Us vs. Them: Our Common Ground
Right on with the Destroying the "Liberal Elite" article. [“Destroying the ‘Liberal Elite’ and Defending the Common Man”, Issue No. 18, Winter 2005] The Republicans have completely ostracized the libertarian-leaning wing of their party by further centralizing government power and legislating morality at the federal level. The Democrats have a lot to gain by merely incorporating into their platform "the right to live your life as you choose, so long as you do not violate another's right to do the same." This makes the party's position on social issues seem more rational and universal, not like some liberal agenda to undermine the moral fabric of America. As you probably well know, moving in a libertarian direction is very different from "compromising" and going towards the center, but it is a direction that is becoming increasingly more appealing, especially to younger generations.
I was a bit confused however at your repeated attempts to lump the Democratic appeal to labor with the Democratic appeal to environmental issues. From my experience, the people that the Democratic Party purports to help out, such as the working poor, unemployed, and union members, have little to no interest in environmental issues. It is precisely the "liberal elite" (a.k.a. academia, rich Northeasterners, Hollywood types) that lump "saving the environment" in together with the rest of the Democratic "compassionate" social and economic agenda. While liberal talking heads continue to push the environment as a major issue, I don't think the masses that would actually consider voting Democrat could care less.
It also appears that while the outsourcing of jobs, the "race to the bottom," and the "Wal-Martization" of America theories about our economic woes hold a lot of credence among the general public, they don't translate into votes for Democrats. It would be refreshing to instead see a Democratic candidate stand up and start challenging some of the destructive fiscal and monetary policies that have been strategically hidden from public view by both major parties. The inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve and our inability to balance the budget have been silently punishing the working poor on fixed incomes and people who save their money. This, above all else, is the primary reason that the political elite are becoming richer (as they are always the first recipients of "easy" money inflation policies) and the poor are becoming poorer (as their wages and savings rapidly lose value, even when they increase in terms of dollars). As much as hardcore Democrats like to blame the income gap on rich people who aren't paying their fair share of taxes and low minimum wages, these simply are not the real causes, and even moderately wealthy people aren't gonna buy it if the Republicans keep giving them tax breaks (however ill-advised). I believe it would be beneficial to bring some of these libertarian economic ideas and perspectives to the table as well. While they may not be quite as easy as demonizing the rich and blaming corporate America, I think they can be much more truthful and just as "compassionate." (The Mises Institute is a well-respected economic think-tank that advocates many libertarian positions, and does it well. If you're interested, you can check it out at www.mises.org or its more general sister site at www.lewrockwell.com.)
Anyway, if you've gotten this far thanks for reading my late-night rambling. I'm not sure whether this is going to make any difference, or if the Democrats are actually going to make the right changes. I'm a lifelong Libertarian and I usually vote that way, but if the Democrats move in a libertarian direction I may consider voting Democrat if there's ever a tight race in my state (Georgia). That's probably not likely for a while though. Regardless, keep doing what you're doing. I'm a fan and a believer that things will get better.
Geary Yonker responds:
Thanks for sending your letter. I’m always grateful for a letter concerning something I’ve written. It gives me a chance to finish some of my thoughts and it’s always nice to talk to somebody who at least partially agrees with you.
I’ll have you know that the first draft of this letter was very thoughtful and well-written. Then my machine crashed and I lost it. Throbbing mad I went and poured myself a drink. Hunter Thompson just killed himself this morning. Thoughtful and well-written was just sacrificed at the altar of guns and whiskey. God bless.
Yes the Democratic Party should take more of a libertarian stance on such social issues as gun control, gay marriage, and abortion. Their positions on abortion and gay marriage are both already based on a person’s right to choose. Yes this would require them to reposition themselves on the issue of gun control. They would have to make some concessions, possibly by framing gun control as a state's rights issue as I suggested. The newly elected Chairman of the DNC did say during the presidential election that Vermont and New York should not have the same gun laws. If the Democratic Party took a more libertarian stance on gun control they could frame all of three of these issues as issues of choice. Issues of personal freedom. Nobody wants to be told how to live their life.
This administration has ostracized many libertarian-minded Republicans. The Republican Party is now the party curtailing civil liberties through shams like the Patriot Act. They give a new definition to fiscally irresponsible. They are expanding the government and increasing the government's control over your life. Oh and they want to tell you how you to live that life.
The Democratic Party needs to expand the tent. These last two elections have been decided by the slimmest of margins. In the short term, the party would gain some Libertarian voters, possibly enough to swing a close election. Beyond the next election, I see this as a new direction for the party. This party has evolved over 200 years and I believe it is ready to take its next step, not towards the center, but to somewhere new. People are looking for new ideas and perspectives. The Democratic Party has had this 1960s mindset of righteous indignation for too long. Frankly I think this country is tired of it. I think this country collectively rolls its eyes every time the Democrats invoke the ghost of JFK. I don't but I see them do it.
