Where do you start in your endeavors to spread the libertarian message? At the beginning, of course.
Have you told your friends and family about the ideals of libertarianism? You might be afraid of doing this, thinking that they will think you've lost your mind. Not to fear -- yes, some of them will tell you that. Others will agree with you to a degree. The best way to sum it up is to say that "as long as you're not hurting anyone else, you have the right to live as you like, do what you want."
You'll be surprised at how many times this gets the point across -- I certainly was while trying to explain this to potential girlfriends.
(Proof positive that being a libertarian doesn't scare away potential mates -- I'm still looking for other reasons.)
How many letters to the editor have you written? There are three basic criteria to consider when writing them:
Is it concise? How many words do you need to get the point across?
Most newspaper editors will cut you off at around 200 words. I find it's best to keep the word count below 150.
Is it topical? How well does your letter's topic fit in with the issues of the day?
Does it have some humor? It can't hurt to have fun with politics, and humor can get your point across when being serious all the time will put your readership to sleep.
Even if your letters aren't printed, keep them on file and keep submitting them. You can set up a weblog ("blog") of them on a service such as blogspot.com.
Have you considered sponsoring a cable-access TV show, such as the ones that Bill Koehler and I have been doing since 1998? It's easier than it looks, and the stations will train you on how to use the equipment.
If you don't want to do a live show as we do, they will accept pre-recorded materials as well. You can get a camcorder and make your own documentary about the local political scene, and give it a spin favoring free markets.
Even if you don't want to make your own show, there are lots of outfits that offer materials suitable for this format. Laissez Faire Books has copies of John Stossel's ABC specials available in both DVD and VHS formats. Milton Friedman's PBS series Free to Choose is also good here, as well as the materials available from Gun Owners of America. (Bill and I are getting to the point of making our own shows available on DVD, so maybe you could run our stuff in your area. See our Myspace page for the KCUF Media Group for details.)
Maybe you would be better at the radio venue. Every so often, local radio stations will lose a host for whatever reason, leaving you an opening to apply for. If you're not available for that kind of radio, try www.live365.com, where you can host your very own internet station.
Have you considered running for elected office? For a run at state representative or state senator, it only takes about 150-300 signatures to get on the ballot. Asking for signatures can be the first stumbling block here, but once you're past that, you're on the ballot. This is especially important in races where the incumbent is unopposed, as you can make the LPNM into the Party of Opposition, with very little money spent. And lots of Democrats and Republicans run for re-election unopposed.
Some (non-partisan) things you can get involved in (along with the partisan stuff for the LPNM, I hope):
The Simon Jester Project: I featured this in the last issue, but it deserves a repeat mention here. See www.simonjester.org for details.
Jury nullification: Inform your friends and family that they have the right and duty to vote their consciences on the law of the case in question, as well as the facts. Is it a good law? Does the punishment specified fit the crime? If not, you (and they) have the right to vote to acquit. One percent of the population voting to acquit against bad laws can start getting these things off the books.
Hemp TV -- the crew and host there are the libertarian camp for the most part. Spread the word about the show, or if you want to get more involved, contact the show's crew and volunteer to help out. The drug front of the War on Americans must be exposed for what it is - the sanctioning of certain murders -- and Cindy & crew need your help to do it.
Gun rights -- most politicians (YES, even Republicans) view the right to own and carry weapons as anathema to "public order." Most of them see guns in hands other than their own (or the cops') as pointed at them, and for good reason, considering the idiocies, insanities and evils they inflict on everyone else through taxes and regulations.
Join a gun group or two, even if it is the NRA. (Gun Owners of America is far better, in my opinion, where politics is concerned.) Get a gun or three and practice your shooting. Get to that range and fire a few boxes of ammo downrange. Then take a friend shooting.
The "culture war" -- take a friend to see Serenity, or V for Vendetta, or the possible upcoming Repairman Jack movie. Hand that friend a copy of a book by L. Neil Smith, Victor Milan, Michael Flynn, Kathryn Graham, or Vernor Vinge.
All of the things I've suggested here don't cost all that much, and don't require a lot of effort. Some of them can be quite fun. I'm also open to hear about other things that the membership has thought up along these lines.
What's stopping you?
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Election time is fast approaching for many local elections, and is only a year and a half away for the presidential elections.
While there are numerous questions our candidates will be asked, there is one question that is almost always asked of Libertarian candidates.
The person asking the question states the belief that there is no chance the Libertarian candidate will be elected, and asks why they should "waste" their votes on candidates they do not believe have any chance of being elected, when they can make their vote count by voting for one of the two major party candidates. Usually it is also stated that they are planning to cast their vote based on the "lesser of two evils" concept. Usually, the Libertarian answers that if you vote for the lesser of two evils, you are still left with evil. Both the voter's view and the Libertarian's reply ignore a very important element of what happens in elections - something that I refer to as the "Mandate From the People Syndrome."
Even though voters cast their ballots based on which candidates they believe will be less harmful, the candidates who are elected do not know, and do not care, how many voters voted for them, and how many actually voted against their opponents. All they see is the percentage of the vote they received and say, "I have a MANDATE from the people."
In effect, the voice of the person voting for the "lesser of two evils" is not heard. The elected candidate does not know that you are unhappy with his or her political positions. In actuality, the vote for the "lesser of two evils" is the TRUE wasted vote.
Instead of voting for the "lesser of two evils" the voter should vote for the candidate who has the principles and political views in which the voter believes. By doing so, even though that candidate may not be elected, the voice of the voter is heard, because the candidates who are elected see that they do not have the "mandate from the people"
that they would otherwise have thought they had. They will see that part of their constituency is dissatisfied with their politics, and that they must change if they want to have any hope of gaining those votes in the future.
Our 40th US President, Ronald Reagan (I know many Libertarians are not happy with his presidency, but the quote applies), is credited with having said, "I do not care who gets the credit for doing something, so long as it gets done." Well, I do not care what political party name the elected officials wears (for example, Ron Paul of Texas is elected as a Republican, but his votes in Congress are based on Libertarian principles), so long as they enact needed laws that are in compliance with the US Constitution and our rights therein delineated, and more importantly, get rid of laws that violate the US Constitution and are an affront to us and our rights and diminish liberty.
In reality, though, we see over and over that we cannot depend on the Republican or Democrat party elected officials to do what is right and needs to be done, as we see that they both perpetuate Big government and continually pass laws that violate the US Constitution and our rights, and hinder the cause of liberty. If we are to advance the cause of liberty, we will have to do it ourselves, by getting Libertarians elected to office.
Therefore, we find that it is incumbent upon all of us to expose fallacy of the common wasted-vote syndrome beliefs by showing our family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and anyone else with whom we come into contact that their vote for the Libertarian candidate is the only vote that really counts. Only by voting for the Libertarian candidate will their voice truly be heard by whoever is elected.