Why I’m Leaving the Movement

Ha! Got you with one last click-baity headline. Freal tho, I’m leaving full-time liberty-movement work to do sales at a software directory company.

Before I go into the why and such, I just want to first say a massive THANK YOU.

I want to thank first the Charles Koch Institute, then Reason, and last Students For Liberty. Y’all are why I got to come do liberty full-time in the nation’s capital. You helped me escape from Alabama, and live in the big city, and sell the product I’m most passionate about for going on three years and I’m so, so grateful.

Next I want to thank the individual people who reached out to me with comfort, opportunities, encouragement, debate and kindness. I want to thank everyone who ever read me, and especially the people who did so on a regular basis. I want to thank everyone who went out of their way to be in my corner every time internet libertarianism had a meltdown over some minor diversion from libertarian orthodoxy. I want to thank the people who shared my work. I want to thank the people who gave me a shot. And I especially want to thank the kick-ass girls who have told me that I’m part of why they’re involved in libertarianism. Y’all have made it all worthwhile. Yes, libertarians can be the worst, but on the whole, this movement has treated me very, very well. Far better than my level of talent and charisma deserves.

I mean, in the past year I got to go on national TV twice, get quoted in the New York Times Magazine, make David Frum cry, create another web show, get published in The Week, the Daily Beast, the Huffington Post, VICE Motherboard and other places. I set up my second weekly column, after Thoughts on Liberty, at Townhall.com. I spoke at tons of conferences, and appeared on tons of podcasts and radio shows. I got in a million online arguments about some really interesting topics. I have fans! How fucking insane is that? (very)

So, why leave all that?

I’ve been selling free-market ideas because their adoption makes creating the conditions necessary to innovation easier. And innovation begets prosperity. It’s easier to sell respect for private property, etc. when people understand how it’s helpful. If more people understand why fewer regulations make people more prosperous, hopefully we’ll get fewer regulations.

So those are the necessary conditions for innovation. But we still need innovation. It is what advances human prosperity. It’s the only way to get more out of the same amount, to grow the pie, as it were.

Basically, I’m leaving one side, creating the conditions, to work on the other side, the actual innovation. I’m not an innovator, but innovators need sales to disrupt markets. That’s where I want to come in.

I’m learning sales skills in the tech space to eventually grow disruptive innovators like Uber, or SpaceX, or peer-to-peer, decentralized payments systems, or encryption.

In addition, that side is certainly more lucrative. The market has spoken, and the demand relative to supply of libertarian commentators is low. I’m so incredibly blessed to have been able to make opining about markets and editing and placing others’ opinions about markets my full-time work, and to make enough to live in the most expensive city in the country and very occasionally even eat out or go to a happy hour. SFL kept me in drugs for a whole year as a professional libertarian, and I’m so very grateful.

But, at some point you want more than the occasional happy hour. You want some security. And all the paths to becoming any kind of decently-paid pundit or public intellectual require partisanship or going to grad school, or both. I think we all know my feels on the two major parties, and I’d rather make money than spend it.

All I wanted to do when I started out was sell liberty. I’ve done some of that. There are a few, at least, amazing people who are in the liberty movement, in part, because of my scribblings.

I have to admit that it’s been hard, psychologically. I’ve not been able to always stay positive in the face of negativity. I’ve been quick to get combative. To forget to assume good intentions. While I’ve thrown off parts of my ideological past, I find certain parts of that old skin are still sticky, and I wrestle with them, in public. And with anyone who seems to embody what I hate about who I was.

I’ve thought about getting into sales for years, since before coming to DC to start work at Reason. Truth be told, my media work, as well as pitching editors, has done an enormous amount toward making me ready for this job. I think sales, in a lot of ways, is life. Learning to meet needs, to build trust, and relationships, quickly, to mirror and empathize and be positive and friendly, these are all things I want to learn. I get my meaning, as I think most people do, through human connection. I want to learn to connect better. And getting successful at sales will require humility and constant feedback, and self-improvement is so incredibly important to building a happy life.

So I’m going to continue writing, a little, at least. Probably just on this blog, unless someone wants to give me a paid column. And then I’ll repub here. Hell, I might start writing about sales. Lord knows libertarians need to learn how to sell their ideas.

I hope if you’ve been reading me, you continue to. I hope to keep having really interesting conversations, if for fewer hours a day. I hope the people who are good at it continue their work in this movement. I hope the ideas of a free society continue to flourish and grab hold of young minds.

I’ll still be grinding away at building prosperity for everyone, but now I can include myself. I’m really excited.

54 Comments

  1. Michael Brahier

    Cathy,
    Your presence in the movement will be missed. I’m pleased to hear you will be posting on a somewhat limited basis, as I really enjoy your analysis of issues.

    I wish you peace and prosperity on your new career path. You should do well there, considering the training you have given yourself. Good luck!

  2. IllyC

    Sounds smart like everything of yours I’ve read. I’ve been in academia for a while, and yet was astounded at the way men (in particular?) seemed to challenge you in the most ridiculous of ways and how plucky you were in response. That’s an amazing ability, when I first saw the things people would challenge you on I thought “no one would be able to put up with this.” But you did. Just amazing.

  3. Mike Okeefe

    Good luck!Sales in the tech industry can be fun, stressful and extremely challenging at times. You will fit right in especially with your libertarian views. The tech industry is a mix of libertarian and liberalism. At least that’s what I see on the ground! You’ll still be dealing with a bunch of sometimes upset nerds though 🙂 Don’t mess with their lunch time, FYI.

  4. The biggest changes in society happen beyond the dais, out in the trenches, where ears & eyes aren’t cynically shielded, and people are absorbing real vibes from real people indirectly.

