pm2 George Phillies

    Rumors that the Reform caucus was supporting a Presidential candidate appear to be not based on reality. A few prominent reformers did.

    With all respect to Mr. Antman, if the Reform Caucus had actually supported someone actively, they might well have made that person the nominee, at least if that person had had a broader appeal beyond the reform caucus.

    We instead had a National Chair who recruited a Presidential candidate and did a great deal to ensure that candidate’s nomination. That includes using the front page of the party newspaper (April issue, the chair being responsible by LNC vote for all articles in the newsletter) to advocate for that candidate. So, where are the tens of millions of dollars that we were going to see, as discussed at national before and after the nomination? where are the millions of votes?

    As for my share, if every party member had invested as much in ballot access etc as I did (not counting NH), we would easily have passed 50 million dollars for the year.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 3:10 pm3 Robert Capozzi

    Perhaps the better “Coke” analogy is to view the LP as going through the testing phase in the1880s. The formula and brand are still not stabilized. My sense is that a fiscally conservative, socially liberal, anti-war party could be competitive electorally in the near to intermediate term.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 4:18 pm4 Alexander S. Peak

    Mr. Winger,

    No less than three LP candidates have done better than Mr. Barr, considering percentage.

    Ed Clark in 1980 got:
    1.06397%

    Harry Browne in 1996 got:
    0.50468%

    Ron Paul in 1988 got:
    0.47137%

    Bob Barr in 2008 got:
    0.40145%

    Harry Browne in 2000 got:
    0.36472%

    Michael Badnarik in 2004 got:
    0.32491%

    Andre Marrou in 1992 got:
    0.27780%

    David Bergland in 1984 got:
    0.24620%

    Roger MacBride in 1976 got:
    0.21164%

    John Hospers in 1972 got:
    0.00473%

    I believe vote percentage is more important to take into account, since the number of voters typically increase every four years, and since the population as a whole certainly increases every year.

    Regards,
    Alex Peak

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 5:04 pm5 Less

    @Richard Winger

    It is also worth noting that Bob Barr received more than 3 times as many votes in 2008 as President Andrew Jackson received in 1824. Isn’t there a little adjustment to be made when making historical comparisons?

    Comparisons with other third parties correctly show that they are worse off than we are. Comparisons with other years correctly show that we haven’t pushed our brand well in other years, either. My argument is that we are a unique brand with lousy marketing, and need to restore the uniqueness and improve the marketing. You will note that my post wasn’t entitled “The Death of the LP” or anything like that.

    I believe that we can establish a powerful niche among intelligent and idealistic youth and traffickers in ideas (academics, bloggers, and journalists) that will give our ideas the opportunity to be widely transmitted over the following years. I think it could have happened in 2008, had we understood the difference between Ron Paul and the Ron Paul Youth.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 5:21 pm6 Richard Winger

    I agree that percentages are more useful than raw numbers.

    When it comes to Libertarian candidates for the US House, I am guessing the Libertarian median percentage this year is better than it has ever been, in the races with a Democrat and a Republican both in the race. But I’m not going to do all the work of calculating it until the final figures are out. There are millions of ballots still not counted.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 5:44 pm7 Less

    @George Phillies

    My main argument is that the Reform Caucus should have supported you this year, and didn’t. You clearly positioned yourself so that you couldn’t be confused with either conservativism or progressivism, and you avoided radicalism in the policy proposals you advocated. Ruwart was neither left nor right, but more idealistic in her policy proposals (which I think is more pragmatic, but we can argue that issue out separately). Barr and Root clearly were going to be perceived as conservative by the general public, and Gravel and Kubby as progressive (unfairly in the case of Kubby, but inevitable given the special issue that has gained him notoriety).

    The bottom line is that I supported Ruwart, but would have been proud to tell others you were the nominee of my party and would have been comfortable promoting your candidacy among my friends, acquaintances, and general public. I think the reformers should have had a reciprocal view of Ruwart. It isn’t that hard to say, “but I would go further than Phillies on this issue” or “I wouldn’t go as far as Ruwart on this issue” for those who felt the need. But I was completely on the defensive with my progressive friends with Barr/Root, and my conservative friends dismissed Barr for the same reason they dismissed Baldwin: the Nader 2000 (or Perot 1992) argument about throwing the election to the “other” side is a natural result of being seen as being on the same side as one of the major parties.