I’m sorry but it’s true. In this last election, I worked with a bunch of people of my generation who had never worked on a campaign before. Many of them were only there because they hated George W. Bush. If they voted in the past, they voted Democratic, but the platform never really got them excited. I think “the right to live your life as you choose” would get them excited. It would be more in step with their lives. One of the few things people of my generation care about passionately is their right to be left alone. They are not ideologues. They are individuals.
So yes Daniel, we do agree on all of that.
You said that you did not understand my linking of environmental issues and labor issues. I connect these two issues because they are the two issues that are affected most by the flawed trade agreements this country has signed. They share a common problem: corporate influence on good government.
Good government creates good paying jobs for its people. Good government creates clean air, clean water, and healthy forests. It is the right thing to do and I think that most Americans know the right thing to do when they see it. These current trade agreements are not fair and Americans believe in fairness. The Democratic Party has been too beholden to big corporations when they should have been standing up the little guy. That’s when they lost the little guy to the Republicans. As for environment, both liberals and conservatives love the outdoors. For every Sierra Club member you have a Ducks Unlimited member. I think common ground can be found in our love for our land. It is our common ground. Our common water. Our common air. I think when you strip off all of the stereotypes associated with them, environmental issues are common-sense issues. They just need to be presented that way.
As for introducing more libertarian ideas on taxation into the Democratic platform, I assume you’re talking about reduced taxation. Daniel, I do not think that the wealthy and the corporations in this country are paying their fare share. I fully support a re-examination of the tax code. I don’t think that people should be penalized for work but I do think that everybody should pay their fair share.
The current administration’s tax policies do not favor work. They favor wealth. Their tax breaks go overwhelmingly to the very wealthy. Middle-income Americans get a mere pittance so they’ll buy into it. The sad truth is that taxes never go down the burden just gets shifted elsewhere. This administration has shifted the burden onto the middle and lower class. The average American's taxes have gone up over the last four years and this was not a result of 9/11. It was a result of tax breaks going to the super wealthy instead of cash-strapped state governments. The Estate Tax was put in place by our forefathers to prevent aristocracy. It only affected a very small, very wealthy part of the population not farmers. Corporate America pays a mere fraction of what it used to pay in corporate taxes yet budgets keep getting larger. Somebody has to be paying for all of this. We are. I’ll support lower taxes: lower taxes on the middle and lower classes in this country. Cut the Payroll Tax, not the Estate Tax.
Well thanks for sending your “late-night rambling”. Hope you enjoyed my late-night response. I’m also a believer in things.
So you guys don't know what the Great Mole Rat is, either? [“Fears, Sneers, Electioneers, and the Giant Rat of Sumatra,” Issue No. 17, Fall 2004] It torments me... (not knowing, that is. I'm not zemmiphobic). I learnt about this lovely phobia while researching a speech and have been trying to find out more about it for a week now. Too bad no one has ever seen it!
Patrick Russell responds:
Yes, the Great Mole Rat eludes us all, which is, of course, why so many people apparently live in a constant state of abject terror at the thought that it might be stalking them. After all, if you can't see it, then it's probably hot on your trail (or so the paranoiacs, line-dancers, and other amateur narcissists among us would tell you).
You, however, are clearly a special case… that rarest of rarities, a bona-fide zemmiphile! Now, this is truly exciting. Not only are you completely unconcerned with the possibility of sudden, shadowy contact with the Great Mole Rat… you actively seek such a meeting. See, and this raises all kinds of fascinating new questions. What will you ask it when you finally meet it? Will it agree to pose for photos with you? Will it still be wearing its waistcoat, or will it have traded up for, say, a jogging suit or some sort of leotard? Will it perhaps be just a wee bit too fond of garlic for your tastes?
And perhaps most importantly, will it throw you for a loop by turning out to be a Tessaphobe?
Stranger things have been known to blindside us, y'know. If, years and years from now in your old age, you look back upon a lifetime of unsuccessful hunting for the Great Mole Rat, you might just have to admit this as a distinct possibility… that you, my dear Tessa Backeberg, are in fact the source of the Great Mole Rat's own greatest fear!
Wouldn't that be a nice little mind-fuck? Just as you're fixing to shuffle off the mortal coil, to realize that you could have spend your life with legions of zemmiphobes treating you as conquering royalty, catering to your every whim, peeling you grapes, for Chrissakes… had you but known of your innate power over the Great Mole Rat?
(Which once again just goes to prove my point that life is like a symphony… unless it turns out to actually be more like a pork tartar sandwich, which would just be the ultimate pisser, wouldn't it?)
Copyright 2005, keepgoing.org and Identified Authors
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.