Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Libertarian Navel Gazing

SWOT posting about Pittsburgh / Allegheny County Libertarians. See the comments.


At 11:49 AM, Blogger Mark Rauterkus said...

Strategic Analysis of LPPa 2004-05

SWOT analysis Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.


We are part of a viable county, state and national political
network. In the past year, we have successfully coordinated
many activities by combining local , state and "national"
resources, rather than operating independently. This is
analogous to the US military's Army, Navy and Air Force
fighting the enemy instead of fighting each other.

We have made some progress since 2003. There is less
dissention. The angry people have less to be angry about, I
guess. We have Presidential and Statewide candidates that
are universally liked and respected, so there is less
dissention at the candidate support level. We have reaching
consensus that long-term planning may be needed in areas
such as candidate recruitment, membership growth, putting
LPPa events and deadlines on a time line, ballot access,

More people have political experience now. Volunteers
gathered 21,000 signatures, which is a lot. We are now
holding monthly LPPa meetings, which should allow us to
address issues in a more timely manner. Event coordination
is good. We managed to run a replacement statewide senate
candidate who has no campaign staff and get her through all
the hurdles. We held an two events in Pittsburgh on the
same day. The Presidential candidate was a no-show, yet we
still managed to take a big step forward because we were

We have several means of communications available to us,
including email networks, county meetings and press

Our management team is adequate and it is receptive to
positive change.

We have built up a modest voter base and donor base.
We have 300 dues paying members as of 2003.

Our organization has managed to field a last-minute
replacement candidate for US senate who has no campaign
staff. (this is a BIG accomplishment, whether we retain
minor party status or not)

We are running candidates for President, VP, Senate,
Congress and other offices.
We have stood for individual freedom for over 30 years.
We have achieved Minor Party Status with 41,000 votes
statewide in 2002.

We are on the voter registration form.
We can choose candidates in special elections.
We have an ongoing Toastmasters program.

We occasionally get on PCN-TV and C-Span.
We send out press releases and occasionally get quoted in
the newspaper.
We have a solid presence on the internet.

We cannot fill every board position. We have an over
reliance on a dozen people. We need redundancy. Board
members need assistants, etc.

We have no ongoing candidate recruitment process. Nor do we
encourage prospective candidates to set up exploratory
committees a year before the nomination.

We haven't decided how to handle the 2005 convention yet.

The Bylaws are too inwardly- focused, and they are not
focused toward the future or toward incentives for growth.
We need growth at every level. At the individual level,
members must become better-versed in the mechanics of
campaigns. At the county level, management needs to be
improved and time lines need to be maintained. At the state
level, we have too many vacancies on the board and we are
constantly in a reactive mode, rather than a proactive mode.
At the national level, they are still in the hole, although
they have largely stopped digging.
Many county chapters are in disarray. There are few
incentives for grassroots county chapter to form or to grow.
Some B counties have been at that stage for over a decade.
We need to provide positive incentive for B counties to
either grow internally, or to band together with other
adjoining B counties for jointly-elected LPPa

There is no field organizing from National or from the state
party. We may have to do this ourselves via Toastmasters and
via workshops and other means. The LPPa archives could help
but many people (like me) forget how to access them. We
could improve George Phillies' candidate support disk and
use that as a field organizing tool.

Factionalism is leading many qualified Libertarians to sit
on the sidelines.

We have no ongoing fundraising effort. It is ad hoc. Lack
of a membership chair leads to a lack of fundraising.
Membership must be increased before fundraising can properly
take place.

Too few of our members have the skill sets needed for
success (persuasion techniques, basic knowledge of
campaigns, parliamentary procedure, public speaking, etc).

The National LP is in debt, and has cut back on services to
the states and counties.

We need a better way to deal with inquiries and convert them
into voters or members on an ongoing basis. Roadblocks upon
the path from inquiry to member to activist to officer or
candidate must be removed. Membership, activism, and
fundraising go hand in hand.

The email voting system makes it impossible to amend any
motion without it taking a month. It imposes undue
responsibilities upon the Secretary. It is basically
unworkable unless there is a simple up/down vote. The
benefits of online meetings have not justified the time and
effort we put into changing the bylaws to draw up
proceedures for holding email meetings. My recommendation
is to leave 'well enough' alone, and to rarely use this

There is no easy way for the state party to provide
logistical help and party building help to the local
candidates. We need a 'permanent unofficial campaign staff'
to help candidates with various logistical hurdles such as
planning events and getting on the ballot.

