How to Select a Libertarian Presidential Candidate (If You Must)

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every presidential election, libertarians of the political activist
persuasion invariably critique and analyze, offering a variety of
explanations for why so few voters found the Libertarian Party candidate
worthy of their support. One recurring theme, among several, is
that the Party needs to recruit a celebrity candidate, usually of
the macho action hero type. Names that get mentioned include Jesse
Ventura, the erstwhile one term governor of Minnesota, actor Clint
Eastwood, and action movie hero, bodybuilder champion Arnold Schwarzenegger,
now California governor. In the past, I have pooh-poohed such proposals,
characterizing them as a futile and ultimately discouraging quest
for a magic silver bullet. Although still skeptical, I am coming
around to something near agreement. But the analysis on which I
base my conclusions differs substantially from what other libertarians
typically have to say on the subject.

are four kinds of people in the world. Really. Beginning with Hippocrates
in ancient Greece, scientists and philosophers interested in human
nature (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Paracelsus) have made the same observation
right up to the present day. In the late 20th Century, the theory
was thoroughly developed by psychologist David
, who uses the term "temperament," to describe
the phenomenon. One of these four temperaments is best suited for,
and most successful at, political campaigning, particularly in this
age of television. These are Keirsey's "Artisans." Jesse
Ventura, Clint Eastwood and Arnold Schwarzenegger are Artisans,
as are some other notable political figures, e.g., Bill Clinton
and Ronald Reagan.

me summarize briefly the theory of Temperament and describe the
four different temperaments. Then we'll get to the main question:
What kind of person would make the most effective libertarian candidate?


are observable differences in the ways people learn, communicate,
lead, interact, choose careers, solve problems, perform their work,
relate within the family, etc. These differences tend to fall into
recognizable patterns. Think of them as patterns of personality
organization. Although each individual is truly unique, four different
temperament patterns are readily observable.

the Keirsey model the four temperaments are named: Guardians,
Artisans, Rationals and Idealists. Each temperament
has its unique basic needs or motivations, values, special intelligence,
talents and skills, elements of conduct and ways of communicating.
Each of us tends to be most comfortable operating according to one
of the four temperament patterns. It feels natural to us. Consequently,
we each tend to develop the strengths associated with our temperament
and to have the weaknesses and blind spots associated with that

often ask if temperament, our personality, is set by heredity or
by environment. The fundamentals are innate. Our basic needs, values
and preferences are inborn (but don’t seem to be dictated by our
parental genes). It is a matter of inclination or preference in
certain directions. Naturally, how each person develops will be
affected by family, culture, education, opportunity and experience.
We are happiest and most effective when we have the greatest freedom
and encouragement to develop in the directions called for by our
innate needs and preferences.

simple metaphor for understanding Temperament is to think of being
right handed and having three left hands. From infancy you preferred
using your right hand and through practice became quite skilled
at using it. That’s your temperament, with all the strengths, talents
and skills in that pattern. The other three temperament patterns
are like left hands. You can become more skilled with your left
hand if you practice with it. Similarly, you can work to change
your behavior to be more like someone who is of a different temperament;
but, it will be hard work and you will never be as good in that
adopted role as you are in your natural temperament role. Although
you can, with practice, acquire some of the strengths of the other
three temperaments (left hands), you will always be more comfortable,
and successful, using your innate temperament (right hand) strengths.


Guardians need to be responsible, to know their obligations and
do their duty. They also need to be part of organizations and groups,
like the family, church, volunteer groups, corporations and government.
Guardians value order, security, stability and tradition. They truly
are “pillars of the community.”

temperament has a unique type of intelligence. For the Guardians,
it is logistics. Guardians excel at reliably getting the
right stuff to the right place, at the right time, to the right
people, in the right quantity and quality. They handle all relevant
details and complete and file all paperwork. Any office manager,
administrator or bureaucrat is probably a Guardian.

communicating, Guardian language is factual and they rely on comparisons
and measurements to make their point.

