The Party Conventions are over and a sigh of relief sweeps across America. We watch them with the same morbid interest we gawk at a car wreck. We are searching for bodies and gore (not the Al kind) among the twisted metal, while praying that everyone is ok and cursing the traffic jam. In other words, they’re a mess.
The bases are fired up, the opponents are ticked off and Twitter goes wild with glowing praise and 4 letter word spiced denunciations. There’s nothing like an election year to make creationists consider that Darwin might be onto something.
While the news media fawns and fumes over the various Red and Blue candidates jockeying for power, a disenfranchised portion of the population sulks in frustration and disillusionment. They are politically opinionated, certainly vocal, generally articulate, stubborn and when not mellowed out by their hydroponically grown cannabis, quite passionate. They are the Libertarians.
I love Libertarians. I count myself among their number (except for the cannabis part. I do not partake. My substance of choice is Krispy Kreme) and do so proudly. Libertarians are mainly supporters of small Government and fiscal responsibility. They are big on personal liberty and responsibility. They are live and let live kind of people. All noble positions.
Libertarians, though, have some problems that prevent them (us) from being more influential in National politics.
First, many Libertarians are deluded into believing we are more numerous than we are. When we move mostly in like minded social circles, it’s easy to think we are a majority. This is the problem all political ideas face. We don’t get out enough to see and hear what’s going on in the bigger world.
Libertarians are not a majority. We’re not even a large minority. Sure, many, even most, Americans have some Libertarian positions, that’s not the same as most Americans being Libertarian.
Yes, most people say they are tired of ‘business as usual’ in Washington. Every water cooler conversation is packed with ‘there’s no real difference between the parties’ rhetoric. But that’s just talk. The simple fact is, Americans want to be independent thinkers, but we are a two party system and instinctively vote Democrat or Republican. We aren’t even close to a third party making a real difference on a National level.
Another serious problem with Libertarians is a lack of unity. While on the whole, we are fiscally conservative, we are mighty and mightily divided in almost every other area. Consider the military, for example. Some Libertarians would pull all of our troops out of every foreign country and that is the end of the discussion. Others of us take a more pragmatic view and believe we risk too much if we become overly parochial.
Social issues are also huge dividers. We are pretty much united in our position on legalizing drugs, but beyond that, we’re all over the place. I would hazard a guess that a majority of Libertarians are secularists, but a significant percentage of us have our views shaped by the Bible and those disparate foundations keep us from being cohesive on some pretty important matters.
I can’t help but draw a comparison with the Scottish Nationalist Party (based on my days of living in that wonderful country). For more than a dozen years I lived in Caledonia and was drawn to the movement for Scottish Independence. I read their books, listened to their speeches and attended their meetings.
Scots were drawn to the cause of Independence for all kinds of reasons; some noble, some ignoble. They loved their country and culture. They were weary of their lives being directed by, and their excessive tax money going to, London. The Nationalists were passionate in this common desire. The problem was, they couldn’t unite on much else. The midlands of Scotland were, and are, liberal, secular and progressive. The North East, Highlands and Islands tend to be more conservative and religious. A united platform was never adopted during my years there. A loose confederacy was the most that could be accomplished.
As a result, the SNP could win a few local elections, but couldn’t muster enough mass appeal to take the nation.
In case I sound cryptic, let me be clear. There is NO WAY a Libertarian Presidential candidate could be elected President of the United States at this time. We can win local and State seats from time to time and we can influence National elections and affect Party platforms, but there is no way to win on a national level.
Libertarianism, you see, is not a political party. It is a philosophy. It affects our views on Govt., laws, rules, regulations and even morality. It’s national draw politically comes primarily from young conservatives who hold more liberal social views and from Boomer adults who were once leftists and have moved to the right as they matured in their understanding of economics but have held true to their Vietnam era anti war views (Of course I’m generalizing, but I’m on target, even if I miss the bull’s eye on some points).
November is coming and Libertarians are in a tizzy. Some still believe that Gary Johnson can become President. That’s nonsense. If every Libertarian comes out to vote in November and votes for Gary Johnson. If every person posting cute ‘both parties are the same’ posters on FB and Twitter all pull the lever for Johnson I can tell you right now who will win. We will have 4 more years of Barack Obama.
You may hate that idea. You may love that idea. You may shrug your shoulders at that idea, but please, for the sake of intellectual integrity, don’t pretend any other result is possible.
I’m more pragmatic in my approach. I will accept baby steps. I will search for candidates who are willing to listen and move, even a little, in our direction. Sometimes ‘the greater part of valor is discretion’. In my opinion, the economy is our most immediate issue and I believe one of the major party candidates is well equipped to take us down the road to repair and restore ours. I believe he will promote the entrepreneurial spirit and personal responsibility that is dear to my Libertarian heart. He will break my heart in some other areas and will aggravate the life out of me in others. So I will vote for him and his baby steps toward true liberty and the constitution. I will also hold his feet to the fire and be a pain in his backside if he betrays me.
Which candidate am I talking about? I’m not saying. You do the research and you vote. I WILL say that if you vote Gary Johnson, you’re casting two votes. Is that what you meant to do?