Huffington Post: The Liberty Movement Should Ask the Most Important Question

This article was posted in the Huffington Post on December 27. 2012.  It poses some interesting questions, especially in the context of some of our recent articles on IPR re: state infighting within the LP.
 

By Robin Koerner

The only British political party that describes itself as libertarian is the United Kingdom Independence Party, or “UKIP”. Twenty years ago, it did not exist. Today, it has the support of anywhere between 7 percent and 14 percent of the British electorate. This rise from non-existence to a force in British politics so powerful that even the mainstream media have begun to identify it as the biggest threat to the governing Conservative party is all the more remarkable because the majority of the British electorate doesn’t actually know what the word “libertarian” means.

On our side of the pond, the much more robustly libertarian “Libertarian Party” of the United States, is more than twice as old as UKIP. Yet, even after all the unprecedented excitement for libertarian ideas that was generated by the extraordinary presidential run of Ron Paul, and even with the willingness of the American mainstream media to use the word “libertarian” (small “l”) to describe Dr. Paul and those who broadly agree with him, the Libertarian Party’s candidate, who has a very impressive executive resume, barely picked up 1 percent of the vote in November. The meager impact of the liberty movement looks even weaker when one considers that the USA is (arguably) the most libertarian country on the planet and (less arguably) the country with the most libertarian founding narrative.

Why, then, has the Libertarian Party — and more importantly, the much broadly based new liberty movement — failed to make a significant electoral impact, despite its recent tailwinds?

More specifically, why can’t a libertarian-leaning movement in the U.S., which is a libertarian-leaning country, have even one tenth of the success of a libertarian-leaning movement in the UK, a deeply social democratic country, despite working on the task for twice as long?

The rest of the article can be read right here .

66 thoughts on “Huffington Post: The Liberty Movement Should Ask the Most Important Question

  1. Jared King

    First of all, there is a Libertarian Party UK; however they’re very small and little more than cheerleaders for the Conservative Party. Secondly, the United Kingdom Independence Party isn’t very libertarian on a number of issues, so the fact that they refer to themselves as such is slightly irrelevant.

    Good article all the same.

  2. Jed Siple

    From what I’ve heard of the UKIP, it is most certainly NOT a libertarian political party and has gone a long way toward making the liberty movement look bad.

    As far as why the LP hasn’t gained traction, the answer is simple: the system is rigged against us. We can’t get on the ballot in all 50 states, we can’t get access to the debates, the media won’t give our candidates coverage, and even if we were able to accomplish all that, the fear of an electoral college tie keeps most people from voting for a non-duopoly candidate.

    All things being equal the LP should be just as big if not bigger than the UKIP. But all things aren’t equal.

  3. Jill Pyeatt Post author

    In general, I think the UK is much further away from liberty than we are here, but I don’t know much about their liberty movement. Are they aware of how much free will they’ve lost? I don’t live there, so I don’t know.

    What Jed said is important: “As far as why the LP hasn’t gained traction, the answer is simple: the system is rigged against us”. However, we just can’t give up trying to get our message across. People are just now starting to get it here in the US. It’s still quite a minority, but maybe as Obama further destroys the country, more and more people will wake up.

  4. Andy

    “We can’t get on the ballot in all 50 states, ”

    This is not true. The Libertarian Party had ballot access in all 50 states plus DC in 1980, 1992, 1996, and 2000 (although there was a different candidate for President on the ballot in Arizona due to a split in the LP of AZ).

    The Libertarian Party could have obtained 50 state plus DC ballot access in 2004, 2008, and 2012 with better planning and execution.

    I’m not saying that the barriers to achieving 50 state plus DC ballot access are easy, but rather I’m pointing out that the party has done it before and could have done it on at least 3 other occasions if not for a combination of poor planning, incompetence, and a little bit internal corruption,

  5. NewFederalist

    Actually, I believe the LP of the UK has disbanded. I seem to remember reading a British political site that stated as much. I will try to find it.

  6. Gene Berkman

    The United Kingdom Independence Party is not libertarian, but it does make some free market critiques of the European Union, and it stands for national independence.

    Some who are active in The Libertarian Alliance have backed the UKIP as a protest vote against both the British political establishment and the EU bureaucracy.

    The UKIP results have not been enough to elect a single member of the House of Commons. UKIP has elected local councilors, as the US LP has. UKIP’s biggest victory was electing a dozen members of the European Parliament, which they oppose the existence of. EP elections are based on proportional representation.

    If we look at votes for Congress compared to votes for the House of Commons, the LP vote percentage is often similar to the percentage cast for UKIP candidates for Commons.

    Americans are least likely to vote third party for President, and yet everyone judges the strength of the Libertarian Party based on votes for President, when our candidates for Congress and local office get a much bigger percentage of the vote.

  7. Jared King

    @5: I haven’t heard that, but I also haven’t heard anything new from them in months (I make a habit of keeping up with international libertarian parties, even crummy ones like themselves).

    Yet on their website they still accept donations and membership renewals.

  8. Michael H. Wilson

    I don’t think the LPUS should take the blame for having a limited selection of literature, or for not getting on the ballot in all 50 states or for spending time on arguing about buying a building. After all it is not our fault for these things. It is usually someone else who has caused us these problem. Hell why be responsible when usually it is someone else that we can point to instead. Why spend $50,000 on a public relations project when we can spend it on a building?

