Get the Book

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?

Can Viral Marketing Work?

I joined the Libertarian Party as a college freshman. I very briefly participated with the local (Richmond VA) party but then dropped out of active party participation for about a decade. While I stopped interacting with the party other than by sending in membership dues, I did badger people left and right about the party and its ideals. After about seven years of this, I succeeded in getting one other person to join the party. Numbers like this result in a very slow viral marketing campaign!

One reason for my poor numbers is that I am naturally an introverted nerd. I am less nerdy today due largely in part to my later political activities. Nothing like door-knocking to burn out one’s introverted tendencies. And I also read Dale Carnegie’s book, books on NLP and listened to the Advocates for Self-Government’s tapes. Some of these studies bore fruit.

That said, these qualities were not the biggest factor for my lack of success. The LP’s message appeals to many nerdy types. Since I gravitated toward those circles, I had a more target-rich environment.

My biggest problem was that I had a message that did not sell. The tightest bottleneck was B. Most people are repelled by pure unadulterated libertarianism (i.e., anarcho-capitalism). Of the tiny fraction who actually liked the full message, only one thought that supporting the Libertarian Party was a worthwhile endeavor. (I did get a few others to vote Libertarian during this time; I just couldn’t get them to join the party.)

Eventually, around 8 years after I joined the party, I realized some moderation was in order. I dropped the strident no-compromise approach advocated by Murray Rothbard and Company. A more moderate form of libertarianism was a much easier sell. Selling the party remained difficult, however, because the party still put forth a radical agenda, and of those who agreed with it, most opted to work within the Republican Party.

Today, I advocate a left-libertarian agenda that mixes in some environmentalism, egalitarianism, and Christian values. Acceptance is commonplace. I think Bottleneck B for my agenda is on the order of 50%.

Suppose we had a third party whose agenda had such a popularity rate when properly explained. Suppose also that this agenda is notably different from either the Republican or Democratic agendas. What happens?

As a nerdy college student I probably pitched the LP to around 20 new people per year – possibly more. If half of them had liked what I had to say, and one in twenty had the potential to be an activist at my level, I would have cloned myself every two years. This is conservative. My conversations were more focused on the politically interested. Also, many of the non-activists would have told some friends – especially those who are into politics.

I think the upper-left agenda has the potential for explosive growth. It may be possible to do viral marketing and reach “the tipping point.”

I highly recommend that the reader of this plan read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. This book contains many insights into what causes a fad to explode onto the scene, how a product can suddenly become popular without any additional advertising or sales efforts.

Gladwell points out that ideas tend to spread through three types of people:

  1. Connectors – people who really like meeting other people. These people have thick address books. They collect business cards wherever they go. They have many, many, (necessarily) shallow friendships.
  2. Mavens – self-appointed experts. In the marketing world, these are the people who read Consumer Reports. They are the ones who can tell you whether Kmart or Wal Mart has a better deal on Crest toothpaste this week. Since such self-appointed experts are unpaid, they are trusted as unbiased and listened to by many.
  3. Salesmen – those who persuade as their job.

A message of radical individualism has limited appeal to Connectors. Ayn Rand is more popular at a Mensa meeting than at a Rotary Club meeting. Libertarianism as voiced by Robert Heinlein is considerably more appealing to Connectors.

The utilitarian flavor of libertarianism is rather Maven-friendly. Libertarians read more economics books than most. Unfortunately, due to the membership pledge, the LP has recruited heavily from the axiomatic/natural rights brand of libertarianism. The non-initiation of force axiom is unprovable, without recourse to one or more other unprovable axioms. Philosophical mavens know this and are turned off accordingly. This Neo Platonic approach to economics and law also can result in truly absurd conclusions, which also result in jeers.

A fuzzier pro-freedom message doesn’t attempt to have The Truth. Instead, it humbly offers more freedom to those who want it. By offering to yield to other concerns when cost/benefit concerns arise, it can avoid the reductio ad absurdum arguments that can be used against Rothbardians.

As for salesmen, the LP has relied too much on them.

The Green movement is more Connector friendly – at least as long as it stays pro-environment instead of anti-human. The economic ideas portrayed on the party’s web site, however, are laughable at times. Maven support is limited.

Gladwell’s observations about how ideas spread help us answer the question of whether platforms matter. They do. While most people don’t read political platforms, political Mavens do. And Connectors know and listen to Mavens.

Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | Next

Strategic Framework for Third Political Parties
Bottlenecks to Membership
Nonlinearity and the Bifurcation Fantasy
Awareness, a Closer Look
Best Message, a Closer Look
Credibility, a Closer Look
Dedication, the Fourth Bottleneck
Bottleneck Analysis Applied to Candidates
Can Viral Marketing Work?
Why Third Political Parties Fail
The Constraints Third Parties must Obey to Succeed
Lessons Learned in the Libertarian Party
Starting a New Political Party from Scratch