Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dr. Mary Ruwart explains why she should not be the Libertarian Presidential Candidate

At Third Party Watch, Dr Mary Ruwart has finally thrown the gauntlet back in the face of Wayne Allyn Root and those who raised the issue that her stand of age-of-consent and child pornography argued against her ability to be a successful* LP Presidential Candidate.

*Successful, in this context (a third party candidacy) does not mean getting elected; it means being a visible spokesperson, expanding the party voter base, and hopefully having an impact on the balance between the Demopublican candidates.

She titles the piece, Do You Believe in Liberty?, and as near as I can tell it didn't change anyone's opinion. Those who believe in the coronation of Dr. Ruwart find vindication for their true faith; those who possessed reservations still possess them.

Dr. Ruwart makes an articulate case that, in general, bans on guns, or drugs, or pornography do not achieve the desired goal.

She asserts for the Libertarian Party the credit for the steady movement of society toward medical marijuana, decriminalization of drugs, and resistance to the war on drugs. That the LP has held these positions is true; that the LP, which has often been virtually invisible on the political scene for years, achieved these ends is far more questionable.

All of that pales by the paragraphs that occur in the latter part of the essay, in which Dr Ruwart equates pragmatism with the betrayal of the idea of liberty:

We have always been able to grow the Party and get millions of votes. The choice has always been ours; all we’ve ever needed to do was sell out. All we’ve ever needed to do is denounce liberty so that we could avoid scorn and ridicule. All that has ever been required of us is that we stop being the Party of Principle and become the Party of Expediency. All we’ve ever needed to do was stop telling the truth to the American people, stop trying to help them understand the price they pay when they fall for statist propaganda. All that was ever needed was to support bans that harm our children, but give us the illusion of protecting them.

If I and other Libertarian candidates had taken this path years ago, the Libertarian Party might be bigger and more popular than it is today. In all likelihood, however, discussions about doing away with the War on Drugs or getting rid of gun bans wouldn’t be part of the agenda. If we hadn’t talked about liberty when it was unpopular to do so, Ron Paul wouldn’t have been so well received in his grassroots presidential campaign. Instead, we would be talking about protecting and enriching ourselves, and sacrificing our children on the altar of appearance to do so.

Is that the kind of future we want for the LP? If so, we have several candidates ready and willing to take us down the path of least resistance. Wayne Allyn Root isn’t the only “establishment-lite” candidate running. He’s not the only one who wants to keep the truth from the American people, to soft-sell our message, to denounce our most cherished values in order to make ourselves look “mainstream.” He’s not the only candidate ready to sacrifice our children so that we can have the illusion of heroism without the substance.

I’m not interested in that kind of future for our party. If we really care about the children, then we’ll tell the truth about liberty until the American public hears us instead of selling out for fifteen minutes on Fox News and the occasional mention in Jay Leno’s monologue.

In this astounding segment, Dr Ruwart turns the logic of existing as a political party on its head: lack of success at the ballot box is equated with success for spreading the ideals of liberty. Failure to expand the party to include those who have so-called little L libertarian leanings, those who might have formed the basis for a large-scale movement to have held back the tide of government regulation, who might have opposed the last few decades of military interventionism, or who might have been educated to view their civil rights to be worth retaining even if it meant accepting a greater risk of terrorists. . . .

Those who might have voted Libertarian, those who might have been recruited in state and local organizations, they aren't pure enough in their understanding of liberty to suit Dr Ruwart and her supporters.

Let me be clear: I think that this is the absolute wrong direction for the party and for our nominee.

This is what I wrote for an earlier post at TPW:

There is an important dynamic at work here that nobody really seems to be discussing, but everybody is reacting to. It is the dynamic that results in Bob Barr and Mike Gravel gravitating to the LP. It is the dynamic that causes an obscure answer Mary Ruwart gave a decade ago to become the object of both vile self-interested smear and legitimate concern.

The dynamic is this: if the Libertarian voting population is something less than half a million people, then the core of people who self-identify as LP members is in the low tens of thousands at the very most. Possibly ten thousand would really encompass it all.

But if the reformers carry the day and the LP becomes an actual political party that garners even 2-3% of the popular vote, this would mean capturing the (at least temporary) allegiance of several million people. In the terms upon which the debate has been heretofore conducted, these would be (at best) libertarian-leaning folks who are much less radical than even the current reform and/or centrist Libertarians.

The influence of the grognards in either camp—radical or reform—is going to be decreased by political success. The ideology is going to be diluted by an onset of pragmatists, fellow travelers, single-issue zealots, and all the rest will grab bits and pieces of the idea of liberty and apply it, mangle it, and misinterpret it with such happy abandon that it will totally screw up the existing two-party political system.

We will achieve the chaos necessary to transform the American political system only by releasing control, and accepting the reality that to have change is to give up control.

This means . . . that we have to find some way to co-exist with the former GOPers and pull in the social liberals who have come to see that their cultural values can best be pursued in an atmosphere of economic freedom and smaller government. We have to take in the newcomers as invited guests and not intruders. Otherwise we remain an impotent minority.

I want to build a functional and successful Libertarian Party of Delaware.

I want to challenge the Demopublican monopoly on power, and begin the serious work of rolling back the power of Statism.

That's not going to happen by remaining the party that has its principles, along with its nose, so high in the air that the mere commoners cannot be expected to glimpse them.

I want a real Presidential candidate whose message will support local and state candidates running as Libertarians, not a philosopher-queen whose views will only guarantee that this year fewer and fewer Americans will decide to cast their votes for greater personal freedom, greater economic freedom, and smaller government.

1 comment:

Waldo Lydecker's Journal said...

I don't have a dog in this hunt but I get wary of any candidate who claims she and/or her party laid the groundwork for Ron Paul by leaving the fallen standard of "liberty" for him to pick up.

Paul's campaign, when you drilled down into it and the ranks of his supporters, was a campaign of maximum liberty for straight white people. As of today it appears their new tribune is Hillary Clinton.