The 2008 Ron Paul campaign generated more excitement, support and momentum than anybody could have imagined. And it attracted supporters from all walks of life—all ages, races, religions, economic classes. Now that the campaign is long gone, all those people who have learned and grown together, who have coalesced around the vision articulated by Ron Paul are being asked to throw their passion and support behind the Campaign for Liberty..
But a lot of us are left wondering about what the C4L will look like, and how it will go about it’s business. We’ve witnessed the genius and brilliance that this group of people is capable of producing. From my vantage point, the Campaign for Liberty is at a crucial time in it’s existence, one which will define what becomes of the legacy of the 2008 Ron Paul campaign. That campaign was incredible. Welcoming, inclusive, dynamic, and so diverse. Which raises important questions for those currently shaping the Campaign for Liberty. What strategy will you adopt? Because whatever you choose, it will define the DNA of this organization and ultimately the legacy of the RP2008 campaign.
I know that It’s claimed that these questions have been answered. The communications from national assume that we’re all on the same page, that our understanding of the future we’re creating is both clear, and shared.
It’s claimed that the specific outcomes we’re going to be working toward are also clear, prioritized, and generally accepted.
And It’s claimed that the model for achieving those goals exists already. That it’s a well established pattern. These are the messages we’re being told.
If they’re right, it should be plainly obvious, not just to you and I, but to total strangers. Because if those things were true, a stranger could to talk with anybody from the Campaign for Liberty, and they’d encounter the same clarity of purpose they encountered during the Ron Paul campaign.
It would mean that if you were the person involved in that conversation, each and every one of you would articulate the same set of goals. You’d know exactly *why* you were doing any given task, because the connection with those goals and outcomes would be clear enough for even the uninformed to understand with ease.
And in fact, by simply articulating the goals, they would easily infer other tasks that could be done to help bring about those outcomes. This is something you all know, because you’ve already experienced it. You’ve seen new supporters bring not just energy and enthusiasm to the campaign, but tactical and strategic genius. They’ve taken initiative, and driven novel new campaigns and pursuits to support the broader goal.
Because it was clear as day how their actions would help make the vision a real thing. There was no hierarchy, and that was one of the key strengths of the campaign. A resilient network of talented individuals making decisions on their own about the best way they could contribute to our shared success.
And the national leadership insists that same dynamic exists today with the Campaign for Liberty. That all of these powerful characteristics are in full effect, now, here, today.
But is that really true? It’s a rhetorical question, because clearly there’s no consensus. What we have is conflict. You know it, I know it, and you can be certain that national knows it as well. From what I’ve heard this weekend in conversations with many of you wonderful people, there’s an awful lot of dissatisfaction about the attempts to paper over emerging cracks in the façade.
This room is filled with dedicated, passionate, intelligent people. And as real as the air we all breathe, there is pain and frustration at the trajectory of this organization. Something that once was a source of so much hope and excitement is no longer so certain. There’s a sense of alienation, that the characteristics that made the Ron Paul campaign such a wonderful, unique, and powerful organization is being stripped away as it’s transformed into something totally different.
But what, exactly is it? I’m going to argue that we now have an organization struggling to define why it exists, and why it’s important enough to justify your ongoing support. Each person I speak with seems to have a different story, a different understanding of the Campaign for Liberty. Sadly, there’s disagreement even among leadership. Some seem to believe they have total certainty about the future of this group. Other’s don’t seem so clear.
And it’s a pattern that seems to be common across stakeholder groups. The hard core activists are flat out confused. And that makes sense. They’re drawn from a diverse background, with issues that all tie into Liberty in a general sense, but which are frequently quite different from other supporters. Some are socially oriented, while others care about fiscal policy, while others are primarily concerned with foreign policy.
It’s no different from the donor base. The folks cutting checks need to know what they’re supporting. Because without clarity, those donors are left being told *what* the campaign for liberty is working on, but they remain mystified about why. Or even worse, they may be giving to the organization with an unclear or even false understanding, only to discover the reality is in fact a radical departure from what they’d been allowed to believe.
The membership, true to form, has already taken matters into their own hands. They’re creating new agendas, projects, and are setting themselves into action. But the coherence is missing. Whereas during the Ron Paul campaign, each person contributed their actions much like instruments in a symphony, under the current guise, those instruments are instead a shrill cacophony.
To the outside observer, this is an absolute mess. We look like a disorganized, ineffective, confused and scattered group. This is not the sort of perception that encourages curiosity, inspires confidence, and wins the opportunity to convert new support.
