With 2020 just around the corner, Libertarians have a lot on their plate they need to think about. No, I’m not talking about the various elections next year. I’m referring more to the fact that we need to figure out what we’re going to do about the infighting and widespread misconceptions surrounding the Libertarian Party (LP) and its ideas.
We’re the party of freedom, not an “alternative”
Most often, I’ll see a lot of candidates using the “End the Duopoly” tagline. Stop. It’s too damn cliché. Instead, why not communicate the LP’s message? What’s wrong with “Get the government out of your wallet and your private life?” I suppose it’s not three words. But if we’re nothing more than a mere “alternative” in a system that is viewed as being a “duopoly,” we’ve seriously missed the point.
An alternative isn’t chosen. People choose A or B, not C. Here’s a better way to go about it: Become choice A or B. No, I’m not telling you to run off and be a Democrat or Republican — I’m telling you to take one over and make them irrelevant. If a Democratic incumbent failed on the war on drugs and a Republican incumbent passed on an opportunity to shrink the size of government, capitalize on it! Make Democrats and Republicans angry about the failures in their incumbents and promise to fulfill their old promises. Guaranteed, if you’re loud enough, they’ll squirm when the people start biting.
Stop saying “Taxation is Theft,” but also knock the anarchist crap off
I’m far from the first to say that we should stop seriously saying taxation is theft (jokes are usually obvious and totally acceptable). But I’ve noticed an annoying anarchist faction in the party that doesn’t seem to understand that Libertarian ideas are minarchist (meaning minimal government), not anarchist.
A good example of this is protecting the people against fraud or enforcing contracts. While we all believe that these are part of the few roles of government, you can’t be for complete anarchy or voluntarism and believe that the government should have such protections. Not because you’ll never get elected, but also because these parts of our legal system require a judge (part of government). Should we have as few judges as possible? Sure! But complete anarchy doesn’t exist for a reason.
Another great example is school choice with a voucher system. It’s true that taxation is theft in the sense that it’s not voluntary. But absolutely zero taxation, including zero sales taxes, doesn’t allow for school vouchers. The idea of school choice using vouchers is that you use public funds allocated for education (usually the amount spent per student) and let the money follow the student to the schools parents choose. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t be any voluntary donations to help people, but this specific system we all vouch for (no pun intended) requires a little taxation. We should keep taxes to a minimum, but that’s minarchy, not anarchy.
Enough with the purity tests!
Stop saying someone else isn’t a real Libertarian just because they don’t espouse the same level of voluntarism you do. Not everyone is a “statist” in the way you portray them to be. It’s great to see that you’re principled, but don’t be a jerk about it and then whine when nobody sticks around.
No more paper candidates
If there’s anything good to be said about Democrats and Republicans, it’s that they often have more people running serious campaigns than not. I’m not entirely sure if that’s true for the LP. I don’t want the party to ban them, but if you decide to run for office, you should put in as much effort as time will allow you.
Perhaps my biggest frustration with people telling me “I’d rather have people’s names on ballots so people know we exist than not” is that they’re not thinking about the biggest problem: What if they’re elected? Don’t get me wrong! I would be over the flipping moon if they were elected! But what if they win the election just to say, “Meh. I didn’t really want it, so I’m not accepting this.”
Not only that, what if they’re elected but didn’t realize they can’t find a place to stay nor can they afford a second home near the Capitol (if they’re running for a legislative seat). It is far worse for our candidates to win and look either unenthusiastic or completely unprepared than to not have a name with an L next to it on the ballot. On the flip side, what if the paper candidate is a perennial candidate and wins the primary against a more serious candidate? That does us more harm than good in the long run.
Volunteer, donate, or do both
If we want to get anywhere, we’re going to need to seriously compete with the other two. That takes manpower and it takes money. If you don’t have time to volunteer, donate. Even if it’s just $5 to your state affiliate. If you don’t have money, make time to volunteer. Even if it’s just 30 minutes per week for a Libertarian candidate you support.
Democrats and Republicans kill us in elections for two reasons: They have money and they have volunteers. Volunteers help spread the word through canvassing, making phone calls, and even stuffing envelopes for mailers. The money helps with ads (of course), mailers, voter rolls (data), brochures, and even yard signs. I’m not saying Libertarians need hours of ad space, but without literature, you’re doomed.
Some will undoubtedly ask what I’ll be doing to help (aside from sitting in my ivory tower). I’ll tell you exactly what I’ll be doing: I’m starting a political consulting business focused on helping Libertarians get elected through content, strategy, and grassroots activities. If you’re planning on running for office as a Libertarian and want to run a serious campaign, let’s talk.