Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Starbucks Libertarian Wants Stronger Top Tier Candidates

A guy working at Starbucks recently complained to me that the LP is "too disorganized." (Are they barristas if they're male, or barristos?)

This Starbucks worker had seen my PorcuPeace pin (which says "Libertarians for Peace") and he said he liked it, so I asked if he was a Libertarian. He said he liked some of the party's views, but didn't much like the party. I asked why, and he said it was because the party was "too disorganized."

His word. We're "disorganized."

I asked why he thought so, because it seems to me that the party is nothing if not organized. We've all levels of organization, from regions, to counties, to states, to national. And at every level, we have officers, websites, internal elections, delegates, bylaws, supper clubs, meetings, conventions, and ... well, there's really no one better at rearranging deck chairs than a Libertarian. We're still rearranging deck chairs long after the Titanic is underwater.

So this Starbucks worker replied, "I guess what I mean is, you guys never run any serious candidates." He then went on to explain that our presidential candidates were nobodies.

"So you think we should run more prominent people for president?" I asked.

"Well, or even for governor, or senator," he replied.

So that's "the word on the street" about the party. Although anecdotal evidence proves very little, it's nice to occasionally get a sense of what our supporters think of us.

This guy was a twentysomething white guy, working in a Starbucks in Santa Monica, California. He likes some of what he's heard about us, but all he knows about us, looking in from the outside, is who are top tier candidates are. The rest, he doesn't pay attention to.

This is noteworthy, because one recurring complaint in LP circles is that the party wastes too much resources on national elections. Those who hold this theory believe the LP should opt out of presidential elections, and run no one. Instead, we should focus on local elections, which in theory are easier to win. Then build a "farm team" of local office holders, who would then run for higher office. From school district board member, to state assembly, to senator, to president. So holds the theory.

LPC Southern Vice Chair Zander Collier III is a proponent of this "localist" theory.

I disagree. I stand with those who hold that presidential elections are great advertising. National elections are a great way to get on C-SPAN and attract attention. Ordinary people expect a real political party to run presidential candidates. They judge us by the prominence of our top-of-the-ticket candidates.

Zander Collier has told me that none of our national efforts have translated into votes or party growth. Yet who's to say we wouldn't be weaker if we didn't run national candidates?

My conversation with Starbucks Libertarian reaffirms the theory that the Average Joe only pays attention to "major office" elections, so unless we field candidates for those offices -- strong candidates -- we'll be invisible to "the man on the street."

Starbucks Libertarian likes our ideas, but he doesn't actively support the party because it's "too disorganized." Apparently, he assumes the LP didn't want to run its poor past candidates, but that it did so only because it was "too disorganized" to find serious candidates.

My conversation with Starbucks Libertarian (which occurred a month or so ago; I only now got around to blogging it) supports the theory that the LP would greatly benefit from running Ron Paul for president. Paul's a serious name candidate, whereas the LP's current declared candidates are a joke.

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