The following proposal for a strategic plan has been submitted to the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) by David Bergland as of Dcember 6th. It is on the agenda of the the LNC r meeting scheduled for Dec 11th and 12th in DC.
PROPOSAL FOR A STRATEGIC PLAN SUBMITTED TO THE LNC. December 11, 1999
P R E F A C E
The purpose of this preface is to provide a context of historical development, governing documents and principles, and underlying assumptions that might otherwise go unnoticed. This should assist members of the LNC in their deliberations regarding the adoption of a Strategic Plan by answering some of the questions that might otherwise consume considerable time. The Chair takes responsibility for any errors or offenses to your sensibilities contained in this preface.
This document was originally drafted by the Chair and submitted to the National Director who made comments and proposed changes, specifically the setting of goals which appear in the substantive part of the proposal. The Executive Committee then reviewed the work product of the Chair and the National Director and made further revisions to the substantive part of the proposal.
Libertarians seek to live in a libertarian society; that is, a society in which libertarian views predominate. Such a society would have a government small and limited in scope, if it exists at all.
PREMISE FOR LIBERTARIAN PARTY
The Libertarian Party operates within, and seeks to use, the existing political system to bring libertarian ideas to society and move it in a libertarian direction by
(1) indirectly - disseminating information to persuade people and politicians to move in libertarian directions on all issues;
(2) directly - electing Libertarian candidates who can change law and governmental structure in a libertarian direction.
STATEMENT OF PRINCIPLES
Party leaders and activists must, in their capacities as Party members, leaders, candidates and representatives, adhere to the Party Statement of Principles. Any strategy adopted by the LNC must also adhere to the Statement of Principles.
LIBERTARIAN PARTY STATEMENT OF PURPOSES - FROM THE PARTY BYLAWS
Similarly, any strategy adopted by the LNC must be guided, and limited, by the Party Bylaws, and particularly, the Statement of Purposes included in the Bylaws, which states
The Party is organized to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles by
= functioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements;
=moving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office;
=chartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities;
=nominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office; and =entering into public information activities.
ANALYSIS OF PURPOSE STATEMENT
I. Separate and Distinct. Experience shows that reliance on other political parties and movements has little promise of achieving a free society, or even moving in that direction. Human psychology predictably attempts to place anything new into the existing paradigm. Consequently, we have had to battle the erroneous perception that libertarians are conservative, liberal, or an odd combination of the two. For this reason, it is extremely important that the Party maintain itself as a uniquely libertarian organization that the public will not confuse with other parties or political organizations. The distinction should be based on the libertarian philosophy and the Party’s adherence to the principles of that philosophy in its conduct.
II. Building a Party that Elects Libertarians. This part of the purposes statement was added in 1998, prior to which the LNC had adopted it as a mission statement. This amendment to the Bylaws reflects Party growth, internal Party evolution, and changes in American society that make electing Libertarians increasingly possible. The language of the statement emphasizes the complementary connection between Party building and successful election campaigns.
III. Chartering and Promoting Affiliate Parties. The Party Bylaws protect the Libertarian Party name by giving the Party the power to charter affiliate parties in the states and allowing only one affiliate party per state. Effective political activism realistically can only take place at the local level, within the affiliate parties. The Party has from the beginning worked to bring affiliate parties into existence and to nurture their growth, effectiveness and independence with a variety of programs.
IV. Nominating Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates and Supporting them and Affiliate Party Candidates. As a national political party, only the Party is in a position to nominate its presidential ticket; the affiliate parties could not. From the outset in 1972, Libertarian presidential campaigns have been a centerpiece of Party activity for the purposes of promoting visibility and membership growth. In addition, affiliate party candidates perform a similar function with their campaigns for state and local office.
V. Public Information Activities. In a sense, all Party political activity serves a public information purpose. People must be informed about alternatives to the political status quo before they can act on that information. Methods for informing the public vary widely and must be continuously examined and redesigned for maximum effect.
HISTORICAL AND CURRENT STRATEGIC PLAN
In the beginning (December 1971), only the national Party existed. The existing handful of Party leaders reached out to libertarians they knew in the states to form affiliate parties. Thus, a decentralizing course was set. It might be said that the strategy was to charter affiliate parties that would bring in more libertarians and elect libertarians who would, in turn, reduce government. It was understood that the Libertarian presidential campaigns, at least in the early days, would serve to recruit and mobilize, rather than result in election of a libertarian president. In the early years, libertarians generally believed that informing the public about libertarian philosophy and its application to social policy would result in rapid acceptance and implementation. Clearly articulated, logical, principled arguments should carry the day--but they did not. The Party grew at a steady but not spectacular rate through the 1970s and 1980s.
About the beginning of the 1990s, a new strategic paradigm began to emerge. It has taken firmer shape and is the strategy that the Party has been following for the last several years. The centerpiece of the strategy has been to place a high priority on membership growth. In sum, membership is the necessary condition for making everything else of importance happen. More members increases the pool of people, talent and monetary resources. Larger Party size creates credibility and encourages more membership. It makes electoral success easier because of a larger pool of candidates and campaign workers, as well as increased numbers of libertarian voters. But, to say this is slightly misleading--for the reason that some elements of the operational strategic plan are so fundamental as to be easily overlooked. So, let us examine the total strategic plan, beginning with its foundation (the frequently overlooked part).
