To my L.P. colleagues:
During the past 16 years, I have had the honor and pleasure of working as a member of the Libertarian Party for a freer, better society. I am constantly impressed by the dedication and devotion to the principles of liberty and personal responsibility shown by my L.P. colleagues. I write to request a favor of you.
During the past eight months, several L.P. members whom I greatly respect have approached me with the request that I seek the chairmanship of the party in 2000. These members come from throughout the country and represent a wide variety of viewpoints concerning strategy and tactics. In particular, they argued that I would be a "consensus candidate" who would help unify the party. After receiving these requests, I contacted other L.P. members whom I respect to ask their opinion; they were uniformly in favor of my seeking the position.
While I was flattered by the kind comments I received, my initial response was to decline to seek the position. There are many reasons for this, not least of which is that I have no burning desire for the job. However, I cannot ask others to seek the position if I am unwilling to stand up when needed.
Thus, I have decided to seek the chairmanship. I ask you to consider the following information and determine whether you consider me worthy of the job (or further consideration).
I currently serve as a member of the Libertarian National Committee (elected at-large in 1998). For several years I have served as the national campus outreach coordinator; I have made three campus organizing tours for the party, and I am an advisor to several campus groups throughout the country. I am secretary of the Jefferson Area Libertarians (a local affiliate party of the Libertarian Party of Virginia) and vice-chairman of the L.P.Va. I have served on the L.P. platform committee (1991, 1998). I was a member of the "Success '97" and "Success '99" seminar faculty. I am the strategic advisor to Gary Reams' U.S. Senate campaign this year.
Should you entrust me with the chairmanship, my points of emphasis will be:
1) Reaching out to young people, particularly high school and college students. It is crucial that we improve our effort to reach young people. I believe my campus outreach work provides me with some useful skills in this matter.
2) Improving the process of generating, recruiting, and training new activists. We need to do a better job of encouraging members to become activists in their communities; this is particularly true of those who are the "lone Libertarian" in the community. While the "Success '97" and "Success '99" training programs were very successful, there are other tools we can use to improve the quality and scope of our efforts.
3) Improving membership retention. I have several ideas in this area, including some pilot programs that I am willing to fund out of my own pocket.
4) Finding better ways to leverage the work of people and organizations in the broader Libertarian movement, especially the think tanks (e.g., Cato, Reason, Cascade, and Heartland) and the educational groups (e.g., F.E.E., I.H.S.). I believe my relationship with these organizations is very good, and that I can contribute substantially in this area.
5) Conducting a full-scale systems analysis of the L.P. and its operations, particularly concerning the flow of information. In my opinion, a full analysis of L.P. operations on a regular basis is warranted. As a systems engineer, I believe I can ask the right questions and help to find the right answers.
(I realize that these are broad statements with few details; I'll provide more specifics in due course.)
There are certain aspects of my personal situation that should be particularly helpful if I serve as chair. As a Systems Engineering professor, my schedule is reasonably flexible and I shall have roughly four months during the spring/summer to devote almost entirely to Libertarian activity. ("The leisure of the theory class.") I live within a two-hour drive of L.P. HQ in Washington, D.C., which would facilitate my efforts to raise the L.P. profile with Congress and regulatory agencies, the "prestige press," and some of the think tanks. In addition, it would make it easier for me to perform various oversight responsibilities incumbent upon the chair. Also, I have set aside a pool of my own money to fund various projects; thus, certain projects I advocate can be tested on my nickel, with no financial risk to the L.P.
Please note that I have no intention of campaigning for the chairmanship in the conventional manner. I am currently working at several tasks to promote liberty and defeat statism, and I don't want to divert time and money from these tasks to campaign for an internal party office. I intend to offer my positions and qualifications in various forums, discuss issues with convention attendees in Anaheim, and then seek the judgment of the delegates.
For more information, please contact me at email@example.com. Incidentally, all candidates for the chairmanship and other offices are welcome to contact me to discuss ideas about building the L.P. and the Libertarian movement. I am happy to share my ideas with my colleagues.
