There have been many historic presidential runs in the Libertarian Party since its founding just a few short decades ago and along with them many Libertarian National Conventions. Still fresh on our mind will be the exciting and perhaps sometimes tumultuous 2016 presidential campaign. With many memorable moments throughout the LP presidential debates that built up to the convention perhaps one that stuck out was an epic closing statement by the late Marc Feldman who famously stated he was “THAT Libertarian” in his statement he added that he was “a no pain, no gain, get that petition signed in the rain Libertarian”
As something of an aspiring activist in the liberty movement myself I have become of the persuasion that our movement could use many more of “those libertarians”. In the spirit of putting my money where my mouth is so to speak I decided it might be worth a try to engage in some petitioning activities myself, but on a local level rather than a presidential one. It was the first time I had ever gone door to door and directly approached individuals in the general public in this endeavor, so needless to say I did feel out of my element, and while there was no rain to beat down upon us the blazing summer sun presented a challenge of its own. Even so, I and the other volunteers along with our county controller candidate Steve Brenize, mobilized quickly to gather those signatures. While the whole process seemed intimidating at first before, I knew it, it almost felt natural. We received a generally mixed reception that seemed to vary with each person we approached. One or two angry reactions were endured but I've found over time that those get easier to deal with especially as you learn not take it personally, and that for the most part they were few and far between. The majority of our visits were courteous and amiable , but still failed to produce the desired results for various reasons, and ever the up hill battle we even found ourselves asked to leave while gathering signatures outside of a public library. The challenges are there and they are real, but I've found that the key is to hold your head up high and remember to maintain a positive attitude. The most important lesson I learned upon finally obtaining my first signature was a simple and yet profound one: liberty is won one person at a time.
In business you often find that you are not always selling a product or service but are more often selling yourself. Your potential customers are more likely to nibble when you have a personal experience with them face to face as opposed to more impersonal forms of marketing, which require a much wider reach to be effective. So it is with our movement. Our success will depend less on the and glitz and glamour of crowded national conventions and more on the individual efforts of normal, everyday people like you and I, and even more so on a local level. We cannot compete with the corporate sponsorship of the major parties, but we can build a grassroots movement from the ground up. What you'll find is that the more people know you and what you're about the more positive the response will be, but this will not be from the massive efforts of a large party but from the efforts dedicated individuals and positive experiences with every day people, and finally the results that proceed should they be elected office. The true activism in the Libertarian movement then, must start at a local level with the communities and the people we have access to here and now.
For that reason, I urge more libertarians to become involved in local politics. It's easy to rant on social media or battle it out in the comments sections of an online article or YouTube video but if you want to accomplish real change you have to get out there and fight for it. The fame and allure of national politics are hard to resist, but if we ever want to be taken seriously there we have to start right here. We need more candidates and just as importantly our candidates need more help. No man is an island, and this is true even in the party of the individual. Our victory will not be achieved with the rise of a breakthrough presidential campaign that only comes around once every four years. It will be achieved by you and I making waves and spreading our message right here, right now, one person at a time.
David B. Beaver