Educational electoral campaign

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An educational electoral campaign is one whose primary goal is to raise public awareness of certain topics, rather than to win an election. An example would be Ron Paul's campaigns for President of the United States. Daniel J. Sanchez writes that Ron Paul succeeded at his goals, despite losing the Republican nomination: "It is an open secret that the campaign was really about education all along. And in that regard, Ron Paul's campaign was wildly successful. Chances are, any young libertarian you meet today will tell you that their chief influence in becoming a libertarian was Ron Paul. Ron Paul has swelled the ranks of the liberty movement to a greater extent than perhaps any other individual in history."[1]

According to Murray Rothbard, "The purpose of an LP electoral campaign is not to get as many votes as possible. If that were the objective, then the place to go for votes is the Democratic or Republican parties. The purpose of any campaign is, in the short-run, twofold: to educate the electorate in libertarian principles, and to find more libertarians and bring them into the party ("party-building" or "cadre building"). The third, long-run, objective is to get into office so as to roll back the State."[2] Lew Rockwell argues, "Many good people have run for office, and many activists have performed heroically. The problems for the LP come about when the people running the party begin to think of themselves as vying for power as versus being an educational organization that uses the structure of elections as a venue."[3] He further notes:[4]

The political environment focuses the mind on important issues like freedom, economics, culture, power and its uses, and the role of the state. As they debate with their neighbors, follow election coverage, listen to the candidates, and watch the process, people learn and study and, most importantly, think and rethink.

If you begin with a skeptical attitude toward the government, watching and thinking can lead to a radicalization and ultimate embrace of a consistent opposition to government involvement. This is why election season always ends up creating a huge flood of new libertarians who buy books, feel the inspiration to get active (perhaps for the first time), and dedicate themselves to reducing the power of the state in whatever way they can.

If American politics can be said to contribute anything to American culture, it is this educational aspect that stands out. The elections focus the mind and lead people to a new consciousness. Ideally, that consciousness would dawn without politicians and elections and all the apparatus of the season. And yet people are busy in normal times, dealing with regular life; it is the very urgency of the election that gives rise to the concern in the first place.


  1. Sanchez, Daniel J. (31 August 2012). "The Real Ron Paul Revolution". 
  2. Rothbard, Murray (September-December 1980). "The Clark Campaign: Never Again" XIII (5-6). The Libertarian Forum. ISSN 0047-4517. 
  3. Kuskowski, Jedrzej (20 April 2007). "Rockwell on Libertarianism". 
  4. Rockwell, Llewellyn H. (4 October 2010). "Prepare for Betrayal".