Thursday, April 7, 2011

Election Day minus 25 - Done the 100+

Day 13 - I'm done, 120 signatures should be enough to satisfy the Returning Officer in my riding district.
At this point I've already spoken to hundreds of people, most have accepted my pamphlet, but many refused to sign their consent to my nomination. After trial and error, I might have developed the elusive 30 second elevator speech (in rough) answering: "What is a libertarian?" How do you summarize a political concept that involves principles and ideas that are really foreign to most of the electorate? Nearly 100% of the people I spoke to, never heard of the Libertarian Party, and had no idea what it stood for. In fact, many refused their consent on that basis alone, which is understandable, I too may have refused. Eventually I realized that people need a reference point in order to understand who and what we are. I started telling them that we were far more fiscally conservative than Mr. Harper (Conservative Party) (then I added: we think he is in fact a big spender) AND we are more socially liberal that Mr. Layton (NDP - Socialists). I used that line on many of the people I thought might understand and be aware of the current Canadian political scene. I also elaborated on it with examples. Many did understand, in fact a few suggested that we were "off" the right-left political spectrum, so I knew they were getting it. They were even surprised that a party like that existed, it was very heartening to me.
My 120th and last signature was the best, a bright young man, recently graduated from the University of Toronto in business but was unemployed. He told me he assists his family during elections in deciding how to cast their ballots and he has been for a while. We started talking about the war(s) and how pointless and ineffective they seemed, and he was surprised that we were against them (there goes my comparison with Harper above), he was against them too. Our talk ranged all the way to how we would "create jobs." "We wouldn't" I said, and explained just how jobs are created and how governments get in the way, he actually liked that explanation. It was a great way to end the day.

6 comments:

  1. I'm thinking that if libertarians are going to have any measure of success, they need to focus a lot on students. I guess it would be hard now because they cut high school to 4 years, so there aren't as many 18- and 19-year olds anymore. but still, for every 1000 seniors, and an election at the beginning of the fifth month, over 400 of them will statistically be voters (although that might be wrong because i believe there is not an even distribution of births throughout the year--but let's not get too technical).

    Most candidates will be ignoring the high school kids because they take it for granted that it will be the opposite demographic of people voting. Just by giving them attention, by being an underdog, and by presenting yourself as an honest person (the opposite of the stereotypical view of politicians), they will be sympathetic to libertarian candidates. I suppose you could also push the pot issue a bit too, and maybe some school freedom issues....

    Please don't think I'm telling you what you ought to be doing. I have never run for office so i am in no position to tell you what you need to do. Your post just got me thinking about reaching young people is all....

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  2. I think you are right. Of course the flaw in that thinking (now I'm speaking as a former teacher), is that those same young people that you think should be targeted, have just been subjected to 12 years of instruction from a group of intelligent but misguided individuals. Economics, especially free-market economics, is so poorly understood, so poorly taught, that most young people believe that the government somehow creates wealth (because they print money). Their unionized, socialized instructors don't know how to dispel that lie because they too were taught the same thing. The prospect of a Libertarian government that removes all entitlements, and lets people choose how to run their own lives, is not something that will grab the students or their teachers.

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  3. I think students can recognize from first-hand daily experience that the governmetn can be way off-mark on important ideas. if you ask a group of students, "is the education system, as you see it in your daily lives, anything close to exceptional?" you're not going to get many affirmative responses. you could follow that up by asking, "education is really important, right? and so is our economic/banking/regulatory system. If they can be so wrong about something everyone cares so deeply about like education, couldn't they also be so wrong about how they hadnle economic matters?" if they are the slightest bit acquiescent to your point, the door is open for a very basic, summarized Austrian Business Cycle Theory and Austrian Capital Theory explanation.

    I always say that libertarianism is NOT a political ideology or philosophy, it is a moral p[hilosophy that tells us about how to co-exist as human beings. Naturally, since people join into government, libertarian theory has p[ractical applications to political issues. I think that mentality applies in this instance....I just want people to see where I'm coming from philosophically. If they can understand my morality and relate to it, they can understand the political applications and implications for themselves. I don't have to sell them on free markets, they will find their own path to understanding these finer points.

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  4. I can't agree with you more. Unfortunately it has been my experience when I start talking "morals," many people think that the moral idea of free choice for the individual is great until I mention the moral idea that eliminates coercion from government-individual interactions is a logical corollary. Then they start with: how are you going to pay for this and that service, who is going to help the indigent? Suddenly the moral argument seems too ideal, too pie-in-sky, and then more often then not they blow me off and thats the end of the "discussion". It is a tough sell, but past "training" in those public schools comes back and a reasoned discussion is lost. The most I hope for is that a few will hear that libertarian ideas resonate with them and they know we exist, and that number grows.

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  5. I obtained my required voter permission approvals by asking straight out for his or her permission for me to put my name on the ballot. I stated that they didn't have to give any money, they didn't have to vote for me but only to choose to give me their permission to run. When some said no, I said thank you, I respect your decision. Most didn't even ask what party I was running for as they were signing me their permission approvals. It took me three days to get 172 names.

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  6. That certainly is an interesting tactic. I was campaigning while getting the signatures.

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