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Try A Different Tack This Holiday Season

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

Try A Different Tack This Holiday Season

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

The 2016 holiday season is already upon us. We have Thanksgiving next week, and we have Hanukkah and Christmas next month.

These holidays mean that we’re going to have a lot of time with friends, family, and co-workers as you go to parties and gatherings.

Typically, what we see from a lot of libertarian groups, in an attempt to advance libertarianism and the ideas of liberty, is to use these audiences that you have as a way to talk about libertarianism. This year, I’m going to ask that you try something different.

I’m asking that you do not talk about politics AT ALL. Instead, I want you to do something that is going to give you an opportunity to have both peace and a way to learn about some of the beliefs that these people hold. The best way you can achieve that is to listen.

Don’t engage. Just listen.

What you’re going to be able to do as people talk about their own ideas, you’re going to get a better understanding of where they’re coming from. You’re also going to be able to use that later on to formulate the ideas that you’ll be able to communicate when you’re talking with them later. This way, you’ll already understand their positions and you’ll have time to build your response to the ideas they hold.

The beauty of this is that you’ll have a ton of peace because you’re not going to be arguing with anyone. There won’t be any screaming matches or uncomfortable situations about ideas.

Instead, you’ll be able to have a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner. You’ll be able to have a wonderful learning Christmas feast, and you’ll learn so much more about other people’s views.

Just stop… And listen.

What We Can Learn About Choosing Liberty from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”

in Liberator Online by Morgan Dean Comments are off

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

This election cycle forced Americans to make some tough decisions- tough decisions regarding candidates they simply aren’t comfortable supporting. This led Republicans to support Democrats, Democrats to support Republicans and a record breaking percentage of the population saying “we reject these two choices” and supporting a third party candidate.

It is important to remember that when we support policies and candidates influenced by political power and corruption, we get the same, tired results, instead of getting results that will benefit us.

So how do we navigate this corrupt political system? How do we make the right choice? The answer is fairly simple. Always choose liberty.

Road Not TakenRobert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken expresses a similar predicament. This poem is about choosing between two paths.  Neither path can be predicted, as it is impossible to see all the way down either.  However, one path looks as if it hasn’t been traveled nearly as much. The speaker knows he cannot remake whatever decision he makes.  This gives him pause.  He knows he cannot predict the future, and that he will never be able to travel the path that he does not take.

Frost understands the age-old predicament of choice, wanting both, but ultimately deciding.

We face decisions in our political lives, which have a direct affect on our personal and professional lives.  Every time we vote, engage in political discourse, or label ourselves as a certain ideology, we choose a path.

Today we face two paths, one being Big Government, the other being freedom and liberty. The first path is the easiest. 

It is easy to let the government take care of us, provide us with transportation, health insurance, housing, and food. But when does it stop? Where is the limit to government involvement?  The other path can be rough and rocky as it is one of self-reliance, independence, and liberty.  This path doesn’t allow us to rely on the government, but rather on ourselves. The latter path may be the harder one, but it is also the one that will give us freedom in the long run.

Frost notes in The Road Not Taken that he took the road less traveled “and that has made all the difference.”

Wouldn’t you like to know that you took the path that was less traveled, even though it was the harder one? That ultimately, you made a conscious decision everyday to choose liberty? Choosing liberty simply means supporting ideals, candidates, and policies that put freedom first.

So let’s not take the path that has been traveled so many times, let’s make a hard decision, and let’s make change happen.  After all, it was also Robert Frost who said “freedom lies in being bold.”

What Is Right Isn’t Always What Is Legal

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

What Is Right Isn’t Always What Is Legal

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

When discussing libertarianism with others, never forget that we have one of the best tools at our disposal at almost all times. We have the biggest recruiter to libertarian philosophy, and that is government.

One of the best ways that we can utilize that tool is that we can talk about the difference between what is right and what is legal.

Those two are NOT one in the same. On the one hand, we can talk about the things that are right. We can talk about the things that we know to be true. We can talk about the things that are the result of the decisions that you and I make about what is right for us.

On the other, we have what is legal. Those decisions aren’t necessarily something we were a party to. Many times these things were decided before we were even born, and often, they were decided hundreds or thousands of miles away from the situation at hand by people we’ve not met and we’ll never meet. They know nothing about our situation.

Do you honestly believe that we would see people that were arrested for feeding the homeless without a permit if we were focused on what is right vs. what is legal?

Do you think we would see people fined for growing their own food, instead of having a lawn? Or for having chickens in their backyard for fresh eggs? Or want to be more self-sustaining?

Would we see children suffering because they aren’t able to get the medicine that their doctor would otherwise prescribe if it were legal?

We can utilize these examples and many more as we talk about the difference between those two things, because we can then drive the discussion to be about how when we let others make our decisions, we’re at their mercy. We aren’t deciding for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. We outsource that morality to somebody else.

When you outsource that decision-making, when we outsource that morality to someone else, you’re at the mercy of what they believe to be right, good, and true, and not what is the best outcome for you and for me.

