I was listening to an episode of the Part of the Problem podcast this morning, while I was making myself breakfast, and I happened to put on the episode where Dave is doing the post-Soho Forum Debate panel. They were talking about the Libertarian Party (LP), outreach and marketing, and why Libertarians have been in such a slump since the Ron Paul days.
The statement that hit home the hardest was when Maj Toure (Black Guns Matter, Philly City Council Candidate) brought up the point that a lot of Libertarians focus on the intellectual side of things, that they focus on the Ron Paul Movement and on Rothbard/Mises/Hoppe, but very few people outside of Libertarianism are into these things or even know what they're all about.
It's a really simple point, but it's one that I think rings very true in reflecting on our marketing strategy and, honestly, how that approach tends to ice out non-Libertarians. Everybody gets that murder, rape, theft, destruction/vandalism of property, and threats to do any of those things are absolutely unacceptable.
That's something intuitively known and practiced by everyone, with the exception of psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists. Our job should be to take that intuition and turn it into a consciously practiced principle, not try to get everyone to be able to regurgitate 'Man, Economy, and State' blindfolded.
The Ron Paul Revolution was a great moment for Libertarians and, for most, that's how they came to be Libertarians to begin with. However, that moment is dead and gone, and while Dr. Paul is still doing great work outside of the political sphere, we need to focus on creating an even bigger, more successful movement that's not going to just be "a moment". We need to find ways to connect with people, in a way that really hits home with them, and work to resolve the issues they find to be important.
Maj mentioned, in the panel, that he connects with some people simply because he used to be, "that guy who used to sell them weed." It may seem a little bit ridiculous, even absurd to some, but just being able to make that connection and using it to get people to open up is more powerful than any 3-word slogan, more impressive than any monologue at a debate, and more energizing than any call to action a candidate makes on the campaign trail.
More people are going to remember the guy who spent 30 minutes talking about how local reps and councilmen are passing b.s. ordinances, pushing cops to enforce laws that do nothing but harm the community, and are making daily life in their state more unbearable. People NEED that personal connection, an emotional tether to tie to a concept, which is something that's been severely lacking in Libertarian marketing.
Democrats focus heavily on the topic du jour, Republicans focus on nostalgia, and Libertarians seem to be focused on stat-bombing and reciting philosophical/political literature. Despite figures like Dave Smith, Tom Woods, and Eric July working hard to dispel this image, those efforts get nullified by people like Nick Sarwark and Bill Weld, who do nothing but reinforce that image in people's minds.
This is where we all come in, those of us who aren't prominent figures like Dave Smith or Tom Woods, who have more of an opportunity to reach people on a more personal level and change the way people view Libertarianism. It doesn't matter how many podcasts are put out, how many debates are done, or how many candidates the LP puts out for local, state, and federal election.
We have the script flipped in what we're looking at as a barometer for how we're doing, as a movement and a cultural/political force. The Democratic party has dozens of candidates running for the nomination, the Evangelical Left dominates the media and televised culture, and yet a majority of the country COULD NOT AGREE LESS with their views and the direction they want to take the country in.
With that being the case, now is our opportunity to have these conversations, even if it only goes as far as planting seeds into people's minds that there is a viable option outside of the Democrat/Republican political paradigm. What gets people to change their outlook on a concept, opinion, or action is consistent exposure over an extended period of time. Regardless of how the presidential race turns out, there is ample opportunity to affect local and state elections now and in the future.
Having conversations and debates with our neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, or even with the mailman takes our movement one step closer towards being more well-known and accepted by the country. Even if it's one conversation a week, even if it's over something as simple as talking about how gas prices are getting ridiculously high, that's one conversation closer to getting people to reconsider what their views should be.
One of the things I've learned is that star power, alone, isn't going to cut it in getting our message across. I believe that Libertarianism is in dire need of a revival, desperate to be moved away from simple pandering to today's "headline issues", and that may require some fresh faces with fiery passions to match. However, having a new face can only do so much, particularly in changing people's minds in a long-lasting manner.
On top of having conversations with people, we need to introduce people to content that will best convey what Libertarianism can do to improve these people's lives. Not hour-long diatribes about subjects that would make the average person go cross-eyed, but content that will inspire them to better themselves and adopt Libertarian principles.
I'm talking about artwork, music, movies and shows, plays, videogames, and videos on streaming sites that will show them that we have a strong, prominent culture. If we don't have those things to show them, or if we don't have very much, we need to get moving and start producing that content. There is no reason, in an age where talent agencies, record labels, distribution companies, and AAA game development companies are going the way of the dinosaur, that we can't collaborate with each other and put out content that will dominate modern culture.
It's become sickeningly commonplace to be resigned to this idea that the Evangelical Left has a stranglehold over every aspect of media and culture. That the Cathedral will shut down every dissenting voice, "cancel" every innovative and creative individual, and will strip everyone that tries to make a difference of their reputation and their income. To me, I think it's a sign that we're starting to hit them where they hurt, that we should be fighting harder to get our work out there, in any and every way we can, and we should keep pushing for more support.
Our goal, in being Libertarians, is NOT to become accepted by the State or to be assimilated into the culture build by the Cathedral. Our goal is to change modern society, in how we govern ourselves and in how we shape our culture, to benefit that society and those who live in it, so that they can live freely. That change, ultimately, has to start from the individual and grow from there. It's up to you and I to engage with others, to produce content that embodies our values while encouraging others to become sympathetic, and to support others that wish to do the same.