Duh . . . Winning!

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I became a Republican so I could vote, in the 2012 primary, for the most libertarian-congenial candidate. Already I am wondering whether this will do any good.

Do I want to be lectured on morality by serial adulterer Newt Gingrich? Can I trust America will be safeguarded from creeping Sharia law by some moralist like Rick Santorum? May I hope the federal takeover of our healthcare system will be rolled back by Mitt Romney, whose plan in Massachusetts so inspired Obamacare? And behind the wild rhetoric and Bride-of-Chucky eyes of Michele Bachmann, can I be certain rationality reigns?

Both the Republican and the Democratic “teams” are in the same league. The overriding concern of both parties is the league’s survival. Each will win a few, each lose a few. But they are both deeply invested in the league — and in the big show it gives the fans.

When Team Red is in ascendancy, libertarians should probably reach as many as possible of those fans in blue jerseys with the bags over their heads. When Team Blue is back on top, we should peel off as many as possible of their disgruntled opponents.

It’s tempting to think there must be a shortcut — that one entire franchise can be purchased by reason and principle. Some will follow reason and principle, but many will not. In every era, many in the citizenry are simply fanboys and fangirls in red or blue jerseys, rah-rahing for their side.

Libertarians tend to want to change the game. We don’t usually think of politics as a game, which may be why we fare so poorly in it. We view the public square as a place for debate, for the engagement of thinking minds. If we sign up to play on one team or another, perhaps we lose something greater than a game. We may lose the chance to make politics something more than the silly, childish bloodsport it has always been inclined to be.

To win maximum public support, libertarians need players on both teams. I’m becoming less optimistic about the prospect of simply capturing the Republican flag and giving up on the Democrats. When I speak with left-leaning friends and relatives, I find them more willing to listen than many libertarians realize. The term “libertarian” has been tainted for them, freighted with all sorts of nonsense that has nothing to do with who we are or what we believe. But they understand government force, because it has been used against them and they live under the constant cloud of its return.

We have been seduced into hoping the GOP has finally gotten it, because it’s become fashionable for people in that party to call themselves libertarians. Some really do understand what that means, but for a frightful number of others, this is only the latest ploy for winning back power. Once they can take the bags off their heads, they’ll return to calling us dope-smoking hippie peaceniks and accusing us of opposing all that’s holy. They’ve done it too many times for us not to suspect they might do it again.

If we want a clearer picture of where these newly-minted Republican “libertarians” want to take this country, we need to pay closer attention to their presidential popularity polls. If polls can be believed as to the general direction of the party, any one of the players currently enjoying big numbers in the GOP will end this exercise in vanity with a second Obama term. Yet polling also shows that no more than half the population wants that. What do they really want instead?

All the leading contenders peddle the notion that more power will win the game, that if they’re nominated, their team can be champ again. If most Republican voters were not still stuck in this fantasy, they would be supporting very different people. But those who will really decide the contest are in the swelling mass of independents who are disaffected with the very idea of league play.

These people give every indication of being more open to libertarian ideas than they have been in years — perhaps ever. They lean libertarian, but describe themselves — in increasing numbers — simply as independents. They are no longer content merely to root for a team. If we don’t want to lose them, perhaps we shouldn’t join one.




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Michael Morrison

Lori, and others, may I pretty please urge you all to get behind the movement to have added to every ballot Instant Runoff Voting?
How often have you heard something like "I'd sure love to be able to vote for your candidate, but I'm afraid then (greater of two evils in the two old parties) will win"? Probably several dozen times each election.
Well, IRV, or some similar plan, will give voters the opportunity to vote for their real choice, their first choice, and then for an alleged lesser of evils from the two old parties.
It's called "weighted" or "ranked" voting. Here is a good description: http://www.fairvote.org/instant-runoff-voting#.UE4hULJlRhU

