Monday, May 12, 2008

Electoral politics is just poor strategy

A week ago, good comrade Brad Spangler posted that “the Libertarian Party specifically and electoral politics generally are very poor tools for the advancement of libertarian ideas if we’re talking about radical (i.e. real) libertarianism.” His evidence: Liberty magazine’s recent poll results, which show that, among its readership over the past two decades, “the trendline is clearly away from anarchist sentiments.” This is due in no small part, Brad says, to the fact that “within the libertarian movement, anarchists are not making their case because they’re busy ‘doing politics’ and minarchists enjoy the pro-government bias inherent in existing government being the status quo.”

Radical libertarians (aka anarchists), Brad explains, “haven’t been adequately making their case because the attempt to use a political party as a vehicle for the communication of ideology results in our best and brightest people being tied up in endless platform wars with establishmentarian elements and vainly struggling to defend radicalism from smears by our worst enemies — those who want to define libertarianism out of existence by making the word come to mean something else entirely.”

As usual, I agree with Brad totally. Alas, the first respondent to Brad’s post does not. He writes:

“I’m a candidate, but my top priority is to talk about anarchism, not to build the Libertarian Party. I find it easier to get into discussions with people about politics when I’m a ‘candidate’ than just an ordinary Joe Six-pack.”

Ignoring altogether the condescending elitism inherent in the use of the term “Joe Six-pack,” this comment indicates its author either lacks imagination or is just plain lazy. C’mon! Since when is it hard to get into political discussions with people? In just the past weekend, I’ve had (and have even seized upon) the opportunity to briefly comment on the economy and the political landscape to people trapped next to me at the gas pump, in line at the local coffee house, and sitting queued up outside a movie theater. Waiting with a whole lot of people to buy “forever stamps” at the post office, I got a nod and smile from a fellow patron when I remarked that were the USPS privately owned, there’d likely be more than two service windows open (eight were shuttered).

Pardon me for sounding cranky, but I think that with a larger set of balls, Brad’s correspondent could reach as many people in the trenches with his message, and reach them more effectively, if he posed as “an ordinary Joe Six-pack” and quit playing political candidate.

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