Is it Name Calling if We Include Ourselves?

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I really enjoyed reading Richard Keller’s letter to the editor in the Daily News Record, especially this part:

The reason Libertarians don’t win elections is that: if your idea of participation in the voting process is to perpetuate the status quo, you really needn’t bother; the only thing that changes, and rarely at that, is the name of the person and party responsible for bankrupting this country. In the spirit of name calling, I’d rather be called a Loser-tarian than a Retardican or a Dumbocrat.

Heh, Retardicans… great word. Jeez, it’s like I have a retard fetish or something, ya know?

25 Comments
  1. The reason Libertarians haven’t won elections is because we have so often taken extreme, scarily different positions, giving only explanations for those positions that refer to obscure philosophical tracts the average voter doesn’t have the time nor inclination to learn about. We have eschewed moderation, incrementalism, and practical argument. Hopefully, the tide is changing within the Party.

  2. Im happy being a Loser-tarian and not a Nazi (Republican), a Communist (Democrat) or a Christian Fundamentalist Extremist (Republican).

  3. We do not win election because we are not prepared to win.Poor planning,Wait to the last minute to run,we do not know how to raise money,we run races to big for our resources(run for state instead of US house)we need better trained campaign managers. we do not use resouces properly.
    The good news we are getting better
    http://www.crazyforliberty.com

  4. Doug Craig: You’re right, but a lot of Libertarians simply have no idea how to run for office with limited resources. I know here in Ohio we’re at least doing whatever we can on the Internet to drum up volunteers (MySpace) and sending Bill Peirce all over the state.

    I’m actually not counting us out of this one until I see some more recent polls, we’re definitely starting to chip away at the barrier that’s been erected in front of us.

    PS- you don’t need to link to your site each time like a sig, it’s already clickable from your name.

  5. Mike L,

    The reason Libertarians haven’t won elections is because we have so often taken extreme, scarily different positions, giving only explanations for those positions that refer to obscure philosophical tracts the average voter doesn’t have the time nor inclination to learn about. We have eschewed moderation, incrementalism, and practical argument. Hopefully, the tide is changing within the Party.

    I suppose that’s why the Reform Party has become a major party, since they never took any radical positions. Oh wait….

    SVD,

    What part of Ohio? I’m in Middleburg Heights, in the Cleveland area probably for a few weeks….

  6. Hey Stephen I am not counting us out of anything.The Smither races is going great. Badnarik is running one of the best US house races we have ever had.I just wish we would not lose the knowledge we gain ever year.We have had more press than ever in Georgia this early in a race.I wish Libertarian could learn more from the other state’s campaigns.We need to know how people like Bill Peirce are doing it on the cheap.

  7. paulie: Are you stalking me? hehe

    I’m in Cleveland (Lakewood actually), let’s grab some beers this weekend. Drop me an email and I’ll give you my home number.

  8. We don’t know how to raise money? B.S. – my experience is the LP raises far more bucks per member than any other political party. Where the LP candidates fall far short is in raising PAC money. Not surprising, either, as the LP has few favors to sell or few chances to sell those they do have.

  9. Mike L,

    That’s good. But your statement is that our radical views are why we haven’t won elections, and presumably will win them once that changes. Actually, we have won some elections, and in the long run done better than any other third party in recent decades. Actually, the main reason third parties don’t do better is institutional, not ideological: the “wasted vote” calculation in the winner-take-all system, tied in a vicious cycle with lack of money, coverage, and recognizable candidates.

    A good model for a succesful third party is the Socialist Party of the early 20th century. While it never became a major party, it did win some elections and impressive vote totals, and its then radical agenda has largely been enacted by the major parties and is now mainstream (indeed, it is radical to question it now).