reliable, punctual and helpful, Guardians work hard and follow the
rules. They expect others to do the same. Guardians want well organized
lives and that things be planned in advance. They don’t like change
for the sake of change, nor irresponsible risk-taking.

tend to seek work in civil service, teaching and school administration,
accounting, banking, insurance, medicine and business. Some famous
Guardians are former Presidents George Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald
Ford and Richard Nixon. Many corporate executives and managers are
Guardians, as are most government regulators.

are more than 40 per cent of the population. By sheer weight of
numbers, their views tend to dominate the setting of cultural standards,
particularly in a conservative direction. They stick with the tried
and true, seeking stability and security.


need to be free to act (Don't fence me in.) and to make an impact
(Look at me; see what I did.). They value spontaneity, variety,
excitement, virtuosity and beauty. Boredom, routine, or burdensome
rules and regulations frustrate them. Artisans are uncomfortable
in structured environments, such as the public schools and corporate
situations (which Guardians dominate). Unfortunately, many brilliant
Artisans drop out of both.

Artisan's special intelligence is tactical. Tuned in to their
environment, they perceive what’s happening, who is doing what with
whom. They see opportunity, what needs to be done in the here and
now, and move quickly to capitalize. Artisans like to act on impulse
and it usually works for them. If they don’t succeed, they optimistically
pick themselves up and get on to the next adventure.

language is colorful, full of anecdotes and questions.

are the premier tool users. “Tools” can be machinery, heavy equipment,
musical instruments, art supplies, athletic equipment, weapons,
aircraft, surgical instruments, computers, language, or even other
people. The great performer, actors, musicians, comics, the sculptor,
painter, designer, landscape architect, chef, trial lawyer or orthopedic
surgeon is likely an Artisan. In business, he or she is the entrepreneur,
the crisis manager, the top negotiator.

notable politicians, such as Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, JFK and
FDR, were Artisans. In the military, it’s the battlefield genius,
such as George Patton. The writer Ernest Hemingway was an Artisan.
Virtuosos all. Artisans do it with flair, style and audacity. No
wonder they are so popular.

less than 40 per cent of the population are Artisans.


need to be competent and to accumulate knowledge. They value science,
theories, efficiency, ingenuity, logic and expertise. Rationals
are ingenious and innovative, searching for the underlying systems
and structures that explain events. They analyze everything and
operate scientifically, applying principles to the facts to arrive
at objective conclusions.

have a special strategic intelligence. They excel at identifying
the material, manpower and methods needed to achieve ultimate objectives.
They build the model or design the system that will lead to success.
The Rational mind works best with concepts, theories and abstract

language tends to the scholarly and employs conditionals (if-then
statements) and clear definitions in their communications.

prize precise, clear thinking and precise language. They do not
like to repeat themselves. Rationals are independent thinkers, unimpressed
by so-called established authority. Pragmatic and skeptical, they
nonetheless can be persuaded by logic and evidence. Rationals tends
to present a calm exterior, though their feelings run strong and

are drawn to careers or projects that challenge the mind. They typically
enter fields such as the sciences, including computer science, engineering,
mathematics, physics, economics and philosophy. In business, Rationals
are often found at the executive level where strategic thinking
is highly valued. Einstein is the classic example of a Rational.
Other famous Rationals are presidents Jefferson, Lincoln and Eisenhower,
author/philosopher Ayn Rand, and (gasp) Hillary Clinton.

smallest temperament group, Rationals are less than ten percent
of the population. Most libertarians are Rationals. Birds of a feather
do flock together. People of other Temperaments tend to miss the
point of Rational arguments. What is important to Rationals is not
important to them. Do you begin to see why libertarian "outreach"
is so difficult?


have a profound need to find meaning and significance in their lives.
They highly value relationships. They seek empathic relationships
where they can grow while nurturing others. Idealists are compassionate,
imaginative and appreciate the uniqueness of, and potential in,
each individual. They believe people should be authentic, showing
their true selves.

