Tip O'Neil, former speaker of the House of Representatives, has been attributed as saying,"all politics is local". There have been others also attributed to have said this truth about politics, but what does it really mean?
It means that political parties and candidates are successful only when they have developed a local base of support. It means that to be successful in politics, you have to start at the grassroots. It means that the man or woman you pass on the street, live next door to or drive by in your community is what really drives political success.
This local support base is what knowledgeable politicians call the "base of support". Typically base of support is calculated by looking at the State Board of Education race and/or the vote for the Board of Trustees races for the Universities. The reason it is felt that the base of support is represented in these races is that these races are usually issueless and people tend to vote for their party preference since they do not know the candidates. Using this method, the Libertarian Party usually has a 2%-5% base of support.
The base of support is developed locally through local party races and activities. People do not identify long with something they cannot conveniently look into in their own lives. Thus, strong local libertarian parties on the county level along with real, active candidates for local office will shore up the base of support.
As the base of support expands, so will the number of local affiliates. Once the whole State is organized, then the State and Federal candidates can start seeing real success.But before we worry about all that, what can we do now to shore up the base of support?
First, in off election years, the local libertarian parties need to get to the people the best they can. Appear in all parades and hand out literature, take out a booth at the fairs or local events and hand out literature, go door to door sticking literature in peoples' doors or whatever else you can think of to get out the libertarian philosophy directly to the people.
Secondly, during the election year run active candidates for local office. A few thousand dollars on a local office will be more effective and credible than a few thousand dollars spent on a State or Federal office. Keep doing some of the off year activities outlined above too. Local parties should run local ads in the newspaper or radio one or two weeks before the the election touting the Libertarian Party slate--local, State and Federal.
While you are doing this, define success in realistic terms. Look at the base of support as the measure of success. If your local candidates are picking up 5%-10%-15% or more, you are solidifying and adding to the base. You do not have to win to be successful. The R's and D's will consider you a real threat after you break 10% or more, election after election. When the Libertarian Party shows some political clout, it is then that you will be able to move public policy in a libertarian direction.
Remember, people like to join a cause. The Libertarian Party cause is to fight back and take the government back for every individual. You must plan for the battle outlined above. Plan for success, then work the plan. You must live for that battle. And, we will win some races along the way. It's time for the Libertarian Party to come to the rescue. Together, we can take our government back!
The November/December issue of the Michigan Libertarian is now ready and online. Since the September 11 terrorist attack, the mail has been slower than usual and many people complained that their newsletter didn't reach them until 3 weeks after it had been mailed. Part of the plan for the newsletter has been to archive it and make it available online for everybody, in addition to mailing it out. That part of the plan has now become a reality. The current issue of the newsletter, as well as the previous two issues of the newsletter can be found online at:
Click on the appropriate link to view the newsletter issue of your choice. If you have difficulty reading the file (or specific pages of the newsletter), go to the URL shown above and right-click on the link, then save it to your hard drive and read it from off of your own machine. This should enable you to get around an transmission problems.
The deadline for the next newsletter is January 2, 2002. Please contribute articles about activities in your affiliate prior to that date.
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