Tom Knapp: On ‘leadership’

Posted at Knappster by Tom Knapp. Tom Knapp is a declared candidate for the 2012 Libertarian and Boston Tea Party presidential nominations, was a 2008 Libertarian congressional candidate and Boston Tea Party VP candidate, and has been a Libertarian Party candidate on several other occasions. He is also, as far as I know, still signed up to blog at IPR.

Over the past few months I’ve observed the state of disintegration into which the Libertarian Party has fallen (for the latest on that, see Brian Miller’s piece at Delaware Libertarian), and have also had discussions with activists who wonder why the Boston Tea Party‘s national committee isn’t more proactive.

It is my considered opinion that libertarians of both parties (or either, or neither) would do well to take their cue on the subject of “leadership” from America’s socialists of the early 20th century, in particular Eugene V. Debs:

I am not a Labor Leader; I do not want you to follow me or anyone else; if you are looking for a Moses to lead you out of this capitalist wilderness, you will stay right where you are. I would not lead you into the Promised Land if I could, because if I led you in, some one else would lead you out. You must use your heads as well as your hands, and get yourself out of your present condition.

When it comes to political activism, committees (especially national committees) are best structured as gateways, not gatekeepers — central planning is much more likely to manifest itself as obstructionism than as facilitation.

Stop waiting for “leaders” to tell you what to do. This whole “leader/follower” thing is ass-backward. Political committees shouldn’t be leaders that you follow, they should be tools that you use … when, and only when, they’re the right tools for the job.

Originally posted at http://knappster.blogspot.com/2008/12/on-leadership.html

58 thoughts on “Tom Knapp: On ‘leadership’

  1. JimDavidson

    It would be nice if some of the current crop of BTP leaders would lead by example. I’ve seen no new state committees encouraged to form since the October convention. There seems to be a paucity of activity.

    No, the nat’l committee doesn’t have to do everything. But if they provide the example of doing nothing…

  2. G.E.

    Debs’s sentiments were also echoed by profoundly non-socialist “management guru” Peter Drucker, who said that “leadership” was evil and the best “leaders” of the 20th century were Hitler and Stalin.

  3. Gene Trosper

    Ideally, I agree with Tom about not waiting for “leaders” to tell us what to do. Unfortunately, human nature is such that most people NEED someone to give them guidance or even tell them what to do.

    Jim Davidson is correct in saying that leaders need to lead by example. I would also add that leaders need to be inspiring.

  4. Jerry S.

    “Stop waiting for “leaders” to tell you what to do. This whole “leader/follower” thing is ass-backward. Political committees shouldn’t be leaders that you follow, they should be tools that you use … when, and only when, they’re the right tools for the job.”

    That’s a good statement there!

    I read Knapp’s “announcement” and he referred to others already being (or plan to be) ’12 LP POTUS candidates. Can you tell me the names of these at this early date? I imagine Root, but who else ? THX.

    I don’t have a problem with this early of an annoucement. In fact it is an excellent move for an alternative party candidate.

  5. JimDavidson

    Angela Keaton and Michelle Shinghal are a ticket. Angela is running for POTUS and Miche for VP.

    Robert Milnes is running, but he seems to run for nearly every party’s nomination.

    There was a thread here with several others, Peter Orvetti invited folx to post their presidential aspirations, etc.

  6. paulie cannoli Post author

    We know of six actually running or have said they would

    Root
    Knapp
    Keaton
    Waymire
    Milnes
    Jingozian

    I don’t know where 12 comes from – maybe that is an estimate that includes people that have not said they are running but are the focus of speculation.

  7. Michael H. Wilson

    Lao-tzu on leadership

    “A leader is most effective when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, his troops will feel they did it themselves.”

  8. Jerry S.

    Thx for the info! I don’t care to waste much time on delusional candidates.

    Then again, some could say all who fail to get the nom were delusional…

  9. Mik

    While spontaneous mass actions may arise to achieve a certain goal, without leaders and some organizations, the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century may just have been seen as a series of riots.

    By forming organizations, people can magnify the effect of individual actions. If people want to work toward a goal of increasing or maximizing individual liberty, they should be able to work within the same organization even if they have different ideas of the endpoint.

