"I cannot accept, your canon that we are to judge pope and king unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they do no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way against holders of power....Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." ~ Lord Acton
I Will Not Compromise
Exclusive to STR
December 14, 2007
I reported to you in a previous column some time ago, dear reader, about my unexpected conversation with Christine Smith, a candidate for the Libertarian Party nomination for President. I received a response from Smith expressing pleasure at the coverage, which really surprised me.
Recently I had the pleasure of hearing from Smith again. Along with a positively friendly, personal note, she attached a copy of an essay she'd written titled, 'I Will Not Compromise ' An Open Letter to Libertarians.' As I began to compose my response, I realized it may be of interest to others, so I have submitted it to my favorite site for publication.
Dear Christine, How delightful to hear from you again. First, I'd like to apologize and say that I'm very glad you were not put off by the remarks in my initial column about you. I simply meant to tell the truth as I saw it. Upon reading them over again, I realize I would have been slightly off put if someone had written some of those things about me and would have moderated them slightly given a second chance. I'm glad you weren't dissuaded by my remarks. I often feel some sense of remorse for my audacity. Unfortunately, it doesn't stop me. So from one passionate freedom loving woman to another . . . .
My admiration for you only grows. As I said, you are amazing. If there is any justice in this world, your passion and articulation will reap some benefit to liberty, as it is your stated and obvious goal. I understand your position; really I do. I feel the need to attack tyranny as strongly as you do. I don't do it politically because my little heart simply won't allow it.
With another tinge of regret, I admit that I once ran for state representative in 2004. It was a desperation move. I felt I had to do something. I haven't done anything that engendered such resistance or regret in me in a very long time.
I now have one simple test for my actions: Does it make my heart sing or doesn't it? If the answer is yes, I do it and to hell with the consequences. If not, if I can formulate any idea into "I should . . . whatever" then I just can't force myself do it. I no longer thusly 'should' on myself. Such 'shoulds' are a function of the mind. Even if it is a beautiful mind, and quite creative, it is not a reliable guide for solutions to this world's problems. I have come to find out the hard way that only my heart is such a reliable guide.
I thoroughly comprehend the thinking person's vulnerability to the message of the Libertarian Party. All that sweet talk about free markets, strong civil liberties, non-interventionist foreign policy; in general, the reduction of the size and scope of government. It is cashmere talk that gives me a warm feeling all over and truly seductive.
I don't have much argument with your positions. I will even admit to a fantasy or two of what life could be like for me and my children if you were elected President. Immediate withdrawal of every U.S. troop from Iraq is seductive. (The Democrats don't have the courage to even pay lip service to making empty promises about that!) Ending the war on drugs and homosexuality is only moral and logical. (Again, ripe pickings for the Dems, but no sale.) Your declaration of the federal government being the worst polluter and stopping it as your stated position on 'environmental issues' is great. (Do you read me, Mr. Gore?) Eliminating gun control and government schooling on a federal level and getting the federal government out of the abortion business are truly music to my ears.
My insistence on dealing with reality and my utter abhorrence for and comprehension of politics in general are the obstacles to our complete synchronicity, Christine. First, a Libertarian candidate simply cannot hope for more than a single digit showing in a presidential election. Setting this aside, there is an even bigger obstacle. I have serious doubts about the ability of one human being's intention, no matter how pure and tenacious, to overcome the necessity of going along to get along, selling out in one way in hopes of accomplishing something good.
Beyond this obstacle, the possibility of dismantling even one tiny fraction of the political machinery that is now firmly in place in this country, marching us towards the complete destruction of the liberty, self-determination and sovereignty of the individual is unthinkable. I firmly believe that the powers that be have worked too long and hard to allow it to happen. It's obvious that wanton killing is not beneath them and they will not hesitate to employ it, even when unnecessary. So even if the unthinkable happened and someone like you, say Ron Paul, were to win the Republican nomination and again, unthinkably, win the presidential election (uh, who owns those Diebold vote counting machines?), I don't think he would be allowed to live, much less change anything.
No matter how virtuous I believe myself to be, if I were in such a position, any hostage to fortune, such as my children, would render me useless. All it would take would be one small threat to the well being of my children and I'd do whatever the hell I was told to do. That is the sad truth and I doubt I'm alone in it. I think the history of the CIA has proven itself so far beyond law and justice that taking out one more politician would be too easy. We know from experience that accountability and checks and balances receive nothing but lip service. The beast of politics simply cannot cure our ills. It's like trying to break a casino by pumping coins into a one-armed bandit ' anyone outside the situation can see the futility.
My biggest argument with involvement in politics is that voting or running for office is joining the crime family. Libertarians do not believe in the initiation of force to achieve social goals. Any government, no matter how small, even if it did nothing beyond national defense and enforcement of contracts, initiates force to achieve social goals by the collection of taxes. Until I hear someone mention government by donation, which I never have and doubt I ever will, you cannot erase that fact. Logic dictates that small government, as friendly as that phrase is, violates the very platform of the Libertarian Party.
The national platform states: "We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose." I have no argument with this. Once again, any government, no matter how small, by its very existence, is in violation of this goal. I'm not pointing any fingers, Christine, but there seems to be some implication by the big 'L' Libertarians (the political animals rather than philosophical ones) that we are supposed to follow them on their leap from reducing government, were it possible, to the eventual elimination of tyranny. It's a bigger leap than is humanly possible.
Open any history book and what you find is not the story of people or of freedom. They are filled with the recorded history of politics by people who believe in the political process. Who won the elections and how they managed to fleece and indenture the people, if not get many of them killed, is considered history. At best, one's own country's history is made to look benevolent by contrast to one more tyrannical. To remedy that kind of mindset with a philosophy and good intentions while driving the bus of tyranny, no matter how sincere, is simply fantasy. It's the same thing the Democrats and Republicans are doing. They just think their intentions are better than everybody else's. Does this sound familiar?
I spent a lot of years and tens of thousands of dollars on therapy to learn to live in reality. Admittedly, I could never be convicted of optimism, but I think that hoping to take an out-of-control, overgrown carnivore, 'a terrifying master' as Thomas Jefferson called it, and attempt to domesticate it, transform it back into a dangerous servant and expect it to perform for us without becoming immediately hungry for our flesh again is unrealistic. It's not a chance I'm willing to take. It's certainly not one with which I'm willing to get on board, hoist a flag and set sail.
I don't abstain from voting or endorsing the Libertarian Party because I'm lazy, stupid, uniformed or pessimistic. I can only hope the other millions of non-voters are thinking people too. I don't abstain from politics because I doubt the sincerity of those who embrace freedom or any other truly noble cause. My little heart simply won't let me partake of the forbidden fruit because government is the downfall of mankind. It can never be its solution or its savior.
P.S. I'm in no way attempting to hinder your path, Christine. On the contrary, I am enjoying our dialogue. Once again you have inspired me to write and I thank you for it. Carry on! And for god's sake, keep in touch.