Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Open Letter to the Libertarian Party

Friends, you can change history if you start now.

Understand that I've studied the history of the LP, from 'way back at its beginning in the Objectivist movement, through Murray Rothbard's historic convention in New York City, through the long pull to get the LP on the ballot in every state, up to the last election -- when the NeoCons' shabby treatment of Ron Paul and his followers drove the last small-l libertarians out of the GOP in disgust.  Believe me, I sympathize – and I've been sympathizing for a very long time.

I've seen for myself that the majority of American voters are disgusted with both of the Big Two parties, and with good reason.  From the Republicans' war on women's rights to the Democrats' idiot "globalism", and the blithe indifference both of them show to the Constitution, the Big Two have listened only to themselves and their flacks so long that they've completely lost touch with the American people.  In an age when any citizen can get on the Internet and research damn-near any subject, it's political suicide to think that the voters are so stupid, or even ignorant, as to not know that the US is becoming an economic and political oligarchy, that the squabbles between the Republicans and Democrats resemble a replay of the War of the Roses, with the Koch brothers funding one side and George Soros backing the other.  The citizens are disgusted with the lot of them, and tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.  It's time for a change, indeed.

You could be that. 

For proof, look at my home state of Arizona, which is supposed to be a "red" state.  It's an open secret here that voters registered Independent or Libertarian outnumber the registered Republicans and Democrats put together.  If the LP could put up a good candidate and platform, you could sweep the state next election.

So where's that candidate?  Where's that platform?  Why aren't you out stumping already, seeing that the next election is just two and a half years away? 

Gotta start early, folks, if you want the mention of you to get around;  remember how the media have been doing their best to muffle you with silence for the last 40 years.  Come up with candidates for every office, in every state, put together reasonable platform-planks for all of them, and send them out to stump at every available public gathering – and especially on the Internet.  Most of Ron Paul's entire campaign, fundraising and all, was done on the Internet.  Advertise! 

I can even recommend a single graphic that would go equally well on flyers, bumper stickers, and the occasional – when you can afford it – billboard.  At the top are a stylized donkey and elephant squared off, above them is printed a variation on the famous quote from Shakespeare: "A plague on both their houses".  Below that, in a different color: "Had enough?  Vote Libertarian", and under that an equally stylized porcupine.  That's enough.  You can do everything else by personal appearances and the Internet.  But do it!

The Big Two are afraid you'll do exactly that, as you can tell by their more recent antics.  The Dems are trying, all over TV, to slander you as "hopped up Conservatives", and the Repubs are trying to false-flag you (or make themselves look better, or possibly even take over the LP) by sending out some of their sleazier members claiming to be you.  They wouldn't waste the effort – and money – if they didn't think you might be serious contenders.

These tactics can be countered.  First, tighten your membership requirements – make everyone sign a pledge which clearly states your ideology, and hand out membership cards with photos and computerized ID strips, programmed by the best hackers you can find so that they can't be faked.  Second, do a serious purge;  throw out the con-artists, false-flag saboteurs and every last Conservative – and I trust you can find who they are.  Deactivate their membership cards, with an embedded explanation, and make certain they can't get valid new cards.  Do not make the mistake the GOP made back in the '60s – of welcoming the Conservatives to get more votes.  Look what happened to the Republicans as a result.  That way lies ruin. 

Third, point out – loudly—that Libertarians are not the na├»ve Objectivists they started out as, 40 years ago, and technically you're not even "right-wingers";  you're off in a direction of your own.  Especially, make it clear that you're not anti-union;  the First Amendment protects the rights of citizens "peaceably to assemble to seek redress of grievances", and that certainly covers grievances against bosses as well as against politicians.  As Karl Hess once put it, the labor union (and, nowadays, the consumers' union) is the naturally evolved check and balance on the power of the employer.  Make it clear that you have no objection to honest unions, and point out some examples – such as the ILGWU, the IWW, the Railway Brotherhood, and so on.  Also mention the Consumers' Union, which has done more to protect consumers than whole departments of the federal government.

In point of historical fact, the National Labor Relations Board and the federal labor laws were not created just at the request of the unions.  The labor wars of the 1930s were real shooting wars, and the workingmen had more guns – and often better shooters.  The last thing the corporate or company bosses want is to face off against the labor force – not to mention the consumers – with no government buffer between them.  If both sides were put into that position, they'd both have the sense to tiptoe around each other and be very polite.  Remind the voters that you support the whole Bill of Rights, including the 2nd Amendment.

About the inevitable question of the Affordable Care Act, you can claim – quite honestly – that the original bill was a 2900-page, sloppy, tangled, bureaucratic nightmare of a bill which nobody in Congress even read before they voted on it.  Claim that you want Congress to do what they should have done in the first place: go over the bill page by page, paragraph by paragraph, line by line, with a ruthless red pencil – and throw out all the cute little inclusions of pork, corruption and bloated bureaucracy that it contains.  There's no reason any bill should need more than 100 pages, at most, to accomplish its purpose.

If asked about the hot potato of abortion, you could do a lot worse than to take Ron Paul's brilliant cop-out: that the more controversial a topic is, the more it needs to be decided at the local level – not just state by state, but city by city – and the citizens themselves must decide it, by referendum.  That's the democratic way, after all (and it will neatly get you off the hook).  You can use the same tactic with the questions of gun-control and immigration reform.