  9. Wes Wagner

    MHW @9

    Don’t forget about all those sweet sweet fundraising royalties paid to our new class of royalty.

  10. Oranje Mike

    There’s no place in the debates. Democrats, Republicans and The Olde Media (to borrow a term from Barry Hess) are set in making sure our “democratic” election systems allow for no other party to gain traction.

  11. George Phillies

    Readers looking for a European libertarian party might look carefully at the Partei der Vernunft (PdV, Party of Reason, German) with the important qualification that they may actually be a German far right party under an odd name, and not a Libertarian Party.

    Also, in 2008 we had a fellow here who claimed to be from a British Libertarian Party.

  12. Gene Berkman

    OM @ 11 – in local races and even Congressional contests, Libertarian candidates are often included.

    When I ran for Congress in the 1990s I was invited to every campaign forum and received equal time.

    The exclusion does occur in the race for President and is one more reason our candidate for President receives a lower vote percentage than any of our candidates for Congress.

  13. johnO

    The LP in US should focus more on states that already have a libertarian bent. I think Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado and Wyoming come to mind. The UK on the otherhand looks to be too much statist. This includes the Conservative Party of UK.

  14. Andy

    Gene Berkman said: “The exclusion does occur in the race for President and is one more reason our candidate for President receives a lower vote percentage than any of our candidates for Congress.”

    While it is true that we sometimes have candidates at the local or state level who are allowed to enter debates with the major party candidates, more often than not our local and state level candidates are shut out of these debates as well.

  15. Andy

    “Gene Berkman // Jan 30, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Andy @ 16 – I was just speaking from my experience in California. It probably is different elsewhere.”

    I was active in the Libertarian Party of California for several years and I remember multiple instances where our candidates were shut out of debates. I remember one time when a candidate showed up at a debate and was removed by the police in hand cuffs.

    I’m glad to see that you got to participate in debates against your Democratic and Republican opponents, but not every LP candidate has had this good fortune.

  16. Steven Wilson

    I am not saying anything about UK and their party system, but here, branding takes place with you or without you.

    The third parties in America are deemed “generic” in comparison to the main brands or major parties. Therefore, when it comes time to buy in open view, the American always goes with the major brands.

    Also, it has been a misconception since I became active in 1996 for the LP that the American people care about individualism and Liberty.

    This is a major mistake to assume that all people want freedom.

    Oath
    Color theory (uniform)
    Protocol (law)
    Conformity (loss of self-identification)

    You will find these variants in all world powers. Because they work in getting people to obey.

  17. ATBAFT

    #18, yeah and I remember multiple instances of LP candidates not even bothering to answer the League of Women Voters questionnaire that gets printed in all the newspapers.

  18. Executive Detractor

    Republican incumbents for U.S. Congress often fail to fill out LOWV guides, and also refuse to attend LOWV sponsored debates. I always recommend Libertarians complete the guides and participate, but not bothering to answer LOWV questionnaires is not a strike against what some would call “acting like a real political party . . . “

  19. Steve

    I wonder if it has to do with the posturing of the major parties in the US making the occasional claims that they are defending liberty and a largely uninformed populace not realizing (or caring) how much liberty they’ve really lost. In Britain, the contrast seems to be more obvious.

    Side note, the LP should list among its “libertarians worldwide” the Ale Yarok (Green Leaf) party of Israel. While (as the name suggests) they’re primarily focused on cannabis, they are regularly described by Israeli media and average citizens as the libertarian party of the country. Unfortunately, their vote totals seem to have plateaued just short of enough to win a seat in parliament.

  20. Tim Doran

    Reasons:
    1. DuVerger’s Law – plurality (single winner) rule elections structured within single-member districts tends to favor a two-party system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law)

    2. Corporate/Gov. Media desire to reduce coverage of 3rd parties or factions that oppose establishment

    3. Incumbency of current two parties

    4. Money from corporate/Union for Duopoly

    5. Ballot Access and Election Rules

    All are important but number 1 is probably the largest factor and explains how it is much easier to be successful (electorally) in a proportional electoral system like in the UK than the plurality electoral system in the US.

    Also, the article is talking about electoral success not success of influence or message. that is a separate discussion and would certainly recognize that despite our lack of Federal and State electoral success we have done a much better job with influence and message as is seen by the fact that “small government”, “deficit-reduction” and “civil liberties” are all popular topics for politicians to give lip service to.

  21. Green_Liberal

    @15 I find it interesting that this German Kleinpartei is in favor of direct democracy, apparently of the Swiss variety.

    It would be nice if the Libertarians and other third parties in the USA would get behind direct democracy because it would be better for a direct democracy movement to have support across the political spectrum. Direct democracy is controversial and direct democracy laws need to be written carefully. But it’s hard to imagine that the people would do worse than our current batch of representatives if given the capacity to govern.

  22. Robert Capozzi

    Robin Koerner is correct that the USLP has been, in effect, talking past the sale for decades. It’s worse than that, though. Until recent years, the USLP’s platform was riddled with hyper-extremisms, going so far as to state that banning “inherently dangerous” weapons was (somehow!) anti-L!

    Still, the UK’s parliamentary system may explain a good part of why a liberty party can do better in the UK than the US. Without a very cagey, concerted effort, it’s nearly impossible to get elected to federal office in the US as a non-R or D.

    This difficulty doesn’t justify the LP’s hyper-extremism, but it does help to explain it to a degree.

