Lost Issue: If I Were The President of the United States pt. 3
(The Deconstruction Era Essays are a series of Essays based on discussing reforms of the current U.S. government to be a more classically Liberal free-market body - the DEE provides a platform for thought into the political hypothetical)
In parts 1 & 2 I began to discuss some of the outright things I'd attempt to tackle as a Libertarian President. But these kinds of big power moves are bold for someone who just got into office. Some might even argue that they are entirely irrational. It's true, Congress is a big power in stopping presidents or single people from passing just anything, and we haven't even addressed how the Libertarian Party would ever even come to power.
I'm done with pretending that this task is easy or ideologically pure. It's not. The solution involves a lot of compromises in party ideology. But the 'NAM isn't about hiding around corners, it's about providing a reasonable outlook. Before we can go on with the Deconstruction Era Essays, we need to stop and think about how the DEE agenda gets closer to being less of a "political hypothetical" and more of a "political reality".
Let's face it, Solidarist Democrats and Republicans rule the federal government. The overwhelming majority of Americans believe that these two parties are the only "real" parties. Helping overcome that belief is hard for anyone. What American needs first is a shock, to let it know that there are more than just two parties. Swing votes always matter. When the vote is usually at parity, like it is now, third parties stand out by "stealing" votes away. By taking away votes from one party the vital difference can sometimes be the difference between a bill getting passed or a representative getting elected and not. By flaunting the swing vote, Libertarians gain at least some recognition by making themselves known as being power players.
Secondly, Libertarians need more honest advocates of their ideology. I can say that I make a great spokesman, but who knows who I am? While I appreciate you reading my article, I'm no celebrity. Prostelyzation seems cheap when it's to celebrities and richer people, but in all honesty, these are the people who will help the party the most in the long run. We can't afford to cheapen the image of the party, but we can use some help from people with names and drawing value.
Problems with people accepting Libertarian ideas isn't that they disagree. A Rasmussen Research poll suggests that 16% of Americans are ideologically Libertarian and other polls suggest that a significant portion of the population are sympathetic to Libertarian ideas. A lot of it is, frankly, social and political. People don't see it as a gain and they don't enjoy being around Libertarians. Why is this?
Many Libertarians are, out and out, drug users. They exist in the party because it's a party to legalize marijuana, or other drugs. In some local Libertarian circles, this issue is so dominant that it's the only real topic ever discussed. Government injustice is equated to recreational restrictions of pot-smoking. As I hope to show in the DEE, legalizing drugs are important, but not so important that you want to make the Libertarian Party motto "free the leaf". Libertarians believe in free markets, and yes, bans on the drug trade are unfree. However, what's more important is the market at large. General monopolies the government has on money, on entire trades. I'd sooner take away government's rule over health care than care to stop it's ban on drugs simply because it's monopoly provides it more power than it's mere banning does. By banning something the government must exert a lot of force which results in a lot of losses. By owning it and manipulating it, the government exerts little force and only gains, giving it the entitlement to exert more control. Ending government monopolies is more important than ending it's banning because it's better for the market and for American civil liberties.
Moreso, the public image of Libertarians is damaged when most honest Americans will concede that drugs are not a "good" thing. People are foremost interesting in THEMSELVES, it's part of a central economic principle that drives Capitalism. And most people simply put do not care or find it beneficial to legalize drugs. I'm not arguing that drug legalization shouldn't be a part of the agenda. The central party recognizes the importance of a plethora of other issues. Followers and advocates of Libertarianism, however, need to get on the same page.
The right trend is to start building real political issues, and the Libertarian Party is doing a good job of that now. By running a lot of people for offices and getting a higher rate of election, that sure builds the power base for local parties. Those parties being on the same page is important to actually using these rare opportunities to make real changes.
Let me say, first and foremost, most American people are not intelligent. Civics and critical reasoning are not taught in schools, and politics is one of the lesser of the many topics popular society finds interesting. I can go on all day about how this can be fixed. The whole idea of the Intelligentsia, the leaders of ideas, is just that. I'm trying in my own way by discussing the "New American Myth" to correct the ideas of those around me. Libertarians need to find similar ways to do the same. I can't emphasize this enough.
One undeniable fact of bad government is that it always writes bad legislation. Challenging the written word of our government of written laws is important, and when Libertarians can find a place to attack a piece of it in court, they should do so. Contradict the legislation and become plaintiffs in court cases. A big portion of McCain-Feingold was overturned as Unconstitutional because of plaintiffs like the Libertarian Party and this trend needs to be the beginning. The best way to fight government rulings is to go straight to the judicial system. No voters, just honest judgments regarding the accuracy and veracity of the law. In many ways it's a stacked deck but it's not really more stacked than it is otherwise.
