Saturday, October 4, 2008

WWAGD? What would Albert Gallatin do?

A number of libertarians around the country have been thinking about what might replace the national structure of the dysfunctional Libertarian National Committee, and what you call it. Art Torrey pointed out that the Boston Tea Party might be problematic in that regard; what would you call a member? A teaper? A BTPer?

This is actually more of a serious problem than you might think.

There are also some people mooting the idea of a new libertarian think-tank, and similarly looking for a name for that enterprise.

I'm thinking we should create the Gallatin Foundation, after Albert Gallatin (1761-1841), the longest incumbent as Secretary of the Treasury.

I've been wondering what Gallatin would make of the current fiscal crisis. He was the man who pioneered the idea of withholding funds from the Executive branch when it attempted to perform actions not specifically authorized by Congress or the Constitution. He managed to purchase the Louisiana Territory without resorting to raising taxes, and in 1812 when the US Army was invading Canada, Gallatin forced the army [at least temporarily] to turn back because Congress had not appropriated funds for it to operate outside the country.

L. Neil Smith made Gallatin the hero of his alternate history SF novel The Probability Broach, honoring him as the first President of the North American Confederacy that succeeds the United States.

Looking at today's financial crisis, I don't have to wonder too hard to answer the question: What Would Albert Gallatin Do?

Albert Gallatin would not only have refused to intervene in private contracts, he would have begun ruthlessly weeding the US Government of its unconstitutional powers, bureaus, and agencies. He would have insisted that both taxation and government should be reduced to the smallest practical extent, so as not to interfere with the rights of American citizens.

A Gallatin Foundation would be a fitting tribute to one of the first great libertarians in American history.

Unfortunately, I can't think of any way to name a political party after him, but I'm still working on it.


Waldo said...

Gallatinpots? Galas? Grand Old Gallatin? Parti du Gallatin? We're Not Like The Other Parties, God. Guns. Gallatin. Liberte' Fraternite' Gallatine'

Just some thoughts.

Kn@ppster said...

"Art Torrey pointed out that the Boston Tea Party might be problematic in that regard; what would you call a member? A teaper? A BTPer?"

A libertarian.

Brian Shields said...


How about The Sons of Liberty?

Arthur Torrey said...

I think that LNS offers a couple of possible answers as to what to call a member of a party named after Gallatin - namely a "Gallatinist", with the name for policies / actions in the style of the party being "Gallatinite" in nature...

As another alternative is the name of the LP (sort of) equivalent in the original world of the Probability Broach, namely the "Propertarian Party". I was seeing the potential train wreck of the LP coming when I met L. Neil in Denver, and I specifically asked him if he would mind someone starting a "Propertarian Party" using some of his ideas - he thought it would be wonderful, long as he didn't have to be involved.

While I understand the issues that some have with "Libertarian Macho Flashing", I have often wondered just what would happen results wise if we had a major candidate that ran a hard core "Bill of Rights Enforcement" based campaign of the sort that L. Neil has encouraged in many of his essays, and particularly in his novel w/ Richard Zelman "Hope" - (Highly reccommended BTW) - I think such a candidate could potentially pull much more support than our past record of running non-offensive candidates that come across as being only slightly less bad than the D & R offerings (or Worse in the case of Barr / Root)

BTW, thanks for the mention!