This brief manual is based on the instruction procedure prepared by Doug Stoxen, Former NJLP Executive Committee Member.

How to Run a Successful ďOperation Politically HomelessĒ Booth

Thank you very much for volunteering to help at an Operation Politically Homeless booth.  We hope this file answers any questions you may have and helps make your experience enjoyable.  The coordinator of your event will be giving you instructions about times and dates, how to get there, admission, parking and so forth.  This memo is about the more general questions -- how to run a booth.

1.   WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?

For men: sports shirts or knit shirts with collars and casual pants are fine. For women: casual skirt or pants and casual tops are fine. T-shirts (except Quiz t-shirts) are a little too casual, unless this is a youth-oriented event or you are under 25.  (Or want to be!) Suits, jackets, and ties are too much for regular booth workers, but they are highly appropriate for candidates. A good rule of thumb is wear something equal to or slightly better than the general population at the event. For outdoor summertime events, donít forget the sunscreen and bug repellent. A good one is OFF! Skintastic, which comes in a tube, repels nasty insects, is SPF 30, and is waterproof.

2.   WHAT DO I DO ONCE I GET THERE?

If you have a morning shift, your event coordinator will tell you whether everything was left on site the day before, or whether you or another volunteer will be bringing the kit with you. Depending on which kit you use, there may be a canopy or other device for putting up a banner, an easel for the chart, etc. In any case, put out a tablecloth, LP brochures (leave the rubber bands on if itís windy), quiz cards, instant membership cards, pens, clipboard with sign-up sheet, blue dots, gold stars, the quiz chart, Harris jars (see #3), and any refinements youíve found that work. (And please share those with the rest of us.) Sometimes volunteers have some literature of their own they want to put on the table. You're welcome to do so (as long as it's libertarian oriented, of course) during your shift. Please put away everything left by previous volunteers, to cut down on the clutter. Make sure the area is tidy, put on one of the Libertarian Party Hats or badges (if included in the kit) and GO FOR IT.

3.   WHAT DO I SAY?

Of course this is just a suggestion, but here's the routine that works for most:

Harris jars are four two-quart jars with "most", "often", "seldom" or "rarely" on each.  A sign stating, "How often does government do a good job?  Vote with our penny!" A saucer full of pennies is placed in front of the jars.  The Harris Jar method is a "hook" and "screen".

If you are using Harris Jars and someone puts money in a "seldom" or "rarely" jar, say "Thank you for participating in our survey, could I ask you 10 more quick questions?"  (By the way, if they ask where the "never" jar is, tell them with a big smile, "It got too full and broke."  It is highly likely that this person is a Libertarian.)  If a person puts a penny in the "most" or "often" jars, give them a copy of the quiz and thank them for participating.

If you are not using Harris Jars, start right in with "Could I ask you 10 quick questions? " (Most people say, okay-- if they hesitate add, "Your opinion -- yes or no and there is no obligation." If they say the were never good at quizzes, say "It's impossible to flunk this quiz. " If they pause, take that as a yes and start asking the questions immediately. Once you start asking the questions, almost everyone will relax and participate. Proceed as follows: "Thanks.  Just tell me whether you agree or disagree with these statements, or if you're undecided/don't know/need more information." [If possible, READ the questions out loud. As others stop to listen, hand them cards on clip boards with pens and keep asking the first person the questions at the same time]. 

After the 10th question say, "Okay, here's why we're doing this.  We're saying that this left-right line doesn't really tell you where a person stands on freedom." [Point to the chart constantly during this part]. "In fact it canít, and here's why. It can work for a strong liberal, here on the left -- they'll tend to support personal freedom, the government staying out of your personal life.  But in the area of economics, things having to do with your money, they want the government to control you. A conservative, here on the right, will say 'no, the government shouldn't control economic behavior', they support the free market; but want to control your personal choices. So where does this place a person who wants government control in both areas [gesture to bottom]If you say "in the middle", where would you put a libertarian, a person who says government has no business controlling your personal moral behavior OR your personal economic behavior? Libertarians say government's job is to stop force and fraud, not to be involved in either of these areas. If you try to fit everyone on this lift-right line, if you say libertarians are in the middle too, you've got two people with completely opposite views [gesture to top and bottom] in the same place. So this right-left line just doesn't do the job."

"Now in your case, on your quiz, you have, let's see, may I ask your initials?  [Write initials on the blue dot. If they seem impatient, do this earlier -- once their initials are written down, most people will stick around to see what you're going to do with them.] Thanks.  So at least based on these 10 questions, in the personal area, you want to make your own decisions about __% of the time, and __% of the time you want the government to decide what you can do.  But in economic things, things having to do with your money, you want to make your own decision __% of the time, and __% of the time you want the government to tell you what you can and can't do."  [Gesture to the appropriate percentage on each side, then place the dot at where they meet.]  [At this point I generally say either "so in your case the right - left line is a fairly good indicator" (when they're near it) or "so in your case the right - left line doesn't represent where you stand" (when they're far above or below it)].

By the way, centrists are either people that haven't developed a consistent political view or are politicians who don't want people to know what they think.  They are not moderates.