  23. Arthur DiBianca

    @24 and 26:

    My understanding is that the UK parliament is elected with single-member plurality elections, just like U.S. House.

    And I understand the same is true in Canada and Australia.

    Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

    It seems to me that the relative weakness of alternatives in America is because:
    1. American culture is just more “my team vs. your team, I don’t want other options”, or
    2. Ballot access.

  24. Tom Blanton

    Maybe, just maybe, if the LP started looking like and acting more like Republicans, and if the LP recruited more Republicans as candidates, maybe then electoral success would come.

    Of course, the LP would have to appear moderate and act very serious – none of this hyper-extremism stuff that scares moderates.

    Also, the LP would have to get more earned media (a mysterious thing that only high-level PR wonks know about) which is free – even though candidates that spend millions on paid media (ads) seem to get a lot of this earned media stuff.

    Naw, it’ll never work.

  25. Robert Capozzi

    27 ADB, yes, the districts do appear to work that way. But since it’s a parliamentary system, a minor party can have significant sway in Parliament. My understanding is that the UK has had three parties with MPs for most of the last 100 years.

    In the 19th century, the US had many MCs from non-major parties. But since the executive is elected separately, that tradition died long ago, aside from the occasional independent MC here, as I understand it.

    Ballot access also tends to block non-majors in the US.

    Still, even without the ballot access challenge, does anyone really believe that a person who is challenging the “cult of the omnipotent state” and, until recently, believed that NO weapons could be banned on the basis of their being inherently dangerous, could be elected to Congress? Faced with the very real electoral obstacles in the US, the party here has, in effect, thrown in the towel. I guess the thinking is that we “might as well” talk past the sale since the odds of closing are so poor…might as well hold high the banner of extremism since so few have ears to hear, or something.

    Extremism may indeed not be a vice, but doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!

  26. NewFederalist

    Arthur @27… you are correct. All the “British style” parliamentary systems employ “First Past the Post” single member constituencies.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    30 tb, are you saying that hyper-extremism DOES work? I musta missed that episode! ;)

    And, yes, if by R you mean people like GJ and RP, I would say they would be more likely to breakthrough and get elected to Congress than an extremist L. Odds are long in both cases, but since independents DO get elected to Congress now and then, I don’t see an inherent reason why an L could not.

  28. Be Rational

    RC You are obsessed with the SOP and platform. But those have no effect on elections since almost no voters ever read them. However, worrying over, wasting time and fighting over these things do hurt the LP immensely.

    Tim Doran: Duverger’s law also isn’t the problem – results in GB, Canada and elsewhere show that. I actually studied with Maurice Duverger at the Sorbonne in Paris and I doubt he would agree with your assessment. Duverger only considered this a tendency, not a law, and one that could be overcome.

    Ballot access obstacles also cannot be blamed. Yes they make life difficult, but many states have fairly easy access and the LP has gained 50 state POTUS campaign ballot status numerous times and failures in 1984 and years hence have been due to incompetence.

    The problem has been and continues to be poor organizational skills, poor leadership and poor campaign strategy in the LP.

    Look at the problems currently in OR and PA for example. Factions, infighting, state chairs running as candidates in other parties, paranoid cultish county groups … These are organization and leadership problems.

    Lack of outreach, lack of advertising, so few voters have heard of the LP or its candidates, and those who have heard of us don’t get the advertising legitimization needed to actually cast a vote for us. It’s a leadership problem.

  29. Manuel Gomez

    …”paranoid cultish county groups” …

    Since the York LP was recently called a paranoid cult in these comments in response to my statements, I now have a horse in this race…

    Robin, where in any of the York LP’s public expressions and actions, have you seen any indication of paranoid cultish behavior?

    We sufficiently addressed all of the anonymous trolls’ abstractions and allegations concerning our recent organizational changes.

    Do you have any knowledge of our inner workings, our public advocacy in York, or are you merely parroting inaccuracies and derision to bolster your already leading questions and suppositions of the Libertarian Party?

    There’s no doubt the LP at all levels is afflicted with infighting; but your rehashing of inaccurate characterizations is only a sustenance to said cancer, not a remedy.

  30. Manuel Gomez

    @33 should not read ‘Robin'; it is directed at ‘Be Rational’ – who seems to hop from thread to thread inciting fights and trolling to no end.

    My apologies for the mistype, Robin.

  31. Be Rational

    Mauel Gomez. You did not respond to any of the comments regarding your little local cult.

    Your group has an exclusive, closed membership driven by fear and paranoia. This has been proven by your own bylaws and proceedures and writings on various threads. The behavior of your group fits the standard behavior of a paranoid, personality based cult.

    You are supposed to be a political party that reaches out to new people, invites their participation, attempts to influence political processes and elect individuals to move our society toward greater liberty … which is hard to contemplate when your county group is as closed to outsiders, ranting at the world, but still hidden in your bunker, like some desperate, paranoid, dictator and his henchmen watching their kingdom crash around them.

    You should open your group so that every Member of the LP PA or the LP National or registered LP voter is automatically a member of your county group.

    But paranoia prevents that.

  32. Tim Doran

    @32 Be Rational,

    you are TOTALLY incorrect on your assessment of the US vs UK and duverger’s law. In fact, in elections with plurality voting in the UK, there has not been a single UKIP member elected. All UKIP members in UK office currently were defections. For MEP elections, however, which are proportional elections, the UKIP has 13 of 73 seats because they came in second place with 16.5% of the voter total.

