It’s not even Christmas, but it is already apparent that the fight is on to elect in May 2017 the next Libertarian Party of Florida Chairman. Marcos Miralles, from Miami, is putting the word out that that he wants to be elected, while Char-Lez Braden, the current Chair, appears set on running again. One can only guess who might be other competitors waiting in the wings. This kind of competition is great, and is exactly what the LPF needs.
It’s important to have strong leadership at all levels of the LPF, but the race for Chair next year is especially attention worthy because it will come on the heels of the terribly divisive Augustus Invictus campaign, and the rudderless Gary Johnson Presidential campaign. After all the sturm and drang of the past year, the Party message, fundraising and manpower are still the forefront state-wide problems in 2017 as they were in 2016. It’s worth it to have a frank discussion as to what it would take to have an effective Chair.
As inegalitarian as this sounds, an effective Chair must have some personal financial independence. Just as you can’t do business with people who have no money, a Chair cannot be part of the public discussion, establish political contacts throughout the state, and generally be where the action is unless there are resources to travel and see people. Despite the common addiction to iPhones, social media is not a substitute for being at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, high profile conferences, media events where the wealthy and powerful discuss policy, or even having lunch with the Governor. A Chair needs to insert himself into such situations, develop a thick rolodex, and use it for his Party’s benefit. It’s his job. Some sort of LPF travel per diem system for senior Party officials would greatly help to provide this independence.
Another quality the new Chair must have is the ability to focus on commonality instead of differences both within the LPF and with the public at large. The long term success of the LPF depends on our ability to show we want a long term relationship with the people of this State, take action to relieve their pocket books, respect the rule of law, roll back intrusive government, and do this all in a way they know Libertarians are doing it. He has to personally approach those who’s business and personal interests most coincide with Libertarian thought, and get them to donate to us; the only Party that can make their dreams become real. The Chair also needs to focus our own Party member’s energies on the opposition, not fellow Libertarians. Again, this is something that is only accomplished by talking with people face-to-face, not in a twitter message.
Lastly, the Chair must inspire confidence among the citizenry of Florida. The LPF needs a committed base, but it needs the goodwill and receptiveness of the public at large more. Consistent thought and action, administrative foresight, and stability of character all contribute to inspiring confidence, and they naturally lead to more volunteers and donations. Political savvy helps inspire confidence too, because people like competent leaders, even if they are the opposition. I had to laugh when Donald Trump publicly denied making fun of Rand Paul for his hairdo by saying “I never made fun of Rand Paul’s hair, but, you know, there is a lot of material there…” A winning Chair makes people believe Libertarians really are the loyal opposition who bring the real message of happiness and prosperity. Having a little fun in the LPF wouldn’t be a bad idea too.
There are those who think anyone can be the Florida Chair, or that a Chair only needs to have regular phone conferences from their basement with the Executive Committee to keep the Party alive. That sets an extraordinarily low set of expectations when conditions demand we step up our game. To do the job right requires brains, guts, vision and educated risk taking in varying amounts, and, frankly, not everyone can hack it. That’s just the way it is.
Let’s see who steps in the ring.
Pete Blome is Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party and a retired military officer.