Michael Cloud: How You Can Become a Slightly Famous, In-Demand Libertarian

Published in the Liberator Online, May 8th, 2013 edition. The Liberator Online is the official publication of The Advocates for Self-Government, which has rights over the famed World’s Smallest Political Quiz. Michael Cloud currently serves on the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) as an at-large representative. His 2002 run for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts against Democrat John Kerry, with no Republican in the race, was the highest result percentage wise for a Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate ever. Cloud earned 18.43% of the vote. 

Specialize.

Become THE Expert in one niche of libertarianism.

Thousands and thousands of libertarians know a lot about libertarianism. They’ve read dozens of libertarian books, white papers, and briefings. They’ve joined libertarian study groups and participated in libertarian academic conferences. They subscribe to libertarian email newsletters and read libertarian blogs.

The supply of generalist libertarians is large. The demand modest.

If you or I wanted to be THE go-to, in-demand generalist libertarian spokesperson, we would need to be radically better than libertarian academics at Harvard, Yale, or George Mason. Dramatically better than the think tank libertarians at CATO, Reason, the Independent Institute, or Heartland. We would need to write and publish and promote well-researched books on libertarianism. AND we would need to regularly write and speak and promote our expertise as much as those institutions promote their credentialed libertarians.

This competition is massive, well-funded, knowledgeable, and skilled. Your chance of coming out on top? Very slim.

But there are thousands and thousands of small, uncultivated, but very important libertarian knowledge niches. Not the huge field. One small section of it.

Freedom is a huge field. What if you specialized in freedom of assembly, or free speech, or freedom of the press? Each is narrower than freedom. But each of those specialties is still huge. What if you specialized in a part of, say, freedom of the press? What if you specialized in freedom of the press in colonial America? Or from 1800 to the end of the Civil War? Or what if you specialize in freedom of the press as an individual right — rather than a privilege of recognized news reporters and news media?

What if you were to study, research, and blog about freedom of the press as an individual right? What if you devoted one hour each day for eighteen months? Could you become THE libertarian expert on the subject? What if you kept studying, researching, writing, and speaking on the subject for eighteen months more? In three years, could you become the undisputed libertarian authority on the subject?

Yes.

And you would be sought out, quoted, and cited by writers and news reporters who want expert information and opinion on your libertarian niche or specialty.

Consider two examples.

Jack Dean specializes in news, information, and insights on California government employee pensions. On how they compare to retirement pay in the private sector. He collects and publishes links to news reports, opinion columns, and other studies each weekday at his web site Pension Tsunami. He started doing this in 2005 — and is the go-to, in-demand expert on California government employee pensions.

Richard Winger is THE authority on all matters concerning ballot access.

Here’s what Wikipedia writes about Richard Winger: “Ballot Access News is a U.S.-based monthly online and print newsletter edited and published by Richard Winger of California, an expert on ballot access law in the United States. Published since 1985, the newsletter advocates ‘fair and equitable ballot access laws.’

“Ballot Access News reports on state and federal court decisions, compares American ballot access laws to those of other democratic nations, and documents the number of votes independent and minor party candidates receive. The newsletter also records the activities of the Coalition on Free and Open Elections, an interest group of minor party members and others working together on ballot access law reform issues. Further, the newsletter occasionally notes developments on the usage of instant-runoff voting in the United States.”

Jack Dean and Richard Winger are specialists. They get called, quoted, and cited. Their knowledge, their expertise regularly helps the cause of liberty.

You can do this, too. In your libertarian niche. In your specialty.

Do this for 18 to 36 months and you may well become a slightly famous, in-demand libertarian.

6 thoughts on “Michael Cloud: How You Can Become a Slightly Famous, In-Demand Libertarian

  1. Wes Wagner

    I will endorse this strategy. It is important in life to have a very broad and liberal education, and every libertarian should be at a minimum a respectable generalist, but it is also critical that they pick one thing to be a specialist on.

    A fine example I can point out locally here in Portland, is Jim Karlock, who is a state treasure when it comes to mass transit, what works and what doesn’t (and it is mostly doesn’t) and how the various vendors and developers lie to and manipulate city planners into making extremely poor economic decisions.

    He is motivated, engaged, and has been doing this for so long everyone locally knows who he is.

    Heinlein wrote:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

    this is where I part ways with Heinlein … I tihnk you should do all that, and pickup a specialty too.

  2. paulie

    Chris, BTW, you should subscribe to the Advocates newsletter, every issue has columns by Cloud and Ruwart, and some also have other LP related items as well. I think it’s online as well, but I’m not sure about that…I just get it in my email.

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