How To Grow Your Political Movement

movement, libertarians, definition of libertarianism,

To sell a product, one must explain how the purchase of that product will benefit the buyer.  The same is true when selling an intangible concept, such as a political view.  Make no mistake, achieving a buy-in from another person to a political view is sales, not education. While education can be a part of sales, it is meaningless without closing the deal.

A salesperson who addresses the buyer with insults and condescension toward the foundational beliefs and prior actions of the buyer will find it very rare that a buyer is willing to ignore these insults and continue the discussion.

A salesperson that provides a welcoming dialog can open the door to more substantive discussions. It is a process for a person to recognize that errors were made in the past.  Admitting that there may be better ways to solve problems that were not previously used is the goal of the initial discussion and this recognition is the only way to open a person to a new way of thinking.

The following are two examples of how to sell, and how not to sell.  The goal in the first example is to sell an electric car to a dedicated diesel driver:

1. Negative attacks and condescension

A Buyer walks on to a dealer lot.  The dealer sells both diesel pickups and electric; the goal is to sell the electric. People are getting tired of the diesel but don’t know what else there is that fits their wants and needs.

Buyer: “Hello there, It’s time for a new truck so let me see what you have.”

Salesperson: “What are you looking for?”

Buyer:” A new truck, been driving diesel for 20 years, so I will stick with that.”

Salesperson:  “You are a complete idiot!  Don’t you know that you have been polluting the air and killing us all with that diesel smoke?  You are not only a moron; you are a terrible person and stupid because you believed that this was somehow a good choice.  Wow!  I can’t believe it.  You are a no-good scumbag and if you think your choices made any intelligent sense, you are a gullible dip$%^&!  You suck!  Want to buy an electric instead?  I have some over here.”

Buyer flips salesperson the bird and walks off the lot.  He buys a new diesel from a different lot.  The opportunity for change has passed and anyone else that approaches this buyer about anything other than a diesel truck in the future will be quickly dismissed, probably angrily.

2. Respect, questioning and presenting a new idea in a welcoming environment

Buyer: “Hello there, It’s time for a new truck so let me see what you have.”

Salesperson: “What are you looking for?”

Buyer: “A new truck, been driving diesel for 20 years, so I will stick with that.”

Salesperson: “I used to drive a diesel too. Used to love them.”

Buyer: “You don’t anymore?”

Salesperson: “Nope. The cost of the fuel changed all the time, and waiting for the glow plugs to warm in cold weather was inconvenient.  Also, that thick black smoke that poured out the back didn’t make me any friends, that’s for sure!  Do these things bug you too?”

Buyer: “You know, at times the cost of diesel fuel did get so high that I had to find other ways to get around.  Never really had a problem with the glow plugs though… and the smoke was always behind me (laughs)”

Salesperson: (laughs) “Yep… I can relate.  So if there was an option that you thought was better than what you have now, would you be interested in hearing more about it, and then you can decide if it makes sense to you?”

Buyer: “l am satisfied with my diesel, but let’s see what you’ve got.”

The door is now open to the presentation of a new product.  At best, the buyer will switch to the electric.  At worst, they may be open to this possibility in the future.

Now, let’s use this example with regard to politics and the presentation of a Libertarian point of view.

Two people are at a chili festival in Pueblo Colorado. One (D/R) is walking the aisles and another (L) is in a booth. D/R walks in front of the booth and says hello.

1. Negative attacks and condescension

L:  “Hi there.  I have a short quiz that I can give you so you can see that you are an evil person… and stupid too!  I am much smarter than you and you will fall at my feet when I prove this.  Want to take it?”

D/R:   “Wait… what?”

L: “Are you deaf or just stupid?”

D/R: “I’m out of here.”

L: “No really… you and everyone you love are either murderers or gullible idiots…  Wait!  Come back!  I’m not done yet!”

D/R: (talking to himself) “Those Libertarians are not just crazy, they are jerks too”.


2. Respect, questioning and presenting a new idea in a welcoming environment

L: “Hi there.  I have a short quiz that might really surprise you!  Got 30 seconds?”

D/R: “Not really”

L:  “I get it. I felt the same way.  But would it be worth 30 seconds to surprise yourself?”

D/R:  “Ok.  Why not?”  (Takes quiz.  Comes out mostly Libertarian)

L: “How about that!

D/R: “That’s surprising…”

L:  “Yep.  It surprised me too when I took it the first time.  Most people are surprised because they didn’t realize that we are really about letting you choose how to live your life, and we are working to make that possible.”

D/R: “I like that”

L: “Glad to hear it.  I look at it this way…  All of us want to live a better life, and when we recognize something that is getting in the way of that its time to change that.  What do you think?”


If the goal is to present a new option, to be successful that option must be something that makes sense to a person. They need to understand that this has the ability to improve their lives.  It is the presentation of a viewpoint that fits their needs that can grow the public embrace of this viewpoint.  The growth of a political movement requires buy-in from the public.  It must Intrigue the public. Motivate them to ask questions.   Ask them questions as well.  Respect where they are today and make them curious to learn more.  Shake their hand, don’t beat them over the head.  It works much, much better.

If you want to achieve your goal of growing your movement:

  1. Ask questions – Don’t preach.
  2. Listen to and acknowledge their answers – Don’t insult them.
  3. Be respectful of their time and their current views – Don’t be condescending.
  4. Try to relate to what matters to them. – This is crucial.
  5. Consider their responses. – Don’t be judgmental.
  6. Look at the interaction as a chess game: Brute strength doesn’t win, thoughtful strategy, planning, and execution does.
  7. If all you want to do is preach, insult and show that you are smart and everyone else is dumb… start a social club (actually an anti-social club).
  8. Keep in mind that if you want to improve the world by getting government out of our lives, you need help from other people. They won’t help you unless they believe that it benefits them.
  9. Keep doing this and you will change the world, one person at a time.
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