Our Interview with Shane Cory

In our latest interview we ask Shane Corey, the Chief of Staff of the Libertarian Party, about his views on this year’s election results and where he thinks the party is headed in the future.

TPW: What first inspired you to become a Libertarian?

Shane Cory: I have always considered myself a political independent. I support candidates that best represent my views and, more importantly to me personally, stay true to their own beliefs.

The ongoing failure of the two-party system is due in part to Republicans and Democrats showing blind loyalty to their party first—in order to gain personal power or to maintain the power of their respective parties.

I have found that Libertarians are loyal to their nation first. They make common sense decisions and take reasoned approaches to issues. They do not toe any particular party line in order to “fit in” or to not rock the boat. They are able to address each issue on its own merit while ignoring partisan groupthink.

There are many complex reasons why I chose to support the Libertarian Party. What drove me take a significant cut in income in order to work for this organization and what drives me to give generously each month to this organization is simple . . . our nation needs the LP. It is obvious that the two-party system is taking our nation down the wrong path. And, in recent years, we have seen the disastrous effects of one-party rule. Our country must have a viable third party in order to get back on a path to economic and individual prosperity. That party is the Libertarian Party.

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TPW: Are you pleased with the Libertarian Party’s performance during the recent off-year elections?

Shane Cory: You ask an honest question and I’ll give you an honest answer. No, I’m not. There are a few stand-out candidates that did achieve victory and I congratulate them; however at this pace the LP will have a long road ahead. It’s up to the LNC and state parties to increase the pace and that’s what we are going to do by staying on mission.

We are not a think tank, debate society or book club—we are the nation’s third largest political party. Our main purpose is to provide Libertarian candidates with the tools they need to win.

The LNC has shown their commitment to this mission by passing the zero dues resolution. It’s up to the LNC staff to follow-through by developing the structure and programs that will give our candidates an advantage over their competitors. The Libertarian Leadership School, which I will address below, is one of many programs to come.

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TPW: With the Green Party making strong gains in recent years (electing numerous and notable local officials, a state representative), do you feel that the Libertarian Party can still call itself the third largest party in America?

Shane Cory: Sorry, although I do own a Prius, I don’t follow the Green Party. I’ll stand by my statement above and we’ll prove it in the years to come.

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TPW: Politically, what do you feel is the LP’s biggest accomplishment of the last year?

Shane Cory: We’ve had many great candidates rise up over the last year. Pat Dixon in Texas is a good example. The Oregon LP continues to take on and win ballot initiatives while the Indiana LP is becoming a strong political force in their state.

Our biggest overall success that will return political results in the future was the passing of zero dues. As I noted above, we will now be able to focus strongly on making gains in the political arena, instead of dedicating our time to increasing our membership numbers.

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TPW: Are there any plans in the works to upgrade the LP’s website before the 2006 elections?

Shane Cory: Yes. We have already begun working on a redesign and the refocusing of LP.org. For 2006 we plan to dedicate a majority of the content to campaigns and candidates. I’ll be providing a glimpse of the new site at the upcoming LNC meeting in Baltimore.

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TPW It seems that the party has been facing some serious financial difficulties recently… spending too much and raising too little. What actions have been taken to bring the numbers back into balance?

Shane Cory: Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated. There are certaincircles within the libertarian movement that take joy in hearing negative news about the party. Instead of getting the true story, they sometimes choose to assume the worst. Here are the facts:

Over the course of 2005, we have had only four months in which we were in the black. In March we raised approximately $185k from our annual report but two of these months were mere breakevens.

In August, we began assessing our development department and making significant improvements to our calling, direct mail, and pledge programs. We also kept spending to an absolute minimum, trimming any fat (I even had the water cooler removed from the office to save the expense . . . and the staff reminds me of that decision daily). With our preliminary efforts, August was in the black but still a breakeven month (one of the four for the year).

September was a very bad month for us as donations were down due to Katrina. Many non-profit organizations not directly involved in relief efforts took a hit. When the hurricane struck in late August, LNC staff went into crisis mode. We knew that this would affect donations and, additionally, we felt that the national LP should take a lead in providing ways for Libertarians to provide direct aid to evacuees. We worked long hours and weekends to accomplish both of our objectives. Although we did fall short of our average monthly income, the damage could have been much more severe. Also, with the help of Libertarians across the nation, we were able to help at least one community in Louisiana with direct assistance.

In October our efforts began to show and it was the second best month of the year. Total income was approximately $159,000, about $43k above our monthly average for the year. Our development department was directly responsible for raising about $125k for the month while much of the rest was the result of unsolicited donations.

For November we are on par for another good month. We are slightly off October’s pace by $2,000 but still plan to exceed our fundraising goal.

If we continue to make improvements in our development department and continue to keep spending down, I may bring back the water cooler in time for the 2008 presidential elections.

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TPW: Finally, could you tell us what the Libertarian Leadership School is and how you hope it will help build a better LP?

Shane Cory: The Libertarian Leadership School (LLS) is something to get excited about as it is the first of the many “tools” that we need to win.

The LLS is an online school that is currently in development. We will be opening classes for registration on January 1st for a January 30th start date. Currently, we have 13 courses in the works and I believe that 12 will be ready by January. We have created an aggressive schedule for 2006 which gives us the potential to train 2,100 students for the year.

