Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Guest Post: The Indivisibility of Liberty by Mary Ruwart

Presidential Candidate for the LP Mary Ruwart has one of the best policy platforms of all the candidates in this presidential race.

If I lean toward her in my own thoughts and AM NOT the "doctrinal objectivist Ayn Rand misogynist" that Dana feels our pole of libertarianism has to be, then I have to ask for your indulgence. I do not think Dana really believes that, but he brings up an important point, are Libertarians selfish?

As a left-libertarian or left leaning libertarian I should take more time to explain what that means. Basically it is the same dyed in the wool answer you'd get from anyone who thinks deeply about politics and society but has trouble expressing it, I love this country, its liberty, and its people's aspirations on their OWN terms, and in their OWN stunning diversity.

Maybe the best way to express it is to suggest if you are really interested you get a copy of way Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass and enjoy the profound diversity of the New York harbors he saw where the world collided with the land he adored.

There is a tolerance and longing for people to see each other in a way in Whitman that is very close to my own way of thinking.

That is about how I would express it too, I hold no grudge and think government should hold no grudge against the heroin addict, chubby blond prostitute, frog sellers and the lady who tried to attack me with chopsticks in Chinatown, Geno's Cheese steaks in Little Italy, models with their proclivities for fashion, B-boys or rollers, thugs or academics with their newest theory of whatever, an Armenian doctor who a 200 IQ, to a femdom blog meister who asks"what is fugly?" or a house painter with four kids or a soccer mom who likes to eat too much chocolate when she's depressed, from the dispossessed to the bourgeoisie with their petty golf-club mentality, to my Puerto Rican friend who brings me chicken and rice, to all the guajiras..... to the Thai Elvis, the longshoremen and the hefty truck driver with his Nigerian wife I met in a road stop along I-70, from the soft spoken naturalized Bangladeshi who owns the 7-11 down the street from my house, to Delaware's Indian emperor of Dunkin' Donuts- Nick Patel who rocks by the way- why exclude or lack tolerance for anyone?

We are a diverse and free people. I like that.

Now saying that I recognize that how all those groups react to me may be substantially different and range from openness, to less generous comments, to social exclusion for my political belief in tolerance.

But over time, I have come to believe that it is this stunning diversity as vibrant today as it was in 1853 and the way people are allowed to live in peace without being rundown by the government makes this place unique and special.

Unfortunately, I agree with Mary that today the government is running people down, and the response to diversity of people has been a a constriction of what is socially acceptable. We should air our disagreements as openly as we pretend to save face and agree on things, and the real challenge is embracing just about everyone imaginable because if you look hard enough, they are out there and as long as they are not harming me or causing harm, I am happy they are.

Even those who we would never agree with in a normal debate, they have the same liberty as I do, and once you recognize that your affection for them grows and your misunderstandings may or may not get less, but at least you can choose to live together in a better way then before and hopefully are a little enriched intellectually for the meeting.

Even some homeless dude who wants ten bucks for a bottle of whisky has the same rights and obligations, I can't force him to accept them, but I can see what the deal is with his life and make sure he gets humanitarian care.

Not everyone seems to get that being neutral about others' behaviour or joking about the sacred cows of our society is a good way to express something deeper or more profound by way of the kind of healing that needs to occur in our national discourse and affection for each other as citizens. And its foundation is that same Constitution we seem to ignore, and the education about it we need to improve, to the promoting more tolerance for our relations with every other nation in the world.

As well, as providing a comfortable and diverse ideological framework Libertarianism IS an objective way to approach problems that are rooted in the history of the METHODS and MEANS of government policy. If no one asks questions like qui bono, who benefits, or why this?

Then it is likely no one is going to try to look at things in a unique or individual way. But it is this individualism that is often sited as a means for selfishness, rather than its appropriate role that selfishness is part of human nature, and working together is also part of human nature because both those traits are part of what has allowed us to survive on the planet.

Defending your liberty to be exactly as you are, may require much of me, but it does not require you to accept me, just do not violate the basic rights I am guaranteed. And, if I want to write odes to the stunning diversity of people, it is out of affection and a desire to bring a new perspective to the demopublican debates, where the extremes of left and right collide there has to be a middle ground and foundation.

That does not seem very selfish to me.

Not everyone gets that.

Mary seems to get it.

The Indivisibility of Liberty
by Mary Ruwart

Ask Americans what made our country great and they will say, without hesitation, that liberty is our touchstone. Yet ask Americans what their government should do for them and the answer can be boiled down simply to this: "Control, tax, and regulate my neighbors." Americans want liberty for themselves, but they want something very different for others.

This is why it has been a struggle to keep liberty as the foundation of our society. Liberty requires respect for the personal choices that others make. In the long run, our liberties cannot be maintained if we violate the liberties of others. In trying to control others, we will eventually find ourselves controlled. Taking our neighbors’ liberties results in the loss of our own.

Let’s take the Drug War, for example. When we take away our neighbors liberty, because they like to use substances we consider to be harmful, we expose ourselves to harm. Close to one-half of all murders in this country result from the prohibition of drugs. Turf wars between gangs result in the death of many innocent victims. The exorbitant black market prices mean that more people steal to fund their habit. Thus, we are twice as likely to die from a mugging when drugs are illegal than when we are not.

Our children are also put at risk. The high black-market profit margin in illegal drugs guarantees that pushers will haunt our schools, addicting our youth. Even though alcohol and tobacco are illegal for minors, the average student finds it easier to buy an assortment of chemical highs at school than drinks or smokes. The War on Drugs has painted targets on the backs of our young people.

The economic costs of the Drug War are staggering as well. Half of our police, court, and prison resources are devoted to tracking, arresting, and jailing people whose only crime is an attempt to be happy. Our military are deployed overseas to burn hemp fields and to prevent the cultivation of opium. We have fueled anti-American sentiment and strengthened the hand of Latin American authoritarian regimes by funding their half-hearted cocaine eradication efforts. We pay these costs with high taxes and more inflation, resulting in recession and job destruction. As a result, our very livelihood may be lost. The standard of living that would otherwise have been ours is no longer possible.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Taking liberty from another has dire consequences for us. The blowback can cost us our standard of living, our jobs, our children, and our very lives.

Consequently, I cringe when some well-meaning individuals, even those who call themselves libertarian, insist that society is better off when we deprive a select few of liberty. They just don’t understand. Our rights are intertwined. When we deprive someone of their liberty our own is sure to be compromised. It’s just a matter of time.

To be for liberty, you must be for it consistently, respecting the lives of others in all matters. You cannot make an exception for the War on Terror. You cannot make an exception for the War on Poverty. You cannot make an exception for the War on Drugs. You cannot make an exception for gays or prostitutes. You can’t let bureaucrats deny dying patients life-saving medicine just because the FDA hasn’t yet approved it. You can’t take another’s money or land and give it to another.

Liberty is indivisible. It’s the one thing we can’t have unless we are willing to give it others. If someone tells you differently, they just don’t know how the world really works. Make sure that you don’t vote them into power.

The liberty you save may be your own!
April 23, 2008

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