    Organizations need leaders not to set the end points but to keep the organization functioning and on track. If we want to get out of our present condition, it will be easier if we work together. Good leaders can coordinate individual efforts for their most efficient use, and bad leaders can discourage efforts or render them ineffective.

  10. paulie cannoli Post author

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    Thx for the info! I don’t care to waste much time on delusional candidates.

    Flip answer: Jeez, so what are you doing at IPR? 😛

    More serious answer: I’m not sure which ones you mean. Given that it is 2008 and we are talking about the 2012 election, it is probably unusal we have any declared candidates, much less six. It may be that the ones who are declared now are the more delusional ones, or it may be that they’ll have already solidified support and there will be no more or room for any candidates.

    But more likely than either of those is that numerous candidates will drop in and out over the next four years. This time the winning candidate was not even exploratory until this year was well under way, and did not declare until about a week before the convention. So who’s to say?

    I can’t even predict with any certainty that either the LP or the US will exist in 2012. So how can we know who is delusional and who isn’t?

  11. Jerry S.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSp_uoRltp0

    LOL-you really want me to name names? I don’t want to hurt feelings. Teddy R in reincarnate isn’t a legit option for time or space imo! The candidate in the above vid has more cred, to me, than some!

    The more the better. Sure some will waste much time and money, then have it snatched away again by a preceived “savior”. Sadly the “masses are asses” applies to LP POTUS nominating convention delegates as it does in the general population. With three and a half years to deliver their message perhaps they can sway the (middle) swing delegates in their favor or even better, discover new delegates to attend and nominate them.

    It is past time that (for like of a much better term) a radical Libertarian was selected as the LP POTUS nominee. Let’s see what they can do! When I was younger I fought the good fight. I now believe with our current welfare state we cannot afford open borders. Hence I guess I would be exclused from their caucus. I preferred Means over Paul, Boddie over Marrou and truly feel to this day if they had received the nom the LP would be stronger today. Can anyone here honestly say Ruwart, Kubby or even Phillies would have done much worse than this years “savior” Barr?

  12. songster7

    The BTPNC should have no more power or influence than its party members choose to give it.

    As it says in the song:

    “If you’re looking for a leader
    Take a look in the mirror
    There is no-one else in charge of what you do
    Listen to your inner teacher
    Find your vision and carry it through
    Take hold of the reins
    Find the leader in YOU!”

    Those who wait for direction and guidance (I’m reminded of how Kirkpatrick Sale spoke one time years ago on the topic of “No More Leadershit”) usually get neither; instead, they get edicts and laws and mandates imposed on them.

    If someone out there has a project worthy of support, let that person put it forth, ask for said support (moral, monetary, labor, etc.) … and then see who responds. No National Committee is necessary for that (and we don'[t even have the excuse of a national HQ staff to have to compensate for their time and energy processing payments …)

    Go, my children … and slack no more!

  13. JimDavidson

    Very nice, Steve.

    Have you been by the BTP Facebook pages, lately? The main group for the party as a whole has 888 members, and you are listed as one, as an officer. I’m curious because you write about people asking for help.

    Some people have asked for help, in particular a guy in South Carolina. Do you see it as your job to keep up with the group? Or is that someone else’s job?

    You are listed on the BTP Tennessee Facebook group as coordinator for that state. There are two dozen members of that Facebook group. You’ve never posted to its wall, or to either of the active discussions on it. Nothing has been posted there since late October. You also haven’t asked the national committee to recognise the existence of a Tennessee affiliate, which is not one of the 12 recognised state affiliates. So, what’s up with that?

    I mean, it is interesting that you are on the national committee so that you can empower others to lead themselves to freedom. And it is nice that you don’t want to get in anyone’s way. But there are a couple of groups where you are a member that could do with some of your attention.

    Do you see yourself actually doing anything in Tennessee to plan for the future, identify candidates, implement a ballot access program, get official state recognition for the party, have meetings, push for legislation, protest wrongdoing by government, or anything else? Or were you waiting for someone else to get going?

