Take Heart, Libertarian Party
by Richard Lamping, July 1999
In war one sees his own troubles...
It strikes me that there are many Libertarian activists who do not know how they can channel their actions such that they see the growth and experience the joy of it. Most commonly, I see burnout. Candidates and consultants and volunteers feel the pain of post-election, and want to go crawl under a rock. Losing sucks. I don't deny that for a minute. But I am quick to remind myself . . . .
Nothing big ever started big.
Growth equals victory.
As Libertarians, we seek to change the world. We aren't really looking for an opportunity to wield political power.
And I remind myself that "Reasoned Dissent," my term for the matured stage of "the angry young man syndrome," is always more compelling to listen to than garbled political promises and pontifications by Democrats and Republicans.
I remind myself that political growth and change happens rapidly -- and every movement or campaign has moments when it is the flavor of the month. Planning for those moments of critical mass is fundamental to accentuating and accommodating growth, without self-sabotage.
I remind myself that simply living my life as a Libertarian, learning to understand and change my coercive tendencies, learning to do what I want to do, learning to communicate my values and my desire to see peace and prosperity be a global phenomenon... these are the activities in which I see the future with a sense of optimism and invigoration.
In my view, Libertarians in every state should be devising the most elaborate schemes of campaigning and outreach. Bump voter registration -- see how that feels. Raise a bunch of money -- see how that feels. Create a coordinated, active slate -- see how that feels. Study and practice the art of delivering a message, and then give a great speech to some students or Rotarians -- see how that feels. When we start realizing the meaning of each progression, each new challenge overcome, we feel the joy of what campaigning can be and can create.
Pretty soon we begin to see -- there are towns that are mostly Libertarian popping up all over the country. We notice a state that has certain Libertarian leanings -- the injection of our ideas has changed the political future.
I cannot feel the fatalism that so many discouraged Libertarians feel. I see the future as entirely undetermined. You and I can set any goals we wish. We can literally change the world. The only reason I see that so many Libertarians feel "it doesn't matter, it won't change anything," is because they fear failure, or being viewed by others as failures. They want to be viewed, and view themselves, as winners.
But I say -- Winning requires a worthy prize, a hurdle of great difficulty requiring skill and practice, time and resources. Winning anything worth having means truly putting yourself on the line. Your life, fortune, and sacred honor. It requires total commitment -- total. It requires that we get ourselves back up and re-enter the battle.
The Libertarian campaign victories of the future demand this kind of spirit and resilience. Only through these kinds of experiences are experts created and strategies mastered.
I am excited because I know there will be a day when the solid core of Libertarian candidates will keep their campaign headquarters open all year long -- even in off years. They will use polling and research data in the weeks after the election. They will send out literature in off years, and staff will keep them speaking and shaking hands and kissing babies even when the cameras aren't running. They will build the circle all the time, not just when they think it is expected of them.
These are some of the reasons I like congressional campaigns. They come around every two years, so they really never end. And everyone knows the incumbent is campaigning, so no one faults you for continuing the struggle. It keeps me working on the same problem over a long period of time, and each two year election is like taking a pulse, rather than feeling a rejection. It allows us to see growth patterns and alter course, or focus more specifically. It is information about how well our money is being spent, and how effective our message has been. Experience and practice are the constants in lasting and fundamental success. We cannot hope to grow without defeats and setbacks to sharpen us.
Richard Lamping is a political consultant living in Western Colorado and can be reached at