It's Saturday of a long weekend (for some), so don't forget to get out there and celebrate Washington and Lincoln if you can...
There's been an awful lot of rhetoric kicked around the campaign recently about "change"...every candidate is trying to cast themselves as the one to make things different in Washington. But one candidate is doing thing differently. You've no doubt heard about Mr. Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope"?
Hope can be a powerful tool...and depending on who is wielding it, it can lead to great futures or total ruin. But Mr. Obama isn't the only one looking at this as a way to inspire the masses. Some in the libertarian movement see hope as a way to energize the movement.
I am currently reading a book entitled The True Believers written by Eric Hoffer in 1951. It is a fascinating study on the rise of what he calls “mass movements” over the last 5,000 years and some of the characteristics common to all mass movements. Whether a mass movement is religious, political, or national they use similar techniques to grow their movements and win converts.
On page 19, Hoffer makes an interesting comment: “If the Communists win in Europe…it will not be because they know how to stir up discontent…,but because they know how to preach hope.”
How often do we in the Liberty Movement preach hope? What do we offer potential converts? Think about the Muslim suicide bomber or the Japanese Kamikaze. They were both offered hope. You and I can agree that is not a reasonable hope, but hope does not have to be rational.
We know that Liberty like Communism was an outgrowth of the Enlightenment. We know that Democratic Socialism (communism’s close cousin) is the dominate political theory in the world today. What does it offer? Hope with a vote. The politicians can say, “vote for me and I will give you ‘free’ healthcare, ‘free’ education, ‘free’ whatever. The voters will buy it. Does the Green Party offer hope? Sure.
Hoffer goes on to say that one of the main reasons people join mass movements is to relieve themselves of personal responsibility.
On the back page of the LP’s new 24-page flyer, it lists our 3 pillar arguments as: “limited government, individual freedom, and personal responsibility.” How do we, as a movement, preach hope to a population that is desperately seeking to avoid personal responsibility?
I have also said for the last couple of years that we should sell the benefits and the features of Liberty. This is sales 101 to any of you who are sales people. For those of you who are not, it is simple. People buy benefits not features. For example, no one goes to a store to buy a washing machine with a permanent press cycle (feature); they want to buy clean clothes (benefit).
Look at our 3 “pillar” arguments/sound bites:
1. Limited government (feature)
2. Individual freedom (benefit of limited government)
3. Personal responsibility (feature)
So, from a potential convert’s point of view, our key Libertarian sound bite offers one benefit and feature, and a feature that they are seeking to avoid when they join mass movements.
As I see it, we have a 6-fold challenge to turn this thing we call the Liberty Movement into a Mass Movement:
A ) Preach hope
B ) Preach the benefits and the features
C ) Preach the message in 30 seconds
D ) Relieve converts of personal responsibility
E ) Be honest and non-hypocritical
F) Have a Libertarian solution
Is it possible to succeed given these parameters? How would we rate ourselves?
Along with preaching that hope, the party is going to have to rebuild itself after the Ron Paul affair. Many of you for the first time this year heard about and learned about an allegedly Libertarian candidate in Congressman Paul. Unfortunately, he wasn't the best candidate out there. More often than not, he caucused with the Republicans, and at the moment of truth, he entered the race with an "R" after his name. Ron represented us well in the foreign policy arena, but after that, he rather had nothing and wound up scaring quite a few people. But it's got some people in the party wondering...What's Next?
...My internet experiences have shown me that when a person speaks of libertarians as belonging to one of two factions he usually wants to purge the faction opposite his own for their alleged lack of inclusiveness, or blame them for any failures liberty has had. It is fine to insist that the word "libertarian" have a definition and point out that people who regularly act contrary to that definition are not libertarians. It is absurd to think that liberty will be doomed if we do not all align ourselves with one way of doing things.
It's also pretty silly to think that being pro-Paul or not depends on one's position in a regional or cultural pissing contest. In fact, it's almost as silly as thinking that pandering to racism could move America in a libertarian direction.
There is no need for total unity in the libertarian movement. I think it would actually be harmful to liberty if there was a more homogeneous movement since liberty rests on individualism. I'm not trying to suggest that all of our efforts (whose efforts?) should go into a certain strategy or mini-cause and that anyone who wants to do something else is holding back progress. It is simply useful to examine ways to advance liberty and their potential for success in the current situation.
