Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“Two men have no more natural right to exercise any kind of authority over one, than one has to exercise the same authority over two. A man's natural rights are his own, against the whole world; and any infringement of them is equally a crime, whether committed by one man, or by millions; whether committed by one man, calling himself a robber or by millions, calling themselves a government.”     Lysander Spooner

June 6, 2007

A Look At Our 2008 Options

by Nick

I tried to take a break from politics. It didn’t work. Obama getting the spotlight, more than anything else, sparked my re-awakening. He reminds me of FDR. That is not a good thing. The more I hear of his ‘vision’–and peoples’ gushing reaction to it, the more I get the urge to scream, rip my hair out, and go become a hermit. Surely we can’t fall for the same trick twice? But apparently we can. Obama is the kind of person who would coax America into a cage–a comfortable one, but a cage nonetheless–all in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘prosperity’, neither of which can possibly be realized under such a stifling regime as he wishes to create, just as FDR once did in an administration that was more damaging to liberty than any that has existed since.

And from that came more political thinking, something I didn’t want to happen…

For years, I’ve taken to shorthanding my political beliefs as ‘socially liberal, economically conservative’. Something most of us have done when describing our philosophy to our more benighted friends. I’ve never been fond of it, seeing nothing ‘liberal’ about allowing government to control our economic freedom. I never liked the image that ‘socially liberal’ conveyed either, as all too many ‘progressive’ ideas on social policy are in fact quite authoritarian. And, as Hayek always held, to control the economic is to control the social, and vice versa.

Now as I look at the Democrats’ platform, I find there’s basically nothing there I can stand behind. Precious little in the Republican Party Line either, but at least there’s something. And more importantly, a someone or two I could get behind.

For the past 20 to 30 years, we’ve tended to vote overwhelmingly for Republicans. But that changed substantially in the 2004 election, as one would expect given the continual outrages that Bush and the Republican majority inflicted upon us. Only 53% of us voted for Republican congressmen in 2004, with 44% voting for Democrats. 2006 was possibly worse, but I’m too lazy to conjure up figures.

What’s bothering me about this is that we are attempting to choose the lesser of two evils, when either one is sufficient to destroy the United States as we know and love it. Oh, I don’t mean a land of ruins and squalor, but I do mean a land of stagnation and statism. A land that no longer resembles the country that our forefathers sought to establish.

Trying to choose between the two is kind of like picking which nuke you’d like to be hit by, the 21 kiloton Fat Man, or the 13 kiloton Little Boy? It’s not exactly a question that makes a whole lot of sense.

So how about a third option? Lets not get nuked at all. Or at the very least take steps to delay it. Too bad that as a country we’ve developed the mentality that longshots and third parties are nothing more than throwing your vote away, which is why the vast majority of libertarians divy up their vote between left and right. I was just 8 years old when Perot made his run at the presidency in 1992. I still know very little about him or his policies. What I do know is that at one point he led the polls. And on that fateful day in November, he managed to scavenge up a full 19% of the vote. Unheard of for a third party candidate in the modern era.

Unfortunately, we ‘learned our lesson’ after that, blaming Perot for Clinton’s ascendancy and Bush’s loss. In 1996, all third party candidates together earned barely half of what Perot did in 1992, and he was once again blamed as the reason Clinton won. And in 2000, they barely registered, although, once again a third party candidate–Nader–was blamed for Bush’s victory. The problem is, we learned the wrong lesson.

It’s true that we’ve always been more or less a two party system. But it hasn’t been the same two parties over the 200 and some years this country has been in existence. Parties changed, they split, they dissolved, and new parties came in to take their place. For crying out loud, the Democrats proudly call themselves ‘The Party Of Jefferson’ (and manage to say it with a straight face!). Does the Republican party of today even begin to resemble the vision of Goldwater in 1960? Heck no.

