March 1, 2022

452: Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania Chair Candidate Rob Cowburn

452: Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania Chair Candidate Rob Cowburn

Meet Rob Cowburn, candidate for LPPA Chair who wants to focus on bringing principles back to libertarian messaging.


Last week, we heard from Kristine Cousler-Womack, who joined the program to focus on her message of libertarian unity in seeking to be elected Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania Chair.

 

Today, Rob Cowburn joins the program, who is also seeking the role of LPPA Chair, but takes a few different (but meaningful!) approaches regarding how the role of Chair should be executed, which he argues people should consider for making their decision (like bringing libertarian principles back into libertarian messaging).  

 

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Transcript

Brian Nichols  
faced with an uncertain future many business owners and technology professionals don't have time needed to invest in their business technology strategies and as a result are afraid of their technology getting outdated and putting their company and customers information at risk. The digital future is already here. But with all different choices in the marketplace, it's difficult to know which one will be the best fit for you and your strategic vision. Imagine having the peace of mind that your business is backed by the right technology investments that are tailored for your specific needs. Hi, I'm Brian Nichols and I've helped countless business owners and technology professionals just like you helping you make informed decisions about what technologies are best to invest in for your business. Voice bandwidth, cybersecurity, business continuity, juggling all the aspects of business technology is messy. Let me help at the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash help and sign up for a free one on one consultation with yours truly to dig deep into where you see your company headed and how we can align your business technology towards those goals. Again, that's Brian Nichols show.com forward slash help to get your simplified business technology started today. Instead of focusing on winning arguments, we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics, teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Well, happy Tuesday there, folks, Brian Nichols here on The Brian Nichols Show. And thank you for joining us on a course that a fun filled episode. I am as always your humble host. And thank you for joining us. Yeah, we're keeping things in the vein of doing LP politics today. We're swinging back over to my former state, the state of Pennsylvania. We're talking to Robert Coburn, he is running for LP of PA chair. Rob, welcome to the program.

Rob Cowburn  
Thanks for having me, Brian. Appreciate you.

Brian Nichols  
Absolutely. Thank you for joining the program. And yes, we had Christine Womack on the program there last weekend. Obviously this week, we're having you on the show because coming up here this weekend, we have both the Pennsylvania and Indiana Libertarian party conventions I'll be over in Indiana and I would have been up in Pennsylvania had I not just moved out a month and a half or so ago. But you know you're up there you're fighting the good fight Robin, we appreciate your your running for that I say to everybody who's out there actually putting their hard work their blood, their sweat, their tears and their time, energy and effort that really does take to go into these parties. Thank you for actually putting forth your your time, energy and effort into making the LP, hopefully a vision for success. And that's where we want to focus on today. You are running for the LP of PA Cheran LP a PA is actually done pretty darn good over the past few years. And I know one thing Christine was talking about was focusing on growing on that success. And I'm curious to hear what your thoughts are and where you want to see the LPA grow as well. But before we get there, how about this rod? Let's introduce you to The Brian Nichols Show audience and maybe discuss why it is you want to run for Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania chair.

Rob Cowburn  
Very good. Well, I'm Rob Coburn, I'm an attorney in Pittsburgh, also getting my master's in economics. But here in Pennsylvania, you're right, we've had tons of good success. I think we had 176 libertarians elected this last election season. And I think the next best state was 16 or something like that. So we're all kind of all those around us right now. We've got a lot of good people, everybody's working together real great. It's just time to take the next step in this growing process, and see where we can take it next year. You know, what I think that I bring to the chair is it. It's an experience in the law, I've learned a lot about the rules of procedure. And I think that that is what we're not quite understanding yet in Pennsylvania, we have notoriously long meetings here. Our last meeting was eight hours, or the meeting before that was seven hours. So I think everybody's in a mood to get these these things down and get things a bit more efficient so we can get back to work and not be keeping people for an entire day's worth of work, you know, at these board meetings. So what I think that I can bring is my understanding of the rules of procedure from law and apply those over to what we're doing here in Pennsylvania. You know, I think the chair is a very misunderstood role. Really, if you're doing it right, none of the intention to really be on the chair. It should be in our committees with the people to do the work there should be our local affiliates and our candidates and our issue coalition's, but not really with our chairs, it's more of a hall monitor role. So what I think I can bring is a is a nameless, faceless, structured organization to the LPP I hear

Brian Nichols  
a nameless, faceless structure and that honestly for I think a lot of the audience is incredibly refreshing because too often than not, we see this where people will kind of go for running for office because they want that you know, that sexy blue checkmark on Twitter. And there there seems to be a fixation and I'm going to, I'm going to pick on some libertarians from yesteryear, but there's a fixation on Well, I was the LP of names State Secretary. And that means something, it really doesn't. And to your point, right, that's kind of a good thing. We shouldn't be focusing so much on the the the social club mentality and actually be focusing on the party for what it is. And that's it's a tool to help elect in this case of libertarian candidates to Office. So let's start there, because let's talk about the fact that the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania has had some great success and actually electing libertarian candidates, which I dare say is the goal. So let's focus on those successes. Rob, where is the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania? In this case, gone? Right?

