Q&A With George Phillies: Future of the LP

TPW: Why has the Libertarian Party failed to resonate with voters for the last 30 years? How will your campaign work to change that?

George Phillies: The Libertarian Party has resonated, time and again, with voters. That’s why we have many Libertarians in elective office. The question is how we duplicate their successes elsewhere.

To improve from years past, we needed to make a variety of changes. The following list is not complete. Some of the implied changes are being made. Others could use more work:

We needed to recognize that the purpose of a political party is to run people for office, not to serve as a debating society. Prolonged debates over fine points of platform content are no substitute for putting people on the ballot and supporting them in their campaigns.

We needed to spend our donations on political acts that actually reach voters. Advertising is important. Supporting volunteers is equally important. Campaign acts that help fellow candidates are just as important. Large, well-paid staffs and plush offices are not important.

We should not use polling to determine our stands on issues. We should use polling to learn which issues voters care about, and which issues bore them to tears. We should use polling to find out what voters hear when they listen to us speak.

Most voters do not believe that ‘issues’ tell you who to vote for. They think it’s obvious: ‘trust’ and ‘character’ are what really count.

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TPW: It’s often said that if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. What is a key difference between how your campaign will be run and how past LP Presidential campaigns have been run?

George Phillies: Key difference: I’m running my campaign to build our party, not to pay my staff and put me in front of the voters. My staff and campaign presence are merely tools to a greater end. How do we become stronger?

We incite the American people to support our Libertarian Party. We incite Libertarians across America to become activists, people who work for and donate to our party and my campaign.

That’s why I am organizing supporters, in state after state with somnolent Libertarian parties, to become the activist core that will build strong parties for the future.

That’s why my emphasis is on recruiting campaign volunteers, not on hiring expensive consultants. Yes, I do have a few persons being paid: An accountant. A webmaster. A graphics consultant. A printer. They are being paid at competitive hourly rates (with a yearly cap) or competitive piecework rates.

That’s why I am running on mundane issues like education, health care costs, and Iraq, not on esoteric issues like reverting to the gold standard. I want to bring voters to our side, not send them fleeing in terror.

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TPW: What do you feel the role of the Libertarian Party should be? In your view, does the party exist primarily to educate voters or to elect libertarian-minded individuals to public office?

George Phillies: The purpose of the Libertarian party is to run Libertarian candidates for office, elect Libertarian Party candidates to office, and use the entire political process to put libertarian ideas into effect. Of course, there are non-partisan races, but in most of these most people know full well who belongs to which party. Public education and other non-electoral activities are appropriate tools for advancing electoral politics. They develop the voter base that will elect our candidates.

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TPW: And finally, if you do not win the nomination would you consider accepting the Vice-Presidential spot on your party’s ticket? Alternatively, is there a chance you would continue your campaign as an independent or seek the nomination of another party?

George Phillies: I am a candidate for President. I plan to win our Presidential nomination. I will campaign as vigorously as possible for Libertarian victory in 2008. I will not pull a Lieberman, stabbing my party in the back by running against its candidate. Our party’s history shows that there will be qualified Vice Presidential candidates, such as Karen Kwiatkowski this time and Tamara Millay last time. We should nominate a serious VP candidate with a record of libertarian activity, a person whose credentials have been systematically challenged by political opponents.

I am proud to be a Libertarian, and will be proud to be the on-ballot candidate of each of our 50 state parties. I am working hard to ensure that I am that candidate. I’m reviving somnolent state parties. I’m planning for a major ballot access drive. I also believe in party loyalty. In 2004, I was National Volunteer Coordinator for the Russo nominating campaign. When Russo lost, I did not take my marbles and go home, to sit out the election. I persuaded the Badnarik campaign it needed volunteer mobilization. I was appointed National Mobilization Facilitator for the Badnarik 2004 general election campaign. Acting without a penny of support, I found state coordinators in many states, organized the College newspaper contact program, and did other
mission-useful tasks.

22 Responses to “Q&A With George Phillies: Future of the LP”

  1. globalist_elitist Says:

    “That’s why I am running on mundane issues like education, health care costs, and Iraq, not on esoteric issues like reverting to the gold standard.”

    I give round three to Phillies. I also appreciate his party loyatly lank. That’s 2-1 Phillies.

  2. Robert Milnes Says:

    And by default, 0 for all the other candidates.

  3. globalist_elitist Says:

    There are other candidates?

    Wayne Root = 1 supporter

    All others = 0 combined supporters

    Other candidates = non-existent

  4. Trent Hill Says:

    I dont know GE.

