Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
Commentary From Your Libertarian Opinionizer
Libertarian inreach articles are written by libertarians for other libertarians; libertarian outreach articles are written by libertarians for non-libertarians. This is a libertarian inreach article about libertarian outreach.
A young enthusiastic Libertarian Party member writing for a local county LP publication recently urged all libertarians to stop being couch potatoes and get active in their support.
Good for her!
But while acknowledging that their hearts were in the right place, she complained that “their good intentions are overrun by one thing: Laziness. You all know the ones I’m talking about. They sit online, complaining about everything, while never actually getting out into the community and influencing people to convert to libertarianism.”
Book Break: Your Libertarian Opinionizer’s Pick
Libertarian Party Activists
She then offers a few ideas of how Libertarian activists can influence their local communities:
- Join Facebook groups for the purpose of tracking down local activist gatherings where you can show up and “try and influence the conversation.”
- Join city boards and commissions and influence the way they spend tax money in your community.
- Fight for what matters to you at city council meetings.
- Outside of council meetings lobby council members on “hot topic” opinions so they’ll come to know and respect your opinions.
- Come up with free market solutions to problems, get other LP members to agree and present them to your city.
- Block-walk your precinct and let everyone know about your libertarian ideas.
What the young lady overlooks in her enthusiasm is that (1) many libertarians are not Libertarian Party members who have no interest in doing any of those things but still want to promote the libertarian philosophy in general and (2) being an LP activist or a lazy LP couch potato are not the only two choices.
Libertarian political activism versus philosophical “small L” libertarian educational activism has been debated since the earliest days of the modern American Libertarian movement. Which strategy should be pursued? Author Brian Doherty answered this way back in a 2007 edition of the Cato Institute’s Cato Unbound “Journal of Debate:”
“The very libertarian answer is: libertarian energies ought to go to wherever any given libertarian wants them to. The division of labor, operating through free choice, is as valid here as in any other aspect of the economy.”
In short, many libertarians are neither political activists nor lazy couch potatoes. They are…
There are many ways of being a libertarian or Libertarian Party activist without hoisting your body up off of your furniture and “getting out into the community.”
The first thing that needs to be understood is that everyone should just get over the idea that you can ever convert someone else to your beliefs. Ultimately, all individuals either convert themselves or they don’t. It’s out of your personal control. What you actually must do to be an activist is to simply express your own beliefs, put them out there where others can see, hear, read them, and move on.
You may offer persuasive reasons and convert hundreds of philosophical-political-social-cultural heathens to libertarianism or convert zero. You’ll likely never know.
Still, as the authors point out in How to be a Super Communicator for Liberty, “The next person you win to liberty may just be the last voice needed to bring liberty and peace to the world.”
So go ahead, support the libertarian movement and/or the Libertarian Party as you see fit while never stirring from your armchair.
Below are six ideas that do require at least sitting up on your couch, or getting up off the couch and into your armchair. Then you can pull your armchair up to your computer, or just recline it back with your laptop slapped on top of your lap, your tablet trapped in your hands or your smart phone smartly elevated to eyelevel and get to work on the greatest communication system ever invented in human history so far: the internet.
Texting, typing, Skyping, speaking or chatting you can now be a libertarian activist. No need to leave home. No need to ever interact, debate, argue or even see or have any actual physical interaction with anyone in or outside of your community; you’ll be connecting with your online community!
But keep this in mind: According to the Super Communicator for Liberty book, the “Golden Rule of Libertarian Communication” is actually several rules all clumped together: Grit your teeth and be respectful and civil to others, listen to their views no matter how ignoramusly you just automatically know they are, find areas of argument…er, agreement…don’t get PO-ed or lecture them or interrupt them no matter how absolutely right you just know you are.
Nobody said Golden Rules are easy, especially on discussion forums (also known as disgustin’ forums).
Here are six ways to be an Armchair Activist, for the LP, for the movement, or for both:
1. Be a Facebook Fanatic. Search out all kinds of political and ideological discussion pages—Libertarian, Republican, Democratic, Socialist, anarchist, voluntaryist, liberal, conservative, moderate, nationalist, religious, Evangelical Vegan Guild Syndicalist Existentialists—you name it.