Level One Elements Necessary for Basic Existence and Continuance of Party.
Governing Documents - Bylaws
Chartering affiliate parties
Leadership Cadre - Party Officers
Communications between and among officers and members
Funds and fund raising to pay for operations (whether done by volunteers or professionally).
National conventions to elect leaders, amend governing documents, adopt and amend Platform, nominate presidential ticket, and establish strategic objectives.
Level Two Elements Necessary for Party Growth and Credibility Beyond
Programs to recruit new members.
Programs to achieve ballot access for presidential ticket.
Public information programs.
Professional staff (one or more).
Regular communication system with members (e.g., LP News).
Level Three Elements to Achieve Rapid Party Growth, Credibility and Effectiveness.
Aggressive and creative membership recruitment and retention programs.
Aggressive and creative fund raising programs.
Increase in volume and variety of public information programs.
Affiliate party support programs.
Ballot access for affiliate parties (petitioning, lawsuits, lobbying).
Organizational and leadership training (e.g., Success 97 and 99).
Administrative support (e.g., UMP).
Internal education for members.
Affiliate party candidate training and support.
Presidential campaign support.
COMMENTS ON PREMISES FOR PROPOSED STRATEGIC PLAN
It should be apparent that the foundation for a strategy that will lead to success (defined as a Party that can move public policy in a libertarian direction by electing libertarians) must place continued and dramatic membership growth and retention as its key element. There are several interrelated reasons for this. Most directly applicable is the practical reality of electoral politics that party affiliation is a fair predictor of election results, particularly in partisan races. Until we get some substantial percentage (10%?) registering or otherwise identifying themselves as Libertarians in a district, it is unlikely that a libertarian will be elected in that district.
It is also inescapable that members (and non-member contributors) are the primary source of all the necessary resources for electoral success. They contribute the necessary money, talent and effort to do all the things that will result in electing libertarians. Members are the source of candidates, petitioners, campaign workers,
etc. (Of course, we must recognize that all these benefits come with costs. New members need education and service to assimilate them into the team and help them become good representatives of the Party to others they may influence.)
Finally, as our membership increases, that growth counteracts a serious obstacle to more growth the wasted vote (and wasted effort) syndrome. As our numbers increase, more and more people will find it easier to decide that upporting us with membership, money or votes is not a waste for them.
The following Strategic Plan is designed to move American society in a libertarian direction by building a Party that elects libertarians to public office; to do so in a way that maintains the Party as a separate and distinct libertarian political organization; and which adheres to the Party’s Statement of Principles and the Statement of Purposes set forth in the Party Bylaws. The Strategy addresses both the short term and the long term, even though the long term will extend beyond the term of this LNC.
SHORT TERM. TARGET DATE - DECEMBER 31, 2000. The Party will be large enough by the election in 2000 to be considered a significant factor in the presidential election and Congressional elections by the public and the media; and will have established a sufficient foundation by the end of 2000 for the LNC to begin establishing specific objectives for its long term strategy.
LONG TERM. TARGET DATE - NOVEMBER 2004. The Party will be large enough for its Presidential nominee to be seen by the public and the media as a legitimate contender in the Presidential election and for the Party’s congressional candidates to similarly contend for the election of a libertarian majority in the House of Representatives.
The goals set forth below were agreed to by the Executive Committee for the purpose of achieving the strategic target stated above for the short term.
1. To achieve 50 state, plus District of Columbia, ballot access for the Party’s 2000 presidential ticket, either on a party or independent basis.
2. To field at least 2,000 Libertarian candidates for all levels of office, running in both partisan and non-partisan offices, in the year 2000.
3. To field at least 218 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000.
4. To develop and approve a completely revised Libertarian Party Program that our congressional candidates can support no later than the March 2000 LNC meeting.
5. To purchase at least $1 million worth of television and other public media advertising during 2000.
6. To break even on the 2000 LP convention, excluding fund raising revenue from the convention banquet.
7. To complete initial development of and launch the Party’s new Internet site no later than March 11, 2000.
8. To retain party ballot status in 28 to 31 states as a result of the 2000 elections.
9. To achieve a paid membership level of 50,000 and a contributor level of 60,000 by June 30, 2000.
10. To achieve a paid membership level of 80,000 and a contributor level of 100,000 by December 31, 2000.
11. To achieve gross rebenues of between $5,000,000 and $6,000,000 during calendar year 2000.
12. To produce a half-hour television outreach program suitable for home viewing, public access television, or cable television and measure the following
= the number of copies sold;
= the number of copies distributed for airing on public access or cable channels;
= the number of copies given as a premium for contributions solicited to specifically produce the program;
= the number of times aired using purchased time; and
=any other helpful distribution or airing information.
13. To end calendar year 2000 with LNC, Inc., having an excess of cash over accounts payable of at least $150,000.
Other proposed objectives for 2000 considered by the Executive Committee, but deferred for further input were
1. To provide campaign and activist training at the national convention, state conventions, and other events.
2. To provide introductory education in libertarianism for new members and potential members at the national convention, state conventions, and other events.
3. Goals relating to media coverage and contacts.