The task at hand is convincing large groups of people leave a political party they may have been vested in for decades, and convince them to join our party. The lack of understanding of how the brain reacts to new ideas is the fundamental reason we are not a major party. The future of the LP depends on shifting the focus away from an ideological struggle and using science to craft our outreach methods.
By: Ryan Ramsey
Region 4 Representative and Bradford County Chairman,
Libertarian Party of Florida
I have been saying for a long time that the Libertarian Party fails to break through because the focus is not on political science, and figuring out how to reach people. Instead we argue about policy or our minor differences in opinions on issues.
Currently the attitude is that since we are factually correct about economics and morally correct about the virtue of liberty, this idea people should be free to do what they wish so long as they do not harm another person or damage their property, we will automatically grow.
There is an attitude that efforts to bring people in will see us co-opted by other parties or groups, and this leads to a constant struggle within the party to control various factional groups version of ideological purity. The struggle never ends, so we do not advance to the next step of figuring out the nuts and bolts of strategy.
I see issue based polling indicating that in many parts of the country upwards of 30% of the electorate share our beliefs, yet we are celebrating a 3.6% election return as a milestone. So I set out to examine my approach to organizing and spreading our message, that is far more successful, and reverse engineer what I am doing in order to be able to explain it and teach others.
Florida has grown as many new LP registered voters last year as the entire period from 2012-2016, when people hostile to me and my methods controlled the LPF. Now that I have established proof of concept, it is time to explain the science behind it.
LPF Registered Voters
The missing link for the LP is understanding how the human brain deals with personal identity in relation to politics. The vast majority of our efforts cast us as outsiders attacking the personal identity of voters we are trying to recruit, which causes a physiological as well as psychological response that is hard-wired into our brains. It is related to Cognitive Dissonance, but goes a bit deeper. We cannot change it, we must come to understand it and respond accordingly.
Libertarians have been been winning arguments and losing elections for 45 years.
The research shows that people’s personal identity is intrinsically tied to their political identity. That identity is vested in being either left or right, and saying you want to destroy the left-right paradigm is a nice concept, but it sounds like gibberish to the people we need to join us. The key to convincing people to join the LP, lies in convincing them they are not having to abandon their identity, which causes both physical and psychological discomfort in people that renders them unable to listen to facts.
Vox has been publishing a lot of material on the subject, so I will leave the reader with a few of their articles, and then some others from a variety of sources, including a TED talk by a researcher in the arena. I think if you read them and consider them in light of the way the LP conducts itself you will be able to see the path to victory and creating a paradigm shift that breaks the 2 party system.
“Psychologists have been circling around a possible reason political beliefs are so stubborn: Partisan identities get tied up in our personal identities. Which would mean that an attack on our strongly held beliefs is an attack on the self. And the brain is built to protect the self.
When we’re attacked, we evade or defend — as if we have an immune system for uncomfortable thoughts, one you can see working in real time.”
How facts cannot compete with identity:
How to Argue better with science:
Trump knows what many miss, facts don’t matter:
Politics in the era of Trump
How to have better political conversations
How politics breaks our brains and how we can put them back together
Speaking of Psychology: How politics became so uncivilized
Moral Foundations Theory