    The only third party which ever became a major party was the GOP, but only after the Whig Party collapsed. There probably won’t be another major party until Ds or Rs belly up

  10. Two points. One reason that libertarians do not do better is that they tend to spend too much time on issues which place them in the “extreme” camp, such as legalizing drugs, porn, consentual sex, etc. As I have said before, libertarians have a host of positions which can appeal to more than just the fringe. Libertarian positions on asset foreiture, eminent domain,taxes, USAPATRIOT ACT, government spending, deficits,etc. are mor than suffient to appeal to a broader base of civil libertarian, fical conservative voter.

    Another point is that “all politics is local”. If libertarians do not have a strong local organization, and get out the vote effort, they can never hope for more than 1 or 2 percent of the vote.

    Even Ross Perot realized that fact and had a strong base of support, (which is why he did so well for a third party candidate).

    It is a lot of work but building a strong local organization to do the foot work needed is what will ultimately succeed.

  11. Two points. One reason that libertarians do not do better is that they tend to spend too much time on issues which place them in the “extreme” camp, such as legalizing drugs, porn, consentual sex, etc. As I have said before, libertarians have a host of positions which can appeal to more than just the fringe. Libertarian positions on asset foreiture, eminent domain,taxes, USAPATRIOT ACT, government spending, deficits,etc. are mor than suffient to appeal to a broader base of civil libertarian, fical conservative voter.

    Another point is that “all politics is local”. If libertarians do not have a strong local organization, and get out the vote effort, they can never hope for more than 1 or 2 percent of the vote.

    Even Ross Perot realized that fact and had a strong base of support, (which is why he did so well for a third party candidate).

    It is a lot of work but building a strong local organization to do the foot work needed is what will ultimately succeed.

  12. Mike G

    Way to go. We will surely win many elections with that attitude. The sad part is most libertarians think your way which means we are sure to be losers.

  13. Yes, but purist libertarianism, like purist socialism, is often disconnected from what can actually be made to work in the real world. The Libertarian Party’s purism has often reflected one camp’s vision of the one true libertarian philosophy, suppressing dissenting views. If we Libertarians are intellectually honest, we would admit that we don’t know all the answers. That we need to figure out as we go how to make society more free. Incrementalism, moderation, and some humility would be better because we don’t know exactly what we are doing or where we are going.

  14. Yes, but purist libertarianism, like purist socialism, is often disconnected from what can actually be made to work in the real world

    I disagree.

    The Libertarian Party’s purism has often reflected one camp’s vision of the one true libertarian philosophy, suppressing dissenting views.

    That presumes that dissenting views are in fact libertarian philosophically. If libertararianism is defined by the non-initiation of force principle, as I would define it, those dissenting views belong elsewhere. Not only do you claim the right to initiate force against me – you also insist that we not even be allowed to have a party which always opposes such initiations of force.

    Incrementalism, moderation, ….in the face of tyranny is no virtue, and cutting out part of a cancer incrementally does not solve thee problem.

  15. One reason that libertarians do not do better is that they tend to spend too much time on issues which place them in the “extreme” camp, such as legalizing drugs, porn, consentual sex, etc.

    Porn and consensual sex are more extreme than elimination of all taxes and government spending? Well, maybe to some people. There’s always someone saying some of our views are too extreme, others are ok. Of course it’s not always the same views.

    If libertarians do not have a strong local organization, and get out the vote effort, they can never hope for more than 1 or 2 percent of the vote.

    Even Ross Perot realized that fact and had a strong base of support, (which is why he did so well for a third party candidate).

    Blatantly false. Perot did relatively well because he spent mega millions of his own money on the election, and thus was covered by the media and included in the debates. He never built a strong local organization, and his party fractured and disappeared quickly.

  16. There are many reasons we do don’t win more elections, some under our control and some not, but our philosophy and positions are not amoung them. Really poor salesmen tend to blame the product.

  17. Well, to be fair, having radical views does make it harder. That’s not a reason to change our views, it’s a reason to keep plugging away and reaching people by whatever means they can be reached. Still, there is no denying that it is not easy to overcome worldviews shaped by what is taught in the schools, shown in the mass media, and advocated by the major parties. With the internet, we have a vast improvement in our outreach abilities, but it is still a very long and very tilted uphill climb. If we give up on what we believe to accomodate the lies of the hierarchies, we lose by default, even if we “win”. Even then, “winning” is still unlikely because of all the institutional and systematic barriers.