Scott Hutchinson

I have known for a long time that I had libertarian leanings, but only recently started watching Ron Paul videos from the 2007/2008 Repub primaries on youtube. I was looking for some economic info for a little debate with my brother, but I started to realize that, and why, Ron Paul supporters are so freakin' rabid. The man is an abolute truth bomb, saying exactly what he means. He doesn't care if you like it or not, it's just his job to speak the truth. All of the other politicians and candidates are very guarded and will change their policies to whatever they think the people want to hear. Witness the fact that all the Repub candidates this season are becoming dovish, when in the 2008 campaign Ron Paul was the only one talking about ending wars. There are also of course all the congress people talking and filing bills to audit the fed, something Paul has been adamant about for thirty years.

About the Fed, I have heard and seen youtube videos of Geithner, Alan Greenspan (the maestro himself) and if I remember correctly even Bernanke, saying that the original housing bubble which was growing from 2000 thru 2006, and which was predicted or pointed out by Ron Paul in 2002, (I've seen the youtube video) was caused by the Fed keeping interest rates too low for too long. Interest rates are the price of money and everyone knows that price controls never work, DUH!

So it turns out that it seems to me, Ron Paul is a thinking man who has had definite ideas, and correct ideas, about where America should be heading, and all the other candidates I've heard talk very much, are well meaning people who think gov't is there to serve the people and they may believe that means doing what the people want, or at the very least try to do what they want, and that entails at first, saying what the people want to hear.

The reason for my rant is just to say I hope you vote for Ron Paul in the primary. I am going to do so even if it looks like the polls do not favor him, because it's the right thing to do. I don't want to vote for somebody because they look like they'll win or not win.

I also won't join any political party, because that usually means doing what's good for the party. I want what's best for the country, and wouldn't want any particular party to rest easy and think they've got my vote just because I belong. George Washington never joined any party although I'm not sure of his reasons or if he stated them. I have also noticed that you, and most libertarian leaners seem to all be thinkers more so than the mainstream parties. I don't see anything ranty about your article and thank you for the insight.

Lori Heine

Mr. Henshaw, you have it exactly right. We would do well to put our principles first and concern ourselves with political alliances only secondarily. I may end up voting for Gary Johnson or for the Libertarian Party nominee. But I think President Obama has become such a disaster that at this point, I’d be hard-pressed to vote for anybody who didn’t stand a fair chance of beating him.

Mr./Ms. Eyon, I think my essay is less a “rant” than an expression of deep concern. Millions of people do mindlessly root for one over-simplistic “side” or the other. They seem to give their political allegiance no greater consideration than they do their choice of sports teams. I don’t see that this has been healthy for our political climate, or for our country. I am perfectly aware that “we” are individuals, but it us “our” large-scale unwillingness to act like it than concerns me here.

Mr. Mora, I do not personally intend to “pick a moralist” at all. Not if by “moralist,” you mean anyone who would force his or her morals on the populace using the force of law. A “Bible-licker,” in such a capacity, would be no more attractive to me than would a “Koran-licker.”

As for Mr. Stock’s suggestion that social issues be taken “off the table,” I am all for that. But I am repelled by any possibility that we might concede to the State the power to go on defining marriage in a way that denies me freedom of contract. Libertarian principle surrenders no ground to those who would sacrifice the liberty of some – even a tiny minority – to any noisy majority who would grab it away.

J Eyon

i have reread your article a number of times and continue to see it as careless ranting - there are too many generalities - by doing that - you're doing what you accuse those "millions" of other people are doing

in fact - your last sentence in your response reveals it - "I am perfectly aware that “we” are individuals, but it us “our” large-scale unwillingness to act like it than concerns me here." - a more careful statement would be soemthing like "those who fail rise above labels concern me"

you'd make a poor witness - you claim without evidence that many GOPers are pretending to be libertarians and then will turn on them once past the election - that at least is original - but it proves libertarians can be as paranoid as anyone else - as if merely caling themselves "libertarian" has any potency in this society

worse of all - you assume that libertarians are in lockstep with you - and are as disappointed in the GOP candidates as you are

if i were to hazard a guess - your anger at the GOP field is what provoked this rant

Lori Heine

Mr./Ms. Eyon, I appreciate that you found my essay so interesting that you felt compelled to read it through several times. I am still unclear why it moved you so deeply if you find it nothing but a “rant,” but I understand what emotional creatures human beings can be.

