Q&A With Steve Kubby: 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?

Steve Kubby: Much of the problem is systemic. The “two-party” system didn’t just develop naturally. It was crafted by the Republicans and Democrats for the specific purpose of excluding alternatives. The Australian ballot and barriers to inclusion on that ballot, rigged “debates,” and financial advantage from the ability to do favors for contributors have kept the duopoly in power. Fortunately, the two major parties are bringing themselves down with bad policy and with their increasing similarity to each other. Past LP candidates have done their best to expoit that weakness; but there are more opportunities to do so now than ever before. I’ll put everything I have into outreach, with an aim of growing the party and the movement so that we can continue to grow in influence and achieve our goals.

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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?

Steve Kubby: That question assumes that prior LP campaigns have been run in the same way. They haven’t. We have different kinds of candidates, and different kinds of campaigns, and they’ve evolved with the times, from Ed Clark’s TV commercial approach to Harry Browne’s talk radio blitzes. My campaign will be different, too, of course. I’m aiming it mostly at un-represented or badly represented constituencies on the “left”—the drug policy reform movement, the anti-war movement, the immigration freedom movement, and so on. We’ll do our best to leverage the increasing power of the Internet. And we’ll do the traditional things, too, like radio and television advertising.

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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?

Steve Kubby: The Libertarian Party exists primarily to move America in a libertarian direction, with the ultimate goal of creating a free society. Electing public officials—or at least meaningfully attempting to—is part of that. So is outreach: Not so much “educating the voters” as showing them that there’s an alternative awaiting their support. The part you left out is, to use an old political/military term, “cadre.” The role of the LP, beyond electioneering and “educating,” is to build a large, enduring movement, from the precinct level up—an army of activists and organizers who can convince people, carry elections, whatever it takes to achieve the primary goal.

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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?

Steve Kubby: I’m firmly committed to the Libertarian Party. I declared for the party’s presidential nomination because I believe that’s where I can do the most for the party. If I stop believing that, I’ll look for other ways to support the party and the movement. If a better candidate enters the race, I’ll withdraw. If I lose the race, I’ll accept that—and if the party wants me as its vice-presidential nominee, I won’t reject that out of hand. I’ll consider my options and decide based on whether or not I think I can grow freedom in that role.

11 Responses to “Q&A With Steve Kubby: Future of the LP”

  1. globalist_elitist Says:

    Great questions, Austin.

  2. Susan Hogarth Says:

    SK says: “The role of the LP, beyond electioneering and “educating,” is to build a large, enduring movement, from the precinct level up—an army of activists and organizers who can convince people, carry elections, whatever it takes to achieve the primary goal.”

    Well said. Dan Sullivan, in a discussion about the LP’s newsletter, had a very similar point:

    “[A]re we
    looking for followers, or are we looking for leaders? ... The strategy I advocate, and the one I think Nolan and other radicals advocate, is to develop leaders. This means using the LP News and other resources to turn our supporters into experts—not only experts at addressing libertarian philosophy and its ramifications, but at achieving libertarian goals generally. If we have the leaders, they will attract as many followers as they need. However, if we focus on attracting followers and have no good
    leaders, we will either dissolve into obscurity or, worse, turn into a
    leaderless mob.”

  3. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Dan Sullivan is full of it; he presumes that people can be persuaded to change their beliefs based on rational argument and debate, when all evidence is to the contrary.

    Again Kubby disappoints: “Yes, we’ve had thirty years of failure at getting elected, but absolutely none of that is OUR fault, so let’s not change a single thing,” to paraphrase.

    With that kind of leadership, we’re going to get the same results we’ve had the past thirty years- bupkis.

  4. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Kris,

    I think ‘bupkis’ is … well, wrong. First, third/ideological parties don’t tend to stick around for over three decades - just keeping it together is a HUGE accomplishment. I live in a state where ballot access is hideously difficult, so I am amazed to see the dedicated folks holding it together and growing the Party. Second, just look around - politicians on both ‘left’ and ‘right’ are falling over themselves to paint themselves as libertarian (while carefully avoiding, of course, being called Libertarian). When you consider that politicians follow public opinion rather than the other way around, that’s an amazing thing.

  5. SovereignMN Says:

    These questions and responses have been great. Well done!

  6. [email protected] Says:

    Kris,

    If you honestly believe that your paraphrase was accurate, I’ll make a matching contribution of five bucks toward getting you enrolled in an English as a Second Language course if others will kick in.

  7. Carl Says:

    Wow! Somewhere where I agree with the radicals! I have said for years that LP News should teach members the nuts and bolts of doing third party politics. Been trying for years to get some in the field studies published. Keep getting told I am being “too technical” or “too long.”

  8. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Tom,

    If you look at the first question, Kubby blames Libertarian failure entirely on the other two parties- but any day now the Libertarian ship will come in, as people become fed up with the duopoly. That’s been promised since before I joined the party, and it’s no closer to happening now than it’s ever been.

    Thirty-plus years of the same tactics and the same strategy producing the same results suggests that the LP needs to change SOMEWHERE… but Kubby is delivering the same old “educate the voters” and “we exist mainly to provide an alternative” rhetoric that the anarchists have spouted straight along. To me Kubby is the LP Business As Usual candidate. He might get my support in the regular election if nominated, but the absolute most I’d do for him now is not vote NOTA against him.

  9. [email protected] Says:

    Kris,

    Like I said—if you got what you claim to have gotten out of what Kubby said, you need a remedial reading course. Let me know when you enroll and where to send the five bucks.

  10. Eric Sundwall Says:

    KO

    Aside from the one historical shift to the GOP (in the 1850s), what other third party plan, sacrifice, acumen or anything has actually worked by your criteria ? Blaming the anarchists is so gauche.

    The history and foundation of the libertarian movement is radical. Tweaking it with better software might help but attracting candidates that can win is very hard. Anybody not attached to an ideology who is accustomed to real world success will naturally look to one party or the other for their own perceived potential for success. What’s the incentive to run or associate with ANY third party when ultimately its just an ‘independent’ effort anyway ?

    LP delegates should at the very least demand an articulate voice for the liberty message. Get money, get signatures, get the angry middle, get lucky - win ? Third Party affiliation need not apply.

  11. George Phillies Says:

    Eric:

    How about the Republican Party of Eisenhower and Goldwater, which has ceased to exist? The folks who are staffing the 2007 Republican Party leadership, in fair part, would be easy to find in 1960. They were southern White Democrats, who have now taken over a party and changed everything except the name.

    As a Libertarian State Chair, I am saddened to note that there are incumbent Republicans in Massachusetts. There are state reps, and state senators, and even a “County District Attorney” and “County Sheriff”. Of course, MA mostly doesn’t have county government any more, and the County Sheriff has jurisdiction over his jail and court house. Period. We even have 13% registered Republicans in Massachusetts. With some luck, MA will soon be leading the country by becoming a Republican-is-a-third-party zone.

    Best,

    George

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