    As to who the Reformers and Radicals actually supported, I’d say most effectively stayed on the fence until it was too late: Radicals voted for Ruwart at the end, but her campaign got almost zero active help from them prior to the Denver convention. I do think a good number of Reformers identified themselves with Root and worked for him for several months, and that most saw Barr as the most viable alternative to Root. I think too many of them confused Reform with Republican Lite, and only gave their “Big Tent” an entrance on the right. I respect (although I respectfully disagree with) the Reform strategy, but do not respect the Republican Lite strategy. Anyone who brags about being the margin of difference between McCain and Obama has totally missed the point about branding. It WOULD be the death of our party to feed the perception that all of our votes are being drawn from the Republican side.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 5:49 pm8 Less

    @Richard Winger

    Your analyses are always interesting and well done, and I look forward to them. I suspect that 1980 is going to be the challenger on the issue you mentioned, although I still think it is beside the point, as we are trying to figure out who was the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs in the Snow White story.

    We are in a position to have a major breakthrough: the RP Revolution made that clear, and also made clear that it was idealism and radicalism that would attract the largest number of enthusiastic new activists: not conventional respectability.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 6:01 pm9 Less

    @Robert Capozzi

    You’re probably right about where we stand in relation to Coke. Obviously, in my view the proper debate is between your correctly formulated view of what the Reform version of the brand ought to be, and my belief that branding and attraction are stronger when we are seen as Radicals, at least among those we are capable of attracting at this time. Once we dispose of the Republican Lite approach, we can talk about Reform vs Radicalism properly conceived.

    My view is that people who are concerned about electability will always abandon us on election day, no matter how much they respect us, while the “idea people” who will vote their conscience (and, more importantly, talk about our ideas with others) are less attracted as we become more conventional. The Reform Party itself was a well-funded attempt to appeal broadly to people claiming to be disgusted with the 2-party system. They’re dead: we’re not.

    Nonetheless, your formulation is a plausible one that we should be debating.

    #
    on November 8, 2008 at 6:35 pm10 Chuck Moulton

    There are a number of simplifying assumptions here.

    People did not give to Ron Paul for only one reason. Many liked Ron Paul for his idealism and radicalism, but many donated and volunteered as much as they did because in addition to his ideology Ron Paul was perceived as being a good speaker for liberty and the Constitution and for having a record of experience that made it plausible he could win the nomination and the presidency. They also donated because their donations became a message to the media: cover this guy. So his ideology at best was a necessary condition, but not a sufficient condition.

    Also Ron Paul managed to unite an eclectic mix of libertarians, anti-immigration advocates, conspiracy theorists, gold buggers, etc. I agree the majority were libertarians. A Libertarian presidential candidate running on a libertarian ideology (which of course I believe he/she should) may not attract the others in that Ron Paul mix.

    Similarly, people did not vote for the libertarian presidential nomination candidates on purely ideological lines. Most people who voted for Barr (from the first ballot or on the last ballot) did not do so because he leaned more conservative, but rather in spite of the fact that he leaned conservative. Many of Barr’s votes were for perceived media savvy, perceived fundraising prowess, and credentials. Many of Root’s votes were for his public speaking ability. Many of Phillies’ votes were for his long record of activism and clear plan to grow the party’s membership through his campaign. The fact that Ruwart did not win the nomination did not mean that delegates rejected her ideology — all it meant is that other qualities were more valued this particular election. And now many delegates (myself included) regret voting for Barr on the last ballot.

    Should the we Libertarians engage in introspection and reevaluate strategies? Sure. We should always be looking for ways to improve ourselves. However, if radicals want to have a radical presidential candidate in 2008, in my opinion they should heed some simple lessons from economics and allocate their time equalizing the marginal value per hour of all activities rather than putting all their eggs in the ideological basket.

    Mary Ruwart would have won the nomination in a landslide if she had improved her speaking the way Phillies did traveling around the country to LP state conventions pre-nomination (or by joining Toastmasters for a year or two). Perhaps she should have called every single delegate on the phone before the convention the way Root did. Perhaps she should have had a tricked out booth with two plasma screen TVs and clear branding for supporters the way Barr did (in the latter case I’m referring to the cowboy hats).

