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Author Topic: what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP  (Read 8459 times)

Steve

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2002, 05:08:42 pm »

There was nothing surprising in their posts (except to those of us who have been spending too much time in the FSP and have forgotten the real world).  Remember, it is because we have given up hope on trying to convince such sheeple that we have decided to gather in one place.  There was one valuable lesson from their comments: with all due respect to Walter E. Williams, let's drop all gratuitous talk of secession! Secession is a separate dimension from liberty, and it just gives them an extra club to beat us with.
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percy, aka tntsmum

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2002, 05:46:10 pm »


I think what's most important is that we become PART OF A COMMUNITY FIRST.  I think that's where Jason is headed on the grassroots thing.  If you're integrated into the community you're not a carpetbagger who came in to force something down people's throats.  You can also have more influence as an activist.  This takes time.  It's all well and good to hash out some of these arguments now--we can be aware of some of the objections and better formulate our responses.  But many of these issues are a long way off.  These battles will be fought on a community-by-community basis.
In our local LP here in Chattanooga, TN, one of our leading members is running for town council.  He feels strongly that the most local races are the easiest to win.  The town council is also non-partisan, which helps avoid the difficulties of constantly defending the LP platform.  (Not that someone won't find out he's a libertarian and try to slam him--but the majority of the issues facing the Signal Mountain Town Council don't touch the stickier LP platform issues anyway, so it's easier to dodge bullets.)  I believe our local guy is right--true grass roots (running for school board, town council, county commission) is the way to start building momentum.  And the best way to start a grass roots movement is to be part of a community.

I think this is really hitting the nail on the head, thanks marciesmom for stating it so clearly. I think this is definately the most powerful thing we can do to implement change.
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Steve

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #17 on: August 19, 2002, 02:01:17 am »

Quote
marciesmom wrote:
one of our leading members is running for town council.  He feels strongly that the most local races are the easiest to win.


Problem is, the important policies (taxation, drug war) are set at the state level, and libertarian principles suggest that at the community level people may (though we discourage it) agree to live together with all kinds of onerous rules that would be completely unacceptable at the state level.  The LP News is full every month of stories about one of us getting elected dogcatcher in some insignificant town somewhere, but if it gives us no influence, and no advertising (because to get elected the guy didn't even mention his party affiliation), what's the use?
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marciesmom

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #18 on: August 19, 2002, 08:21:45 am »

We're talking here about building, not stopping at dogcatcher.  Once locals see that libertarians aren't monsters who want everyone on drugs, statewide races are winnable.  Until people see that libertarians CAN lead, and WON'T lead to chaos, they will trust them in statewide races.  Libertarians have had some positive publicity in recent years, and little or nothing has come of it.  Ron Paul even ended up using the Republican label because he couldn't get elected as a Libertarian.  I believe true grass roots support builds trust, and trust elects candidates (especially on the state and local levels).  Money elects candidates on higher levels;  we'll have to come up with some bucks at later stages.  (Not that money doesn't help in local races, but it can be done much more cheaply than statewide or national races.)
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Steve

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #19 on: August 19, 2002, 02:59:28 pm »

Do you think it is a good idea to advertise the FSP unnecessarily to people (e.g. the majority of Americans) who will be opposed or outright hostile to the idea?
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Budd

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2002, 11:37:55 pm »

Quote

[Anyone who wants to screw with the system will be labeled a traitor, just as the patriots who fought for our country were.]
You are only a traitor if you lose.
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Dave Reese

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2002, 09:35:23 am »

As much as purists (myself included) tend to hate playing the political game, they have to recognize that it has to be played if their political agenda is to be advanced. If they want to win, idealists like us must be:

A. Pragmatic: some victory in a few places is better than general defeat, and we'll only be getting small victories for quite some time. We'll be working against not only an entrenched establishment, but against a mentality that has entrenched itself in people's minds for at least fifty years. These things will not be done overnight. If certain elements of the status quo must be left as they are so that we can advance our agenda in other, more important areas (or more politically palatable areas), so be it. We must think as incrementalists. Revolutionary incrementalists. As it goes in the military, so it goes in politics: "If you try to defend everywhere, you will defend nowhere." We have limited resources; we must pick our battles.