Each class is six weeks long and will have a maximum of 25 students. Each week, students will have several reading and written assignments and on Friday’s they will have a timed quiz that will address the topics of the week. The LLS will not be comprised of simple “attend and pass” classes. They will be challenging with the intent of making an impact in the years to come.

The school is broken into three areas, Affiliate Training, Candidate and Campaign Training and Electives. You can see all of the courses in development by visiting www.lp.org/lls.

I personally believe that a significant benefit to this comprehensive training program is that it will give Libertarians the confidence that they need to make a decision to run for office. We have hundreds of solid potential candidates within our circles, but they have no starting point or knowledge of the campaign process. The LLS can give them confidence through knowledge. Additionally, our seasoned campaign managers and candidates can hone their skills in a variety of areas.

Our instructors are experts in their field. We have a fundraising expert, an FEC consultant, and accomplished media professionals among others who will be developing course material and instructing classes.

The opensource software that we will be using, Moodle, is used by thousands of organizations around the world. It offers a great deal of interactivity with class forums, chat, journals, etc. Most of all, it’s easy to use for both students and instructors.

To date, we have not spent a single dime on the LLS although you can already see the progress. Once classes begin we will incur instructor fees and administrative fees which will total approximately $50 per student, per class. Our next fundraising letter, to be dropped this month, will announce the LLS and ask donors to sponsor students by making a donation. If you would like to go ahead and contribute to this fund, click here and be sure to note in your comments that you would like your donation to go towards the LLS.

The LLS will be addressed in more detail at our upcoming LNC meeting. I will also be introducing two other projects that are of equal significance. Tim West from LibertyforSale.com should be present to blog the meeting so be sure to get his views on this and other projects.

11 Responses to “Our Interview with Shane Cory”

  1. Stuart Richards Says:

    I’m excited for the LP now… Shane Cory can give a damn good interview.

  2. Tim West Says:

    I think the next few years are going to be big ones for the LP. We have people that understand how to leverage tech to good use and I think, hope and pray that the party now understands what it’s one and only mission is – to get libertarians elected. Anything else is not a goal or function properly of the LP - it should be handled by one of the hundreds of other libertarian groups and think tanks around the world.

  3. Hammer of Truth » Third Party Watch inverviews Shane Cory Says:

    [...] Read the entire interview here. [...]

  4. Rob Eichenlaub Says:

    Great interview. I’m excited about the next few years in the LP.

  5. Stet Says:

    Pork Spending…..taxes…. useless Social Security spending… War on drugs… The Patriot Act… what wasted spending …..and these are only a few…... It is scary that there are so few Patriots afraid of our policies….. Can we gain any help in the leg. ??

  6. Jared Sullivan Says:

    I hope the LP can make some gains in up coming elections. I think one of the problems that needs to be addressed is how the LP focuses on “radical” issues that do not concern the average american. Telling americans that we need to make all drugs legal may make since to us but does not sound good to the average american who has been told their entire lives that drugs are bad and should remain illegal. We need to focus on issues that most americans can wrap thier head around if we are ever to gain real support. We should focus on more effcient tax systems, and point out all the wasteful pork spending around the country. These are things that will help us gain traction amoung the masses.

  7. Alexander S. Peak Says:

    QUOTE: “I’ll be providing a glimpse of the new site at the upcoming LNC meeting in Baltimore.”

    I was there. Mr. Cory was wearing a yellow tie on Saturday.

  8. Alexander S. Peak Says:

    By the way, LP staff are hot. This is my scientific opinion, of course.

    QUOTE: “The LLS is an online school that is currently in development. We will be opening classes for registration on January 1st for a January 30th start date. Currently, we have 13 courses in the works and I believe that 12 will be ready by January. We have created an aggressive schedule for 2006 which gives us the potential to train 2,100 students for the year.”

    A demonstration was given at the LNC meeting. At first, Mr. Cory had difficulty logging in. I heard one comment wispered in the back, “That’s what always happens when you’re giving a demonstration.” About four seconds later, another comment from the back, this one louder and from someone else, “You’re not inspiring confidence here,” or something to that effect.

    After they got logged in a few more seconds in, they went over how it will work, about the timed quiz, how there are two assignments each week, etc.

    QUOTE: “The LLS will be addressed in more detail at our upcoming LNC meeting. I will also be introducing two other projects that are of equal significance. Tim West from LibertyforSale.com should be present to blog the meeting so be sure to get his views on this and other projects.”

    Wait, Tim West was there? Had I known, I would have introduced myself. :)

  9. Lew Jeppson Says:

    There is a huge number of disaffected (wht the Democratic party) working class people in this country. They have gone over to the Repbulicans but are not really happy there. They are up for grabs if you can demostrate Libertarianism in in their best interest. Never have the oportunites for the LP been greater, but you have to engage.

  10. Third Party Watch » Blog Archive » Our Interview with Shane Cory Says:

    [...] In November of 2005 we had the chance to talk with Shane Cory, then the Libertarian Party’s Chief of Staff. Since that time, Mr. Cory has been promoted to the position of Executive Director. [...]

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