For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


How to Become a Libertarian Precinct Leader

July 14th, 2009

Libertarian Party logoFor the past few months, our national Libertarian Party has been sending out a weekly “Monday Message” to its email subscribers. Most of the time I don’t bother mentioning them here because they’re usually little more than familiar political rants and calls for donations that can be found at the main LP.org site or the sites of several state affiliates. However, the message that was released yesterday by Donny Ferguson, the current Communications Director, deserves a reprint because it contains some useful information about how to get involved in the political process and organize campaigns at the local precinct level. In fact, if I had written it myself I could probably use it as an addendum to my earlier essay on how to organize a political campaign.

Have you considered becoming a Libertarian precinct leader?

I’m asking because, as a political party, we have an obligation to win elections. Not only do our over 200 elected Libertarians need some friendly allies where they serve, there are many communities across America with no elected Libertarians.

We need to change that.

And successful organizations do it by organizing at the local level.

In politics, organization defeats ideology. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened the paper the morning after Election Day and heard my candidate’s opponent openly wondering, “How did that wacko, with his views, beat me?”

The answer is “We were better organized than you.”

So what can you do to become a precinct leader? Contact us, or your local LP, to let us know you want to volunteer. Then:

1. Find out the boundaries of your precinct.

The easiest way would be to go on the web page of your local city, town or county’s board of elections. You may also sometimes find it on your state board’s website. If they don’t have it online, you can simply call or stop by and they can provide you one for a small fee.

2. Get a list of the Libertarians in your neighborhood or area.

Every month we here at LPHQ give your state chair an updated list of Party members and people interested in the LP. Your state chair, if he doesn’t have it broken out by precinct, can give you a list of contacts in your area.

3. Get the voter registration list for your precinct.

Your state party has access to the voter registration list for your state. It’s important to contact only registered voters because, while there is some value in conducting voter registration drives, most unregistered voters are unregistered simply because they don’t care. If Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama couldn’t inspire them to vote, don’t think you’ll be much more successful.

The time you spend getting one vote out of 50 unregistered voters could have been spent getting 50 out of registered voters. YOU CANNOT RUN A SUCCESSFUL CAMPAIGN ORGANIZATION WITHOUT AN ACCURATE VOTER REGISTRATION LIST.

4. Visit every Libertarian Party members or interested person.

Print out the list and arrange it by street address so you can simply work your way around the neighborhood. Theses are your prime targets. Rather than having to go door-to-door to find interested libertarians, these people have already told us they either are Libertarians, or want to know more. Let them know about the local LP, where and when they meet and what activities are going on right now. Be sure to invite them to the next meeting.

5. Print out a list of active voters.

While Libertarian Party members and prospects are your best targets, there aren’t enough hardcore activists in any party for them to single-handedly win elections. That’s why successful campaign organizations have extensive canvassing operations.

Arrange it by street name and house number so you can simply walk down the street. Eliminate inactive voters from the list so you don’t waste your time trying to get one vote out of 50 people who don’t care enough to show up.

6. Have information on the issues they care about.

The single most common complaint I get about the Libertarian Party from libertarians is while they agree with us completely on our most controversial issues, real issues like taxes, public safety and schools have a greater impact on their lives. They want to invest their time and energy in a party that is relevant and capable of reaching out to voters.

While issues vary from town to town, you can bet potential Libertarian Party members are more interested in what rational, practical things the local LP is going to do to cut taxes, improve schools, fix traffic and keep their neighborhood safe.

7. Don’t lecture to them. Ask them what the local LP could do to improve their lives.

One of the biggest mistakes Libertarians make is to assume voters want to be impressed by the intellectual power of a long philosophical dissertation. Wrong. They want to know what’s going to happen if a Libertarian gets elected to the local town council or school board.

That’s why I always have campaign volunteers knock on the door and ask one question. “My name is Tom and my friend Bob is running for town council because he wants to cut taxes and put more deputies on our streets. What is one thing the town council could do to make things better?”

This is probably the single most important thing you can do to be more effective. Always answer all questions honestly, but voters really appreciate candidates and activists who take a genuine interest in their well-being, instead of bloviating and pontificating about themselves.

Don’t be surprised when they invite you in for a soda, or share with you a personal story. In fact, this is what distinguishes Libertarians from the other guys. We actually care about the individual and trust their judgment, not those of self-appointed superiors. It’s about time we showed it.

8. Keep a list.

In campaigns, information is power. Write down everything, especially whether or not they want more information on the LP. I like to jot down what bumper stickers are on their cars, if there’s an NRA sticker in the front window and what campaign signs they have on their lawns. Make sure you give that information to your state and local LP.

9. Stay in touch, and keep visiting.

Make sure to stay in contact with Libertarian Party members, people who contacted LPHQ asking for more information and those you found. Be sure to visit people who just move into the neighborhood, and keep your voter list up to date. Your local LP will need that come election time to turn out the new, bigger, Libertarian vote.

With governments at all levels jacking up taxes and escalating their control over people’s lives, the most important thing that can be done to preserve and restore liberty is to win elections. The problem is especially bad at the local level, where town councilmen and school board members have a more direct impact on your life, your property and your children.

You can do your part to help the LP win elections and restore liberty by simply becoming a precinct leader. The organization you build and information you collect will grow the Libertarian Party and put us on track to win even more elections. Get in touch with your local LP today.

Donny Ferguson is the current Director of Communications for the Libertarian Party. If you would like to find out more about the party or make a donation, you can do so at the membership page of LP.org.

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