When we’re talking about libertarianism, we can really take an opportunity by focusing on the difference between right and legal. Again, they’re not the same, and we don’t need to let people think that they are.

 

What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

What is the Non-Aggression Principle?

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

QUESTION: What is the libertarian “non-aggression principle” (or “non-aggression axiom”)?

FistsMY SHORT ANSWER: Libertarianism is based on a single ideal, the non-aggression principle, so libertarian rhetoric tends to be remarkably consistent. Libertarians oppose the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. They reject “first-strike” force, fraud or theft against others; they only use force in self-defense. Those who violate this “non-aggression principle” are expected to make their victims whole as much as possible. This “Good Neighbor Policy” is what most of us were taught as children. We were told not to lie, cheat, steal, not to strike our playmates unless they hit us first. If we broke a friend’s toy, we were expected to replace it.

Most of us still practice what we learned as children with other individuals, but we have grown accustomed to letting government aggress against others when we think we benefit. Consequently, our world is full of poverty and strife, instead of the harmony and abundance that freedom (i.e., freedom from aggression) brings.

Simply put, libertarians take the non-aggression principle that most people implicitly follow in their interactions with other individuals, and apply it to group actions, including government actions, as well.

You might have heard the Libertarian Party (LP) referred to as the “Party of Principle.” This is because the LP bases its programs and policy positions on the non-aggression principle.

Experience New Things Experience New People

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

Experience New Things Experience New People

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

So, you’ve likely noticed that this week’s From Me to You is going to be a little bit different.

I’m not in my office. There’s not a bookshelf full of books behind me. In fact, it’s a little chilly, definitely overcast, and I’m pretty sure it’s going to rain on me at any second.

But this different experience is what we’re talking about today. We’re talking about experiencing new things, experiencing new people, as we become more effective communicators of libertarian ideas and libertarian philosophy.

I believe that you experiences determine the decisions that you make. Those decisions drive the actions that you take. Those actions lead to outcomes, whether good or bad.

As a libertarian, I want you to make those decisions for yourself, rather than having them centrally-planned from hundreds or thousands of miles away. I believe that YOU are going to make the best decision for yourself.

How am I going to know that though? I really only have my own experiences to draw from.

If I’m not out there experiencing what others are, and not experiencing what others struggle with, or how they succeed, how am I really going to be a proper advocate for making decisions for ourselves?

Libertarianism is not only about freedom and liberty for me, but it’s about freedom and liberty for everyone.

If I’m not experiencing what other people do, and I’m not able to empathize with their situations, how can I really be a proper advocate for liberty?

So, what I’m suggesting to you is that you go out and experience new things. Experience new people.

Find a different perspective. Step outside of your comfort zone.

We have an opportunity to really make a difference, as we learn about others, and they learn about us.

As you’re experiencing what other people have, and you’re finding out more about their lives and their stories, you’re going to be able to build rapport. You’ll then be able to influence their lives in a more libertarian way.

They may adopt some of the ideas and philosophy that we hold.

So, what’s going to be your first new experience?

Putting Freedom First

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

Putting Freedom First

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

On Tuesday evening, I had the opportunity to attend a debate between the candidates for U.S. Senate, here in Indianapolis.

It went about as I expected. We had one candidate who was the walking embodiment of the television commercials we see during every commercial break. We had a second who was an emotionless robot, who spent the entire debate ducking and dodging the charges that were aimed at him. Luckily, we had a third candidate who was there as well, and is a passionate advocate for liberty. She talked about the issues that are actually important to me, and I believe, are important to those voting on November 8th.

The beauty of her message is that she actually got noticed, while the other two spent the entire hour slinging mud at one another, from the introductions to the very end of the debate.

In the end, headline coverage focused on those two and the “politics as usual,” as well as the games that they play, using their focus grouped talking points and all the things that tested really well. Coverage that included the third candidate actually pointed out that she, because of her authenticity and the way that she was talking about issues that were no only important to her, but connecting to the people who watched that debate, she came out the winner.

In the past, we’ve talked about the “Most Important Election of our Lifetime,” and what a fallacy that can be, because we both know that liberty isn’t gained or lost with one vote, one election, or with one issue. What we have is an opportunity that we need to seize. We need to take advantage of the attention and the focus that’s placed on what’s happening before us.

This is our opportunity to live a libertarian life… To be that shining example of what libertarianism offers, as we work toward a freer society.

We also need to support others who do the same. Our support for them will also have them supporting us.

And, when we find that there is a candidate for office that we CAN vote for, we SHOULD, because we have an opportunity to do the most important thing that we can as libertarians to change hearts and minds…

And that’s putting freedom first.

Should we privatize the police for public safety?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Criminal Justice, Liberator Online, Libertarian Answers on Issues, Libertarianism, Personal Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Should we privatize the police for public safety?

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

QUESTIONS: How would poor individuals/communities afford police protection in a libertarian society? If rich/white communities’ private police kill poor/minority individuals who pass through the rich/white communities’ streets, what recourse do the dead individuals have?