Then jump into a discussion thread. Offer your own views from a libertarian/LP viewpoint. But don’t get all trollish about it; let the others do the trolling—it’ll devalue their positions while elevating yours.
Or start your own discussion thread. In the digital world there are discussion groups, message boards, online forums and social networks galore. Just calmly make your libertarian case and move on. Who knows, maybe you’ve unknowingly inspired someone who decades later becomes an Intergalactic Seasteading Anarcho-Voluntary Libertarian-Primitivist Freethought Telepath.
And you can do it all from the comfort of your sturdy wood framed three-cushion couch.
2. Still want to participate in party politics? Volunteer to run a candidate website. Make a splash screen with a formal smiling face photo of the office-seeker and with the office being sought after headlined in colorful big-font block letters. Add another pic of the politician with spouse and offspring and pooch posed by the fireplace. Scatter the homepage with quotes and promises. Add links to a FB page, website, the local and national parties. Don’t forget information and volunteer and donation buttons. Especially the donation button!
You can also write position papers, send out news releases, create handouts for his or her door-to-doors and greet-and-meets. Create lots of Search Engine Optimization stuff whatever that is.
And you can do it all from the comfort of your 1970s dark green naugahyde-covered La-Z-Boy.
3. Don’t crave the campaign trail? Become a prestigious publishing kingpin. Create a monthly online newsletter for your party people. Write articles and editorials and commentaries and opinion pieces. Invite members to submit their own reviews and reports, theses and analyses, treatises and tracts. Remit letters to the editor (you).
An excellent example would be the LPDC Newsletter created and published by Curry Taylor and posted on the LP of Dallas County website.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: Taylor reprints stuff from the Libertarian Opinionizer, so this is an egregious attempt at buttering-upism.)
But because most of the readers are party members that isn’t really converting, it’s communicating.
Converting means creating your own libertarian website, blog, e-zine, Facebook function, pixel page, cyber site, computer column, online organ or some similar social media missive.
And you can do it all from your overstuffed button tufted wingback chair with cushy cushion seat and ottoman for your feet.
4. Don’t want to create your own web presence but still have a hankering to post your opinions online?
All you need to know:
- “BeingLibertarian.com accepts article contributions from the public.”
- Libertarian Home is looking for people to “step forward with work they want to share” and wants to “bring on board 14 trusted good quality writers."
- Two quotes from these folks: “The Lucky Libertarian is looking for contributors to spread the message of liberty!!” And: “Naturally, we would like to recruit a permanent base of contributing authors.”
- But you better be good to crack Reason Magazine: “Reason rarely accepts unsolicited manuscripts. We will, of course, consider such.”
- And you’d better be a libertarian egghead to get accepted here: “Libertarian Papers welcomes original research from a wide variety of fields.”
And you can do your own search without having to lurch yourself from your perch on your plush pull-out wrap-around corner sleeper sectional.
5. Don’t want to read or write? Go vocal and visual with podcasts, videos and photo-sharing!
Start your own online broadcast podcast site or just become a call-in stalker of the online talkers. Or start a YouTube Channel and channel your voluntaryist visions in an audio-visual venue.
Or create some libertarian-themed memes and posters and post them on a host of cyber sites. These can be done very simply using nothing more than that cheapo Paint program that comes with your MS Office suite. Grab an online graphic, add your own adage and post it. Be philosophically challenging but not mentally challenged.
And you can do it all from your double glider reclining loveseat with the cup holders and the fold-away center console.
6. Still want others to do all the work? Donate! Donate! Donate! Scribble out a check. Go Paypal. Go Bitcoin. Move money to the actually active activists and resume your couch crouch. You’ll be promoting the great all-American modern Libertarian movement even as you snooze and snore sonorously on your sofa.
Here’s just a very few you can donate to:
- Rational Review News Digest / Freedom News Daily—“The Freedom Movement’s Daily Newspaper” is a reader-supported publication delivering news of interest to libertarians every non-holiday weekday.
- Zero Aggression Project—on a mission to advocate post-statism and promote The Zero Aggression Principle (ZAP): “No one should initiate force against others or delegate doing so to politicians.”
- Downsize DC—Exerting relentless overwhelming pressure on the powers that be by giving YOU powerful tools you can use to control Congress (right from your favorite chaise lounge.)