B. Patient. A corollary to pragmatism. It's going to take years to accomplish a freer society. Expecting a quick revolution is naive. Not that anyone here is expecting such, or is naive. I just speak from my experience with other idealists (myself included) who feel very strongly about other issues and typically cannot understand why change does not come NOW.

C. Loyal. It's easy to talk about a revolution and lead the charge up San Juan Hill. It's a much more difficult thing to actually administer the principles of the revolution, as leaders encounter the tedium and pettiness of governing. As they try to sort through the crap, their followers become impatient and often begin to insist that the Hero of the People has Betrayed the Revolution. It should be our policy that, whenever possible, most of our disputes be handled "behind closed doors." The public needs to see a united front, and if preserving that unity means we have only a very small number of goals, so be it. And, while we should follow no one blindly (not that this has to be said to a bunch of libertarians), we would do well to moderate our public criticisms of whatever leadership we have.

D. Accomodating to other political camps. We will only win if we form coalitions with people who may not be exactly like us and may not agree on all our goals, but will be fellow-travelers on the goals that are most important to us. To that end, it might be a good idea for FSPers to form a sub-party organization - the "Liberty Caucus", for example - that would neither carry the baggage of a party label nor have the weight of divisive elements of a particular party's platform. The Caucus could spell out a series of short-term, obtainable objectives that would be more readily understood by the general public. And the Caucus could attract Republicans and Democrats who don't want to leave their party structure for the Independent wilderness, but who are willing to cooperate in the advancement of this agenda.

Idealists, by their nature, detest compromise. Coalitions require it. Thus, idealists are notoriously difficult to herd into any kind of a coalition. However, if we can't form some kind of a coalition and find a way to work WITH the local power structure (who will have been playing their state's political game a LOT longer than us), we will lose.

E. Palatable to the general public. Another corollary to pragmatism. Libertarians have done a notoriously poor job of selling their ideas to the general public, as evidenced by their dismal showings in elections. It's easy to sit back and say that the masses have been conditioned to think the way they do, and then write them off, but the fact is that if we don't get Joe Sixpack (or at least a few Joe Sixpacks) on our side we can hang it up. How to do it? To put it simply, we need to evangelize, and our barrier is not the public mindset, but our willingness to get our fingers dirty. If hack religions can make millions of converts, if Taco Bell can persuade people to ingest their food, how on God's green earth can we not sell lower taxes and more freedom?

I would submit that relying on elections is NOT the best way to go about educating the general public about libertarian ideas. It's a matter of brand identity: Joe Sixpack goes to the voting booth (or reads candidate write-ups in the local papers) and sees two brands he's familiar with, and one he's NOT that familiar with - plus the "new brand" has some strange (to him) ideas, PLUS he's heard somewhere that that "new brand" has something to do with legalizing drugs, which makes him uncomfortable.

We need to be taking our case to the public in different ways, and NOT just during elections.  Members of the "Liberty Caucus" need to speaking to civic groups, college kids, church groups - anywhere the people will listen. Dem and Repub party members who are also Caucus folks could make presentations to their respective parties in hopes of "drawing out" any like-minded party members.
Advertising, flyers, bumber stickers - the message needs to be out there ALL the time as something we're excited about and care about, and we need to saturate as many people with the message as possible. Often, it's simply enough to saturate someone with the message, rather than go to the trouble of convincing them through reasoned discourse of the righteousness of your positions.

We need to be selective about our message, also - not to the point of being dishonest, but to avoid giving the public unnecessary reservations about our cause. Play down the parts of the platform that they'll find immediately unpalatable, and play up those that have a chance of success. Once you're able to accomplish Goal Set A, you'll have credibility and it'll be easier to accomplish Goal Set B.

We need to pitch our message differently to different groups, too, b/c the same message obviously won't work for everyone. I'm particularly excited about the possibilities of pitching the message to my generation. Kids love to rebel against the status quo, and, since statism is the status quo, this can work to our advantage. A neat trick (and one with delicious possiblities for irony) would be to appropriate the 60's Leftist playbook (sit-ins, mass protests, underground papers, etc.). A neater trick would be to appropriate a lot of the 60's Leftist slogans ("Power to the People" would be particularly rich). Back this up with a strong pitch to middle-class and upper-class older folks so the movement's apparent radicalism will be balanced - two pitches, apparently two disparate groups, but the same agenda.