Even without polling data, I think it is safe to say that Ron Paul has brought a large amount of attention to the libertarian movement. The frequent labeling of Paul as a libertarian when "libertarian-leaning conservative" is more accurate may confuse things. Any negative attention he has brought will of course need to be countered. However, the introduction to libertarianism and the opposition to the warfare state that Paul represented to many may turn out to be helpful if played right.
It is also important to think about how to transfer the energy of the Paul campaign into the libertarian movement. First we must ask, "What libertarian movement?" True, there is no united front or revolutionary vanguard, but do we need one? A plurality of organizations and individual efforts seems better suited to the task of spreading liberty. So, if we assume that we should tap pro-Paul energy, leaders of libertarian organizations as well as libertarians in the Paul campaign should figure out how to steer people toward radical libertarianism. There remains the question of whether this is something that should be done or if too many new Paul supporters coming into the movement would skew it in a statist direction. My view is that since few people begin life with an understanding of libertarianism, we can take the risk and hope that the noobs will quickly see the state for the violent scam it is (if they don't already) and consistently apply the zero-aggression principle to politics. I'm sure there are readers much more familiar with the constituency of the Paul campaign than I am who could share some valuable insights on this point.
There is also the question of who Ron Paul would endorse if he drops out of the race. Though I think Paul carries a lot of baggage with him, Libertarian candidates who have already spoken favorably of Paul may want an endorsement in return.
Non-electoral avenues could also probably use a boost from former Paul volunteers. Empowering juries against the state is an important job to do. And if running a candidate hasn't worked, why not try Agorism? Wouldn't it be neat if all those homemade Ron Paul signs along the roadways contained radical libertarian slogans? I think so. If the bulk of Ron Paul supporters are not ready for such ventures, then who will make them ready? If the Paul campaign was supposed to save us from imperial excess, wouldn't it be a good idea to try other ways of doing that when the Paul campaign ends? Let's not forget about all the pro-liberty organizations and publications that could use monetary support...
Lastly this morning, there's a new Liberator
out, so we'll return to our long-running feature, Why aren't YOU a libertarian?..featuring the wit and wisdom of Dr. Mary Ruwart...
QUESTION: Your pro-immigration thinking is ancient. These aren't the cowboy days, when immigrants actually had to make a living. Today, immigrants grab a hammock and start baby-making, to soak up free healthcare, WIC, food stamps, etc. -- i.e., TAKING from taxpayers!
MY SHORT ANSWER: If your concern about immigrants is their use of tax-supported welfare and health care, maybe these shouldn't be made available to them.
Libertarians believe that tax-supported giveaways harm many of the people they are intended to help -- whether they are citizens or immigrants. Welfare, for example, often encourages people to make life-destroying choices. As a low-income landlady, my applicants included teenage girls who viewed getting pregnant and on welfare as a way to establish their own households. By the time they had three children, and realized that they would always be poor on the dole, entry-level jobs didn't even cover child care. A job that would have been a great stepping stone for a single person simply wasn't enough for a family. Almost all of these women quit their jobs after a few months and went back on welfare.
If our own citizens "milk" the system, to our detriment and their own, why should we be surprised if immigrants do so? The solution isn't to do away with immigration, but to do away with these programs that reward poor choices.
(LEARN MORE about immigration and the harmful effects of welfare:
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QUESTION: If there are to be public schools, should not the people who use them most pay more?
MY SHORT ANSWER: Like you, libertarians believe that those who use a service should pay for it directly, rather than tax their neighbors to do so. Many people, however, fear that education would be unaffordable without universal tax support.
But today, education is many times more expensive than it needs to be, because regulations force all schools, even private ones, to use obsolete learning systems. Existing technology (e.g., computers) could allow every child to be educated at a fraction of today's cost.
Indeed, in a free market, we would likely have advertiser-sponsored versions of "Sesame Street" for every age group. Rapid and entertaining learning could essentially be free!
Ad-free education, like ad-free cable television, could also be available for a small monthly charge. Those who preferred classrooms would have that option too, of course.
That's just one example, of course. Opening education to competition would bring forth endless innovations, which would quickly be tested and evaluated. The good ideas would spread rapidly; unsuccessful methods would quickly be abandoned. We would see rapid progress in education and learning.
Even today's private schools spend only half as much to educate children than government schools do. A free market in education could slash education costs while dramatically improving quality. You can readily see just how inexpensive and universally available quality education could be!
I'll be back on much later today...heading to my ancestral home in Saugus to visit mama TriSec this afternoon.