    In 1992 Ross Perot earned 18.9% of the popular vote and as a result of that neither he nor his party got a single representative in federal office. This lack of reward for casting a vote for a third party encourages voters not to do it again and the cycle continues.

    This is exactly the point that DuVerger made in his early papers when he examined the self-reinforcing effect that plurality voting has in strengthening the top two parties and weakening 3rd parties.

    Also, it is hard to blame LP ” poor organizational skills” for the lack of 3rd party success when every presidential election after 1824 has been won by a member of one of the two major parties!!

    Could the LP be better organized, more consistent, better funded and more stable – absolutely. Would that have put a single member in congress or a governor’s seat – not likely.

    The fact is, something major needs to happen that will propel us into one of the top-two parties (ie disintegration of the GOP into factions) and that is why we should continue. Also, because most of us realize that our single vote has little to no effect on the outcome of most elections and even if it did, 99% of all Dems and Republicans are for big government cronyism and voting for different flavors of poison seems more futile than voting for “no poison” even if we have no chance of winning.

  33. Green_Liberal

    It’s obvious that one of the biggest obstacles to 3rd parties are our outmoded electoral laws. This applies to the UK to a lesser extent. But in places like France and Germany, with proportional representation, it’s easier for 3rd parties to emerge. Consider how fast the Pirate Party came up. In fact, Koerner would not be talking about the UKIP unless they had elected MPs to the European Parliament because of proportional representation.

    Does the LP support instant run-off voting and/or proportional representation? Will they support it in the future?

    I was never more disappointed in Gary Johnson then when I heard him oppose IRV in a post-election discussion, saying that IRV helps elect Democrats. I can see why GJ would take this position if he wants to get back in with the GOP, but I hope this view isn’t widely shared among Libertarians.

  34. Be Rational

    @36 Actually, I am totally correct about Great Britain and Duverger’s law. If you will check, you will find that GB has, and has had historically, three strong parties holding seats in Parliament – not two as you must be assuming and as you think should be according to Duverger’s law.

    Current House of Commons:

    HM Government

    Conservative (303)
    Liberal Dem (57)

    HM Official Opposition

    Labor (255)

    Other Opposition

    DUP (8)
    SNP (6)
    SF (4, Abstention)
    Plaid (3)
    SDLP (3)
    Greens (1)
    Respect (1)
    Alliance (1)
    Independent (3)

    Three strong parties, many minor parties, with plurality single member district elections as in the US.

    As Maurice Duverger would have told you, this is not a law, it is only a tendency that can be overcome.

    The failure with the LP in the US is incompetent leadership.

  35. Be Rational

    One sign of incompetent leadership is blaming the electoral system for their own failure to make use of the existing system to reach out to the public, build the party and win.

  36. Tim Doran

    “The failure with the LP in the US is incompetent leadership.”

    Then why hasn’t there been a single successful third party in nearly 100 years? Is that the LP leadership’s fault? Not one single party had good leadship or smart people?

    By stating the the LP fails because they have poor leadership infers that The GOP and Democratic Parties have success because they have good leadership. uh-huh. Howard Dean, Reince Preibus, Michael Steele, John Boehner, GWB, John Kerry, John McCain….yeah what brain trusts they have!

  37. Be Rational

    “Then why hasn’t there been a single successful third party in nearly 100 years? Is that the LP leadership’s fault? Not one single party had good leadship or smart people?”

    There have been third party members of congress in the last hundred years and my personal view is that other than the LP they have had little to offer, so their victories do show it’s possible and demonstrate some ability.

    Since most of the other parties you refer to have been much less desireable than the Ds and Rs, it should be no surprise that they have gone nowhere. Evil socialists of many stripes, communists, earth nazi greens, prohibition, racists, crazy leftists, crazy rightists … the fact that they normally go nowhere while voters are still dissatisfied with the Ds and Rs is actually a hopeful sign.

    The LP has desirable positioning which reonates with a large segment of the public when properly presented and could be popular with good candidates and good leadership.

    “By stating the the LP fails because they have poor leadership infers that The GOP and Democratic Parties have success because they have good leadership. uh-huh. Howard Dean, Reince Preibus, Michael Steele, John Boehner, GWB, John Kerry, John McCain….yeah what brain trusts they have!”

    Of course the Ds and Rs have the power of incumbency, power to do favors, and the government purse to buy votes. However you make a serious mistake when you underestimate the ability of their party strategists, leaders and professional staff.

    Meanwhile in the LP, there has been a significant number of embarrassing candidates at various levels, constant infighting, whining about the electoral system, and leaders who have no idea how to organize a political party and who waste the time of activists and the resources entrusted to them. These are the reasons that the LP has failed.

    The system is actually open to us and we can win if we do the actual party building and outreach needed to present a clear, consistent, focused Libertarian message to the public.

  38. Gene Berkman

    Tim @ 36 points out – “…every presidential election after 1824 has been won by a member of one of the two major parties!!”

    And in that time many members of Congress have been elected as candidates of alternative parties or as Independents.

    Running a third party campaign for President is asking people to work for and contribute to a campaign that has little chance of electoral success, given this history.

    A third party candidate for Congress has inherently more plausibility as a potential winner, because there have been third party members of Congress.

