‘Libertarian-in-Chief’ Todd Hagopian’s Campaign Announcement:
My name is Todd Hagopian. Some of you may recognize me as the Libertarian-In-Chief on Twitter. My mind has always worked a little differently than other folks. So, when I see something that doesn’t make a lot of sense, I just can’t let it go.
For example, when I saw two parties dominating the Federal Government that are both:
- Tax and spend
- World’s policeman
- Separated only by the constitutional amendments they want to ignore
- Distinguishable only by the groups of people that each party chooses to despise
…it caused me to sit back and really think about what was happening.
There is a method of innovation that is called “smashing orthodoxies.” In this method, you take everything that you know to be true about an industry, organization, or political environment, and you begin smashing those orthodoxies, challenging them to see if they are real, or simply perceived rules that we all assume are facts just because everyone has always assumed that they are facts.
Take for instance, the widely held orthodoxy that “a vote for a third party is a vote for the other guy.” How many times have we heard this? How is this even possible? If I refuse to vote for the Republican, or the Democrat, because I support neither, then who are you actually saying that my Libertarian vote is supporting? If I did not vote Libertarian, neither party would get an extra vote. Therefore, this orthodoxy can be proven wrong.
Here is another orthodoxy: “A third party will never win a major election.”
How could that possibly be true? Is it impossible to think that a third party could have better ideas, or field better candidates, than these two obscene competitors? Of course not.
Let me tell you a little about myself. I have an MBA with a double-major in Marketing and Finance. I have spent the past ten years turning around businesses at three Fortune 500 companies. I am what you would call a “Fixer” who gets placed into businesses that are in trouble. My job is to diagnose the problems in the business, come up with a strategy to turn around the company, and then execute that turnaround.
This all led me to where I am today. The Libertarian Party is broken. We had our biggest opportunity in the history of the party in 2016, we successfully raised record funds, but we did not make the debates, we ended up with a mediocre showing, and we were completely broke just two years later. The Libertarian Party needs a “Fixer,” and today is the day that I announce my candidacy for the LP Chair at the 2020 Libertarian National Convention.
This campaign will develop a hyper-focus on three very simple goals:
- Professionalize the Party
- Create a Nationwide Brand
- Win Local Elections
Professionalize The Party
We need to build a party that lives out our principles, sets goals, and accomplishes them. I am a great disciple of the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle says that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the causes. For example, 80% of the party’s success will come from 20% of the activities that the party can choose to focus on. Today, the party is run in the opposite fashion. Today, 80% of our time is spent on infighting, alienating new potential members, or arguing who is and isn’t a Libertarian.
We need to change this equation. How can we develop a hyper-focus on driving efficiency?
- How much does it cost to raise a dollar through each method of fundraising?
- What is the hurdle rate we have to clear to be profitable every month?
- How much money do we have to raise to clear a profit every 60 minutes?
- What are our core competencies? What should we be outsourcing?
- What new positions can pay for themselves, and drive more results?
We need someone who knows how to evaluate an organization chart, tear through a P&L, run down a balance sheet, develop a mission statement, create a long-range plan, and then inspire the team to start running 100 miles an hour for all 26.2 miles of the marathon it will take to get there.
Create a Nationwide Brand
What is a Libertarian?
Are we anarchists, are we socially liberal fiscal conservatives, are we moderates, are we minarchists, are we ancaps, are we blue dogs, are we republican-lite?
None of the other parties try to describe themselves the way that Libertarians describe themselves. The Democrats want to make things fair for minorities and the poor, while making sure everyone pays their fair share. The Republicans want a smaller government, so people can pay less taxes, and everyone will be lifted up when the economy grows.
Are these things true? Of course not.
Let me tell you how 80/20 principle would work to build our brand. We focus on the 20% of the issues that drive 80% of our message instead of infighting over the rest of the platform planks.
We would focus on the 20% of Americans who may be willing to switch parties, instead of focusing on alienating folks who are already inside of our own party.
We would focus on the 20% of races that we had a chance to win instead of spending all of our time/money on the presidential race every four years and forgetting about the rest of the party.
We need to boil our brand down to something that people can understand, something that people can remember, something that people can recite. Our committee members, our state parties, and our candidates need to be able to recite our brand message on command.
If we are not able to define what a Libertarian is, then we are inherently giving other people permission to do it for us.
Win Local Elections
For years, the party has focused almost exclusively on the Presidential election every four years. Even though we are guaranteed to be outspent 100:1. Even though a rigged system is guaranteed to keep us out of the debate. Even though we have to constantly battle the major parties to even show up on the ballot in many states. What a colossal waste of time and money!
I am not saying that the presidential ambitions of the party are silly. I am just saying that we are not going to win a presidential election before we win our first House of Representatives race, or even our first 20 House of Representatives races.
And, we are not going to win 20 house of representative races until we win our first 1,000 local races. Don’t mistake me, it is important to have folks running in house and senate races, but their success will only be possible if the folks who are running for local positions help push our ideas and our values in every locale within that territory.
Young Americans for Liberty has done an amazing job with their Operation Win At The Door campaign, which has resulted in over 40 state house victories for folks with Libertarian leanings, even if they run on a different ticket. We can replicate their success, but one level lower, and try to get 1,000 folks elected to local nonpartisan councils and commissions.
Jeff Hewitt is a great example of this. Hewitt is a Libertarian, who you may know. He was a small town mayor who then ran in a non-partisan Board of Supervisors election and got over 50,000 votes in one of the most impressive Libertarian victories in history.
The most impressive part of the Jeff Hewitt story is the reverberations that will be felt for years afterwards. All thirteen of his canvassers are ready to go out and work, or run, in different elections this time around, and they are all Libertarian. On top of that, Libertarian membership spiked in his neck of the woods.
What does this mean for you?
Winning a local race can be more impactful than the party getting an extra 0.1% on the Presidential ballot, and here is the most important part. Winning a local race is easier. Winning a local race is more important to this movement than an extra fraction of a percentage of popular vote ever will be.
We need to focus on Local elections. If we cannot win locally, we should not win nationally.
I am not running to be named best Libertarian in the United States. There are folks who have lived the platform to the letter for longer than I’ve been alive.
I am not running to be named top activist in the Libertarian Party. There are people in every state who have put in more activist hours than I have.
I am not running to be named best politician in the Libertarian Party. I have no desire to run for an office where I am just one vote of many.
I am running because when I see a business that is in trouble, I know that I am the very best person to turn it around. When I look at the Libertarian Party, I see a party with the best principles, the best people, the best opportunity that we’ve had in the history of our party, and I do not want us to go another cycle without taking advantage of this enormous opportunity.
You will have plenty of choices in this election. Many of the choices will be between folks who have been involved in the party for years. If you think the party is headed in the right direction, and at the right speed, then one of these folks will be the best options for your vote.
However, if you believe that this party needs a fundamental change in direction, a reorganization, and a new revived focus on what is really important, then I would ask you to consider casting your support behind our campaign for the Chair of the Libertarian Party.
Margaret Mead once said that “a small group of thoughtful people could change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.”
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