L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 136, August 27, 2001
Everybody's a Critic!
To: The Libertarian Enterprise
Definitely Don't Do That
In TLE #135, a scholarly gentleman by the name of Tom Wright eloquently shared his frustrations about the millions of non-voters in America. One of his suggestions reminded me of how creative ideas borne of patriotic minds can sometimes backfire. Mr. Wright said:
When We the People reclaim a constitutional footing in America once again -- by whatever means necessary, oh yes! -- one phase of The Awakening will include strong pushes for the restoration of a variety the rights from which we've been carefully alienated. Should the above suggestion be a reality at that time, the Hillary Clintons and the Jesse Jacksons of the day would -- with the help of the Dan Rathers of the day -- orchestrate a national "Vote by Not Voting" campaign knowing they'd have the expected gazillion non-voters "voting" their way, against us, by staying at home and watching Rosie The Depressed while we scrambled to the polls in vain.
Here's an idea. Al Sharpton is masturbating in the media about a Presidential bid. Somebody launch a "White Guys for Sharpton" campaign to be sure the millions of blacks on the Democrat Plantation think that race-baiting lunatic has a snowball's chance in Hell of winning, so they flush their vote on him. The subtraction from the Hitlery campaign would be measurable. Couple that with Bush's almost-certain renewal of the so-called "assault weapons" ban and the tremendous loss of gun votes sure to follow, and Mr. Smith may have his shot at the White House.
Mr. Wright also said,
What are you waiting for? A list of targets? Scan the pro gun control votes of any congressional record in any of the fifty states and you'll find several ideal candidates. :-) And have someone take some video, willya? After watching the federal agents torch Mt. Carmel, I'd pay a premium to watch a virulent gun grabber's brains get splattered all over the sidewalk. Hell, I'd market your video for free and donate the proceeds to your orphans. Orphans? Yep. If you're going to cut the cake, you gotta be willing to do a Carl Drega, so make that last will and testament and have someone get that video to me. We'll put it up on our website. heh heh
You remind me of me. Outraged to such an extreme as to feel like no measure of worthy attempt to redress grievances is making a difference significant enough to overcome the mountains of cow dung being dumptrucked on us from all sides. Frustrated that for each of us who works for liberty, pays attention, does the right thing, there are 50 or 500 who agree with us philosophically but are too busy fishing to be bothered with silly stuff like LIBERTY. Wondering if "the system" can be unbroke without breaking some necks.
I hear ya.
While the Left complains that Ashcroft is moving America radically toward the old, dead white guys again, we're sitting here wondering when the Bush camp is going to take that whole first step by issuing an Executive Order to repeal every last unconstitutional gun law on the books. As many EO's as Mr. Cigar issued, we're entitled to one that justifies such power being wielded by one dude, right?
Impatience: the emotional product of inactivity or inefficiency toward that which you desire right now.
Regarding Mr. Stone's article, A New Strategy, published in issue number 105 (I hope this isn't too long):
Yours: "A New Strategy"
I enjoyed your thoughtful article, A New Strategy, in The Libertarian Enterprise issue number 105. Your basic thinking is very good and I would like to add some comments and the offer that if you are serious about making a run of the kind your article suggests that I will be of whatever assistance I can.
While certainly coming from the right place, your general concept needs some refining. You say you will only run if you get the National L.P. to "back" you so that you can run your two million dollar campaign.
Don't swallow the tripe coming out of National about broadcast advertising and big explosions of major media attention which is "sure" to follow (and don't swallow whatever else they are spewing; it's all poison.) An endorsement from National doesn't mean one damn thing except that you probably slipped someone a wad of cash. National doesn't understand and they don't want to do real campaigns. They want checks, lots and lots of them; cash would be better.
Shooting for Congress is still too high if you are the only candidate on what could be our full ticket in South Dakota. You are right that in a place like South Dakota we might win a race for congress; however, what then would we have? How long before you were booted-out? How much could you, the lone decent person in the House (no offense to either Republican Ron Paul or his fans) and perhaps the only decent elected official in South Dakota , hope to accomplish, sans ANY committee assignments and with only one vote out of 435, all the while being castigated as a loony by everyone in D.C.?
If you were to run for congress as the "top of the ticket" of a real grass roots organization, that would be an entirely different story. With a strong Libertarian grass roots organization behind you, one which had fielded and run strong candidates for all those lower, "lesser" local and statehouse seats, an organization which had support among the real people of South Dakota, you, the elected congressman, might actually be able to do some good.
Certainly, it would be much more difficult to mute your voice, the voice of the people. Kick you out? Push you around? Then they'd be pushing around the voters of South Dakota---and as Don Corleone once said: "And then they will fear you!"
