This is Rob Lombardo. I wanted to send out my thoughts wrapping up the 2012 campaign and looking toward the future. I’ve copied additional friends who may not be on the Libertarian Activists mailing list, but who are also lovers of liberty (FYI, those of you not on the list will not be able to reply to it but you can certainly respond to me if you would like). Forgive the length. I don’t go on like this a lot, so indulge me this once:
I’d like to begin by telling a quick story from the ol’ campaign trail:
After it became likely that the Libertarian Party would not gain ballot access for the 5th Congressional District race, I was encouraged to seek out the Independent Party nomination since they had the slot available. The chances seemed slim, as it was suspected that they would simply nominate the Republican, Andrew Roraback and their first order of business was to nominate the very anti-Liberty Rocky Anderson for President.
I saw an opening though. As Rocky Anderson gave a lengthy acceptance speech, rife with altruistic and utopian nonsense of a nanny-state government, he railed against the 2-party duopoly. This particular issue resonated, understandably and appropriately, with the Independent Party delegates. So I quickly tweaked my prepared remarks to bring in allusions to the 2-party duopoly as I tied in the Independent Party’s local successes to my strong support for federalism. Not to toot my own horn, but my speech was awesome, and I left the stage to a resounding applause. Senator Roraback followed with a dry oration with little, if any, substance. It was no more than a rambling “pretty please”. After the speeches, I actually thought I was in! But where things got all Twightlight-Zoney was when one delegate, a man who described himself as “libertarian” and who I chatted with beforehand with many agreements, actually forwarded the motion to nominate Senator Roraback! A delegate eventually moved to nominate me, amid the chairman’s repeated calls for “any other nominations”. It seemed like the delegate simply nominated me out of mercy to spare me the embarrassment of having no support at all. When the votes were tallied I was soundly defeated 15-3.
I couldn’t believe it! After my great speech and after all the ranting against the 2-party duopoly, the so-called Independent Party nominated a member of that very same system they jeered. The “libertarian” delegate found me afterwards and said that he just felt Senator Roraback’s name-recognition would “bring more attention to their party and help them keep ballot access”.
The reason I am telling this story is that, being the candidate, I had to smile and nod politely and be gracious in defeat. I couldn’t give this guy the figurative smack in the head he desperately needs. What’s the point of having ballot access if you repeatedly nominate another major party candidate, as the Independent Party did all across the state this year, and has done quite often in past elections as well? How does it help to break the 2-party duopoly if you prevent outside candidates from getting in the race? These questions drove me crazy and probably turned my face blood-red as he was explaining his pathetic excuse. But, I had to smile and nod, thank him for his consideration, and wish them all well.
What I really could have used, not so much after the fact, but circulating beforehand, was supporters. Supporters who, unlike the candidate, can get down and dirty in caucuses and mingling groups and point out how nonsensical some voters are behaving… even ones that describe themselves as libertarians! The candidate can’t be the bad cop. Think of the soon-to-be unemployed Congressman Joe Walsh of IL.
We have got to get more people involved to not only be candidates but to be these supporters too… get in the game! And these people have to come primarily from those receiving this email. There are spectators; there are cheerleaders; and there are those actually on the field. We do need more candidates, but if that is not your cup of tea, that is OK, just get out there. The sign-waving, the ‘Facebooking’, and donating money are things that I would call cheerleading. And that is not to diminish any of those things. We need them to continue and they are greatly appreciated. If they are honestly all you have time or ability to do, then by all means keep it up and we will be grateful. But if you can, and I have to believe there are more, GET IN THE GAME. Run for office or help out in the campaigns of those of us who are doing so.
I share Dan Reale’s frustration. The enthusiasm that some of us show when we are comfortably behind a keyboard can be multiplied if it is shown out there in the field. I am deeply indebted to the few who actually got out and helped me petition. But honestly, I had hopes of a lot more and was pretty disappointed with the actual “boots on the ground” support I received; with all the energy around Ron Paul, and the 5th district supposedly being Ron Paul’s best in the Constitution State, and me being 99% in line with Ron Paul. What happened? To get me on the ballot we ended up frantically draining our coffers to pay a collection of knucklehead mercenaries whom I wouldn’t trust to watch a sandwich… and we botched the filing anyway! It ended up being essential to get our senate and presidential candidates on the ballot but I find little comfort in that given the time I put in myself.
We need these boots on the ground. We need people engaged. Yes, we need your money too, but help us to put it to good use! If we have more candidates, then where offices/districts overlap we can piggyback off one another. If we have more supporters physically out there they can confront people like the “libertarian” from the Independent Party and push a little harder without creating a Joe-Walsh-YouTube-moment (well, don’t get that obnoxious either way).
And we most certainly need to start early. Given this year’s experience in petitioning; learning what to expect and how to identify locations, I am convinced that had I begun in May, I would have easily reached the target. Had I begun in March, I could have done it entirely on my own. I can recall days with good weather at the right place and the right time I was pulling in 20 seemingly good signatures per hour.
We need to plan, and with the added challenges of ballot access and being the severe underdog in any race, we must do it well in advance of the Republicrats. We need “ground games” and that is why we need more people engaged. A team of people can have a ground game. One person by themselves can only have an illusion and a hell of a lot of stress.
Personally I would really like to hear from people on this mailing who can pledge to actually get involved, beyond cheerleading. Even though we don’t know who is doing what yet, we have to know who will be on the field because before you know it, it will be time to get moving again.
Now as far as what to do: All of the above. There are some who believe we need to grow the Libertarian Party, and some who believe we change the Republican Party from within. Some think we should focus on low level offices and build slowly, and some think we need to go for federal office. Some think we can change trajectory before a massive collapse, and some think we need to just prepare. While it would certainly be beneficial to all be unified and working on the same page, that is just not realistic. So instead of debating what is better or what is worse, what will work and what won’t, while precious time slips by, we ought to accept that there will be differences of opinion and as long as our goal is liberty we ought to support one another. Maybe I think the changing the Republican Party is a waste of time, but if someone here is working on a town committee and pushing for a Republican Liberty candidate, I should still help out if I can. Maybe I think seeking federal offices are better for attacking the roots of the problems, but I should still help out state and municipal candidates. Maybe I think we have time to stop the impending disaster, but I should still support any related prepper initiatives. Let’s not bring each other down and waste time arguing about it.
So anyway, assuming certain things, such as me still living here, I still have my eye on the 5th District again for ‘14, and I am considering Brookfield’s Board of Selectmen for ’13. Who’s going to be on the field with me? What are you going to do? Even if it is a smaller project, a Board of Ed campaign, anything at all… if I can reasonably be of assistance, then count me in! But let’s hear about it!
In Liberty, For Liberty,