    Wayne Root has Joey Dauben and Dondero. Thats at least two!

    Mike Jingo has a few too.

    But you still don’t exist Milnes.

    I think Kubby won this one.

  5. Kris Overstreet Says:

    “I’m running my campaign to build our party, not to pay my staff and put me in front of the voters.”

    Well, Phillies just permanently lost my support with that one line. Everything else he said was either right on or close to what I believe. However, I believe that any candidate who is running for any other reason than to get elected is wasting everyone’s time- his party, his supporters, and the general electorate.

  6. Jake Porter Says:

    Kris,

    I think George was just trying to say that he is not running for his own ego. I assure you that we are working not only to build the party, but also win the election. I know this because I have been working on the Phillies 2008 campaign for over a year now. Working to win the election is even in the volunteer coordinator document that our 18 state volunteer coordinators have. Additionally, why else would we spend so much time on using MySpace and Facebook, and money on Google Ads to promote the Phillies 2008 campaign if we were not trying to win?

    Jake Porter
    National Mobilization Facilitator
    Phillies for President

  7. Jake Porter Says:

    From the Phillies 2008 Coordinator Advice Document #1

    Remember, the objective is not only to see George Phillies NOMINATED by the Libertarian Party but also to get George Phillies ELECTED as President of the United States.

  8. globalist_elitist Says:

    Kris - Who is living in a fantasy world? Get elected? To the presidency? A Libertarian? In 2008? Don’t insult the voters’ intelligence. We will never win until we can convince voters that elections are about more than “voting for the winner.” Phillies or whoever the candidate is should run AS IF they’re trying to win, but they had better have a realistic, achievable goal to their candidacy or else there is no point to them running.

  9. George Phillies Says:

    Building the Party and running as if you are trying to be elected are one and the same. How can you build an effective party except by building a voter base, generating effective, long-lived volunteer groups, and putting the message before the voters? Those are the deeds that get you elected, too. Recruiting memberships for one group or another does not get you elected, but it does not build a stronger party, either.

  10. Roscoe Says:

    Won’t the voters only buy the Libertarian message when they are ready for it? I don’t care how many times Ford put the “Edsel message” in front of the auto buying public, the public wasn’t - for the most part - buying it.
    Ford merely had to redesign their autos. We have to first convince the voters they even want an “auto” - most of them aren’t buying our freedom message in electoral politics no matter how attractively it can be packaged. If the LP won’t do it, then we need some other libertarian organization out there in the communities and campuses of America selling the benefits of liberty. When enough believe, then it will be time for the LP to win some serious elections. By the litmus test of votes, the LP is an absymal failure in the eyes of the voters. More could be accomplished if the time, energy and money were put into daily, weekly, monthly interaction with the community - on a non-partisan basis - taking libertarian positions on the issues and concerns of those communities.

  11. Kris Overstreet Says:

    G_E: It doesn’t matter that you have no chance to win- rule one of elective politics is, no matter how bad the odds are, you never, EVER imply you will do anything other than win and win overwhelmingly. The instant you admit you can’t win, you lose everyone except your most loyal supporters and the protest voters. Why should anyone vote, much less donate or volunteer, for a candidate who admits point blank he’s not going to get elected and everything he says about his campaign is empty wind?

    Jake: we’ve had many past candidates for various offices- most notably the party’s founder David Nolan- who spend money on “party building” and “educating the electorate” with no intention whatever of actually running a winning campaign. We’ve shown time and again that running to win and running to educate are NOT the same thing. I’m firmly opposed to “educational” candidates: I want someone who is focused on GETTING INTO OFFICE AND SERVING.

  12. George Phillies Says:

    I will agree with Kris that ‘running to educate’ is a bad approach for the reasons he outlines, among others. That’s why I do not intend to spend money on ‘educating the electorate’, at least as libertarians have usually used the phrase.

    I do intend to educate the electorate on why they should vote for me, e.g., the only antiwar candidate, will not mail our grandchildren a bill for bloated Republican budgets, 100% prochoice, will let the Republicans take back their rightwing crackpot nostrums. That’s rather different than educating the voter in obscure theological approaches to finding truth.

    I do not intend to tell Libertarians ‘this will be our year. just imagine. this time is different. ignore the man behind the curtains.’ Libertarians may notice that this year is different, and there actually is a scientific poll (Rasmussen, iirc) out there showing an unnamed third party candidate running on my issues in a three-way tie against Hillary Clinton and iirc John McCain, but I am going to be different, not talk about being different.

