Messaging Matters

The way news travels is no accident

by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director

Comic by Noah Zenger

Media is designed to stoke fear and sow division. Fortunately, we are able to ignore it.

Go to any major media source and do a quick scan of the headlines. This test applies to individual sources, like Fox News or the NY Times, as well as amalgamations of other news sources, like MSN dot com. Count the number of headlines that are designed to create tension or spark anxiety. Then count how many announce some sort of positive development, relief, or uplifting news. The disparity is chilling.

This phenomenon is not the sole purview of news on the national stage. Check out any local NC state or city news site or Twitter feed. See how many times the word "breaking" appears, or some derivative, placed strategically and deliberately to trigger people's visceral fight-or-flight response and drive more clicks and extended lingering on that site.

News is a commodity

Media outlets have battled each other for market share supremacy since corner store readership and annual delivery subscriptions were the prime metric for daily newspapers. As the airwaves became the dominant vehicle for the distribution of information, first through radio and then television, ratings were the driving force motivating news agencies, as ratings equaled advertising dollars.

This model was hypercharged with the rise of the 24-hour news networks. The public-facing product backed by massive corporate conglomerates had to continually convince potential viewers that they had a better product than other channels, and also that it was necessary to keep watching.

To accomplish this, a model emerged based on quick soundbites implying urgency. Warnings lights flashed, alarms sounded, and intense messaging triggered actual anxiety at the prospect of missing a report. This approach, of consistently outdone hyperbole, proved so effective that it spread to sports, pop culture, and even weather reporting.

An unfortunate consequence of this anxiety-inducing marketing model for the news is that, as viewership settled around nebulous "right" and "left" political persuasions, people began to view anyone on the other side as a potential enemy.

Certainly, this is not to imply that political polarization is a recent phenomenon. Rather, while the bulk of the vitriolic political rhetoric historically ebbed and flowed around major election cycles, we found ourselves immersed in "reporting" that sought to present every snippet or sound bite as life-or-death important. (I know this itself sounds hyperbolic. There is not enough room to fully explain here, but I have written on this in detail if anyone is interested).

The internet as a news source

Now we are faced with a news model where the internet is by far the primary method of information distribution. Manifestations range from classic media websites, to social media, to podcasts, and encompasses every other variation of sharing information at the speed of light at our disposal. This drives multi-faceted outcomes.

Subscription-based services for journalists and content creators who value truth and nuance have exploded in popularity, showing that some modicum of sanity remains in our national discourse. In contrast, bad information, lies, viral clips lacking context, and even ideological purity tests have all found fertile soil in a world where those with ill intent can say most anything without facing direct consequence, and those with pure intentions acting in good faith and pursuing truth suffer punishment for deviating from approved messaging.

To add to this, the government, including federal law enforcement agencies, are actively engaged in controlling the narrative spread online. Our tax dollars go to throttling free speech and paying professional rabble rousers like "Brooklyn Dad Defiant" and "JoJofromJerz," who serve only one function - to divide people around political ideology and further a government narrative.

To make matters worse, advertising dollars now come from metrics like clicks and the average time per user on a site. With an exponentially larger pool of competitors, those information peddlers who cannot distinguish themselves based on quality or competence instead push the most egregious distortions of the truth in the pursuit of fear-mongering for followers.

For example, late in 2022 I read a headline in a local city paper, "Child Deaths from COVID in NC Increase by 140% Over Last Year." The article itself didn't give the number of covid-related deaths. It talked about anecdotal reports of doctors concerned about strained health systems, it talked about the importance of getting your children vaccinated, and it talked about how dangerous covid was to children under 18 as proven by the increase in deaths not actually reported in the article.

Technically the headline was accurate. Seven children had died with covid in the first 12-month period covered, and ten in the second 12-month period, roughly a 140-percent increase. In fact, total deaths under 18 related to covid in North Carolina since the pandemic started: 31. Again, that's total. That barely registers statistically. But fear-mongering around covid was the acceptable position to take, and so that's what was being pushed by news agencies at all levels who depend on advertiser dollars and feel the pressure from government-backed harassment campaigns.

Celebrate Local!

National news is mostly a waste of time, excepting some entertainment value. The tactics adopted by large news organizations remain effective, however, and local state, county, and city news affiliates have adopted these methods, stoking fear and driving polarization.

The good news is that all we need to do is ignore the fear-mongering messaging. It really is that simple. Instead, use that time and energy to go make change where you can actually have a meaningful impact. In this newsletter, we have contributions from people like Joshua Glawson, who is looking for assistance in visiting designated social areas in cities around NC as a way to combat the ABC tyranny. Or Eric Rowell, who is holding local politicians' feet to the fire, demanding that they practice what they preach. Or our very own Phil Jacobson, who brings some common sense to the Ukraine war funding discussion.

