Friday, June 14, 2013
The Year of the Libertarian
The political shows that I watch are getting a bit muddled because the liberals' hosts are hearing voices from their libertarian side of the brain. Last night, MSNBC's Chris Hayes spent about 5 minutes explaining why he's agreeing with Representative Louis Gohmert on the NSA issue. He sounded like he was apologizing to his audience. There never has been a right or wrong stance on this issue because it's about a person's tolerance and understanding on where that imaginary line is between security and privacy.
All these discussions take me back 30 years, to a time when I used to go toe- to- toe with libertarians with whom I used to work with. They were all likeable, intelligent human beings who hated government and taxes in general, and they thought that the only role government had was to provide defense. They were literalists in their interpretation of the Constitution, and they all carried that document wherever they went. I put it to the test one day when we were attending the funeral of a fellow coworker. I jokingly asked the friend if he had a copy of the constitution and to my surprise, he said, “As a matter of fact, I do.” Libertarians don’t waver a bit when it comes to defending their ideology.
It was the 1980s, so most of our discussions were about the staggering economy and how they thought that the Fed and government were responsible. I was using quotes from economists, and they were using the theories of Ayn Rand. I soon realized that you can't argue against theories that have not been tried in any country. My adversaries believed in the school of Austrian economics, which don’t rely on economic mathematical models; just theories about human behavior. They used to like to tell me that the markets will self- correct, oh if only I could run into them today; I would ask them “how did that self -correction in the 2008 financial crisis workout for you?” Ron Paul said we should have let Wall Street fall, but that’s easy to say from the position of a congressman who didn’t have to face the American people or other world leaders.
One day our company emailed us to remind us that we all had to make arrangements to attend an offsite seminar about respect in the workplace. When my friend read his e-mail, he got up from his chair, and went straight into the boss’s office to complain. He said it was offensive to be told something that should come naturally. That's true, but like everything else my friend didn’t wait to get all the facts. Management might have been fulfilling their minimum requirements in ensuring a safe workplace.
I remember one segment where the issue was about race. My Libertarian friends were not racists but they were certainly ideologues. Straight out of a Ron Paul newsletter, one of the libertarians said that he agreed with Barry Goldwater’s vote against the Civil Rights Act because it trampled on property rights. This immediately alarmed the lecturer and caused a stir in our small group but he was allowed to make his point. He said while he was against segregation, he didn’t think that the government should be able to tell a property owner what to do. I was more than ready to make my rebuttal. I can’t remember the exact words but I went around the room and pointed to a new female employee, a Hispanic one, and a black employee and said “Do you honestly think that we would all be here together today if not for a nudge by the government?”
I think this is the year of the Libertarian because it’s safe to assume that the Tea Party is coming home to their roots. Rand Paul is now the de-facto leader of the Tea Party because unlike his father, he has won a state-wide election. It shouldn’t be hard for Senator Rand Paul to tie in all the so-called government scandals into a message that government is too big and cannot be trusted. That’s easy pickings for his constituents, but if he goes too far out there (as he is usually inclined to do) he will lose the independents. He will be given ample opportunity to spread his message but will he be able to sell it? I have to admit he did a good job with his filibuster of our drone policy, but we’ll see how he does with the NSA policy. The ball is his court, but as I see it, he will miss the three pointer, when the more makeable layup was available.