My name is Joshua Eakle. I am running for Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee.
For the last two years, I have been operating as Chairman of the Knox County, TN Libertarian Party and running operations for the coalition of East-TN counties: the ETNLP (East TN Libertarian Party).
Alongside several activists, I founded the ETNLP and grew the Knox County affiliate from five members at monthly meetings to over 50 members every month. Our affiliate has seen thousands of dollars in personal donations and has made direct connections with the political leaders of East TN (Glenn Jacobs, Jeremy Faison, Justin Lafferty, Tim Burchett, Jimmy Matlock, Jimmy Duncan Jr, Martin Daniel, Roger Kane, just to name a few).
Through robust email marketing, social media marketing, and persistent networking, we have been able to build one of the largest county affiliates in the country. We have built a network of activists in East TN ready to mobilize for Libertarian issues and have spent time at the state capital advocating for Libertarian legislative priorities.
In 2012, I founded RECURO.org as a platform for activists to promote Libertarian-leaning content regarding Tennessee and national politics. Today, we are getting over 35,000 page views a year, manage a growing list of hundreds of local readers, and are indexed in the major search engine news feeds. All this helps us build more legitimacy in the Libertarian message.
As the manager of operations for a marketing and business growth firm, my job revolves around working with a team to enter an organization, identify the barriers to success, and provide an organizational strategy to reach more customers. Working from home and making my own schedule empowers me to travel and stay regularly engaged in growing the LPTN.
With a ballot access defeat in the rear-view mirror, I think it’s time we take a new approach to procuring access to the ballot. I think my unique skill set and background can help us achieve this over the next four years.
1) Ballot Access
Our efforts at achieving statewide ballot access have been fruitless. The threshold for ballot access retention almost guarantees that, even if we do achieve access, we will not hold it for long. The threshold is simply too high. Instead, we should encourage and support county affiliates to focus on county-by-county ballot access and use state resources to focus fully on public advocacy for a statewide legislative solution.
I would like to see our ballot access bill (HB662, SB770) revised to clearly address the concerns of the State Senate about our primary system, among some other minor tweaks.
Our state leaders should be wholly focused on advocating for a legislative fix by throwing rallies in Nashville and participating in recurring “days on the hill.” We should be engaging with legislators nonstop not only in person but with constant pressure via social, emails, and phone calls.
My plan is to spin up a Legislative Committee, whose primary focus would be networking with legislators as well as drafting and submitting a new piece of legislation for the next legislative cycle, as well as advocating directly for other Libertarian legislative priorities.
2) Affiliate Support
The LPTN needs to be more engaged with county leadership working in tandem to support candidates and events at the county level.
With a huge mailing list, social media page, and constant web traffic, we should be utilizing our platform to get more exposure to county affiliate events, candidates, and leaders. The first step to doing this is to know what and who these items and individuals are.
I plan to create a county affiliate portal to use both as an onboarding resource for new leaders and a tool to communicate with the state and leverage their resources.
Included with this will be forms tied directly to the state, giving affiliates the ability to easy notify the state on events that happen within their county. Anytime an event is submitted to the state, they can be sure we’ll distribute to our large network for promotion.
Affiliates should have access to statewide LP email lists to ensure they can communicate clearly with county leaders even if they have not connected with these individuals directly.
There are digital tools we can implement for no cost, that will provide a framework for county affiliates to work with the state. We must focus on building processes that are scalable and work well enough to continue after the next chairman leaves.
3) Public Outreach
We are simply not doing enough from a marketing perspective.
First things first: we need to make sure that the Marketing Committee has posting privileges on every affiliate Facebook page statewide. This will give us a powerful ability to distribute content not only via LPTN channels but concurrently on every affiliate channel as well, boosting our reach. This is commonplace among activism organizations nationwide.
We should be using our large mailing list to promote these county affiliate events statewide, to drive traffic to local meetings and to make sure subscribers are seeing activity, as well as being kept in the loop on the happenings within their area.
We should be constantly fundraising for the LPTN working to achieve a high level of recurring donors. With predictable cash flow, we can begin operating as a legitimate political party by creating ongoing budgets for candidate mailers, digital or physical advertisement for party initiatives, or party gatherings.
We can jump-start this fundraising drive with incentives and quarterly, goal-driven, fundraising drives. These drives will be promoted via email to our thousands of subscribers and with social media reminders published through all county affiliate pages on an ongoing basis.
From a political perspective, we should be focusing less on running candidates and more issues-based advocacy. If we can propagate a Libertarian narrative on a real piece of legislation, or educate voters on a real individual being affected by an unjust law, we will be able to shift the “Overton Window” of dialogue in the state and demonstrate some successes. Part of this is providing a yearly legislative agenda with buy in from the Executive Committee.
Running candidates for unattainable, expensive, and partisan offices is not a strategy to energize our activists. We should be focused on demonstrating to the state that we can win and, as such, our candidates should focus running in races as local as possible and focusing on nonpartisan races whenever available. We must build from the ground up
4) Political Unity
My personal political nuances are irrelevant to my race for Chairman. My record speaks for itself: I put in the work to do to push our collective values forward and support our activists.
I'm running to implement scalable processes at the state level and see our organization start operating like the statewide political party it is. It's not about forcing state delegates to vote for/against any specific LP candidates. I have one vote at convention and that is my own.
I want to see the party succeed and I'm in this for the long game regardless as to what "faction" drives the narrative.
The Chairman should simply serve to do the work and facilitate unity whenever possible. As Nick Sarwark said, “I’m running to be the least important person in the Libertarian Party.”
The message from the top of the party should be one that seeks to encourage affiliates to work together to grow the party, and I hope to exemplify that message.
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