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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Journalist: Silicon Valley Could Kick-Start Libertarian Movement

From an opinion piece yesterday at FastCompany.com by Carlos Watson, an entrepreneur in tech and media and a regular contributor on MSNBC. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1995 and working for two years at top-ranked consulting firm McKinsey & Co., Watson co-founded Achieva College Prep Service in San Mateo. He sold it in 2002 as he began his careeer as a TV journalist.

The time is right for Silicon-Valley-style progressivism to woo independents into a political force under the Libertarian Party banner. Here's how.

If the two-party system is ever going to be seriously challenged, this is the moment. The GOP, the stall-tactic party, is reeling. The Democratic administration is struggling to turn around the economy. And across the country, creative, engaged folks are increasingly feeling politically homeless. More Americans consider themselves independents (39%) than Democrats (33%) or Republicans (22%) -- and the gap is widening. [...]

[T]he best third-party contender already exists. The Libertarians, like so many independents and disaffected Democrats and Republicans, are fiscal conservatives and social liberals -- and no one has yet built a lasting coalition out of this growing force.

If Libertarians want to have a real impact in 2010 or 2012, they need to recruit from the business world, where their values will resonate most. Places like Silicon Valley, Austin, and Seattle. You don't have to look far to find high-profile CEO types who are likely Libertarians hiding out in the major parties. [...]

These leaders could help build a financial base for the party, a complement to its significant grassroots online fund-raising operation that Ron Paul created in 2008 (only Obama and Hillary raised more). In addition to bankrollers, Libertarians need to think about more than just the presidency. GOP strategist Ed Rollins, who ran Reagan's 1984 presidential campaign, says that if 20 to 30 compelling Libertarian candidates ran serious races in the midterm Congressional elections and won just five or six, that would kick-start the larger Libertarian movement. Those candidates would need to be a visible and sharp departure from the party's current wing-nut-and-professor rep -- young folks with pedigrees in clean tech and biotech, not politics, and solid ideas of how to get us out of the economic crisis. [...]

For our democracy to flourish, we need the creative tension of competing ideas, not just stall tactics. Seize the moment, Libertarians. You're not going to get a better one.

[Several "young folks with pedigrees in clean tech and biotech" were among the 18 LPCA congressional candidates who in Oct. 2008 issued a joint statement offering a diagnosis and prescription for the emerging financial crisis.]

1 comment:

  1. Oddly, Watson doesn’t mention billionaire PayPal founder Peter Thiel or Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers. There is also Earthlink founderSky Dayton and Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban.

    Rodgers spoke at the 1999 LPCA convention, and Thiel at the 2004 convention. The LP should be reaching out to these guys as much as possible. Thiel’s thoughts on politics here are a must-read: http://www.cato-unbound.org/2009/04/13/peter-thiel/the-education-of-a-libertarian/

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