Republicrats can always shoot down our tiny assemblage of convention attendees as they can shoot down one lone officeholder...they cannot confront a majority or even a significant minority of the average voters of South Dakota...the ones who would have given you your mandate, and similarly bestowed that mandate on many lower ticket candidates.
As for your comments about needing two million dollars to run the ads and so forth:
Broadcast advertising is only, and then only sometimes, one of many components of a campaign. It is NEVER the whole of a campaign and it is never even the most important part. It's easy to think that broadcast advertising is essential when one sees so many political ads during campaign season. However, that's not the real campaign; it's only the part most visible to those who aren't campaigning and so whose only connection to a campaign is those ads.
That's why Libertarians have bought into this scheme of paying for copious amounts of broadcast advertising, the steppingstone manna leading to our Promised Land, because Libertarians watch T.V. rather than get out there and meet and greet the voters.
Republicrats successfully campaign off their name recognition and their organizational strength. They do not spring out of nowhere and just buy T.V. ads and get themselves elected. That's how Libertarians, sitting in their comfortable convention hotels, dream of doing the job, and that's how Libertarians ignore the fact that we are nowhere with the voters.
Too many "insurgent" Republicrats have tried to knock-off the voters thinking, scheming, dreaming that all they had to do was buy a bunch of T.V. ads and so circumvent the process. And with such idiocy they've lost many millions of dollars. Michael Huffington of Calif. comes to mind.
And in South Dakota, it would be far cheaper to concentrate on the two essential components (and, really, there are just two essential components to any campaign) and that's Voter I.D. and Get Out the Vote (GOTV). Voter I.D. is where it's at for any candidate and clearly so for a statewide South Dakotan candidate because the state has a relatively small population.
You campaign by finding out who supports you, or is likely to (that's the Voter I.D.) And in the second phase of the campaign, GOTV, you concentrate your message on those voters and you get them to the polls...or you make sure that your supporters cast their absentee ballots for you.
You can't do it by springing up out of nowhere, with a "loser" image (and you are absolutely right about the L.P. image), spend a few or several million on broadcast ads, and then waltz into your House seat.
Instead, you'll go down to the Libertarian's typically ignominious defeat. Because while you were doing all that fancy advertising, your Republicrat opponents were in the trenches, knocking on doors, making phone calls, having neighborhood teas and rallies; in short, they were actually campaigning. You were doing what Libertarian candidates normally do, and that's just about nothing; only you would be spending two million dollars doing nothing.
All advertising is about repetition. Broadcast ads for candidates only add to the repetition, only add to the real nuts and bolts of the campaign organization.
Broadcast ads can be a cheap and effective way to bolster an already established brand. Sure, you can establish a new brand via ads, if you are selling something generic, something everyone already understands in concept, like a new brand of toilet paper.
How does that relate to Libertarians? We have no brand. No one knows who we are and it would be far too expensive to try and teach them via T.V. ads. And how much can be taught via 60 second spots? Nothing. Certainly not the breath and scope of what Libertarians have to offer and how we differ from Republicrats.
But, imagine you have lists of 20,000 confirmed gun owner Voters; 20,000 confirmed anti drug war Voters; 20,000 Voters who have signed a petition demanding the immediate abolition of the IRS? How about if you then concentrated your campaign efforts letting those people know where you stand on these issues which you know are important to them; and imagine letting them know where your opponents stand on these issues?
I don't have the registration numbers for South Dakota, but if 20,000 is not enough, fill in whatever number you need and go for it. Remember, you don't need anywhere near a majority in any one category and you don't need it cumulatively.
And you can add or subtract issues categories based on what you know and what through campaigning you learn about what is on the minds of the voters of South Dakota. The key is not to presume to know what is good for the voter; listen to the voter tell you what they want to know.
You just keep compiling those lists, at least the ones you can identify as sentient on one issue or another; and your downticket Libertarian candidates can do the same. That's why it's essential that you don't run alone. And you can carry-over these lists from one election cycle to another. That's called building a base.
Libertarians have never realized the fruits of the one great advantage we have over the Republicrats. All our candidates believe in the same thing. We have a brand only we've never marketed it. Each of our candidate's voices can be amplified by each of the voices of his fellow Libertarian candidates. Republicrats can't match that.
The Republicrats can't touch us relative to the three issues I have outlined above. We SHOULD own those issues but we don't, because we have never made a claim of ownership. Think of an entire ticket of Libertarians, each hitting the same voters, the voters we know support our stand on one particular "hotbutton" issue. Repetition is the key to advertising.
