Friday, September 28, 2007

Marshall Fritz - Died November 4, 2008

Marshall Fritz, a computer salesman from Fresno, California, first learned about the Libertarian Party while living in Torrance, California from a bumper sticker. He commented to the driver that the only place the Liberal Party was on the ballot was New York. He then learned that the LP was not the Liberal Party and received literature, including the State Newsletter, CalLiber, the newsletter for Los Angeles County, then edited by Sandy Webb, and a brochure titled, Uninflation, by Murray Rothbard. 

He went on to read Rothbard's, “For a New Liberty,” and was hooked. 1980 found him living with his wife and many children in Fresno, where he began becoming active for the Clark Campaign, making calls to registered Libertarians, an innovation in Fresno, and passing out literature. In 1982 Marshall ran for office and after election night he knew that he wanted to sell Libertarianism for a living. 
Encouraged by such figures as Murray Rothbard, Sharon Ayres, David Bergland and others he decided to apply for the post of Executive Director for the LP of California. His long time friend and mentor in politics, John Hix, the man whose ability to win floor elections were unparalleled, helped him put together a proposal which was accepted in February of 1983. Marshall's tenure in the position lasted until June, 1984. The separation had come about because his position depended on raising the money to fund his position and this had never happened and because his work failed to result in any growth for the Libertarian Party in California and loss of productivity by the existing LPC. 
In the immediate wake of his resignation Fritz received a call from Paul Grant, then National Chairman of the LP, asking him to come to work as a ballot drive consultant. After a consultation with John Hix, Marshall accepted, service to start when his first month's salary was in the bank. Over the next three months Marshall learned the business of signature collection on the ground, from Georgia, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, and Missouri. 
After a brief consideration of the position of National Director, Marshall founded The Advocates for Self Government in January of 1985. Its mission was to take the educational functions of the LP and focus on these, thus supporting the LP. Unfortunately, as was the case in the earlier incarnations of Marshall's activism, the wishful motive of making a living selling Libertarianism, became the goal. Others, including Students for Individual Liberty were already selling educational materials and programs. 

Eventually, Advocates would recycle the Nolan Chart idea, originated by founder David Nolan, into the World's Smallest Political Quiz, which made the transition onto the internet and is now used in many forms. Previously, the best known use of the Nolan Chart had been, perhaps, when it was rendered into an electronically switched machine for use in Los Angeles County. That small, trusty, device, built by activist Ed Ogawa, was used at the LA County Fair from the late 70s until the late 80s. Fritz's use of the Nolan Chart concept sent it into the Computer age. 
The lack of strategic planning, connecting the ultimate goal to the means through well thought out, rational steps, again took the LP and its Movement in directions that failed to advance the cause. Political action is undertaken by a group to accomplish specific ends and these were not taken into account by those who were then running the Libertarian Party.

It had been their overlooked duty of the LP to oversee the management of the Libertarian Party of California and should have foreseen the consequences of hiring someone whose salary needs outstripped the resources of their organization. 

This, they failed to do.  

Marshall went off on his own, continuing to try new approaches, again without thinking these through adequately.  

The two organizations which he founded are: 

The Advocates for Self-Government
The Alliance for the Separation of School and State

Marshall died peacefully at home Tuesday, November 4, 2008, after a months-long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 65.

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