There has been much in-fighting in the Libertarian Party as of late. And for us to continue to grow, it needs to stop. We need to come together in a way that we haven't for many years. In fact, I believe the Party is on the cusp on something huge. Something good, or something bad, is what we make of it, and how we handle the next 190 days. To start the conversation, I'd like to share a story my church's pastor told us many years ago: The Allegory of Bathroom-Jesus. It has similar themes to Dr. Seuss's "The Butter Battle Book."
There once was a church, much like this one, full of enthusiastic young people, active volunteers, and a burgeoning congregation. The church was nestled in a quiet, rural community. The men met for breakfast weekly. The women would put on clothing, food, and necessity drives and donate gently used items to the poor and needy. The children would enjoy Fall and Spring festivals. The congregation was family.
One day, the cleaning lady, a church volunteer, came upon a picture of Jesus tucked away in a closet. There was this rather unsightly stain in the women's bathroom, so she decided to use the picture of Jesus to cover it up. 'What a perfect metaphor,' she thought to herself. 'Wasn't getting any use in that closet anyway!'
The next Sunday, many of the women noticed the new picture, but not everyone was happy about it. In fact, some said the picture "is disrespectful to our Lord and Savior!" Some said the picture "would be more appropriate on the wall in the hall way." Some argued that Jesus, who sees all, wouldn't be offended by a picture of Himself on the bathroom wall." On and on the debate went. Weeks later, the church was STILL arguing about the picture of Jesus on the bathroom wall. Soon, factions developed: Pro-Bathroom-Jesus, and Anti-Bathroom-Jesus. At this point, the pastor attempted to intervene in the affair, only to find out his wife disagreed with him completely! No one could figure out the answer to the pressing issue of Bathroom-Jesus. Who gets to decide? Perhaps the church should form a committee on the issue of Bathroom-Jesus?
Eventually, this issue became SO polarizing, that the Anti-Bathroom-Jesus church goers decided to split off and form their own church. After all, they didn't want to disrespect the Lord. But in the process of splitting off, friends were ripped apart. Families divided. A whole congregation for a community torn asunder.
Why did this happen? How did it get that far? It's because the church goers lost sight of what is important. The church goers lost sight of why they went to church. The church goers lost sight of their goals, their values, and ultimately, their fellowship.
Now of course, at this point, the pastor went on to reiterate the goals of our church, and remind our congregation of what is important (which I won't repeat here in case some of my atheist friends made it this far). The bottom line is:
The LP can't be that church. We have to refocus on why we are in the party to begin with. We have to focus on what's important. We have to focus on our goals and values, and forge relationships-friendships- with each other. It's fine to argue, it's fine to disagree. But let's disagree while remembering what we all agree on.
Smaller Government, more Freedom.
It's more than a motto - it's our mission statement. We can debate the NAP, immigration, GMOs, abortion, etc... - any and every polarizing issue in the LP, and totally miss out on communicating our mission statement. The broad brush strokes. If we want to reach the estimated 15% of the population of the US that agrees with our views entirely, we need to start communicating our mission statement. We need to get people on board with the big picture for the LP.
For many who have come from the Democrats or Republicans, there are planks in our party platform that they don't agree with. Give them time. As an amazing state chair once told me, "libertarianism isn't a destination for most, it's a journey." He said that to me having come from one of the other parties previously. We must be patient with those who disagree with us on the polarizing issues because we should be focused on the fact that they agree with 90% or more of our party platform. They are willing to leave a major political party and join up with the LP - a "third party." We aren't even considered THE "third party" yet.
We have to do better at communicating our message. We have to stop debating and start affecting hearts and minds for libertarianism. We can't wait for the Ds and Rs to steamroll our momentum by jacking up ballot access requirements. It's time to seize the day.
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