Thursday, December 04, 2003

So It's Anathema? Big Deal

One of the biggest hurdles in taking the Libertarian Party from third party to major party status lies in the libertarians themselves. Stay with me on this.

Libertarians abhor government. They join a political party only with the greatest reluctance. Libertarians are living laissez faire, which means "leave us alone". So, it's anathema for libertarians to embrace the idea of becoming government officials.

Pity for us. You can't allow liberal Republicans and socialist Democrats to be the government officials and then also be surprised when they draft anti-liberty legislation or erect a labyrinth of red tape. In the language of my son Alex, "Duh".

In some parts of Indiana, there is actually an opportunity for LP members to be appointed to boards, such as zoning or planning, and some of our members are actually cringing at the thought. (Tell this to the LP of Ohio, where they just poured their souls into getting on the ballot. They have wet dreams about our opportunity.)

I understand the gut-reaction of the cringe. In a better world, government would be nice and small, and would leave us alone. Fact is, it isn't and it doesn't. So, who will it be? Us or them? Would you, as a libertarian, rather have a libertarian serving on a taxing body or a committed statist?".

I'll up the ante and point to what I do these days as an example of what being on the inside of the process can produce. I work for a County Surveyor's Office. Yes sir, I am inside the belly of the beast itself. I was hired by an elected official- a Republican- who has won re-election every time since 1977. I have found that he agrees with us on rather a lot. Not everything, of course, but he's a small government Republican. However, he has even asked me what it would take for us to replace the Democrats on the boards in the county!

Think about that possibility in terms of fiscal issues. If Democrats are on the left, and Republicans right of them, they meet in the middle, more or less. Consider what it would be like in some counties if taxing bodies were comprised of Republicans on the left and Libertarians on the right, meeting in the middle, more or less. Would that be of value to you?

Being alongside elected officials in the day-to-day work setting helps break down the barrier of common thought that goes, "if a Libertarian is elected, the city will be in flames within a week". I do my job very well. They see me do my job very well. They decide, "he's ok". They'll vote for me when I run for office. Moreover, being in government gives you the platform to talk about government in a real, germaine way... unlike Thanksgiving dinner.

I know that most libertarians are so because government is anathema to who they are. However, if we really want to change things, we'll have to get our hands dirty and do some things that may on first blush cause us to hold our noses. Who knows, though? You might even have some fun along the way. (For instance, I'm in Hamilton County, which is one of the most Republican counties in Indiana. I love telling Republicans that I could be one of them if they weren't such fiscal liberals! I love watching them cringe to that music.)

Look, the Declaration of Independence wasn't drafted by a bunch of people who sat around and theorized correctly about Adam Smith in cozy saftey. No, they did something they would rather have not done. They gave up their cozy safety and put their lives on the line.

I'm asking for much less when I ask libertarians to get off their debate society duffs, to put their money where their theory-gushing mouths are, and to get involved in government to affect change towards freedom. If you aren't willing to hold your nose and sit on a zoning board, YOU AREN'T WORTHY OF FREEDOM ANYHOW.

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