The page below is an old version of my Business Plan for a New Political Party. Due to popular demand, I have updated the Plan considerably and put it into Kindle Format. You can buy it here.
Yes, it costs a bit of money. But the return on investment is enormous if you are serious about starting a political party.
Are you serious?
Best Message, a Closer Look:
What is the point of making people aware of your message if people don’t like it? How can your campaign be credible if people don’t like your message?
The most important foundation of a political party is its message. If the message appeals to a sufficient fraction of the electorate, victory is possible. If it doesn’t, victory is highly unlikely, regardless of the level of effort.
It stuns me how many party activists within the Libertarian Party are in denial. When I spearheaded an effort to moderate the LP platform, I was confronted with many LP activists who told me that I was wasting efforts that should have gone into campaigns, that no one reads or cares about political platforms.
There are a couple of grains of truth to their assertions. Most people do not read platforms. And there are many people who vote purely out of name recognition, personal contact, etc.
But such people are exactly the sort of people who do not work on campaigns, donate to campaigns, or even vote regularly. To have the resources to do a name-recognition campaign, to have the volunteers to knock on doors in order to ask for votes as a personal favor, you have to have members and activists. Such people are aware of what is in the party’s platform. Even if they don’t actually read the platform, they hear about its contents through the party’s messages and/or through other activists.
Issues count. They motivate people one way or the other. I found it stunningly ironic to hear people scream bloody murder about the gutting of the LP platform with one breath and then with the next say the platforms don’t matter. Platforms obviously matter to activists. And a political party needs activists.
It is possible to measure the tightness of this bottleneck by doing polls asking questions such as:
You can treat as favorable all those who agree with your party’s stance and those who are more radical than your party (unless there is a different party that is more radical yet). Some of those who are less radical may also vote for you on the issue in question if they are closer to your position than they are to the position of the Democrats and Republicans.
Proper scientific polling is expensive. However, you can get a feel using friends, family and focus groups. Or, you (libertarians, at least) can look at my data from quiz2d.com at www.quiz2d.com/stats. There you will find the results from tens of thousands of quiz takers. Yes, there are biases in the data: many come to the site via libertarian web sites; takers tend to be younger, since the poll is on the web; and takers tend to be those searching for an alternative.
But actually, such a biased demographic study is more useful to the LP than a proper scientific poll! It shows where people stand among those interested in considering a third party, or the Libertarian Party per se.
See the web site or the addendum for some data on areas where the LP could greatly increase its acceptability.
There are three avenues available for opening this bottleneck:
The first avenue is the cheapest in theory. It is a factor that is purely in the control of the party’s activists. The LP could have a better message by scrapping the anarcho-capitalism and focusing on shrinking the size of government where doing so would have positive impacts in the near term. The Green Party could have a better message by cutting back on the socialism and anti-civilization rhetoric and focusing on efficient ways to clean the environment and decentralizing the economy.
In practice, doing this is expensive, as the radical base can resist heavily. Some will bolt should such changes occur. That said, if a third party is excessively radical, there is no viable substitute for Option 1.
Option 2 is definitely worth pursuing. The status quo forces are doing a great deal of education in the other direction. Education towards your message can have some effect. It is worthwhile to rely somewhat on education vs. changing the message so you don’t have to water down your message excessively.
That said, excessive reliance on voter education is a mistake. Education takes time. For many people the only effective education is a demonstration of a principle in action – and that requires electoral victory somewhere. (This point is made by the Free State Project advocates.)
Option 3 is useful for getting some swing votes. But don’t get too dependent on word-smithing. If people support the current drug war, it isn’t going to matter whether you call for “legalization,” “re-legalizing,” or “decriminalization.” Mastering sound bites is a somewhat useful political skill, but it can be easily overrated. Both the Democratic and Republican coalitions have their non-sound bite channels for communicating with their respective bases. Sound bites are for swing voters. New parties need to be mostly concerned with acquiring their bases.
Once again, I have been astounded by the degree with which fervent extremist activists think they can get away with bullshitting the voters. This attitude comes from people who loathe the BS that the major party politicians use.
Many voters do hear what you are saying. A major reason why the ideological third parties fail is that these same voters dislike what they hear. Rearranging some sentences will not change this.
Copyright 2007, Carl S. Milsted, Jr. All rights reserved.