- Advocates for Self-Government—Home of the World's Smallest Political Quiz and the Operation Politically Homeless kit, working since 1985 to bring about a free society by empowering those who love liberty.
- Voluntaryist Comics—The comic book series of libertarian superheroes who fight totalitarian evil wherever they find it are “Humanity’s Last Stand Against Government.” A fun and fantastic way to learn the lessons of libertarianism.
Avens O’Brien has a deserving dozen of 501(c)(3) donation-worthy worthwhile websites plus a roster of runners-up eager to accept your open alms with open arms.
Just wake up yourself and your favorite browser and type “Here’s a List of Liberty-Minded Nonprofits Worth Donating To.” (Yes, even though it does end in a preposition.)
And you can do it all from your grandad’s old-fashioned traditional hand-me-down overstuffed patched up armchair with the sprung springs and the beer stains!
But a final caution. Again from the book How to be a Super Communicator for Liberty, it’s easy to approach people who disagree with you with these three basic principles in mind:
1. People are stupid.
2. People are stupid.
3. People are stupid.
You will almost certainly win every single political or philosophical battle with those kinds of people; but you’ll lose the war for their hearts and minds forever. You’ll win and libertarianism will lose.
References and Links
Top 10 Ways to Talk about Libertarianism: This is from David Bose of the Cato Institute who primarily addresses speechifying in front of groups and gatherings, but Armchair Activists can do their dialoging via YouTube.
How Libertarians Need to Improve: Longtime activist Sharon Presley explains how both stay-at-home and on-the-roam need to actively support private alternatives to government poverty programs—and more.
Ten Top Funders Behind the Libertarian Movement: Yes the much-maligned Koch Brothers but also foundations, funds, institutes and trusts along with anonymous philanthropists are involved in the cause of downsizing government and protecting individual rights.
Donating to Libertarian Lovers: Here’s Avens O’Brien’s list of liberty-minded nonprofits that all libertarians can donate to without being super rich and without leaving the comfort of their leisure chair.
Video Break: Your Libertarian Opinionizer’s Pick
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Garry Reed (author) from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas on March 25, 2020:
Hank, I don't remember what I was doing in 68-69 except that it was pre-libertarianism for me, and I don't know anything about the Lee Park Massacre or exactly how that relates to my article which simply offers that there are many ways to advocate for libertarianism. Some ways work for some people and some don't. Voting to change bad laws is great only if you win the vote. That's why I always advocate promoting libertarianism on multiple fronts in whatever way best suites each individual's personal preference.
Hank Phillips on March 25, 2020:
I agree with the main thrust of your lengthy article. I see you are in the Dallas area, where I lived in 1968-69. I have the names of all the hippies busted in the Lee Park Massacre in text format and will share them with you less publicly. The idea is to convince them that voting Libertarian changes bad laws, which to me is winning. I blog at Libertariantranslator on Wordpress
Garry Reed (author) from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas on July 26, 2018:
Hi Tamara, I prefer the term voluntary since it includes the concept of charity right along with every other kind of non-coerced action such as just randomly helping others or people creating mutual aid organizations or setting up laissez-faire businesses in a free society or being good helpful neighbors, etc. Somehow "charity" has come to have negative connotations for some people but that is solved by the concept of voluntaryism.
Tamara Wilhite from Fort Worth, Texas on July 26, 2018:
Or encourage charity that encourages self-reliance. Instead of handouts, we've volunteer taught Dave Ramsey get out of debt programs so that people get out of debt and often move out of a hand to mouth existence.
Garry Reed (author) from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas on July 26, 2018:
Hi Doris, thanks for your comments. I first got involved with the LP around 1975 but today I concentrate more on extolling the virtues of the philosophy itself rather than the party. I still support the party as a platform for educational outreach but they're too interested in winning votes than "winning hearts and minds" as they say, but I still remain hopeful that we're better off with an LP than without one. Thanks for reading!
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on July 25, 2018:
Gary, some good advice for both libertarians and non-libertarians who are fed up with the status quo. I think the Libertarian Party is looking at the greatest opportunity in its history to make waves...and progress into a viable third party. Maybe even elect the next President!