Roger MacBride, Libertarian Presidential Candidate, 1976
It was an electric experience, heady, powerful, filled with joy and individual empowerment. People from all parts of society came together to work on the election. They made signs and waved them over freeway bridges; they printed their own literature because they could not get it fast enough. They wrote what was needed, did the graphics, printed it. They used their own money to get the job done. Every dollar they spent they saw as moving them closer to the shining vision on which America was founded. There was friendship, happiness and trust.
You may think I am talking about the Ron Paul Revolution. Actually, that was the early days of the Libertarian Party. The Presidential Campaign that incited us was that of Roger MacBride in 1976.
You would not know today. I still have many Libertarian friends but the Libertarian Party is very different. You need to know what happened and why.
We lived those heady days; We stood on the bridges holding up signs in all weather. We were well on the way to creating a real grassroots organization. What stopped us was people who decided we, 'needed to get organized.' You know about one of those people. That is Edward H. Crane, III of Cato Institute. Others of like mind followed.
If you are a Ron Paul Activist, working on the Revolution, you are working for something that matters much more than electing Ron Paul as President, as important as that is. You are working on creating a new form through which the people can govern themselves. That is the revolutionary part.
The people must govern themselves.
Ron Paul signed up to roll back the Federal Government. The rest of the job, most of it, truthfully, will remain to be carried out from our communities by us as individuals who live there. You will encounter many people who want to 'organize' you. Ignore them and keep doing it exactly like you are doing it now. Using the tools they offer you will result in the creation of yet another Reform Party, another 'not for profit' that makes lots of money for those who are at the top. The idea that there is a top should be enough to tell you this is the wrong direction.
Instead you need to continue to use the hub system that you have been using. That was what I recommended to the Libertarian Party in 1999. Instead of a National Office that 'coordinated' the grassroots I proposed that they close the office in DC and provide services to activists. Those were to include putting on a National Convention with speakers and a newsletter that simply let people share their experiences, successful and unsuccessful, with local projects. There, literature could also be shared, made available via the Internet with local people adding and using it as needed.
Naturally, no one listened. They were firmly entrenched in the 'structure' of a political party and busy jockeying for positions that would augment egos and income.
Here and there across the country local LP organizations continued to use the networking forms you would recognize. San Diego is one of those.
San Diego declined to be part of the centralization of the LP. Instead of central committees voting on how to spend money they came together (this spanned the time before the Internet) to hear people talk about their ideas for projects. Activists then decided how to spend their own time and money. That is what the Ron Paul Revolution has been doing online. That is the essence of networking, each deciding for themselves where they will participate.
That is the story of the past. It was easier for us then in many ways. We did not have the Internet but we also faced less immediate threats.
Today one of the most critical issues we face is the present use of the still unpassed Home Grown Terrorism Act.
It is already being used. Following their usual strategies the NeoCons did not wait for Congress. The idea of Constitutionalists as Terrorists is part of the training being given to local police and has been for a while now. I heard that straight from the horse's mouth last September at a National Federation of Republican Women's Luncheon. The guest speaker was a local law enforcement officer who lumped Constitutionalists together with gang members. In the terms of the man speaking I am a terrorist. None of the other ladies present questioned him on that. I did.
We are facing immediate danger and we need to take action. Increasingly, those of us involved on issues will be targeted because we are threatening the corporate establishment. There is no reason to make it easier for them and more dangerous for ourselves.
The solution is even more networking and increased communication between those of us working on specific issues.
Early last year Jeff Schwilk, Founder of the San Diego Minutemen was targeted by local police. They used a sealed warrant to arrest him. After months of trauma and much money he managed to get the warrant unsealed. The causes were manufactured. Today another man in the same area has been sitting in jail for over a month, waiting to make $600,000 bail. His crime? Posting a comment on the ACLU that was something like, “they should die and go away.” The site was Save Our State, one that focuses on ending illegal immigration.
We can expect to be targeted on issues that are critical to corporate interests. Those include clean elections and immigration and the North American Union and the Real ID.
We need to continue working to get Ron elected but also be more aware of the specific issues that his candidacy brings into focus. Those involved in those organizations need to be especially careful.
Staying decentralized while using networks for support and communication, reduces our exposure. Our networking must include providing support when the harassment and arrests, inevitably, come. If when activists are targeted and arrested they become the immediate focus of more effective activism then the long planned NeoCon strategy of suppression will fail. Many have already been dealing with harassment and found ways to handle it.
You should think about this for yourself. We need to respond rapidly and effectively. One thing we can all do is ensure harassment or arrest will be noticed immediately. That strategy is an early warning system that lets us know who is being targeted and what must be done to keep us and our families safe.
We call it the Ron Paul Revolution, and it is exactly that, a change in the form we use to govern ourselves, moving us from hierarchy to hubs and networks. Extend your personal network to protect yourself and your fellow Revolutionaries.
Coordination and cooperation are good. Control is not