What strategy will the Mises Caucus use to pursue political success, and what does that success look like?
We have what we call the Three-Pronged Strategy, which takes into account the relatively small numbers and resources we libertarians have available so we can apply them in ways already proven to be effective in the political landscape:
1. Intraparty Action
In order to spread the ideas of liberty effectively and to take advantage of any opportunities we have to carry them out in real life, the Libertarian Party itself needs to be functioning properly. Its affiliates and officers need to be communicating with the public in an effective manner about issues that actually matter to them. Its candidates need to be doing the same thing. The LP needs to develop institutional memory in order to retain members and donors, as well as best practices that it can teach to succeeding generations of party officers and candidates. Obviously, the Libertarian Party needs to also rid itself of corrupt, unethical, or incompetent individuals who may currently enjoy officer or staff positions.
To that end, the Mises Caucus pursues internal offices in the Libertarian Party and its affiliates. We do want the Libertarian Party to be an effective vehicle for libertarian principles, which means our members do political and activist work that benefits the LP and its state affiliates. On the merits of this work, we achieve positions of leadership in the party. We do not seek to displace other members of the party from officer or staff positions arbitrarily. If they don’t meet standards of work, competence, ethics, character, or principles, they should be replaced by someone who does. If they put in good work, are competent in executing their work, behave ethically, are of good character, and demonstrate a commitment to libertarian principles, we will work with them wherever possible. This standard also applies to our own members. If they fall short of these reasonable standards, they will not be supported in the future.
There are as many—if not more—examples of the Mises Caucus having highly collaborative and friendly working relationships with LP members as there are examples of the Mises Caucus engaging in direct, adversarial competition with LP members. In every single case, the decision is in the hands of LP members. They have either already chosen to be an asset and great to work with, to improve if they aren’t doing well, or to dig in their heels and cling to their positions in the party as long as possible. We encourage members of the Mises Caucus to pursue amicable working relationships with non-members as much as possible, but also to not be afraid to confront elements in the party that are falling short or being hostile. In short, the Mises Caucus does not start fights, but we do finish them. We believe this is a reasonable way to deal with intraparty conflict while acting in good faith toward the party.
The numbers don’t lie. When the Libertarian Party and its affiliates are doing a good job with their messaging, candidates, and internal conduct, the affiliates grow. The Mises Caucus has brought membership growth as well as substantial social media engagement to every affiliate we have had influence in. Most importantly, we bring active members who get things done in the real world and who show up, which is vital for a political organization. One active member who is passionate about carrying out the ideas in real life is worth ten inactive members who joined in a focus group tested dragnet and don’t do anything. The Libertarian Party should foment libertarian activism as much as possible, and that is what we are empowering it to do.
2. Issue-based Coalitions
The trouble with advancing liberty through politics is that when it comes to legislatures, executives, and judges, many issues are tied together and cannot be handled by themselves . This creates a situation in which nothing gets done, despite one or two issues being popular. Targeted, issue-based coalitions are how we break up this logjam and get libertarian ideas actually enacted.
We start by looking at libertarian issues up individually. Then we look for specialized issue-based groups that are attempting to push that issue at a state or county level. We combine forces with those issue-based groups, help discover others to bring in, and work together to push that issue over the top, using single-issue referenda or ballot initiatives wherever possible. For example, suppose that there’s a group opposing Red Flag laws in your state. The Mises Caucus, along with any state affiliate it has influence over, will reach out to that group and help it achieve its goals on that issue.
In many cases, there doesn’t even need to be some kind of grand coalition; it is often the case that everyone knows that something is popular already and needs to get done, but nobody is doing the work. In that case, putting legislation in the hands of elected politicians of any party will help move the ball forward on that issue. The politician gets to look great for getting something done that was otherwise stymied by the inefficiencies of the state, and everyone actually gets some liberties back.
The Mises Caucus has two examples of success with these different approaches. In Denver, we helped get a plebiscite that decriminalized possession of psilocybin mushrooms passed, by such a tight margin that the media initially reported the effort had failed. We worked with Decriminalize Nature and the Colorado affiliate to get this done. A similar kind of story played out in Norristown, PA, home of Mises Caucus founder Michael Heise. Mike went to the local police chief and asked what the status was for marijuana decriminalization. The chief’s answer? “Nobody’s doing anything, but it’s time to get it done.” Mike put pre-made legislation in the hands of the politicos and it got done. Obviously, a pro-gun issue is probably going to have a harder time in Denver; but the point is, whatever libertarian issue can be advanced in a given place, we will advance it. The issues we succeed on might change from place to place, but unlike other political strategies that depend on a specific culture existing in a given area, the best part about this particular strategy is that it can be carried out anywhere.
