I want to share some thoughts on building the Boston Tea Party over the next couple years. With determined effort from a committed team of BTPers, willing to invest some time, we can eclipse the LP as the primary libertarian party in the US.
I start with a few assumptions.
- Our numbers are small.
- Our resources are minimal.
- Our brand is largely unknown.
- With a positive attitude, anything is possible.
And here are 16 ideas on how we might build the BTP. We can’t take them on all at once, but we can start small and progressively build on our successes.
1. Make a Strong and Sustained Pitch to LP Affiliates
This is a shortcut to growth. With the LP diluting their brand, destroying videotapes of meetings, failing to support state & local candidates and otherwise fiddling while Rome burns, we have a golden opportunity to sell them on joining forces with a true libertarian party.
2. Get out in Front on Timely Public Issues
We can establish credibility as an effective libertarian activist organization by promptly responding to statist claims and programs with single issue websites, activist campaigns, blog carnivals, letter to the editor drives and similar activism. We need to get our name out there and prove ourselves as libertarian thought leaders.
3. Organize & Leverage our Most Valuable Assets
We, ourselves, our interests, skills, knowledge, wisdom, time and attitudes, are the Boston Tea Party’s most valuable assets. We need to take an inventory, see what we have to work with and leverage that to increase our effectiveness as organization.
For example, we may have activists who want to blog about liberty. Since we also have IT people, we need to connect those two. The IT people, on the other hand, may want to learn how to petition. We need to identify our expert petitioners and connect them, as well. If we decide to launch a media campaign against an Obama national service program or a McCain war, we will need not only IT people, but also photographers, graphic artists, writers, strategists, fundraisers and marketers.
In order to launch timely opposition to new statist disasters, we need to know who all those experts are now, so we can launch on a dime. In short, we need to build a libertarian network.
4. Cooperate with Like-Minded Folks instead of Reinventing the Wheel
We can’t do everything ourselves. We need to identify like-minded organizations and collaborate with them to achieve mutual goals. Freedom Ballot Access is a good candidate for this.
5. Build Electoral Success from the Bottom Up
By supporting our state and local candidates with training, materials, IT resources, professional services, advice, talking points and such, we can give them a jump-start on electoral success.
6. Encourage Constructive Communication
We must do our very best not to allow misunderstandings, harmless differences of opinion or simple mistakes to become ugly public battles or schisms.
7. Get Active Online in Blogs & Social Media
In order for the Boston Tea Party to gain respect and trust, we must have members with permanent visible and libertarian online presences. We need to blog and use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, in a targeted fashion, to establish credibility, get our message out there and grow our membership.
8. Self-Organize Project Teams
We’re small. That means we can be dynamic; we can act quickly when opportunities arise. Let’s not handicap ourselves by having the elected leadership anoint directors or name people to committees. Instead, let’s apply our own libertarian principles and let members self-select for projects, and then self-organize their teams.
For example, expanding our membership is important. If there is someone who believes this and has the time and interest necessary to work on a membership growth project, we can expect (and encourage) them to step forward. Given enough interest, several people will step forward and we can count on them to self-organize, select leaders as needed, assign tasks and otherwise develop a plan and carry it out.
When someone wants to leave or join a project, they talk to the existing members and there is no need for the national committee to discuss or vote on it.
This has the added benefit of avoiding power struggles, unhealthy competition for power or the feeling of being snubbed. The focus remains on merit: who’s interested, who has the time and who is judged by their peers to be most appropriate.
9. Encourage Party Members to Visit Like-Minded Organizations
Where feasible, we should match up party members with nearby events of like-minded organizations and encourage them to attend. This will knit closer together the liberty movement and gain us more exposure, credibility, donations and members.
10. Nominate our National Ticket the Year Before
We can make ballot access an easier job for ourselves by nominating our presidential and vice-presidential candidates in 2011. This will give us more time to get people excited about our ticket, raise money and achieve maximum ballot access.
11. Hold a Party-Convention After Republicrat Conventions
We should hold a festival-like convention around the same time as the Demopublican conventions in 2012, and simulcast it online. This will not only foment tighter bonds among BTPers but also get us media exposure. We should aim for C-SPAN coverage.
12. Secure, Transparent, Verifiable Online Voting
Online democracy is something that makes our party special. But we need complete transparency in voting, including the ability for all members to see a log of which IP addresses votes were made from, without compromising the secret ballot. I’m confident we can implement this with existing software.
13. 51-State Ballot Access
National ballot access costs money, an estimated $750,000 or more. Working together with other parties and like-minded organizations, I’m certain that, once we prove ourselves to be an action-oriented, effective and true libertarian party, this goal will follow.
14. Start with Small Projects & Work our Way up
I think our first project should be goal-setting. Let’s all have a conversation about what the party’s priorities should be, and, together, make decisions, set milestones and divvy up the tasks necessary for success.
15. Open Meetings with Transcripts & Recordings
We should have open, online and/or telephone meetings where any party member can participate. We need to make transcripts, audio and/or video recordings available online to members, as appropriate.
16. Active Intra-Party Communication
We need to maintain active intra-party communication, but let’s not go the LP route and produce a single (paper) newsletter that is controlled by a small group of people.
Let a million blogs and social media interactions bloom. Let’s have some people self-select to regularly summarize our liberty-sphere and distribute as widely as possible, via email, RSS, the website, audio and video. We can even produce and mail out hard copies for offline folks.
Our current website is an excellent foundation on which to build. Drupal is a mature and actively-developed platform with many options for customization. It will serve us well.
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