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When 'Libertarians' Sabotage the Liberty Movement for Clicks
Can Libertarians overcome social media self-sabotage?
The liberty movement is at a critical point in its history. Currently, it has a prime opportunity to start making inroads in America’s political infrastructure — especially at the local level. Unfortunately, it seems not everyone calling themselves “libertarian” are as serious about advancing the cause as they might have us believe. I’m talking about the folks who run Libertarian Party of New Hampshire’s (LPNH) Twitter account.
LPNH’s social media has come under fire on numerous occasions for posting edgy and controversial tweets. The people making these posts understand that, in this political environment, outrage is a highly effective way to get clicks and attention. However, it is not necessarily the best way to win over more converts to the liberty cause.
This reality was made even more apparent a couple weeks ago during an exchange with Nina Turner, a progressive politician from Ohio. She posted a tweet arguing that insulin and other types of medicine “should be free.”
True to form, LPNH responded with a tweet saying “Nina Turner picking crops should be free.”
Needless to say, the obvious reference to chattel slavery elicited criticism from all over the political spectrum. Democrats, Republicans, and libertarians slammed LPNH for the racial reference. LPNH later tried to obfuscate their intent behind the tweet by saying to Turner:
You shouldn’t pick crops for free because you’re black.
You should pick crops as reparations for the rights you violated as a politician.
Of course, this wasn’t fooling anyone. Stevie Wonder could see that LPNH made that comment because Turner is a black woman. After that, those running the party’s Twitter account threw off all pretense and posted two memes specifically referncing picking cotton just as slaves did before the practice was abolished:
On Saturday, LPNH posted another “edgy” tweet referencing the fake outrage over comments Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made in which he used the numbers “14” and “88” while criticizing President Joe Biden. These numbers are typically used by white supremacists and Nazis to express their racist believes.
Playing on the manufactured controversy, LPNH tweeted: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for libertarian children.”
This is a modified version of a common white supremacist slogan: “We musts secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
Again, this tweet was met with criticism coming from all over the political spectrum. On the Libertarian side, Black Guns Matter co-founder Maj Toure, who has been openly critical of LPNH’s Twitter account, posted a tweet:
Seeing some of y’all RUSH to clean up after that one state chapter over and over and over again makes me think…. That much tap dancing must be EXHAUSTING.
Y’all look more pathetic than the MAGA dudes tryna justify the anti gun, pro jab, military spending Trump was on.
Weak defense of “trolling” that gets ZERO new members to the state chapter OR national party.
This has been a consistent criticism made against the folks who run LPNH’s Twitter account: They are more focused on trolling and shitposting than actually growing the movement.
But let’s get to the heart of the matter.
LPNH is not helping the liberty movement. In fact, their focus on being “edgy” is doing more to repel people from the cause than to attract them. During the Nina Turner fiasco, I saw plenty on Twitter — including black folks — saying they were open to libertarian ideas, but these antics have turned them off. As it turns out, nobody, regardless of ethnicity, wants to be associated with blatantly racist messaging.
This alienates far more people than it is bringing in. I received plenty of direct messages from people taking issue with the whole situation. High-profile Republicans and Democrats pounced on the opportunity to slander the entire liberty movement with LPNH’s ridiculous comments. During the Nina Turner exchange, “Libertarian” was trending on Twitter — for all the wrong reasons.
To put it simply, this did not help to advance the liberty cause one iota.
This has been a problem for awhile. Behind the scenes, members of state libertarian parties and others in the movement have railed against LPNH for misrepresenting them and making their recruitment efforts harder. People have pleaded with the folks who run the Twitter account to use a more effective messaging strategy instead of alienating potential converts.
Yet, nothing has changed.
As I see it, the problem with this situation is that too many are only willing to criticize LPNH behind closed doors, but not publicly. I am a firm believer in free speech, so I would never advocate for trying to silence those at LPNH who are vomiting these silly tweets all over the Twittersphere. The answer to bad speech is more good speech.
We don’t have enough good speech.
Even Republicans and Democrats will publicly say something when one of their people creates enough controversy to stymie their respective agendas. When the uniparty is smarter than we are, that should signal that there is a serious flaw in our approach.
If someone in the movement is doing something that makes it harder to evangelize liberty, there is nothing wrong with speaking out. I think most of us know that. Remember when Kaleena George and her yoga pants came onto the scene? Even though I believed a lot of the criticism was unfair, I saw how many in the movement pushed back against her — and as far as I know, nobody slammed them for it.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with libertarians calling out those in our ranks who are harming the movement. In fact, this will help us win over more people. The issue isn’t the silly crap the folks at LPNH are saying.
The issue is that our silence gives off the impression that we either co-sign it or are ambivalent to it. If people outside of the movement see that most of us are not in alignment with LPNH, then they will see these folks as what they are: Fringe elements who are only concerned with stirring the pot and not much else.
As a movement, we have to start thinking more tactically. One of the party’s biggest weaknesses is that we have more philosophers than activists and tacticians. We need all of these to succeed. Persuasion requires thoughtful and compelling messaging, not mindless shitposting for clicks. We will start winning only when we come to understand this.
As libertarians, we must prioritize substance over sensationalism, engaging in meaningful dialogue that fosters understanding and positive change. The future of the liberty movement lies in authentic and effective advocacy, not in silly, divisive clickbait.
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