Rob Cowburn  
Sure. Well, we are very fortunate here in Pennsylvania to have Dr. Chuck Moulton as part of our state party. People may know Dr. Moulton from his work at the National come the LNC. But we have him here in Pennsylvania, and he is an unbelievable asset. And he came up with a strategy that we've coined the name the moat maneuver here in Pennsylvania. And what this does, is it looks for uncontested races, people races were in the local districts local elections where no one is on the ballot for these positions. And since we have ballot access here, in PA, we got minor party status and better valid access, we're able to put someone on the ballot in these positions where no one no Republican or Democrat or Independent is running for. And what we've found is that if there's just a name in that box, what ends up happening is the voters that will just check with whoever's there. So through this, through this approach, we've been able to get on, you know, let this last year 176. Libertarians elected here in Pennsylvania, wow. Now, so it's an unbelievable strategy, and it's paying off. Now, these are some of the lower positions, there's a reason that they're they're not no one's running on the ballot, we have a lot of auditors, a lot of constables, some inspectors and judge of elections. But but the fact that these aren't the most high profile positions isn't really the point to this year, you know, when you hear that Pennsylvania has 176, elected libertarians, and the next best was, like I said, 16 or something like that, you know, they wouldn't Pennsylvania doing, but then it gives us the opportunity to put that out in our newsletters, we get some local news coverage. And then you know, we're starting to get this attitude of viability here in Pennsylvania, that the libertarian might be a real choice. But the other thing that this thing that this does, and I think this is where we were Christine, and I agree and where everybody hopes us goes is that now we have 176 people who have credentials on their resume of being elected here in Pennsylvania. Now, next time we have an election, we can get them into a maybe a higher position, they can say I've been elected here in Pennsylvania, before I've served. I've served the community. You guys know me. You know, I was on the ballot last time. Let's get you in a contested race. Let's get you for councilman. Let's get you for mayor, let's get you for sheriff. And then you know, we can build upon this, this success with the head at these lower positions, building this, this idea of viability in people's minds here in Pennsylvania, because they know, we got libertarians on, you know, serving in office. And now we can take that next step into into some of these contested elections. You know, we did have I think 15 contested election victories here in Pennsylvania at some higher position. So we're already having some success here. And now we got to turn this up with this, this maneuver strategy and turn that into some some real, contested elections, where we're getting the media coverage, and then maybe even winning, I can just set some public policy.

Brian Nichols  
Yeah, well, we saw the Moulton maneuver, get some love over on Christine's show as well. So definitely it's it's a successful approach to winning those uncontested elections by love that right there, you know, let's let's stand up and fight as well. And we do you see right now there is a big fervor it not just in a local politics, but in the national discourse of things gonna change, things have not been going well. And now people are looking for alternatives. Right. And that is when we have an opportunity to really stand up as a not just a different solution, but then to show people that our solutions, they're not just different. They're better. So I I start that off by leading to the next question, because inevitably leads to Well, I have some opinions. I have some thoughts and the audience has definitely heard it in terms of where we as a party have gone wrong over the past few years. And I think that we could have reached a lot more people effectively. Had we gone out and approached a target market that was actually open to our message. But I want to hear your approach. Rob, where do you think the the Libertarian party went wrong over the past few years and let's maybe do a more laser focused towards pa if you could in some areas as well. And then let's maybe look at some positivity. Would you be able to help guide towards a more positive direction in the future?