  39. Robert Capozzi

    32 br: RC You are obsessed with the SOP and platform. But those have no effect on elections since almost no voters ever read them. However, worrying over, wasting time and fighting over these things do hurt the LP immensely.

    me: Thanks for the feedback, but apparently I’ve not made myself clear. I don’t disagree that most voters don’t (bother to) read those documents. They don’t because the LP has relegated itself to the fringes because the LP has historically been populated by members who adhered to a profoundly dysfunctional political thought system. I count myself as buying into the absolutist, deontological approach, which clouds the mind to the point that one actually believes that there is, for instance, a “cult of the omnipotent state.” Those words, and other vestigial fringe ideas, are SYMPTOMS of a way of thinking that renders the LP unviable politically. All things political are measured against the NAP construct in a simplistic, formulaic manner in a world that is NOT simple nor reducible to simple formulas like the NAP.

    This is why L often sound out of step in the public square, irrelevant. This is why so few join. This is why the LP is funded at such low levels.

    And this is a shame, since liberty is such a beautiful idea.

    Self-marginalizing seems like a bad idea to me since politics is a numbers game. It’s a shame since “more liberty” seems like a pretty compelling sell. “More liberty” with an emphasis on a few key issues seems like an even MORE compelling sell.

  40. Robert Capozzi

    43 T: millionaires or defectors from major parties almost without exception.

    me: Great, let’s find some of those.

  41. Tom Blanton

    Extremism is having the largest prison population in the world while claiming to have more freedom than any nation has ever had.

    Extremism is is engaging in preventive wars claiming to prevent something that might happen at some point in the future and basing it all on lies.

    Extremism is assassinating a teenaged American simply for having the wrong father.

    Extremism is raising your level of spending year after year while having to borrow more and more each year while complaining about imaginary budget cuts.

    Extremism is putting every citizen under surveillance without a warrant and maintaining a database on their private lives.

    Extremism is bailing out wealthy people guilty of criminal fraud while ignoring their crimes and instead prosecuting ordinary people for petty violations of bureaucratic regulations.

    Do you want more examples of extremism, Capozzi?

    Apparently, you’re clueless as to what extremism actually is. You seem to think that minding your own business and desiring others to mind their own business is extreme.

    It seems you believe that complaining about being financially penalized, put in jail, or even killed by the government for engaging in private behavior in the privacy of your own home is extreme.

    God forbid anyone advance the idea that people shouldn’t be forced to pay for things that some honky in a suit living in your beltway neighborhood decides you must pay for.

    I imagine you have no idea of what I am even talking about due to willful ignorance. You seem to take pride in your ignorance of current events and chastise others by labeling them with pejoratives when you don’t even understand the basic reality of what is going on around you.

    At this point, a majority of Americans view the government as a threat, according to PEW. But then, you wouldn’t know that because reading is for conspiracy theorists and you can already magically divine the thoughts of others.

    You’d better step up your game to convince all of them that they are wrong-headed absolutist conspiracy theorists, nothing but unenlightened Timothy McVeigh types that distrust government due to ignorance.

    Here’s a better idea.

    Take your passive-aggressive pretentiousness and shove it in the same place where you find your faux enlightenment.

    You are the extremist absolutist and an apologist for the forces of evil.

    Perhaps libertarians would be able to sell freedom if they quit trying to manipulate people with contrived rhetoric and plastic smiles while wearing the uniforms of the establishment elite. Nobody is buying the shit you are peddling, Capozzi – not libertarians or the man in the street whose mind you think you can read.

  42. Robert Capozzi

    tb 46-47, why, thank you, Brother, for your insights.

    I agree we live in extreme times, although I’d say humanity has always had a propensity toward cruelty. Do you disagree? We could take a little tour of human history together if you find that helpful.

    You might consider that you are employing a logic leap:

    1) Majorities don’t trust government
    2) Therefore, majorities are open to abolishing Social Security, ICE, SEC, and the Air Force, etc., etc., etc..

    Is that a fair characterization of your view?

    In my case, yes, people DON’T trust government…with good reason. My take is that many favor rolling it back, and some of them favor rolling it back across the board as I and many Ls do. The point of politics, at least, is to lead people with a compelling narrative that works both emotionally and logically. Create too much distance from large numbers of people (by advocating way outside the mainstream ideas) and lose their interest.

    Inspire people with near-term specifics and long-term directions is my suggestion. Alienating them from the fringes may make YOU feel better, TB, but I do wonder how many are buying your Shining Blantonia on the Hill narrative.

    The brainwashed do have a hard time thinking outside their construct they’ve adopted, there we agree wholeheartedly. Plato’s Cave and all that….

  43. Robert Capozzi

    46 tb: You seem to think that minding your own business and desiring others to mind their own business is extreme.

    me: Oh, yes, I’m sorry you feel that way. I favor minding one’s own business…maximally. Whether that in your mind (which I cannot read!) that means low-level coercion is justified (for the foreseeable future) to maintain a semblance of domestic tranquility with social institutions like cops, courts, and the Coast Guard appears to be the difference between your views and mine.

  44. Tom Blanton

    You might consider that you are employing a logic leap:

    1) Majorities don’t trust government
    2) Therefore, majorities are open to abolishing Social Security, ICE, SEC, and the Air Force, etc., etc., etc..

    You might consider that you have failed to read my mind correctly. That a majority doesn’t trust government is merely an open door and I make no assumptions about what majorities are open to. The fact is that groups of people are actually individuals and as much as it conflicts with your premise, they don’t all think uniformly.