PoliceANSWERS: Today, much of the police budget comes from traffic fines or property taxes.  The poor pay these property taxes through their rent.   If the police force was a private one, the poor would have lower rents and thus more money in their pocket with which to pay their police fees.  If they didn’t like the service they were getting, they could simply end their subscription.

For the poor, the option of not paying is much more important than it is to those who are better off.  When crimes are committed today, the wealthier victims will often get preferential care.  If the minority victims are ignored, which is often the case, they have little recourse.   Being a paying customer gives them clout in a privatized system; they simply take their money and go elsewhere or provide their own protection in the form of a firearm or a guard dog. Today, they pay whether they get service or not, so they can’t readily afford other options.

The myth in our society is that the poor don’t pay for police protection and other government services.  In fact, they often pay more and get much less.

Private police do not have the immunity from prosecution that our public police illegitimately enjoy.  If they killed minority individuals without just cause, they could be tried for murder, just as an individual citizen would.  The families of the victims would likely demand such prosecution.

A private police service wouldn’t be very attractive to customers, even the rich/white ones, if minorities were unjustly killed.  All but a few would likely withdraw their subscriptions.  Who wants a police force in their neighborhood that shoots people for the most trivial of reasons?  No one wants their children to grow up in such a neighborhood. To most people, regardless of their color or socio-economic class, all lives matter.

Since most businesses operate on a small profit margin (10% or so), losing even a few customers means a big dent in the bottom line.  Private police want their paycheck too and are motivated to truly serve and protect when we each have the choice whether or not to employ them.

What Libertarians Can Learn from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism by Morgan Dean Comments are off

What Libertarians Can Learn from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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

Harry PotterAfter nine years, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, decided she was not quite done with telling the story of ‘The Boy Who Lived.’ Released on July 31st, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child broke pre-order records for both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the same year that we, as libertarians, are breaking records.

So, what can we learn as libertarians from the Harry Potter books? Gina Luttrell wrote at ThoughtsonLiberty.com an article discussing the overarching themes of libertarianism in the Harry Potter series as a whole, but with a new addition to the saga, there are new themes and ideas that we, as libertarians, can explore.

One of the main conflicts we see in the newest book is Harry’s son, Albus’ struggle to find where he truly belongs, both at school and in the world. He worries that the Sorting Hat will place him into Slytherin, instead of Gryffindor, the house of the rest of his family. Harry consoles him by pointing out that this doesn’t matter, that he will be loved regardless, and that The Sorting Hat will take his feelings into account.

This is similar to the struggle many of us have faced at least once, with a media telling us that there are only two political paths. Their aim is to push us to subscribe to one of their schools of thought, either a conservative or liberal viewpoint. It is important to remember there is more to politics than left and right.

Speaking as someone who formerly identified as a conservative from a conservative family, I can attest firsthand to the struggle of facing a change in philosophical identity after taking The World’s Smallest Political Quiz and realizing my values are different than I thought they were. I guess that is one way to find our “place”…The Quiz is almost like a Sorting Hat, huh?

As it has previously been discussed among libertarian scholars, Harry Potter is the perfect example of a libertarian. He values the ability to choose his own path, while fighting against the corruption within the Ministry of Magic. In previous books, the Ministry subscribed to similar ideas as the villains of the series, like ethnic cleansing, discrimination, violence, and secrecy. With a total lack of transparency, Big Government rules throughout the series.

In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child we see a very different Ministry of Magic, led by Hermione Granger, a character who has always been keen to follow the rules, but has proven time and time again that she is not afraid to deviate from them in cases of principle. We also see that Harry is serving as an Auror, or dark wizard catcher under Hermione.

So what can we take away from this shift as libertarians? Harry and his friends used to fight against the established government and their oppressive ideas, and now they ARE the government. Being a part of the libertarian movement means fighting corruption with freedom and openness, spreading the ideals of libertarianism as people become more open to it.

During this election year, I think we are experiencing a significant shift in the way people think. As people tire of the same two choices, and they get tired of Big Government ruling their lives, they are opening their eyes to libertarian ideals.

Libertarianism is more than just politics, yet we are seeing a shift in what drives people to throw their support behind a candidate. We have Gary Johnson and Bill Weld on the main stage, and although neither is perfect, they are representing new ideas that have never gained so much attention. Every day, we are changing the way people think.

So, let’s make sure we don’t forget that there is more than two options in politics. Let’s remember to stand strong on issues of morality. Let’s fight against an oppressive government.

Political discourse is changing.

Just like the beloved Harry Potter characters did, could we be experiencing a shift in the ‘political status quo?’ Let’s hope so.

We Are Changing Lives

in Liberator Online, Walk the Walk by Brett Bittner Comments are off

We Are Changing Lives

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

Not to exaggerate things, but life-changing moments happen every day. With every interaction, we act in a way that can change someone’s life. We have the potential to use this for a variety of outcomes, whether positive, negative, or neutral. The best part is WE influence the outcome.