The issue-based coalition strategy works. The Tenth Amendment Center has been doing it for years, as have any number of other issue organizations. It will also work for the Libertarian Party and the principles it represents.
3. Local, State, and Federal Elections
Libertarians are few in number and we know it. Even if we weren’t, federal, and quite often the state races are fantastically corrupt and incredibly difficult, requiring massive resources to run in, let alone win. The Mises Caucus makes a distinction between these different kinds of races and what our objectives and expectations should be for them.
As far as actually carrying out libertarian principles in practice, we expect that this will only be possible, at first, at the local level. First of all, the races can actually be won by a determined minority with minimal resources. Anyone who tells you voting NEVER works, or any derivative thereof, is simply in denial of reality, whether in regard to the issue-based coalitions mentioned previously or local races. This author’s first experience in activism was helping a local town councilman get elected by six votes. He proceeded to block a property tax hike and stymie efforts to create an anti-open carry ordinance. Anyone who scoffs at these things is an unserious person. Those property tax dollars are people’s property and livelihood, every single one saved from theft is meaningful to people. This is with just one libertarian on a town council.. If libertarians are able to influence a small polity to the point of more or less taking it over, then we will really see positive changes.
Most people are not systematic thinkers or ideologues like us; they will believe it when they see it. If we can win local offices and create liberty for the communities we live in, people will see how much better a free society is and come to appreciate the ideas of liberty, even if they never become die-hards like us. A society predisposed to like liberty is one we should all want to live in. The liberty we are able to create on the local level also directly helps other methods to achieve liberty, such as personal success and agorism. These approaches are not mutually exclusive, but complimentary; a local government that gets out of the way is a great help to all libertarians.
Statewide races are frequently beyond the reach of libertarians, but not always. Just recently, a libertarian was elected to the state legislature in Wyoming. In places where it’s a real possibility, the Libertarian Party should show some ambition and try to get it done. In most places, it won’t be, but that doesn’t mean there is no value in these races. The Libertarian Party is perfectly capable of primarying bad candidates from the outside and ruining their prospects if they aren’t sufficiently liberty-oriented or have bizarre hostilities on certain issues that they don’t need to have in order to win. The statewide races also are helpful in achieving ballot access, which saves the party thousands of dollars in expenses so that we don’t have to hire professional petitioners and so forth just to get in front of people.
Most people tend to pay attention to politics and political ideas the same as anything else—if you want to learn about carpentry, go to the carpenter, right? Unfortunately, when it comes to politics, this is like the sheep going to the wolves for advice on how to organize society. The good news is that with a political party, libertarians will be able to have someone in the political mix who actually knows how all of this really works, who can present the public with the truth when they are actually looking at politicians and listening to them, or at least watching them for the spectacle. This is primarily what major statewide or federal elections are for. The corporate media has never been more hostile towards the ideas of liberty and will never be kind to us, but the corporate media is also disintegrating, losing profits and prestige at breakneck pace.. More and more, the thinking American sees mainstream media the same way Russians saw Pravda: totally unreliable peddlers of lies. YouTubers get more viewers than high production value newsrooms. The media battlefield is changing, and libertarians are poised to take advantage of it. This is what our big ticket candidates will be doing: inspiring new generations of young people to take the torch and carry it forward for the next generation after them, just as we were by giants like Ron Paul and Harry Browne.
The Way Forward
The Mises Caucus is committed to partnering steadfast principles with proven techniques to achieve liberty. We do not have to pretend to be something else. We do not have to degrade ourselves, or apologize for what we know is true. We do not have to cover up and hide our brightest minds and bravest heroes. We are libertarians in the first place because of our conviction that liberty is the morally superior option, and we won’t lose ourselves by setting that aside for anyone. Over the years and generations, we will build a libertarian culture that values work, character, competence, and principles. Join us in this vision. Take Human Action.