Spend millions on advertising and wait for the votes? Try it, if you are rich and eccentric and don't care what you piss away. Every hostile reporter in the state (and most, properly, will be hostile if you take such an approach) will have a field day dissecting your campaign as a bogus, all hype and no substance effort. Then you'll have to spend more on ads to dispel the cruddy huckster's image of yourself which you have created with the first round of ads.
Your opponents will laugh all the way to the U.S. Capitol.
And, in the event you spend enough to get a little burp in the polls, to make them take notice, the Republicrats will send in the professionals you seem to deride as "hacks". Those are the people who know how campaigns are run and so they campaign the way, the only way, it has ever been done and ever can be done successfully.
Meanwhile, Libertarians send more checks to the Watergate, attend more stupefyingly boring conventions, have dinner with some jabber from Michael Cloud, and do absolutely nothing else but tell themselves they are superior.
Throughout this nation's history, virtually no decent American has ever participated in any political campaign, in any way, despite that Archimedes claptrap that the self-important bigwigs on the Libertarian National Committee bought from Willis and Co. in an orgy of self-congratulation about their political savvy.
These are the people you want to "back" you so that you can "win"?
How come our L.P. is the only political party which doesn't understand that the typical voter, and damn near every voter at that, has never given and will never give one dime to any campaign? Check it out. That's a fact which escaped the idiots who dreamed up the membership growth route to L.P. electoral success.
How come we don't take note that the typical voter, and damn near every voter at that, has never gone and will never go to any political rally or convention? Why is ours the only party which keeps trying to get bored, county fair attending dupes to fill-out our bogus membership cards, give us money and come to lame supper clubs?
I don't. I don't give the bastards any money and I can't think of a better and more expensive waste of my time than going to a Libertarian convention. I won't belong to their Party as long as the thieves and incompetents have it. And I tell others not to join the lame bastards.
What I do, what I have done for over 20 years, is ballot access. I've done a lot of Libertarian ballot access (because I am a Libertarian); mostly I do initiatives, referenda and recall, and because it is the same methodology, I've done plebescites to help groups find their supporters. Almost never is there any Libertarian to be found among the inner ranks of the productive campaign organizations, those organizations which get things done.
As one of your "hacks" (I prefer to be known, as Justice Scalia recently termed it, as one of the "election gypsies"), I know what any decent election gypsy knows and that is that each voter has one thing and one thing only to give at election time, and that is his or her vote.
Each American puts a value on his or her vote. The voter establishes the market price. Winning candidates meet that price or come away from the auction empty-handed. Hey, it's a sellers' market and I'm real comfortable with that. Make the officeseekers "buy" the votes. Let Libertarians join the price wars.
When we learn how to ask the voters for their votes we stand a chance of getting some. It's really a matter of respecting the potential "customers", the voters, enough to engage them.
Voter I.D. can be done most effectively in your state, and for the very reason you have mentioned: South Dakota is relatively small. Even Libertarians can afford to make a good run there, provided it's for a complete "ticket" of candidates. And we can do it for far less than 2 million bucks (though it would be nice to have such a campaign kitty) if only Libertarians would try to run and wouldn't look for guidance to the nitwits in D.C. National doesn't know, or care, one whit about campaigns.
There are many methods of accomplishing Voter I.D. and GOTV which have nothing to do with broadcast production and air costs. There are methods which are far cheaper and which have proven results far superior to broadcast ads.
There is the general field of signature gathering, which can be used for Voter I.D. via a series of plebescite petitions (petitions which are designed to identify our supporters on single issues, like Guns, Drugs, and Abolish the IRS) and then there are other methods, like phone banking, door-to-door, surveys, etc. All are designed for the same purpose: to find out where an individual voter stands so that you can identify whether that voter is likely to support you.
You don't just dream up an advertising campaign, out of your own head, and run with it. You don't do that unless you want to waste your own or your contributors' money; you do that if you are the Libertarian National Committee or Harry Browne Inc.
When he retired and produced his book, the acclaimed political consultant, what you would call a "hack", Ed Rollins wrote that campaigners who advertise without tracking polls are stupid. He meant that unless you know what the voters are interested in talking about, who are you to presume to know what they are interested in hearing from you? And when you run ads, how can you tell if your message is getting across in the way you intended if you don't do such market research before, during and after your advertising hits the air?
You're a loser if you advertise blindly. Libertarians advertise blindly...or propose to do it if someone will just give them many millions more to spend on their pre-doomed schemes.
Though often derided as the hang-up of "hacks" and the bane of our system, polls are a means to communicate with the voters; they are a device which enables the campaign to hear from the voters. Polls are a form of Voter I.D.
