Just A Bunch of Sign-Waving Blimp Renters…

The Campaign for Liberty’s Shadow Republican Convention is moving on up – to the Target Center! I’m so excited for all of us, and if I wasn’t moving so close to the date, you bet I’d be there. I expect our revolution to light up Minnesota (to be clear, that’s a metaphor).

My favorite part of the article linked above was where Paulites were described as “loud and sometimes rowdy, usually young, sign-waving blimp renters.” They might as well have called us ‘wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men.’ I guess there are worse insults…

Whatever his strategy, Dr. Paul moved liberty from an ignored concept to a ridiculed concept. So, according to Schopenhauer, we’re on the map! Now, we must face violent opposition, and finally acceptance. I sure hope I live to see that last one.

P.S. Did you hear Dr. Paul just received a huge advance for his memoirs? Congratulations, Doc; you deserve it.

I am a liberal. They are not.

It’s amazing how many different words the statists have used, over the years, to dress up their same, tired philosophy. They’ve called it Conservative, Progressive, Fascist, Nationalist, Communist, Socialist, Egalitarian, Centrist, Third Way, Green, Monarchist, Loyalist, Revolutionary, but, here in North America, the one that really grinds my gears is liberal.

Liberal is our word, the ‘our’ being what are presently called libertarians. People are identified as libertarian if they are “socially-liberal and economically-conservative.” It seems in this parlance, liberal means free on the social spectrum and conservative means free on the economic spectrum. Doesn’t that seem like a language trick to confuse people? The powers-that-be give you two labels from which to choose: liberal offers you social freedom and economic slavery, and conservative the opposite. That way, if you believe in something like social AND economic freedom, you either have to take on one of the existing labels with some silly modifier (market liberal, paleoconservative, et al) or accept a less-catchy term like libertarian.

The great injustice is that the term liberal was outright stolen from libertarians by the socialists of the early 20th century. ‘Liberal’ comes from the latin root liber, meaning free. A liberal has always meant someone who believes in freedom, in other words a modern libertarian. In Continental Europe, it is still largely used in this manner. Over here, the early socialists had a problem they didn’t face in Europe: no one believed their bullshit. Americans discovered political liberty, and it had served us well. So, the socialists figured out how to turn our own language against us. They called our notion of liberty ‘negative liberty’ and their notion of government interference ‘positive liberty.’ You see, now it wasn’t enough to have the potential to fulfill your desires, you were now entitled to fulfill them. What that meant for the people who now had to work toward YOUR goals was ignored, as was the debate over whose goals would be pursued (usually it translates into the politically well-connected). So, now we had moved from liberals to negative liberals. Once the socialists got their foot in the door linguistically, many people found a way to justify their instinctual drives for cheating and violence. Soon after, liberal came to only mean socialist, and lost all of its libertarian connotation.

Some of us now call ourselves classical liberals, while a great many others identify as true conservatives. The latter is laughable, though it has translated into electoral success, because libertarians have always fought the conservatives – those who wanted to maintain their grasp on power through monarchy, aristocracy, theocracy, or else-wise. Even the modern ‘conservative coalition’ is just a nonsensical mix of libertarians, nationalists, and christian democrats set up by a man that I would call a (classical) liberal: Ronald Reagan.

Well I say we ditch the epithet and take back our word. I am a liberal: I believe in severely-restricted government, reforming our electoral system, returning power to the States, voting independent, and increasing personal and economic liberty in every way. I do not vote Democrat: those people are socialists. I do not vote Republican: those people are nationalists. I am neither left-wing nor right-wing, left-leaning nor right-leaning, for the only true dichotomy is between freedom and slavery. I do not believe there is such a thing as positive liberty, except insofar as all liberty is positive if you exclude other ideologies masquerading as liberty. I am a liberal, a libertarian, a free-marketeer, a propertarian, a minarchist, but mostly I am a liberal. And they are not.

Peers & Heirs

There is no doubt now that Ron Paul has sparked a Second American Revolution. Through the man and the message, his campaign has awakened a whole new generation, as Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Calvin Coolidge, Lysander Spooner, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and Thomas Paine had before him.

While most libertarians are rightfully fixated on the drama of the primaries as they unfold (and, underreported, Dr. Paul takes his place among the top contenders), another critical question after, “will Paul win?” is “who will carry the torch forward?” Dr. Paul is in a class by himself, distinguished by his ability to unravel years of deceit and public education through oratory, and all in a way that is not threatening or even angry. He is a guru, a saint, a Ghandi, a Jesus, a humble steward of honest ideals in a cynical and waning empire. He is not perfect nor superhuman, but neither were Ghandi nor Jesus. He, like them, is good and effective – and that is worthy of high praise. But he has no heirs, and no peers that have breached the wall of mainstream recognition. And that is a problem.

There are potential peers. John Stossel is a great communicator and seems more committed to the cause with each passing day. Michael Badnarik may be nerdy, but having met him I can attest to his interpersonal charisma and intellect. The former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, just endorsed Dr. Paul, but he is himself a successful libertarian politician.

These examples do not change the fact that other political movements have tons of brand-name politicians pressing their causes, and that those innately attracted to freedom philosophies tend to also be socially-awkward young caucasian males. I can’t explain it, and I’m not going to try. I don’t think it’s a rule, as history’s greatest liberators are a demographically diverse group (Frederick Douglass, Mohandas Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, et al). Until recently, libertarians had eggs but no basket. Ron Paul is our first basket. But, as the saying goes, you shouldn’t keep all your eggs in one basket. A variety of freedom-oriented candidates, such as those that Dr. Paul tried to nurture through the Republican Liberty Caucus, would give this new revolution staying power.

Heirs are a different issue. Is Dr. Paul training some young minds to carry his life’s work forward? If you chance to read this, Doc, I hope you will consider the notion. I would jump at the chance to learn how to run a professional, principled campaign and win. If this campaign meets its end without a nomination, many young and free souls would want Dr. Paul to start a school to pass on a career worth of knowledge – and up the number of congressional libertarians from one to a majority. If the man himself is not making such preparations, is anyone else taking notes?

This campaign proves something to generations of self-doubting libertarians: it can be done. We are often our own worst enemy, whether it’s because we don’t have the courage of our convictions (Jason Sorens, the genius behind the Free State Project, is now teaching at a public university) or we have succumbed to a culture of victimhood (“the slow growth of the federal state is inevitable”) or we expend our energies vigorously debating minor philosophical discrepancies rather than promoting our shared visions to others (this is the story behind most libertarian functions I have attended). Every movement takes generations to gain recognition, and most aren’t even worth recognizing. Ron Paul reminds us that we are not lunatics on the fringe. Our message is pure and true; the evidence is there to see every day. Our message is the same as it was in 1776; Jefferson told us that it would require periodic revolution to maintain liberty in the face of the more destructive impulses of human nature. Our message is relatable, communicatable, and as the Paulites love to say: Freedom is popular. It’s important that we never forget, and that the irrepressible Dr. No has plenty of peers and heirs to remind us.