We don't have an inventory of Libertarian resources by
county. There has been no recent effort to gauge the
strength of individual counties. We need data on all 67
Pa. counties. How many members? How much is in their
treasury? How many candidates have they run in the past few
years? What type of events do they hold? Do they wish to
apply for full "A County" representation with the LPPa? Do
they send out press releases? Do they get involved in local
affairs? Do they wish to help the state party? What pieces
to the puzzle do they have? Which pieces are they missing?
How can the LPPa help?

IMO the bylaws don't provide a clear pathway for an
unrecognized C county to grow to a B county (with a small
organization) , then to an A county (big enough to have an
LPPa representative. There is not enough incentive for
either the LPPa or for the counties themselves to make
counties grow beyond a minimal stage of organization. "B
Counties" (those with a small organization but not enough
members for a voting LPPa representative) have no incentive
to grow into A counties. B counties also have little
incentive to band together with adjoining B counties to form
an "A Region". An A region is a group of B counties that
have a jointly elected LPPa voting representative.

The Secretary has too many time consuming tasks to perform.
There should be a review of all procedures with the goal of
paperwork reduction.

Many committee chairs have their duties defined in terms of
keeping records, rather than going out into the real world
and engaging non-libertarians. Should the membership chair
keep track of decling membership, or should the membership
chair actively recruit new members?

Mentoring has improved with the 2004 election season. But
mentoring is still the exception rather than the rule for
many people. IMO mentoring rarely happens because the
majority of our members are introverted. Current best
practices are not spread to the county and individual level
as well as they could be. Some people feel threatened by new
members with new ideas. Their own importance may be

There is no set procedure for getting new people in to the
LPPa pipeline, nor for mentoring and development of teams
and county parties.



The odd numbered years are an opportunity to grow at the
local level. Mayors, city council, IoEs, JoEs are elected
in 2005. We need a list of Pa. cities that are electing
mayors in 2005. This way, we can keep a high profile for
another year. The 2005 and 2006 candidate recruitment
process should start on Nov 3rd, 2004.

Exploratory committees set up by prospective candidates the
year before the nomination would give candidates a chance to
get fully organized, to raise funds, and to hit the ground
running before the formal nomination at the state

If the LPPa could simply put its activities and deadlines on
an "event horizon" similar to the one that I have been using
in Allegheny County for the past few years, it will lessen a
lot of time-management problems. This way, the LPPa will be
less likely to be overtaken by events. We will be able to
form and execute our plans in a more timely manner. I
suggest that the Secretary assign someone to start an LPPa
event horizon and to update it at least every 2 weeks.

The 2005 LPPa convention could include more workshops, etc
to bring individual members up to speed on ways to petition,
to handle press conferences, on the needs of the state and
local parties for the year ahead, and so on. Workshops and
breakout sessions may do us more good than guys dressed up
in Pilgrim costumes. We need to make individuals, counties,
political action teams, campaign staffs, and the LPPa board
itself stronger and more knowledgeable. Wouldn't it be
great if another 50 libertarians in Pa. knew enough about
Robert's Rules to chair a local meeting?

In many cases, we have resources that just aren't being
fully used. I always forget how to access the LPPa
archives. I'm sure others have forgotten too. County
chapters get $5 for every LPPa member is their county, but
how many counties have ever started an LPPa membership drive
based on this fact? We need an LPPa time line that is
collated by one knowledgeable person who then emails it to
Pa Libernet and to LPPa discussion. There are lots of books
on campaign management, on salesmanship and other topics,
but they haven't been read by enough of our members. We
have campaign speeches on tape, but have they been watched
by future candidates?

Opposing Patriot Acts I and II will give us a way to reach

The current board is interested in changing bylaws and
procedures to enhance the LPPa.

We have outperformed the Greens in the last statewide
election, neutralizing their advantage via the 2000 Nader
campaign in Pa. We can expand upon this, even while
working with them on projects such as joint debates and
ballot access. We have an excellent opportunity for
spearheading an effort by ALL Pa. minor parties to reduce
ballot access requirements in 2005.
We can work with the Greens and other minor parties to
change ballot access laws, and to make the idea of minor
parties more acceptable to the average voter.

As time passes, some of our previously active members may
become active again, if the door is left open, and if
win-win scenarios can be developed..

We can use the LibPenn as a fundraising and educational
tool, as well as a motivational and recruitment tool. We
can achieve economies of scale by sending out 1,000 LibPenns
at a time.
The LibPenn is underutilized and understaffed.

