Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 445, November 25, 2007

"The sound you just heard is the sound of the coffin
closing on the 'brand name' known as the Libertarian Party."

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by Jean Alexander

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Mothering is a complicated art. It requires that we balance our love of our children with restraint to let them learn lessons, accept responsibility, understand consequences, get hurt, and more. Letting that happen sometimes runs completely counter to our feelings for them. We start out with helpless newborns and it requires constant vigilance to adapt to their growing maturity and capabilities. Even then, our hearts harken back to that tiny newborn. But getting out of the way so that they can grow and mature and become responsible, capable, self-sufficient adults, helping them learn new skills to help themselves, that is the true role of motherhood.

I first heard the term "nanny state" from Elizabeth McKinstry, then Vice President of and media spokesperson for the Free State Project. She may not have been the first to utter it, but she was the first to bring it to my attention and did so in a clear, uncomplicated way. The term fit so beautifully the impression I had of our current government which had overstepped its boundaries, didn't trust its citizens, and proclaimed, with mere human beings at it's control, to know better, to decide for us, while corralling our willing but uneducated votes. McKinstry made it so obvious, so logical. What the state is doing is wrong. They don't belong in our bedrooms. They don't belong in our homes. They have a limited role to play. And, as citizens, we need to be vigilant so that they are contained. As citizens we need to be educated and informed enough with real facts to be able to verify their actions. Not marketing speech. Not slogans. Real facts, real information.

As I made the connection more and more between my role as mother and that of the state the more I realized what a disservice our nanny state was to our country. This isn't news to most libertarian minded. But, deep in my role as mother, the true flaws with the system hit home. How could this be a good thing? How could it be tolerated? It's not a good thing for my children if I watch over them, controlling and directing, into adulthood. They are weakened by that effort. They are stopped from becoming fully functional and contributing human beings. What does a nanny state say about our country? How resourceful and productive can we be as a nation can we be, being treated this way? We are handicapping ourselves. We are allowing ourselves, our collective selves, to be handicapped.

New Orleans and Katrina brought home in a profound way how the nanny state is limited. We as mere citizens can't help. They know better. They will handle it. Well meaning people with resources were turned away. And the flaw of a state, run by mere human beings, caused the horror that Katrina wrought to be compounded over and over again. Yes, FEMA failed. But the flaw wasn't merely FEMA. The flaw was more profound than that. It was the state requiring, and the people allowing, the state to have sole custody of helping us, rather than us helping ourselves.

As we turn our power over to the state, as we support the growing power of the nanny state, we further handicap ourselves. And the longer this goes on the more handicapped we become. As one person I've found ways to make forward movement that I believe will help.

I make sure to educate my children to not blindly follow. . . anyone. We teach them to question and use their intelligence, rather than emotions, to review and analyze information. We've made clear that just because it comes from our president (or other government or corporate official) in a televised speech doesn't mean it's true. We've made sure they question even *us*, their parents, if they feel they are right or don't understand. We've made very clear the difference between opinion, fact, and emotionally charged rhetoric. And so, my three will be. . . less handicapped.

I found, became a participant in, and volunteer for, the Free State Project, an organization dedicated to getting the liberty minded to congregate in a single state, where they can work towards liberty in our lifetime. My husband and I signed the FSP's Statement of Intent some time ago and moved to New Hampshire two years ago. We aren't merely *talking* about liberty and small government. We're doing something about it. No handing over power to the state for us. We are being vigilant, involved, informed, and we are speaking up, taking action.

I participate in The Mothers Institute, a new organization dedicated to promoting methods of mothering which foster a child's sense of individual freedom and personal responsibility. The Institute encourages the teaching and implementation of time honored traditions including reason, logic, creativity, civility, debate and dissent. I want all children to be raised to be critical thinkers and questioners. The Mothers Institute supports and promotes those ends.

I follow, contribute, and otherwise support the Ron Paul campaign, as much as a busy mother of three can. I first saw Congressman Paul in person at the Liberty Forum in February 2007 in New Hampshire. His politics, or lack thereof, ring true with me, and with many many small l libertarians. He's doing the straight talking no nonsense communication that politicians try for, while having the track record to back up his talk that no other does. He's talking to us like adults. And talking about our country like an adult. We've made some mistakes. We're not perfect. We can and need to fix it. He's not talking down to us. He's not using marketing speech or emotionally charged rhetoric. He's making sense. Decades of attorneys as politicians and it takes a man who delivers babies to treat us like adults.

The nanny state isn't gone, not by a long shot. But I'm working on loosening her grip, giving her notice. And I know I'm not alone. Someday, perhaps someday soon, she'll get her pink slip. I think we're all grown up enough. . . don't you?


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