L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 99, November 20, 2000
Who Wants to be a President?
From: "critter" <email@example.com>
Two football teams:
The purpose of our FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is to protect the constitutional rights of individuals in separate but equal states.
As much as states decide the best way to promote democracy, states, not individuals, decide who will represent us at the federal level including the President and Congress.
When it comes to amending the constitution, states, not individuals, are given the overwhelming power.
Two-thirds majority approval of STATE elected senators
Two-thirds majority approval of STATE elected representatives
Three-quarters majority approval of the fifty-two State Legislatures
Therefore, states decide the best path to economic and social policy, democracy, etc, not individuals.
Because states decide the best path to economic and social policy, and democracy, the Electoral College is the only legitimate and constitutional way to elect a president. It gives each STATE a more equal representation in the balance of power.
Ask yourself this question: How fair would a football game be between Minnesota and Los Angles be if Los Angles were allowed to set all the rules of the game because they're more populous?
It's that simple to me.
Is this THE James Dale Davidson who used to write incredibly lucid political articles for Penthouse?
Jim, if that's you, please allow me to talk to Neil for a second. No, that's fine, I'll wait ... <tap> <tap> <tap>
Fer crissake, Neil, yr. ob. serv. here in Austin, Alan (that's me) sure would have appreciated knowing that you were running for President of this addled, befuddled semi-republic.
Or were you?
Seems I read somewhere that you were disavowing running for President <shrug>. I should have expected as much.
Still - it would have been nice to have voted for someone with whom I had a certain simpatico, as opposed to a representative from a failed 3rd World Party [Ed. note: that's the L-party, kids]; a son-of-a-former-Prez who embarasses us here in Texas more often than not; a sonuvabitch from Tennessee who can't seem to take his damn hand out of my wallet, off my Glock model 27 .40, or my modest stash of loco weed; or a rapid anti-semitic fascist with the name of an ignomious batchelor ex-Prez and a sister with a mouth the size of the Bay of Fundy!
Anyway, nice to find you again on the Net, and the next time I visit my brother and his wife in Westminster/Longmont area, Neil, I'll try to look you up to buy you and Cathy a drink, a bottle of wine, a bunch of roses, or at least buy a book from you, personally. As Chairman and CTO of a thriving very high technology business, I do have clients in Colorado. Too bad none of them can keep me as entertained and enlightened as you can. Nor curb my penchant for run-on sentences. :-)
Alan R. Weiss
P.S: you can catch my rantings on austin.general every now and then on Usenet. I just can't let it go, that geriatric system of store-and-forward monstronsity that seems faintly quaint these days!
From: "Sqj36ate" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A response to L. Neil Smith's article, "Why I'm Doing It" in issue 95 of "The Libertarian Enterprise" follows.
>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.<
I'm interested in what is going on at the National LP. If you're writing about something mundane but important, and you want others to understand you, speak of what actually happened, not "crucification", "forelocks", and "gaggles of drones and dullards". I read that paragraph twice and the only thing I could learn from it is that the National LP did something unpleasant to an LP candidate you like. If you want to expose the wrongs committed by the National LP, provide information, not poetry.
>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.<
Unless you're trying to convince your audience by force of will, give a citation. Where is it documented that Harry Browne spent less than 2% of his political contributions on campaigning?
>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".<
Where did he do this? I haven't found a dismissal of the Non-Aggression Principle in his campaign literature, speeches, or interviews. The places in which I found him encouraging broadening the LP's membership, he didn't suggest weakening the affirmation of the Non-Aggression Principle. He stated that Libertarians would continue to learn even after joining the party -- that we shouldn't prevent libertarians from voting until they have read "Atlas Shrugged".
>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?<
I care about constitutional legitimacy. However, most Americans have a limited knowledge of history, derived from half-Marxist Global Studies books and Peter Jennings. Therefore, most Americans don't care about Bill of Rights Enforcement. If they did, they wouldn't vote for politicians who violate the Bill of Rights. Assume that Mr. Browne wants to be elected or that he wants to interest more people in libertarianism. Libertarianism has many things to offer people. Given a ten minute interview, Browne focuses on the benefits of libertarianism that most people care about: less taxes, more freedom, more prosperity, more privacy, better medical care, less crime, and the right to self-defense.
>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.<
I don't much care whether or not Browne owns a gun. I do care that he has repeatedly, publicly, and unambiguously stated that gun laws increase crime and cause the deaths of innocent people. I do care that he has promised to issue an executive order disarming every guard of the federal legislature until the legislature repeals the laws infringing on the rights of Americans to defend themselves, and to pardon people who violated firearms laws but who have not committed violent crimes.
>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.<
In the 2000 campaign, he has mentioned Waco in interviews, stating that the federal government had no legitimate reason to be involved. The incident at Waco was a grotesque example of the corrupt enforcement of unconstitutional laws. However, explaining it and demonstrating the dishonesty of the mainstream media in a few minutes is nearly impossible. Given a ten minute interview, should he focus on something of interest to few people or something of interest to almost every American?