    JR Enfield has been active on the Tennessee BTP Facebook group. Do you know who that is? Maybe you could encourage that person to do some planning or organising, or activity.

    Or is it that making plans, organising activities, and leading by example are contrary to your ideology?

  14. JimDavidson

    Also, I popped over bostontea.us and looked for any recent activity under Tennessee BTP. There does not seem to be much there since my post in June to the effect that the fake affiliate run by one of the Stevens crew had dissolved into the nothingness it had always been.

    Your username there is Libertyliver, which is no secret since you accepted the nomination for at large using that identity. You are user 353, so you came in 13 weeks and 4 days ago, or sometime in August. (Not to mention that you were probably a member back in 2006 or so when Tom first formed the party. That part of the database has been lost.)

    The Drupal software reports, “libertyliver has not created any blog entries.” So, I guess you are committed to being undetectable. Nothing to say? No words or opinions you think people in the BTP might benefit from? Leadership by example where silence is the word? Hmmmm.

    You show up on exactly three threads. I agree with your comments on libertarianism v. democracy. Your note on the special election for chair thread that asks someone wake you when anything of substance happens is a bit annoying.

    Why not make something of substance happen, Steve?

  15. JimDavidson

    Here are some things that people in the Boston Tea Party might choose to do.

    1. Invite other people to join the party. This activity is facilitated by our many social networking sites where members can invite other people to join. Have you invited all your friends, yet?

    2. Organise your state affiliate. Why shouldn’t it be you? Don’t wait around. We only have 12 officially recognised state affiliates. Only one of these has a bank account, so far.

    3. Organise a BTP Youth Caucus group in your school. We have people who might come around to speak to your group, or to an assembly of your school, or what have you.

    4. Make plans to attend a major national liberty event, such as the Liberty Forum in New Hampshire in early March, the Freedom Summit in Phoenix, Arizona in late March, the Meatspace Gathering for BTP in Kansas City in late May, or the FreedomFest.com in July. There’s also a nifty gold bug conference in New Orleans in early November every year, neworleansconference.com.

    5. Research the election laws in your state and put together a plan for ballot access in your state. Our national chair Douglass Gaking started a “fifty state plan” for 2010. He’s already posted three state plans on the national site. If volunteers or money are needed, we have lots of people who can help find them.

    6. Identify candidates for upcoming elections. There are often state and local off-year elections. If candidates for these offices have already announced themselves, ask around to see if any of them agree with our platform, and then either have your state or county affiliate endorse them, or ask the national committee to do so. Same for 2010 and 2012 elections – plan early.

    7. Did I mention organising your county affiliate? Don’t wait for a state affiliate to form, get started now. Find precinct captains in every precinct and have them walk their blocks to find out who is interested in smaller government and more freedom.

    8. Write something. Every member of BTP has their own blog on the national site. If you think something is noteworthy enough to promote to the front page of the site contact me or Tom Knapp. We might even agree.

    9. There are also places on the Facebook groups and other social networking sites to get conversations started. Try outreach to other anti-government people on various sites, not to mention pro-freedom people.

  16. Thomas L. Knapp

    Jim,

    Actually, I know for a fact that you’ve seen at least one new state committee “encouraged to form” since the October convention, because you very helpfully invited people to join it, and provided a logo for it, after I created it:

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=40012533869

    Is it only “leadership by example” if I stand on top of a building and beat my chest while yelling about everything that I’m doing? Okay (thump, thump), I’m working on forming a Missouri affiliate (thump, Tarzan yell).

    Please consider your point about visiting the various Facebook groups more often well-taken — until late last week, it was very difficult for me to get around on Facebook, as I used dialup Internet and that site is slooooooowwwww at 56k. Now that I’m hooked up via cable, I’ll try to spend more time getting to know the various state BTPs via their Facebook presences.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  17. Michael Seebeck

    Jim, relax some. This is the dead time for all things political. It really doesn’t kick up again until Jan. 21.

  18. paulie cannoli Post author

    Howdy folks,

    I like Tom K’s idea. Let’s not wait around for national committees to do stuff, or kvetch that they are not getting it done; let’s just go ahead and git -r- dun, instead.

