June 27, 2004


Shuffling to the sound of the Morlocks' dinner bell (VIN SUPRYNOWICZ, 6/27/04, Las Vegas Review-Journal)

In Atlanta over the May 29 weekend, former movie producer, Bette Midler manager/paramour and Nevada gubernatorial candidate Aaron Russo -- who entered the Libertarian Party's national convention as the front-runner for the presidential nomination -- was doing himself no favors on the convention floor.

The Libertarian Party has more than its share of dorks and dweebs, who given the chance will corner you and seek a debate on the most arcane details of anything from private space exploration to the Federal Reserve.

I can understand Russo's reluctance to waste too much time on this stuff (though in fact, the Federal Reserve seems to have become one of his own favorite topics, of late). But eyewitnesses report Russo's response was to call such gadflies "idiots," sometimes throwing in a few extra modifiers which I can't print in a family newspaper. [...]

The majority of the LP's delegates in Atlanta concluded Aaron Russo might inject some money and some drama, but that he was a loose cannon.

"The delegates voted for the man who was the most like them, who presented in the most professional way the modal opinions and views and style of a Libertarian Party activist -- quiet, intense, no deviation from the catechism, more concerned with eternal ideological and philosophical verities than the political events of the day," summarizes Doherty.

A political party (and ideology) divorced from political reality--there's a recipe for success.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 27, 2004 12:09 PM

A political party (and ideology) that is unconcerned with partisan gamesmanship and respects the Constitution -- now there's a recipe for liberty the way the founders intended to be.

If libertarianism spells "no success" with the American populace in 2004, then it says more about the American populace in 2004 than it does about libertarianism.

Posted by: tomas at June 27, 2004 2:45 PM

Stupid citizens, don't know what''s good for them...

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2004 3:11 PM

"Stupid"? "Don't know what's good for them"? For the record, let's please note that those are your (sarcastic) words, not mine.

Far from being stupid, the American citizenry during the past 200 years has been smart enough to exploit democracy to get what it believes IS good for itself. Unfortunately, this has happened at a cost to freedom. The founders were well aware of this threat -- they knew that while democracy was essential to liberty, it also posed the greatest danger to liberty. And they warned of it extensively. "Vigilance" and all that.

Libertarians are simply intent on remembering what this whole "American idea" was about in the first place. When they see their fellow citizens swiping money from each other for "Social Security," or nannying each other via seat belt laws, they don't see stupid people. They see really savvy people abusing the system -- and they see the erosion of the very freedom that made any of it possible to begin with.

You're apparently much more interested in the fun sport of politics than in the dry world of principles. That's a titillating (and lucrative) little game for the James Carvilles and Karl Roves of the world, but it's disappointing to find it on your blog. Because you're so darned right about so many other things.

Posted by: tomas at June 27, 2004 4:52 PM

Principles are lovely, in theory. Politics is nasty, in reality. We don't live in theory.

As the most starry-eyed of those idealists put it:

"In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution."
-Thomas Jefferson

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2004 4:58 PM

Of course we don't live in theory. We live in reality -- the reality of the U.S. Constitution. At least that's how it was intended to be, and that's what libertarians want.

And therein lies the root of the nasty politics to which you allude. American politics during the past 150 years has been largely a fight between those who ignore all that "Congress shall make no law..." stuff and those who don't ignore it. And, yeah, that makes for ugly stuff. If everyone would just stick with those Lovely Theories and Principles, we wouldn't have all the Nasty Politics.

That's what was supposed to make America different. Individuals will always bicker with other individuals -- and that's "nasty," I suppose -- but in America we were supposed to at least protect their individualism.

Posted by: tomas at June 27, 2004 5:12 PM

Well, apparently you're able to edit your posts in a way your guests cannot. I see that you added the Jefferson quote after I wrote my post.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if we transported Thom up to the 21st century, he'd be hanging at the libertarian convention -- and hankering to hang the other 99 percent of American politicians.

Posted by: tomas at June 27, 2004 5:16 PM

Individualism? They'd have scoffed at the notion.

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2004 5:20 PM

If they'd have scoffed, it's only because the word itself wasn't around back then, at least not to the extent it is used today. (IANAEtymologist.) But the concept certainly was. You know, that "unalienable rights" deal and the whole "life, liberty and pursuit of happiness" thing. The founders believed in the sanctity of the individual. Come on -- why are you contesting something so basic and obvious? Just for the sake of arguing, to engage in a little Nasty Reality Politics?

Orrin, WHAT kind of America is it you're aiming for, exactly? What is it you want, besides heckling libertarians for embracing freedom? And most important: Do you believe we have today what we set out to create in 1789 -- and if not, is that OK? I'm not being facetious; I'm honestly asking.

Posted by: tomas at June 27, 2004 5:37 PM

They wanted to: "form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity" Not a word of individualism, all societal goals and they'd be stunned at how successful their experiment has been.

Posted by: oj at June 27, 2004 7:01 PM

It's weird -- you never answer specific questions. That's your prerogative, of course: It's your blog, your time, etc.

But it seems that if you're going to accept a debate -- which is what happens when you respond to one of your readers in a comments thread -- then you'd at least provide something more than one-line posts that don't address your readers' points or their specific questions.

In other words, I still have no idea what kind of America it is that you want. Still no clue if you think that the idea conceived in the 18th century has held fast.

If you simply don't have time to respond to the myriad posters here, please be gracious enough to at least say as much. The curt one-line posts smack of smugness and even contempt for those who take time to read your work and become engaged with it. You're just a blogger, for goodness' sake. It's not like you're William Safire with 10 gazillion reader e-mails sitting in your inbox every day. I understand that you, unlike the Safires of the world, don't get paid to do this. But the bottom line is that you're both extending yourself to the public, and thus inherently inviting debate.

Pardon the irritated tone ... but it's just a little irritating.

Posted by: tomas at June 28, 2004 2:36 AM

Comments, not debate.

Posted by: oj at June 28, 2004 8:05 AM

The American democracy as it has existed
since early in this century can't be overthrown
by political chit-chat which is what libertarians
do. Brutal use of elected political power is
the only way to remedy the situation and essentially any libertarian would have to hide
his true agenda to get elected in the first place.

It would take a realignment along the lives
of the Civil War to achieve what many libertarians
want. I am talking massive social upheaval
and possible breakup of the Republic.

The other problem is the obvious contradition
between the back to the constitution wing and
the "high times" wing of the lib movement.
This is worse than the current Dem. coalition
between Volvo-driving granola people and ghetto

Posted by: J.H. at June 28, 2004 9:24 AM

Libertarian Party motto: Nobody takes us seriously anyway.

Posted by: Joseph Hertzlinger at July 1, 2004 1:50 AM