We can reach younger people via raising awareness of the
LP's stance against the Rave Act.

We can transcribe tapes of our candidates' debate and
interview performances. Then future candidates can improve
on their answers. We will then improve our overall media
impressions without reinventing the wheel. We need to use
the LPPa archives as a how-to manual which enables
individuals, counties and candidates to get good advice in
one place, without reinventing the wheel. Perhaps we need
one person to be in charge of organizing and updating
materials in the LPPa archives, and to make sure qualified
people know how to access them? We also need to organize
candidates' answers to surveys from special interest groups.
The LPPa can do a lot to save its candidates and volunteers
time reinventing the wheel.

We need to remind our supporters in the gay, 2nd amendment,
anti-tax, motorcycle helmet and drug legalization
communities that we are consistently on their side.
Targeted mailings and emailings to special interest groups
could boost our support over time. We could have a special
"Second Amendment" edition of the LibPenn and mail it to
selected gun clubs, for example.

We can make inroads on the small business community while
retaining our other constituencies.
We can use campaigns as a catalyst for grassroots growth of
county chapters.

Other smaller parties have nearly disbanded. We should try
to win over some of their members and activists to the LPPa.
We could spearhead an effort by all minor parties in Pa. to
reduce the onerous ballot access requirements in Pa. IMO
10,000 signatures should be enough to separate the wheat
from the chaff.

We can facilitate the growth of local groups of
L/libertarians, who may some day apply for membership in the
LPPa. We can do this especially on Pennsylvania's many
college campuses.

If we had more counties or groups of counties that had a rep
on the LPPa board, then we would have a bigger pool of
candidates to pick committee chairs from.

We can refine the various 'event horizons' and use them as
day to day planning tools. The LPPa needs its own 'event
horizon" which would help us to plan activities on a
systematic, event-driven basis.

We can fix the databases, clean up the web sites, etc during
the winter months, while recruiting at outdoor festivals,
etc during the summer months. We must match our activities
to those of the larger political world. We could also set
up 'cookie cutter' generic sites for state rep candidates,
etc so that the candidates, once chosen, can just add

We can get a sizable chunk of the 30,000 required petition
signatures on Primary Election Day and on the 4th of July.
But this must be planned in advance. We have to make
fundraising a fundamental part of our ongoing activities.



Let's be honest. At times, we are our own worst enemies.
Let's at least admit that much to ourselves before we hit
the 'send' button on an email or open our mouths at a
meeting. As I have said before, "Individualists of the
World, Unite!!". Let's take this half-empty glass and these
lemons and turn it into a half-full glass of lemonade before
doing anything else. Then we will be in the mindset which
can address our challenges.

The Greens are still out there. They are getting fairly
large crowds at their anti-bush anti-war protests. They
have more allied groups than we do. Many environmental
groups have nonGreen donors but they have Green-type
platforms and are run by Greens. The LPPa has nothing
similar to this.

The Constiution Party is still strong in Pa. They can get
5% of the vote if the D and R are both Pro choice. This
really throws off our electoral calculations. But the
Constitution party is not as strong nationwide as the LP is.
We just have a very strong Pa. Constitution party chapter in
our backyard to contend with. We could come to some sort of
'understanding' with them, if we could build up mutual trust
and respect over many years. For example, they could run
someone for Pa. treasurer and we would run someone for Pa.
Auditor General (we would stay out of each other's way). We
could turn a potential threat into some sort of useful
alliance. We could work together on ballot access issues in
2005 to start this process.

We have constituencies who are politically incompatible
with each other. We can lose their support if we try to
lump them all together, without thinking about what THEY

Internal dissention within the LPPa is still there, but
below the surface. It should be diffused as diplomatically
as possible. Win-Win scenarios must be considered by all.

The Ds and Rs still have a near monopoly on the minds of the
average voter. Complacency and inertia is a threat to us.

The National Party needs to stay on a fiscally responsible
course. We have no organized way to monitor the progress of
the LNC and to report the results as a scorecard. We are
basically spectators to a situation which involves us
directly. Can Region 5 develop some sort of LNC scorecard
which evaluates how LNC members are voting and gives them a
grade or a rating?

Ballot access laws are too strict. It wasl be difficult to
get the LP Pres. candidate on the Pa. ballot in 2004. But we
did collect 21,000 volunteer signatures out of 40,000. We
should strive to continually raise our volunteer signature
contribution by getting more members to collect at least 100


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