Saturday, July 21, 2007

Security Moms and Black Helicopters

Recently I had a discussion with a group of libertarians that was for me very frustrating. In the case of many in the conversation it was clear that their isolation from reality had led to what I call the "Dungeons and Dragons view of politics." In this group a sub-discussion had broken out about whether Ron Paul was a libertarian or merely a paleoconservative.

Even after this more discussions broke out with each person involved announcing what particular subsidiary of libertine thought of which they considered themselves a part. In other words some were Orcs, some were Rogues, and still others Paladins. These discussions can often be normals in certain circles of libertarians. But much like D&D weirdos all I can do is restrain myself from starting a punchfest. Now I know how my dad felt when he talked to John Birchers.

The New York Times magazine is doing a piece this Sunday on Ron Paul of which most I've already read in advance. It paints a view that Ron's supporters are basically a loosely organized group of the people and views I described in the previous paragraph. Whackos. Fringe.

I'm in partial agreement with this notion of the whacko support but this oversimplification is even a stretch for the New York Times. Like all groups of Americans, they are more complex than they appear and with Ron Paul's supporters it goes far beyond Federal Reserve conspiracies, black helicopters, and one world government.

That said, it really bothers me what is considered mainstream thought among "normal" citizens when it comes to political thought. I remember during the 2004 race when "security moms" were seen as a segment society that both Bush and Kerry had to win. It was seen as important and normal for both of these candidates to use rhetoric to simply make these "security moms" feel better. Whoever had the plan that made them feel secure would get their vote.

So while there are real problems in this country that need to be discussed, it's the "whackos" that dare to address them while the "normal" citizens simply want to feel secure.

Whacko subjects:

Sound Money
Unmanageable domestic obligations (entitlements)
Unfairness of the Income Tax
International military intervention
The failed war on drugs

Normal Subjects:

Flag burning
Minimum wage
Which government managed health care plan is best?
Are you pro-choice or pro-life?
Same sex marriage

You'll notice that in large part the "normal subjects" are matters that don't impact the average person's life but are instead simple enough for everyone to have an opinion. These subjects serve as distractions and enrage your everyday sensibilities. They know you care deeply about these subjects personally so they'll talk about them even though these politicians can do little to make a substantive difference regarding them.

This coming year politicians will be spending millions of dollars doing polling to find out what angers you, scares you, or makes you feel insecure so they will know how to scare you with ghost stories about their opponent. While all this is going on, the whackos will be discussing real political subjects between games of D&D and World of Warcraft.


Ronald said...

Personally I think libertarians are all whackos. You need government even when you don't like what it does sometimes.

Tracy said...

Hey Ronald,

I think all Ronald's are whackos.

Care to elaborate on that one? I don't even know where to begin.

Esther said...

I've known a few interesting libertarians in my college days. Yeah, they had some odd ideas and they were too young to know which ideas would appeal more to other people. One of my friends would often come into class saying that only an idiot would oppose legalization of prostitution. However, weird or not, I've never known a libertarian that I did not like as a person. Maybe it is the fact that they're a little odd that makes me like 'em.

Hey, I seem to have joined the ranks of the Ron Paul supporters, so now you have one normal person out here! ;oP

robert the grump said...

The only person I know who admits to being a Libertarian is Tracy. I'm not sure he's a whacko, but when you hear him babbling insanely about zero taxation on earnings and returning to the monetary standards of the Spanish Empire circa 1450 AD, you have to consider the possibility that Ronald is right.

I can't say that I understand the Libertarian platform, nor do some Libertarians, I think. But it seems to be all about legalizing dope, guns and prostitution while doing away with government and taxes.

Sure, it sounds good, but they're definitely a fringe group.

I guess I like my whackos more like Ross Perot.

Ronald said...

Grump is right here and we have the same idea when it comes to who Libertarians truly are. I can't understand how anyone can take these people serously

legalizing drugs and prostitution would turn this country into a zoo

Tina said...

Libertarians don't seem too different to me than where I know the two major parties have been. One could argue that Goldwater was a type of libertarian and there's no doubt that Thomas Jefferson was one.

At the risk of sounding like a John Birch society member (great reference Tracy) I consider Libertarians to be 'classical liberals'

Esther said...

I think the point is more about economic liberty than anything else. Also, libertarians are usually more interested in federalism. That is, states getting to choose the answer to a lot of these issues (drug legalization, abortion etc.) themselves. They're not all about the federal government making an across the board ruling which is what you imply when you talk about legalizing drugs and prostitution.

They generally believe in personal responsibility which was left behind by both the major parties. We'd like to be allowed to spend our own money the way we want to, some taxation is okay, but can I please choose what charities I give to instead of letting the government do it for me?

I would also add that Goldwater was not a libertarian and that there have been many different types of conservatives for a long time. Libertarians are more economic conservatives/ social liberals who want the government's role reduced to the Constitutional limits.

I suppose focusing on the two weird issues that many libertarians uphold (but not all) is easier for you to argue against.

Wow, this is the first time I have argued for libertarians.

Tracy said...

For me the differences between hardline paleoconservatives (Constitution Party) and Traditional Conservative Isolationists (Robert Taft) and Socially Moderate classical liberals (Goldwater) means nothing when the two major parties are out of control with the growth of government.

In fact I'm willy to ally myself with all these factions to stand up against the Al Gore mentality of the Constitution being a living and breathing document. If you need something changed in the constitution you simply don't ignore it or wake up one day and say that it suddenly means something amend it. Even Bush for all his idiocy recognized that a ban on same sex marriage would require an amendment. This federalist approach is what made it fail because the rest of the country had some sense.

Maybe when the two major parties are either Paleoconservatives or Classical Liberals I'll worry about the the meantime it matters not.

Ronald, I'll get to you in a minute.

Tracy said...


Do you realize with the current monetary policy in place...a prostitute will cost more than the average American can pay? Is this the America you want to live in? Once Government takes away your prostitutes Ronald, next they'll come for the bibles.

Now who is the whacko?

Seriously dude, you know I'm not a whacko. As Esther points out there have been lots of different types of conservatives for a long time...and the current brand that is running the show now actually spawned from a circle of supporters to JFK (and a former local Senator whose property is only a few miles from my house --Scoop Jackson)

Gino said...

i waver tween the paleos,the buchanans, buckleys, and the goldwaters myself, and like you said, i'll worry about what 'type' of conservative or liberatrian i am when it matters to do so.

and THAT is the problem, and the reason, why conservatism is a failure, and will always be, at the ballot box.

all the various liberal/big govt strains, from neocons to marxists, will always find a common ground in every bill... something to take home with them. they all sell/trade votes to get bigger amd more programs, and buy votes.

we cant compete on this feild becuase we arent playing the same game.