We have so many places where volunteers can do wonderful things, help people, and make the world a better place. Turn off the news, and go to your next county affiliate meeting. I promise, you will be happy you did.

1 reaction Share

A Libertarian Call to Action

It's time to change the world, starting in our own backyards

by Rob Yates
LPNC Communications Director

Comic by Noah Zenger

If we want to be vehicles for meaningful, positive change, we must remember to keep our focus local.

Mid-November of last year, the Federal Reserve announced that it was running a twelve-week pilot, partnering with several massive banks, to test a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for the U.S. Dollar (if you are unfamiliar, here is the Fed's definition and description, and here is an objective description). Few major press outlets covered the story in earnest, and those that did gave a brief and cursory summary of a project that could "speed up payments."

The Fed, unsurprisingly, has not published any examination of the downside of a CBDC, but has released a "study" that masquerades as objective, while the White House was lauding the possibilities a CBDC presents before the pilot was announced.

I want to make sure I am crystal clear about this… There is perhaps no current lever available to the government that is more potentially dystopian and tyrannical than a CBDC. Any potential upsides of CBDCs are dwarfed against the ability of the Fed to simply turn off your money for any reason – wrongthink (by their definition), exceeding some arbitrary carbon cap, donating to the wrong candidate, purchasing the wrong book, refusing a medical procedure…

I predicted these developments years ago, which certainly fueled my reaction. I make no claim to prescient prognostication; rather, it is easy to foresee that, when granted tools enabling greater control of the population, the state and its actors will inevitably use them.

My first instinct on reading that CBDCs were becoming a reality in the U.S. was to write something and immediately send it out to our entire subscriber base. I wanted alarm bells ringing and red lights flashing.

I actually wrote, "This is the hill we die on!" on our message boards. My penchant for the dramatic notwithstanding, I maintain that the potential for abuse of a Federal Reserve sponsored CBDC is so draconian that we should, in fact, do something. I encourage you to all contact your representative and senators and demand that an actual U.S. CBDC never see the light of day.

Avoid the distraction of federal politics

In this newsletter, I try to give a lot of space to the people who have given decades of their lives fighting for Liberty. We are in a unique situation right now, as Libertarians, where – distant as it may be – there is a real light at the end of the tunnel, if we are simply willing to run it down. But the people who set this table… they had no idea if they would ever enjoy the fruits of their labor. We all fight for Liberty for Liberty's sake, but the founders of the party and the LPNC had no expectation of success, and yet they fought on.

When I sent out the distress signal about CBDCs, the response was surprising. People who are much wiser than I were not against me writing something about it – they were supportive, in fact. But they were skeptical of impact and cautioned on expectations. We had to fight for eight months to get 45 minutes of body camera footage released for one incident in Gastonia; how can we expect to drive change at the Federal Reserve and why should we waste time and energy there?

I encourage you all to be fully educated regarding all the ways our tyrannical federal government surveilles your activity and restricts your rights. But the fact is, federal politics, impactful as they may be, are ultimately a distraction. For every onerous Federal policy we lament, there are myriad onerous city, county, and state policies we are ignoring. That opens the floodgates for much bigger government imposition.

A call to action

I can't tell you what to do, nor would I want to. It's antithetical to everything in which I believe. I can tell you, though, that there has never been a more opportune time for our message to spread. The number of unaffiliated voters is higher than registered Dems or Repubs, driven by a more than 100-percent increase since 2004. Disenchantment with the two-sided uniparty has never been higher.

We have the best message, but the forces that oppose us are powerful, well-funded, and have huge reach. Relying on the power of our message alone to advance Liberty is screaming into the void when facing the selective and targeted narrative control fostered by the front line of the state and its behemoth information apparatus.

The solutions are right there waiting for each of us to take action. Give $5 a month; volunteer one hour a week; run for local office; speak at a city council meeting; join a school board; join a county affiliate; bring a friend to a meeting; attend state and affiliate conventions; email a representative each day; phone bank for an hour; attend a tabling event; share the right book with a friend… The list of possible action extends to the horizon.

If you aren't sure where to start, reach out; I promise our Volunteer Coordinator has plenty of opportunities. Start small, it all makes a difference. Just do something.

Think locally, act locally, change the world

I hate the cliché of the new year representing some nebulous opportunity to make a change, but I recognize the perfection of the timing. Make 2023 the year you find a way to give what you can to the cause of Liberty, right here in North Carolina.

We need to win locally to stop the tidal wave of authoritarianism that is the natural consequence of a people ceding political power. Let's change the political landscape in North Carolina so that we would never worry about something like federal control through CBDCs because the tyrannical arm of the federal government would know better than to ever try and invade North Carolinians, physically, virtually, financially… and we, our children, and their children, never have to fear the government again.

