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?
Name and Theme
It’s time to come up with a name and theme for our new party.
What should be the logo? The slogans? Which issues do we press first? Whom do we target? All these questions make up the theme.
I am going to propose multiple names/themes here. The list is not definitive. There may be a better name out there. But these should start the debate. Criteria for a name theme are:
The second criterion could be dropped via a merger or name change, but it is still worth keeping in mind from the beginning. Ideally we want a theme that can win somewhere.
This is an obvious name for a moderately libertarian party. We can broaden leftwards by having three slogans:
Were I in charge of such a party I would put these three slogans on the front of the site, and have them link to libertarian, (classical) liberal, and (market-based) environmental areas, respectively. This is a good name/theme for trying to go after disparate groups from the start. We might want to quote Austin Powers as a slogan:
“It’s about freedom, baby!”
The word freedom provides wiggle room in issues such as foreign policy. One can argue either that isolationism maximizes freedom (because of less taxes, etc.) or that some intervention increases freedom (by overthrowing the vilest dictators).
Now for the down side: someone else already owns the name. There is a Canadian Freedom Party which is active, and a U.S. offshoot which is not. The Canadian party’s web site has a right-libertarian message with a Cluster 3 flavor. Recent attempts to contact the owners of freedomparty.us have been unsuccessful.
“It’s about Justice!”
This is a slogan that can be applied to many current defects in government, including:
Take care of justice, and liberty, prosperity and peace follow. This is the proper line of causality. This idea can be found in the Bible and I have seen it on bumper stickers on hippie left cars. I think this slogan focuses primarily at Cluster 2, but it has appeal to Clusters 1 and 3 as well.
I think it generalizes well to the major party level as well. The two major parties have generic names relating to the form of government. Justice is about the purpose of government.
On the downside, this name has not tested that well when I have asked around. Those on the Right are concerned that it could be mistaken for “social justice.” (I consider this as much a feature as a bug, but…) Others find that this is a frightening name, evoking a stern get tough on crime party. (I consider this a bigger concern.) Finally, someone else owns the domain names.
Free Liberal Party
Liberal, yet free. Free, yet liberal. Can there be a more succinct description of the upper left agenda?
This is a name that plays well to Cluster 1. It is OK for Cluster 2, but rather poor for Cluster 3. But perhaps it is not entirely unacceptable to Cluster 3, since many of its members do know what a classical liberal is.
This is a very attention getting name. It gets people to think outside of the box. It has even been tried in the field. Kevin Rollins launched a small newspaper called The Free Liberal. It was originally meant to be a libertarian outreach paper to the hippie/coffee shop left. Trials in the Asheville NC area were promising. The papers were read and the feedback was good. Meanwhile, the remaining freeliberal.com web site attracts both liberals and libertarians.
On the down side, this name doesn’t seem to have a strong base. It is an obvious hybrid, so you have to look between movements for supporters. Few Libertarians were willing to support the paper or use it for outreach. To this day, the paper struggles for funds and volunteers, having since dropped to electronic edition only . Some of these problems could be simply lack of startup capital and 501(c)3 status. The Free Liberal could well take off in the future, possibly becoming a national magazine.
There are signs that a free liberal movement is coalescing. See www.flowproject.org for an example. John Mackey of Whole Foods Market has been pushing for a more liberal friendly form of libertarianism. It might be possible to launch a Free Liberal party with some celebrity clout from the start.
I own freeliberal.org.
And unlike some other names, we have an obvious name for a member of a Free Liberal Party – a Free Liberal.
Methinks this is a strong contender, but I have a few reservations:
Free Community Party
This name is inspired by Don Wills’ idea of a Free State Party. Free Community has many of the same virtues as Free Liberal Party, but without the negatives that go with the word “liberal.” True, the word “communitarian” has been used to describe a modern cuddly fascism, but this usage is not universal; it is possible to steal the term. Plus, we have the word “free” as a differentiator.
The term “Free Community” can be interpreted two ways:
This dual meaning can be powerful.
The first meaning attracts libertarians who are interested in local issues. The second meaning attracts those who believe in local democracy, state’s rights, and bioregionalism.
There is little contradiction between the two groups. If the communities in question are small enough (smaller than a city), then we have a blurred line between what is a democratic government and what is a proprietary community.
Either meaning can apply to the same agenda: neighborhood zoning, school choice, different school boards for each school, etc.
This is a term Nick Wilson likes. It says much the same as Free Community. I personally find the term clunky, but perhaps my taste is not universal.
“A diverse ecology, using sound economics.”
This is a possible name for a non-socialist green party. It is a very utilitarian slogan. We can go after the “common sense” people who were attracted to Perot. John Hagelin also tried such a “use good solutions” message, but he was tied to Transcendental Meditation, which distracted considerably.