When we consider that we might be the first libertarian those we encounter ever meet, we have an opportunity to make an awesome first impression.

ChangingAs libertarians, we should embrace the opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. We can open others’ eyes to a world where peace, prosperity, and liberty thrive, rather than living in the shadow of a government that dictates to us our lives and actions. Do you remember how your life changed when you embraced libertarianism?

So, how can we share that experience with everyone?

We can change lives by making a positive impact on everyone we meet, and this doesn’t happen strictly at outreach booths. It isn’t even hard to accomplish. The key is being aware that every interaction is potentially life-changing and acting accordingly to make each of them positive for others.

When we adopt a mindset that we are ambassadors to libertarianism with everyone we meet, we are always “on.” That mindset shift to make a positive impact attracts people to you, and you can be a shining example to them of what it means to be a libertarian.

This approach not only augments our outreach beyond scheduled events, we create other ambassadors for our actions as they are attracted to us. By building relationships with those we attract, we can also add the fun of fellowship to the mix. A fun-loving, positive group of people engage others and bring more into their circle. That growth breeds further growth, and a cohesive, attractive group of people will continue to grow in their size and influence.

As our peer groups grow in this manner, we’ll continue to add more libertarians to the fold. In turn, that means a more libertarian mindset as we continue toward the critical mass necessary to impact society as whole, going beyond our pockets here and there. We’ve built quite a movement, and we need to continue it’s growth, winning over hearts and minds to bring about a freer society.

As we’ve discussed before, libertarianism won’t suddenly catch on, taking hold all at once, with one election or one law being passed, like you might flip on a light switch. While the light of liberty shines bright for you and me, there are many for whom it’s quite dim.

Let’s turn up the dimmer switch to brighten their lives too.

Self-Government Goes To Those Who Show Up

in Liberator Online, Libertarianism, Philosophy, Walk the Walk by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Self-Government Goes To Those Who Show Up

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

As libertarians, we understand that personal responsibility is the price we are to pay for individual liberty.

Show UpWe discuss it at length when persuading others about how liberty works. We talk about how we (yes, you and I) will be responsible for one another in the absence of government programs that currently attempt to act as a safety net. We offer examples of our charity and entrepreneurship to prove that our fellow man will not go hungry, sleep in the streets, or be unable to read and write.

We know that our ideas and principles are the right ones to lead to a prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious society, so why aren’t we there yet?

Because, like those we’re trying to persuade, we’ve outsourced responsibility. Except that we have not outsourced responsibility to government. We’ve outsourced our responsibility to other libertarians.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian candidates for office, their staff and volunteers, thinking that it’s their “turn” to spread the message, not ours.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian think tanks, who work to deliver quality research, and statistics, and facts necessary to equip us with the right information.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian activists, as they wave signs, work outreach booths, and persuade their friends, family, and neighbors about the beauty of a free society.

We’ve outsourced that responsibility to libertarian entrepreneurs, toiling to create the next Uber, AirBnB, or PayPal.

The price of personal responsibility is set, it’s non-negotiable, and it’s due every day. That price is showing up. Whether it is supporting candidates for office, sharing the mountains of data offered by our friends in think tanks and organizations in the libertarian sphere, attending an event, or using the goods and services that meet our needs, we need to pay the price daily.

If we don’t pay it, we fall behind. When we fall behind, we have to pay even more to catch up. Authoritarians count on us missing a payment, because they have their solution ready to go. They have the latest cure for society’s ills, and that intervention is government.

We ALL have busy lives, families, and hobbies calling for our time, attention, and effort, but we have to take responsibility for what we want in our lives. Much like the authoritarian way of outsourcing responsibility to government, we’ve outsourced it to other libertarians with the hope that their efforts will make up for a lack of them on our part.

Accept the call and take responsibility for a free society. You can’t wait for someone else to give you the freedom you deserve. You have to stop outsourcing responsibility and show yourself and others that we can do it.

If you aren’t going to show up to stake a claim for your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, who will?

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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

“Who Can You Absolutely NOT Trust?”

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

When it comes to elections, many voters focus on electing a “good king,” someone who would implement their worldview on others, even if that worldview is TERRIBLE for liberty. If you find yourself talking with one of those voters about libertarianism, your efforts to persuade may be more effective by asking them this question before you get into the politics or philosophy of libertarian thought, “Who can you absolutely NOT trust?”

The answer you receive does not matter, but you should definitely take note, as it will guide the rest of your interaction with them.

trustMost often, you will hear a prominent national name mentioned like Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi. These are easy targets, and most people keep their minds on the national political news.

Regardless of who they name and the issues they champion, your response should remain the same.

Once you know their top issues, you can begin to ask questions about those issues being manipulated by the person they trust least. Questions like “How would you feel about giving authority over you to [insert their untrustworthy person's name here] on the Second Amendment?” or “If [insert their untrustworthy person's name here] were in charge of who receives welfare and who doesn’t, how would you feel about that program?”

They will be taken aback by this, because they’ve not considered this before.

