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2016 Libertarian National Convention

in From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

2016 Libertarian National Convention

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Last week, the Libertarian Party held their biannual convention, nominating their 2016 Presidential ticket, electing leadership for the next two years, and conducting appropriate business.

This year’s event was my fourth consecutive national convention, and it was my favorite to date.

Often, the nature of politics and the business at hand makes for a solemn and serious occasion, but this year, things were different.

Libertarian DebateThis year, the excitement was on par with a major sporting event, graduation, or a concert. That excitement was due to the contested Presidential nomination with some of the best candidates the party has ever fielded, accompanying the “feeling” that this is a pivotal election for the party. The stars are aligned for historic electoral outcomes as the animosity toward the establishment parties.

On top of the enthusiasm for unprecedented electoral success, several candidates for President brought supporters brought energy that caught on quickly.

At the pre-convention unofficial Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates on Thursday, I served on the panel for the standing room only events, asking the candidates to make their case to the delegates. With a welcome reception sandwiched between sessions of the debate, the energy carried over to infect the rest of the attendees.

By Friday morning’s opening gavel, the “buzz” made its way throughout the convention center, infecting everyone I came across. This was my fourth consecutive convention, and I’ve not seen anything like what I experienced. Often, my experience with Party-specific events is somewhat “flat,” while libertarian movement events are dynamic, engaging, and energetic. This definitely fell in line with the latter.

Even the vendors filled the hall with booths, where just two years ago, a couple booths stood outside the convention hall in a vast, lonely space. This year, we could have used two volunteers at the Advocates booth to help with the volume of excited libertarians who wanted to learn about how we support the libertarian movement, from the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to communication training and political persuasion, changing hearts and minds to libertarian ideas.

The energy and excitement never died, as the delegates and other attendees continued engaging with one another up to and beyond the Presidential nomination. The passion displayed by supporters showed their love of libertarianism, as they courted undecided delegates and conversed with others. The source could be the injection of youthful, engaged, and committed delegates and attendees. No matter, it didn’t stay there. It was EVERYWHERE.

Saturday’s Presidential debate and the nomination the following day felt like the Indy 500, the Super Bowl, and the World Series wrapped into one event. In fact, I think I’m still recovering from the energy spent today (Wednesday). Things certainly peaked as the Johnson/Weld ticket was nominated.

There’s so much more to share, and I wish I could have bottled my experience to share with others.

What does “unschooling” mean?

in Conversations With My Boys, Education, Liberator Online, Marriage and Family, Personal Liberty by Advocates HQ Comments are off

What does “unschooling” mean?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Unschooling. It doesn’t mean you leave them to their own devices.

UnschoolingI have a boy interested in relative size and divisibility of matter and time. He tells me that matter is made of little tiny bits like people are made of cells and big LEGO things are made of smaller LEGO pieces. Everything, he tells me, is made of smaller pieces. Pointillism and pixels and color combining might happen this week. We’ll see.

Yesterday at the grocery store he not only took me through the divisibility of time but also proclaimed that matter could neither be created nor destroyed, it could only change shape. It was all still there. He ripped a hole in a tissue and explained that it had a hole in it, but it was all still there. I mentioned something about the laws of physics which he politely ignored. Keep your nomenclature to yourself, thank you.

Then he asked me what happened when matter collided with antimatter. Antimatter. I don’t know. We’ll have to look it up. Boom and energy and particles seems to be what happens.

Then today we had a look at a biology book. The Way Life Works. Excellent excellent illustrations. Biology in graphic form. We stopped briefly at the cell. Prokaryotic cells. Eukaryotic cells. Organs. Organelles. Very little interest. Then DNA and recipes and transcription and why–if you and your brother have the same parents–are you and your brother not exactly alike? The Interactive Scale of the Universe. More interest but waning.

Then a little jaunt into A Child’s History of the World. The first three chapters read like Montessori’s Great Lesson, God With No Hands so he loves those and is always happy to listen to them. This took us back to the sun, the earth, the moon, the planets. The rocky planet we live on, the elements present and why they ended up where they did. Density, gravity, layers, air. Fish remove oxygen from water, people remove oxygen from air.

Then tools and Stone Age people and copper and tin ore and Minecraft and scarcity and subjective value and the Diamond Water Paradox and superabundance and property. Bronze Age people and what a Golden Age is and the nature of evil and I’m going to circle back to that later today.

Then we returned to genetics and he inhaled the first half of The Journey of Man–which is a great lesson, too. Geography. Physical maps, political maps, the San bushmen and the government of Botswana displacing them by making a political border that ignores a physical and cultural reality. DNA again. That’s why we aren’t exactly alike! More geography. Ice ages, climate change, land bridges, drought, deserts, scarcity.

That was before lunch and this was a summary and I left out a lot.

Unschooling doesn’t mean you leave them to their own devices. It means you see where they are going and you give them what they need to feast on the topic, explore it, and connect it to other topics they love. They don’t forget what they really want to know. They will forget what you really want them to know if they don’t care.

What’s Your Number?

in Communicating Liberty, From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

What’s Your Number?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

3,500

That’s my number.

I’ve administered The World’s Smallest Political Quiz 3,500 times. This week, I crossed that threshold with a research project I’m in the midst of.

Quiz TIP CardThat figure doesn’t count the number of times I’ve left our “TIP Card” along with my business card to a server at lunch or dinner.My number above just counts the interactions I’ve had with people at county fairs, gun shows, on campus, for research, and as part of conversations with friends, new and old. That is a lot of conversations about liberty and libertarianism.Before I joined the Advocates, I was already passionate about liberty and the libertarian movement. Now, I get to turn up the gas on that flame for liberty.So, back to my original question, how many times have you given The World’s Smallest Political Quiz? What were the outcomes of the conversations that the Quiz broke the ice for? Did you find an existing libertarian? Did you discover a NEW libertarian?

