Wed 21 May 2008
“Thank you for welcoming me as a libertarian candidate” Mike Gravel says to Scott Horton at the beginning of this radio interview:
“my values didn’t change…I had the same values as a Democrat and I have those same values now…”
When asked by Horton to provide some historic background on his efforts to end conscription in the 1970s, Gravel responds: “I’ve never heard it articulated that way—as slavery” and seemed taken aback and bemused.
While Gravel’s efforts back then were highly commendable, he now seems surprised by exposure to a perspective that views conscription as a form of slavery, that is, a libertarian perspective.
Horton trys to explain a few basics of libertarian ideology to Gravel, but he will have none of of it: “The word democracy and the word republic are both the same—it means that the people rule…whatever the majority of the American people want, I buy into…if you don’t buy what the majority of the American people want then it means you want the minority to rule…the libertarians I talk with believe in majority rule…”
“Well, the question is the limitation of the power—does the majority get whatever they want…the question is does the majority have the power to assign their congress to pass laws without limit, just because they’re the majority?” Horton asks.
Horton is taken off guard to be hearing this sort of nonsense from someone refering to themselves as a “libertarian”, let alone a candidate for the Platypus Party’s presidential nomination.
Gravel goes on to suggest that we have trade agreements that favor large corporations because we don’t have world government.
Although Gravel’s befuddlement is so abject and deep-seated, absent a clear definition of what constitutes a “libertarian”, it’s understandable how he is able to, in all sincerity, apply the term to himself.
“I have found that Libertarians are loyal to their nation first.”
“We are not a think tank, debate society or book club—we are the nation’s third largest political party. Our main purpose is to provide Libertarian candidates with the tools they need to win.”
Thank you, Shane. Heretofore, “libertarian” referred to a particular political ideology.
At the risk of belaboring a point frequently made here, in American political history third partys have fulfilled a specific purpose. That being, that when the two major parties became too insular and out of touch with a significant segment of the population, the ascent of a third party would give voice to the disenfranchised.
To do so, a third party had to be true and consistent to the position of it’s supporters.
But in a Fox News interview,
Bob Barr states “Well, it’s a mistake to say “the libertarians believe this. The libertarians believe that.” There is a great diversity of views within the Libertarian Party, the same as in the other parties.”
Granted, in the current enviornment, the two major parties are so out of touch that there are a number of significant segments out there stewing in their own frustrations [note,that does not make them “libertarians”].
But in that video, John misses a crucial and fundamental point. He rightly rails against Senator Obama and congressman John Conyers for failing to press the issues of various and sundry impeachable crimes of the bush administration. What John doesn’t get is that these Democrats are not being “spineless” as he puts it.
They are merely pursueing their own interests, as the system status quo directs them.
Within those parameters they may be arguementative, even threatening. But as their adversaries, the Republicans, are their only real constituents in what has become a two-partys-only system, they are limited to rhetoric.
So what exactly do you think you’re threatening the Democrats with, John?
Voting for the very Republicans you would have them prosecute?
Doesn’t this make it clear once and for all that the only way to fundamental change is to return to the third party tradition?
Micheal Moore expressed this frustration most eloquently, carrying it out to it’s natural logical absurdity:
“I know some of you will say, ‘Mike, what have the Democrats done to deserve our vote?’ That’s a damn good question. In November of ‘06, the country loudly sent a message that we wanted the war to end. Yet the Democrats have done nothing. So why should we be so eager to line up happily behind them?
I’ll tell you why. Because I can’t stand one more friggin’ minute of this administration and the permanent, irreversible damage it has done to our people and to this world. I’m almost at the point where I don’t care if the Democrats don’t have a backbone or a kneebone or a thought in their dizzy little heads. Just as long as their name ain’t “Bush” and the word “Republican” is not beside theirs on the ballot, then that’s good enough for me.”
Contrary to what Cory and his ilk would have you believe, this is all due to the barriers the major partys have erected to the advance of competitors, not the failure of third partys to broaden their appeal as a means of advancing the party’s success.
A third party trying to be “big tent” from a position of relative obscurity, without having successfully advanced the cause of it’s core constituency first flys in the face of history and displays a willful ignorance of the basic purpose and function of a third party.
Thus, libertarians find themselves today faced with the prospect of a majoritarian world government advocate or a former Republican professional political operator as the candidate of the party that purports to bear the standard of their ideology.
The former Republican to whom I refer, of course, is Bob Barr.
In 1998, as a Georgia Republican congressman, Barr sponsored a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow voluntary prayer in “public” schools.
Of course, libertarians understand that the activities inside a school are hardly a matter the federal government should address, let alone by Constitutional amendment.
Getting back to that Fox interview, Barr is asked by Sean Hannity: “What would your vote be? Would you vote to legalize heroin and crack?”
“No, I would not vote to legalize heroin and crack, Sean.” Barr responds.
LIbertarians,needless to say, understand that what happens in the privacy of one’s own body is not subject of debates over legality.
And while Barr seems to more or less get it about Iraq, the basic concept of non-interventionism doesn’t seem very settled in his mind…
“While Washington’s current national security worldview remains focused like a laser beam on Iraq and Afghanistan, fires smolder and burn elsewhere. Shifting at least a portion of that concern and those resources to South America, and especially to the Andean region that currently is near the boiling point, is critical to our security…”
But the mere fact that the likes of Gravel and Barr are even on the board is such a fundamental insult to Libertarianism as to render their efforts futile, even if successful.
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