What was the National LP supposed to do in order to stop the Viper Setup? They have little power.
>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.<
Let's mention them.
Abortion: He believes it to be the initiation of force against an innocent human being. Libertarians support the organized use of force to defend life, liberty, and property. However, he's a strict constitutionalist and acknowledges that there is nothing he could do, at the federal level, to stop abortion. Even if it were constitutionally legitimate for the federal government to pass laws against abortion, he would be against doing so because "government doesn't work". He believes that, if the federal government outlawed abortion, "in ten years men would be having abortions".
Social security: Abolish governmental involvement in social security. For those who have payed into the failed system their entire lives and would be without means of sustenance without it, buy trust funds from private companies with funds derived by selling off government property.
Repudiating the ownership of long-held property because it was unjustly acquired in the distant past has consequences. The current situation of federal land ownership is sufficiently corrupt that there is no clean and perfect way to extract ourselves from it.
>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 don't know whether Browne's campaign has been weak, given the resources he has to work with. Based on the speeches and interviews which have appeared in the national media, it has not been cowardly.
>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 doubt that you lack loyalty to the principals of libertarianism. These principles and the benefits of upholding them are the primary reasons that people join the Libertarian Party. However, you have made a number of accusations. Some are irrelevant (someone said that Browne doesn't have a gun or someone close to Browne picked on you because you write fiction). Some are contradicted by Browne's interviews, articles, and speeches (the Browne campaign has taken weak or non-libertarian stands on particular issues). Some are unsubstantiated (Browne spent only 2% of his campaign donations on his campaign).
You clearly have access to information I haven't seen. I would be grateful if you would list the substantial accusations in plain English and document them. Please forgive redundancy in the following questions.
1) Has Browne spent campaign money in a way that did not substantially aide the campaign? If so, was this a result of corruption, incompetence, or error. Document this or refer to supporting witnesses.
2) Have Browne's people attempted to defraud the Arizona LP? If so, explain, in plain English, what happened. Offer supporting documents.
3) Are the people who refute Browne's fidelity to libertarian principles correct or are they magnifying different opinions about tactics into accusations of differences in principals.
Some of your accusations may be true. However, your article is similar to a mainstream media article on gun control. It is filled with appeals to emotion, claims that incidents are well-documented in the absence of citations, and irrelevant accusations. It would be destructive to the libertarian cause for treacherous behavior by the National LP to be ignored because the party's censors (you have been serving this role recently) resort to theatrics instead of plainly worded but well documented accusations.
It seems to me that several months ago, I heard someone offer up the prediction that "...are we really going to have an election in November?" Frighteningly prophetic! This current situation almost seems precursor to a balkanized America (similar to R.A. Heinlein's America described in "FRIDAY")
Pray for the republic!
From: "E.J. Totty" <email@example.com>
Well, here we are again: at the 'ass end' of yet another election, and not much to show for it, except emptied wallets, and perhaps empty bottles of whatever passes for a mind numbing beverage.
We have a row to hoe, and that row hasn't even been tilled. It amazes me that the national party even thinks that by running a national candidate that they will be able to win a significant number of votes.
Every house is built upon some kind of foundation, and I must wonder what kind of foundation the national party has selected.
I'd take it that not too many people went the 'write-in' route this past time. Too bad. Every election has the multiple choice test that every citizen -- who votes -- must pass.
True, one doesn't have to pick any particular candidate to 'pass.' The old standby 'NOTA' (none of the above) is as good a choice as any. Apparently, a mere 50 percent even spent the time to go to the poles. There is that philosophy which says not voting is a form of voting. Okay, so not voting says that you in essence don't want to be part of the system. But it also says that you will be subject to whatever comes down the pike too -- regardless. You did have a choice, and you could have made a point by making a positive input to the system as to your preferences.
True, your choice might not be a majority, but at the very least you would have been heard in a more notable fashion, than merely a 'no-show'. You might as well be dead, as not vote. They are in essence the same.
If even one state could enact a law which stated that the selection of 'NOTA 'on the ballot would count as a valid selection, then it would send shock waves through the system. And, any person who changes his name to 'NOTA' must be legally be registered on the ballot under his prior legal name. Then again, another law which stated that a less than 51 percent participation at the ballot would essentially invalidate the all of the selections and the current office holder too -- upon the end of the normal term of office -- would essentially nullify the last selection of candidates. That would require the appointment of a John Q. Public to office until an acceptable selection was made. But you still have to participate to make it happen. Sitting around rotating on your thumb waiting for progress will only enable the 'progressives' to further erode liberty, until you have no right to vote.