One thing is abundantly clear. You saw how readily the GOP easily shut down and handled a vibrant, energized, intelligent presidential campaign. How are legislators, regulators, and political parties going to see the Campaign for Liberty? As the coordinated and powerful voice of these grassroots assembled here and around the nation? Or are they going to see a fringe organization without direction, without a future?
Ultimately, it all boils down to a simple reality. There is a short window of time we have to capture and continue with the momentum that remains from the campaign. We have an opportunity to continue, perhaps with little more effort than a simple redirection.
Because recently, there’s been a great deal of energy spent on what seem to completely trivial matters. A lot of resources are being burned working on the form of these state chapters, while the living, breathing substance is being smothered and suffocated. It’s clear that I am not alone in seeing these things. Many people have shared the same observations, in one way or another.
With the deep and broad set of talents we have available, it’s perplexing that the primary project now is data entry. And not only that, but data that seems to have questionable value to a government affairs non-profit.
Why are we asking advertising executives to solicit votes in their neighborhoods? Why are we asking entrepreneurs to give up their time and their money to attend local Republican party meetings for an indefinite period of time into the future?
Particularly when there are tangible issues that can be addressed using the same organizational tools, and even the same modes of collaboration that have served us well so far.
Is this what you signed up for? Are you willing to risk your time, your treasure on randomness?
Let me suggest that it’s time to put on the brakes for a moment. Let’s clear the air, and get clear on our priorities. Let’s take stock of our resources, of the current environment, and of the opportunities that legitimately lie before us.
To look around the room and recognize why this group of people has been able to make such a huge impact on the direction of politics and the direction of our nation in such a short period of time.
Recognize the common, shared qualities between yourself and those supporters who have given so much to work with you to achieve common dreams.
You’ll be surprised to discover that your neighbors and friends in the room are feeling the same mixture of excitement, fear, and pent up energy. We all want to make things happen. And it’s often hard to restrain that enthusiasm.
Ye the benefits will be enormous if we pause, briefly, and take the time to really consider what this organization is now, where it came from, and what it could be. Not just next week or next month, but maybe the next decade. And if we want to really go wild, let’s imagine where things might be headed in the next generation.
Be clear about what is important to you, as opposed to what is merely urgent. Is signing up on a website and engaging in data entry really important to accomplishing the goals we all share? And is it really something that every. Single. Person should be doing? Or is there something bigger, more inspiring, more inclusive that’s caused you all to give up this week away from your jobs and your families?
Campaigning for an honest politician is relatively easy. The connection between an election and the governance of the country is easy to make. But what happens when that clarity isn’t being imposed by an external and inflexible source, like an election?
If you want to continue to have an impact, and continue to build momentum, what are the problems that stand in your way? How will you overcome them? Do you want to move as a coordinated whole, or as a loosely aligned collection of independent acting communities? What could, or should this plan look like?
The 2008 Ron Paul campaign adopted a flat, networked structure, enabling local groups to act according to the needs of their local market, and to coordinate across the country and the globe as they saw fit. It was a radical departure from the norm of command and control hierarchies, but the strategy paid enormous dividends. You are the evidence of that success.
And now that we’re no longer working together on a presidential campaign why, exactly, are WE here. Why does the Campaign for Liberty need to exist?! Each of you has a driving, burning passion for positive change. Wonderful! Let’s get those passions anchored, and articulated.
You’ve witnessed the power of a shared, compelling vision. When people have a deep, organic relationship with a vision for the future, they don’t need to be directed. They don’t need to be motivated. They don’t even need to be paid. They’re going to throw themselves into their work, and make incredible things happen---because what they’re doing is in line with their most deeply held values and beliefs.
And that’s why this is the right time for us to begin having a serious conversation. I’m going to say what everybody knows, but few people are willing to speak out loud. The Campaign for Liberty is in trouble.
As a group, we’re like an ocean liner with throttles half ahead, but without a rudder. There are so many people still putting out a solid effort, but sadly, all that energy and activity is totally directionless.
We’ve made a lot of noise over the past several years. YOU. You have made a lot of noise over the past several years. Two years ago, nobody in America had even heard of the Federal Reserve. Nobody had heard of the word Blowback. There was no such thing as the Tea Party, and political campaigns hadn’t even considered using the internet, let alone leveraging it to achieve record breaking fundraising, and viral social media efforts.
While Obama is going to have a place in the US history books as a president, I’ll be the fist to argue that the Ron Paul 2008 campaign will have a much deeper, and much longer lasting legacy. Which is why I find myself frustrated. I find myself perplexed.
