Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Libertarians in Public

On occasion I will run into other libertarians in public.  It's awkward.

You'd think for a libertarian it would be exciting to meet someone who shares the same worldview as you and you'd greet each other with a warm handshake...but you'd be wrong.   The fact is that most libertarians I meet don't share the same worldview I do.  I'm also not real big into much of the subculture.  I don't believe in foolish conspiracy theories and I'm not an activist.  For me it boils down to working hard and honestly, giving generously, and where still legal (and sometimes illegal) to do so, I pay my own way.  I can do more and do less and people on all sides of an issue can criticize me but it doesn't bother me.  I try to make a real difference where I can and I make sure the only person I want to control is myself.

For awhile I had a Gary Johnson bumper sticker on my car that would identify me as a libertarian.  It wasn't exactly Gaydar for freedom lovers, it was subtle.  It caused most of my meetings with other libertarians to occur while stopped at stop lights on our favorite government roads.

The interaction would start with a honk or just simply yelling out the window.  Startled, I'd turn down my stereo and roll down the window to hear a jumble of key points which tipped off why the person was yelling at me.  It would go something like:

"Hey, [indistinguishable]   the government [indistinguishable] are you kidding me? [traffic noise] That's bullshit and another thing [more background noise] none of their damned business!"

Twenty years of playing electric guitar and concerts without proper hearing protection have drowned out most of what is being said but I get the general idea.  I'm not even sure I agree with much of it completely but I'm in no position to touch on nuances.  I return a thumbs up and they wave back.  I roll up my window and continue on my way.

I live in the Seattle area and most of my friends are progressives.  Political affiliation does not impact my friendships and I hope sincerely they never will.  During any political discussion they often look at me like I am speaking a different language.  Even after years they're always quick to ask me "But then who would build the roads?"  I'm always nice and pretend that I've not considered that before and that it's not just a punchline to jokes told by other libertarians.  Maybe they should ask instead, "Then how would you ever meet other libertarians?"

I would have to admit, they would have a good point.

1 comment:

Liggie said...

I get the feeling, too. I'm a liberal/progressive, but virtually everyone in my last office job -- including, painfully, a girl I was crushing hard on -- were staunch Republicans. (This company was of the financial services industry; makes sense.) Not only did they freely talk politics around the water cooler, we also got e-mails and memos about the company's PAC encouraging us to lobby the state legislature on industry-friendly bills. It got to the point where I needed to bring an iPod to work to keep my sanity.

At least you can change jobs and agree not to discuss politics with friends. With family it's a different matter. I'm also ethnic, and in my family's culture you don't *ever* question certain adults. So at family gatherings when those adults rail against politics I agree with, all I can do is gnash my teeth and down a glass or two of scotch when I get home. Excruciating.

How Mary Matalin and James Carville do it, I'll never know.