    The majority of people in America have been subjected year after year to billions of dollars worth of propaganda through schools and media, by social and political leaders, all reinforced by each other’s fear of rejection for speaking outside the accepted narrative.

    Yet, while stating the obvious may alienate some by revealing that the emperor wears no clothes, how else can the narrative designed to subjugate the population be changed?

    Alienating them from the fringes may make YOU feel better, TB, but I do wonder how many are buying your Shining Blantonia on the Hill narrative.

    Who says I am alienating anyone? What is my narrative? The better question is what do you imagine my narrative to be? Do you imagine that I walk up to strangers and yell at them that I have a right to own nukes? This is how you portray those who you deem to be too radical. But this is only in your imagination.

    I’ve never promised anyone a rose garden and I’m not so sure that I’ve been any less successful in persuading others that government and politicians are not their salvation than you have preaching for limited government and extolling the virtues of a slightly less coercive police state.

    My narrative is quite simple. It consists of merely pointing out the evil of government and suggesting that we would all be better off with no government than the government we have. That’s a far cry from claiming I have the pathway to utopia.

    I have no formula or secret strategy to manipulate others into accepting my premise. I don’t ponder tactics to use that will win their hearts and minds. That is the way of deceivers. If it offends someone to offer alternatives to a failed status quo, that is unfortunate. But, if no alternative is ever offered for fear of rejection, we might as well give up and submit to whatever evil our leaders wish to unleash on society.

    I agree we live in extreme times, although I’d say humanity has always had a propensity toward cruelty. Do you disagree? We could take a little tour of human history together if you find that helpful.

    Why don’t you take a little tour of America in the last 30 years and take note of the direction things are going in?

    You see only libertarian extremists and have failed to notice the extremism engaged in by the mainstream actors you seek to emulate in style and even somewhat in substance. Perhaps you should consider examining whether you are moderate or merely banal.

    My approach may not be working to your satisfaction, but at least some people understand what I’m talking about and have enough imagination to think about alternatives other than government intervention and coercion.

    On the other hand, Capozzi, your approach based on fear of alienating people and basing your words on what you imagine they want to hear has failed to bring about throngs of motivated parties who clamor for slightly less government intervention and coercion.

    Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP ilk have had a monopoly on that lessarchism crap for decades. They have never delivered. What makes you think anyone is going to believe the same trite bullshit just because YOU are saying it, Capozzi.

    It might be that the establishment elite doesn’t give a flying fuck what their subjects think. But if I said that, that would make me an absolutist extremist conspiracy theorists who offends the people who support the establishment elite and vote for them. Right, Capozzi?

    In other words, the world might not be buying the shit I’m peddling, but they’re not beating a path to your door either. At least I’m telling the truth instead of creating a contrived script designed to manipulate the minds of “the majority” based on what I think they want to hear.

    I’m stating my preferences. You state what you imagine the preferences of others to be, pretending to win on some bizarre level. But what have you won other than getting someone to agree with themselves, assuming you are correct in determining what they wanted to hear in the first place – all while you imagine that your are not alienating them.

  45. Robert Capozzi

    tb: That a majority doesn’t trust government is merely an open door and I make no assumptions about what majorities are open to. The fact is that groups of people are actually individuals and as much as it conflicts with your premise, they don’t all think uniformly.

    me: Agreed, “open door.” Yes, people are individuals, that’s non-controversial. And, yes, they don’t think uniformly, near as I can tell and in my experience. However, my observation is that there are broad consensuses. IF you are interested in social change, that requires a change of mind and heart among large numbers of people, which requires marketing and messaging that persuades large numbers of people to adopt one’s position on issues. In the movie I’m watching, ideas develop into trends which sometimes lead to policy change.

    tb: Yet, while stating the obvious may alienate some by revealing that the emperor wears no clothes, how else can the narrative designed to subjugate the population be changed?

    me: Yes, well, were it so simple as “clothed/naked,” I’d agree with you. Almost always, social change is a process. If, for ex., one stated:

    “Public roads are built and maintained through coercion. Coercion is immoral. Some roads are private. Therefore, all roads should be private.”

    What this lacks, among other things, is a sense of process. You could test such a position, but I think most (brainwashed as they may be) would find such a statement unconvincing and impractical. Do you disagree?

    tb: Who says I am alienating anyone? What is my narrative? The better question is what do you imagine my narrative to be? Do you imagine that I walk up to strangers and yell at them that I have a right to own nukes? This is how you portray those who you deem to be too radical. But this is only in your imagination.

    me: Hmm, well, iirc, you advocate abolition of the State generally. Specifically, you advocate abolishing elements of the State. Borne out below….

    tb: My narrative is quite simple. It consists of merely pointing out the evil of government and suggesting that we would all be better off with no government than the government we have. That’s a far cry from claiming I have the pathway to utopia.

    me: Exactly. Without a sense of process, my assessment is that advocating statelessness is a non-starter, unpersuasive. You and others feel otherwise. We’re simply having a conversation, sharing opinions, though, since neither your view nor mine can be “proven” “correct.” If it can, please share back!

    tb: I don’t ponder tactics to use that will win their hearts and minds. That is the way of deceivers.

    me: Sorry you feel that way. I disagree. It seems self evident that the way to enact change is to do precisely that: Win hearts and minds. That seems obvious to me, so I would love to hear more.