Rob Cowburn  
Excellent. That's a great question. That sure is the question that's on everybody's mind. Sure. I think, I think, ever since the lockdowns and then that leading into the last campaign for Joe Jorgensen, there was an overwhelming, you know, much left to be wanted in the messaging coming from the party, both at the national level, and I think across the state levels as well. Now, this is this is something that I think that has become a part of the the methodology and the strategy that the Libertarian Party has taken for the last, you know, 1012 or so years. And that, you know, what, what the approach has been is that we meet people where they're at in, you know, in their areas, what their, what their personal interests are from the either, you know, we're from one of the bigger parties, or if you're an independent, we find out what your what your interest is, and then we, you know, we meet you there and let you know how the Libertarian Party is actually probably a little better and stronger on that issue, then that's great. That's, that's step one of what this, this whole thing is about, but what what the party failed to do was inform these people of the rest of the message that there's a whole, you know, second side of that, if you're pulling people in from the left, we forgot to tell them about the economic freedom part, if you're pulling in from the right, which I forgot to tell him about the social freedom part. And what this ended up happening was causing a crisis of identity within the party, so that when these two groups come together in the middle and meet, they're saying, wait a second, what you're saying isn't what I was told this Libertarian Party is this, you know, you're not a little real libertarian, they told me that this is what this is now. Now, we have some faction growing now we have ideological, you know, differences. And that's that kind of increased the, the the identity crisis that kind of seemed to form here, well, while this approach was very well thought out, and you can see how it may or may have some some merit, in practice, what ended up happening was, was really dividing the party, and making this this identity crisis. So what I think that we need to do here in Pennsylvania, but but across, you know, LMC, and, and everywhere, is be unapologetic and unafraid to, to disclose what this is that we are, you know, we have this most beautiful political philosophy in all of human history, and we stick half of it in our back pocket, because we're too afraid that someone might get a little offended if we tell them something that isn't their issue. And this, this fear of, you know, even turning one person away has caused us to not make any do not to take any stance not to take any position not to do any messaging, because we don't want to offend not even one person. You know, I don't think and I think there's a lot of people who agree that this is the way that you change people's hearts and minds and turn them to something different, you know, I think people want something radically and drastically different. If we're just offering you, you know, Republican light or democrat light under some different banners, not really going to encourage you are motivated to take action, to really see the change that that is going to in the end the amount of energy it's going to take to bring this party up to, to a viable, you know, competitor in this political world. So I think that that's where a lot of this came from. And what we can do is just be forthcoming with people. But what we are, that there's a you know, I think there's a couple of things that we can say that this is what libertarianism is, there's a lot of things where we disagree on but there's, there's some things that are for sure. And and if we just stand on those and be unafraid to let people know what we are, and we and we create some actual identity that people say, hey, that's what this is. This is what I'm getting involved with that I think that we can stop a lot of this animosity that of this identity crisis, and really get some good good messaging out and get people turned on to this thing.

Brian Nichols  
And let's go towards the messaging side of things, because that's where we focus a lot here on the show, obviously, we take things through a sales and marketing approach. And and with that includes messaging, because messaging does in fact, matter. And now it doesn't matter. It's pretty darn important. So let's focus on that. Because I know that was brought up quite a few times there and your response, where would you particularly focus on addressing some messaging? And what would that look like in terms of not just being different, but in terms of reaching a new or different target market?

Rob Cowburn  
Right. So I believe that equal with getting candidates elected into office, the Libertarian Party has should have a role in activist and educational activity. You know, as far as education goes, I think we as a party, because we don't have big national or statewide candidates, you know, on the news every night proclaiming our message that we as a party have to take it upon themselves, to figure out avenues to reach people and to communicate our message of what what this what this is all about. So ways we can go that that ways we can go about doing that are obviously that, you know, social media has become one of the biggest tools out there. There's a question of how long they would tolerate us on the different platforms and things like that, but But I think that, you know, strong, short positions from the official party, you know, identities on these social media sites can have a lot of good. You know, if we have some good constructive criticism, and some good, you know, concrete positions that are not, you know, kind of just pandering to one side or the other, I think that that is somewhere where we can really have a good start. Now, that now, this does not mean. And this is something that people really get held up on about this whole message and think this doesn't mean that we want to brace a message. And this doesn't mean that we want to be offending people just for the purpose of it. But we want to offer something radically different and let people know that, hey, we're not the same thing as what you've heard before. We are not this, this major party or that major party, we have something very different. And this is why you should look at us. So So you know, unapologetic, uncompromising libertarian philosophical messaging is what we need to have. And I think, you know, that should take place in each each different state and each different local affiliate should should take that upon themselves about how they want to do that, you know, we, we believe in a free market here, we should let the market of ideas thrive and see what works and maybe things work in one place and want this to work in another. But we need to open up the ability for these, these, these messaging campaigns within the party structure to begin to take place so that people can, you know, in their areas say, Hey, this is what this is, what the Libertarian Party in my in my area standing for, and this is what they're doing. And maybe maybe I can go check this out and get involved with that. Now the that's as far as the educational aspect goes now, as far as activist role that I think the party should be taking this. This is something that I think we've been heavily lacking on and this is something that I stress heavily here in Pennsylvania is forming issue coalition's, particularly with groups who may not, you may be even considered to be, you know, at odds with in the past but forming issue coalition's with groups in your local areas, on areas of common ground, where we can work together to maybe, you know, introduce some real policy or, you know, charitable actions going on. Here in Pennsylvania, we have a couple of real good ones we've got defend the guard, as if you don't know about defend the guard, this is one of the greatest things. One of the greatest issues, initiatives that we've got going on this this act, this group helps you introduce state legislation that prevents you from deploying your your National Guard, your State National Guard, unless there's a declaration of war by Congress. Now, we haven't declared war since World War Two. And and the National Guard is the most deployed branch of any, any military bridge. So you can see here, how we can have a real impact in this anti war thing, if we can get some state legislation that prohibits us from from deploying our our troops without a declaration of war. Now, there's a whole some other ones we got going here in Pennsylvania, like, Don't tread on Philly, they have met vaccine mandates and to go out to just participate in regular society there. And we have really made some good changes. They're getting a lot of local news coverage and these type of issue coalition's can let people know what our messaging is, and hopefully, you know, affect some real change.

