A Most Worthy Debate
The national Libertarian Party is right now engaged in a dialogue that should have been out in the open at least 10 years ago on the pages of the LP News, and in its conventions.
Purism and Pragmatism. Link to dialogue.
Thumbs way up, LP! This is the white elephant that's been avoided for too long. Here's my take on the discourse:
I think the thing to focus on here is the purpose of a political party, which is to get people elected to office and to move public policy in the party's direction.
Unfortunately, it has been my experience that this party has been effectively more of a philosophical debate society than a political party, and that the purists actually enjoy the fact that Michael Badnarik's highest percentage was 0.76%, in Indiana, because by gosh he was 100% platform.
We take a lot of scorn here in Indiana for being possibly the most pragmatic state affiliate of the bunch. We elect candidates in *partisan* elections, and have an effect on public policy- just like a political party should. We don't talk about Iraq if we are running for offices that have nothing to do with foreign policy, such as County Commissioner.
Notice that we do not compromise on our principles. We merely choose carefully which positions to enunciate, starting in the places where we believe we have agreement with the local electorate.
For example, in a Republican-dominated county, we often speak almost explusively on taxes and budegtary issues. There we can present ourselves as the true fiscal conservatives, showing how Republicans are tax-and-spend.
In Democrat-dominated counties, we often speak almost exclusively about areas of personal life. There we present ourselves as the true defenders of individual liberties, showing how Democrats are as interested in curtailing liberties as the Republicans.
This is called strategy.
I have seen far too many Libertarian candidates, all full of themselves and drunk on the platform, rush into debates or other public discourse leading on an issue precisely where we have known disagreement with the electorate.
You can be the professional iconoclast if you want to, but you should ask yourself if taking that tack is in the best interest of advancing the philosophy you say you cherish so deeply.
Purism and Pragmatism must co-exist, with the principles underlying the action.