special intelligence of Idealists is diplomatic. They excel
at bringing people together, helping them see the best in each other.
They have unusual powers of insight or intuition and a talent for

language is dramatic, and they tend to employ metaphors and universals
in their communication.

value morality and ethical conduct and will speak out when their
standards are violated. They have a vision of the ideal and believe
that, by expecting the best from everyone, the world can make progress
toward their vision. Idealists find discord and violence stressful.
Accordingly, they work for consensus and avoid confrontation. Idealists
are passionate, romantic and sometimes openly emotional.

are attracted to careers that involve communicating, teaching, counseling,
mediation, psychology, the social sciences, guidance, mentoring,
writing and journalism. In business, they are frequently found in
Human Resources. Some famous Idealists are Mahatma Ghandi, Eleanor
Roosevelt and Martin Luther King. There has never been an Idealist
President, but we came close with John Kerry.

more than 10 percent of the population are Idealists. Despite their
relatively small number, Idealist views tend to be quite influential
because so many journalists, writers and academics, those in the
social sciences, are Idealists.

a minute to reflect on the descriptions above and make your best
educated guess as to your own temperament and the temperament of
other libertarians you know. I have tested this informally at libertarian
gatherings. I don't think you will be surprised to learn that easily
more than half are Rationals. That's still considerably different
than when I first started making such inquiries almost twenty years
ago. Then the Rationals were about ninety per cent of the known
(to me) libertarian population.]


temperament can be further divided into four sub-groups. In communication,
all people, regardless of temperament, are either “directing” (comfortable
telling others what to do) or “informing” (preferring to enroll
others in the process by providing information). People also are
either expressive and prefer initiating contact with others (think
extraversion) or they are more reserved and prefer responding to
contact initiated by others (think introversion). By applying these
refinements to the four temperaments, the result is a total of 16
types. For those with some knowledge of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®,
this will look familiar, but the two models have very substantial


political campaigners Artisans have the advantage. This is especially
so since the advent of television and televised debates. Some of
us are old enough to recall that Kennedy (Artisan) trounced Nixon
(Guardian) in the first televised Presidential debate in 1960. It
wasn't because JFK was the better technical debater. He was simply
more appealing on an emotional level, thus making a better connection
with the television audience. They just naturally liked the guy.

consider what we all enjoy about Artisans. They are the performers,
the ones who make us laugh and ooh and aah. They are spontaneous,
fun-loving, risk-taking and generous. They know how to deal with
people effectively. Bill Clinton, a warm-hearted, extraverted Artisan
excelled at making everyone he met feel important. Artisans are
also the tactical masters. And tactical mastery is the essence of
campaigning. Something new every day, leaping from crisis to crisis,
doing what it takes to get a positive outcome. Carpe Diem.

1960, every time an Artisan ran for President, he won over the opposing
candidate of a different temperament. Check it out. (Winners in









Ford (Guardian)





Bush (Guardian)


Dole (Guardian)

Gore (Rational)
Bush (Artisan)

Kerry (Idealist)
Bush (Artisan)


big problem with Artisan Presidents (or any Artisan in an executive
position) is that they tend not to be strategic thinkers; their
strength is tactics. They are more drawn to crisis management than
to long-range planning. They attack whatever problem arises with
whatever tool appears to be suitable, see how things come out, then
go on to the next problematic situation. It has been said about
Clinton that he conducted himself in office as if it were a continuation
of the election campaign. Yes and No. Clinton simply ran the presidential
office in his typical Artisan way. To others, it looked like he
was still campaigning. I am reminded of the observation: "If
the only tool you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like
a nail." That is the essential blind spot of all four temperaments.
Each of us falls back on our strengths (tactics, if you are an Artisan)
and tend to overlook the need to use the strengths of the other
three temperaments. That's understandable. None of us is practiced,
skilled or comfortable relying on the strengths of temperaments
other than our own.