Findally, to keep from being diluted too much in the political currents, we should clearly define a list of core principles that absolutely cannot be compromised. Idealists aren't unreasonable in their fear of compromise. They're only unreasonable in their refusal to attempt it.

All this being said, I think we can do it.

Just a few thoughts. I'm sure you guys are long familiar with all this. I just felt like rambling on. Sorry to ramble so much. :)

Thanks all,

Dave Reese
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Tai-Pan

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2002, 06:10:43 pm »

You think those guys on plastic are harsh? Those are some of the more level headed I have seen out there (ya, I know its not saying much).


I would never hide my affiliations.
When I ran for city council in Austin, whenever someone tried to throw the "libertarian monster" thing in my face I would always just return to the issues that the voters cared about and show how a my views could actually help whatever situation we were in.

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percy, aka tntsmum

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #23 on: August 22, 2002, 09:37:02 am »


As much as purists (myself included) tend to hate playing the political game, they have to recognize that it has to be played if their political agenda is to be advanced. If they want to win, idealists like us must be:

A. Pragmatic: ...
We need to be taking our case to the public in different ways, and NOT just during elections.  Members of the "Liberty Caucus" need to speaking to civic groups, college kids, church groups - anywhere the people will listen. Dem and Repub party members who are also Caucus folks could make presentations to their respective parties in hopes of "drawing out" any like-minded party members.
Advertising, flyers, bumber stickers - the message needs to be out there ALL the time as something we're excited about and care about, and we need to saturate as many people with the message as possible. Often, it's simply enough to saturate someone with the message, rather than go to the trouble of convincing them through reasoned discourse of the righteousness of your positions.

We need to be selective about our message, also - not to the point of being dishonest, but to avoid giving the public unnecessary reservations about our cause. Play down the parts of the platform that they'll find immediately unpalatable, and play up those that have a chance of success. Once you're able to accomplish Goal Set A, you'll have credibility and it'll be easier to accomplish Goal Set B.

We need to pitch our message differently to different groups, too, b/c the same message obviously won't work for everyone. I'm particularly excited about the possibilities of pitching the message to my generation. Kids love to rebel against the status quo, and, since statism is the status quo, this can work to our advantage. A neat trick (and one with delicious possiblities for irony) would be to appropriate the 60's Leftist playbook (sit-ins, mass protests, underground papers, etc.). A neater trick would be to appropriate a lot of the 60's Leftist slogans ("Power to the People" would be particularly rich). Back this up with a strong pitch to middle-class and upper-class older folks so the movement's apparent radicalism will be balanced - two pitches, apparently two disparate groups, but the same agenda.

Findally, to keep from being diluted too much in the political currents, we should clearly define a list of core principles that absolutely cannot be compromised. Idealists aren't unreasonable in their fear of compromise. They're only unreasonable in their refusal to attempt it.

All this being said, I think we can do it.

Just a few thoughts. I'm sure you guys are long familiar with all this. I just felt like rambling on. Sorry to ramble so much. :)

Thanks all,

Dave Reese

PURE GENIUS!
Really enjoyed this. Understanding and working within the parameters of reality doesn't require us to hide our affiliations, only that we work within the framework of reality to advance our cause.
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LaissezFaire

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #24 on: August 22, 2002, 02:58:28 pm »

Here is another forum mentioning the FSP:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2002/5/14/2258/55245

I am always amazed by the lies and misconceptions spread about libertarianism....
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RidleyReport

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Re:what 'ordinary Americans' think about the FSP
« Reply #25 on: October 11, 2002, 06:24:19 pm »

Jason wrote:

<<Here are the responses:

http://www.plastic.com/article.html?sid=02/08/16/18014589;mode=flat;threshold=0#n1>>

These responses illustrate why we need to ditch the secessionist label - the millstone around our necks -  and worry about that ten years from now *if* it ever even comes up as a real issue.

We're hardly compromising on a principle if we do so, since secessionism is not even part of our agenda.

Dada
« Last Edit: October 11, 2002, 06:26:34 pm by Dada Orwell »
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