Thank you for your work for liberty, and for your consideration.
James W. Lark, III is an assistant professor in the Department of Systems Engineering and an adjunct professor in the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. He is a director of the Financial Engineering Research Group at U.Va. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Va. Tech), and received a Ph.D. in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia.
Dr. Lark has served as a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Public Choice at Virginia Tech. He was an Earhart Foundation Visiting Fellow at the Center for Research in Government Policy and Business in the Graduate School of Management at the University of Rochester. He has also served as a visiting scholar in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, and in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is the author of publications in the areas of mathematics, operations research, and artificial intelligence.
Dr. Lark currently serves as advisor to The Liberty Coalition and its constituent organizations at the University of Virginia. He founded several of the Coalition organizations while a graduate student at U.Va. He also advises college and high school libertarians throughout the country on promoting libertarian ideas on campus. He has lectured and conducted workshops on campus organizing at several state Libertarian Party conventions, and at the Libertarian Party national conventions in 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, and 1998. He served as a member of the Libertarian Party's "Success '97" and "Success '99" Leadership Seminar faculty.
Dr. Lark has been a member of the Libertarian Party since 1984 (he is a Life Member). He currently serves as an at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee, and as the national campus outreach coordinator for the L.P. He also serves as the vice-chairman of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, the campus coordinator for the L.P.Va., the Ninth Congressional District chair, and the secretary of the Jefferson Area Libertarians (Charlottesville, Virginia). He has previously served as vice-chairman and secretary of the L.P.Va. He served as a member of the Libertarian Party's platform committee in 1991 and 1998; he will serve on the bylaws committee at the 2000 convention. He has served as a national campus liaison for the L.P., and has conducted three campus organizing tours on behalf of the party. He has been active in ballot access efforts, and was honored by the party for his effort during the L.P.'s 1992 ballot drive.
Dr. Lark is a member of the Academic Board of Advisors for the Institute for Health Freedom in Washington, D.C.
2/15/00 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Bill Shotey (313) 278-3673 BROWNE ANNOUNCES BID FOR LP PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION
DEARBORN. Harry Browne, 1996 Libertarian Party candidate for President of the United States has formally announced his bid for the party's nomination for this year's presidential election.
"I am running for President because it's obvious that no Democrat or Republican is going to stop the relentless growth of the federal government," the 66-year-old investment advisor and best-selling author said. "No one but a Libertarian will reduce your taxes dramatically, allow you to live your life as a free American, and restrict the federal government to its Constitutional limits."
Browne offered substantial support for his contentions and Libertarian solutions to our political problems.
"Today federal, state, and local taxes take 47% of the national income. The Republican and Democratic candidates are discussing whether that figure should be raised to 48% or lowered to 46%. I want to cut it in half -- at the very least!
"I am running for President because you shouldn't be forced to put 15% of your income into a bankrupt Social Security system. I believe you are better able than any politician to plan for your future -- and you certainly care more about it. I want to sell off unneeded federal land and other assets to finance secure, fully paid-up, private retirement accounts for today's Social Security recipients -- and free you immediately from the 15% tax.
"I am running for President because I want to bring peace to your city and your neighborhood by ending the nightmare of drug Prohibition. The insane War on Drugs has caused the worst crime wave since alcohol Prohibition of the 1920s. It has filled our prisons with non-violent people who are no threat to anyone -- requiring that murderers, rapists, and thugs be freed on early release to terrorize our communities.
"I am running for President because no Republican or Democratic politician will end the dangerous foreign policy that makes America the world's policeman, the arbiter of everyone's dispute, the bully inciting terrorism, and the enemy of half the world. I want you to be able to sleep securely -- knowing your children will never fight and die in a foreign war and terrorists will never attack your city.
"I am running for President," he concluded, "because the federal government has stuck its nose into virtually every area of your life, with no Constitutional authority. It has made a mess of our health care system, of education, of welfare, and of law enforcement."
Mr. Browne will be appearing at the Libertarian Party of Michigan convention in Ann Arbor on May 20th.