Then, you can begin a discussion about how when you empower the “good guy” to enact a policy that you also empower the “bad guy” to use that authority. We’re seeing this unfold right now as Congress decides on gender equality when it comes to the draft. As it stands today, the federal government requires young men aged 18-25 to register with the Selective Service. Last week, the Senate voted for equal treatment to force young women to also register for the draft precursor. There were two outcomes that would lead to equal treatment under the law here:

  1. What happened in the US Senate.
  2. That we realize that you don’t actually own yourself if the law compels you to potentially serve in the military against your wishes. This realization would have ended the Selective Service registration for men, providing the same equality, yet with a better self-ownership outcome.


Keep in mind that you don’t need to focus on their issue so much as the idea that once you give power to one, you give that same power to all that come after, and the best solution is to govern one’s self, rather than give away that power.

How would the NC restroom law be handled in a libertarian society?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Business and Economy, Economic Liberty, Liberator Online, Property Rights by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

How would the NC restroom law be handled in a libertarian society?

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

Question:

Considering the recent flap regarding the restroom law passed in North Carolina (and being considered elsewhere), how would this be handled in a libertarian society?

restroom Answer:

In a libertarian society, most—if not all—bathrooms would be privately owned, since government would be very limited. Owners could decide who could use them and who could not.

If some business owners decided to discriminate on the basis of color, gender, or religion, their competitors would likely advertise their willingness to serve everyone, gaining the loyalty of the groups discriminated against. Profits would go up for those who were willing to serve all, while they’d go down for those who discriminated. Business owners would have to choose between their pocketbooks and their prejudices. Historically, most choose their pocketbook.

Indeed, segregation became law in the post-Civil War south precisely because businesses were serving the ex-slaves to an extent that caused resentment. Business owners who wanted to discriminate didn’t like losing their profits to their more open-minded competition. They, along with whites who wanted separate facilities, lobbied government to force businesses to segregate their facilities.

A government strong enough to ban discrimination is powerful enough to implement it as well. Those who wish to discriminate and those who don’t will lobby against each other for control. When private service providers decide who can and can’t use their facilities, people vote with their dollars to support the businesses that express their own viewpoint. No lobbying is necessary!

Tell More Stories

in Liberator Online, Walk the Walk by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Tell More Stories

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

As we lead by example, we continue to demonstrate the principles we espouse.

By showing before we tell, we add credibility to our words.

When we listen, we understand the issues and outcomes important to those with whom we speak.

Now that we’ve demonstrated our principles, made ourselves credible, and understand the issues and outcomes, we can talk about our love of liberty.

It is very easy to jump to facts, figures, and studies to make the case for libertarianism. Reason, logic, and a philosophical principles are what likely grabbed our attention, but they are not particularly persuasive to those who are not yet libertarian in their thinking. So, how can we reach them?

telling storiesA very effective way to convey your message persuasively is to tell a story that offers a libertarian solution in action.

Telling stories helps connect the listener to details, important points, and outcomes that are not found in citing statistics and studies.

Think about the last time you went to an event where there was an in-depth Powerpoint presentation with lots of slides, filled with statistics, facts, and figures. You likely took copious notes to keep up with every last shred of data.

When you left the presentation, how much did you retain without those notes? And six months later? A year later? A decade later?

Very few adults are blessed with an eidetic memory, like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, so recalling these details does not come naturally.

What’s something we all remember?

The stories we learned at a young age. Fables from Aesop, movies by Disney, and silly rhyming books by Dr. Seuss. Why do we remember, sometimes in amazing detail, we heard, read, or watched last twenty, thirty, forty or more years ago?

When did you last read or hear the story, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” one of Aesop’s fables?

If asked for a synopsis, we could easily give an accurate retelling of how the hare was beyond confident in his abilities to defeat the tortoise in a foot race. He was so confident that he sped off to an early lead and took a nap. When he awoke and hopped to the finish line, he found that the tortoise had beaten him by staying the course.

The lesson that we can all recite in unison? “Slow and steady wins the race.”

It’s probably been twenty years or more since I’ve heard that fable, but I remember what occurred due to the structure of the plot, characters, climax, and resolution involved in storytelling.

Twenty years ago, I would likely have been sitting in Chemistry class, but I don’t know that I could tell you what Avogadro’s number is or why it’s important, despite its repeated use.

If you’re interested in the science behind why storytelling is effective, here is an article about how stories activate our brains.

So, how many stories are you going to have in your repertoire?

HAIL Yes! You Can Win Others to Libertarianism

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, One Minute Liberty Tip, Philosophy by Sharon Harris Comments are off

HAIL Yes! You Can Win Others to Libertarianism

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

It’s not enough to speak about liberty. You want to be heard. Understood. Remembered. Appreciated. And you want your ideas, whenever possible, to be accepted.

HandsIn his TED talk “How to Speak So People Want to Listen,” renowned communication expert Julian Treasure talks about four pillars of communication that are essential for powerful outreach – particularly when your goal is to change the world.