4.   WHAT DO I DO WITH THE RESULTS?

At this point, if they're Libertarian, introduce yourself and say, " I'm a Libertarian too, nice to meet you. I like meeting other Libertarians."  Then ask the following:

"Would you like to join the Libertarian Party? [Give them a membership form, clipboard and pen. If they claim they don't have the money or don't want to get involved at that level, give them an instant member card to fill out and explain their is no charge for that level of membership. If they join, ask them to join the event and work the booth. Tell them it's easy and you'll train them right away.]

Since they scored libertarian, ask them, "since you agree with most of our views, would you be willing to help spread your views by making a contribution?"  Do not speak again until they do, no matter what happens!

If they don't want to join, ask them if they would like to leave their name, address and telephone number so they can be notified of future events and get a few free newsletters.

Always ask for the highest level of participation first.

Regardless of their score, peel of a gold star, and without startling them, slowly place it on the upper part of their shirt and say at the same time "This is your reward for participating.  The other people in the crowd with stars also participated.  Ask them how they scored."

[Even the most hardened Authoritarian gets a kick out of this.  They go away from the booth with a smile on their face having learned something about us and the real political spectrum and having been rewarded.  It's an amazingly successful and inexpensive public relations method.]

After giving them the gold star, ask for a small contribution.  Most people will give a dollar or two.  If they ask how much, say a dollar or whatever loose change they have.  Put it in the "rarely" jar.

Encourage them to take some literature, emphasizing that it's free (it's amazing how many people don't realize it's free until you tell them).  If you have special literature, hand it to them, otherwise let them pick.  You waste less that way.  If they really don't want it and will throw it away right after they leave, everyone loses.

Try not to get into debates, especially while asking the questions.  If someone asks "How does minimum wage cause unemployment?" or "Do YOU want to get rid of drug laws?" just say "I'll be happy to discuss that with you afterwards, but I'd like to get YOUR opinion now, without influencing your answer.(If you have someone in the booth that is exceptionally skilled at this and you have enough volunteers and time, refer them to this person.  This person is the "professor".  The professor's job is to handle in depth questions to recruit prospects on the spot.)   Afterwards, answer their questions, but if they want to debate all day and you can't get rid of them politely, just say "excuse me" and go ask the next passerby the 10 questions.  (If you have enough people, one person can be designated the "warrior" whose job is to walk away with the individual downstream of the traffic pattern from the booth and then move them off politely.)  Remember, we're not out to change anybody's mind at this kind of event as a primary goal.  Our goals are

    1)to get everyone familiar with the word "libertarian" in a positive way.

    2)to troll for people who already think libertarian, so we know where to contact them and they know where to contact us.  Remember you can give 20 quizzes, find 8-12 libertarians, and get several addresses and phone numbers, all in the time it takes to argue with one person who isn't going to change their mind anyway. If you must argue, wait till the event is over, have dinner with your fellow volunteers, and have fun arguing with them.

    3)bring in a few dollars to pay for the booth rental and pamphlets.

When the warrior is drawing away the blowhard who is interrupting the booth with constant jabber or wants to argue, this technique works well. People have a natural comfort zone. which varies with family standards and the culture the person was brought up in. Some like to stand closer or farther away to the person they are speaking to. The purpose of the warrior is to draw the person away from the booth. The warrior positions his/her body in the direction the warrior wants to move the person. The warrior then opens the comfort distance. By moving futher away, the person is naturally drawn to close the distance. The warrior repeats this and after a while, the warrior has moved the person well down the way. At this point the warrior simply announces he has to get back, politely says goodbye and returns swiftly to the booth. The person finds themself away and alone and moves on. The situation is defused and the booth is clear for other prospects.

If you're loud and self-confident enough, others will have gathered while you are doing your spiel, and someone else will have finished filling out the quiz. Offer to "count it up" (not score) it for them, repeat the paragraph explaining where their numbers place them, and repeat this with a few other people before you start over with the Liberal - Conservative explanation again.

Remember to give everyone a quiz.  Even if they want to leave before you give your spiel or put up a dot for them, make sure to give them a large and a gold star.

There are many sources for good handouts. International Society for Individual Liberty, Advocates for Self Government, and the national Libertarian Party have excellent one page folders on a variety of topics. When at a special interest event, try to have some literature oriented toward that groupís interest. For instance, If it is a gun ownerís fair, Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership has excellent literature.  There may be local position papers that can be inexpensively photocopied, so contact your state chair.

5.   THIS ALL SOUNDS VERY TIRESOME, ALL THIS DEALING WITH PEOPLE

Then you are probably an introvert (many libertarians are).  If you and your co-worker are both introverts, Marshall Fritz, founder of the foundation that created the quiz, says the only thing to do is take turns being the "designated extrovert."  Force yourself to be extroverted for half an hour, then retreat and relax, straighten out the booth, hand out quizzes, do things that don't require talking, and recharge your batteries while your partner takes a turn at being extroverted.  It works!  (Don't take this to extremes.  If there are 4 of you at a booth, 3 should be designated extrovert at any one time -- not 1!)

Introverts may also find it easier to have everyone do the quiz in writing, instead of verbally.  Conserve your energy for giving the explanation.  Even extroverts will find this necessary in large crowds; you will be spending all your time repeating the explanation and putting up dots for people, and won't have time to read the quiz aloud.

Have a great time finding new libertarians.  Most people are a little nervous the first time they do this.  It's new and it's natural for you to be nervous.  Don't worry.  In a few minutes, you will be in the swing of things and have a lot of fun.