The Greatest Commandment
I think that we can all agree that a political party cannot exist for very long if it does not recruit and retain members. The Democrat and Republican parties have name and brand recognition and a large following nationwide. The Libertarian Party would love to have such a presence on the national stage. So, how do we get there?
Consider this quote from the late Dr. Myles Munroe, “God considers foolish any wisdom that does not fulfill its original purpose.” Now Dr. Munroe was commenting on 1 Corinthians 1:20. But consider what he is saying. You may know a lot about something, but if you’re not putting it to its proper use, you’re foolish. You may know a lot about auto repair, but if you use it to steal cars, you’re foolish … and etc.
What does this have to do with membership recruitment and retention, you might ask? Let’s start with this question; what is the stated purpose of the Libertarian Party of California (LPC)? Aside from the usual statements about advocating for liberty, freedom, and etc, one purpose of the LPC should be to grow and sustain its membership base. You may know about the Constitution and liberty, but what are you doing with that knowledge?
So what do we do?
First and foremost, we must target an audience for our message. In this case, I’m going to target the wider “faith community.” I’ll describe this community as people of sincere faith, who regularly attend public worship services, and who contribute both money and time to their faith community and it’s efforts. They can be Protestant Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, etc. You pick … or pick a different group to target.
Now, I know what will likely happen within the LPC. There will be cries about the separation of church and state and how religion and liberty tend to be mutually exclusive (they’re not). From the outside, religious minded folks tend to see us as a bunch of atheists / anti-theists (yes, there’s a huge difference) dope smokers. How can we possibly reconcile the two?
In general terms, love. More specifically, love of liberty.
In my own life, after many years of study and practice, I was ordained as a minister just a few years ago. From my own faith’s tradition, we speak of the purpose of the Messiah’s coming as fulfilling the law of the Old Testament and bringing forth a new Covenant based on love. Matthew 22:36-40 speaks on this when Jesus is asked about the greatest of the Commandments. His instructions were amazing – the simplified version is love God, and love your neighbor. Love is the answer.
Now, you’ll see a lot of political folks “accepting” or “condemning” various behaviors and lifestyles. Don’t fall for it. You’ll see the Democrat’s political reporters asking Republicans about “gay marriage” and other social topics (think MSNBC). You’ll see the Republican’s political reporters asking Democrats about defense / security issues (think FoxNews).
Let’s take a look at this. What’s our answer as regards marriage? It’s none of our business, and thus it’s none of the state’s business. We love everyone equally and want them to have every chance to pursue their own definition of happiness … so long as it doesn’t intrude on the rights of others. As such, a Libertarian run government does not get in the business of sanctioning or licensing marriage (bonus points if you include a discussion of the racist roots of the marriage license in the US).
Line by line, the LPC’s platform is full of love and devoid of judgment. Your life is yours. Your definition of happiness is yours. Since I know that God isn’t hiring judges, I’ll leave the moral judgment to Him. In a Libertarian America, the laws would be simply designed to promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Alive, Free, and Happy, as the t-shirt says.
Some of my Evangelical Christian friends often wonder at those folks who are dyed-in-the-wool socialists or progressives or Democrats. How can they be Christians and be Democrats. My answer to this is that they’re Democrats / Socialists / Progressives first, Christians second. Many ministers have noted this and are pushing back.
With Libertarians, you can be both a Libertarian and a Christian / Jew / Sikh / … I love liberty and I love my fellow man. Since my only job is to love and not to judge, I can be in a room with anyone and discuss my love for liberty.
Many folks are now wrestling with some of the same questions, the answers to which drove me to the LPC. Given our representative form of government, can I be a Christian and vote to fund abortions? Can I be a Christian and vote to fund endless wars? Can I be a Christian and vote to devalue our nations currency (which is theft)? Pick either Democrat or Republican and, as a Christian, I’d have to compromise something that I hold dear in order to vote. As a Libertarian, my conscience is clean.
BUT, BUT, BUT …. what about the poor? Good question. My Christian faith counsels me to be charitable with what I have. It says nothing about me being charitable with what you have. Taking from you to give to the poor is not charity it’s theft. There are plenty of examples of charity at work. The Shriners Hospitals were begun with a simple notion, why pay a dollar for a whisky and cigar when you can pay ten and use the proceeds to fund a children’s hospital. Masonic benevolence notwithstanding, I think that we can all agree that private charities tend to be better run than the government’s social services.
So let’s not be afraid to reach out for new members in places where we haven’t been before. With a love of liberty in your heart, you can set up a table at any type of gathering. Invite folks over to your table and be nice to them. Help to erase the image of the libertarian as a dope smoking selfish prepper. We should want the potential member (registered voter) to see us as we are, people who love people enough to stay out of their lives, their bedrooms, and their wallets. People with whom they’d want to associate via membership in the LPC. And finally, people whom they’d trust with their vote.
What say you?