I’ve been swamped lately with various papers and the like coming due, possibly switching jobs, etc. But I did manage to find enough time this weekend for two political events in my otherwise sleepy town of Chadron.
Thursday night, George McGovern came to my college,Now, I don’t appreciate many of the man’s positions, but he was one of the most outspoken opponents of the Vietnam War and on that point, at least, was vindicated in a major way. His speech on Iraq didn’t raise any points nobody hasn’t heard yet, and my brief conversation with him afterwards wasn’t about anything major, but the event gave me some food for thought.
Turn the clock to Friday at noon. My political science professor, Luke Perry, co-hosted an event at a local restaurant wherein Scott Kleeb, the Democratic (very) hopeful for running for Nebraska’s 3rd District in the House of Representatives, spoke. Since there’s no Libertarian running in this district (that I know of), I sadly will probably vote for this man, despite the fact that he’s pro-war, couldn’t directly answer a question on healthcare with concrete proposals (even though that’s the focus of his campaign) and wants to increase Social Security or Medicare and possibly taxes on everyone, not just the rich. He was a nice enough fellow, and to his credit he spoke against the debt, against corporate welfare and for cutting taxes on alternative energy developers (and some subsidies, which is bad, yes… but we’reso we might as well do it in a more sensible, less pollutive way that decreases our dependence on other nations) so he’s slightly better than the Republican front-runner, Adrian Smith. I also had a dean from my college, some washed-up hippie from the 60s, tell me that our was a fundamentalist Christian rag… and then backtrack miserably when I mentioned that the paper’s owner (whose wife works in my office) was a Hindu. Good times, good times.
The best part, I think, was Kleeb’s answer to how to overcome a 10-to-1 voter registration advantage for the Republicans: educating the voters. My polisci teacher and I had a good laugh about that afterwards, because this approach, quite simply, doesn’t work. As a politician, you can sway an electorate a little bit one way or another, but you cannot fundamentally transform them. That’s for think-tanks to do; a successful politician must invite the electorate to “come as they are” and appeal to those instincts already within the electorate that he shares.
But anyway, these events gave me an insight into the thought process of the average liberal. They (or at least a lot of them) are against the war not because Iraq was a sovereign country that didn’t attack us, or because the cost was massive, or because the stated end goal-a democratic, stable, Iraq-is unrealistic. They’re against the war because we didn’t go in with the rest of the world, and because not everyone is being asked to make sacrifices for the war. Seriously-there are plenty of liberals out there that would be all for this war if Dubya had said upfront “We’re going in to give them democracy,” had gotten France and Germany on our side, enacted a draft, and raised taxes to wage it.
The basic idea driving them is that whatever is done, should be done by everyone. Libertarians have a name for this-collectivism. We oppose war out of individualism, they oppose it out of collectivism. Perhaps this is why the anti-war left and right can’t get along. It’s sad seeing the mainstream philosophical stepchildren of Locke and Mill having become so collectivist, but as with all political problems, it deserves a political answer. I think the was a good answer to that, but unfortunately it didn’t get the attention it deserved. But until then, it is the duty of anyone who really actually wants to end this war to figure out how to work with the collectivist side of the anti-war movement.