I want to hear from you about your successes. I also want to hear from you about your challenges.

Have you found that your outreach was more successful the more outgoing and gregarious the Quiz-giver shows themselves to be? I know that I have.

Recently, I visited an outreach booth of a local libertarian organization that I knew would be administering the Quiz, and I gave them some tips that tripled the number of people who took the Quiz over the prior year. They also saw a tremendous amount of activity under the tent, as passersby took an interest in libertarian philosophy.

What did we do to make such a big difference?

We re-arranged the “standard” booth layout, by putting the table at the BACK of the booth. This put all of the volunteers IN FRONT of the table, removing the barrier between those volunteers and the festival goers. Moving the table to the back of the booth also made it almost impossible to sit down, so the volunteers were on their feet with a lot more energy, and that energy spilled over into their conversations.

What better way to start a conversation about liberty than filled with energy?

What about you?

What tips do you have for tabling or outreach that you’d like to share? I may feature them here in a future issue or on social media as a tip for our supporters who are passionate to dispel the Left-Right political myth.

Who’s ready to get an Operation Politically Homeless kit to begin a conversation about our burning passion for a more libertarian society and way of life?

If you already have one, try something new with how you present your tabling/outreach effort and share your successes.

I love it when liberty wins the day, so let’s share what we’re doing to talk about libertarianism in a positive and effective way.

“Food tastes better, the sky is bluer…”

in Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the President’s Corner section in Volume 19, No. 19 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Recently I came across a 1952 poem by the renowned San Francisco poet and leftwing anarchist Kenneth Rexroth. Entitled “For Eli Jacobson,” it is a eulogy for an old friend and fellow political activist.

“For Eli Jacobson” wonderfully captures the glory of being an activist in a great cause. In particular, these lines:

We were comrades
Together, we believed we
Would see with our own eyes the new
World where man was no longer
Wolf to man, but men and women
Were all brothers and lovers
Together. We will not see it.
We will not see it, none of us.Kenneth Rexroth
It is farther off than we thought….

It does not matter.
We were comrades together.
Life was good for us. It is
Good to be brave — nothing is
Better. Food tastes better. Wine
Is more brilliant. Girls are more
Beautiful. The sky is bluer
For the brave…
Our lives were the best. We were the
Happiest men alive in our day.

I especially love those last lines. “Food taste better…” “Our lives were the best…” and the rest.

They beautifully capture the heightened awareness, the excitement and anticipation, that comes with working for a great cause. The way that such activism brings spice, meaning, and joy to life.

I also love Rexroth’s celebration of friendship forged in activism. That, too, is a key benefit of working for a great cause. In the liberty movement I have met so many wonderful people, made so many lifelong friends.

One more thing. In lines that follow those above, Rexroth says he and his friend once thought that young people would emerge to take up their socialist/anarchist struggle. But, he notes with sadness, they did not:

In our young days we believed
That as we grew old and fell
Out of rank, new recruits, young
And with the wisdom of youth,
Would take our places and they
Surely would grow old in the
Golden Age. They have not come.
They will not come. There are not
Many of us left.

For libertarians, happily, it is a very different story. Those of us who have been in the liberty movement for a long time have been blessed to see the emergence of a new generation of young libertarian activists.

We have watched our movement grow by leaps and bounds in recent years, infused by the energy and enthusiasm of young people determined to make liberty a burning issue in American politics.

What a wonderful thing to see!

I hope Rexroth’s words remind you of the privilege and the joys of being part of a great cause. I hope your personal involvement in the liberty movement makes your life richer, more meaningful, and more fun.

Go out and have fun — and change the world.

Great News! The World Is Getting Better: HumanProgress.org

in Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 9 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

HumanProgress.orgThere is a large and growing body of evidence showing dramatic and remarkable improvements in human well-being in recent decades, especially in the developing world.

Unfortunately, this evidence is little-known and often overlooked. Bad news and predictions of doom and gloom are disproportionately reported. Many people, including the highly educated, simply have no idea of the great and ongoing progress in many crucial areas of human life around the world.

This exciting and uplifting news deserves far more attention. HumanProgress.org, a new website and research tool from the Cato Institute, hopes to accomplish that.

Many visitors who take the time to explore the site will be genuinely surprised by the well-documented major advances in world peace, living standards, environmental cleanliness, life spans, and much more. Crimes such as rape, hate crimes, deadly riots, and child abuse are all substantially down from the past. Around 5.1 billion people live in countries where incomes have more than doubled since 1960, and well over half the human race lives in countries where average incomes have tripled or more. Technologies unimaginable just a few years ago are now commonplace even among the world’s poor.

HumanProgress.org provides tools that let users see the many documented ways in which the world has become a far better place. Over 500 data sets of human development indicators from a variety of reliable sources allow visitors to compare indicators with one another, create and share graphics, and calculate differences in human well-being between different countries over time. Visitors can explore progress in categories including: Communications, Education, Energy, Environment, Food, Gender Equality, Happiness, Health, Housing, Transportation, Violence, and Wealth.

By putting together this comprehensive data in an accessible way, HumanProgress.org provides a fantastic documented resource for scholars, journalists, students, and the general public.

For a good graph-free overview of what it’s all about, go to the introductory essay “What is Human Progress?” which presents some downright startling figures and arguments and puts them in context.

And for an easy way to keep up with breaking good news about human progress — and to get a regular booster shot of reasons for rational optimism — you can like HumanProgress.org’s Facebook page.

Cato hopes that HumanProgress.org will lead to a greater appreciation of the improving state of the world. Things are getting better in many areas, to a remarkable degree, and largely due to progress in markets, civil liberties and peace. That’s great news! Let’s spread the word.