THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 95, October 23, 2000
Why I'm Doing It
Why I'm Doing It
by L. Neil Smith
Special to TLE
Over the past few weeks, I've received lots of e-mail about my decision to accept the Arizona Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, depriving Harry Browne and his gang in the Watergate office complex of 50-state ballot status. I was deeply moved that this embattled and heroic collection of individuals in Arizona would honor me so. The idea of rejecting their nomination not only wasn't an option, it never even occurred to me.
Some of that e-mail was nasty, a lot of it from what Rush Limbaugh terms "seminar callers", Watergate partisans pretending to be my loyal readers, threatening never to read my books again. Some came from those who — despite 21 highly polemic and widely distributed novels, and hundreds of speeches and Internet essays — were curious, concerned, or confused by what I'm doing.
It's important to know that Harry wasn't going to get 50-state ballot status, whether I accepted the nomination or not. That was already written and I had nothing to do with it. The ALP, the most effective state party in the nation, was fed up with the antilibertarian tactics Harry and his minions have used to try to bring them under control.
What was the real issue? The same as it always is with that bunch, somebody else's money. They wanted a cut of Arizona's memberships — as they've taken from gullible morons in other state LPs — and the ALP declined with thanks (or something). The Watergate mob wanted the ALP to participate in a non-binding primary (a Republican beauty contest at taxpayer expense even Democrats won't have anything to do with) as a step toward accepting government campaign funds. Again, the ALP, on characteristically libertarian principle, declined.
So the war was on when a Tucson lawyer and Watergate surrogate waltzed into a bank and took the ALP's money under false pretenses (eventually he had to give it back; I can't understand to this day why he isn't disbarred and in jail). When that didn't work, this creature tried to turn the ALP over to the IRS. Then he sent his cronies to the state convention with several hundred proxies obtained from local winos — proxies the party might have accepted even so, except that they were turned in too late — to try and take the party over.
I was the convention's keynote speaker and saw this left-wingish, union-style meeting-disrupting thuggery. I was also a witness to the tremendous decency and restraint of the ALP. When this idiot putsch failed, the lawyer launched a series of specious lawsuits, on whatever pretext he could think of, against the ALP and its members, with the idea of destroying the ALP so somebody who'd follow orders could be installed in its place. I wrote about the situation and he threatened to sue me, demonstrating his regard for the First Amendment.
As a frind of mine remarked, what a litany of ugliness.
At the same convention, I watched the Watergater crowd crucify the party's most effective candidate for her failure to tug the forelock to a gaggle of drones and dullards unfit to launder her tennies with their tongues. Like any Inquisition, they invented a crime to charge her with, found her guilty, and drove her from the movement, costing us one of the few individuals who actually knew what she was doing.
Even so, the amazing thing is that, this year, the ALP would have given Harry the same hearing any candidate would have received, had he offered them equivalent courtesy. Instead, he stayed home and demanded their nomination as if by Divine Right, claiming, among other things, that his surprisingly dismal showing in that non-binding primary (I guess the Tucson lawyer ran him) was proof he was the legitimate candidate of a state party that refused to participate in it — a state party that, by now, had been disaffiliated by the Watergate, in favor of their Tucson lawyer and his winos, who had been drubbed ignominiously every time he dragged the ALP into court.
Although the badguys lost at every turn, their three-year assault on the ALP had been costly in time, energy, and money. The ALP folk were sick of it. Taking Harry's 50-state ballot status was the only way they could protest. They'd tried every other way, and nobody listened, preferring the Algorean sighs and lies emanating from the Watergate.
So they asked me to be their candidate, instead.
The next question is why did I accept, forever screwing up — in the lightly censored words of my more excited correspondents — their chance at ever doing anything significant with their lives and at the same time, subjecting their immortal souls to peril. Harry's 50-state ballot status was going to save everything, they tell me, although he had it in 1996 and got (my fault again, and that of The Libertarian Enterprise, according to a message from Harry to somebody else I desperately wish I'd kept) a measly 400,000 votes.
Again, for those with their eyes squeezed shut and their fingers jammed in their ears: Harry's 50-state ballot status was going to save us all in 2000, even though he had it in 1996 and did nothing with it.
My reasons for accepting the ALP nomination fall into a small number of categories, although what the Watergate did to my friends in the ALP would have been reason enough.
The first is a matter of corruption: the well-documented misuse of political contributions by Harry and his Watergate cronies. I won't reiterate them here, except to say that less than 2% was spent on campaigning, while two thirds went into the pockets of the usual suspects as "consulting fees". See back issues of The Libertarian Enterprise or read the later reports of Jacob Hornberger (where were you in '96, Bumper?). These abuses were laid before the delegates to that national convention, which nominated Harry anyway, and that's when I decided I'd do whatever I could, whenever I could, to set things straight.
