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?

First, Don’t Be Silly

“Government doesn’t work.”

“Back to the Pleistocene!”

“Capitalism kills!”

These are all silly slogans stated by various libertarians, environmentalists, and leftists respectively. They feel good to the speaker, but they destroy credibility in the eyes of outsiders.

Government does work. It is frequently inefficient, dangerous and/or criminal, but it does work. I get my mail regularly. When I send a letter, it usually arrives at its destination. If I want to find out who owns a piece of property, the local registrar of deeds can let me know. Even the Soviet Union’s government worked, albeit very poorly. Millions of people didn’t die of starvation under Stalin.

Libertarians are notorious for making categorical statements that are 80% true and 20% idiotic. A great deal of credibility can be gained by using some fluff. Replace “Government doesn’t work,” with “Government is inefficient,” and you are much more credible. But even there, you will be wrong. There are some areas where the government solution is more efficient than the market solution; national defense comes to mind. Try “Freedom works,” or more accurately: “Freedom usually works.” You can even use “Freedom usually works better than government.” With such technically correct statements, you maintain credibility long enough to back up your assertions.

A particularly persistent form of silliness comes from those anarchists who blame government for all wars, wrongful imprisonments, etc. See L. Neil Smith’s writings for examples of such thinking -- thinking that ignores many private and semi-private ventures such as the Vikings, William the Conqueror’s freelance mercenary conquest of England, assorted slave traders, pirates, freelance colonialists, pioneers, and lynch mobs. Governments are created to fend off such vile enterprises--as well as other governments.

Government is a moral compromise. Making everyone pay for the defense of the realm and for rule of law is a form of theft. But the alternative of anarchy often leads to vastly more theft.

It is true that many reasonably well behaved democratic regimes degenerate into dictatorship and worse. But it is also true that conditions of anarchy can do the same thing, though usually much faster.

Government is dangerous. This is a defensible statement, easily backed up by examples. But complete lack of government is also dangerous. Government should be kept under tight control, for sure. It is also well to keep it small for other reasons. But to call government the world’s worst institution in and of itself is a ridiculous overstatement.

It is better to use understatement than overstatement. But that doesn’t mean you have to be bland. It is better to froth at the mouth over taxes being 20% too high than to calmly declare that all taxes should be abolished tomorrow.

Order of Statements

It is possible to be considered silly even when you aren’t. When you make a statement that the listener disagrees with, you can get lumped into the enemy/silly category and productive listening ends. This can happen at any moment you make an unsupported statement.

Libertarians fall into this trap frequently because many of us come from a mathematical or philosophical background. In mathematics it is considered proper form to declare the theorem first, then give the proof, and finally present applications. This is completely backwards if you are trying to persuade a non-captive audience! A theorem stated before the proof is an unsupported statement. And since no rationale has been given, it is not only unsupported, but it is uninteresting!

Consider this sequence (listener’s internal response in brackets):

Theorem: We should end the war on drugs. [That’s wacky!]
Lemma: Laws against victimless crimes are unenforceable. [Are they?]
Lemma Proof: Without a victim to report that a crime has occurred, the police need to resort to spying, entrapment and informants to get prosecutions. And even then, most “crimes” go undetected. [What was that? I wasn’t really listening]
Theorem Proof: Since responsible drug use and dealing are victimless crimes, laws against such are ineffective. However, attempts to enforce such laws are expensive. Thus, we have a big expense with little, if any benefit. QED.
Justification: Our legal system is breaking down. Our jails are flooded to the point that we release violent sex offenders. The police are resorting to paid testimony, forced confessions (plea bargaining), and crime stays high.

Consider simply reversing the sequence above. Should you do so, each statement either stands on its own or is supported by previous statements. The number of statements that leave your listener incredulous goes down substantially.

This is not a silver bullet persuasion technique. But it is very useful, and easily learned. It is also productive to study why this technique isn’t more powerful. Why does it often fail?

  • The listener may not follow your logic completely.
  • The listener may not readily believe a statement of fact without opportunity to independently verify it.
  • The listener may disengage before you reach your conclusion.
  • The listener may reject your perfectly reasonable conclusion purely on ego grounds; people do not like admitting that they have been wrong.

These failure modes point to a powerful enhancement to this ordering: be incomplete! Instead of working your way down the entire argument, just give part of the argument. Leave it for the listener to finish the argument himself and come to your conclusion independently. This gives the listener time to process your facts and logic. It protects the listener’s ego as well; any mind changing can occur in private, safe from neener dancers.

In fact, it can be quite productive to talk about only the justification. Do this early and often enough, and you can get dibs on how to fix the problem. The socialistic Left does this instinctively. There is no problem too unimportant to justify a new government program. The details and workability of the proposed program is unimportant. The important thing is to get people concerned with the problem. This works. The opposition is often backed into the position of trying to deny the magnitude of the problem, which often results in appearing uncaring.

(A rare example of the Right using this technique is the public school debate. Here, the Left is in the position of trying to say there is no significant problem, while the Right hammers away at the school system’s many failings.)

That said, I do think it is also worthwhile to lead at least the interested voters through the complete chain of logic. But still, we need not always present the solution at the end, or even the entire argument leading up to the solution. Often, it is best to focus on only one step of an argument and leave the rest for later. (See " Who is More Evil?" " for an example.)

Speaking of proofs, I have not proven that this technique works. Instead, I merely invite you to try it for yourself. Notice how long your conversations run before they degenerate into arguments or cut-offs. Note who comes back for more discussion. Rejoice when someone changes their mind – especially when they do so on their own.

Previous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | Next

Lessons Learned in the Libertarian Party
General Motors vs. McDonald's
Danger! Overhead!
Economies of Scale
Professionals: not a Panacea
It's Coke or Pepsi Time
Use the Volunteers
Morale vs. Motivation
Proof by Definition
Vote for me, you Bastard!
Voter Education vs. Indoctrination
Sound Bites, Anyone?
First, Don't Be Silly
On Herding Cats
A Better National Committee?
And More
Why Third Political Parties Fail
The Constraints Third Parties must Obey to Succeed
A Strategic Framework for Third Political Parties
Starting a New Political Party from Scratch