Shots Across the Bow

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Blow Ye Winds of Change!

These are exciting times we live in, folks. They really are. After all, look at what's going on in the world.

We're seeing action in the Middle East; after decades of stagnation, violence and decay, somebody has finally decided to take steps to try and make things better rather than just talk about it endlessly over boardroom tables in Switzerland, talks that usually break down as soon as the subject grows any more important than the sahpe of the durn table, or whether lunch should be served before noon, or after noon.

The US is in Iraq, has removed a very nasty dictator, and is in the process of helping Iraqis set up their own government, on the way to becoming a functioning liberal democracy. The risk is huge; failure could plunge the Middle East right back into the nightmare they've been mired in for the last 30 years, but the potential rewards are also great. Everywhere, we see the ripples spreading. Libya has given up its WMD program, opened up the country to inspections, and agreed to pay reparations for terroris acts, and now the US has a diplomatic presence there for the first time in decades. More goverments are moving away from Sharia law, becoming more tolerant and open to western ideas. Even in Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism is being challenged by the man in the street as well as the royal family. And in Israel, despite daily setbacks and the protract4ed efforts of those who want nothing more than to prolong the conflict, both sides are making concessions aimed at establishing a two state solution. Sharon has talked about removing settlements from Gaza and the West Bank unilaterally, while some on the Palestinian side acknowledge that the "right of Return" is an impractical requirement and are willing to accept a compromise.

Again, there are many chances for disaster, but movement, any movement, is worth the risk.

And here in America, things are being shaken up like no time in the last 40 years. Dean's doomed campaign caught the attention of the far left wing of the Democratic party, and attracted new blood to a party mired in bitter recriminations over an election 4 years ago. That his campaign was doomed by the very zealousness that helped it catch fire does not negate the fact that he nearly single handedly dragged the center of the party several steps to the left.

What's really interesting now is to watch what will happen to the party over the next several months, particularly since Dean is making noises about running as an Independent or Green Party candidate if Kerry wins the nomination. Dean's veiled threats to run a third party ticket may just be an attempt to grab the Veep slot on the Kerry ticket by terrifying McAuliffe with the prospect of a repeat of the Nader debacle, but the more intriguing speculation is that Dean is seriouos, and not just playing at political brinksmanship. While I'm sure many Republicans are salivating at the prospect of a deep divide in the Democratic Party, they might want to take a look at their own house before a similar divide bites 'em on the ass.

If Dean splits the Dem vote, that's going to reduce the pressure a lot of conservatives feel to vote for Bush, even though he's betrayed principles they believe in. While Bush has been courting moderate libs with his increased social spending, he's alienated a large portion of his conservative base. The conventional wisdom is that the base will return at election time because the alternative to Bush would be Kerry. However, if Dean runs a third party candidacy, then Kerry will not be seen as a threat, and more conservatives will be comfortable voting idealistically, rather than pragmatically. In that case, a Libertarian candidate could garner significant support. Even more interesting is that the Libertarian Party, with its anti-war platform, could garner some support from the center left as well.

It's possible that we could actually have a 4 way race for the presidency, with Bush getting a large plurality, say, 40%, but the other three candiates all polling respectably, at least in the popular vote.

Even if Dean doesn't split the Dem vote this year, in 2008, Republicans can expect to see the same kind of divide as different factions battle for control of the Party's direction. That, coupled with the increasing support for libertarian ideals, albeit not always reflected in support for Libertarian candidates, and I see a very good chance that neither the Democrat or Republican Party will be around in 20 years, but will be replaced by a new political alignment that recognizes new ideological divides in America.

I've spent a lot of time here bashing those who want to expand the state at the expense of my liberty. While I've heaped more scorn on Democrats than Republicans, that's only a function of how often each seeks to infringe on my freedom. Lately, however, it seems that there's less to distinguish between the parties from this point of view. Both parties are interested in making government bigger, and to me, that is unacceptible. I don't want the State to take care of me; the price is too high. Consider; if I give the State the responsibility for my healthcare, then by necessity, I'm authorizing the State to determine what is best for my health, and to restrict my actions accordingly.

We've seen this happen time and again. Once the State is involved in paying for something, it assumes some regulatory control over that activity. That control never withers away, but always grows stronger and more invasive over time. If we adopt a socialized medical plan, then government restrictions on our activities and lifestyle choices are not far behind. Those who pursue high risk lifestyles will be penalized; those with unhealthy lifestyles will be forced into a healthier one. It'll all be for our own good, and it will be a nightmarish dictatorship. Imagine if OSHA was expanded to cover your entire life, not just your job.

That thought is terrifying, yet it is a very real possibility.

And so, I'm documenting one more change around here. I've been identified as a conservative for so long, that in many cases, I've begun to think of myself as one. God knows, much of my personal ethical code is conservative in nature, but central to that code is the libertarian ideal of maximizing autonomy while maintaining a stable, secure, society. Both major parties are making tremendous strides in the opposite direction, attempting to purchase security and stability taking away personal autonomy. As such, I can't support either of them, and so, as of today, I'm a 'Big L' Libertarian. I will vote for whatever candidate will best advance a libertarian agenda. Failing to find such a candidate, I will vote against whatever candidate would most harm a libertarian agenda.

So now I guess I can get both sides mad at me.
Posted by Rich
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I'm with you, Rich, and I have been for many years -- but not right now. Right now there's a war on, and the surest way for us to lose our liberty here at home is to let the Islamofascists and their murderous ideology survive the war intact.
You and I are in the minority. The majority of people don't even understand what "liberty" is, let alone what's necessary to preserve it. Unless we defeat the Islamofascists abroad, we will be forced to play defense at home -- and that defense will consist of greater and greater encroachments on our liberty, with "public safety" the unimpeachable argument.
Want a national ID card? Internal passports? Warrantless searches? Secret trials? Restrictions on cash purchases?
Think of all the liberty lost as a result of the War on Some Drugs, and consider what the American public would support if they were convinced that their own safety was at risk.
One of my favorite "political" books is "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do," by Peter McWilliams. Mr. McWilliams is dead now, having drowned in his own vomit because the Feds forced him to give up the marijuana that controlled his nausea. I yield to nobody in my distrust and alarm over the growing power of the Federal Government. But right now, there's a war on for the future of civilization, and my own vote will go to the men who intend to win it.
Posted by Laura M. Hagan  on  02/12  at  10:07 AM

I understand your concerns and agree with them completely, and I will take that into account when I vote. Right now, the Libertarian Party is against the war, which, for the reasons you mentioned, I believe is a short sighted position. Which is why I said that I would vote for the candidate that would best advance a Libertarian agenda, not necessarily the Libertarian candidate.
Posted by rich  on  02/12  at  11:34 AM

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