Friday, July 17, 2009

A Message For Libertarians: A Reader Comment


A reader, Graham, recently left a comment on my article entitled, "Time For A Third Party? Problems With America's Two Party System." I enjoyed reading it and I think that it's definitely worth sharing with you:

A very pertinent set of observations...but one which I fear is lost on most people.

I am currently trying to find out if there is a third party that I can join, since I have concluded that the Democratic Party and the GOP are a waste of space in terms of modern governance. However, I have to say that most of what I have discovered in the third party zone is in some cases more frightening than either of the two major parties. So far I have read mostly mean-spirited and pompous bloviating that starts from the premise that anybody who does not agree with you 100% is (insert moronic broad-brush insult here).

I am not going to join forces with mean-spirited intolerant wankers, folks. Whatever their manifest faults, neither the Democratic or Republican parties generally start from the premise that prospective members are idiotic sheep needing a good dose of libertarianism. They learned a long time ago that you are more likely to capture members if you are nice to them.

Blunt summary to a lot of people in the US calling themselves libertarians: you do not meet my definition of pleasant people. If you want me to join your party, you had better start by dropping the pompous pretence to total knowledge, put down the stereotypical broad-brushes (if I hear another person describe me as a socialist I will laugh so effing loud that the walls of the house will cave in), and start, you know, actively trying to recruit me. The way that you really build organizations.

Thanks, Graham! I appreciate your willingness to challenge me and this site's readers, and your ability to do so in a way that is at once cutting and edgy, and a very genuine invitation to dialogue and self-reflection about the libertarian movement.

Let me clarify that I am not personally a registered member of the Libertarian party (or of any party) and that I consider myself to be a "libertarian" in terms of my political ideology rather than electoral party- so as Milton Friedman said, I am "a libertarian with a lower-case 'l'."

This is itself, only a matter of expediency, because most people would get confused and misunderstand if I called myself by the label that I really find most suitable for someone with my political views: a liberal.

As for this article, I do think it deserves an update, because there may be some hope yet for the Republican party and I want to clarify exactly what I mean by that. I also have hopes for a possible wave of independents over the next few election cycles. It's probably a pipe-dream, but we'll see what happens.

Most of all, I think the best, most lasting, most real way to drive change, is to change hearts and minds with the power of ideas and the power of love. As I concluded in the article, if we could just get people to understand the concept that their political understanding has been crammed into "a line" that makes no sense whatsoever, if we could just shatter this sloppy framework for thinking about government- it would be a great leap forward in establishing a truly civil and free society.