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Thursday 16 December 2004

Why I Do Not Respect The Right

When I was in college, I used to summarize my dissatisfaction with the two major American political parties thus: The Democrats want to control your money, and the Republicans want to control everything else.

This was in the era of George Bush (the old one) complaining about The Simpsons, and Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and Ralph Reed complaining about just about everything else. I wasn’t exactly pleased by the Democrats’ policies back then, but I judged them to be the lesser of two evils.

Today I judge the Republicans to be the lesser evil, but I do this only by giving the GOP the benefit of the doubt. The GOP has a ‘Republican Oath’, a kind of political catechism, on their website. I think this is a good idea for political parties, lest they lose track of just what it is they’re trying to so. The Republican Oath reads as follows:

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored.

I BELIEVE in equal rights, equal justice and equal opportunity for all, regardless of race, creed, sex, age or disability.

I BELIEVE free enterprise and encouraging individual initiative have brought this nation opportunity, economic growth and prosperity.

I BELIEVE government must practice fiscal responsibility and allow individuals to keep more of the money they earn.

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people.

I BELIEVE Americans must retain the principles that have made us strong while developing new and innovative ideas to meet the challenges of changing times.

I BELIEVE Americans value and should preserve our national strength and pride while working to extend peace, freedom and human rights throughout the world.

FINALLY, I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for translating these ideals into positive and successful principles of government.

Golly. I can get behind all of that: I guess this means I’m a Republican. I even think that a guarantee of equal rights, justice, and opportunity for all means equality for homosexuals: after all, a woman who wants to marry a woman and who is denied that opportunity is being turned away solely because she’s not a man. OMG! The Homosexual Lobby has infiltrated teh GOP!!11

But as it happens, of course, I’m not a Republican, because there are too many unwritten exceptions to that oath. Every single item there should really contain another few clauses that disclaim this elegant philosophy whenever . One of them would be “except, of course, whether DRUGS!!1 are involved in any way.”

I BELIEVE the strength of our nation lies with the individual and that each person’s dignity, freedom, ability and responsibility must be honored — unless, of course, DRUGS!!1 are involved in any way.

I BELIEVE the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least — except, of course, when it comes to DRUGS!!1, in which case the answer is clearly more and more spending, regulation, and interference from Washington.

I BELIEVE the most effective, responsible and responsive government is government closest to the people — unless, of course, that government closest to the people does not toe the line on DRUGS!!1.

Replace ‘DRUGS!!1’ with any number of hot-button issues and it’s just as applicable. Interestingly, I don’t think that ‘ABORTION!!1’ or ‘TERRORISM!!1’ necessarily qualify, but those are topics for another time.

It’s not as if the Democrats are not just as idiotic when it comes to drugs policy: but then the Democrats have not pledged themselves (with an Oath, no less!) to individual liberty and federalism. There’s no similar official ‘Democratic Oath’ on the Dems’ website, and ‘democratic’ and ‘oath’ both appear in so many documents that searching for an unofficial one is difficult at best.

There’s something to be said for consistency, even when I disagree with it. Today, the Democrats still want to control your money — and a lot of other things besides — but it’s hard to say in advance just what the Republicans want to control.

Posted by tino at 10:52 16.12.04
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Why I do not respect the Libertarian Party.

Growing up, I’ve been all over the political spectrum, starting out from when I first became “Politically Aware” some time in junior high school, I’ve been, in no particular order, Conservative, Liberal, Democrat, Republican, and anarchist. My so called “core beliefs” really didn’t gel until my early twenties, and even now, I can’t say on certain issues exactly how much government should intrude into certain aspects of our lives/economy/whatever.

Nevertheless, nowadays I’m firmly rooted into a libertarian leaning, laissez-faire type philosophy. Things have settled down, and I’m not going anywhere.

At some point I decided that I needed to put my money where my mouth was. I had already switched my state affiliation, from independent to the Libertarian Party, and started getting their newsletters. Mind you, I didn’t sign up for the newsletters, but the state in it’s infinite wisdom, had decide to provide my address to the local chapter, who decided it was in their best interest to start sending me unsolicited mail.

I started reading the newsletters.

Something about the local Libertarian party became clear to me.

The state party was all about supporting people who never would be elected, not even to the school board. They would gather together and talk shop, meet and greet, and all that. Maybe this was a good thing if one wanted to meet like-minded people, but I had had a taste of freedom, and I wanted to work toward that goal. These people wanted to continue their rag-chewing, mental masturbation, endlessly discussing “How Things Ought To Be”, even though deep down they knew they were never going to host an inaugural ball.

Even knowing I couldn’t get my guys and gals in office, I would work towards issues that could be passed, or ballot referendums. Here’s one idea, get those traffic money cameras banned with a state referendum, and expose publicly those legislators who supported them. Do something positive that would tend to counteract peoples’ idea that the Libertarian Party is full of “gun nuts”, drug abusers, and child molesters.

Just because the local party was a poor excuse doesn’t mean I shouldn’t support the national party.

I literately got to the point where I had my charge-card out and was ready to join, and while reading the print on the web page I noticed this…


The Libertarian Party is the party of principle. To publicly affirm what we believe — and to ensure that our party never strays from our principles — we ask our members to proudly sign this statement:

I do not believe in or advocate the initiation of force as a means of achieving political or social goals.

Now, I am not saying that I’m the type that’s ready to shoot the bastards (yet), and IANAL, but I’m 100% sure this little pledge is a “cover your ass” type of statement. It’s probably a good idea to have such a statement, but if you do have it, and you hold yourself to that higher standard of truth, justice and the American way, you ought to fully explain why you have it.