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t find the perfect plumb line anarchist candidate… I’m just saying getting the nomination is hard work and we’d better make damn sure that candidate also happens to be the best speaker of the bunch and out campaigns his/her opponents by leveraging all the latest technology (website, blogging, text messaging delegates, etc.) and all the tried and true conventioneering standbys (booth, hospitality suite, branding, stickers, signs, giveaways, etc.).

    #
    on November 9, 2008 at 1:41 am11 Michael H. Wilson

    Sometime Less is more. Less writes;” My argument is that we are a unique brand with lousy marketing, and need to restore the uniqueness and improve the marketing.”

    The failure of the LP and the Barr campaign to effectively develop a marketing campaign, or call it public relations, or advertising campaign is a major problem that keeps this party in the hobby category instead of the activist category.

    Until we decide that public relations and outreach are important tools that must be developed we are never going to get ahead.

    Regardless of where we stand on an issue we have to get that information out in front of the public. Mr. Barr published a couple of piece on Huffington post, but did he ever try to get published in the N.Y. Times, or the Washington Post? Do any of the officers of the LP try to get simple Letter to the editor published in either of those papers?

    Quite frankly I feel let down by the Barr campaign. I spent a couple of hundred bucks going to a weekend event and had Barr signs there, but it looks like Barr spent a bit of his campaign money on expensive cars and consulting fees. I would have been more than glad to give him some advice for a fraction of the cost he paid.

    MHW

  8. paulie cannoli Post author

    Responses on my blog

    #
    Eric Dondero

    Before you start criticizing Barr, it should be pointed out, that he actually got the second highest vote total ever for a Libertarian Presidential candidate.

    What did him in, and kept him from busting 1 million votes, was the simple fact that last minute libertarian voters shifted to McCain/Palin out of fear of Big Government Fascist Obama. I received tons of emails in the last week of Libertarians who were going to vote Barr, but when they saw Obama was running away with it, held their noses and voted Republican.

    That’s the real story of Election Year ‘08 for the Libertarian movement: Libertarians ended up voting Republican.

    #
    pauliecannoli

    “Before you start criticizing Barr, it should be pointed out, that he actually got the second highest vote total ever for a Libertarian Presidential candidate.”

    Fourth highest in percentage terms.

    Ed Clark 1.1%
    Browne ‘96 0.50%
    Ron Paul ‘88 0.47%
    Barr 0.40%

    #
    pauliecannoli

    “That’s the real story of Election Year ‘08 for the Libertarian movement: Libertarians ended up voting Republican.”

    Incorrect.

    Of libertarians who voted major party this year, most voted for Obama.

    Rasmussen found that self-described libertarians supported Obama over McCain, 53-38.

    Endorsements both at Reason Magazine and among “paleo libertarians” ran strongly in favor of Obama.

    Most libertarians wanted to stop Manchurian candidate McCain and the christofascist Palin.

    Until the LP realizes that our natural alliance, historical roots and logical position is on the left, we will make little headway, especially among young people.

  9. TheOriginalAndy

    “Petitioning is not outreach; if we do any outreach while petitioning, it is against our economic self-interest. Most petitioning for the party is done by non-libertarians, anyway.”

    This is not necessarily true. I have done an ass load of outreach while petitioning. I have handed out thousands of Libertarian Party pamphlets & flyers while petitioning, and I’ve also handed out hundreds of pro-liberty VHS tapes and DVDs while petitioning. I have informed thousands of people about what the Libertarian Party is as well as informing them about other pro-liberty issues. I have also registered hundreds of people to vote as Libertarians while petitioning.

    It is true that most petitioners are purely mercenaries who are only out to make a buck and don’t give a damn about the Libertarian Party or any other issue. It is also true that the Libertarian Party often hires these types of people. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a small handful of actual Libertarians who work as petitioners and if ballot access drives are started early the actual Libertarians are capable of knocking out most of the ballot access drives. If the actual real Libertarians are hired and treated right a provided with the proper materials, ballot access petitioning can be an excellent opportunity to engage in political outreach.

  10. TheOriginalAndy

    Anyone who calls themselves a libertarian and voted for McCain or Obama is not much of a libertarian in my book.

  11. paulie cannoli Post author

    This is not necessarily true. I have done an ass load of outreach while petitioning. I have handed out thousands of Libertarian Party pamphlets & flyers while petitioning, and I’ve also handed out hundreds of pro-liberty VHS tapes and DVDs while petitioning. I have informed thousands of people about what the Libertarian Party is as well as informing them about other pro-liberty issues. I have also registered hundreds of people to vote as Libertarians while petitioning.