Either you find out what the voters want you to talk about or with every sound you utter, you risk being off topic, irrelevant, forever consigned to boring Libertarian supper clubs, alone with a bunch of hapless fanatical Randian maladroits who never built a doghouse, let alone a magnificent architectural wonder and certainly nothing resembling a competent, coherent political organization.
You are only campaigning if you are doing Voter I.D. and GOTV. Set your budget and go for it the best way you can, doing whatever Voter I.D. and GOTV you can manage. If you've got no money and no organization you can go door to door and ask voters for their support. It's not rocket science; it is real campaigning and it is real work. Usually, Libertarians just go to another convention.
Don't spit 2 million bucks, taken from decent people, down a sinkhole in South Dakota. I, for one, will help you and I'm sure there are many Libertarians in South Dakota and elsewhere who will help you if you choose to run a real campaign. You don't need no stinkin' National Committee. Who is the Libertarian Party but its' members and registrants?
HAVE BIG FUN!
On Mon, 20 Aug 2001, John Slevin wrote:
> Regarding Mr. Stone's article, A New Strategy, published in issue
Thanks very much for your comments. You are (unfortunately) only the second idividual to communicate any thoughts to me on the matter. The first was a member of the South Dakota State LP's executive committee. He noted that he felt it was a great idea, but the chances of the National Party giving up their idiotic campaign for President was about equal to his dog being elected to that office.
I won't quote much of your article, except to bring up a couple of points.
Firstly, I can't run for a state office -- I can't afford it.
I'm an Internet engineer. Not to brag, but I earn a fair amount of money. As such, I have a fair-sized mortgage. I can't afford that mortgage on what a State Representative, Senator, or Governor earns.
Or rather, I can't afford it on what an HONEST Rep, Senator, or Governor earns.
I might concievably be able to afford City Councilman, since that's a part-time job at best. In all honesty, I simply can't afford the pay cut that working as a full-time State politician would represent.
Secondly, you may misunderstand the political landscape and general character of the individuals in South Dakota.
Officially, there are two -- count them, TWO -- registered Libertarians in my entire county. I met the other one in 2000 in the course of running a couple of ballot access petitions around. This county includes Gateway Computers' primary manufacturing facility, by the way -- some of the most affluent individuals in the entire state live here. Not a single one is a registered Libertarian.
The 2000 LP candidate for Congress was chosen by a member of the National party on the basis that he'd registered as a Libertarian. Really. He'd recieved a call from some faceless individual at the National HQ asking if he'd like to run for Congress.
The candidate for State Legislator got the same phone call, by the way. When he pointed out that he was a 19-year-old student at Augustana College and didn't meet the age requirement for Congress, the LP rep on the phone said, "No problem, how about the Statehouse?"
The Congressional candidate called me two days after he accepted the request to run. I'd never met him before, but he needed help with his ballot access petition and so was frantically calling every registered Libertarian in the state.
It took him a total of three hours to contact ALL of us.
75% were students in Sioux Falls, our population center. The SDLP managed to double its registration at the University of South Dakota by virtue of its one member convincing a friend to switch parties long enough to sign the ballot access petition.
Now, this might sound like a bad thing for Libertarians (and it is), but since even our Republicans and Democrats are smarter than their metropolitan counterparts, it's not such a bad thing for Liberty.
The fact is that South Dakotans in general (with the exception of that little prick we keep sending to the Senate) value their freedom very highly. It's why we have no state income tax, casino gambling is legal, CCW is easy, and billboards extolling the virtue of killing animals for profit line I-90.
However, this means that in my estimation, at the state level things are running fairly smoothly. Oh, we could get back a couple of things: until the State government wussed out on us, the provisions of the Brady Law didn't apply to me, for example. I could walk into any gun store in the state and immediately walk out with any gun I wanted by virtue of having a CCW license. Our property taxes could be lower (or nonexistent). We could get rid of some of the graft.
But compared to, say, Illinois (where I spent the decade of the 1990s), South Dakota state law is a virtual paradise.
But this will not help our farmers get rich from hemp and marijuana, which grows wild on our prarie but outlawed at the Federal level. And our ranchers and farmers getting rich would go a long way toward getting rid of that prick we keep sending to the Senate, who keeps his seat by virtue of Federal interference in the agricultural free market.
(See, first they outlaw the free market in agriculture, and then they institute entitlement programs to make up for the "failure" of the free market. It nicely keeps our farmers and ranchers in poverty and dependant on further Federal programs to stay in business.)
In short, the place where South Dakota -- and ANY state, for that matter -- could be helped the most is in Washington. Specifically, by telling Congresscritters to leave us the hell alone. I'm unclear as to what is to be gained by a Libertarian in the South Dakota legislature beyond additional power for the Party.
