11 Libertarians Who Are Making a Difference
by Ethan Glover, Thu, Jan 29, 2015 - (Edited) Thu, Jan 29, 2015
Liberty isn't a once every 4-years ballot box mission. It is a life philosophy and message for peace and thriving. When I asked the question, "Which libertarian activists are actually doing something?" I got many shrugs, "I have no idea," and other surprising answers.
I hate to say it, but there is a lack of people doing outreach in the libertarian movement. Most just run a blog or podcast that preaches to the choir. There's nothing wrong with these things in particular. Everyone has his or her own priorities.
I'm not claiming to be an activist. I'm another someone who spends his free time publishing a few thoughts. But I've pointed out what lazy (or non-existent) activism looks like in the past. It's only fair that I point out what good activism looks like. (In my opinion.)
I don't follow activism, but I kept a few criteria in mind when seeking out those who are doing things right. The people below aren't just people typing out blogs (like me), making YouTube videos, or making fun of statists. (Thus hurting the reputation of libertarianism.)
These are the people doing real outreach and converting minds. They don't just talk about "educating the masses," they're doing it.
1. Adam Kokesh – Adam Kokesh did a short stint of podcasting after a lost congressional run. But he's realized that he can do more good elsewhere. For that reason, he has taken to traveling the country and talking to people about liberty.
Adam Kokesh is the #1 example here. He is a true salesman for freedom (not just the book). His on the street interviews with normal people are always respectful and show two things.
First, that people are smarter than most libertarians give them credit for. They can talk about issues in depth if they get the chance, and if they aren't insulted at the first opportunity.
Second, that people are open to discussion. They may reject what Adam has to say in the end, but Adam takes it in stride. Every conversation is a win with Adam, and I think he's the person to look to if you want to get started in activism for liberty.
Adam vs. The Man (Website)
Adam Kokesh (LRD)
2. Andrew Napolitano – Napolitano's work as a judicial analyst on many conservative networks makes a difference. Many Republicans have come to respect his level-headed ideas.
When Napolitano goes against Republican ideas such as closed borders, it doesn't cause outrage. That's because people like the good Judge. They know that when he speaks of something, he is capable of explaining his ideas to the curious respectfully.
Andrew Napolitano has made himself accessible and loved to conservatives. As a result, he has more than a few conversions under his belt.
Judge Nap (Website)
Andrew Napolitano (LRD)
3. Antonio Buehler – Antonio's "Peaceful Streets Project" doesn't just record police transactions. It does free community trainings on how to deal with police.
Antonio has done media appearances on police accountability that goes far beyond the libertarian bubble. FOX, Austin stations, the Examiner and others have taken attention to his outreach campaigns.
Viewers of The Austin Chronicle voted Antonio Best Activist and the Peaceful Streets Project the Best Grassroots Movement in 2012. Make sure to check out his interview with John Stossel and his TEDx talk (below).
Antonio Buehler (Website)
4/5. Ian Freeman/Mark Edgington – FreeTalkLive, started by Ian Freeman and Mark Edgington, isn't just some libertarian podcast. It's a nationally syndicated radio show that reaches a huge audience. Not just the over preached to choir.
You can even set-up your own nationally broadcasted radio show on Ian's radio network LRN.FM. Ian and Mark broadcast FreeTalkLive from the Free State Project in New Hampshire every day of the week.
6. John Stossel – John is another libertarian who has managed to 'infiltrate' a conservative network. Not by insulting anybody who disagrees with him, but by sharing his ideas with anyone who cares to listen.
John Stossel is the person you can suggest to your parents to get them to listen to libertarian propaganda.
His work with 20/20 and FOX has presented the right questions, in the right way, to the right people for a long time. He has a large fan base that is broad enough to prove that he has more than one audience.
John Stossel (LRD)
7. Nick Gillespie – Most people know Nick Gillespie as the editor of Reason, a libertarian magazine and website. But, that's not all he does.
Nick's work has seen syndication across platforms on both sides of the aisle, including C-SPAN. The Daily Beast named him number 18 on "The Right's Top 25 Journalists." Nicks reach may be for the most part libertarian, but his voice still travels far.
8/9. Pete Eyre/Ademo Freeman – The founders of Cop Block started a major movement in recording police interactions. While Pete and Ademo are libertarians, their focus is not on the politics of any particular individual.
Their focus is to protect others and fight against police abuse. A major epidemic in the United States today. One could argue that these two activists are the fathers of the modern police accountability movement. And they deserve a major amount of appreciation for it.
Pete Eyre (Website)
10. Ron Paul – How many of Jeff Berwick's guests on Anarchast have cited Ron Paul as the reason they converted to anarchy? Chris Kyle may have 160 confirmed kills. But Ron Paul has thousands of confirmed conversions to libertarianism.
His 2008-20012 campaigns started a massive movement. He resonated with the millennial generation as no other politician could ever hope to do.
There is no one more deserving to be on this list than Ron is. Today, most of his projects are libertarian in nature. But his notable homeschool program is far-reaching and worth respect.
Ron Paul (LRD)
11. Will Coley – If anyone deserves to be on the list while still "preaching to the choir" it's Will. Muslims for Liberty has played a critical role in fighting Islamophobia among libertarians. (And among other people.)
Will doesn't just preach to the choir though, he was able to gain official support from the Tea Party. (No easy task!) His outreach has resulted in media attention from both right and left organizations.
Muslims for Liberty isn't just reaching out against Islamophobia either. It's reaching out to Muslims about liberty, and how it coincides with Islam. For his activism, Will won a Liberty Inspiration Award via Liberty Candidates in 2012.
There's a lot that you can learn from every individual listed above. One thing that stands out above all others is that just "speaking out" isn't enough. If you want to take things to the next level, you have to sell your ideas.
No one on the list above just walks up to strangers and says, "Did you know your government is criminal? Be an anarchist!" They're willing to sell people on one issue at a time, to the right people.
When you're talking about an issue, remember to separate your philosophy from your politics. Chances are, whomever you're talking to has. And they're not interested in some big picture scheme you have about a "free society." But you might be able to drill things down to a single topic and have some influence there.
If someone agrees with you on a single point such as power corrupts, that doesn't give you leave to start ranting about anarchy. Take one step at a time and one issue at a time.
Adam Kokesh is a master of leading people from their own thoughts to a more critical analysis without telling them what to think. Andrew Napolitano takes things from a legal perspective and hones in on the right issue. He presents his audience with a different perspective.
Antonio Buehler reaches out to media where not everyone is going to agree with him, but they might be willing to listen. Ian Freeman and Mark Edgington put their information in front of a large, national audience and help others do the same.
John Stossel's subtle but clear approach on issues has a real influence on people. The kind of people other libertarians couldn't hope to influence. Nick Gillespie is a beacon of good journalism and works hard to remain an authority figure in journalism as a whole.
Pete Eyre and Ademo Freeman have turned their Cop Block project into a national movement. One that is about protecting people. They allow the libertarian philosophy to take a passenger seat. Will Coley is helping to solve the issue of bigotry in the libertarian world and other worlds. He is also acting as a conduit to help Muslims join the cause for liberty.
Ron Paul made libertarianism what it is today. He gave libertarians the national image it has now and it is up to us to not only keep it, but improve it.