    Obviously no one person can do everything.

    I’ve been told there is some kind of effort underway to create media outreach teams, and have offered to help, but it seems to be a state secret of some sort; nobody ain’t tellin’ nuthin’ to no one, no way, no how.

    Ballot Access.

    http://freedomballotaccess.org/

    We have both petitioners and telephone fundraisers ready to go, and one state we have already contracted with. We need lists of people for our fundraisers to call, and any help in that regard would be appreciated – as, of course, would actual contributions by anyone reading. If anyone reading has a personal beef with the folks at Freedom Ballot Access, you can donate to the Alabama Libertarian Party instead, or to the West Virginia Libertarian Party. Hopefully more states soon. I think the Kansas BTP is ready to take donations as well.

    Here is another one:

    College Libertarian Organizing Committee

    http://pauliecannoli.wordpress.com/2007/08/03/college-libertarian-organizing-committee-2/

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2421661756

    Steering committee for a proposed new effort to create professional libertarian college field outreach. Once the group is created, we will raise funds and hire field organizers to travel, create and expand campus networks.

    Most recently I have talked to WV LP chair Matt Harris (mdh). He has experience filing 501c3 paperwork and is willing to do so if anyone here (or anywhere else) is willing to kick in $300 to cover the filing fees.

    Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

  19. JimDavidson

    @19 Richard Winger makes the useful point that there are deadlines, right now, while you are asleep at the wheel, for legislative action on the matter of ballot access. Both Indiana and Texas have timely issues to consider.

  20. JimDavidson

    Paulie, if you have press releases or other stuff to send to the media, Tom Knapp has a pretty good engine for getting the word out.

  21. Trent Hill

    I think that for now the frontrunners for 2012 are Root and Jingozian with Knapp and Keaton playing major background roles. Keaton is attractive to the anarchist crowd and has a littany of accomplishments through AntiWar–and her husband’s connections to Reason/Cato despite being an anarchist should help.

  22. JimDavidson

    Her litany of accomplishments is much broader than her recent connection to AntiWar.com. And her proposal to strip her way across Texas to raise money for her campaign is the wildest idea in fundraising that I’ve heard in a while.

    Better than a series of Grateful Dead concerts if ya ask me.

  23. paulie cannoli Post author

    I think that for now the frontrunners for 2012 are Root and Jingozian with Knapp and Keaton playing major background roles.

    Far too early to have real front runners, but Keaton could certainly be a contender if she were to make a serious effort, and Knapp could make way more inroads if he actually wants and asks for help from those who like him the best out of the existing choices.

  24. paulie cannoli Post author

    Paulie, if you have press releases or other stuff to send to the media, Tom Knapp has a pretty good engine for getting the word out.

    What is this engine?

  25. paulie cannoli Post author

    Jerry,

    Yes, but that is a different idea.

    Students for Liberty, as well as Young Americans for Liberty, are entirely student-run.

    CLOC is designed to have people whose full-time job it is to travel either around the country or regionally and start new campus clubs, and strengthen existing ones.

    This is something which students, who are already busy with their studies, can only do on a part-time basis, even if they get hired.

    They also don’t have nearly as much time to travel to other schools in their surrounding states where organizations have not been created and start them.

  26. Jerry S.

    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

    A major question for me, do Keaton and Knapp have more enimies than friends within the LP ? I listened to Keaton’s old interviews on Steve Kubby’s and Donero’s shows last night. She sounds like she would be a good candidate. A lot of what I read from Knapp tells me he’s much smater than the average member so he should also make a good candidate. Jingozian should stay in administration unless he can improve his stump skills 421 %. I still wish Root would run for and WIN the Vegas mayors race…

  27. paulie cannoli Post author

    Regarding s4l and yal, I understand YAL is closely aligned with Ron Paul/Campaign for Liberty, S4L is more in the IHS/Cato/Reason orbit. There was some talk of a merger, but probably not.

    CLOC would happily merge with either or both, but the difference is not ideological but structural – they simply do not want full time professional traveling field organizers. Thus I think we are trying to fill a different niche.

