…comes a dispatch from R. Kenneth Lindell, another libertarian elected as a Republican, who is
Lindell on the need for compromise and unity within and without the libertarian movement, in order to advance our goals:
The libertarian movement is driven by the fundamental principles of individual liberty and self-sufficiency so well encapsulated in the non-aggression principle. The libertarian economist Murray Rothbard best described that principle, in his essay “War, Peace, and the State”:
The fundamental axiom of libertarian theory is that no one may threaten or commit violence (“aggress”) against another man’s person or property. Violence may be employed only against the man who commits such violence; that is, only defensively against the aggressive violence of another. In short, no violence may be employed against a nonaggressor. Here is the fundamental rule from which can be deduced the entire corpus of libertarian theory.
How does a libertarian state legislator hold true to such a principle while participating in the formulation of public policy? After all, every law must be enforced by means of aggression, or at least the threat of aggression.
The answer came to me well before I ever had to ask the question of myself. It came at a rally I attended in Boston in 1996, a fundraiser for Harry Browne’s first presidential campaign. The speaker was the late David Brudnoy, who for more than a quarter century was the voice of Boston evening talk radio. Brudnoy spoke of an allegorical “freedom train” making a journey to the perfect libertarian society “” Galt’s Gulch perhaps? The train has far to travel from the statist society we live in. Many of us may want to get off before the train arrives at its final destination, but anyone who wants greater freedom needs to get aboard right here.
Lindell on what finally drove him away from the LP:
This message resonated with me because even then I was uncomfortable with the anarchist fringe of the libertarian movement. Nevertheless I remained active in the Libertarian Party until 2000 because I believed that libertarian ideas could have an influence on mainstream politics. I also thought that the LP was the most effective means of bringing that influence to bear. It took less than a year on the Libertarian National Committee to disabuse me of that notion. It astounded me how much infighting and jockeying for position could exist in an utterly powerless political organization. The LP should have been focusing on how it might actually get more libertarians elected, but it squabbled instead over who should attend its conventions or what staff members should be hired or fired. In 2001 I resigned from the LNC and quit the Libertarian Party.
It’s a great article about how libertarians are doing politics. They have to get in there and work, sometimes hold their nose at the stench of politics so they can take out the trash. Obviously, your mileage might vary depending on your district… but as a rare example of an elected small-l libertarian, it’s a useful case study on how to maintain libertarian principles in a statist government while also pragmatically advancing the goals of our movement.