On questions of foreign policy, it gets a little tougher.  You cannot, after all, play Free Enterprise with people who are playing Economic Warfare with you;  you have to play Economic Warfare right back at them, and play it well, in order to avoid other and worse forms of war.  Both political lefties and righties will cheer if you promise to bring all the troops home, close the vast majority of those foreign military bases, quit pretending to be the cops of the world, and stop getting involved in unnecessary and questionable wars.  The lefties will cheer if you promise to break up the military-industrial complex – which is the only beneficiary of bad wars – and the righties won't dare to disagree.  Beyond that, just say that the US should be friendly to its proven friends, neutral to its neutrals, and hostile to its proven enemies – and try to avoid naming specific countries.   

Finally, hammer on the fact that the Government Accountancy Office has spent the last four years combing through the federal bureaucracy and has found more than 1500 departments and sub-departments that are redundant, unnecessary, do nothing but waste the taxpayers' money, and need to be abolished – and neither of the Big Two parties has acted on the GAO's recommendations.  But you will.

Do all this, and yes, you'll sweep an unprecedented number of seats – including federal ones – in the 2016 election.  Take it from an old friend who's had lots of experience in grassroots politics, newspaper editing and labor organizing. 

Am I personally a member of the LP?  Oh, no (though I've been registered Libertarian for the longest time), and you really don't want me to be – not for a few years, and several successful elections, anyway.  I'm well known as a shameless Anarchist, and most of the voters aren't willing to go that far – yet. 

Good hunting.

--Leslie Fish  <;)))>< 


Aya Katz said...

Hi, Leslie. I wan the Libertarian Party to win every office in the next election.

I would love to throw out the pretenders among us, those who are really not libertarian and want to confuse us and antagonize others against us.

But an ID card? Seriously, you think an ID card can tell the difference between a good guy and a bad guy?

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Aya. No, of course not; it's the folks handing out the ID cards that must do the telling -- and the rescinding, when it comes to that.

Hmmm, and have you noticed how some desperate Democrat has hacked the LP's websites? The Big Two are running scared, all right.

Anonymous said...

One thing I thought that the small-l libertarians could and should have done was to take over the Reform Party when Ross Perot abandoned it. Unlike the LP, which has to struggle endlessly to get and keep its place on the ballot, the Reform Party already had a place guaranteed. Without having to waste endless energy obtaining ballot access, libertarians could actually campaign and get their message across.

But they didn't do that, and the Buchananites ended up doing exactly that.

Of course, they'd also have had to sit on some of their cranks. People like the Wookiee-suit guy did the Libertarians' image a lot of harm. For worse or for worse, the mainstreamed media love to zero in on such people as typical of libertarians in general. Just like how, at SF cons, they push past lots of nice-looking, articulate people who could explain what's going on to focus in on the fattest, sweatiest, basement-dwelling no-social-skills geek with the most obviously-fake Spock ears they can find, and present him as a typical SF fan.

Paradoctor said...

Good plan, Leslie, but I think you underestimate two difficulties: getting heard over the billionaire's loudspeakers; and cat-herding the libertarians.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Raven. I guess the Libertarians thought the Reform Party had been a little too public with its platform -- which really wasn't libertarian -- to be forgotten, and they didn't want to be tarred with the same brush. And look what happened to the Buchananites.

Of *course* the media always zoom in on the freakiest-looking member of a crowd that they can find, but there are ways to deal with that (I know they've worked because I've used them). As soon as the guy in the Wookie suit saw the reporters converging on him, he should have pulled off the head of the costume, smiled into the cameras and said: "Hi, I'm _____, and I'm a Star Wars fan -- and a Libertarian." When one of the reporters would inevitably ask him why he wore the Wookie suit, he should have smiled wider and said: "To guarantee that you'd come talk to me. A person has to be 'colorful' to get your attention."

Hi, Nat. Heheheheh. The way to herd cats -- or at least get them to go in roughly the same direction -- is to walk slowly past them, holding a dish of warm tuna-fish spiced with catnip, calling: "Kittykittykittykittykitteeee, catfood! Catfood!"

Getting past the billionaires' loudspeakers is actually easier. One billboard, posted in enough cities, and the rest on the Internet. (Of course, this means you have to be alert to hackers attacking your website.) Also, spread the joke: Q: "How do you keep from electing a fat-cat's tool?" A: "When you see a candidate with lots of fancy TV ads, radio ads, newspaper ads and pretty flyers with full-color graphics on glossy paper -- vote for the other guy!"

Prof. Godel Fishbreath, Otter said...

Ron Paul lost my vote when he speculated that he would not have intervened as president in the early 60's civil rights movement. Too much messing with local politics, local control, local decisions.
I like how he was honest in a way that hurt him.

Unknown said...

Leslie, do you believe that the US of A will get interested in space again? My parents are as 'dane as they get, and I don't know who to turn to. What will happen to all the Trufen fought for, not in the least yourself?

I wonder if it's a sign of insanity to wish for a time that you weren't born in.

Leslie Fish said...

Hi, Neth. Oh yes, there are plenty of people -- and companies -- in the US who are eager to get into space again. Why do you think Virgin Airlines hired the winner of the Space Prize to come design ground-to-orbit spaceships for them? Frankly, I think it's just as well that the fed. govt. has lost interest in space; that means they won't be slapping the civilian space companies with tons of regulations and bureaucracy. Google on 'private space flight - USA' or 'the Mars Society', and you'll find plenty of kindred spirits.

No, there's nothing crazy about wishing you were born in another time -- past or future. What do you think the SCA is all about? Or the Sherlock Holmes fans? Or Trekkies? Or most of SciFi fandom, for that matter? You're in good company.