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A Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online, Uncategorized by Advocates HQ Comments are off

(From the Libertarian’s New Year’s Resolutions section in Volume 19, No. 27 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Editor’s Note: Several years ago, Harry Browne — 1996 and 2000 Libertarian Party presidential candidate, world-renowned libertarian speaker and writer, and very good friend of the Advocates — made his New Year’s resolutions.

Harry BrowneThe result was a compact how-to of effective libertarian communication, by one of history’s most persuasive advocates of the ideas of liberty.

We are delighted to share this inspiring and uplifting classic with you. Consider adding them to your own resolutions this year — and share them with other libertarians.

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  1. I resolve to sell liberty by appealing to the self-interest of each prospect, rather than preaching to people and expecting them to suddenly adopt my ideas of right and wrong.
  2. I resolve to keep from being drawn into arguments or debates. My purpose is to inspire people to want liberty — not to prove that they’re wrong.
  3. I resolve to listen when people tell me of their wants and needs, so I can help them see how a free society will satisfy those needs.
  4. I resolve to identify myself, when appropriate, with the social goals someone may seek — a cleaner environment, more help for the poor, a less divisive society — and try to show him that those goals can never be achieved by government, but will be well served in a free society.
  5. I resolve to be compassionate and respectful of the beliefs and needs that lead people to seek government help. I don’t have to approve of their subsidies or policies — but if I don’t acknowledge their needs, I have no hope of helping them find a better way to solve their problems. 
  6. No matter what the issue, I resolve to keep returning to the central point: how much better off the individual will be in a free society.
  7. I resolve to acknowledge my good fortune in having been born an American. Any plan for improvement must begin with a recognition of the good things we have. To speak only of America’s defects will make me a tiresome crank.
  8. I resolve to focus on the ways America could be so much better with a very small government — not to dwell on all the wrongs that exist today.
  9. I resolve to cleanse myself of hate, resentment, and bitterness. Such things steal time and attention from the work that must be done.
  10. I resolve to speak, dress, and act in a respectable manner. I may be the first libertarian someone has encountered, and it’s important that he get a good first impression. No one will hear the message if the messenger is unattractive.
  11. I resolve to remind myself that someone’s “stupid” opinion may be an opinion I once held. If I can grow, why can’t I help him grow?
  12. I resolve not to raise my voice in any discussion. In a shouting match, no one wins, no one changes his mind, and no one will be inspired to join our quest for a free society.
  13. I resolve not to adopt the tactics of Republicans and Democrats. They use character assassination, evasions, and intimidation because they have no real benefits to offer Americans. We, on the other hand, are offering to set people free — and so we can win simply by focusing on the better life our proposals will bring.
  14. I resolve to be civil to my opponents and treat them with respect. However anyone chooses to treat me, it’s important that I be a better person than my enemies.

Harry passed away in March of 2006, and we greatly miss him. If enough of us follow Harry’s advice, we can make 2015 the best year yet for the libertarian movement. He is the author of Liberty A to Z, available from the Advocates’ Liberty Store. 

Turn Objections Into Objectives

in Communicating Liberty, Liberator Online by Michael Cloud Comments are off

* “But if we legalize marijuana, wouldn’t millions and millions more Turn Objections Into ObjectivesAmericans try it, become regular users, and waste their days stoned and unproductive?”

* “Gun control laws aren’t perfect, but if just anyone were able to buy and own a gun, and carry it in public, wouldn’t we have radically more gun violence?”

* “Legalize prostitution? You can’t be serious! Sexually transmitted diseases would skyrocket. Married men would stray more often. And crimes surrounding prostitution would go up.”

Many libertarians treat objections like these as total deal-breakers to our libertarian proposals. As insurmountable obstacles to getting someone to favor expanding freedom in controversial areas. As unshakeable opinions held by those who want to limit liberty.

But what if these objections are NOT total, absolute, unalterable deal-killers?

What if they are instead genuine concerns to be answered, problems to be solved, or fears to be neutralized?

What if we turn these objections into objectives? Into goals and targets?

* Try this: “So, John, if I understand you correctly, you’re saying that before you will support legalizing marijuana, you want to make sure that marijuana use and abuse wouldn’t skyrocket. Is that a fair summary of the points you raised?”

(Wait for “Yes” response.)

“Would you like to look this up with me?”

Then simply Google or Bing for the facts. Or go to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Or Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Or another reliable source of facts on the issue.

* Try this: “So, Mary, if I’m hearing you right, you have serious concerns about more Americans owning and carrying guns. You’re concerned that, even in the hands of law-abiding Americans, more guns might lead to more gun violence? Mary, is that pretty much what you’re asking?”

(Wait for “Yes” response.)

“Would you like to see what we can learn from reputable, knowledgeable sources?”

Then search for the facts on Google. Try the Fact Sheets at Gun Owners of America (GOA). Or try GOA’s “Just for Skeptics” FAQ. Or the book More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott.

* Try this: “So, Jane, you have 3 serious concerns about legalizing prostitution. Would it cause sexually transmitted diseases to skyrocket? Would it cause more married men to have sex outside their marriages? And would crimes surrounding prostitution go up?” Are these your concerns?”

(Wait for “Yes” response.)

“Would you be willing to look up the facts on these things online or from knowledgeable sources?”

*  *  *

When we turn objections into objectives, we remove a strong emotional charge from the issues, and open up the possibility that our conversation can instead be guided, influenced, and decided by the unbiased facts.

And this is great for libertarians, because the facts are friendly to freedom.

* * * * * * * *
Michael Cloud’s brand-new book Unlocking More Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion is available exclusively from the Advocates, along with his acclaimed earlier book Secrets of Libertarian Persuasion.

In 2000, Michael was honored with the Thomas Paine Award as the Most Persuasive Libertarian Communicator in America.