What I find especially interesting is that my opinion is dismissed as “anger at the GOP field” – something polling has found to be quite widespread, so certainly by no means by own, personal quirk. Your own comments bristle with anger, yet you are oddly critical of the anger or frustration expressed by others.

My essay resulted from the striking frequency with which those who express opinions about the candidates – those both on the Left and the Right – seem unable to provide any reason for their views. Beyond, that is, quoting the approved talking heads that speak for their faction. They also provide little rationale without resorting to “us” versus “them” rhetoric, similar to that used by sports fans. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I’m sure the planet from which you hail must be a nice one.

As to whether GOP candidates might pretend to be libertarians, then show different colors once elected, it isn’t as if that has never happened before. Why on earth might anyone be concerned about such a thing? On earth, however, experience has shown that both Republicans and Democrats do that all the time.

A general perusal of the libertarian media would certainly show a widespread dissatisfaction with the GOP presidential field. If you think my views are vastly different from that of others – and therefore somehow “un-libertarian” – you must not get out much.

Thanks for helping me re-write my essay. I am indeed concerned about those who do not rise above labels. That is, however, in itself, exactly the sort of “generality” you criticize. Again, your animosity seems strange, but your comments are appreciated.

J Eyon

>>Millions of people do mindlessly root for one over-simplistic “side” or the other. They seem to give their political allegiance no greater consideration than they do their choice of sports teams.<<

Prove it.

Lori Heine

"Prove it."

Mr. or Ms. Eyon, might I recall your attention to a key word in the statement you wish me to prove? The word is "seem."

I have never heard of challenging someone who says they think something seems a certain way to "prove it." According to the standard usage of the word "seem," the writer is not citing a scientific fact; she or he is expressing an opinion.

When I say that something is my opinion, can I prove that it really is? I'm not sure how one would do that. That anybody would expect me to is unusual indeed.

Robert K. Stock

Ms. Heine I am sorry I did not make myself clear. I was explaining how libertarian ideas might appeal to Democrats and Independents. Social issues are "off the table" because a majority of Democrats and Independents are already in favor of same-sex marriage, abortion and are not particulary religious. A libertarian in the Democratic party will be able to concentrate on economics, private property and personal responsibility instead of wasting time on social issues.

Lori Heine

Agreed! I wish more Democrats would move in a libertarian direction. In fact, I wish I could see any willing to do so.

I've been wondering why more folks in the Democratic Party weren't interested in pursuing freedom and equality by non-violent means that don't require the muscle of big government. It has become obvious to me that the powers-that-be in the party are under the thrall of socialism.

J Eyon

Lori -

your article qualifies more as a rant than an analysis - there are too many generalities to make it useful suggestion - in fact - you end by treating libertarians as "we" - rather than "each of us" - which shows how much you depend on stereotypes

i vote for individuals - not parties

and - from decades of observations - the members of the political parties aren't in lock step - but they do tend to draw like-minded people - which accounts for the apparent homogeneity of them

that you think the Republicans aren't perfect is not a new idea to libertarian - that you think the Democrats aren't all evil is similarly old - and your suggestion to avoid both has been heard before

when it comes to vote - i vote for individuals - not parties labels - and have consistently found the lesser evils among the Republicans - that may dismay you - but "we" aren't the same person - "we" don't see things the same way - so "we" don't vote the same way

i'm even willing to identify myself with the Republican Party - cuz i find them closer to me in principle - while finding the Democrats i know of - much farther - but identifying with a party doesn't make me one of the sheep - i'm one of the mavericks - and - as in individual in a democracy - that's the best i can be

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