Gonzo Libertarianism

Despite our differences, we Libertarians managed to get along quite well with everyone- even the “March for $15” people who were taking up the whole gosh-darned street. I wanted to share some of my observations and thoughts with you.

Last night I went to my very first protest. It was exciting. There were so many people! Trump supporters, Clinton supporters, Greens, and, of course, the Gary Johnson crew. Libertarians from as far away as Florida came together to help draw attention to a debate system that is rigged in favor of the two major parties. Despite our differences, we Libertarians managed to get along quite well with everyone- even the “March for $15” people who were taking up the whole gosh-darned street. I wanted to share some of my observations and thoughts with you.

Admittedly there weren’t very many Gary Johnson people there, but there were fewer Greens, and our side seemed the most energized. As the night wore on, the ratio of Libertarians to everyone else increased dramatically, and eventually ended with a friend of mine in prime position to hold up “Johnson/Weld” signs behind Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Despite our lack of manpower, our demonstrations was organized, clean, respectful, we didn’t litter (I’m looking at you Green party), and our slogans were choice. My favorite of the night was, “Vote Johnson. The most consistent anti-sexual assault candidate”.

I got to hear Cisse Spragins, libertarian candidate for Missouri governor, give a speech on the state of her campaign and on libertarian identity and  values. She was tremendous. The applause line of the night was when she observed that our Republic must be in a bad state if the party that advocates non-violence and voluntary interaction is labeled “fringe” or “crazy”. She had a good point. But Dr. Spragins’s speech was confined to the “free speech area”, a section of the softball fields fenced off and far away from Brookings Hall where the debate took place. Metal detectors, dogs, and 20 or so police made sure the Libertarians didn’t do anything crazy like reduce taxes or suspend unconstitutional regulations. “The whole damn country is a free speech zone” I reminded them, but the police were as helpless as I to change the situation.

What struck me most was the police presence. The entire campus was closed to anyone without a student or faculty ID and VIPs. Hundreds of police officers from various jurisdictions blocked off residential streets (for miles in some cases) while the candidates were present. Most were cordial and helpful with directions, but some were obviously there getting their rocks off on authority. They were more interested in making sure we didn’t try to get on campus than they were with the heaps of trash left by Hillary and Stein supporters, and those same supporter’s blatant disregard for private property.

I have to admit, I wish I had become more politically active much younger. I felt a real rush and sense of patriotic duty last night at Wash U, and I think, had I felt that earlier in my life, I would have made very different choices. A deep sense of camaraderie kept me warm in that chilly air, and I’m very much looking forward to the next time.

 

Driving Through the Middle

Snopes carried an interesting piece today. Kim LaCapria sat down with Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson and his running-mate Gov. Bill Weld. It isn’t unusual that presidential candidates, especially 3rd party candidates, talk to reporters (unless you’re Hillary Clinton), but it is unusual that Snopes, the internet’s favorite meme busters, would be invited for a sit down. Johnson said that he hoped to dispel some of the “libertarian myths” surrounding himself and the party, and that Snopes was the right outlet for that.

In response to those [myths], Johnson opined that “some of the baggage the Libertarian Party carries is that it’s ‘survival of the fittest’ [and] a ‘Darwinian party,'” firmly adding that “we’re not in that camp.” He continued by explaining that the 2016 Libertarian ticket didn’t espouse any fully laissez-faire ideas and voiced support for social programs:

We do believe in a health/safety net, for example … we’re for supporting social security, but that [earlier referenced misconception is part of] the baggage the Libertarian Party carries. And you know what? In theory, a lot of that at some [prior] point might actually [have ‘flown’.] But in my lifetime, I don’t think so. We’d like to actually like to hold off [on major fiscal cuts] and push the country in a direction of fiscal solvency … [it’s] where you’ve got to start.

I get criticized by my fellow libertarians for being No True Scott because Gary and I agree on this point (as does F.A. Hayek for that matter). As an active member of the Libertarian Party both at the national and state level, I can attest that I hear criticism for Gov. Johnson on this point (and middling points like it) a lot. Johnson has made a lot of enemies within the party partly because of statements like the one above. He only won his candidacy by ~51% and the other 49% often find themselves biting their tongues harder than any Republican did for Mitt. There’s even the Libertarian Party Radical Caucus,a  group formed in opposition to Gary Johnson and his evil plan to “make Libertarian ideas “non-threatening” in order to placate the enemies of liberty.”

Johnson continues:

You know, if there’s a criticism I don’t particularly embrace at all it’s that we’re somehow Republican-lite. And look, we’re running as Libertarians for a reason. We think the Republican party has really lost touch, but we think the Democrat party has lost touch also, and that the vast majority of Americans are fiscally responsible and socially inclusive … and we’re the voice for that mix … which is, like I say, most Americans.

I don’t know if I would characterize “the vast majority of Americans” as “fiscally responsible and socially inclusive”, but I do hope to see that changing. Already there are positive signs on the social toleration front.

The piece is very good, and the embedded video of Johnson’s well attended New York  rally shows the strength of a campaign that seems to have gotten out of Aleppo unscathed.