March 5, 2019

Perry Willis resigns from Downsize DC

Today’s Dispatch was supposed to be about hope. Those messages are still coming. But today we have breaking news…

Perry Willis has resigned from his roles as the Vice President of, Inc. and of the Zero Aggression Project (at our sister organization, Downsize DC Foundation). His reason…

He has come to believe that libertarian psychology makes libertarian success unlikely.

Specifically, he thinks that…

  • Libertarians suffer from many of the same psychological impediments as statists
  • These defects enslave libertarians to the media and to statist politicians to an extent that libertarians don’t realize and are unlikely to admit, let alone address

In this message, I will…

  • Acknowledge Perry’s record of libertarian accomplishment.
  • More fully explain his reasons for leaving — they are blunt and challenging.
  • Request your help with the next step, which includes good news.

Perry Willis’s Record

Perry managed two Libertarian Party presidential campaigns, worked on three more, and was twice the National Director of the Libertarian National Committee.

His copywriting was signed by luminaries such as Karl Hess, Milton Friedman, Ron Paul, Ed Clark, David Bergland, Charlton Heston, and many others. Harry Browne believed that Perry was both the most brilliant libertarian strategist and the best copywriter he ever met.

He created the American Liberty Foundation, a predecessor to Downsize DC.

He was one of the four co-founders of Downsize DC (with Steve Dasbach, the late Harry Browne, and me) and co-creator of the Zero Aggression Project.

Perry and I worked together from late ’99 to early ’02, first on the Browne campaign, where he was the campaign manager, and then for the American Liberty Foundation.

He returned again in early ’03 for

He rejoined me in May 2004, shortly before we launched’s Electronic Lobbyist System.

Add it all up and we worked together for about 17 years!

Personally, I think Perry hasn’t received the credit he deserves. He created Project Archimedes which led to record membership and fundraising levels for the Libertarian Party. That was lost when he moved to his next role, and it has not been matched since.

His innovations are too numerous to count, but a partial list includes…

  • The Dixville Notch victory and resulting national media bonanza
  • Operation Drumbeat, a successful strategy to get radio talk show hosts to talk about Harry Browne even when he wasn’t a guest on their shows
  • The strategic insight “discovery before persuasion” that was part of the key to Project Archimedes
  • The idea of consumer-controlled governance (“you have more power as a consumer than you do as a citizen”)
  • And the subtle but potentially powerful insight that libertarians can and should be pro-government but anti-State.

Plus, there’s his history of American military interventions. This concise series is so powerful, we’ve re-issued it three times.

The Breaking Point

Of course, our financial situation played a role in Perry’s decision to resign. But he views that as merely a symptom of a larger disease. And I think you too should be bothered by Perry’s deeper concerns. 

Perry believes EVERYONE is manipulated by negative news created by a partisan agenda setting machine. This includes libertarians. Here’s what we’ve noticed in our work…

  • If we publish a viable positive strategy for long-term success, open rates decline and few take action
  • But a negative subject line that mentions some media-driven hysteria of the moment or the name of some political villain, gets far more response

In other words…

If the subject line was, “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sucks baby blood,” our message opening rates would soar and more people would take action on this so-called issue. By comparison…

If we use a subject line such as “How to create a libertarian future in just five minutes a day,” crickets chirp.

These lines by W.B Yeats constantly ring in our heads…

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Perry also observes that libertarians are often busy doing lots of things that are complicated and difficult while neglecting much easier things that would be much more effective.

We started describing those easy, more effective things as the year began. You were hearing a change, once again, in our strategic rhetoric. And this is what you should’ve heard…

  • There are already enough libertarians (30-60 million of them) to equalize with the Left and Right.
  • Less than a million of those would change public policy at the Congressional level.
  • A mere eight million activated libertarians would be enough to control the primaries of one of the major political parties or get a third party candidate on the debate stage.

We devised a plan to make those actions more obvious and easier to achieve than ever before. We started sharing that plan and got little reaction. We were concerned, for the reasons described above. Even libertarians respond to negative drama, not positive hope.

Then, we ran out of money.

Perry needs to pay his bills. He’s skeptical that we can get libertarians to do simple, effective things. Is he right?

