LP Monday Message: Burnout

May 2, 2011

Dear Friend of Liberty,

Last Saturday I spoke at the LP Minnesota state convention. I enjoyed my time at the convention, and I’d like to thank them for hosting me.

Below are two questions I was asked after my speech, along with my responses. (The questions and my responses are not verbatim, and may be embellished with a few phrases I wish I had thought of at the time!)

Question 1: Is burnout a problem when Libertarians continually receive single-digit percentages?

My answer: We have over 160 elected Libertarians. They mostly serve in nonpartisan offices in small jurisdictions. I tell prospects, if you run for a high office like Congress, you do the important work of building the party and educating the public, but you’re very unlikely to win, based on past trends. That sometimes evokes angry responses from a few who insist they can win their partisan races for Congress or other high offices. It’s often those "winners" who burn out and quit after election day. Those with more realistic expectations often comment after election day that they enjoyed the process and would do it again.

I also pointed out that just because a trend line doesn’t point toward imminent Libertarian Party victories for Congress, it doesn’t mean surprises won’t happen. Ron Paul raised over $30 million for his 2008 Presidential run, a man named Barrack Hussein Obama became President, the Tea Party movement exploded across the nation, and Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota. (Who would have predicted that?) Feel free to keep working hard, because you can’t predict when a movement will take off.

Question 2: If people want to volunteer, what’s the number one thing you recommend they do?

My answer: I gave the response I heard from Paul Jacob at the the 2009 LP Maryland convention. Paul Jacob is a former LP national director and now head of Citizens in Charge. I’m reciting from memory, but Mr. Jacob presented ten pieces of advice. Number one was "Do something." The most important thing is to take action. No one knows for sure what will work. His number two piece of advice was "Don’t stop others from doing something." Spend your energy doing more of your preferred type of activism, rather than spending it trying to stop others from defending liberty in their preferred way. I added, as I often say, our rights won’t be secure until Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians are all fighting over the best ways to reduce government and increase freedom.


Wes Benedict
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee

P.S. If you have not already done so, please join the Libertarian Party. We are the only political party dedicated to free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can also renew your membership. Or, you can make a contribution separate from membership.