It’s marvelous for libertarians. Here are his four pillars, along with a brief discussion of how they apply to communicating libertarian ideas:

1. Honesty. Honesty, of course, means telling the truth. The importance of this when sharing libertarian ideas cannot be overemphasized.

Being honest includes being sure of your facts. It can be tempting to use a “factoid” or meme just because it sounds good or is funny. But check the sources and verify that the information is true. (Remember this wisdom from George Washington’s First Inaugural Address: “Just because something is on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.”) In addition, be aware that even if something is technically true, it can still be misleading – also a form of dishonesty.

Being honest also includes saying “I don’t know” instead of pretending you know something you don’t. Pretending knowledge can backfire badly. Admitting that you don’t know everything (in other words, that you’re a human being), and offering to follow up with additional information, wins friends and provides future opportunities for discussions.

Note that being honest doesn’t mean being cruel. You don’t need to share any negative feelings you may have about someone else’s ideas.

2. Authenticity. This is similar to honesty. The word means “being real or genuine, not copied or false.” To me, it means being yourself, being true to yourself. Authenticity is powerful.

In communicating your ideas, use your own words, ones that are comfortable and natural to you. This doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel: in the libertarian movement there are invaluable resources for soundbites and well-written answers to questions. (For example, be sure to read Harry Browne’s Liberty A-Z and Mary Ruwart’s Short Answers to the Tough Questions.) Many of these soundbites can be easily used just as they are — that’s what they’re for. But if they don’t sound like something you would say, rewrite them to fit your own style.

Being authentic also means sharing yourself with others. Don’t hesitate, while discussing libertarianism, to add to your discussion other things that interest you. You will have better conversations, and other people are more likely to also share with you in turn – increasing rapport and giving you a better opportunity to directly address their concerns.

3. Integrity. To have integrity means to be consistent with your principles and values.

To me this means not supporting or advocating policies that are counter to libertarian principles. It also means continually practicing and learning to effectively share and communicate the full libertarian vision, rather than a watered-down version, in ways that are appealing and inspiring.

Having integrity also means being true to your word, keeping your promises, admitting your mistakes. It means being trustworthy. Reliable. Showing up on time. Be aware that when speaking to non-libertarians you represent the libertarian movement and other libertarians. Be a good ambassador for the movement.

4. Love. We all know what love is, but we may not always practice it in our political discourse. When we include love, we enhance the three traits above. We show respect for others, we practice the Golden Rule. Mr. Treasure puts it nicely when he says that in loving communication we truly, genuinely wish the other person well. When we do, the other person knows it, and this makes all the difference.

Each of these four pillars are powerful separately. Together they create an awesome synergy.

You’ll notice that the four words create an acronym: HAIL. As Mr. Treasure points out, the word “hail” means “to greet or acclaim enthusiastically.”

What a great way to treat people! And since most people tend to treat others the way they are treated, the reaction you will get will most likely be a very friendly one.

And in the current political culture of anger, screaming, attacking and all-round incivility, what better way to show a marked contrast between politics-as-usual and the glorious message we libertarians have of real market solutions, civil liberties, and peace for all.

P.S. I go into these ideas in more depth in my book, How to Be a Super Communicator for Liberty.

Life is About People

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Life is About People

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“Life is about people, not rings. Rings collect dust.” – Coach Mark Richt

In the context that he was quoted, at his final meeting with the football players at the University of Georgia, he meant that the developing those he coached into fine young men was a greater accomplishment than the rings he won with those young men on the field of play.

peopleLife is about people.

The first part of his quote is something that I observe many omit as they live their lives. I also observe that many libertarians omit this when they work to win hearts and minds to the principles, the ideals, the philosophy, and the lifestyle of libertarianism.

When it comes to Liberty, I don’t want it just for myself. I want it for everyone. I want it for the person struggling to ends meet that has the entrepreneurial spirit to be prosperous and to add value to the lives of others. I want it for the child with a learning disability that is getting left behind in school who is an amazingly talented musician. I want it for the international student here on a student visa that will cure cancer.

Too often, we get caught up in the latest news story, political issues, and the rhetoric when having a “political” conversation, but our efforts are for naught if we forget that the people we live among are what our lives are all about. Other times, we project our desires onto others. Sometimes, we just don’t listen to their concerns. 

When we stop getting caught up in those hurdles, we can connect to the people around us and have a real conversation. That conversation will help us to see how to address their concerns and desires and discuss our love of freedom to help open hearts and minds to Liberty.

Big Government is Our Best Persuader

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Do you recall your last encounter with Big Government?

Was it the DMV? The post office? The IRS? A police officer? Code Enforcement?

Was that experience pleasant? Did it cause you to run out and tell others about your love for government, like Butters from South Park?

Chances are, your experience was similar to mine.

I went to the post office to apply for a new passport. As you’re likely aware, not every location handles the applications. In my experience, they set certain hours for accepting the paperwork as a subset of the regular operating hours. In previous visits to the post office, I learned that passport hours are 10 AM until 4 PM on weekdays. If you work a traditional schedule, that is not particularly convenient, so I took a day off work to run some errands, and this task was among them.

