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What does it mean to be an effective local activist?

Chuck Young is a local activist with a keen intellect and a knack for organizing. Having been “aware” for 20+ years, Chuck got his first major taste of activism in organizing for the Ron Paul campaign here in Central Texas. Chuck helped to make the Austin Ron Paul meetup group one of the largest in the country. After the election, Chuck founded Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) in order to take the revolution to the local. He is currently the treasurer of the group and continues to kick butt here on the local scene. The following is Chuck’s address at the 1 Year Anniversary Party for Texas for Accountable Government.

[Note from Norman: Chuck is a personal friend who I believe has a great handle on what it means to be an effective local activist while staying absolutely steadfast in libertarian principles. I hope this inspires you, even if only a little, to think about what you can be doing to promote liberty.]

As I’ve aged, I’ve found myself transformed from scientist to engineer, from artist to performer, from philosopher to pragmatist.

It’s a pretty typical pattern.  Be it accident or serendipity, this journey has coincided with a sudden interest in politics.  My middle aged pragmatism has paid off, personally, in this new hobby.  I’ve definitely discovered that, at least in the political realm, experience is, for me, the best teacher I can find.

You see, talk is oh so cheap.  If you’re in politics and you haven’t learned that one yet, you’re in for a rude awakening.  Action is where it’s at.  And that’s what TAG is all about.  We’re activists.  We ACT.

Of course there have been brilliant political *theorists*, as well as practitioners, down thru the ages.  Murray Rothbard was both.  I was surprised and delighted to recently discover that he predicted the success of an org like TAG 30 years ago.  He wrote:

“[We] would get involved in single-issue coalitions where the particular issues advanced the libertarian cause (anti-draft, drug law repeal, tax-slashing, or whatever). In that way, [our] effectiveness… would be multiplied, and the consciousness of many of our allies would be widened to see the consistency and merit of the broader libertarian perspective.”

A blueprint for liberty, indeed!  Now, as practitioners – freedom engineers, if you will, or liberty performers, if you’ve a more artistic bent – as doers, we have a very simple process to go thru.  We try things; we improve on what works, we discard what doesn’t.  And then we try again.

Certainly there have been plenty of things that haven’t worked.  I’m probably more conscious of TAG’s failings than any other human being, and I’ll tell you today that I’m newly determined to fix what I can; I’m renewing my vows so to speak.  But this is a birthday party, as well as an anniversary, so rather than give ourselves a spanking, compelling as that may be for some of us, I’d like to celebrate what WORKS.

All – and I do mean ALL – of TAG’s success has been a result of *creating and sharing value*, *based on shared values*.  This bears repeating: *creating and sharing value*, *based on shared values*.  And in this value sharing experiment, something is happening beyond the advancing of a cause, principle, or agenda.

I’ve spoken often of the need to humanize, to bring music to the liberty equation, and what I’ve seen is that, as we share our shared values, we are building other things, things that transcend ideology.  Politics is a science of the heart: we are, basically, making friends.  And as things evolve, or devolve, we can use all the friends we can get.

Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the value in that, does it?

It is this process – the activist process – that truly advances the cause of liberty.  Because all of a sudden, we are of VALUE to people around the political spectrum – left, right, and center.  We show up, and we ACT; not very many folks DO THAT!  And while some allies might treat us with the same old disdain that libertarians have been enduring for 40 years, inch by inch, we are ingratiating ourselves to decent people, people who appreciate us even if they don’t agree with us about everything – and hell, NOBODY agrees about everything, least of all libertarians.

So I’m ok with that.

Chuck Young TAG’s current Executive Director has neatly summarized our principles, the mantra of our own local Liberty Cult – we are loony, after all, and I’m sure the ‘cult’ label will be forthcoming shortly – with our motto: “Humanize, Harmonize, Localize”.  I say “current Executive Director” because TAG needs to grow, and to grow, it needs to address certain aspects of its own internals, and bring a LITTLE order to the creative anarchy which has been its chief rule so far.  A rule of lawlessness, I suppose.  I say a LITTLE order because we will always remain a herd of somewhat cantankerous cats, and being a cat lover, I wouldn’t dream of whipping the organization into TOO MUCH shape…

… but there I go again with the spanking and the whipping.

The purpose of Texans for Accountable Government (TAG) is to promote liberty by means of non-partisan local activism.

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