Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Finding out what Libertarian means from everybody else

Look, it was on sale for $7.95, and most T-shirts today with anything printed on them cost more than that.

When I went shopping at the Libertarian Party website I was really only looking to buy the bumper sticker that says, "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, vote Libertarian." Then I discovered that they had the same T-shirt on clearance. And admittedly (in this case it was my wife who was doing the admitting) it looks pretty dorky.

But I wore it to work today, anyway, just to see what the reaction would be.

(Truth in advertising: as a professor I can get away with that, even in meetings with vice-presidents. You might not want to try this is a more regimented working environment. And my wife made me take it off before we went to the teacher conference at our twins' middle school. So much for the brass balls, eh, Shirley.)

What intrigued me were the responses.

Our Human Resources VP just shook his head and smiled, then said, "It's the radical statement we've come to expect from you, Steve." I forebore to answer that I didn't understand how a strong belief in the US Constitution made me a radical. Anybody who takes up a career in HR in academia probably wouldn't get it in the first place. (He once told me that the problem with adding "sexual orientation" to DSU's non-discrimination policy is that it would open the door to more lawsuits. Duh.)

A math professor (whom my son says looks like Einstein) said, "I don't know if I could be a Libertarian. I'm too busy to have to take responsibility for everything in my life like you guys want me to." (I have, to be honest, no snappy comeback for that one.)

Another colleague wondered why I would parade around in a T-shirt advertising "people who want to keep their guns and let other people starve." (For the record, I don't currently own a firearm--although I am a firm advocate for 2nd Amendment rights--and we just took several cards off the Christmas giving tree at church. I was careful, however, not to select anyone's tag who asked for food items.)

In passing, bits and pieces of comments from students included:

"Are we really going to have class tomorrow [the day before Thanksgiving]?" (Which would be asked if I had shown up wearing an Osama bin Ladin hoodie over bright pink panties.)

"Don't Libertarians hate black people?"

"Enough what?"

"Aren't Libertarians like Mormons?" (Mitt, you might as well hang it up, buddy.)

"Really, enough what?"

And those were the more intellectual responses....

The results of a truly unscientific (and probably anti-scientific) poll conclude that most people don't have the slightest idea what a Libertarian is, but they are pretty sure it involves sacrificing small mammals while urinating on the Bible.

Those of us who want to make being a Libertarian in Delaware a positive association have our work cut out for us. Nobody knows who we are or what we stand for.

It could be worse.

Everyone pretty much knows that the Demopublicans don't stand for anything except re-election.

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