See, I don't care one whit about power for the Party. See my article "The Free Mind" (The Libertarian Enterprise, #132) -- virtually a companion piece to "A New Strategy." A Libertarian Party in power is a Libertarian Party that much closer to corruption.
What I want to do is get the Federal government the hell out of my state. At the state level, there's only one way to do that: secession. And while it's a fine idea, I don't think my fellow South Dakotans are quite ready to go that route just yet.
The other way to do it is get into Congress and scream at the top of my lungs at that little prick in the Senate that he's WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, WRONG about virtually everything that he stands for.
I'm perfectly aware that one "good" Congresscritter in the bunch is largely ineffectual. His value is strictly P.R. Every time the Senate Majority Leader (the South Dakotan prick to which I refer) gets on TV whining about funding for stem cell research is an opportunity for the House Extreme Minority Leader to sit opposite him and say:
"The Senate Majority Leader is violating his Oath of Office in advocating Federal funding for stem cell research. Or for anything else, for that matter. There is absolutely no Constitutional authority to steal money from Americans for this or any other scientific research."
A Libertarian Congressman will not be a legislator. He'll be a voice of priciple.
A Libertarian Congressmen will show up for votes and the rest of the time hold press conferences and talk. And talk. And talk.
When journalists ask him if he's in favor of cloning, he'll say, "It doesn't matter if I support it or not. There's no Constitutional authorization to steal money from Americans to pay for it."
When they ask if he's in favor of "common-sense gun laws," he'll say, "It doesn't matter if I support it or not. The Second Amendment is clear that every one of the 20,000 laws on the books is in violation of the Bill of Rights. Not only is anyone who votes for a Federal gun law in violation of his Oath of Office, they should be backing my bills to repeal all of the others. You know -- the bills that never even get into our Uconstitutional Committees ... ?"
The point is that a Libertarian Congressman doesn't need to be on Committees, he needs to be spending all his time trying to get them dismantled -- or screaming loudly that they should be.
I don't need to be on a committee to vote "no" to a bill. I bet I could count on one hand the number that I'd vote "yes" to in any given session of Congress.
As to the specifics of how a Libertarian gets to Congress, I would defer to your clearly superior knowledge of tactics. I can tell you that while I agree that advertising isn't everything, it is SOMETHING. To date, Libertarian advertising in South Dakota is hampered by our tiny membership. We can't get the word out for our party because we don't have any money.
What I suggested would inject some cash into a state where a Libertarian would at least have a chance. If you've some other way to get that cash, I'm all ears.
But I will not -- and I stress NOT -- get myself into a race that cannot possibly be won. There's no point in putting myself or my family through that. You can't win it without money -- and the money keeps getting sucked down the drain by a pointless, unwinnably Presidential candidacy every four years.
This was, in fact, the central theme of my article. That condidacy is a waste of money and it drains the resources of Libertarians. We don't have the money to spend on candidates that have a chance of winning because we've already shelled out millions to one that CAN'T.
The day that Libertarians come to realize this -- and refuse to send a check to the National Party -- is the day we'll start winning National races. Until then, we're hamstrung by virtue of running out of money trying to pay for something we can't win.
William Stone III [email@example.com]
United Nations International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, has declared itself Protector of Missouri's State Parks and Mark Twain National Forest. You'll find this information on a UN website http://www.unep-wcmc.org/protected_areas/index.html -- click on Protected Areas Database and select an area (or run a search on United Nations Protected Areas.) There are 129 pages listing United Nations "protected areas" throughout the United States, and many more areas worldwide.
The 1997 United Nations List of Protected Areas in Missouri includes Mark Twain National Forest, Ozark Scenic Rivers, Wilson's Creek, Pickle Springs, Taberville Prairie, Clarence Cannon National Wildlife Refuge, Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Squaw Creek, Swan Lake, Big Spring, Cash Swamp, Powder Mill Cave and Spring Branch, Bennett State Park, Big Oak Tree, Big Sugar Creek, Cuivre River, Babler, Baker, Ha Ha Tonka, Johnson Shut-Ins, Lake of the Ozarks, Meramec, Pershing, Prairie, Roaring River, Sam A Baker, St. Francois, Taum Sauk Mountain, Trail of Tears, Mingo Wilderness, Bell Mountain, Devil's Backbone, Hercules Glade, Irish, Paddy Creek, and Rockpile Mountain.
