Sunday, March 07, 2004

The Guiding Light

Recently, a clown tried to create a little dissention within a Libertarian organization I am active in by linking one of my colleagues to one of his colleagues. Guilt by association is a common phrase, but unfortunately also commonly irrational. Only the actor of the wrongdoing is guilty of the wrongdoing. However, in the case of the colleague's colleague, no wrongdoing was committed, only a legal action that many libertarians find outside of their principles. If my colleague is a smoker, he is acting legally, but in my opinion, stupidly. Am I responsible for his smoking if I do not force him to quit? Am I contrary to my conscience if I continue to associate with him and he chooses to continue smoking?

I think not. However, the clown is a member of the purity police, hence, shrilly put off. Oh well, I say. I tried to explain that the 99% agreement on principles I may have with someone outweighs the 1% disagreement I have. No witch hunts. No self-righteousness. We can build one hell of a bridge on that 99%.

One MAJOR reason the LP is not more of a force is that so many libertarians are purity police. I have observed research that shows that about 14% of Americans identify with the prinicples that make one a libertarian, and yet, LP candidates routinely attract only 1-2% tops in elections. David Boaz made it plain, way back in 1981:

"So let me ask this: Which is the greater betrayal of the noble cause of freedom in our time-- to attempt to present a reasonable, radical, libertarian program that appeals to people and occasionally to err on the side of caution; or to self-righteously throw libertarian principles in people's faces, thus ensuring that we will remain pure and unfree?"

Another beacon cutting through so much fog is Morton Blackwell, founder of the Leadership Institute, who proclaims,

"You owe it to your philosophy to study how to win."

My own way of looking at it is this: If libertarianism is to be an all or nothing proposition, libertarians will get NOTHING.

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