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What Is a Libertarian Solution and How Can YOU Create One?
A Libertarian Solution is a proposal to shrink Big Government - that never expands Big Government. The more it shrinks Big Government, the more liberty we gain.
A Libertarian Solution must be simple and easy to explain - or need no explanation - to be effectively used in a campaign. Candidates have very little time to express their ideas to voters, often just 10- or 20-second sound bites! Therefore the subject matter should be familiar to voters, and the proposed solution should take only seconds to understand. For example, “cut the property tax in half.”
A Libertarian Solution must be favored by a substantial percentage of voters to win them over. The more, the better. But it must also offer substantial benefits to voters so that they care and so voters are motivated to go to the polls and vote for it. They must see it as a solution that will make their lives substantially better. To help voters visualize how this solution would play out in their own lives, the benefits must be spelled out as much as possible.
A tax cut, great as it sounds to Libertarians, is a feature -- not a benefit. A benefit is how the feature can affect voters’ lives for the better. So a benefit of a tax cut is more money in voters' pockets to pay their bills, pay off credit cards or student loans, take the family on a vacation, put away money for retirement, etc. These are benefits that matter to everyday voters.
There's no shortage of benefits that Libertarian Solutions can offer.
Benefits should be quantified wherever possible to illustrate their impact. For example, "ending a state income tax would give back $3,000 to the average taxpayer - every year." The number of voters who may benefit if the proposal is implemented should also be quantified. For example, "each of the 3,000,000 taxpayers and workers in the state will get back an average of $3,000 - every year - if we end the state income tax."
A Libertarian Solution must also be something that candidates running for state, federal or local office would have the authority to implement.
To demonstrate their sincerity to voters, candidates must specify the action(s) they would take to implement the proposal if elected, such as sponsoring legislation and working to get it passed. This distinguishes Libertarians from the Democratic and Republican opponents who was philosophical when it comes to liberty but vote against it.
All this must be boiled down to sound bites, ads and concise candidate statements. Simple, clear and compelling.
Libertarian Solutions Checklist
To come up with a great Libertarian Solution which can be used successfully in a Libertarian campaign, answer each question below -- which will assist you in spelling out the essential elements of your proposal. Be sure to think through and come up with answers to EVERY QUESTION. This will guide you in discovering whether your proposal will be understandable and attractive to everyday voters, provide substantial benefits if passed, make your campaign memorable, and excite and engage volunteers and donors -- while advancing a Libertarian agenda.
Run your proposal by fellow libertarians to see if they agree that your solution meets all of the criteria below. If not, try a different proposal, or brainstorm ways you could change it so it meets all of these criteria.
1. What level of government do you seek to change? If you're a candidate, does the office do you seek have the authority to implement your proposal? If it involves more than one level, pick one and focus your proposal on action(s) that can be taken at that level of government.
2. Does your proposal substantially shrink Big Government? Does it do so sufficiently that your proposal would contrast sharply to your Democratic and Republican opponents? Remember the Libertarian Party's purpose is to oppose Big Government and expand freedom. To accomplish this we must remove, repeal, dismantle, abolish, and/or reduce substantial portions of Big Government - in ways that Democrats and Republicans are afraid to even talk about. If your proposal is so timid that a typical Democratic or Republican candidate would run on it, what's the point of running as a Libertarian?
3. Is your proposal simple and easy to explain? As a candidate, you often have mere seconds to be heard. Libertarian Solutions need to be boiled down to short, compelling sound bites.
4. Broad appeal: Proposals that benefit the most people in the jurisdiction where a candidate is running for office are the most attractive to voters. Estimate what percentage of the voters would directly and immediately benefit if your Libertarian Solution were implemented. For example, a residential property tax cut may directly benefit 60% of the voters who are homeowners. (Another 30% would benefit indirectly when those savings are passed down in the form of lower rent.) In contrast, a bill to restrict eminent domain may directly benefit less than .1% of voters since only a handful of them are likely to face a taking by eminent domain.
Note: your proposal need not appeal to a majority of voters, but at least a substantial minority who would benefit from its passage.
5. What are the most plausible objections to your proposal that proponents will use to attack it? If rebutting these objections can't be summed up and stated in a sentence or two, consider picking a different Libertarian Solution.
But wait, there's more! Now you gotta sell it. Here's the information that your Libertarian Solution must contain:
6. In the area that your Libertarian Solution addresses, what damage is government causing and how are Democrats and Republicans responsible for it? For example, “Democratic and Republican politicians gave us Big Government Medicine, which drives up prices and rations health services. Treatable diseases become incurable which causes unnecessary pain and suffering - and sometimes costs people their lives.”
