Building Roads to Liberty: Our 2018 Vision

Libertarian Party of King County - Seattle

Our 2018 convention was held on March 17th. Being St. Patrick's day, it was a day to reflect on liberty. 99 years ago, an Irish immigrant would have been arrested for celebrating by drinking. 93 years ago, the US Supreme Court was hearing arguments from a Catholic private school that the KKK was trying to shut down out of fear they would not teach them "American values". And 76 years ago, if you were even partially Japanese, you would have been imprisoned in a camp out of fear your ancestry might make you dangerous.

Looking back on American history, our darkest times are when we let fear grip our policymaking and turn to violence, oppression, and prejudice. Our brightest times are when we resisted fear and bravely stood up for liberty and equality on principle. We have faith not that everyone is good, but that most people, when empowered to build communities and protect themselves, will find ways to make a better world for themselves and their children that no central authority could plan out.

At our convention, the next step toward lighting up liberty in our community was taken as we restructured and elected a new board of six members.

David Johnson (myself), former political director, was elected as Chair. Michelle Darnell, former chair, was elected as Vice Chair. Charles Schaefer, former treasurer, was elected as Secretary. Sarah Johnson, newsletter editor, was elected as Treasurer. Johnny Adams, aka Johnny Rocket, was elected as Representative. Steven Hoag, former IT director, was elected as Representative.

I am excited that our team brings such a mix of talent to the table. From pragmatics to radicals, men to women, creative to technical, Democrat-appealing to Republican-appealing to Libertarian-appealing, candidates to movement personalities, I could not ask for a better team that covers so many bases and I am honored to serve with them.

Today, Americans have the highest median disposable income and household wealth of any country in the world. We live long lives and our risk of dying from war or violence is pretty low. Support for gun rights is at a 20-year high, and it would hardly matter because Americans own so many guns that they couldn't ever be seized. And we are in a breakthrough age when social media has broken down barriers to connect the political world, and the government has not yet regulated it substantially yet. Now, in this time when we have so many advantages, we must use those liberties to push to higher ground so we can, in the words of the US Constitution, "secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity".

People are hungry for a vision of how to move forward in America that is not merely based on fear of the "other guys". Political weariness and despair is setting in. Fear might raise the blood pressure for a while, but eventually the heart itself cannot take the stress.  More and more people not represented by D's or R's are facing one of two choices: Just resign to being servants and let others run the state, or getting involved in a better way to do politics. We're all here because we choose a better way.

I am honored that you have entrusted me to carry the torch of liberty forward in King County. We are going to lead by example and write the next chapter in American politics instead of just reading it. We are not going to wait on the national or state party; we will work with them, we will leverage them, but we will not let them distract us from making change happen here. We will lead by example, and our contribution to winning nationally will start with winning here. If we don't like what someone else is doing, our response will be to do it better.

Our vision: All roads lead to liberty

Libertarians love to talk about the big changes we are going to make to American politics. We dream about how we will usher in a rising of private citizens to own and build all of our roads. My friends, if we are going to build the physical roads in our communities, the way to that is first through building the cultural roads that lead people to the liberty movement.

What does this mean? It means instead of seeing people as who we are and judging whether they are one of us or not, we see people as the dynamic individuals that they are. No political movement ever made progress by accepting people as never being more than who they are today. Every successful political movement, for better or worse, focused on where we are going, and how to make others aspire to that place.

How do we build roads to liberty? We put ourselves in the position of the other person, and then draw the map to liberty from there. If you don't understand their values, listen and learn them. If you do understand their values, think from those values - not yours - and identify the next step they will be open to making toward liberty. Are they dissatisfied about corporate cronyism and waste? High taxes? Police brutality? State-created poverty and imprisonment? The drug war? Foreign wars? National debt piling on the heads of their children and grandchildren? Money pouring into homelessness but not solving the problem? If there is anyone in King County you can't find common ground on something they are passionate about, you haven't listened hard enough to them.

That's not saying every person has to win everyone. This is a game of dividing and conquering, and many working with LPKC are already doing this. I am glad to have people like Brendan networking with the young dissatisfied right in our community. We have Ciaran who's talked voting system reform with socialists. Michelle has built great bridges with conservative leaders and the Republican liberty crowd. Richard is speaking out to the young tech crowd. Adam talks to environmental issues that Democrats care about. And Robin and Matt are building a highway to liberty for those tired of cronyism and partisanship on the left.

This diversity can sometimes create tensions and disagreements, but make no mistake: It makes us stronger and more principled. I would go so far as to say that a libertarian that wants political change without winning hearts and minds is utterly unprincipled, because they're merely talking about what kind of policies they would establish if they were a dictator.

These roads are not just built with ideas. They're built with relationships, organization, and execution. Many Libertarians thought that in 2016 that if we just had the best ideas - be it Johnson, Weld, Petersen, Sharpe, whoever -  then we would magically have a shot at winning the presidency. I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but that is ridiculous. Politics is a game of numbers, and the marketing and outreach involved are no easier than any large corporate marketing effort, and today we just don't have the political machine built to do that. LPKC's job is to build that machine that supplies a network of resources, volunteers, and relationships to our candidates - local, state, and national - as businesses marketing themselves to voters. This not only helps current candidates win, but it attracts liberty-friendly candidates who otherwise might be tempted to run under other parties or no party to make change happen.

In 2020, the amount of votes our presidential candidate gets will be directly related to how many volunteers we can recruit, how many donors we can connect to, and how many voters we can get the message out to. We need to move people from knowing who we are, to being interested in us, to supporting us, to joining us.

Curious if you can help as a volunteer? If you can do three things, you can be an excellent volunteer:

1. Say "Yes". 2. Show up. 3. Follow instructions and ask questions.

If you can do these three things, you can reach our community with the message of liberty and win votes. E-mail me at and I'll personally get you started.

So to sum things up, here's the plan this year for LPKC:

  • Lead with a positive vision of liberty that drives out fear.

  • Build roads between people in our communities and the liberty movement, selling the benefits of self-governance in "common sense" terms.

  • Build the ground resources that are necessary to win votes for our candidates from city council up to the presidency.

This isn't a change on the vision that we've already started, we are continuing on the excellent foundation we've already built. Michelle raised just short of $20,000 last year for her entire campaign. Matt Dubin broke through that a month ago before he has even had a kickoff. My friends, that is growth by leaps and bounds. Let's keep that up and ramp it up for this year.

Yours in Liberty, David Johnson, Chair