Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Not Booting Boortz

Neal Boortz has the largest audience of any radio talker who self-identifies as a libertarian. It's no contest, as his show is heard coast-to-coast. The nearest challenger I can think of is Larry Elder.

As the Libertarian Party is hosting its' national convention in Atlanta come May, and as Boortz hosts his program in Atlanta, it made perfect sense to convention organizers to schedule Neal to speak. What the heck, he was one of the featured speakers here in Indianapolis in 2002, addressing the 'gold ticket' conventioners at a fancy fund-raising dinner, and was well-received.

In fact, Boortz was welcomed with racous cheering. There was no apparent opposition, before, during, or after. Why would there be? He is easily the most prominent proponent of libertarianism in the media. Indeed, even Nadine Strassen of the ACLU was tolerated at previous conventions. And why not? Although we may not agree on everything, there is so much value in reaching out to those with differences: we can build bridges with what we agree on; we can learn what tactics work for them; we can show others that we aren't the crazy aunt that is best kept in the broom closet...

So, because it is so incongruous, it surprised me not a whit to receive an e-mail from a fellow LP of Indiana member, asking me to sign on to a petition seeking to boot Boortz from the convention line-up.

Feh? While it is to our credit that the LP is a party based on principle far beyond the GOP or Dems, it is to our detriment that many of our members have an ideological purity fanaticism that leads to these irrational witch hunts.

See, Boortz is guilty of thinking independently in his interpretation of the philosophy, and of the world. The purists hate realpolitik and pragmatism. They'll ditch reality in a heartbeat in order to get back to the orderly security of theory. Not Boortz. He has said repeatedly on his program that because of years of foreign policy mistakes, the United States is faced with a situation where we must initiate force against those who merely threaten us.

Like these petitioning detractors, I initially bristled against the idea. I have been committed to using force only to retaliate. However, today's situation is such that a terrorist with a nuclear, biological, or chemical device could wreak such havoc, death, and destruction that it would be irresponsible to wait for this threat, which so many deem inevitably coming to fruition. This is Boortz' reasoning, and I rather agree.

It would have been nice if, after World War 2, the United States resumed its relatively isolated position in the world, without troops stationed across the globe, not supporting both sides in China, etc., etc., etc. But we did, and with consequences. Should we ignore the consequences now that they are pressed up against our noses? At what cost?

The sort of libertarian that would sign onto the petition is the kind who would rather be ideologically correct at any cost rather than consider reality and put it to work. It reminds me of the Bolshevik who would happily cling to the dialectic while starving rather than engaging in a capitalist scheme to survive.

Instead of encouraging Boortz to go on stage so that they might be challenged by his thoughts, the petitioners would rather desperately act to keep him out, as though he were some sort of heretic who must be kept from the Santuary, lest he profane it with his mere footsteps.

I hope the LP sheds a whole lot of these types. It will be serious addition by subtraction.

I think it is revealing to see that of those 600 or so on-line signatures, only about two-thirds are legitimate. Many of the other third hilariously lampoon the whole proposition.