Quantify the damage when possible. For example, “Overpayment for government employee and government contractor benefits in our district is costing the average taxpayer $2,500 every year.” This may take serious research and analysis, but it's well worth it. If you don't have the time or resources, look for volunteers and experienced conservative activists in your state who may have good data.
7. It is not sufficient to merely "oppose" or "be against" an existing function of government or to "defend the Constitution" or to merely "be in favor of" or "support" or "believe in" a reduction in government. How exactly do you propose to shrink Big Government in order to remove or reduce the damage it's causing? Repeal a specific law or multiple laws? Reduce or eliminate a tax? Eliminate specific types of waste or redundancy? Reduce total government spending? End a prohibition? Remove or reduce regulations? Dismantle specific government agencie(s)? End a government program or policy and all spending associated with it? Deauthorize certain powers of a government agency? Sell off government assets? Pay off government debts?
Note that your proposal can, and often should, combine more than one change such as ending a government program and reducing taxes commensurately (or reducing debt/balancing the budget). You don't want to cut spending in one area only to free up money for government bureaucrats to spend it in another!
Note also that any proposal that in any way expands government authority, regulations, taxation, spending, assets or debt does not meet this criteria and will not qualify. Big Government takes away our liberties. A Libertarian Solution shrinks Big Government - and expands liberty.
8. What could a candidate running for office at the level of government you specified do, if elected, to implement your solution? What specific actions could he or she take? For example, sponsor a bill, co-sponsor a bill, work to pass, vote for, issue an executive order, sign into law, or appoint an official, such as a judge or cabinet position.
9. What rebuttals or explanations can you give to allay the concerns of voters who may be swayed by objections your opponents may raise? Remember: it must be kept simple. If rebutting these objections can't be simplified and stated in no more than a sentence or two, consider picking a different Libertarian Solution.
10. Imagine that you're an ordinary voter. Spell out ways that you, your family, your friends, your neighbors and your co-workers would directly benefit if this proposal were implemented. How would your - and their - lives be better? State your answer in terms that ordinary voters would understand. Be as specific as possible.
Quantify your answer wherever possible. For example, say you're proposing to cut a government budget by $50 million and to cut taxes by the same amount. If there are 25,000 taxpayers in the jurisdiction where your proposal would take effect, then the average taxpayer would get back $2,000 - every year - that they now pay in taxes.
The more your proposal shrinks Big Government, the easier it is to come up with big benefits for voters!
Here's some examples that meet all of the above criteria:
1. Local Solution: Cut Property Taxes 25%
“Senior citizens on fixed incomes and low- and middle-income families in our town are being squeezed by high property taxes. They can’t afford to live here - and they can’t afford to sell their homes in this depressed housing market."
“If elected, I will sponsor a bill to cut all residential property taxes by 25% my first year in office and cut $4.9 million in waste and pork from the budget. Not a single needed government service will be affected. Over 4,500 families in our town will see their property tax go down an average of $1,225 every year. This will save families who are on the brink of foreclosure from losing their homes and will put more money back into your family budget that you can use to pay your utilities, make needed repairs to your home, or save for your retirement.”
2. State Solution: Repeal Prohibition on Treating Cancer, AIDS and other Disease with Medical Marijuana
“More than 9,000 people in our state are currently suffering from the painful and debilitating effects of cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, migraines and other disease which can be effectively and safely treated with medical marijuana.
“We must immediately end this unnecessary and inhumane suffering. As governor, I will immediately propose, work to advance, and sign into law a bill to end the prohibition on medical marijuana. If any federal regulators subsequently try to violate our 10th Amendment right and arrest non-violent users of medical marijuana in our state, I will tell them they are not welcome to do business here and deny them use of our jails and prisons. They will get no cooperation from us.
"You never know when a life-threatening disease will strike someone you love. Ending the prohibition on medical marijuana will allow your loved ones - and those who are already suffering - to get relief from their pain and discomfort with dignity and give them their best chance to live a comfortable, healthy and happy life.
"And while we're at it, we should end the war on marijuana and on all drugs. The failed Drug Prohibition, like the failed Alcohol Prohibition, has done far more damage than good: high crime, dangerous drug use, theft, and police corruption. Ending the Prohibition will make our streets and homes safe, allow labeling of drugs, encourage personal responsibility, and spare young people from egriously unfair incarceration and denial of college and career opportunities. We'll have a far more civil socieity when we end the failed Drug Prohibition."