Why are we even at these cross-roads? Many if not most of us knew that the campaign had nothing to do with winning the oval office, but trying to expose Americans to an idea who’s time has come again. And yet here we are. Wasting time by doing things in the wrong sequence. C4L is asking us to fire, then get ready. Aiming isn’t even part of the equation.
And frankly, that’s just insane. Because we have everything we need to continue making gains for personal liberty. As Dr. Paul is fond of saying, Liberty is Popular. It’s an easy thing to win with.
So why the hell are so many good people getting the sequence wrong? Fire, ready, aim doesn’t work. And the people who you and I used to see regularly, who used to be right there with us in the trenches—they understand that fact. Many of the people who have abandoned grassroots activism are still just as committed as always, but they’re realists. They don’t see this as being worth the investment of time and energy.
So let me encourage those of you who are still here, and are still serious. Those of you who recognize that reversing long term trends in an empire like America is a monumental undertaking. Those of you who understand the value and appreciate the impact that a passionate and courageous minority can have on the course of world events.
To carefully consider the qualities that have made us all so extremely successful to this point. Reflect back on what has worked.
Because you might find yourself having the same experience that I had, that of being astonished. I was astonished to find myself working closely with groups that included marxists, green activists, banking executives, social workers, software developers, strippers, gays, fundamentalist Christians, and recovering Republicans like myself. Each person had ante’d up, and bought in. They were there for their own reasons.
And it was truly amazing to witness. Not only did these people work together, they treated each other with dignity and humility. I’d suggest it’s because of a recognition that liberty for one requires respecting the liberty of others first. Holding that first and foremost, top of mind, is what enabled people with diverse sets of values to cooperate. And in that cooperation, that mutual respect, is where we drew our power.
And that is what I want you to take away from my time with you today. Let this be the beginning of a fiery, soul searching conversation for everybody in leadership roles here in these Western states and across the country. It’s time to recognize you already know what our True North is.
We all know what drew us together in the first place. It’s the dream and the goal that this country was founded on; empowering each and every person to live their life with liberty to pursue happiness. A happiness that they define for themselves, that you define for yourself.
So figure it out. Return to your strengths. Welcome people who have their own personal passion. And if that passion doesn’t happen to be running for local office as a PCO, then that’s GREAT.
Because the fact is, most people don’t want to be a PCO. And most people don’ t ’ want to make campaigning in their neighborhoods a full time or even part time career.
What they want to do is connect with their *real* community. The community that shares their values, their beliefs, and their priorities. Which is exactly how the word gets spread, and people have the opportunity to learn that there is an alternative to the fake left and right divide.
The decentralized approach has proven itself to be not just appealing, but wonderfully effective. People have this amazing ability to perform when they’re doing what they care about, and doing what they love.
Which in this case, is engaging authentically with their passion. It’s strange to find myself pointing out this fact, to this group, but the reality we all understand is that nobody in Washington DC is going to know what’s right in Reno, or Sacramento, or Renton. And it’s unlikely that any two cities will share the same makeup, the exact same objectives.
Remember that, as you consider how you’re going to formulate your state’s charter. Consider the strategy that you’re going to adopt. Recognize that big goals don’t require complex organizations. In fact, complexity isn’t your friend. And neither are deep, hierarchical structures requiring direction.
Simple is what works. Simple is what wins. Simple is what empowers anybody to know what to do in any situation.
Simple messages are easy to convey. And simple messages are effective, and powerful because anybody can understand them. Anybody can appreciate them. Simple messages are easy for people to support.
Which is exactly what we need to remember. Because you want to End the Fed.
And you want a humble foreign policy. You want strong civil liberties.
You want a government that respects the bill of rights. You want to travel without getting molested, and you want to communicate without being spied on.
Those are easy battles to win. Because they are simple ideas that have enormous power.
They’re enormously persuasive. They appeal to both the head and the heart, and activate so many of our deepest motivators, in powerful ways. You don’t need to work so hard.
Let go. Get back to the basics. Embrace the vision and values that drew you to Ron Paul to begin with. It’s easy to understand once you realize that each of us is here of our own volition. We’re here because we bought in, at one point or another. And winning is really such a simple thing.
Beginning with buy-in. People will find a way when they have a powerful personal connection, when they’ve made a commitment on their own. You don’t have enough money, time or power to persuade people to follow orders and fall in line. And the wonderful thing is, you don’t needd it anyways. Think about it. Thank you!
Begin With Buy-In
BEGIN WITH BUY-INPRESENTED BY JAY WEELDREYER C4L REGIONAL CONFERENCE LAS VEGAS, NEVADA 7/12/2009