I have no argument with most of your thoughts here. However I think you're overlooking some important points regarding high-profile races, particularly presidential campaigns:
• They are, for many people, the main yardstick by which they measure political parties. When I mention I'm a Libertarian, some of the most frequent immediate responses that come up include, "Oh yeah, I remember seeing/reading about [fill in name of presidential candidate]" or "Who was your candidate in [fill in year of most recent presidential election]?" followed by "How many votes did he get?"
• They bring many new people into the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement. Ask a group of Libertarians how they got involved, and usually one or more will say something like "I saw Harry Browne on C-SPAN."
• Regardless of what the LP does nationally, someone -- usually multiple someones -- will run for president as Libertarian(s). It's better if the process is somewhat organized so that we can try to select the best candidate and get behind him or her.
• They can be effectively used to bring more attention to candidates in down-ticket races. Although I do not generally share the view that we should seek to copy more of what Democrats and Republicans do, those who are into this approach may wish to note that the establishment parties' top candidates routinely campaign and appear on behalf of their lower-level candidates.
• They inspire and motivate Libertarians to action who might not give money or get involved with less sexy local campaigns or community participation. Yes, those smaller-scale efforts have better chances of victory and may often be a better investment of time/energy/money, but to expect people to focus entirely rationally on results and ignore human nature is unrealistic.
Love & liberty,
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