1 reaction Share

Dee Watson and Larry Sharpe

LPNC Political Director talks NC with Larry

Dee Watson, LPNC's very own Political Director, NC candidate, activist, mom, and Liberty warrior, sat down with Libertarian Renaissance man Larry Sharpe to talk all things North Carolina politics. The discussion covered education; police reform; Pastor Moses, Joshua Rohrer, and Gastonia; NC Liberty developments and what's next; and a lot more. Take a few minutes to listen to this insightful, funny, considerate, and passionate conversation between two of the staunchest mainstays at the vanguard of the Liberty movement.

Watch the full discussion here.

1 reaction Share

Get out and Vote!

It's time we make election day count

by Rob Yates, November 2022
LPNC Communications Director

republicratWake up and panic, everyone, if you haven’t voted! Remember that this (like every election before it, and very election after it) is the *most important election in our lifetime*!

It would be comical if it wasn’t so consequential, watching the two parties paint the stakes as successively higher each year, should the horrible event come to pass where the other party wins, that is. Then we rinse, wash, and repeat, and wait for the next election cycle when we are told that, no, forget last time, this is the most important election of our lifetime, and if the other party wins, our democracy will crumble, fascists (or is it communists, I can’t keep track anymore) will take over the country, and everyone who isn’t a disabled trans person of color will be forced to sacrifice their children and then go work in a gulag (or is it the straight, rich, white men who are safe this time? Again, it’s so hard to keep track).

With all the hyperbole around each election, the constant bombardment of crisis pimping from the perpetual news cycle, and the rhetoric increasingly nasty from a populace that is more polarized every minute, it can be hard to find a reason to go vote. In fact, there is an argument to be made that the act of voting is supporting a system that is rigged against anyone not on team red or team blue, and voting is a tacit endorsement of that system. When that system represents a massive, twisted game where the players are politicians and special interests with bottomless pockets, and the rest of us are the collateral damage, it’s easy to understand why one would want to do everything possible to not support that system.

Despite this, I am here to implore you, please, go vote, and vote Libertarian! All we have is our grassroots drive, fighting for each inch, to take back the power from the politicians, and voting is the quickest way to advance this cause.

The game is so rigged it isn’t even cute anymore

Over the last few months I got into a bit of a Twitter back-and-forth with Kyle Parrish, a useful idiot running for NC’s 5th as a house candidate. I’m not one to shy away from some verbal sparring, but I don’t look for it either; I went after Kyle because, unprovoked, he was spouting off really disgusting things about Libertarians in general, and attacking David Coatney, Libertarian NC House candidate, over some manufactured nonsense (not fit to reprint here, this newsletter is far too classy for his drivel).

David is well-equipped to handle himself, to be clear, but this unprovoked nastiness demanded attention, and many members of the LPNC joined in over subsequent weeks. For my part, I tried to be respectful (mostly), and consistently challenged his points, even asking him repeatedly if he would debate me. Eventually, after ignoring, deflecting, hiding, and cowering, he blocked me, and that saga ended (for the moment).

I am writing this to convince you to vote, though, not to repeat some silly story about a Twitter fight. I mention it because Kyle has about as much of a chance of winning his race as I do, and I live in Mecklenburg and am not on the ballot. Nevertheless, he attacks anyone not on Team Democrat, viciously, repeatedly. He spews vile and hate-filled rhetoric, mostly against Republicans, but with a healthy dose of anti-Libertarianism in there, and then occasionally asks why the country isn’t more united, and says "only Democrats" can bring us back together.

Again, none of this should come as a surprise to anyone reading this. The only thing the two sides of the uniparty seem adept at is spitting venom at anyone on the other team. Even within the party, Kamala cackled like a stoned hyena when Colbert asked her about disparaging remarks she made about the man for whom she would eventually work as Vice President. Her excuse, “it was a debate,” is a perfect example of how the political game is designed for the players to go all-in to win, only to win, and to win at all costs. This is not unique to either major party, and it is not going to change as long as the prize is more power to hoard.

Kyle learned that he was a pawn in a game here (right at the 10-minute mark), and it is almost enough to make me feel bad for him. As a worthless candidate with no chance of winning, the party for whom he parrots and champions has done essentially nothing to support him, a fact he laments a bit, not realizing how damning his self-pity is as it speaks to the broken system as a whole.

They would never spend any money or resources on someone who can't win for them. It's about winning, none of the leaders of the other two parties care about principles. This is what we're up against. This is why doing nothing is not an option.

Libertarians can make a difference in a way we never have before

Recently, we received some of the greatest news of 2022 – North Carolina became the second state in the U.S. to pass 50,000 registered Libertarians! Trailing only California and its massive population, we are at the vanguard of the Liberty movement. Our message is the right one, and it is spreading

Of course, this is not something that happened overnight. Rather, it is the diligent work of dedicated LPNC volunteers who have pushed us this far for years. And it is immense progress since 2008, when North Carolinians regained the ability register as Libertarian.