Brian Nichols  
Interesting stuff there, Rob. And now I have to do a little bit of like a challenging here, because I do hear one possible issue, just one hurdle you might have to overcome. And I want to hear what your thoughts are here. So when you have issue coalition's What if they're not on board with the entire philosophy, what if they're like, Hey, I'm on board with like, 70 to 80%, of what you agree on, or rather, what the principles are, however, there's 20%, I just can't get on board with, but they agree with us on some of the most important issues, I guess, how do we know we're speaking to not just the right person? But enough of those right people? And I'll give you the context of this question. I think we've spent a lot of time in the past, focusing more on the principles versus bringing the principles to the people based on not just the issues they care about but helping actually solve the problems for like showing them how it will help solve those problems making it real we call this in sales, solving the reality gap. And I guess, is there maybe that challenge or that hurdle you have to overcome in doing that? Did you hear my my kind of

Rob Cowburn  
concern, if that makes sense? Yeah, that's a great point. But and to be to my answer is actually that it's quite the opposite actually. The it presents an opportunity for even more progress and messaging to get out. There's a there's a common thing that we practice here in Pennsylvania I'm I'm a member of the of the Pennsylvania Mises caucus. I'm a State organizer and we we act on one of the our planks of performance is that we use these issue coalition's to do to introduce use local legislation at the local level, to have real impacts. You know, where you're at, we don't think that you're going to you know, legislate freedom down on high. But if we can get in all of our communities and start reaching these people and show them that we can have real change here at the local level, you know, I think that's, that's really something good. And what we've been able to do here is with with just a couple of people, let you know libertarians and maybe if you're working with another interest group who has an area one area of common ground, we can work on this one thing together cooperatively with a couple of different people. If you just attend a couple of town hall meetings and introduce some some legislation and get to know the right people. You can really have a big impact. Here in Pennsylvania is a town outside of Philadelphia called Norristown. And one of our guys, he was able to just on his own, he attended a town hall meeting and at this meeting, he met the chief of police of his of his town, North town. And he just started talking to him and said, Hey, what do you think about decriminalization of marijuana because it was still not decriminalized there at the time. She finally said, You know what, I think this is a great idea. We're wasting a bunch of time and resources, you bring something back to the next meeting. And we'll introduce it together. So he went home, found some sample legislation basically did a cut and paste for put in Norristown and where the, that town's name had been brought to the next meeting. And he introduced it with the chief of police and it ended up passing unanimously. So if we take this mentality and bring it to bring it to the issues that are hot, where you're at, then, you know, through these issue coalition's and working with other interest groups, even if they don't with us completely. Now. Now, what does this do? We're introducing policy, we're getting maybe real change at the local level. And we're building goodwill with these other groups who maybe don't agree with this completely. But now at the very least, they're maybe willing to listen to us, you know, we've built up some goodwill, and then we can have trust, or at least we can work on this one issue. And then then maybe they'll hear about the rest of what we have going on. But even if not, we should be working with anybody who doesn't matter what you are who what what you call yourself, what groups you're associated with what your positions are, if we're aligned on an area of common ground, it does both of us in disservice to not work together and try and get these things accomplished. What does it matter if we don't agree on this one down the road? Let's work on this one together and get this accomplished? So I think that, that I think that should hold that covers hear your question. No, I