My next Dispatch will begin telling you why I’m still here — and still quite hopeful. We already have good news to announce, starting today.

First, we’ve raised $6,605. That reduces our need from $8,000 down to just $1,395. And we’ve made real strides on attracting new pledgers. Every bit counts. Pledgers help us plan ahead and avoid this kind of trouble in the months to come.


Plus $500 more is being offered to us! In order to collect on Brad G’s “challenge pledge,” we need a donor who will either…

Give a one-time contribution of $500.
Start a new pledge of $50/month or increase their pledge by that much.

We are so close. Experience tells me that…

I can guarantee we’ll make the goal if someone steps up to match this pledge! So, please…

Make the Match

Thank you for being a SUPPORTIVE DC Downsizer,

Jim Babka, President, Inc.

P.S. Many will ask, what is Perry going to do next? He has several books in the works, along with special information products that will have a clever twist.

If your comment is off-topic for this post, please email us at



  1. Penni Bulten
    Posted March 6, 2019 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    He will be sorely missed, especially at the Zero Aggression Project. His series on Military Interventionism changed the way my husband and I vote, along with seeing Ron Paul’s campaigns for president. All the best to him in whatever he pursues, but I hope you or he will keep us updated on his new pursuits.

  2. tom luther
    Posted March 10, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I offer a simple thanks to the marketing magician who has been monetizing me for many years. I have no regrets and many thanks.

    With regard to the failings of libertarian psychology….PAH!

    These are human failings, not libertarian ones. You do your legacy and Downsize DC a disservice with this rank nonsense.

    I understand mental fatigue, 14 years of tilting at political windmills and intransigent nationstate tribes.

    You knew the odds, you knew the enemy, and you bore the consequences.

    Take a rest from the political battlefield, one that you richly deserve. Know that you redefined and illuminated an alternative, libertarian perspective on political power.

    If I could be so arrogant as to offer some forward guidance:

    Look to evolutionary psychology to better understand the tribal beasts you would seek to influence.

    Look to behavioral investing writing for insights into backfire effects and mental errors of the tribe you seek to influence.

    Look to the complicated reflexivity of George Soros.

    When reason does not sell, the Jester will joyfully mock the empire and its ruling elites.

    Perhaps I can offer some positive signs in these dark times.

    Competition between nationstate elites is pulling down tax rates to the 20% range and is trending lower. Taxpayers worldwide are in a positive trend, one not yet fully acknowledged. Translation: the benefits of empire are falling, especially for the elites.

    Demands for wealth and power via cartels, monopoly rights, regulations, pensions, healthcare, currency destruction, unions, central banking, war, occupational licensing, trade restrictions, educational licensing are rising. Tax eaters are in a negative trend, one they fully acknowledge and decry on mainstream propaganda. Translation: the costs of empire are rising, especially for the elites.

    You have succeeded in pulling back the curtain on the elites and the empire. Do not let go of the curtain now. Do nothing to detract from your legacy.

    Pass this torch and find a new one!

    My thanks again for your positive influence. Archimedes and the war series put flesh on the bones for me.

    Tom Luther

  3. Posted February 14, 2020 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I am so very sorry to hear this. I have been absent from the movement for many years following the devastating loss of my partner Ron Crickenberger, former Political Director who worked with Perry at the LP. I never stopped being a Libertarian, but recently have begun paying attention to the movement again, and once again find myself heart-broken at the level of infighting and dysfunction that exists within it. Libertarian forums, for example, are every bit as viciously backbiting as any other. I know how very weary you must feel, Mr. Willis. Few of us can stay as positive as Ron always somehow was. Know that you are admired *tremendously* for fighting the good fight for so long. If you regain your energy – maybe there’s an opening at Blexit! Yours in Liberty – Noelle Stettner

    • Jim Babka
      Posted February 19, 2020 at 9:04 am | Permalink

      Noelle, I too remember you and, of course, Ron. You might be pleased to learn that Perry has done some ghostwriting for us, going back to the second half of last year. He’s now also involved in the plans for our new Agenda Setters project. And I will be sure he sees your comment. – Jim Babka

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