Via email from George Phillies, candidate for LNC chair:
How do we find an answer? Step one is to turn over a new page, a blank page that we will fill in. Then ask what the LNC should be doing. That’s ‘what’, not the ‘how should we do it?’ There are activities every party group should do — many of the most critical activities are here. There are also activities specifically appropriate for the LNC. We’ll see what those activities are.
Step One: Start from Zero
By now you understand the crisis we face as an organization. Consider our revenues, our membership levels, the number of contributors, or any other metric. No matter which metric you choose, we are failing.
Our party can still be saved, but only if we act now.
The members of the LNC’s current dominant coalition – the people who created this crisis, and did absolutely nothing to solve it – are utterly bereft of any solutions.
Fortunately, there are answers. Sensible answers.
Where did we get the answers? What the New Path did was develop a zero based budget and zero-base strategy. What does that mean? It means that we tore off a blank sheet of paper and assumed we were starting from zero.
‘Start from zero’ does not mean ‘stop at zero’. It means there are no sacred cows, that every expenditure has to be defended.
We made a list. First we identified the Mission Critical Activities we absolutely must do. Skip a Mission Critical Activity and our party rapidly stops working. Then we identified Important Activities that really need to happen. Finally we listed Worthwhile Activities that appear desirable if resources are available. (Set aside for the moment “who” does those things, or “where” they would be done. Focus on the “what” first. The “how” comes later.)
There are many different ways you can achieve an objective. For too long, the dominant coalition on the LNC has shown a stunning lack of creativity and imagination as to how the LNC should spend its money. The New Path team is going to change that. Later in this book you’ll see our proposals.
Trying to play the game the way the two major parties play it is a trap for us. We don’t have the resources today to compete one-to-one with them in dollars. Some day we will, but not today.
We have to be smart. We always need to ask: What is the biggest bang for the buck way to do this activity? But even more important: Do we need to do this, have this, At All?
We need to be smarter. We need to be creative. We need to think like entrepreneurs building up a company on a shoe string.
Here’s how this idea applies to the office space. In 2009 the party spent just over $141,000 on the suite of offices at the Watergate complex in Washington. Not to buy the space. Not to build equity. In rent!
Here’s the analogy we would draw. If your income was $200,000 per year, you might live in a certain kind of a house. But if your income was, say, $30,000 per year, you would live in a different kind of house altogether.
The same principle applies to us. If our income was $5 million or $10 million per year, you could look at $141,000 in rent and say, well that’s a lot, yes, but we’ve got a lot of money, so it’s not the end of the world. (We would still look very hard at the cost. Every dollar misspent is an opportunity gone forever.)
Ten million dollars per year is not where the Party is today!
Let’s take an example of zero-base thinking. There are people who run million dollar businesses (and that is what we are) out of spare rooms in their home. When you truly start from zero, you start by saying No Office. Then, as you go through the things that you absolutely need to do, the things you want to do, and finally the ways you can best do them, you discover whether you need a main office. That’s what we did. To spoil the suspense, we do need to have an office, just not the one we have.
But we did our analysis on a first things first basis. And as we moved, we kept singing the Canary Song: Cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap.
Now you’ve heard how we worked.
So what does the LNC need to be doing?
Our ultimate objective is political victory. To do that, we must elect and re-elect huge numbers of libertarians.
On the way to victory, we will need to:
* Build a Party that grows because people want to join it.
* Develop volunteers, activists, donors and above all candidates.
* Build a large voter base.
* Create a full set of political organizations.
How do we do that? Some activities should be performed by every Libertarian Party group, from block committee to National Committee. Other activities are sensibly performed by the LNC.