As a Libertarian candidate or activist there will be some people who won’t believe in our campaigns, they don’t believe we can win and in actuality, they don’t want us to win.
In my experience recruiting candidates to run for office, these people, even just one of them can destroy a Libertarian campaign before it even gets off the ground. They will say things like, there is no way a Libertarian will get elected in XX district. Or, you guys don’t have a chance, the Republicans/Democrats are too strong in this area. Or, you guys can’t raise the money you need to be competitive. Or, you don’t know anything about running a campaign/running for office/getting someone elected, do you really think that will work?...
Some people, even those close to you, will say anything to hold you back. They will plant the seed of doubt in your mind and you will water it with “what if’s.” What if I lose? What if people laugh at me? What if I say something wrong? What if…what if…what if…
Look, no one knows everything they need to know before they get active in politics. When I joined the Libertarian Party back in 2011, I had no idea what I was doing or no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I just understood that I needed to do something. Our nation is getting worse, not better, and if we don’t do something, nothing will improve.
Our opposition is not afraid. They don’t care what people think, or what their family and friends think. They are pushing their agenda. An agenda of top down, authoritarian control. And if we continue to give others control over our thoughts, we will never fix it. However, when we truly understand that we all have the ability to learn the skills necessary to be successful in politics, we will win. When we realize that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump supporters are kicking our ass right now; people who have little understanding of economics, natural rights, and self-ownership. In sales it’s called, “ignorance on fire.”
My Libertarian friends are some of the most intelligent people I know. Some are single issue focused and can tell you every detail involved with solving a certain issue. Some invest hours a day on educating themselves on every aspect of Libertarianism, or on how the government is screwing us.
The recent Trump wins in both Iowa and New Hampshire made me very curious on how a campaign full of low information voters was able to navigate the caucus process. This is what I found, the Trump campaign was holding campaign training all around Iowa and New Hampshire. Read this:
“On Saturday, about 90 people from across Iowa showed up for the inaugural session of precinct captain training…”
“Many openly admitted to having a feeble grasp of the caucus process. The majority had never caucused before (only a third raised their hands when a Trump aide asked), much less been engaged in nitty-gritty campaign organizing.”
West Des Moines resident Alice Kronin left the training session with a sheaf of "door-hanger" handbills she's supposed to put on doors in her neighborhood to market Trump's proposals, and a navy blue Trump stocking cap for herself.
"I'm scared to death. I haven't done anything like this before," said Kronin, who works as a receptionist at a residence hall at Drake University. "I'm just going to wing it."
“At most Trump events in New Hampshire, the campaign asks people to sign up before entering the venue, asking them if they are registered to vote and making them sign what they call "endorsement cards." On Monday in Concord, a Trump volunteer was signing in voters on an iPad, using their first and last names along with an email address - presumably entering that information into a database of supporters.
Trump county chairs have also been hosting house parties, bringing local supporters together to discuss the campaign.
In recent weeks, the campaign has been passing out slips of paper with phone banking information - with times (9 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and office locations (Manchester, Keene and Newmarket) for those who want to get involved.
"Mr. Trump needs your help to turn his supporters out to vote, so please come to one of our offices after the rally to help Make America Great Again!," the fliers read.
Those sign-up tactics are standard practice for campaigns, said Jon Seaton, a Republican strategist who advised Lindsey Graham's campaign last year and Tim Pawlenty's 2012 effort. But he said the campaign could be doing more to get their most passionate backers involved.
"You certainly want to collect as much info as you can, email addresses are good, but really collect as much info as possible," Seaton said. "Ask them to sign up to volunteer and to come in to the HQ to make calls, to walk their precinct, to be active on social media and be an ambassador to the campaign that way. And then have a call-from-home feature so people can make phone calls during their free time to likely voters."”
What is the point I am making? Every skill necessary to be successful in politics can be learned. Pick something and become great at it through practice. Fortunately for us, there isn’t any infrastructure in place at the local level so we get to become the experts. We get to learn the organizational skills and level up.
The Libertarian Party is full of intellectuals, what we need now is more people taking action and learning how to campaign. Learn it, do it, then teach through showing how it’s done, not just telling. Stay committed to getting elected or helping someone else get elected no matter how many tries it takes.
Whenever someone tells you that it can’t be done, tell them, “If Donald Trump supporters can do it, so can we.”
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C. Michael Pickens
C. Michael Pickens is the CMO and Co-Founder of CannaSales, Inc., former Northern Vice-Chairman of the LPCA and Chairman of the LPWA, and author of the book, "Libertarian Leadership."