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A "new" legitimate choice
By Karl Brooks
Recently, the Seattle Times ran a headline across the front page decrying the recruiting of Green candidates into state legislative races by Republican political consultants. The story means far more than yet another example of the pro-Democrat leanings of yet another urban newspaper. That political maneuvering goes on is no surprise to any knowledgeable voter. Republicans will exploit any opening that weakens the Democrats; Democrats routinely exploit loopholes that hurt the Republicans. So called "dirty tricks" are nothing new. The real news story is the power of the third party movement and its growing impact on the two major parties. The Greens aren't the only players in this game.
The Libertarian Party's stance on drug legalization, along with an ambiguous stance on abortion, has been garnering votes from a younger crowd that would normally have voted Democrat (political refugees from Democrat families, but unwilling to become Republicans). Despite overwhelming control of the inner city vote, and the TV news media, the leftists are losing to their own divide and conquer mentality. They are fracturing into factions, and have been since 1988. Bill Clinton accelerated the process on the way by gaining the White House twice with far less than the majority vote both times. Ross Perot helped Clinton by gathering up disaffected Republicans and independents, even as Clinton increasingly disaffected many Democrats.
Thanks to Pat Buchanan's brilliant destruction of the Perot faction, the Republicans are now comparatively unified and have improved their position in the all important middle. Bush is wisely looking to bring the latest wave of immigrants from Central America into the Republican fold. If the move by the House to "voucherize" Bush's "faith based" social spending (a major distinction and improvement over direct grants) makes it through the Senate, then the Republicans will have a basis to make inroads into the Democrats inner-city territory.
If that sounds like Republicans triumphant, it's too early to celebrate. "Voucherization" is still an uphill battle (no pun intended), and the left still largely controls most school curriculum through the National Education Association. It remains to be seen whether the Republicans will break the NEA stranglehold with national testing as a sort of Jujitsu reversal, or whether they will end up being co-opted into the NEA's drive for national control of all school curriculum. Pardon me if I don't hold my breath waiting for the Republicans to outflank the Democrats and win back some of our freedoms.
We can't rely only on flanking maneuvers to push back the forces of socialist and communist control. Their recruits are coming out of today's colleges in waves, spouting Marxism and "social democracy" while decrying property rights and the freedom won for us by the founders of our Constitutional Republic. We must meet them head on -- both politically via activism and in the marketplace via what we buy for entertainment -- to carry the messages for individual freedom and property rights directly forward. This vocal and activist approach is necessary so that any progress on social program and education reforms are recognized as being part and parcel of a larger goal -- that of self-governed free citizens individually assuming their social responsibilities. That's a mouthful that describes the goal of incentives, like vouchers, to encourage contributions by individual citizens to the social fabric of their own communities.
One can not be free to pursue happiness surrounded by a wretched, ignorant, and ultimately barbarous mob. Neither can one be made free by fiat from on high. The freedom to self-govern means the right to choose our livelihoods, our schools, and how we maintain the health of our communities; it also means the responsibility to do so, else lose it to the barbarous mob.
A failure to promote freedom and self-government is capitulation to those who would rule us "for our own good." The Democrats are dedicated to imposing a government that tells us where and how to educate our children, whom to give our charity to, even how we are to defend ourselves. They already tried to control what kind of medical care we could seek, and from whom, so it's no stretch to conclude that they will soon be trying to allocate who can do what kinds of work.
Too many Republicans are just as willing to govern from on high; too often differing only in that they are slower to accept change in the status quo -- whatever it may be at the moment. History has shown time and again that powerful central governments pursue international wars or provoke civil war by first oppressing their populations to maintain a forced internal peace. It's been said that politics is war by other than violent means. We must act aggressively to educate political activists on the principles of self-government and organize them into an effective political influence. If the Republican Party leadership is either too squeamish to provide a platform for those who stand publicly for liberty and a free republic, or if they in fact disagree with those goals, then the only political choice left is the Libertarian Party.
Don't let Harry Browne's paltry 300 000 votes fool you, the party is gaining mindshare. The Libertarians have been speaking out for freedom and property rights for all 30 years of their existence. The Cato Institute has led the way on Capitol Hill with policy papers and Congressional testimony. The Internet is swarming with libertarians and so called "small L libertarians" -- people who are libertarian leaning but vote major party ... so far. Even Hollywood has prominent libertarians like Clint Eastwood and Drew Carey (not to mention a few faux libertarians who apparently want to jump on the bandwagon because it's chic in an anti-establishment sort of way).
The impact of the growth in Libertarian political strength was demonstrated by the loss of Paul Coverdale's and Slade Gorton's Senate seats in the last two national elections. In Gorton's 2000 race, his Libertarian opponent garnered 65,000 votes -- which would calculate to 3.25 million votes on a national scale. Yes, it's fair to multiply by 50, since Washington's 9 House seats, apportioned by population, are almost exactly 1/50th of the 435 total.
The Republican leadership has no doubt noticed this and is mulling what to do about it. A repeat of the Buchanan strategy is possible, exploiting the recent squabbling among Libertarian luminaries, but unlikely to succeed with the independent minded Libertarian rank and file. Further, it would cement the Republican leadership as manipulators of intrigue on a Romanesque scale rather than restorers of honor to government. The low budget grassroots nature of the Libertarian party would probably remain intact, and even more alienated from ever becoming Republican voters. No, if the Republicans want the Libertarian vote, they will not only have to make room in the tent for the voices of liberty, but let them speak from the dais on the virtues of self-government and a free republic.
Karl Brooks is a freelance writer and corporate education consultant living in Kirkland, Washington.
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