    tb: If it offends someone to offer alternatives to a failed status quo, that is unfortunate. But, if no alternative is ever offered for fear of rejection, we might as well give up and submit to whatever evil our leaders wish to unleash on society.

    me: Catastrophizing. And a false choice. You seem to posit that the choice is state or statelessness. There are other choices, as I see it, and since statelessness has basically no precedent, it is not a relevant choice.

    tb: Why don’t you take a little tour of America in the last 30 years and take note of the direction things are going in? You see only libertarian extremists and have failed to notice the extremism engaged in by the mainstream actors you seek to emulate in style and even somewhat in substance. Perhaps you should consider examining whether you are moderate or merely banal.

    me: Some things have gotten a lot better, actually, but all in I agree the net net is that the social configuration has deteriorated. Sorry I didn’t make that clear. If I thought L extremism would work to bending the curve toward liberty, I would be a proponent of that approach. I don’t. Net net, it only enables the statists by offering no credible alternative, IMO.

    tb: On the other hand, Capozzi, your approach based on fear of alienating people and basing your words on what you imagine they want to hear has failed to bring about throngs of motivated parties who clamor for slightly less government intervention and coercion.

    me: No, sorry, I don’t “fear” alienating people, I just think it’s a dysfunctional idea, a time sink.

    tb: Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP ilk have had a monopoly on that lessarchism crap for decades. They have never delivered. What makes you think anyone is going to believe the same trite bullshit just because YOU are saying it, Capozzi.

    me: Um, I don’t.

    tb: It might be that the establishment elite doesn’t give a flying fuck what their subjects think. But if I said that, that would make me an absolutist extremist conspiracy theorists who offends the people who support the establishment elite and vote for them. Right, Capozzi?

    me: No, you’re right, it MIGHT be. Who are they, exactly? Do they have a secret handshake ;) ?

    tb: In other words, the world might not be buying the shit I’m peddling, but they’re not beating a path to your door either.

    me: True.

    tb: At least I’m telling the truth

    me: Beg pardon, YOUR truth, not mine.

    tb: But what have you won…

    me: Nothing. No one wins, or loses, they just are. Haven’t you heard: It is what it is.

  46. Tom Blanton

    Here is my simple truth, Capozzi. It is not your truth, obviously.

    When you craft your words to tell someone what they want to hear, you have not persuaded someone. Quite possibly they realize you are not sincere and are patronizing them. This is likely to alienate them. You have given them nothing. Not a new idea.

    When I tell someone that I prefer a stateless society, I am not even attempting to collect $25 from them and get them to sign up for a lifetime membership in a cult. I’m not even asking them to agree with me. It is merely a discussion and not a sales pitch. But at least I have planted a seed – maybe given them some new idea to ponder for a moment. Maybe the next time someone says something along those lines, it might not shock them. At least they know that there are people who hold those beliefs. This doesn’t alienate people.

    Describing your preferences to someone is not an end point it is in fact the beginning of a process. A conversation with someone need not be a cluster of calculated talking points designed to make a sale of your ideology or a membership in your cult, Capozzi.

    It’s simply about honesty, not prefabricated strategic messages. It is the difference between talking to someone and talking at them.

    It might shock you to know that many people are not alienated or shocked that I wish the government would vanish. Many people wish the same thing. They don’t join political parties, they do their best to ignore the government and navigate their way around it, just living their lives. They don’t vote for dissembling jackasses wearing suits and ties babbling talking points. Again, this is not your truth.

    By the way, if you want to know who “they” are, the establishment elite. watch Meet The Press and/or Face The Nation for a few weeks and you will see them or hear them talked about. The idea that they have secret handshakes and conspire together is only what you imagine others are thinking.

    I suspect that when I wrote

    Extremism is assassinating a teenaged American simply for having the wrong father.

    you had no idea what I’m even talking about. That sentence has three truths. The most important truth is that a kid was assassinated by the establishment elite based in the White House. The second truth is that a spokesman for the White House said it was because the kid had the wrong father. The third truth is my truth, but not yours – that this is extremism.

    The idea that we would be better off with nobody in the White House than the people that occupy it now is an opinion – mine, not yours. Obviously you prefer that megalomaniac assassins govern you rather than have nobody govern you. That is your truth and you are welcome to it, but in this bizarre collective we call America it is unfortunate that when a majority desires to be ruled by megalomaniac assassins, they also demand that the minority must submit to their madness.

    My truth, certainly not yours, Capozzi.

  47. Robert Capozzi

    52 tb: But at least I have planted a seed – maybe given them some new idea to ponder for a moment.

    me: Yes. I do the same thing, actually. I engage in THIS conversation on IPR to plant the seed that the deontological absolutism (DA) in L thought is a failure, and why it’s a failure. That’s my intent. Having – for me – come to the conclusion that DA doesn’t work, I share that with others who may still believe that DA is workable…on any level.

    I’m sure your seed planting has opened some minds to some extent. My guess is the numbers are quite small, though. But, if it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad!

    tb: Obviously you prefer that megalomaniac assassins govern you rather than have nobody govern you.

    me: Correct. Not because I don’t see the dysfunction, but because I don’t see statelessness being an improvement. We can take it from the top again, but in a world teeming with WMD, I don’t see how statelessness could work on a broad scale. While the current configuration is increasingly dysfunctional, net net, there are checks and balances still in place that maintains a semblance of domestic tranquility.