I’m sure the statement is meant to be a defense against the RICO act, or other federal BS, and the Libertarian Party here missed a perfect opportunity to explain creeping federal powers, or how laws that are unconstitutionally far reaching eventually always get misused, and abused. (A case in point would be using the scary broad powers in the USA PARIOT act against domestic criminals, do you think the feds should be able to tap your phone without a warrant because they suspect you are a drug dealer?)

Because those Libertarian type people are strong on gun issues, I just spent a few moments looking at their party planks that relate to the 2nd amendment. I found this carefully crafted statement here…


They say a bunch of good stuff, but what they don’t say is important. The Second Amendment isn’t about duck hunting, and it isn’t really about shooting thugs that break into your home, it’s about keeping tyrants at bay and being a final check and balance against “all enemies, foreign and domestic”.

Granted, I’m all for working within the system, and as long as we have free speech, and fair ballot boxes, we can work within said system, but I’m keeping mine in my warm, still moving fingers for now.

So basically I’m saying that I’m staying a small “l” libertarian, until the party develops some balls, and some brains.

Posted by: steel at December 17, 2004 08:59 PM

I rather think that the statement on the website is a way of expressing the LP’s official anti-war position. While the LP is hardly an effective political party, I don’t think that the idea that they’d have to take precautions against RICO action passes the laugh test.

The LP has long been pretty ineffective, but with this year’s presidential campaign it showed itself to be insanely so. Part of the problem, I think, is that the official GOP position — see the Oath above — is not too far off the libertarian track. So the LP needs to define itself somehow other than just printing the GOP Oath and adding ‘But we really mean it!’ to the end. Thus the even-nuttier-than-usual presidential candidate, and thus the ‘principled’ anti-war stance.

War is, after all, a horribly un-libertarian thing. If you think that governmental coercion is a bad idea, then it’s not too far a leap to think that a government dropping bombs on people in order to coerce them into some action is also a bad idea.

If libertarian ‘principles’ so inevitably result in an anti-war stance, though, why is the statement even needed? Because it’s not such a clear issue, that’s why, if for no other reason than that the ‘initiation of force’ here is hard to pin down. Was the ‘initiation of force’ Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990? Was it Iraq’s continued defiance of the terms of the cease-fire that ended hostilities there in 1991? Was it the 11 September attack?

Had the Iraqi air force somehow attacked the United States in 2001, I’m not sure the LP would be against the war (but I’m not sure they would be for it, either). If it were a question of defending the United States against an easily-defined state or alliance of states, it would be much simpler.

From a libertarian question, I think the central question about the way is one of: what are we fighting against? Whos are we defending the United States from? My answer is that it’s a diseased culture, and not just ‘Al Qaeda’. My guess is that the LPers see a much narrower enemy, and that they thus see the broader ‘war on terror’ as illegitimate.

Posted by: Tino at December 17, 2004 10:22 PM

I don’t think that the idea that they’d have to take precautions against RICO action passes the laugh test.

I only wish I were kidding.

The RICO Act is a great example of a law that was enacted for an good purpose, but is used as a tool well above it’s original justification. (Another example is the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just how many hearing aids does a movie theater need to keep on hand to comply with that law?)

While originally aimed at organized crime mafia types, (which it could be argued, got a foothold due to the Volstead Act) recently it’s been applied to: ELF and Earth First! [*] type, so called, eco-terrorist groups, http://www.bc.edu/schools/law/lawreviews/meta-elements/journals/bcealr/29_2/03_TXT.htm Operation Rescue, http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_rico.htm http://www.wcla.org/98-summer/su98-03.html The RIAA, http://www.bizreport.com/news/6238/ Three U. S. Forest Service employees, & �Friends of Fawnskin�, http://www.citizenreviewonline.org/nov2004/14/employees.htm Spammers (at least a bill was introduced) http://www.clickz.com/news/article.php/2206651 President Bush http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/archive/scoop/stories/a3/2c/200311271335.7d8574a3.html and more general stuff. http://www.ipsn.org/court_cases/rico_explanation.htm [that was five minutes with Google] So I don’t think the precautions were entirely crazy. Of course, this was pre-OKC and pre-9/11, nowadays the Executive branch can just arbitrarily label any group a terrorist group, and freeze their bank accounts (which really makes it hard to defend oneself in court). The RICO Act, It’s not just for the Mafia anymore! * Earth First! We’ll strip-mine the other planets later!

Posted by: steel at December 18, 2004 06:39 PM

I do have to say, after further research, that the idea, “no initiation of force”, does seem to be the Libertarian mantra.

I guess my confusion comes from the fact of when I first ran into the Libertarians. It was shortly after Waco.

I don’t know how to say this, without sounding like a fanatic (maybe I am), but when I first considered joining the Libertarians, I still had visions of those tanks that were used against the Branch Davidian’s. The Government was driving them slowly back and forth, trying to collapse tunnels that were dug underground between the “compound” (worry if the government ever starts calling your home or church a “compound”) and a old buried schoolbus used as a bomb shelter. There’s a very good possibility that there were children in that bunker, seeing as agents just jumped out of those cattle cars and started shooting. I didn’t find out, until years later, about the guy who proved, using the governments own tape, that during the final inferno, there was fully automatic machine gun fire being poured down into the “compound” from helicopters overhead.

You make a good point about the Libertarian party being totally ineffective. When you have candidates like the guy that turned his skin permanently blue, (Stan Jones) by overusing an obscure patent medicine, it does not leave a good first impression. In fact, I would make the point that the most successful libertarian politician ever, never ran as a Libertarian. Jesse Ventura ran and won under the Reform party.

Posted by: steel at February 18, 2005 01:18 AM

And Congressman Ron Paul’s views are clearly libertarian, but he runs as a Republican.

Posted by: Nicole at February 18, 2005 12:20 PM