Political Activism and Voting

OPINION By Susan Hogarth
Region 5 Representative to the Libertarian National Committee

For my Libertarian peeps stressing about how best to 'strategize' their vote:

Don't sweat it.

Voting is the lowest level of political activism. It's an activity for people who want to feel like they're making a difference but don't want to put in any real effort.

Sure, vote. It's a tool, use it against your oppressors. But it's not a particularly powerful tool.

What IS powerful is the effect you—as an activist—can have on other people. You can—by thinking, speaking, and acting—encourage THEM to think, speak, and act.

And THAT is where the real power lies. Voting is like an afterthought at that point.

Look, forget strategy. Vote—or don't—as you see best. Make sure you understand the write-in rules for your state, because in many places write-in votes for 'unqualified' are tossed (guess who decides who is qualified?)

But much more important than voting is time spent getting people engaged in thinking about politics. Get someone involved in your local LP. Start laying the groundwork to turn whatever contacts you have from this election into local activists.

Voting is the LEAST IMPORTANT thing a political activist can do (actually, the least important thing anyone can do, but whatever...). Maybe the next-to-least; worrying about who you're going to vote for might be less important :)

Don't worry too much about it. Do something IMPORTANT politically. Change some minds. Get some people active. Get and stay active yourself.

If your state allows it, vote early and get it out of the way so it's no longer a distraction.


Showing 9 reactions

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  • Travis Groo
    commented 2021-11-17 13:49:27 -0500
    Sorry for the typos
  • Travis Groo
    commented 2021-11-17 13:42:22 -0500
    To the idea that that “voting is the least important form of activism” idea; it’s a hard pill to swallow for the candidates who go out, work hard, become activists, show up to forums and debates, campaign and ask their constituents for their vote. All “activism” points to voting for them, if you’re a candidate. What is most upsetting is when there are actual, legit community events, outreaches, LGBTQ festivals, food bank volunteer opportunities and other charity events that are set up and promoted extremely well, and it’s always the same activists who show up to participate. So if we’re going to start talking about activism being more important than voting, then we need to show that in action and not so much with words.

    We’ve got a lot of keyboard warriors, but it takes more than that. I respect folks who choose not to vote, that is obviously their choice, however; if we want to see a world set free in our lifetime, the current political system isn’t going to get us there. It’s taking us in the wrong direction of that goal. We need to get Libertarians excited about the party enough to vote. Candidates should promote voting as much as possible, or else, why are we doing this? I like this part of the opinion, “Change some minds. Get some people active. Get and stay active yourself.” We also should encourage voting as much as possible. It is the most peaceful way forward.
  • Ryan Brown
    commented 2021-11-16 23:31:37 -0500
    I will steel man Susan’s position… Voting for libertarians as they are right now, especially when we have very few candidates with a chance of winning and no elected currently Libertarians, is a decision that should require little thought and little moral debate. Vote for the Libertarian or the other guy and move on.

    Do it or not. It is literally inconsequential at the moment. She’s right. We should be focusing on activism. Focus local and inspire change. If 20k people vote harder, there’s nothing we will do or change. If we can each convert 1 person to be a Libertarian and they convert 1 person to libertarian and they convert 1 person… etc, then we can make a change.

    Activism is the best thing we can do to affect change in our lifetime. Voting, as it is currently presented, is among the least important things we can do right now in North Carolina.

    As a state organizer for the Libertarian Party Mises Caucus ((and perhaps an unlikely supporter) (and replying as a personal LPNC member)), we focus on acting locally. In fact, the entire game plan of the LPMC NC is to basically ignore voting in bigger races right now and to focus on local races and on changing culture. It doesn’t matter if we have 20,000 committed and active voters. If we don’t have enough voters who believe in libertarianism, we will never win an election. We run candidates at the lowest level possible. Yes, candidates we hope win, but we don’t do it to just get votes. We do it because local activism is the best way to do it. You can be a activist while being a politician, but being a voter doesn’t make you an activist.

    The LPMC slogan is the Decentralized Revolution… It isn’t the Vote Harder Caucus. We need more activists. We need a group of members who are numerous and focused on radical libertarian principles.

    Go out and radicalize your best friend or your closest family member. Be radical. Inspire hate for the government. Nearly, if not everything, they do is wasteful, ineffective, and horrible.

    Despite my steel man, I do have some criticism. It is bit tone deaf and the article was written two weeks after a disappointing result as a campaign manager for the sole candidate in NC in 2022. A better written article would have been must more persuasive. Don’t discourage other from voting. Encourage them to radicalize their friends and family.
  • Joseph Garcia
    commented 2021-11-12 12:23:10 -0500
    Brian, I am not sure where you came to the conclusion that this is the official position of the LPNC, considering it is listed under “Opinion Papers”
  • Steve Prins
    commented 2021-11-12 12:03:38 -0500
    Couldn’t disagree more. Voting, for the majority of Libertarians, is the most important thing they can do. Not everyone has the time, money or resources to be active. For some persons voting is the only thing they can do. Making them feel the only thing they can do, is “least important” is the wrong message to send. It certainly won’t motivate them to get to the booth by making them feel guilty for not doing more.
    Remember every vote gets noticed by the major parties. 2-3% at the booth has been proven to affect policy change. Every vote matters and is far from the “least important” thing they can do.
  • Travis Groo
    commented 2021-11-12 11:57:37 -0500
    Voting is actually very important activism, and without doing it Libertarians won’t get elected anywhere. Laziness and apathy are the enemies of activism! We need to see more of this: https://www.lp.org/libertarian-party-shatters-records-as-unprecedented-number-of-libertarians-elected-to-office/
  • Steve Prins
    followed this page 2021-11-12 11:56:17 -0500
  • Brian Irving
    commented 2021-11-12 07:59:17 -0500
    Great work encouraging the Libertarian activists running for office to make a difference, especially in Wake County. It really helps to know that the position of the state and national party endorses is that voting is the least important thing activists can do.

    As a former state chair and one who has been working for 20 years to get Libertarians to act as a serious political party and run candidates for office, I think such a position is not only wrong and misguided but harmful to the party. And if that is what our national leadership thinks, maybe it’s time for me to rethink who I give my membership to.
  • Jonathan Hopper
    published this page in News 2021-11-11 19:10:51 -0500
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