Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Libertarian Party, A Failing Business

Today's Libertarian party can be summed up by Veruca Salt and her famous line from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory : "I Want It Now!" Although the idealism and principles of the Libertarian Party is admirable, like a teenager they never quite seem to understand that the art of compromise is required when dealing with other people.

For 30 years the party has struggled, never altering its no compromise message, never wavering from its stance of "I'd abolish program X on day one!" To use a quote we are all familiar with "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." Yet that is exactly what the Libertarian party keeps doing. Every election they send the same message, expecting that one day the people will suddenly wake up. The ONLY time that message will work is the day the system is so well and truly broken that voting will no longer be an option!

The one thing that has always struck me as odd is the contradiction between the Lib philosophy and the LP in practice. The principles of the free market are constantly brought up by the LP as the ultimate good. Yet in the political arena the LP has not learned that you MUST sell your product to the customer. If your product is not selling, then either:
A) your product needs revamping
B) your advertising message is off

Just like any MONOPOLY, the "purist" Libertarian camp has blocked the free market reform of ideas that need to take hold if the Libertarian Party is to become successful. Again we need to view the party as a business in the market of politics. If the business performs poorly, you either shut it down, or look for a new board of directors.

So how do we improve it? First I think we need to emphasize the general principles our party stand for. This means Economic Freedom, and Personal Liberty. Second we need to set our plank based upon the direction we would take the government, NOT the ultimate goal we wish to achieve. Third, we need to press those portions of our platform which the local voters will respond to.

For example, in a conservative district we need to OUT-conservative the standing republican. That means taking a tough stance on issues we support like the 2nd amendment, a balanced budget, illegal immigration. In a liberal district we emphasize our social positions. Drug war reform, gay marriage, anti-patriot act etc.

We need to be able to strip the incumbents of the very issues they run on. We hammer the republicans for passing big government. We hammer the dems for passing the patriot act or the war. But we give our local candidate the freedom to run on part of our platform without running on the whole thing.

Finally just like any business, we need to do customer research. Each local district needs to find what issues made the incumbent a winner, and see which of those promises he broke while in office. If we run the LP like a business, we will win elections. If not we need to declare bankruptcy and close up shop.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. The Libertarian Party needs to reinvent itsslf, and from a marketing standpoint start focusing on "benefits not features." As you say, forget the purist platform and have candidates tell people how they will reform the government if elected. In this respect, the Contract With America worked well for the GOP, there is no reason for the LP not to use that as a benchmark.

The LP image is another problem, and no, we can not entirely blame the media for it, some fault lies with LP members. Read this story, for example. Now, you and I know the reason why hard-core Libertarians refuse to pay taxes, they do it as an act of civli disobedience. But, this gives the party a bad reputation. Just like Americans want mainstream Muslims to denounce terrorism, I think mainstream Libertarians should condemn these individuals for breaking the law. Although I support civil disobedience, I think those who practice it should live with the consequences.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clarify. I am not against civil disobedience, but I don't think people who run for office should practice it. Even Michael Badnarik decided to pay his taxes when he won the LP nomination.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous David Honish said...

Well said! Why just this week I resigned from my post in my county Libertarian party. The webmaster was too apathetic to post on our county party website calendar section an item on an antiwar demonstration on the 2nd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. God forbid that they should consider representing the Libertarians in public where they might get some press, network with like minded people, and perhaps even recruit some new members to the fold? Apparently their idea of political activism consists soley of half a dozen guys meeting monthly where a couple of them delight in nitpicking over every minute detail of Roberts Rules of Order? The only items still remaining on the county party's website are notices for the start of early voting and ballot access petitions FOR LAST YEAR'S ELECTION! Meanwhile, back at the antiwar demonstration, I made the front page of the sunday paper, ABOVE THE FOLD, in a city of 102,000 representing Veterans For Peace, not the Libertarian Party. I suggested to my former peers on the executive committee of the county party that they consider that politics being the art of compromise, they might want to think about the possibility of having a guiding philosophy instead of a rigid dogma? If one intends to make constructive change in the political system, then one must win elections to do so. Anything not directed towards winning elections is just hot air lost in the wind.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous SuezanneC Baskerville said...

I do not agree. I was not attracted to libertarianism by compromised positions, incomplete versions of platforms tailored to my local political situation, or anything else of that sort.

What made me a libertarian was the pure and proud defense of individualist anarchism espoused by Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, Jarret Wollstein, and others of that sort, after being led in that general direction by reading Ayn Rand's works.

Winning elections is not what counts, it's converting people into consistent defenders of individual liberty and respect for the rights of others that matters.

Condemning people for breaking laws isn't just bad libertarian politics, it's just plain wrong. Immoral laws are meant to be disobeyed.

10:28 PM  
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7:40 AM  

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