UN website http://www.unep-wcmc.org/protected_areas/categories/index.html lists IUCN protection intensity ratings from Category 1a, "Strict Nature Reserve: protected area managed mainly for science," to Category 6, "Managed Resource Protected Area: protected area managed mainly for the sustainable use of natural ecosystems." Mark Twain National Forest's IUCN Category 6 rating generously allows some local folks some use of the forest some of the time as long as we obey IUCN environmental orders. Category 3, "Natural Monuments managed mainly for conservation of specific natural features." lists Ozark Scenic Riverways, Big Oak Tree State Park, and Onondaga Cave. Category 1a (Nature Reserve) or 1b (Wilderness) lists Ha Ha Tonka, Hawn, Johnson Shut Ins, Prairie, Sam A Baker, Roaring River. St. Francois, Taum Sauk Mountain, Mingo, Bell Mountain, Devil's Backbone, Hercules Glade, Irish, Paddy Creek, Piney Creek. and! Rockpile Mountain. There is no Category of "Managed for Human Use."
United Nations and member organizations such as IUCN and mainstream environmental groups operate incrementally. They know they could provoke armed uprising in America and immediate American withdrawal from the UN if their Socialist programs were instituted all at once. So they tighten the noose little by little. To date it has made no practical difference that Missouri's State Parks, National Forest, Wildlife Refuges and similar lands are on the IUCN list. That will change next year.
IUCN regulates Protected Areas through our government agencies. In 2002 the UN will meet in Durban, South Africa, to really tighten the screws on us. Remember, regulation is required under international treaty, the highest law in the land, which has nullified and abrogated much of our Constitution. Eventually all parks, wildlife areas and forests will be "protected" FROM humans, not FOR humans, and off limits to camping, hiking, resources production, hunting, fishing and all other human use. Private land is next.
Expanding "protection" over American land now depends heavily on passage of HR 701, the Conservation And Reinvestment Act, CARA, better known by its function, the rural Condemnation And Relocation Act. CARA passed the House Resources Committee in July and may go before the full House of Representatives for vote in September. CARA provides government Condemnation Authority and $45 Billion over 15 years, mainly for forced sale of rural private land to government agencies and relocating country folks to big cities. A 5 August 2001 New York Times article by Frank Bruni notes: "He (President Bush) is also going to do an awful lot on the environment, Mr. Card said, although he did not specify what that would be." President Bush recently approved $900 Million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, much of which is for government purchase of privately owned rural land, and Bush is expected to sign if CARA passes Congress. That would, indeed, be "awful."
We are being incrementalized out of our freedom, our land, our livelihood, our culture, our rights, and our Constitution. To stop this Socialist conquest of America we need massive popular uprising demanding that our President and elected officials scrap CARA immediately and permanently, that America withdraw immediately from the United Nations and from every UN treaty, that all government agencies permanently withdraw from United Nations programs, and that our federal government operate strictly and only according to what is authorized by our US Constitution. Folks, we're close to losing it.
William Jud [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Thanks for your work on the Free State Project.
What I am saying about voting is that it is a bad way to make decisions, it is an ineffective mechanism for political change in any part of the USA, and it is also an immoral approach to political change.
Since these ideas are not wholly my own, I'm copying two authors of some repute, Spencer MacCallum and Wendy McElroy, who have written on the subject in places I've been reading. Wendy's essay on why she would not have voted against Hitler, but would have been happy to shoot him, may be seen at the rather amusing URL http://www.fuckthevote.org/.
What is voting? It is a form of ritual combat, used to make decisions for which we have no other good way to decide. The idea behind it is that whichever side has the greater numbers would likely win in combat (patently false as any review of military history shows), and therefore the side with fewer votes should capitulate gracefully, at least until another vote.
It is much better to make choices rather than decisions. The word decide comes from the French, is similar in various ways to suicide, and means to kill off the alternatives. Presumably, the last alternative to be killed is what you do. A choice, in contrast, is made by choosing, hopefully using a process that includes reason.
If we reason about our choices, rather than voting about them, we have a better chance of getting good results. For example, in choosing a state for the Free State Project to focus on, voting has essentially no merit. An online poll that allows for self selection error is fraught with invalidity. Any first year statistics textbook explains why. If a decision is made by voting, you cannot be sure that each person voted, that each voter cast only one vote, that each person was using reason in casting their vote. You are basically risking everything.
Instead, I would suggest the use of reason. Let all ideas be presented. Encourage brainstorming. Look at all the data on each prospective state. Come up with exact trade offs for population as opposed to other issues (current tax structure, policies on prostitution, gambling, or other activities, etc.)
If there are arguments to be made about one state versus another, hear them out. If a person has no arguments to make, why assume he is any proper judge of the matter? Why count his nose? Maybe his views are foolish, and should not be taken into account at all. It is the height of unreason to weigh his "vote" the same as the vote of someone with well reasoned arguments.