    I know you have. But it was against your economic self-interest to do so. Any amount of time you spend talking to one person reduces the chance that you make sufficient eye contact, etc. to stop another person walking by.

    There is a small handful of actual Libertarians who work as petitioners and if ballot access drives are started early the actual Libertarians are capable of knocking out most of the ballot access drives.

    Too bad the LP discourages this.

    If the actual real Libertarians are hired and treated right a provided with the proper materials, ballot access petitioning can be an excellent opportunity to engage in political outreach.

    The incentives are all against it. It’s certainly true that the opportunity is there; but the pay is purely by the signature. There is no such thing as a field outreach/organizer position, and hasn’t been since 1992.

    This is not a growth-oriented model.

  12. paulie cannoli Post author

    Anyone who calls themselves a libertarian and voted for McCain or Obama is not much of a libertarian in my book.

    Some people do buy into the lesser evil argument, rightly or wrongly. That doesn’t mean they can not be hardcore libertarians ideologically; it’s a matter of strategy.

  13. TheOriginalAndy

    “I know you have. But it was against your economic self-interest to do so. Any amount of time you spend talking to one person reduces the chance that you make sufficient eye contact, etc. to stop another person walking by.”

    This is not necessarily true. It doesn’t have to take a long time to hand out a pamphlet or flyer. I’ve had days where I’ve gotten over 300 signatures and was still able to hand out many pamphlets and flyers. Also, there are times when it is slow and there is more time to talk to people.

    Anyone who says that you can’t do outreach while petitioning is full of shit. The fact of the matter is that most petitioners are mercenaries and do not care to do any outreach while petitioning because they just don’t give a rat’s ass about any cause.

  14. paulie cannoli Post author

    I’ve had days where I’ve gotten over 300 signatures and was still able to hand out many pamphlets and flyers.

    So you may have gotten over 400 otherwise. No way to know.

    Anyone who says that you can’t do outreach while petitioning is full of shit.

    Luckily, no one has said that.

    What I did say is that the party would benefit if it actually had field rep positions.

    Yes, a petitioner can volunteer to do outreach on the side. So can anyone else. It’s not what we are paid to do.

  15. JimDavidson

    I would like to see the Boston Tea Party get started on ballot access work for 2010 and 2012 as early as possible. Let me know how to help, and what to expect.

  16. paulie cannoli Post author

    Also, if you have or can get any lists that can be helpful with fundraising, we have telemarketers on our team as well. Ron Paul lists may be a good thing to have if you can get some.

  17. TheOriginalAndy

    “So you may have gotten over 400 otherwise. No way to know. ”

    I know because in these instances it didn’t really take any extra time to hand out a flyer or pamphlet. On some of these occassions, I had them sitting on my petition table and people could just grab one without me saying anything. I’ve had 400 signature days where I was still able to distribute flyers/pamphlets. On some occassions, the flyers/pamphlets actually helped me get more signatures if anything.

    “What I did say is that the party would benefit if it actually had field rep positions.”

    Yes, the party would certainly benifit by having field reps, but then again, it would benifit by having a lot of other things.

    One thing that the party really needs to do is update and improve its outreach material. Most of the outreach material either looks like crap or is outdated, or both.

    “Yes, a petitioner can volunteer to do outreach on the side. So can anyone else. It’s not what we are paid to do.”

    The ONLY petitioners who will combine their petitioning with volunteer outreach are the small handful of actual Libertarian petitioners, however, the Libertarian Party officials seem to have a habit of doing “last minute clusterfuck” petition drives and hiring mostly mercenaries who do no outreach and often times get bad validity on the signatures that they collect.

  18. paulie cannoli Post author

    One thing that the party really needs to do is update and improve its outreach material. Most of the outreach material either looks like crap or is outdated, or both.

    A freelance wiki group design/writing approach may do some good here. It doesn’t have to go through the party, although a link might help it get some traffic.

  19. darolew

    “The idea should be to redefine the left-right spectrum back to its original definition. “

    The left-right spectrum is overly simplistic. Redefined or not, it’s retarded and should be avoided.

    Identifying as “left” or “right” is a mistake.

