When it comes to winning elections, Libertarian Party candidates are often their own worst enemies.
Pursuing contradictory goals is like fighting against oneself and the goal of using an election campaign to educate the public produces very different results than the goal of winning the election with integrity with respect to one's principles.
Focusing first and foremost on using an election to educate the public can only lead to very small vote totals and eventual discouragement of many libertarians who get tired of being associated with the party of low vote totals.
Libertarian Party candidates often end up with a very small percentage of the vote not because they stick to principle and always measure each policy position against principle. But because they insist on offering a "package deal", so to speak, which voters are not ready for.
Idealism in the form of "package-dealism".
In election after election, it has been shown that political success comes not from attempting to sell the whole package of one's ideals, but from listening to the voters in order to determine what parts of one's package the voters might be ready to go for and then focusing on only those parts.
This is called "strategic timing."
The idealist who ignores strategic timing and advertises during the campaign all the positions he or she would likely take is easily branded an extremist or someone who is "out of touch with reality." What better way to guarantee low vote counts?
Such an idealist may not really be out of touch with reality, but is out of touch with where the voters are coming from and where they might be willing to go at this time.
Again, the only election strategy which gathers great numbers of votes is not idealism in the form of "package-dealism" but strategic timing. Here's how to use strategic timing:
Find out the 3 or 4 issues which voters are saying are most important to them at this time.
For strategy purposes, assign points to these 3 or 4 issues according to how likely voters are to be open to libertarian alternatives. If most of the voters could easily consider libertarian alternatives, assign 100 points. If most of the voters would find it hard to consider libertarian alternatives, assign 0 points. If most of the voters fall somewhere in the middle, assign 50 points.
Then assign points to these 3 or 4 issues according to the vulnerability of the strongest opponent. If most of the potential voters could easily be dissatisfied with the opposition's solutions, assign 100 points. If most of the voters like the opposition's solutions, assign 0 points. If most of the voters fall somewhere in the middle, assign 50 points.
Here is an example table:
Important Issue #1:..........50............0
Important Issue #2:...........0..........100
Important Issue #3:.........100...........50
Important Issue #4:..........50...........50
In the above example, issue #3 is the issue which has the most points when the two criteria are added. This is the issue the libertarian candidate should campaign on.
The idea is to find one issue which stands out more than any other issue such that: (1) potential voters consider it to be a highly important issue, (2) potential voters might be open to libertarian alternatives, and (3) potential voters might be dissatisfied with the solutions of the strongest opponent.
The libertarian candidate then runs the longest, loudest, most spirited campaign possible advertising this one issue above all else.
Wouldn't the candidate be more spirited and thus more effective if campaigning on his or her personal favorite issue irrespective of these other considerations?
Spirited, yes. Effective? Maybe not. It depends on one's goal. Campaigning on one's favorite issue irrespective of voter's readiness is the same principle as campaigning for a package deal. This is usually called "kamikaze" or "suicide mission" for an idealist in electoral politics. Such a campaign may plant seeds and influence future thinking, but only one time in a million does it win a current election.
Listening to the voters in order to make one's campaign timely usually requires polling. Only a well-conducted poll with enough sampling data can tell you which issues really are important to likely voters, and which issues might have the voters going your way.
A libertarian would never use polls to determine what his or her positions are going to be. But polls are used effectively to determine which of his or her positions would produce the best results at the time.
Elections can be won by libertarians. Winning merely requires campaigning smart. Be sure to encourage all Libertarian Party candidates and activists to study the lessons of: Course in Political Miracles
“I did not understand what made me free, nor what my freedom is, nor where to look to find it. Father, I have searched in vain until I heard Your Voice directing me. Now I would guide myself no more. For I have neither made nor understood the way to find my freedom. But I trust in You. You Who endowed me with my freedom as Your holy Son will not be lost to me. Your Voice directs me." (Prayer from A Course in Miracles)
Available free online:
Course in Political Miracles
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