Arriving at the post office at 2:10 PM, I felt confident that my business would conclude before the 4 PM window. Upon reaching the counter, after waiting in line to be served with all of the requisite paperwork, the clerk informs me that I will have to come back “in about 45 minutes,” because the person who handles passport applications left for lunch about 15 minutes prior. Let’s say that I was less than enthused.

I don’t begrudge a person taking a break. I totally understand that. My issue was with a system that would allow a floating, unannounced hour to be removed from what is already a small window for those of us gainfully employed. Can no one else at that location process these applications?

Rather than fight the “just following orders” mindset of most government workers, I left and came back about an hour later. Upon my return, I found I was not the only person who arrived during the lunch break and returned to encounter others with the same need. We commiserated about the inconvenience, and some of the others shared their “It’s the government. What do you expect?” attitude.

Being me, I engaged them in conversation about how this isn’t how things ought to be, and our mutual disdain for Big Government led us to a productive conversation about liberty and how libertarians think. As I often do, I shared the World’s Smallest Political Quiz with them, and gave them each my card. Today, one of them called to find out more about libertarianism, and we’re having lunch next week.

Thanks, Big Government!

Success!

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Success!

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You’ve heard the sayings: “Success attracts success.” “Nothing succeeds like success.”

They’re true. People are attracted to success! They are impressed and intrigued by it, they respect it, and they want to be identified with it. Success is exciting and fun — and catching.

SuccessThis is as true for political movements as it is for sports teams, soft drinks, viral videos, and rock and roll bands.

To attract people to libertarianism, and to stimulate them to look closer at the ideas of liberty, be sure to share libertarian success stories and positive news about the libertarian movement.

Here are three examples of how to do this.

  • An April 2015 YouGov survey found that a whopping one-in-five Americans under thirty now describe themselves as libertarians. That is an astounding increase in just the past few years.
    Drop something like this into your conversation: “And libertarian ideas are rapidly gaining acceptance. In fact, fully 20% of Americans under thirty now describe themselves as libertarians.”
    Your listeners probably had no idea libertarianism was so popular!
  • Point out that the last three Republican presidential primaries have featured libertarian or libertarian-leaning candidates, each making strong libertarian points. They included a U.S. Congressman (Ron Paul, in 2008 and 2012), a popular two-term governor (Gary Johnson in 2012, former governor of New Mexico, who went on to become the Libertarian Party presidential candidate and win the largest-ever total for an LP candidate), and in the current primaries a high-profile U.S. Senator (Rand Paul, dubbed “The most interesting man in politics” by TIME magazine for his libertarian-ish proposals). That’s mainstream, real-world political success.
  • Point out, when appropriate, that lots of famous people are libertarians. Share the star-power of such world-famous names as Vince Vaughn, Clint Eastwood, Penn and Teller, Drew Carey, Dave Barry, John Stossel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and many others.
    This instantly validates libertarianism as something that’s cool, respectable, and safely non-fringey.

Again, these are just examples. Keep your eyes open for others. And when you find them, share them whenever you can. Trumpet libertarian successes.

Of course, this is not an intellectual argument for liberty. And it’s not a way to convince someone to become a libertarian.

But it might well make someone take libertarianism more seriously, more respectfully – and help them think of it as something worth looking into further.

And that is… success!

 

A Spoonful of Sugar

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In Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” the title character, portrayed by Dame Julie Andrews, treats the children in her care to a musical, magical show of how to make a game of chores by adding an element of fun. I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Andrews’ performances, and the lyrics of the chorus in this song provide libertarians with an important message.

For a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down, the medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way

Often, libertarians find themselves as the bearers of “bad news” when it comes to policy discussions and decisions. We also encounter many misconceptions and popular talking points in casual conversations with friends and strangers alike. We often administer “policy medicine,” as we point out the flaws, unintended or unrevealed consequences, or damage to our rights in a proposal.

If you doctor were to give you a diagnosis that’s less than desirable, would you want him or her to do it with a bad attitude? What about with a great deal of condescension? Would you appreciate it if he or she were generally abrasive in that conversation? What if he or she insulted you or called you names, as they offer their diagnosis? I, like most, would not want bad news delivered with a sub-par attitude. As libertarians, we are a lot like that hypothetical doctor.

To many, we have bad news. Unfortunately, many libertarians deliver it with attitude, condescension, insults, or abrasiveness. In your experience, how is it received?

What I witness is a negative reaction to BOTH the news and the messenger. Once you make that negative impression, you are not as welcome to take part in the discussion. Whether held by a policymaker or your neighbor, how can your exclusion be a positive step for libertarianism.

After all, we want our libertarian solution to be heard, right?

When you offer such a “pill,” bringing your best manners, pleasantries, and attitude help you build a rapport with the others involved in the conversation. That is the “spoonful of sugar” to change an exclusionary reaction to the “medicine” you are offering. Some of the best discussions about policy and the libertarian solutions to issues faced today occur with those that know more than the divisive rhetoric within the limited discussion of a particular topic.