  20. darolew

    Which one?

    Regardless, I’m not unfamiliar with “left-libertarianism” and their reason for using the term.

  21. darolew

    I’ve read #25 and #27 before. It’s fairly apparent I’m not a “left-libertarian” from what the self-professed “left-libertarians” themselves say. Regardless of whether libertarianism is left-wing or right-wing, if claiming it’s left-wing means we’re supposed to think like the “left-libertarians”, I’m out.

    The “left” has certain ideals and attitudes I do not share. Ditto the “right”. I’m not either, as far as I’m concerned. I doubt I’m alone in this. So why bother? It’s unneeded controversy.

    The introduction of left vs. right into politics was an unfortunate happening from the very beginning — it’s a gross oversimplification, and will remain such even if left is defined as anti-statist and right as statist. It’s not something that should be embraced or extended.

    Even if it were a good idea, it’s not feasible. Good luck telling people that communism isn’t leftist. Or, for those who view libertarianism as rightist, good luck saying that fascism isn’t far-right. It’s far easier to bypass centuries of preconceptions by denying the validity of the left-right spectrum than it is to completely redefine it.

    “Left-right” is hogwash.

  22. JimDavidson

    Yes, Paulie, we have a budget and lists and the capacity to raise funds. Why not e-mail me privately on these issues?

    I’m surprised that George Phillies hasn’t responded to rdupuy’s rather shocking suggestion that George be removed from the LP. George has a home in the BTP any time he wants one.

    The introduction of left vs. right started in the National Assembly in France. It is a feature of the French Revolution, much like death sentences for violating price controls and the metric system. Not everything that came out of that revolution was good.

  23. George Phillies

    Jim,

    Dupuy is a Barr front man. I give him the attention and respect that he deserves.

    Here in Massachusetts, I spent large amounts of my personal time and money putting his worthless candidate — to my knowledge, Barr never set foot in or advertised in Massachusetts — onto the ballot, a complete waste of my state party’s time and money. I did try to put Barr volunteers in touch with Barr’s volunteer operation, but so far as I can tell there was no identifiable volunteer operation. My inquiry as state chair ‘what is the point of contact for Barr volunteers’ received a beautiful song and dance answer, the essence of which was that there wasn’t one. Their downloadable palm card was a masterpiece of wrong design, namely it was 90%+ coverage in blue ink with white lettering, i.e., it was unreadable and required incredible amounts of ink to print on personal printers, not to mention that it failed to identify the party of the candidate.

    Unsurprisingly, Barr did very poorly in Massachusetts. Thank you, but we got rid of our witch burners something like three centuries back, not to mention that his depraved legislation attacking my state’s laws on marriage made him unsalable locally.

    George

  24. paulie cannoli Post author

    Yes, Paulie, we have a budget and lists and the capacity to raise funds. Why not e-mail me privately on these issues?

    Will do. Or just email me. Better yet, call.

  25. Thomas M. Sipos

    Paulie: “When you join most LP groups they ask you to… send money, and maybe come to a dinner club once a month with a bunch of mostly stodgy old white men to sit around and whine and moan about the downfall of the (mythically golden libertarian) past. If you are very lucky, they might protest against the income tax once a year.”

    This is soooooo true. I’ve noticed this for decades, when I first began attending dinner clubs in my 20s (I’m now in my 40s).

    Ironically, one of the things that the mostly stodgy old white men whine and moan about, is how we’re all just a bunch of stodgy old white men who sit around whining and moaning.

    I kid you not. That’s the literal truth.

  26. Steven R Linnabary

    George says:

    — to my knowledge, Barr never set foot in or advertised in Massachusetts —

    Did the Barr campaign spend advertising dollars anywhere??

    PEACE
    Steve

  27. JimDavidson

    George, I have no idea what you plan to do. But it would be a real shame to see you in the same position in 2012 working for, say, Root’s candidacy with the same sort of inept goofs making ridiculous choices.

    Your example of blue ink to cover a white palm card is an excellent one. It shows how little respect the Barr-Root campaign had for volunteers and supporters. One of the reasons a top-down structure fails is because it gets all the little things wrong. It causes resentment from people who end up with three empty ink jet cartridges because they cared, but were provided poor materials to print out – and it doesn’t even know it caused the resentment.