In discussions about campaign strategy, I'm always presented with the question of how to get the people who vote to vote for Libertarians. But, I believe that we are wasting our efforts to get active voters to vote for us. And, so long as we continue to try, we will continue to lose elections.
Twenty percent of those who vote will always vote Republican; twenty percent will always vote Democrat. Of the remaining 60% "swing" vote, 80% will always vote for either a Republican or a Democrat. That means 88% of those who vote will vote R or D, but not L. Only 12% will even consider us. And, even if we can draw the entire 12%, we won't win. 12% doesn't win, unless it's a plurality vote with fifteen candidates and five positions.
About half the people who are eligible to vote take the time to register. (With Motor-Voter, that might be a little higher now.) But, only about half of those who register actually vote. (And, with Motor-Voter, that might be a little lower now.) The result is that when votes are cast, only about 25% of the eligible voters go out and vote.
And, that's the good news. Perot polled 19% in 1992. But, as we are pointing out in our open debate campaign, he motivated an additional 12 million new voters to come out. THAT's where his 19% came from. Not from a draw from the Republicans or the Democrats.
Study the Jesse Ventura campaign. Ventura didn't win by drawing R and D votes; he motivated non-voters to get out. Of course, he turned out to be no different than the Rs and the Ds. But, don't lose the point: His success was in drawing NEW voters, just like Perot.
And, that's the key for Libertarian success. The Republicans talk about gun rights, and then introduce and push the biggest anti-gun legislation since '68. Tom Daschle, on the floor of the Senate, says that there is really no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. Bob Dole, in his retirement speech, says his biggest accomplishment was AFDC.
I don't wonder why people don't vote. It's clear. At a recent candidates forum in which I participated, one member of the audience told me that, for the most part, he couldn't tell what party each candidate was running with, because they all sounded the same. Expect for my call to end property tax and land use planning (which are both inconsistent with private property rights), nothing stood out as different from the other candidates.
And, that's what most voters (75%) hear, too. They listened for a while, and found that the choice was a Republican who wanted to expand government and raise taxes, or a Democrat who wanted to expand government and raise taxes.
That's our challenge. Libertarians have got to get across to non-voters. Without the added participation, we're doomed. We have got to learn the lesson of Perot and Ventura. The key to success is a message that rises above the noise of traditional politics, and sets us apart.
That's the advantage of advocating an end to the War on Drugs, Social Security, public education, and the income tax. It won't hit home with the 22% who won't consider us anyway. But, it will strike a chord with the remainder. And, ultimately, that's our success.
Bio: Robert Restivo is Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of Tom Green County, Texas. He serves on the State Executive Committee, and is currently a candidate for County office. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please make every effort to improve yourself, your campaign, and your affiliate by attending this years Leadership Conference THIS Sunday, February 27th!
This conference is valuable because it lets us all share ideas and information. Speakers range from LPM Chair Stacy Van Oast to petition expert Greg Schmid. Topics will range from the Presidential campaign to how file for your own campaign. And the ideas you will bring to us and take home with you will be invaluable.
There is no cost for this conference. The hotel has offered us a complete Frankenmuth chicken dinner for $15 should you wish to eat with us (please RSVP right away).
Please, take some time out this Sunday to join us. I hope to see YOU there!
The Ballot Access Retention Committee (BARC 2000) held their third meeting on February 21, 2000. Plans for the best presidential campaign season are proceeding. The committee has identified several billboards around the state that it is planning to obtain for the election. Fundraising continues to insure that we can obtain the billboards before the Democrats or Republicans get them.
Sunday, June 11, 2000 will be the committee's big "Slash the Pork" fundraising event. Presidential candidates Harry Browne and Don Gorman will attend and literally slash the pork at this pig roast with a machete. Tickets are available for an advanced donation of $40. Delegates to the national convention can get their tickets for a $30 donation. Tickets will also be available at the door for $50. For tickets, contact Greg Dirasian at (248) 592-9731 or email him at email@example.com.
Tickets will also be available at the February 27 Leadership Conference. You may also contact your local affiliate to see if they have tickets available for sale.
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