  28. Jerry S.

    That sounds like an excellent idea! If every college in the 10-12 largest states had an active LP group we would be much closer to success. Time to hit up the Drs., Lawyers and all money people in the party to back it.

    Train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they shall not depart from it.–
    King Solomon

  29. paulie cannoli Post author

    @28 By ask Knapp I mean to write him at his gmail address.

    He reads IPR so he could answer here, or email me if for some reason it’s OK for me to know but not for other people to know. So I take it that must mean it’s not OK for me to know.

    That sounds like an excellent idea! If every college in the 10-12 largest states had an active LP group we would be much closer to success. Time to hit up the Drs., Lawyers and all money people in the party to back it.

    Train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they shall not depart from it.–
    King Solomon

    First thing we need is about $300 to file the paperwork. We may not even need that, because Davidson already has a shell, but we probably will since even the name of it is apparently a secret, LOL.

    Anyway, if you can help out with $300 or part thereof, write travellingcircus at gmail dot com CC mdh_lists at yahoo dot com and we’ll let you know as soon as we have a bank account.

  30. paulie cannoli Post author

    That sounds like an excellent idea! If every college in the 10-12 largest states had an active LP group we would be much closer to success. Time to hit up the Drs., Lawyers and all money people in the party to back it.

    Forgot to add this; we would like to do so, so we are also looking for any and all lists we can use to fund raise from.

  31. JimDavidson

    @29 There are definitely two phases to Angela’s career with the LNC. The speech video you post was not from Denver, so I surmise it was from Portland in 2006. Not sure if that’s so. But it was added to Youtube a year ago, so, well before Denver.

    Yes, I believe Angela did do considerable planning and budgeting work in her first term (2006-2008). She worked closely with Aaron Starr at the time, as I understand it. She did a great deal of fund raising for the party.

    Since Denver, her second term, which was cut short by being pilloried until her health started to fail, and then by her resigning, was a much different matter. She obviously felt betrayed by the candidate whose nomination was secured by weasels, like Aaron Starr, through political machinations. She was not quiet about her dissatisfaction with the nominee, nor with the process.

    She became a target for incessant and unfair criticisms. I don’t think she was willing to do much planning or fund raising for the LP after the Denver convention. I completely understand her choices in this matter.

  32. paulie cannoli Post author

    @29 There are definitely two phases to Angela’s career with the LNC. The speech video you post was not from Denver, so I surmise it was from Portland in 2006. Not sure if that’s so.

    Yes.

  33. Jerry S.

    Solomon was a MONARCH L.J.!, MLK, jr was a married preacher also, Hoover of the FBI had tapes of him screwing “WHITE” women. A major no no in the early 60s in the south.

    I disagree, MLK, jr was a closet communist that settled for socialism. I’ve seen photos of him meeting with major american communist of the time and they helped him finacially. His FBI files were sealed for 75 years. Hoover had files on most major pols of his time. Most of those files will never be seen…

    I’m trying to figure out your former posting name L.J. You post like someone at TPW did 6-8 months ago. ???

  34. Jerry S.

    @46 If you are in Bama Paulie, Dr. B (in B’ham)should drop in a grand. Also hit up the Auburn profs. and the Von Mises people. Right now I’m poorer than you buddy-lol so can’t help you at the moment. I haven’t been active in years but did raise money to run LP tv ads in ’92. Most people in the LP will give to a worthwhile cause if asked.

  35. JimDavidson

    @50 Obviously, what you write about FBI files is not true, as was shown in the File-gate controversy under Clinton. The government has files on everyone who has political aspirations, and can prove anyone a child molestor, or worse, at a moment’s notice. That’s one of the reasons why funding bills for espionage agencies do so well in Congress.

  36. JimDavidson

    “First thing we need is about $300 to file the paperwork. We may not even need that, because Davidson already has a shell, but we probably will since even the name of it is apparently a secret, LOL.”

    Giving out the name and taxpayer identity number of a 501c3 is a bad idea. The publication of that information on web sites is a poor choice. A number of charities have been victimised by scammers who used their name and identity number to raise funds about which the charity new nothing, but for which it was responsible in various IRS filings. It is a difficulty which can be quite intractable. So, yes, I am very wary of giving out that information.