    I think the Boston Tea Party has some design features to make that sort of difficulty go away. We don’t have a powerful central committee making all the choices nationally. We’ve done our best to raise a banner and call on individuals to do things locally when and how they care to do so. Which means we aren’t getting uniform coverage – results are spotty that way.

    But it also means that we get the best out of those who volunteer. We aren’t riding them with criticisms. Our people are paid promptly when we hire any. And we aren’t putting power in the hands of people, like Shane Cory, who tell others to go f#ck themselves.

    Nor indeed are we empowering such detritus to screw over paid petitioners like he did with Angela O’Dell.

  28. Spence

    Many excellent points made here by Less. But you can’t save a brand that’s failed to begin with.

    I’m glad to see someone else realize that the Reform Caucus’s plans were co-opted by conservative hijackers, and the abuses of the LNC, and the sad sorry state of elitism in the LP higher-ups at state and national chair levels. But this corruption was here longer than 2006…

    The problem is Less is making one of the mistakes I made in diagnosing the faction fight that’s killed the LP. Those that lean towards anarchy are not “radicals”, they are the Purists.

    The RADICALS on the other hand are the ones that have been running this failed educationist platform and treat the LP like a social club instead of the basis for anything meaningful (like Thomas M. Sipos among others here at the CA LP).

    The rest of Less’ analysis is spot on, however. Whether you’re a reformer or a purist doesn’t necessarily make you a MODERATE libertarian or anything of the sort. But in my opinion, the LP has kicked out the true reformers and brushed aside the purists, to recreate their faithful little microcosm, which mimics the real world.

    In this miniature society, the Radicals and “Conservatives” duke it out, but are really part of the same TOPDOWN faction, much like the Democrats and Republicans are part of the WAR PARTY in real life. It’s a shame most libertarians don’t realize that.

    And that is why electoral success is forever doomed in the LP. As long as this persists, it’s a failed brand, and since damage to brand names is very time sensitive, don’t expect any significant effort to help the party rebound for a long time. Leaving the LP though- that’ll send them a message.

  29. José C

    In 1985, the Board of Directors of Coca-Cola committed one of the biggest marketing gaffes in history. After decades of establishing their product as “The Real Thing,” they accepted the findings of their research team that discovered a taste people preferred in blind tests, and proudly announced that they had improved the formula.

    And . . .

    Perhaps the better “Coke” analogy is to view the LP as going through the testing phase in the1880s. The formula and brand are still not stabilized.

    Nice try but they have the metaphore wrong. It should be:

    Coke is launching a very important new caffeine free soda product nationally and some executives at Coke do everything possible to undermine the new product, other executives urge customers to drink 7-UP, and other executives assist Pepsi.

  30. José C

    Here in Massachusetts, I spent large amounts of my personal time and money putting his worthless candidate — to my knowledge, Barr never set foot in or advertised in Massachusetts — onto the ballot, a complete waste of my state party’s time and money.

    George if that is the criteria any one who assisted Bob Barr getting on the ballot where he did not campaign could make the same claim. Are the criteria that our candidate for President campaign in all 50 states and the Washington DC? Is that even possible? Ed Clark did not campaign in 50 states.

    The only candidate who campaigned in all 50 states was Richard Nixon in the 1960 election and that was a mistake. He spent time in Alaska a state he was sure to win in the final weeks of the campaign.

    . . .not to mention that his depraved legislation attacking my state’s laws on marriage made him unsalable locally.

    What does it mean that the three “defense of marriage” propositions in California, Arizona, and Florida all passed? I voted against proposition 8 in California but the voters are clear they do not want the definition of marriage redefined. These propositions were voted on by many who also voted for Barack Obama. We are in the minority on this issue.

    I sometimes think we support redefining the definition of marriage to pander to homosexual groups.

  31. paulie cannoli Post author

    Are the criteria that our candidate for President campaign in all 50 states and the Washington DC? Is that even possible?

    Nader went to all of the states this year, but I don’t think that is quite what George meant, necessarily. Personal appearances by a candidate are not always the only way to campaign.

    I sometimes think we support redefining the definition of marriage to pander to homosexual groups.

    Baloney. It’s a civil rights issue, no less so than “interracial” marriage, and there should be no way for majorities to rule that same sex marriages are invalid, any more than majorities should be allowed to rule that “interracial” marriages are invalid.

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