like the other three temperaments, have a characteristic way of
dealing with stress and setbacks. The Artisan reaction is to retaliate.
This helps us understand Dubya's response to the 9/11 attack. He
was psychologically compelled to fight back, lash out and destroy
the enemy. Of course, he had the support of a majority of the American
people. And behind the scenes, his neocon advisers, who have their
own strategic agenda, eagerly supported his approach. That approach
continues on its original path. No long-term, comprehensive strategy,
but rather, dealing with the emerging crises on a day-to-day basis
and when it ends (who knows?), it will end. Or, as Yogi Berra so
sagely observed: "It ain't over until it's over." The
"war on terror" is, as defined by Bush and his neocon
advisors, a war with no conceivable end. Which fits right into Bush's
Artisan playbook. Whatever those evil terrorists do, we will retaliate
– forever and ever.

are invariably disappointed by Artisan political leaders. The reason
comes primarily from Temperament differences. Most libertarians
are Rationals. Thus, they think strategically, logically, consistently,
with principle. When they hear an Artisan candidate, such as Jesse
Ventura, talking about liberty (Artisans highly value personal freedom
and hate intrusive regulation), libertarians think they are hearing
someone like themselves. But, once in office, the Artisan typically
thinks and acts tactically, solving problems as they arise with
whatever tools are available, such as by raising taxes (Reagan in
California; Ventura in Minnesota), or, as Dubya did, by imposing
steel tariffs. Disappointed libertarians then call the Artisan executive
"unprincipled." The Artisan probably won't have a clue
as to why they are disappointed or what principles they have in
mind. And he won't really care. There is always a new day and new
crises to manage.


the political libertarians among us seek to run an Artisan presidential
candidate? Or Artisans for any other offices? Yes; for a couple
of reasons. As noted, Artisans are the natural performers. They
are comfortable with doing the campaign performance schtick. If
the campaign staff can pump the candidate full of facts (it may
not be easy; Artisans like to act, not study) and keep him on the
principled, libertarian message, so much the better. Such candidates
are more likely to bring new people, especially young people, into
the Party and the movement. Media are more likely to respond positively
to warm, lively, and hopefully well-informed, libertarian Artisan
candidates. With more Artisan candidates, libertarians of other
temperaments (Guardians, Rationals and Idealists) can put their
energies into efforts for which they are better suited.

course, the success of Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger in
getting elected as governors was due largely to their existing celebrity.
That does not diminish what they both brought to their election
campaigns as accomplished Artisan performers. Indeed, their celebrity
depends to some considerable degree on their Artisan strengths.
A caveat: A celebrity candidate would not be a silver bullet for
libertarians. At best, he or she would be a mixed blessing. Both
the Ventura and Schwarzenegger campaigns energized young Artisans
who probably would not otherwise have participated or even voted.
That was particularly the case in Minnesota. The great majority
of them have a great deal to learn about libertarianism. Anyone
who is already a celebrity, and who is willing to be a Libertarian
Party candidate, will want to do so on his own terms. What he or
she might say on the campaign, or do, if elected, would not be easy
to predict, or control.

remember: every libertarian was first the person he or she was born
to be and, according to what we know about Temperament, each will
continue to be that person. So, do not expect the Artisan libertarians
among us (there are already a goodly number of them) to become the
Rational libertarians with whom you would probably be more comfortable.

the libertarian movement will grow in numbers and influence only
if the freedom philosophy is made palatable to persons of all four
temperaments. The challenge, to all of us libertarians who care,
is to learn how to communicate to people who have different psychological
needs and values so that they can see that libertarianism will meet
their needs and support their values better than any other political
approach. It won't be easy; but it can be done.

12, 2004

Bergland [send him mail]
is a retired attorney living in Costa Mesa, California. He was the
1984 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and is author of Libertarianism
In One Lesson
. Mr. Bergland conducts workshops on temperament
and personality types using the Keirsey temperament model, the Myers-Briggs
16 personality types model and the Berens Interaction Styles model.
His web site is:

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