  13. Robert Milnes Says:

    George, how can you say you are the only anti-war candidate? Actually my proposal for Iraq has bee incorrectly been described as not anti-war. But there are several, even democrats. Ron Paul is anti-war but loses my support by campaigning in and through the gop. An incredible strategic blunder. g-e, Trent, what about Smith? She’s been polling consistently in the top 3-4. And I was amazed to see Kent McManigal consistently polling near the top also. I guess they don’t exist either, huh? The declarations of my non-existance are premature.

  14. Wes Benedict Says:

    Kris Overstreet says: “The instant you admit you can’t win, you lose everyone except your most loyal supporters and the protest voters.”

    I made the comments below on the Liberty For All Blog 2/10/07 regarding the Nov 2006 elections:

    Sean says “I can tell you from personal experience how much media you lose when you admit that you won’t win. It should also be obvious how little respect the average voter would give to a candidate who’s just happy to be here.”

    Sean, your rigorous analysis to prove this point is far less rigorous than the Global Warming Terrorist propaganda. I assume you’re relying on some anecdotal evidence that you haven’t shared, although I know you can find an annecdote to support just about anything.

    I routinely admit to the press and to voters in Austin that our candidates probably won’t win this election but we’re working to increase our percentages. I think those reporters and voters respect my honesty and our percentages have gone up. I think it’s possible the media and voters have less respect for candidates who claim they’re going to win when they end up getting 4% or less.

    Again, the highest percentage by a Libertarian in a PARTISAN CONTESTED race was here in Austin where I am routinely honest with the press and voters. (Probably I should say “somewhat honest.” There’s some strategery going on too.)

    I also disagree with many Libertarians who think you shouldn’t run for office unless you will claim you are going to win. You might think that asking only for candidates who are going to claim they will win might produce a stronger slate of candidates. However, intelligent and realistic people can look at a long history of results and come to the realistic conclusion that results will likely only improve a little bit at best over past attempts (with the exception of tiny districts of 5,000 or less).

    If you restrict your slate of candidates to those who will claim they will win, you may limit yourself to the most naively optimistic or unintelligent, or liars (the Liartarian Party?). The press and voters will realize that, and I’m not sure they will give you more respect for being naively optimistic or unintelligent, or lying. I know my respect for candidates doesn’t go up the more naively optimistic or unintelligent they are. I’m not against a significant amount of over-promising, but there’s a point at which ridiculous claims can sound . . . well, ridiculous.

  15. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Wes:

    Why should anybody vote for a candidate who openly states it’s impossible for him/her to win?

    Why should they donate their money or time to a doomed cause that even the candidate doesn’t believe in?

    It’s one thing to be doomed, but it’s entirely another to admit it- because then, in the eyes of most, you’re wasting people’s time.

  16. Robert Milnes Says:

    George, the scientific poll you refer to corresponds to my math/equation re: progressive alliance strategy. Short said: The Libertarian Vote 20% (13% + 7% leftist) + the leftist vote (greens) @ 20% = @34/33/33.

  17. sam i am Says:

    You are off your meds. When did the Libertarians or Greens get anywhere close to 20% for President? Last time around it was less than half of one percent each.

  18. Robert Milnes Says:

    Sam, sam, sam I am, Get up to speed by reading The Libertarian Vote.

  19. globalist_elitist Says:

    “Why should anyone vote, much less donate or volunteer, for a candidate who admits point blank he’s not going to get elected and everything he says about his campaign is empty wind?”

    For the same reason that 10 percent of the adult white male population voted against slavery and for freedom in 1848, with the Free Soil Party.

    If our LP candidate gives the impression that he “can” win, and he gets 1 percent of the vote or less… Then what does the candidate in 2012 say? “It’s different this time!” Another 1 percent showing. 2016? “It’s REALLY different this time!” Less than a half percent, etc.

    IT IS INSULTING.

  20. Kris Overstreet Says:

    G_E: In 1848 the Free Soil Party nominee for President was Martin van Buren- a former President. He got 10.12% of the popular vote. In 1852 the Free Soilers nominated a lesser light- Senator John Hale- and polled less than five percent. During this period the number of people who supported the main Free Soil issue- abolition of slavery- INCREASED.

    Electability, in the minds of the voters, is a major concern.

  21. Ghoststrider Says:

    If he wants to reach out to voters, he better stop using the word “somnolent”. Most people have no idea what that means.

  22. globalist_elitist Says:

    Kris - But those voters who voted for MVB didn’t believe he was going to win. They weren’t stupid. They voted for him because they wanted to vote against slavery. And those votes playe a small part in the long-term struggle to see it abolished.

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