    Pointing to the state’s excesses as “proof” that statelessness is the better alternative requires a rather massive leap of faith.

  48. Tom Blanton

    Thank you for confirming your preference that megalomaniac assassins govern you rather than have nobody govern you.

    What I find completely bizarre is that you think the creation of global animosity and hoarding of WMD by these megalomaniac assassins will keep you safe in the midst of all the domestic tranquility that you think exists.

    Perhaps by chance, Americans will do what they have been unable to do for 200 years. That would be to elect politicians that don’t support the wholesale violation of basic human rights, war, fraud, cronyism, criminalization of private behavior, etc., etc., etc.

    Who knows, maybe it will be Capozzi who finally puts together the correct words in the correct order that will be the silver bullet of all contrived rhetoric and achieve the freedom that we experienced …. well, maybe several years ago.

    Meanwhile, forgive me for scoffing at those who plant seeds for the crabgrass of liberty as opposed to trees of liberty.

    Pointing to the state’s excesses as “proof” that statelessness is the better alternative requires a rather massive leap of faith.

    No, it merely proves that it may be time to explore alternatives to the current method of societal organization. No massive leaps of faith are required, just a tiny bit of imagination. What requires a massive leap of faith is that sociopathic opportunists have any interest in improving the conditions in which we live and specifically protecting Robert Capozzi from the hobgoblins in his mind and his neighbors who are constructing WMD in their tool sheds.

  49. Robert Capozzi

    TB, oh, um, yer welcome. I’m all about alternatives. Unfortunately, the “alternative” you offer is a non-starter from jump. Time and again I invite you to address the state’s most sober power — mass destruction — and you consistently deflect.

    If nonarchy is to be viable, what is to be done with the stockpiles? If you can’t answer that most basic and practical question,

  50. Tom Blanton

    Well, Bubby the first thing that comes to mind is to dismantle the stockpiles at the time the state is put into receivorship.

    If the LP should ever run a candidate whose platform is the dismantling of the state, I’d suggest that dismantling the WMD be the first thing on the list.

    Meanwhile, you can relax knowing that moderate psychotics are in charge who continually provoke other nuclear powers like China and Russia.

    What is your solution to that problem? Elect more megalomaniac sociopaths who are bankrolled by war profiteers?

    Or do wash your hands of the problem by backing the “right” candidates that have absolutely no chance of getting elected.

    Most likely you are willfully ignorant of the provocations that the U.S. engages in, so the problem only exists in the minds of those you categorize as crazy conspiracy theorists.

    But don’t worry, when the other nuclear powers have had enough of the government you cling to for protection, those in your neighborhood will probably be vaporized because of its proximity to America’s ground zero. You’ll never know what happened. On the plus side, it’ll probably take out your neighbors that are plotting to destroy you with WMD.

  51. Robert Capozzi

    tb 57, yes, dismantling ALL WMD sounds noble, agreed. Unfortunately, it sounds unfathomably implausible to me, since there are multiple “assassins” sitting on globally positioned stockpiles.

    Getting them all to 1) disarm and 2) relinquish power simultaneously? Not seeing how that could possibly happen. You’d need to sketch out how it could for me to get back on the Nonarcho Train.

    As for me, I simply accept the reality that there are States, there will be States, and they will continue to possess not only WMD but will often conduct deeply dysfunctional acts. Thankfully, those acts generally only affect me indirectly, as my chromosomes came together in a place that had some commitment to maximizing liberty and also had enough military strength to dissuade direct attacks on the places I reside, to date, at least. I also recognize that we all die, and when it’s my time, it’s my time.

    The world, dear Brother, is a vast insane asylum…always was and likely will always be. Haven’t you noticed? That said, we can make our stay here a bit more pleasant…a fresh coat of paint, plugging the drafts in the day room, maybe a ping-pong table.

    More liberty makes our stay in the Hotel California a lovely place.

    Nonarchy risks the Lord of the Flies or Road Warrior, at best!

    I prefer ping pong.

  52. Tom Blanton

    Capozzi, I consider your viewpoints to be as shallow as a puddle of piss. Anyone who prefers the rule of megalomaniac assassins over self-rule can be dismissed as an idiot in my book. And yet you claim to be so concerned about the perception by nonlibertarians of libertarians. It just doesn’t get any more absurd than that.

    Sure, lets try to “maximize liberty” under the totalitarian rule of sociopathic murderers, liars and thieves. That’s what libertarianism is all about. That ought to appeal to the average person who is politically homeless looking for an alternative to Republicrats.

    Good luck in Bubby’s World, Bubby.

  53. Robert Capozzi

    61 tb, thanks for the well wishes. I’ve been called worse than an “idiot,” and I have my moments where I’d agree.

    Still, I see no actual response there. “Self rule” sounds great, and probably could work for some in pockets of territory.

    The US, though, and several other nations have the ability to incinerate the entire planet’s population several times over. Hand waving about “disarmament” strikes me as at once wonderful sentiment and profoundly quaint/ delusional.

    Falling back to name-calling deflections tells me you have no substantive response, else you’d have offered one by now.

  54. NewFederalist

    I hope you both have a back up plan when things really go to hell. Your bullshit intellectualism won’t cut it then.

  55. Robert Capozzi

    NF, nope. A cyanide pill? Any suggestions? Any room in your bunker? I promise to bring some freeze-dried food. O:-)

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