There are several roadblocks to a fair political system. Before any third party can advance, it needs to remove as many of these mechanisms before it will even have a fair chance. One of these mechanisms is Campaign Finance Reform, as I mentioned above. Ballot restrictions, donation caps, heavy paperwork and threats of lawsuits over "money laundering" (i.e. donating more than the government says you can) threaten the parties at their core - their pocketbooks. I went to the LP meetings for our county, and their funds were $700. They wanted to buy some posters. I'm sorry, but that's not going to cut it. The rich and powerful could easily favor our party but contribute nothing more than what I can? That's silly. Another big roadblock is the Debate Commission. By blocking Libertarians from Debates by essentially bribing networks not to have them, it prevents a serious discussion of Libertarian ideas.
The Cato Institute has one of the best ideas to subverting government policy making, and that's by making the government reliant on it's judgment. By providing excellent policy analysis and putting itself into a position of expertise, the Cato Institute is a part of the Intelligentsia of the highest class right now, and really, affects a lot of change by providing that extra statistic or that extra recommendation, making that proven prediction or pointing out that mistake and doing it so well and professionally that it gets the media attention for it. How else will like-minded individuals reach the estranged?
I also think that unlike other parties the Libertarian party should create a supplement to their platform, a concise index of bills and theory meant to facilitate change. I think Libertarians should catalogue what really is impeding them from their goals and create provisions to challenge them. Our system is a system of written word. Law books are always going to be around to archive even the stupidest laws. What we need is to clear those books where we can and write what we have to say. And we can't do that if we're not prepared. No Libertarian mayor, city councilman, school board member or waste disposal officer will be able to do this on their own and Libertarians need to be prepared. I'm not demogoging party efforts, but I am saying being prepared never hurt anyone.
Other problems have to do with the media, and really, that can't change overnight and there is no single way to make it change. The people in the media have their own agendas and it's not until we have people with our agendas that they serve us. Until then, fighting simple misconceptions is the best a Libertarian can do. We aren't Democrats or Republicans or Socialists, and people need to know that. We have nothing to do with "Civil Libertarians" and the ACLU, those are entirely leftist groups. We're not Anarchists and we weren't at the World Trade Center protests last year, we didn't loot downtown and we didn't try to pass that stupid air pollution control bill. If people don't know this they can't be expected to make a honest judgment, and really, how can we expect them to?
Protests often draw a lot of attention, but it's been my theory that protests usually happen for the wrong reasons. There is a growing public sentiment against protestors because of their looting and unethical behavior. Civil disobedience is a principle usually violated by these non-peaceful increasingly violent protestors. What needs to be pointed out are the wrong reasons for protest, counter-protesting is a good way to achieve this, and if there is a group of people who need to step in and make sure protests are happening for the right reasons, it's Libertarians. I don't know of major Libertarian groups that counter-protest, but organizing it at local meetings instead of discussing a newsletter no one will read might help effect more actual change.
Government offers money, and what Libertarians don't realize is that this is THEIR money. While against the principle of theft for the purpose of redistribution, if a thief is offering you your money back, don't turn it down for ethical purposes. Take the money and take all you can because in all truth, it will never pay you back for the weight of what Libertarians consider unjust punishment. Until Libertarians outweigh those who would otherwise voluntarily support legislated theft, a Libertarian's attitude should change a little towards taking advantage of government incentives. The national Libertarian Party should be less reluctant to take grants and benefits granted by the government. Libertarians of all classes need to stop worrying about their belief system and remember that this is their money, not someone else's, that they are taking back from the same agency that stole it.
It's not until Libertarians take a few steps forward that we'll even know if stepping back or continuing is optional. I'd rather see the party jump ahead two steps only to have to take a step back than sooner see it stay where it is. And really, it's party priority that's the issue here. Does Harry Browne benefit the party while running for President when he meets federally matching funds but turns them down? Do we wonder why Ralph Nader, despite controlling a smaller party and running fewer candidates, gets more votes? This isn't rocket science, it's politics. The human body politik doesn't sit around weighing it's best choices, it sits around watching what it sees on tv, reading what it sees in the paper and weighing it's judgment from the opinions of others. If you aren't those others then who will be?
Understanding that Democrats want to reduce some parts of government and that Republicans want to reduce some parts should also play into Libertarian core policy making. Playing to which parts want which reduced can help both parties push reduction measures. Playing into issues people aren't interested in makes policy changes easier to influence as well.
Basically though, the most important factor may be the one that involves the hardest amount of work. That's people individually needing to simply know more about politics. Specifically, more about the economy, free markets, the importance of them over mixed economies, and the difference between Socialist methods and Libertarian ones. It's not until people at large understand more about these issues that they'll be able to make reasonable judgments about Libertarianism. On the token of acceptance, Libertarians don't have much to fear. Most people have ideas sympathetic to Libertarian ideas. We're not France of Canada. We don't suffer the ailment of public Socialist groups. We're still considered the "capitalistic West". While our market policy may insinuate different, that's a key point to at least keep in mind. Put it into their terms. Ask people if they want smaller government or bigger government, then challenge their ideas about what is making government smaller or bigger.
In all truth though, this last point is obvious, and sooner than state the obvious, I should be getting back to discussing more Deconstruction Era policy issues, which is where I'll go back to in Part 4. If you have any thoughts or feedback, just email me at phoebus@PAOracle.com.