For those that don’t know me, I’m currently serving as the Vice Chair of LP National. I’ve been a member of the LP since 1998 and active since 2006, and I’ve done just about everything you can do in the LP at some point. I live in Northern Kentucky, in the outer suburbs of Cincinnati.
From February 2017 until July 2018, I led the Ohio ballot access drive and it consumed my every weekend for 17 months. My wife was not impressed.
I then went on to manage the Irvine campaign. While certainly there are those who would have seen us run that campaign differently, and hindsight is 20/20, we did the best we could under the circumstances. Travis is the best candidate I’ve ever had the pleasure of managing. My wife’s displeasure continued.
The cold, hard truth is that we weren’t ready for that drive or that race. There were only a very few people who stuck with the ballot access drive from beginning to end. By the time the petition drive was completed, it was July, and early voting began in early October. We had fewer than 3 months to campaign, statewide, with very little local support throughout the state.
We can’t reasonably expect to win, much less have a respectable outcome, without local support throughout the boundaries of the office being sought. All politics is local. Who has connections to people in the community? When are the good local events? When is the county fair? What parade is a “must” for candidates? To this day, I still don’t know this information for most of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Recently, LPO has started down a path that I believe will lead to long-term success: growing county parties. Getting involved locally is how to be effective at growing liberty in our own communities; in our own backyards. You live in your county, and know when you have your county fair. You know where the 4th of July or Memorial Day parade happens. You know the places that people in your county expect candidates to show up.
We’re seeing a lot of local wins throughout the country. You have some in Ohio; Cassaundra Fryman is a mayor in Plymouth. Glenn Otto is a city councilman in Huber Heights (near Dayton). Mike Mains is a sitting Harrison city councilman (near Cincinnati). Each of these great Libertarians has brought our perspective into local governance and put our principles into practice. These are Libertarian wins. They may not get the flashy national headlines of a President or a Congressman, but they improve everyone’s lives in their community.
As we continue to rack up these wins, and gain respect in local communities, we are also building trust in our elected officials and our philosophy. We build positive brand ID that will help us grow those wins to the county, state, and eventually the federal level.
We can replicate these successes throughout Ohio and the entire US. Local city council wins, to stop some onerous tax increase, to stop some abuse of eminent domain. Here in my home state of Kentucky, a local Libertarian group is working to privately fund the improvement of a park rather than increasing taxes.
As we exit these COVID lockdowns, I hope that you will help with a local county event this year. Even if your county party isn’t formed up yet, you can do some outreach at a local fair or parade. Find the other Libertarians in your community. They are out there. Build your team, build your county party, and then train yourselves to win! Local, then state, then federal.
I spent 17 months on a petition drive in Ohio. I’m asking you for 17 days this year. That’s one day per month, for your county party’s business meeting, social event, and training, plus 5 days of outreach at an event. If you are willing to do this amount of work, I guarantee you will see results. They will be small at first, but don’t get discouraged; it takes time to build momentum. Once your local group gets going, and with some goals and some training, it will grow into a force that cannot be silenced, and who can elect great Libertarians into your local government. You can also increase liberty in your own backyard. Liberty can win. We need your help.
There are no shortcuts on the road to liberty. Anything of value has a cost, and the cost for liberty is building support for it. We can do it. We know we can. We just need people to stand up who are willing to grind it out.
And after LPO has active county affiliates in most or all of its 88 counties, then the strength of the party will make the petition drive a relative breeze, as well as retaining the ballot access that lets us proudly display, on the ballot, that we are Libertarians.
Ken Moellman is the Vice Chair of the Libertarian National Committee. Elected in 2020, his term ends in May 2022. He has served in multiple roles in the party, including State Chair for Kentucky, campaign manager for multiple campaigns, and was himself a statewide candidate in 2011. He lives in Pendleton County, Kentucky with his wife and children.