I first became involved with the Libertarian Party in 2000. I had been a registered Republican since 1994 when I turned 18. Politically, I have always been in favor of smaller government, less spending and lower taxes. However I felt the GOP by the late 1990’s was not reducing the size of the government as much as I wanted it to. Keep in mind that this was during a time when there were several years of budget surpluses that caused the national debt to drop from 5.5 trillion to 5.2 trillion. Of course, after 2001, it went topsy-turvy no matter which party was in charge.
So after voting for Harry Browne in 2000, I sought to become involved at the local and state level. All in all, it was positive. Some of the libertarians I had interactions with were productive and fruitful. I even arranged for Michael Badnarik to visit Knoxville in 2004.
I was chairman of the Knox County organization from 2002-2004. Overall, it was a rewarding experience in terms of gaining experience in running an organization. It involved everything from organizing chapter meetings, inviting members to attend, arranging for guest speakers. Petitioning for repeal of the wheel tax. I met everyone from Bernard von Nothaus (founder of the Liberty Dollar), Richard Mack, Ron Paul, Jill Stein, Jo Jorgenson among others.
The major pitfall was when it came to organizing canvassing events, party building exercises and other general activities that are conducive to building a political party, it can be a good bit like herding cats. I could invite 50 people to a meeting and maybe 5 people show up. I single handedly had to do all the work in Knox County on behalf of Michael Badnarik. Ultimately, most of the members either didn’t really believe in libertarianism, were willing to do what it takes to build an organization or just simply lazy.
I was burned out after the 2004 election cycle and resigned from the Libertarian Party. I stayed in bed for about a month and recuperated. While I am still a Libertarian in principle, I am much more cautious about how I go about applying myself. Over the years, I have been notified by a number of women in particular and some men that one of the major problems with the LP is that a core group of the members act like something out of Animal House. Multiple women have reported being sexually harrassed or verbally assaulted. Others may complain that too many libertarians don’t take the proper steps towards building a respectability that would help build its image. For example, it wouldn’t hurt to comb your hair, brush your teeth and wear a suit and tie every once in a while.
I had witnessed a spat on a woman’s Facebook account where one of the LP members was getting really heavy handed with the woman. His beef was with Trump being a “wasted” vote and ballot access laws in Tennessee. It was getting so out of control that even the woman’s husband had to chime in to get him to tone it down. Another person mentioned that while he agrees with the LP on much of its platform, the lack of grace and humilty and overly aggressive tone keeps him from not bothering joining the LP. I pointed out in a general sense that while I agree that ballot access laws and campaign finance reform are woefully needed, the lack of people building and coalition building skillset was a major hinderance in getting the LP traction it will need to go forward to actually have an impact. When you have been around 50 years and still drawing less than 1%, that low figure can’t solely be attributed to unfair ballot access laws the issue notwithstanding.
Here are two videos by my friend Melyssa regarding her experience with the LP.
Just today, I had a run-in with several members of the Tennessee Libertarian Party that was outright bullying and apologist for statism. I had posted on the TnLP Facebook page suggesting that perhaps some of them could take the reins in organizing several of the cities like Nashville or Tri Cities for a No Mask Mandate event in conjunction with the Knoxville event that will take place on October 25 in Market Square. Several of the members claimed it was not worth bothering with and that we should obey the mask mandate because it wasn’t worth wasting their time over. I then explained how the mask wearing affected me as a hearing impaired/deaf person. They then ramped up the personal attacks on me and claimed I was lying about it.
Update: The individuals who attacked me on the TnLP group were trolls and not genuine LP members. That aside, my other points in this article stand.
If the LP can’t even get together a few people to go a local event for a few hours, how it can expect to get people elected to office? If the LP can’t even conduct themselves properly in personal interactions, how can it expect to win them over on political issues?
So until the LP (or a sizable portion of its membership) gets its act together, it can’t expect to do any better than 1% of the vote.