I suppose if all the arguments presented show that two or more states are equally valid as places to focus, then a vote would be a way of selecting one and only one. But, I would also question the value of eliminating all but one state. Why focus on only one? Walter Williams focuses on two, Texas and Louisiana. Why not three or four states?
The argument was made in 1861 that the seven states that first seceded should unite in an alliance to defend themselves. They did. Six other states joined them. Of course, that alliance failed. But, when it is railroad time, people railroad. When it is time to secede, people around the country may be ready for it.
Another interesting point is the prior restraint that appears in place on the FSP web site. Only certain states appear there. One that has made actual moves toward secession, Arizona, was not, as I recall, listed. Too populous. But its legislature has passed resolutions calling for secession under limited conditions, recently.
Next, voting is ineffective as a mechanism of political change. You cannot count on the votes, because the votes aren't counted. Mounds of evidence await. See Tamara Clark's situation in Clark County, 1992. See the Texas Republican Party's complaint of 208 vote fraud incidents in the 1998 election in Texas. See the Florida vote "re-counts" in 2000, wherein a presidential election was decided by a court rather than a count.
If you insist that you must rely on vote counting as your only means of political change, then you must work very hard to make sure the votes are counted properly. That is no trivial task. I've been a poll judge for the LP in Harris County. We were not allowed to go with the ballots from the precinct room to the room at the Astrodomain where the voting machines were. While I can validate that no ballot stuffing occurred at my precinct, I cannot say a thing about the vote counting machines. For all that I know, the ballot box we sent ended up in a fire, and a completely different set of ballots were counted. You cannot rely on that kind of limited involvement. And, I doubt very much that the powers that be are going to provide you access and insight into the vote counting process without much, much, more of a vigorous fight than y'all seem to anticipate. It could get bloody. The two major parties and those who control them do use death threats and other forms of extortion in politics when people refuse to just go along with the system.
So, your effort to avoid bloodshed by seeking votes may be ill-placed. You may get bloodshed, too.
I would go further. Suppose a state duly elects its legislature, and they vote to secede. It has happened before. It led to bloodshed. A lot of bloodshed. More than in any other war fought in the USA or by USA troops. More than all of the others combined, in terms of civilian and battlefield casualties.
There is a lot at stake in the breakup of the USA. I think it is coming, but it will be resisted by various interest groups. And there is no reason to think it can be as "bloodless" as the break up of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Empire. And that has not been entirely bloodless, as the experiences in Chechnya, Romania, and former Soviet client Yugoslavia indicate.
What I'm saying, even before I discuss the morality of political voting, is that your life and limb are at risk. Whether you propose to initiate the move toward secession by a vote or by other means (e.g., buying a territory, such as Seranilla Banks, from the USA, as has been proposed by staff of Ron Paul, member of Congress) you risk your life and limb if the effort looks like it would succeed.
Casting ballots won't save your life. It is as likely to get you killed as any other form of attempt to overthrow the present order.
And, voting in political elections is immoral. It points a gun at everyone who is subject to the whims of the elected officials for whom you vote. That is not metaphor. That gun is real. Magistrates, sheriffs, policemen, "national guard" and the USA military carry real guns that are really pointed at tax avoiders/evaders, regulation violators, and the like. There is no safety for you in voting, for the same reason that it is immoral. It involves the use of force, by those who control the state, on behalf of those who vote for them, and involving those who vote against them.
Much more has been said, much more eloquently, by Wendy in her essay, so I'd recommend you read that before looking to me for further thoughts.
(While I'm on the subject of other input, I've included L. Neil Smith on this distribution as he lives in Fort Collins, one of those earlier "libertarian homeland" projects. He might have some thoughts on how well that worked, getting people to actually relocate there.)
I think your opinion that if we want a libertarian homeland, we either have to use the existing system, or overthrow it, is mistaken. It contains a number of mistaken theories which I think have been proven false by other analysis.
Basically, you seem to insist that (a) the USA is it for living space, while the universe is much larger; (b) the system as such is an impediment to all other ways of life, while it is comparatively easy to avoid; (c) it is possible to create a libertarian homeland by working within the existing sytem, while it is clearly not possible to do so. On (c) I'd extend by noting that doing so actually limits the prospects for success.
There are now about seven places where free ports may be located in the near future in places like Western Canada (in Native land), in the Caribbean, in Eastern Europe, and in Africa. These are ones about which I have knowledge. Buying land in one or more of these places makes much more sense than voting. Investing in a company, such as Awdal Roads Company, that works on such ventures, makes much more economic sense than voting in political elections.
