Monday, May 21, 2007

The Call for Reform, Loud and Clear

I pretty much agree with everything this guy says in this article.

NOTE: I don't agree with all of Carl Milsted's positions, not by a long shot. However, in his call for either radical reform or rejection of the Libertarian Party, I'm in complete accord.

A few highlights:

"The worst case scenario had happened. The reform forces had won enough to anger the old guard, but the reforms were insufficient to turn the LP into a real political party." This refers to the LP 2006 national convention, where reformers won only one clear-cut victory- the gutting of the national platform. The failure of reformers to make a stronger showing at Portland did little more than awaken the radical purists in the party to their peril. They've since organized in several groups, ranging from the Libertarian Radical Caucus to the splinter Boston Tea Party. Much work still remains to make the Libertarian Party a viable engine for political change.

"Thus, the waffling continues and the party withers. This must end. The pragmatic libertarians need to either finish the job in 2008 or get out and let the purists have their protest organization. The alternative is wasted time, effort and acrimony." - Fully agreed. Had nothing at all happened in Portland in 2006, I would have announced my resignation from the party immediately after the end of my campaign for the state legislature. As it stands, I'm hardly encouraged by what I see in the party: one-quarter on the reform side, one-quarter on the radical side, one-quarter in denial, and one-quarter abandoning politics out of disgust.

"For the past few years I have been lambasted by purists and called "unprincipled." Very well. I accept the label, nay, wield it as a badge of honor. I am unprincipled. I do not shoehorn all my ethical and legal thinking into a single axiom." - Amen. I've had people complain to me time and again that Libertarians trying to justify their views according to the "Non-Initiation of Force Principle" make the word force jump through hoops. The most common complaint: "According to Libertarians, nothing anybody does is force unless it's government doing it."

"Replacing an elected republic with warring "protection services" is woefully imprudent."

"Standing aside for genocide is contrary to the ideals of liberty."

"Defaulting on the national debt is a recipe of economic disaster."

"Defaulting on Social Security obligations is robbing the older generations."

"Selling the remaining wilderness to be raped by corporations is robbing future generations."

"Cutting government in random order without regard to other considerations is the height of incompetence."

Yes, all of these things have either been party positions or been advocated by prominent spokespersons for the Libertarian Party- privatizing the army and police, total military isolationism, defaulting the national debt, abolishing SS with no transition plan, liquidating all "public" property- including roadways- to private ownership, and of course radical and immediate government agency shutdowns.

Now, it's important for me to note here that on all these options I'm not totally opposed. Some functions of the military- especially logistical and rear-echelon support- should be privatized. I believe intervention in Darfur is just as dangerous as intervention in Iraq was, and for the same reasons. I believe we need to seek debt forgiveness on all levels of government- our current debt levels are unsustainable. I believe Social Security should either be an optional program of last resort or a simple government subsidy: the myth that people have individual accounts they pay into should be swept away once and for all. I believe the government owns a lot more land than it ought to. I believe a lot of government programs and agencies- including the entire Federal departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing, and Transportation- should either be abolished or severely reduced and folded into other existing departments. The difference between people like myself and the Libertarian party purists is that I do not take a good, ideal principle to its most extreme, absurd, and disastrous conclusions.

"The Good is a nonlinear multidimensional function. Deal with it!" - I think I'd like this on a bumper sticker.

"I am not a libertarian in order to promote a simplistic, impractical and inhumane philosophy. I am a libertarian because I love liberty, because the government has grown way too large, because too many people rot in jail without need, and too many others live in fear of unjust fines and lawsuits." - So am I. I joined the Libertarian Party because it was the only party which defended free speech at all. That's because the LP was, and for most purposes still is, the only party that gives any serious support to reducing the size, scope and power of government in any way, shape or form.

But if the LP isn't doing anything to make its goals reality, then something new must be created to replace it.

"A political party is either a diverse coalition of somewhat similar interests, or it is a joke. A party of principle is a joke, and it's the statists who are doing the laughing."

And this is the most important point of all. Those in charge of the Democratic and Republican Parties- despite glaring evidence that vast numbers of their followers are fed up with their leadership and do not support their agendas- can rely on these same dissatisfied and rebellious followers to return to the fold in November... because those same people look at parties like ours and reject them utterly. Even those who agree with us 50% of the time- such as, for example, Russ Feingold and Ron Paul- recognize that the Libertarian Party, as it currently stands, is hopelessly crippled from within.

We have to give disenfranchised voters a place they can come without holding their noses or checking their common sense at the door.

We have to give disenfranchised activists, party members, and yes even elected officials a place they can come and be competently supported in their efforts for election.

What we have now is what we have had for over three decades- a party that chooses moral superiority and smug self-righteousness over winning elections or making positive change.

Carl Milsted has issued his call for the silent majority of Libertarians- if it will be heard. Now we'll see which side that silent majority is on- or if it will simply remain silent.


Celine said...

I am impressed -- albeit reluctantly so, and discouraged after reading the feeding frenzy in the commentary.

I still think my button would make a good campaign slogan. "Excess government is like excess weight: you don't develop it overnight, and you don't get rid of it that way either."

Kris Overstreet said...

Well, we're not ALL rich racist misogynist Randroid sons of bitches. }:-{D