It is not our shared libertarian thoughts that make those discussions among the best. It is the way we approached the conversation. When we do so with a positive attitude, respect for their knowledge, or lack thereof, in a particular area, and kindness, we win. We may not persuade them on the issue at hand, but persuasion is usually not attainable in a single interaction.

We win by planting the seed that we offer a thoughtful, understanding perspective to issues of the day. Once we plant that seed, people will seek our opinion and thoughts on future issues where they may be persuaded, rather than an issue where they firmly hold a committed belief.

In the event that you are the only one exhibiting a pleasant demeanor, you can also win over those who witness the interaction. There is no downside to “killing them with kindness.”

So, why not offer a spoonful of sugar along with the medicine?

You Might Be the First…

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You Might Be the First…

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Recently, I attended an event with numerous political groups using that event to reach out to the community about their political party or movement.

While there, I witnessed some astonishing behavior posing as outreach, some of which I couldn’t believe. I offered some advice, though I’ll offer more here today.

firstThese days, my outreach activities are mostly internal, within the libertarian movement, though I do have significant experience “in the trenches.” Through that experience I took steps to learn how to improve the results, whether I was to persuading someone to re-examine their political home, convincing them to vote for my candidate, or introducing them to a new organization.

One of the best lessons I learned to improve my outreach was to constantly think to myself that “You might be the first libertarian this person has ever met.”

When you ARE that first libertarian contact, you are an ambassador to libertarianism.

You represent every libertarian in the movement at that point in time to that person. He or she will be left with a permanent impression, good or bad, about libertarians going forward.

First impressions matter.

If you leave a bad first impression, you’ve just made it that much harder for your fellow libertarians. They now have to overcome that negative impression to persuade that person to consider libertarian ideas. If you left a REALLY bad first impression, he or she might have told others about how terrible libertarians are.

Luckily, there are more libertarians today than ever. Since the Advocates’ founding in 1985, we’ve identified and recruited countless people to accept libertarian ideas, philosophy, and way of life. Even on college campuses, where freedom seems to be a dirty word, our partner organizations, Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty, have opened the door, as well as hearts and minds, to thousands that now yearn for a libertarian society.

Honestly, I hope that you are not the first libertarian contact. That is not because I think you will give a bad first impression. You’re clearly interested in being a better ambassador for libertarianism by keeping yourself informed about the libertarian movement and how you can be a better representative of the philosophy. I hope you are not the first libertarian contact because of the growth of the libertarian movement.

Whether or not you are the first, act like you are. I can guarantee the results are better when you do.

Libertarianism in Pop Culture

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Libertarianism in Pop Culture

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There is no shortage of “libertarian books,” whether you mean fiction works like Orwell’s 1984Huxley’s Brave New World, and any of Heinlein’s sci-fi, or more academic non-fiction texts like Hazlitt’s Economics in One LessonMises’ Human Action, or Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom.

How many of you became libertarians because someone handed you a book to read?

I didn’t. I don’t remember when a “libertarian switch” turned on, but I do remember when former talk-radio host Neal Boortz shared that my political philosophy had a name… libertarian.

Libertarians recognize that every individual is different. To me, that means that what opens one person’s mind to libertarianism may not work with another. Each individual’s path to libertarianism is different, and I think that many can be reached by the “normalization” of libertarianism and libertarians in popular culture.

As with any change to the status quo, a political change happens behind the wave of change in popular opinion. Popular culture plays a large role in that, and we are on track to have libertarian thought remain a part of that conversation.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss EverdeenThere is a wave of anti-authoritarian messaging in many popular teen novels that became blockbuster movies like The Hunger Games and Divergent series with strong female leads like Katniss and Tris exercising independent will and standing up to tyrannical central authorities. We see similar messaging in animated films like The LEGO Movie (which I LOVE) and The Nut Job for younger audiences.

Parks and Recreation’s Ron Swanson was a libertarian hero for many, and Community’s Jeff Winger and Californication’s Hank Moody both self-identified as libertarians. One of the longest running and most consistent libertarian television shows began my senior year of high school, South Park. On a recent flight, I even read this book about the libertarian lessons the show contains, which begins its 19th season next month.

The stand-up comedy world also features Doug Stanhope and Joe Rogan, while actors like Vince Vaughn, Dax Shepard, and Glenn Jacobs recently “came out” as libertarian thinkers. Recently, musicians Big Boi (from the hip hop group, OutKast), country music singer Kacey Musgraves, and Aimee Allen released songs with strong libertarian messages. Former MTV VJs Kennedy and Kurt Loder mix pop culture and political leanings for Reason and Fox Business, respectively.

We’ve collected quite a few libertarian celebrities here, and we plan to update that list shortly with many new additions this fall.

It’s a start, and we have a long way to go, but there’s hope still with all of the non-political avenues noted above that we can reach and recruit new libertarians. Let’s make sure we support the artists and commentators that share our views to keep them in the public eye.

Will you commit to that with me?

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