I readily acknowledge that this game is rigged. I understand your hesitation to vote, and your concerns that you are throwing a vote away or even validating this broken system that crushes people in its own relentless power hoarding. But sitting back and doing nothing guarantees the outcome.

Instead, have some hope, and a little faith, that our message, the right message, will win more hearts and minds, and we will grow organically, regaining the power that was taken from us. One way to help do that is to vote Libertarian.

Voting matters. It matters for ballot access, it matters to uniparty candidates who think we are spoiling their elections, it matters for making Liberty issues prominent on voters' minds, and it matters to cement our position as serious participants in this conversation that has been hijacked by partisan self-interest.

So go vote. Then come join us for an election party, or come to a protest against State tyrant over-reach, or just donate $5 a month if that’s what you can do (if every registered Libertarian donated $5 monthly, we would bring in $2.5 million annually, which is still not even a hundredth of uniparty spend in NC in 2020, but we could do a lot with it). Then, keep voting, and keep showing up. Find a place to volunteer. Recruit someone else. And vote again. We will win if we don’t give up.

To quote WakeLP Chair Travis Groo, "…it’s a gold rush. Vote gold!"

1 reaction Share

Third Party Debate

Davidson College Hosts U.S. Senate Libertarian and Green Candidates

-Rob Yates, LPNC Communications Director

For those of you who watched Cheri Beasley "debate" Ted Budd, on Friday, October 7, we want you to know, we at the LPNC feel your pain. A series of progressively ridiculous question dodges with empty platitudes and party-line talking points serving as filler, if nothing else this event was standard fare in the farcical world that has become our political discourse. Both sides, of course, claim “victory,” in the most unfortunately accurate reflection of the hollow mess we have made buying into the enmity-driven drivel of our politicians.

Fortunately, there is a rational alternative to team red and team blue, where serious Bray Hoh Kaliner Debatepeople have principle-based solutions to actual problems on which reasonable people can disagree and remain friends. On September 15, Shannon Bray, Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate, sat down with Matthew Hoh, Green Party candidate, for a debate moderated by WRAL radio host Pete Kaliner. The two met on Pete's Charlotte show to continue the discussion the next day.

The first event was hosted at Davidson College. The room, set in old brick with modern finishings, set the perfect backdrop for a discussion of current problems with people who understand the history and importance of the position they seek, with meaningful answers produced on a foundation of research, understanding, and humanity, as opposed to rubber-stamped and fully vetted gobbledygook that the other two regurgitated last Friday.

Bray Hoh Debate 2Kaliner went through seven topics, ranging from the economy and environment to foreign affairs and education, with a series of questions underlying each. After a short break, there was a Q&A session for audience members to raise questions important to them, the citizens and residents of North Carolina. While Kaliner kept the event moving, the structure was loose and the discussion friendly, with a significant focus on areas of agreement between Bray and Hoh, such as decriminalization of cannabis and non-interventionist military policies.

They ended the evening discussing the polarization in the country, commenting on social media and modern politics and what they are doing to drive us further apart. They both expressed hope and optimism for where the country is going, and they proved it by sitting down next to each other, despite each one espousing apolitical philosophy that, at its core, is diametrically opposed to the other's

Bray Hoh Debate 3On his show the next day, Kaliner took both candidates to task much more aggressively, pushing back on answers about abortion, economics, and the electoral college, and not allowing them to get off the hook with incomplete conclusions or baseless assumptions. Nevertheless, the events were both friendly and positive, and proved conclusively that the narrative “we must hate each other” is an utter and dangerous falsehood.

Constantly faced with voting choices billed as the lesser of two evils, with the common refrain from the average voter, "voting third party is a waste of my vote,"; it can certainly seem like the only option is to dig ourselves more deeply into the hole we have created, more bitterness, anger, and polarization as the engine. Instead, I submit that, if you don’t like the way things are, then stop voting for it. The only wasted vote is one for a party-groomed and donor-approved member of team red or team blue.

First, stay tuned, as we will be providing you so much more through this newsletter and all the exciting things the LPNC has planned, and we are confident we can change your mind. And second, if you can’t vote for Shannon, vote for Matthew. Anything is better than a vote for the uniparty duopoly that we pretend is a representative democracy. And check out the debates; both candidates made the case for themselves, and then heartily endorsed the other as a second option.

Dignity and decency in politics isn’t dead, it’s just suffocating under layers of fallout painted red and blue as the two major parties try to turn us against each other to secure your vote. It’s time we chose better.

Bray Hoh 4

1 reaction Share