There are a whole lot of reasons I have fixed on the Awdal Roads Company as the sine qua non of my freedom work. I express many of these on a private URL which is available upon request. It isn't for widespread distribution.
I disagree that we have to overthrow the system, if we don't work within it. It is falling apart, is becoming increasingly rigid (like a mechanical system that is about to fail), and it is going to collapse under its own weight. We don't have to overthrow it, if we can be a little patient. Nor do we have only the alternative of working within it if we do not overthrow it.
Consider the hypothetical example of Galt's Gulch as outlined in Atlas Shrugged. I don't agree that the success of that venture was dependent on hiding the actual physical location using high tech beyond our present capabilities. But, its success did depend on secrecy. It is not necessary to advertise widely about ventures like Awdal Roads Company, because the circle of people who would likely care is rather small. We don't advertise or publicize, and we have had good success raising capital from entirely private sources. I suggest that the Free State Project would be better off if it kept most of its publicity to a minimum.
Galt's Gulch also did not overthrow the system it opposed. It simply removed the productive minds in support of that system, and the system collapsed. Such a strike (Rand's working title for the book was The Strike) would not be hard to organize, and would have devastating effects; disinvestment in the regime of coercion is important.
Finally, I would like to ask you why you think that working within the system offers prospects for success. The states which seceded in 1861 did so entirely by constitutionally authorized means. The power to secede was reserved to the several states, and to the people. In the case of Texas, not only did a lawfully elected legislative body approve the ordinance of secession, it was ratified by 76% of the voters of Texas (vote held 28 February; votes counted 6 March; no, I have no idea how many ballots were discarded.
Did that allow for the peaceful declaration of independence and secession which Walter Williams has proposed? No. It led to the bloodiest war in USA history. It led to millions of casualties, hundreds of thousands of deaths, billions in property loss. Why suppose that the prospects for independence are different now? Sure, we could likely win a war for a rugged territory like Wyoming or Idaho, in the same way that the Afghans won their war, but not without paying the price. And that price will be very high.
Voting isn't going to make that price lower. If anything, it will stiffen the resolve of our opponents, who would likely seek to wipe out large segments of the "traitorous" population. One nuclear bomb could prove to be an overwhelming demonstration of their power.
And, that's why my extension on (c) is listed. I think by making a public spectacle of the voting to secede you limit the prospects for success. You attract to the state all the possible vote fraud the other side can implement, and you attract to the outcome of the vote all the stiff opposition the other side can muster in military and economic "sanctions" if the vote goes your way. So, it is really bad strategy.
Instead, I'd suggest that you pursue a Gold Dollar Ranch strategy, and buy land in a likely state, such as Wyoming or Nevada or Arizona. Or several states. I would suggest that you look seriously at the Landholt/Geshlider project in Loving County, Texas for the takeover of a single county, because a lot of law enforcement takes place at that level, or at the local level, and because a network of such counties could be extremely useful in accumulating the resources for defense of one or more free states. (The county approach also depends on votes, for officials like Sheriff, county commissioner, county constable, and county recorder. But, these votes take place in the context of much less publicity. There are only about 60 people in Loving County, so it won't be hard to keep the results quiet. And it won't be nearly as hard to make sure the votes are all counted. I'm not involved, because I cannot countenance voting, but if they succeed, I may well buy land in Loving County.)
And I'd suggest you take a serious look outside the USA at the success of some 800 free ports worldwide. There are a variety of jurisdictions, like Amsterdam, where prostitution, possession of narcotics, and gambling are legal. If you seek freedom, you can make it or find it in many places. Broaden your horizons.
In summary, voting isn't useful, it isn't effective, and it isn't moral. Don't vote, please. There are lots of good ways to create a libertarian homeland.
There are none that I know of or can imagine that won't require those who live there to be willing and able to defend that territory with guns. The price of freedom must be paid, and it is often everything you've got.
In reference to "Take Back Your Country: A Manifesto in Three parts" by Chris Goodwin such an action is already underway.
The Vermont Project is using the initiative process in the state of Missouri to repeal the law that forbids concealed carry.
Missouri is one of 6 states that make no provisions for its citizens to carry concealed weapons for self defense. Two years ago we held a referendum on a shall issue permit system. It was defeated by less then a 4 point margin. Some of us feel it is worth trying again.
Not the exact same proposal of course. Where the earlier vote was on a permit system, the Vermont Project is calling for the repeal of the objectionable law. No permits, no required training, no fees. Pack 'em if you got 'em.
To learn more about the Vermont Project visit our web page at http://www.vermontproject.org. If you live in Missouri, you are needed to help gather signatures. If you live anywhere else in the world -- send money.
Steve Umscheid [email@example.com]
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