An Eco Party should try to target academia as well and environmentalist types. Concerted outreach to college professors should be attempted.
Advertise on Discover Channel and in The Skeptic. Advertise in environmental magazines and business magazines (as funds permit!). Advertise in the natural food stores.
Hold seminars on campus and in natural food stores.
I rather like this name, but many that I have talked to consider it to be too cute.
Also, ecoparty.org has been taken. But ecoparty.us is available.
Natural Rights Party
Here, we combine environmentalism and libertarianism with a non-utilitarian basis.
Using the term “Natural Rights” sounds like a prescription for yet another strident, inflexible libertarian party. However, this goes away if you take a more generalized view of natural rights. (See “Really Natural Rights” at www.holisticpolitics.org.) That is, if you were by yourself on a large deserted island, you would have freedom of speech, religion, etc. You would have freedom from taxation and other assaults by other people. On the other hand, you would not have certain welfare rights: no free food, clothing, medical care, etc. Up to this point this sounds like pure libertarianism.
However, under such a state of nature, you would have nature. You would have clean air, hunting rights, fishing rights, the right to roam, the right to gather wild fruits, to chop wood, etc. While you don’t have all the welfare rights many liberals desire, you would have more than many libertarians would give. Under such conditions you would be richer than many of the world’s poor, who have no property and no wild lands to exploit.
A Natural Rights Party’s mission would be to set up government to preserve natural rights as much as possible. Completely preserving all natural rights is not possible. There are trade-offs. Private property preserves privacy, but it interferes with the right to roam. My right to exclusively exploit a particular bit of nature interferes with your right. With a populous world it is impossible to preserve natural rights completely. Trade-offs must be made.
Preserving an optimal balance requires a mix of private property and public lands. Public roads preserve a right to roam. Public forests provide the right to experience nature without full exploitation rights. Private property provides fuller exploitation rights over a limited chunk of nature. Georgist ground rent distribution makes the right to some private property inalienable to all. Pollution taxes balance the right to exploit nature with the right to have nature.
Balance involves a combination of market processes and voting. Pushing Range Voting to improve the democratic process would be a logic plank.
A generalized view of natural rights rules out one-dimensional perfectionism at the cost to other values. It answers the “taxation is theft” argument with the simple fact that lost natural rights are a sunk cost. We can do better – much better – but perfection is not an option. Politics will always be with us, even if government as we know it is eliminated.
Market. A Natural Rights Party has potential with all three clusters. Cluster 1 can be targeted through the environmental network. Cluster 2 can be targeted through the fact that the jubilee and gleaner laws in the Bible are manifestations if this generalized view of natural rights. Cluster 3 can be targeted through traditional appeals to getting back to a natural rights basis for our government – vs. unrestrained democracy.
I own naturalrightsparty.org. This is my second-favorite option.
“Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and unto the inhabitants therein.”
This slogan is already written on the Liberty Bell (the obvious logo). It comes from Leviticus 25, in reference to the year of jubilee, a time of release from debt servitude, and return of the land to the people.
The name and slogan can be applied readily to:
This name/theme is obviously aimed at Cluster 2. It works well for Cluster 3 as well. We have problems with Cluster 1, due to the Biblical references. The Biblical references could be a problem for going mainstream as well.
But these problems might be surmountable. When field testing the various names, this one does fairly well, even among some of the atheists and pagans I have run it by. Some of the biggest negatives have come from Christians, worried about First Amendment issues.
Much of the animosity towards mixing religion (vs. church) and politics is a reaction to the judgmental elements of the Christian Right agenda – enlisting the might of the state in order to enforce their moral doctrines on others. The gentle side of Christianity elicits admiration from those opposed to the Christian Right. It is quite possible that many of those opposed to the Religious Right might appreciate an explicitly religious left-libertarian party that corrects the errors of the Religious Right. A local Unitarian preacher was quite interested in my “ God’s Welfare System ” essay, and I have seen positive links to my religion articles on a Wiccan web site.
The ideas that a Jubilee Party would set forth have found favor among many agnostics who desire liberty and justice. Robert Heinlein repeatedly borrowed from the Bible for ideas, as did many of the deist American Founders.
A Jubilee Party could appeal to traditional Americana (it’s on the Liberty Bell) without the taint of racism that comes from citing the Founding Fathers or the Constitution. It is my hope that such a party could get traction in the inner city churches as an alternative to socialism. It contains a message of mercy and justice that could be used to criticize the drug war without sounding like a druggie.
I own jubileeparty.org. I am test marketing the idea.
This one is a mixed bag, but there are some huge potential positives. And yes, I am biased. As a Christian, I am supposed to give God the glory, and there are some excellent ideas in the Biblical law that have been overlooked, laws that are of value even to the non-religious.
Copyright 2007, Carl S. Milsted, Jr. All rights reserved.