The point of this letter: the national party needs to get out of the national candidate business until we as a party have established ourselves in every one of the states, in more than one office of government, and in memorable ways that evoke positive feelings in the hearts of the average voters. When that happens, then we just might be able to put forth a candidate that is perceived as talented, tenable, tolerable, telegenic, tendentious, and maybe even be seen as a terrific candidate. Make no mistake about it, there is one 'out there' waiting to be discovered. But as with all good houses, they need a good foundation upon which to rest, something the national party lacks. Let the parties of the animals make asses and stumbling, bumbling idiots of themselves. We can learn a lesson from them: When you have to clean up after a bunch of animals, then the alternate solution of someone you don't have to clean up after is a choice that you don't have to expend any effort to think about, it appears as the only real choice.
The Libertarian Party have several times now, tried to leap frog the process, and have failed miserably. We ain't pitching a tent in the park here, we are building a new paradigm, and that takes time, and patience. Golly, I wish those people would understand that. I say that we need to get out of the quintessentially unique Americanism of the 'quick fix', and go for the more universally accepted, tried, true and tested long term fix: Trial and error. Let's spend all that money on local candidates and local elections. Let's get those people in local office and build this party from the ground up, instead of from the stratosphere down. Ron Paul is perhaps the finest example of this theory in action. I reckon that he -- single-handedly -- will bootstrap this process into action. His example is what should be the blueprint for success: Work locally, act nationally, participate globally.
From: "Bill Butson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"In short, a human being has only as much "right" as he has might. It is no mystery why being armed and able to defend yourself and your interests is so important. Force is the only thing which can save your ass when reason fails. Forget what rights you think you have and concentrate on what you want, in the end, it's the ony thing you really have. Freedom must be seized, and my property is only that which I can control." -- Philip B Prescott
I couldn't agree more!
The "implication" that one posesses rights is an exercise in philosophy. The application of ones rights is the issue. Calling out to ones oppressor that "I have rights" is foolish and a waste of air. If you cannot back them up with force "rights" are useless. What good were "rights" to the Branch Davidians at Waco Texas, What good were "rights" to the Weaver family in Idaho. And don't talk to me about how they were making illegal weapons or abusing the children and that necessitated government intervention, that's hogwash! Why didn't the ATF/FBI/INS/HRT storm the oval office as Klinton was on the phone with the Chinese trading technology for $$$$$$ with "Monica" under the desk?
The Branch Davidians only mistake was not counter-attacking the ATF after the ATF ran out of ammo! The Branch Davidians had the "right", the ATF initiated the attack and wanted a "ceasefire" after they ran out of ammo. What cowards. And how did "government" reward the restraint of the Branch Davidians? Killed them and burned them! Where were the "rights" of the Davidians?
Are we "Civilized"? Heck No!
Nothing has changed since the 1700's. Your "rights" are still as intact as YOU can enforce them! And unfortunately that personal enforcement of your rights still comes at the muzzle of a gun, the end of a club, or at the end of your arm in a bloody fist!
And to use Charlton Hestons words: "From my COLD, DEAD Hands!"
Sleep tight America. My "rights" are intact. Have you seen yours lately?
Bill Butson, Lenoir, North Carolina
From: "James Odle" <email@example.com>
Recent criticisms of the LP haven't properly identified the problem. The LP's 30 year lack of success has to do with the fact that it is offering a product with limited public appeal, that is -- liberty. And most people -- because they don't think beyond the end of their noses where politics is concerned -- believe they already have liberty. And liberty is not their only concern in life. Sure they will moan an groan about taxes and silly government regulations but they will not take concerted action to demand that they be removed. Not as long as they have a roof over their heads, food on the table, a speedy car and money in their 401k's. Sure they would be better off with liberty but it becomes a case of living with the devil they know rather than chance an uncertain future They are primarily concerned about financial and personal security for themselves and their children both of which -- in their eyes -- would be threatened if the LP came to power in a big way. Consider -- the following groups of people all believe that because of their 'special circumstances' they are entitled to government protectionism:
Government protectionism allows them to keep their standard of living at artificially high levels.
Corporations lobby for protectionist legislation because they know that that legislation creates barriers to entry which in turn limits the number of competitors. Union members don't want to compete against foreign imports Licensed professionals don't want to compete, against anyone who hasn't gone through the same qualification processes that they did. Government employees want a steady paycheck and don't want to compete, period.
Competition, is after all, hard work.
People also believe that they need government to keep those nasty, dangerous drugs away from their little darlin's and they will continue to demand that the government fight it's insipid war on drugs no matter how irrational it is. We are dealing with people's emotions here.
These are just a few of the reasons why the LP will continue to have limited success no matter who the standard bearer is or weather the leadership is cleaned out.
So until someone can figure a way to penetrate our fellow American's thick skulls and get them to consider something other than their wallets let's not beat each other up over the LP's lack of success.
Personally, I believe the libertarian activists might have better success if they specialize and work for liberty within some such organization as NORMAL, Gun Owners of America, CATO, of the Life Extension Foundation. Let the LP remain a sort of one-stop shopping center for Libertarian ideas and as a place where activists can get together and swap ideas.
Let us also come to grips with another ugly reality. No political party will ever its everything its way. Its just not in the cards, folks.
James J. Odle firstname.lastname@example.org