My second reason is the broader failure of principle on the part of Harry and his underlings, negating any reason for having organized the party in the first place. Here is a so-called libertarian who has snottily dismissed the Non-Aggression Principle — the very heart and soul of political libertarianism, and an idea I've fought for all of my adult life — as "an undesirable litmus test".
Here is a man who refused to my face to endorse the concept of Bill of Rights Enforcement. Yet if he's not for enforcing the Bill of Rights, the highest law of the land, then what the hell is he for?
Here is a man, according to a conversation I had with a flunky of his, who "won't have a gun in his house". While I concede that this is Harry's right, it's my right to reject a candidate who won't have a gun — and run the risk I do of having my door smashed in some night by Kevlar-clad, jackbooted thugs for the "crime" of exercising my Second Amendment rights. The flunky's claim that not owning a gun makes Harry a better spokesman for our side is garbage. Try arguing that being white makes one a better spokesman for blacks. That's probably why the flunky later denied having had that conversation with me.
Add to that the shameful fact that the central focus of the '96 campaign should have been the atrocity at Mount Carmel — nobody else dared touch it — but the Watergate pantywaists were afraid it might make them look like somebody who keeps a rifle in the back window of his pickup — lik so many of my friends. I was also disgusted at the cowardly way the Watergate disowned the poor kids in Arizona railroaded by a crooked DA as the "Viper Militia", and left them to swing in the wind.
Finally, after a lot of battering at my hands as well as those of people like Rick Tompkins and Vin Suprynowicz, Harry gave the issue some lip service, just as he was compelled to mention the Second Amendment, and (was it ever painful!) to renounce matching campaign funds, as well as Republicanoid revenue schemes like a flat income tax or a national sales tax. His positions on abortion, Social Security, and national land reform are better left unmentioned.
Which brings me to my third reason. I'm tired of apologizing for, and being embarrassed by, the Watergate's (and their predecessors') weak and stupid campaigns. I'm fed up with the LP's nominee never getting more than 900,000 votes, and their conclusion always being that we must make the next campaign even more flaccid and cowardly. I've had enough — 30 years of enough — of the Watergate's (and their predecessors') inability and unwillingness to mount a tough, effective, principled, uniquely libertarian campaign.
I've tried. I've talked to individuals, made speeches, written essays and books. Principle, and the electoral success it guarantees, is dead inside the Watergate party. I ran for office in 1978 on principle and got wonderful results, only to see them alibied away by dimwitted party functionaries who couldn't get themselves elected as cesspool cleaners. This — accepting the ALP nomination — is the only argument I have left.
I'm human enough to have a few personal reasons, too. Like the way one of the Watergate's Internet orcs tried to smear me as a right-wing crazy because I live in the same state as Focus on the Family — some 150 miles away. Another is the way the Watergate's Minister of Truth told people who wanted me to appear at their state convention that I'm unfit to speak to any libertarian audience. I wonder if he thinks it was worth it now.
Yet another is the way Harry's primary mouthpiece (or the real brains behind him) tried to counter my ideas by publicly belittling my trade as a science fiction writer, as if that made me, prima facie, some kind of lunatic. Yet if this movement was founded on any one thing, it was the science fiction of Ayn Rand, Robert Heinlein, Poul Anderson, and others. It's the only literature of ideas left. Of course there's no room for ideas at the Watergate any more and hasn't been for a long while. They get in the way of fundraising.
But those are personal reasons, as I said, and you're welcome to think me petty for having them. Just remember that there are other reasons, too.
Since accepting the ALP nomination, I've been bitterly criticized for my "lack of loyalty" to the party. I'll remind you that party loyalty, especially in the face of the corruption and incompetence that characterize its leadership today, is collectivism, the very thing we're all supposed to be against. That crap is for Republicans and Democrats, for socialists and fascists, for cretins and villains, not libertarians.
I am and always have been loyal (embarrassingly so for some people) to the ideas that gave birth to the LP in the first place, ideas to which the current leadership is as alien as if they'd just landed in a flying saucer.
That's why the Watergate's claim that the party is on the ballot in all 50 states is pure Clintonian excrement. Its more principled opponents, those they disaffiliated, are on the ballot. Likewise, it can take its ludicrous advice to Arizonans to vote for me (while pathetically pretending not to understand why all this is happening) — in order to add whatever numbers I get to theirs — and shove it.
Let me make this as clear as possible: the Watergate is in no way on the ballot in all 50 states, because it is not on the ballot in Arizona — not on its own and not through an affiliate. It failed to get its candidate on, even as an independent. The Watergaters are, once again, simply, grotesquely, lying.
I swear it's some kind of disease; they're as bad with other people's votes as they are with other people's money (I wonder what Latin for "sticky fingers" is). I will not concede a single vote in Arizona to anybody but the people of the ALP who made it possible. On the contrary, any vote I win will be against the Watergate and the pack of fools and charlatans who infest it.
Now let's talk about some real issues ...