The lesson we should have learned from Perot is that it is possible to change the status quo. Rome was not built in a day, and in such a contentious and ignorant population–how else do you explain the way Democrats get away with calling themselves liberal–you can’t expect the revolution to happen in a single election cycle. Much as it pains me to say, this election will probably not be the revolution we want and need, but if we play our cards right, it can be an investment , one that will pay dividends in the future. I’m sure we’ll lose, but if we lose big enough, we still manage to demonstrate the dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties. And when the hue and cry raises up that our ‘thrown away’ votes allow the ‘wrong guy’ to win, that’s when we really go on the offensive. Both guys were the wrong guy, we’ll say. And look how well we did last time. Lets put the pressure on and actually win next time.

The lesser of two evils approach worked, more or less–less rather than more in hindsight–when one evil was substantially less lethal than the other. But in today’s environment, we can’t vote for the leading Republican just because he’s not a Democrat. And we can’t vote for a Democrat just because we’re pissed at the Republicans (like we did in the past two elections).

The libertarian and constitution parties simply are not viable. But we’ve been given a gift in Ron Paul. I’ve been a longtime fan of his. And I certainly never would have guessed he’d get as much attention as he’s gotten. I do disagree with his stance on the Iraq War and middle east interventionism in general. But I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. That, more than anything has been the reason that for once a true liberal has gotten anything resembling real press for the first time in my life. Its allowed him to talk about his domestic policies at several venues. It’s absolutely refreshing to be able to hear a libertarian philosophy presented on TV.

I think we’ll see the buzz only continue to build as his newfound celebrity enables him to more properly and clearly state his position on domestic issues. And it’ll be interesting for sure if he’s allowed to attack head on the principles of the so-called modern liberals in a public forum. He did a great job of it on The Daily Show and with Bill Maher, much better than I would’ve thought.

Dr. Paul’s newfound celebrity is also coming at a great time, politically speaking. There have never been fewer Republicans, and the Democrats aren’t doing so hot either, so it goes without saying that there are more unaffiliated people of voting age than ever before. There is only one candidate out there who isn’t really a Republican or a Democrat (regardless of his nominal party affiliation). That right there, is a huge niche just begging to be exploited.

All he has to do is convince all those dissatisfied people that McCain, Giuliani, Hillary, and Obama are just the same ugly message of increasing intervention and domination of our lives, just clothed slightly differently. It really doesn’t matter if he wins the nomination as a Republican or not, so long as he managed to take those same supporters with him when he goes.

Like I said, I doubt he’ll win, and I do disagree with him on certain issues. But I doubt we as a nation are suddenly going to become satisfied with the Democrats and Republicans after the election either. So long as we don’t take his loss as a defeat, but rather gained ground, we have potential to influence the 2010 election to an even greater degree. And perhaps in 2012 the country might be ready for a truly liberal president.

Ron Paul is a chance at a future in which liberty still exists. He’s an investment in a future free of statists. The only viable investment there currently is.


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9 Comments

  1. This website is really aggravating me. Look, if you’re Libertarian and making commentary about Dr. Paul do everyone a favor and stop dropping the ol’ “I doubt he’ll win, but I’d vote for him” line.

    Look, if you’d vote for the guy then don’t assume he won’t win. Work to show confidence in the candidate. If you are going to say he won’t win then just do everyone a favor and keep your opinion to yourself or just stop publicizing it. Whenever commentators say use this ridiculous “he won’t win” attitude it reinforces the belief.

    You’re not showing everyone how smart you are by saying he won’t win. Everyone knows it’s aready going to be a tough race. You’re only helping his opponents.

    Comment by Knock it off... — June 6, 2007 @ 8:56 pm
  2. I am confident in him. What I’m not confident in is the American ability to see through the polished turds that Obama and Giuliani are shoving down peoples’ throats.

    I’ve already signed up for the next local meetup and will ask there about ways to help out his campaign.

    But what I’m fighting against is the traditional libertarian temptation to give up and vote for a mainstream democrat and republican.

    If I got all “OMG he’s going to WINZORZ” I’d just be dismissed as yet another crackpot and fanboy.

    Which I’m not.

    But I’m tired of us throwing our votes away. And the fact of the matter is most libertarians don’t think candidates they agree with on most issues can win. What I’m trying to do is give people a reason to vote for those candidates anyway.