    You are such a brilliantly sharp cookie, Cathy, that you’ll probably have no problem dropping the fame-crown and gilded sword and digging into the grungy joy of the sales hunt out in the unwashed world… but during the quiet times staring at the ceiling from your pillow, remember the 1st stage was mastering the preaching to the converted and ideologically opposed (and you’ve made an indelible and undeniable mark in that space…) and now you are mastering the dirty, subtle, powerful skills of selling/converting the undecided. And the *MOST* masterful at this game have learned how to get their results with the prospect believing it was THEIR idea all along! You have the chops to do that… you are going to rock!

      • It’s fun watching you grow & evolve. You’ve come a long way even in just the last 12-18 months! I’m not at all surprised to see you finding the limits of expandability on the current path, and spreading your scope for alternatives (and no doubt, a little more scratch in the wallet won’t hurt!)

        I’m not ‘going anywhere’ until my current body’s had it… and despite the typical life expectancy of 85-90, I have declared I’ll keep it rockin’ through 125. But since I also claim to be one in spirit with Ben Franklin (and others in our lineage,) I’ll be back!

  5. Stuffed Llama

    First I’ve hear of you or your work. Glad you got a job. Only heard of Reason before. I think their trying to blend conservatism with libertarianism. Oil and water. Oh, well, have a good life.

  6. Julie Mastrine

    “There are a few, at least, amazing people who are in the liberty movement, in part, because of my scribblings.” <– count me among them! Your writing has been super influential for me. Thanks so much for what you've done, and what you'll continue to do 🙂

  7. Mike Wells

    My fiancee and I have always enjoyed reading you and listening to you. You brought/bring so much to this movement and we will miss you!

    Now, go get that paper!

  8. dooglio

    Cathy, I’m glad you are moving on into sales. I myself have taken a keener interest in sales, and I couldn’t agree more: libertarians and anarchists NEED good sales skills in order to get our ideas across. And if you can sell the ideas of liberty, that is a tough sell indeed in today’s world!

    But I applaud you and really hope you keep up your column at least part time. Post some sales tips as it relates to liberty, and keep us informed as you go!

    I have read several books of late that have been very helpful to me: “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” By Stephen R Covey, “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy, “Go Pro” by Eric Worre, and “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” by Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone.

    Good luck! And here is wishing you excellent sales years to come!

  9. Christi Culligan

    “Lord knows libertarians need to learn how to sell their ideas.” Hahahaha. I busted out laughing in the middle of starbucks.

  10. Jaime

    You are leaving low-paying not-for-profit work in one of the most expensive U.S. cities for for-profit work? So shocking!

  11. Seth MacLeod

    Good luck! Most of the really big names in the liberty movement have professional careers outside of selling liberty, e.g. Bob Murphy, David Friedman, Stephan Kinsella, Steve Horwitz, so it’s not like you have to “leave” the movement completely (I know, I know, you said you would still update sometimes).

    PS If you do continue to write, I’d love to see more about Sex and the State and less about Bitcoin.

  12. The Guru

    “You have to remember, rights don’t come in groups we shouldn’t have ‘gay rights’; rights come as individuals, and we wouldn’t have this major debate going on. It would be behavior that would count, not what person belongs to what group.”
    ? Ron Paul”

    The fatal flaw of Reisenwitz is that she couldn’t differentiate between the “group” and the “individual.” How can she leave muh moobment when she was never really in it?

    She is just a young, naive, know it all who couldn’t even comprehend libertarianisms most basic and central premises. She was a liberal feminist who tried co-oping a bunch of young, naive libertines. Hanging out with sex deprived libertarian nerds and homosexuals doesn’t make you part of the “libertarian movement.” To be in the movement you had to have helped advance the football for libertarianism. All Reisenwitz has done is make it more culturally Marxist.

    Please never resurface.

  13. Kevin_Carson

    Best wishes in your new career, Cathy. It’s been a pleasure to see your work at C4SS and I hope you continue to write something for us occasionally.

    It’s a shame the down-vote button doesn’t work here for some reason, or some of the right-wing fedora bros’ shitty comments would have a lot of them by now.

  14. Angelo

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxox
    Although not an active online debater, I’ve read your columns and discussions over the years and my online crush has only grown; you speak for some of us who struggle at the nexus of liberty, justice, and faith, and it’s been enlightening and endearing reading you, and even randomly running into you near M st. Best of luck, and whatever you’re selling, I’m buying.

  15. Hektor

    I left the movement months ago because of you. The damage you caused set back the cause of liberty for probably more than a decade. Now libertarianism is infested with the cancer of cultural marxism. You did a disservice to human civilization. I really hope – for the sake of humanity – that you will never ever come back.

    • JPeron

      Hektor: If the term ass doesn’t mean anything to you, look in the mirror. What sort of BS is this term “cultural marxism.” It is a meaningless phrase invented by conservatives.

    • Mark Read Pickens

      No wonder the liberty movement has fallen so far behind in the last several months!

      I was wondering why that was. Now I see it’s losing Hektor’s valuable input and the hugely influential Cathy Reisenwitz spreading Cultural Marxism

      Wait a minute…that would be crazy. Never mind.

      I guess it really is true that some combinations of recreational drugs don’t mesh well.

  16. Keira Taylor

    Cathy Reisenwitz? – some advice: when you put yourself on a cross, you don’t look like a savior. You’re just an asshole.

    Good riddance. Freal tho.

  17. Good luck Cathy! I have recently been realizing the best way to remove government from our lives is by making them obsolete through technology. Good luck creating programs that lead to more individual freedom!

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