Brian Nichols  
absolutely does. And I guess let's go towards what the last five minutes or so I've asked this question. I think of both LP arms are both a chair candidates being Tony arounds, EO and Angela McArdle, I asked Christine, and I'm going to ask you actually asked two US Senate candidates out here who are both vying for the seat here in Indiana, James CDIAC. And William Henry as well. So this question, it's, it's gotten, it's gotten its word use here in the libertarian world. So who do you think is our target market? And I asked that question, because we've kind of disciplined firing everywhere, right? We will, you'll go towards second amendment every now and then, you know, Pro to a, you'll go towards, like you mentioned that defend the guard, we'll talk about, you know, the naming of foreign policy issue, and we're just kind of are floating in the wind, there doesn't seem to really be a set group of people that we're looking at and saying, we're gonna focus on this block of people. And not just we're gonna focus on this block of people, but specifically because they're in the market that we should be reaching out to, because they're already open to buying what it is that we are selling in this case, which is liberty. So who do you think that the top let's give three target market groups that we should be focusing on as a greater Libertarian Party? And if you want, you can make it more hyper specific for PA, you can go that route, if you want as well?

Rob Cowburn  
Sure. Well, you may not like this entry at first, but let me explain what I mean. Everyone, every single person is our target market. And let me let me explain how we can actually go about it but delineating and, and identifying in our in our specific markets who this is. Are you familiar with Scott Horton is from the libertarian Institute? Yep. So if you know, Scott Horton, he has he has this approach that says, you know, he attacked the left from the left, he attacked the right from the right now, if you combine this attitude, with with the idea of local nullification and local, you know, decentralizing getting in at the local level, using our county affiliates reach out to the people in our community. What we can do here is identify what the interest or the the major, you know, group is in your area if you're in a blue area. Now, let's go after some blue issues, you know, that this was like the example that I was giving, you know, that decriminalization, Norristown there was a it was a heavily Democratic city council, and on their on their platform for their party was decriminalization of marijuana and drugs. But they had done nothing to achieve that. So what we did was when when this person introduced the sample legislation, they brought with them a copy of the Democratic Party platform. We're done. criminalization was right on it, and kind of sticking to their guns. So if we go into our local communities, and we figure out what the trend is in that area, we can be pulling people from the right, the left the center, anything, find out what the hot button is, because we're, I mean, if I can't think of an issue that we're not better on, then then either the major parties or anyone else, so figure out what it is in your area, that is that is supposed to be getting done by those who are, you know, in the positions to do something about it, and stick them to it. You know, this is how we attack the left from the left, we can be better than them on the left, we can take the right from the right, we get better, I'm done. Right. So find out what your what, who, who's, who's sitting in the seats of power there, and then stick them to the things that they said that they were supposed to be about, because we're better on

Brian Nichols  
Rob Coburn, he's running for Libertarian Party chair of Pennsylvania. And folks, if you want to learn more, Well, Rob, how about this as we're wrapping things up? Let's give people a call to action. Where can they find you? And also some parting thoughts of wisdom to leave the audience with as they're going towards the Convention, which is just a few short days away?

Rob Cowburn  
Yeah. Well, you can find me on Facebook at Rob Coburn for LPP a chair. You can find me I have a number of bands that are part of my band surname is Rob grizzly. You find me through there, GRI Soi. And then parting wisdom. Let's all have a little bit of patience and love for each other. Remember that we're all in this to fight for the liberty movement and get back to work and get to it.

Brian Nichols  
Let's get to it. Amen. can't agree more. And yeah, this is one thing that I think you and Christine would absolutely agree on. And that is we need to have some type of unity. So not tongue in cheek unity, some actual unity, because right now, things are kind of getting real as we're looking out there across the horizon, in all aspects. So we need to be focusing on the things that really matter. And I think that right now is focusing on electing some true liberty lovers specifically with that big L next to their name. So folks, if you want to get involved, whether it's in a state of Indiana or Pennsylvania, whatever it may be, please do me a favor, go to the show notes, click the artwork, it'll bring you right to today's episode, where you can find not just all the other 450 Plus episodes, including Christine's episode, and there are Libertarian Party chair episodes are candy episodes for the conventions here the the next few days. But also you can find all of Rob's information, his social media, and all the links he mentioned here. Oh, and by the way, we'll have the transcript of today's entire conversation right there for you as well. So with that being said, Folks, thank you for joining us on a special Tuesday episode of The Brian Nichols Show. That being said, it's Brian Nichols signing off for Rob Coburn. We'll see you tomorrow. Thanks, guys.

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Brian Nichols  
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Rob Cowburn Profile Photo

Rob Cowburn

Attorney

Lawyer, student of economics, and defender of liberty.