    Comment by Nick — June 6, 2007 @ 9:09 pm
  3. Don’t you see, though, now is the time to believe and build support for Dr. Paul?

    And if it doesn’t work out–for any number of reasons–you can always choose later to settle for the two party default position.

    All it takes is enough people thinking outside the box: you KNOW that this man’s ethic IS the main-stream American ethic, based primarily on liberty.

    He can win. Expect a lot of flack from various invested quarters for various, mostly, phony reasons. Blow’em off. The present establishment on the right or the left is scared to death of this man and what he represents. Let’s give them something more to angst over!!

    Comment by Anne Hall — June 6, 2007 @ 11:04 pm
  4. “But what I’m fighting against is the traditional libertarian temptation to give up and vote for a mainstream democrat and republican.”

    What I simply am asking is that the Libertarians realize that Ron Paul may not be 100% in the mold they expect (I actually think he is more Libertarian than most Libertarians I’ve met though). At the same time, when they wait around for the right candidate they end up waiting a long time and fielding someone who TRULY doesn’t have a chance of winning.

    Ron Paul does have a chance and it’s a good chance. The so-called front runners are burning through cash and parrotiing the same old tired rhetoric. Ron Paul’s thoughts and record are becoming more mainstream. When I ask people to look into Dr.Paul they invariably come back to me and affirm that they’d vote for him. This is not what you’d expect from a candiate with “no chance” of winning. All it means is his exposure needs to be ramped up. The Internet is doing that very cheaply and well and we need to support him and his candidacy and that doesn’t mean speaking ill of his chances.

    Comment by Knock it off... — June 6, 2007 @ 11:45 pm
  5. The simple fact is, that Ron paul has gotten into more debates as a Republican primary candidate, than all the Libertarian presidential candidates put together.

    If FRudy McRomneyson, is the GOP nominee, then it will be time to support a Libertarian candidate, until then, Ron Paul is the most Libertarian candidate in politics right now.

    Finally, I don’t really care which libertarian get the Libertarian nomination, they will be just fine with me, and short of a Ron Paul option as the GOP candidate, I will happily vote for any of them.

    Used to be, the chances of a libertarian candidate winning were zero and none. Ron Paul’s chances are at least slim and none. His chances improve to “just maybe” if we can all get behind him and push real real hard.

    Laters

    Comment by Kevin Houston — June 7, 2007 @ 12:39 am
  6. “Knock it off” wrote: “If you are going to say he won’t win then just do everyone a favor and keep your opinion to yourself or just stop publicizing it.”

    This is the same argument used to silence those who oppose the war, by accusing them of endangering and demoralizing the troops.

    It has always been crucial to the success of the freedom movement that people speak the truth as they see it, when they see it. Don’t wait till later. Speak up now, and speak the truth.

    What we should fight are lies of commission and lies of omission. The truth is on our side — we have nothing to fear from it.

    Comment by Josh Purinton — June 7, 2007 @ 3:24 pm
  7. I think some of you are missing the point. It doesn’t matter if he wins or loses, its completely irrelevant; what matters is the impact he makes on the political scene. The more votes he gets, the more of an impact he makes, the more the mainstream politicians and voters will look and say “this is a viable option, this can actually happen”. Its not an all-or-nothing affair. We can build a future with a minority of votes, thats the message.

    Comment by science — June 7, 2007 @ 4:22 pm
  8. thank you science.

    Comment by Nick — June 7, 2007 @ 5:06 pm
  9. “It doesn’t matter if he wins or loses, its completely irrelevant”

    That’s just silly. Ron Paul’s message runs right into the teeth of almost every special interest that’s pulling the strings of our government today. If Ron Paul does not win, the special interests win–and it will be back to business as usual in Washington. Since Ross Perot, the ballot has offered only a choice between different subsets of special interests, never an option for driving these interests out of a process that’s supposed to be strictly about the people and their republic.

    These are powerful corruptors, and only a president of the strongest principles could possibly resist them. And only a president with the strongest core message (the Constitution) can give the other policymakers the strength to resist as well. So I would say it is critically relevant whether Ron Paul wins or not.

    Comment by Pacer — June 8, 2007 @ 9:11 am

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