"The police of a state should never be stronger or better armed than the citizenry. An armed citizenry, willing to fight, is the foundation of civil freedom." ~ Robert Heinlein
The Power to Get Away With It
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I have received a number of e-mails from frustrated and stooped Ron Paul supporters asking me to investigate the possibility of vote fraud in New Hampshire and write about it. The polls showed that Ron Paul might get at least double digits in the "Live Free or Die" primary; with the help of independents he could perhaps end up at second or third place. Yet when all the precincts were counted, he finished fifth with only 8% of the votes.
Supporters of Ron Paul claim this doesn't make sense, that the New Hampshire primary must have been subject to vote fraud. The facts imply such fraud: some precincts with known supporters report no votes at all for Paul, and Paul has done better in paper-ballot counties than in electronic-ballot counties (supposedly implying the voting machines have been tampered with). There is a body of evidence that suggests something might not have been done by the book.
I will personally not engage in this matter, and I have no opinion on whether there is vote fraud committed distinctly against Ron Paul. The fact is that there is hardly any democratic system without attempts of vote fraud; the system itself is corrupt and therefore necessarily attracts as well as rewards corrupt behavior and corrupt elements.
What frightens me about these comments I have received is not that the establishment has used "illegal" means to get Ron Paul out of the way. Everything is fair in love and war, as the saying goes, and politics is in every sense of the word war (it definitely isn't love). As I have written elsewhere, "[t]he purpose of the State is to secure power through a war on the people."
What really frightens me is the lack of understanding for the system that these comments reveal--and that libertarians are guilty of such ignorance and naïveté. The system is a system of power for the sake of power, and to be used by those with power and not afraid to use it. It is not a system for undermining or challenging the establishment; it is a system that maintains the status quo, and keeps challenging thoughts as far away as possible. Change, in the radical sense, is only possible through radical measures. Liberty can be restored only through immediately and without hesitation getting rid of the full extent of the system of power--not through working from within trying to tame it.
Since the birth of the system we call "liberal democracy," we have seen a trend in party politics: that parties tend to strive towards the middle and that they agree more often than not. Political scientists are puzzled by this fact, but what they fail to realize is that all parties and political activists share one fundamental goal and that goal has always been the same: power. In a party system, the parties are sides of the same coin; they are different in appearance only. They rhetorically ask for power to make the system more efficient, to bring about change, to liberate.
But power and liberty are opposites; wherever the former appears, the latter disappears. To hand someone power for him to liberate you is to make yourself his slave, no matter how wise he is or how much you happen to trust him. Few of us would ask our doctors to poison us in order to cure us (even if we trust they will do what is right), yet that is exactly what we do when we engage in politics. And some of us seem to do it repeatedly, thereby effectively making sure liberty stays out of reach.
What I am referring to here is the utterly contradictory position of being a statist libertarian. Libertarians engaging in a political campaign to have someone elected have from my point of view given up their claim on liberty; they are no longer striving for liberty as number one, but are working to give someone power to liberate them. Is this really a way forward? Is it to love liberty to give it up?
The questions can only be answered in the negative unless one first engages in political twisting of the meaning of the words. Liberty can only be seized; it cannot be surrendered in order to be received later and perhaps in another shape or to another extent. Liberty is yours when you want it, but to get it, it is necessary to first claim it. You cannot give it away or transfer it--it is only possible to give it up.
The fact is that it does not matter whether someone committed vote fraud in New Hampshire in order to set Ron Paul's campaign back a few steps. All elections are frauds; the question is just to what degree and in what way they are fraudulent. If Ron Paul was truly a victim of an establishment effort to stifle his growing popularity and thwart his candidacy, there is no reason to believe they do not have the power to do so--and get away with it. That is, after all, what the system is designed for, whether you like it or not.