  18. Paulie — let’s examine your definition of libertarianism as the non-initiation of force purely and solely. Who defines, then what is and is not force? Is ostracism force? Is contract enforcement the initiation of force?

    Further — what about responsive force? Must it be proportional? Who then would be responsible for enforcing the proportionality of responsive force? The community? A mob? What does this do to lynch mobs, racism, et al?

    The NIFP as a guideline is fine-and-dandy. But in practical application it fails miserably. Belonging to several subversive subcultures, I understand this intimately: “Mob Rule” is the antithesis of freedom. Social conformity is the mandate of anarchism. I refuse to subject my freedoms to your ideology, Paulie. If *WE* both concern ourselves with utter freedom, yet disagree as intently as we have… what hope does the common person have to understand us?

    Incrementalism, Moderation, as *POLITICAL TOOLS* can succeed. As ideological? Not so much.

  19. No, abstract initiation-of-force analysis from one’s armchair does not yield all the answers. The real world has these messy conditions that don’t fit in with our abstract models that assume conditions where everyone is a rational, fully-informed, competent adult.

    In the real world, it isn’t clear cut when a child has matured into an adult, it isn’t clear cut when a mother and fetus should be considered separate individuals, the pollution you generate on your property leaks into other people’s air, there are situations like Israeli/Palestine conflict where trying to analyze who first committed agression leads nowhere. Shit like that where one can’t come up with workable answers by contemplating one’s navel.

    Sure, the laws of our country should be tuned towards guaranteeing the freedom of normal adults. But, that isn’t always the situation we’re dealing with.

  20. Ian, good questions, but not really something that can be easily answered in 1000 characters. Contract enforcement is not the initiation of force. Non-fulfilment of a contract is fraud, which is a form of force. Ostracism is not force; the right of non-association is part of the right of association.

    Responsive force should be proportional, although that does not have to mean exactly 1:1. Enforcement would be by a variety of security and arbitration agencies with mutual agreements. I’ve pointed you to numerous books and articles which explain this in greater detail. I’m sure you wouldn’t claim the current system has no problems. I don’t advocate mob rule.

    Mob rule is what we have now. It only calls itself a legitimate government. i don’t know where you get that NIFP fails practically. I’m not the one who demands you subject your freedom to my ideology – quite the opposite.

    Common people can understand us; it’s not that hard. And your political tools can’t succeed, only deceive.

  21. Mike,

    No, abstract initiation-of-force analysis from one’s armchair does not yield all the answers. The real world has these messy conditions that don’t fit in with our abstract models that assume conditions where everyone is a rational, fully-informed, competent adult.

    I assume no such thing. What I do hope, however, is that we can solve these problems better in a free society than by forcible monopoly government, which has a track record of fucking up everything it touches miserably and extremely.

  22. For anyone who is laboring under misconceptions, I don’t believe in utopia or that I have the answer to all the problems. I have a starting point, which is that freedom works better than artificial monopoly government established by force. It can be proven both theoretically and empirically.

    However, it does not mean there won’t be problems. For example, in the drug thread, Kirk Muse claimed that if only drugs were legal, almost all the drug problems would go away and most users would just smoke pot.

    Yet drug addiction is a real problem; making drugs legal won’t solve all the problems. There are lots of alcohol and nicotine addicts. Just because the government can’t solve these problems does not mean that lack of prohibition solves them all, either.

    What is true is that government intervention makes these problems even worse. And so it goes with many other issues. Forcible government solves nothing, it just makes things worse.

  23. I don’t believe in utopia or that I have the answer to all the problems.

    Good to hear! I think we libertarians would get a lot of mileage out of having some humility and respect when talking politics with non-libertarians.

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