    The point I’ve made before is that you don’t need the name or the number of the 501c3 unless you have a donor who itemises. And many people no longer itemise because the standard exemption and standard deduction have been growing since 1980 when they became “cost of living” adjusted.

    Your argument that the first thing you want to do is spend $300 to “get” 501c3 status is misguided, in my view. First off, you aren’t filing for a government status in any politically well connected way, so it isn’t going to be fast tracked. You are going to file the paper and send in the money and wait. In a few weeks your application will be declined and various reasons given, and you’ll re-file, and you’ll wait.

    When I did this work in 1988 with a new company, we went through 16 months of back and forth with the IRS before they granted 501c3 to us. It was, I’m told, not a particularly lengthy episode in the tawdry history of the IRS. Others have gone through much worse for much longer.

    At this point, you don’t even know that you need a 501c3 because you have no donors, even for the 501c3 filing fee. And of the donors you might line up, you don’t know if any of them itemise, so they don’t need you to have a 501c3 status anyway.

    I would recommend that you pick a state, incorporate as a non-profit, and get a taxpayer ID number from the IRS (or employer identification number as it is called) and open a bank account. State incorporation would cost $25 or $50 as a non-profit in various states. The taxpayer ID number is free. The bank would likely open an account for a “community association” for $50 or so opening balance. You can call around banks to find out.

    So, no, I don’t think the first step is to file for 501c3. I think that wastes money and time that could be spent actually doing something useful.

  37. paulie cannoli Post author

    @46 If you are in Bama Paulie, Dr. B (in B’ham)should drop in a grand.

    I haven’t talked to Jimmy Blake in quite a while and I’m not in touch with him. He has not been in the LP in years, other than to give speeches to us about how we should be Republicans like him. He also got screwed over pretty badly by Mayor Arrington’s machine, which got his ability to process some types of insurance canceled and cost him half his business.

    I don’t really know a whole lot about his activities now, except that he is a Republican and has moved at least a couple of times – first out of Birmingham into Jefferson County suburbs, then out to Shelby County. I don’t know to what extent his finances have recovered. I did see Hoover Family Medicine is still in business not too long ago, so I imagine he’s around.

    He might donate after we have it off the ground but I’ll probably ask people who are easier to get a hold of first, and/or people I am in more recent contact with.

    And it does not matter what state they are in.

    Also, I’m not in Alabama that much – I spend most of my time traveling around the country. I happen to be here right now, and it’s as close to a home base as I have, but I don’t have a place here or anywhere else, I just stay in motels and crash with various people etc.


    Also hit up the Auburn profs. and the Von Mises people.

    Other side of the state from here, and none that I am in much contact with, any more than people in other states (or even less so).


    Right now I’m poorer than you buddy-lol so can’t help you at the moment.

    I don’t know, how would you know how poor I am? I’m unemployed and homeless, although I do have people that let me sleep on their floor.

    But I’m not saying you have to give money – there are other people reading, hopefully.


    I haven’t been active in years but did raise money to run LP tv ads in ‘92. Most people in the LP will give to a worthwhile cause if asked.

    Well, I have asked about this before and didn’t get anywhere, but I do have one state chair who said he wants to work on it now, so maybe it’ll start getting going this time.

  38. paulie cannoli Post author

    Jim,

    I’m not sure why the matter is really one which needs to be justified. Matt has said he wants to set up a c3 so that it would make it easier to ask a lot of other people for larger donations, some of whom would be more inclined to donate on the basis of that perceived advantage.

    He has set them up before.

    Since he is willing to do the work and thinks it needs to be done, I see no reason to ask him not do it. We’ll need to raise a lot more than $300, that’s just one of the initial steps.

    Which steps need to be taken first and which can wait is not entirely up to me; I know little about the paperwork wrangle. Discuss it privately with Matt, if you wish.

  39. JimDavidson

    I don’t wish. And I don’t offer any part of the filing fee. Yes, if Matt wants to waste his time this way, that’s fine with me. But, he also seems to be wasting some of your time this way, which you might want to use differently.

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