Thursday, October 26, 2006

Election Day, Nov. 7th: We need you!, by Chuck Moulton,

Our candidates need your help. These libertarian heros have dedicated countless hours of their time to petitioning for ballot access, putting together campaign websites, reaching out to the media, debating their opponents, and going door to door. In addition to their time they’ve invested their money in yard signs, literature, and advertisements.

Why are the Republicans and Democrats more successful than Libertarians? It’s not their philosophy... most Americans support smaller government and more freedom. Part of it is ballot access restrictions and media blackouts that don’t give Libertarians an opportunity to compete on a level playing field, but there is a much more important distinction. Republicans and Democrats support their candidates. Those candidates can expect an army of volunteers to collect signatures, man polls, put up yard signs, spread the word, and staff the campaign. It’s time we got serious about elections and started supporting our candidates better.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Are you a good man who is doing nothing? It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and rationalize your decision assuming someone else will step forward. In my years as a libertarian activist, I’ve learned far less people step forward than you’d think.

I’d like you to remember the following activist mantra (10 words, 2 letters each): If it is to be, it is up to me.

That mantra is short, easy to remember, and true. Whenever you are frustrated about government or want to complain about politics, I want you to think of that mantra. We libertarians need to take personal responsibility for our own government, our own political party, and our own candidates.

What do I want you to do? It’s simple. Our candidates need poll workers to hand out literature on election day.

The average state representative candidate has 30-40 polling places in his district. Unfortunately a person can’t be in 30 places at once, so he needs help. Having a personal representative at a polling place significantly increases vote totals.

Though working a poll for even a few hours is helpful, we really need all day volunteers. Can you spare one day a year for liberty? Or is liberty not that important to you?

Since 2002 I’ve worked a polling place on election day and primary day every year. You learn a lot about how elections work at the grassroots and you can really make a difference. Often it is a voter’s first exposure to the Libertarian Party and the libertarian philosophy. Some voters will run right by and be palpably rude to you. Others will be polite and start a conversation. Either way, seeing a libertarian poll worker and a libertarian sample ballot subconsciously tells them the Libertarian Party is a growing force in politics.

You will have an opportunity to discuss issues with the Democrat and Republican committee people all day long. Again, some are rude or hopelessly socialist. However, I’ve found most of them are good people who are open to the libertarian viewpoint. Invariably I convert some of them to libertarians by the end of the day and they get to see that libertarians are normal people just like them. It’s easier to convert an activist into a libertarian than a libertarian into an activist.

Organizationally you’ll be very impressed by the Republicans and/or Democrats (in some precincts one of those parties dominates and the other is nonexistent). I’ve found they know many of the voters by name and can make small talk about their kids or work from memory. They keep track of who has voted and who hasn’t, then they call their supporters who haven’t voted yet.

If we want to get serious about politics, we need to support our candidates better. As we offer more support, we will attract higher quality candidates. Election day is our best opportunity to spread the libertarian message to voters... let’s not squander that opportunity by leaving polling places void of a libertarian presence.

I’m working a polling place for a Libertarian candidate on election day. Who is with me?

Chuck Moulton is the LPPa Chair and LNC Vice Chair.

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