Monday, October 30, 2000

Week of 10/30/2000

End Game For The "Wasted Vote" Argument
- by David Matthews 2

"The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness or holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold onto." - Eric Hoffer

There seems to come a time in every election season where calm discord gives way to fanaticism. Where once there was room for all views and all perspectives, it becomes time when zero-sum arguments and "black-or-right" mentalities take over. Accusations fly fast and furious. People start thinking "If you’re not with us, then you’re against us!" A siege mentality essentially takes over what was once a calm and open forum.

One of the signs of that zero-sum mentality in politics comes when politicians and their supporters start tearing at all independent voices and all independent and third-party candidates.

Their arguments are often stale and overused. "Why vote for a candidate who cannot win?", they ask. "Why throw your vote away?" "A vote for your candidate is a vote for my opponent." "A vote for your candidate is a wasted vote."

This year, the most eloquent supporter of this zero-sum drivel is John N. Doggett, a talking head, management consultant and lawyer, who feels quite passionately that any vote that is not for George W. Bush is a vote for Al Gore for president. He feels that although Bush is far from perfect, he’s not as "bad" as Gore, and therefore we should vote for the "lesser of two evils."

Nothing really original.. but then again, what do you expect from your run-of-the-mill conservatives? The words "creative conservatives" is about as much an oxymoron (with emphasis on the "moron" part) as "compassionate conservatism."

Some people, though, were creative in their arguments. One person in the chat room recently told Libertarians and other third-party supporters that now was not "the right time" to vote for their candidates. That it was more important to vote for George W. Bush to prevent Al Gore from getting elected.

Over on the liberal side, things are just as heated. Singer Melissa Etheridge, Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, and civil rights leader Jesse Jackson have all unleashed their zero-sum arguments on behalf of Al Gore. Their fear being that Green Party candidate Ralph Nader would somehow "steal votes" away from Gore.

Al Gore’s running mate, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, even went so far as to proclaim that Nader supporters were "throwing away" their vote and are helping elect "somebody who is diametrically opposed to what they are for."

This is a rather dangerous statement for any political candidate to make personally. Even Gore refuses to directly subscribe to such a notion, remembering that when former Senator Bob Dole used it against President Bill Clinton in 1996, he lost badly on election day.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick to death of hearing about all of these zero-sum arguments. All of these whiney, divisive, manipulative, guilt-ridden arguments from the dominant political parties. I’m sick of hearing them.. and I know I’m not alone in this.

And so I am here to do what should have been done years ago. I am here to end each and every single one of those "wasted vote" arguments once and for all. I intend to slaughter, skin, gut, de-bone, fillet, and cook on a grill every single "wasted vote" sacred cow argument the conservatives and liberals use today.

Let’s start with the notion that now is not "the right time" to support third parties. Well to quote former president Ronald Reagan, "If not now, when?" When WOULD be the right time to support third parties?

It supposedly wasn’t "the right time" back in 1996, because we supposedly HAD to vote President Clinton out of office.. even though that didn’t happen, even with the sluggish third-party vote. It supposedly wasn’t "the right time" back in 1992, because we supposedly HAD to re-elect President George H. Bush. It supposedly wasn’t "the right time" back in 1988, because we HAD to keep the Reagan era alive by electing the elder Bush. It supposedly wasn’t "the right time" in 1984, because we HAD to keep Reagan in office so he can "finish his job." It supposedly wasn’t "the right time" in 1980 because we HAD to "save the nation" and vote President Jimmy Carter out of office. It supposedly wasn’t "the right time" in 1976 because we supposedly HAD to keep President Gerald Ford in office so the nation can "heal" from the stains of Watergate. And it supposedly wasn’t "the right time" in 1972, when the Libertarian Party first got started, because we supposedly HAD to keep President Richard Nixon in office.

So let me ask you zero-sum supporters… if it wasn’t "the right time" in 1972, and it wasn’t "the right time" in 1976, and it wasn’t "the right time " in 1980, and 1984, and 1988, and 1992, and 1996.. and supposedly is not "the right time" in 2000 to support third party candidates.. WHEN WILL IT BE "THE RIGHT TIME"? 2004? 2008? 2012?

The answer from them, of course, is never. It NEVER would be "the right time" to support third party candidates, or even to MENTION ideas that differ from their party lines. To quote a certain sports entertainer, the two dominant political parties would simply force the active voters of America to "know your role and shut your mouth!"

Then there is the ever-popular argument by people like Doggett who say that we need to "compromise" and vote for the "lesser of two evils." Compromise, huh? Isn’t that how we GOT our problems in the first place? When the two parties asked the voters to compromise instead of it being the other way around?

The truth of the matter is that the Democrats and the Republicans don’t want to compromise. They want people to give up their beliefs and compromise their ideologies to support that larger body that is not willing to give up anything in return.

And why SHOULD they give up anything? They have their core supporters, the people who will be there no matter WHAT the party does. So why should they give up anything?

In that regard, those third parties do serve a very important function.. they represent the disgruntled voices of change. People who want more than just lip service from the status quo.. they want REAL change. Those third parties serve as the venue for those voters who feel they’re being ignored by the Democrats and the Republicans.

Remember balancing the budget? Getting rid of the deficit? Those issues weren’t even on the radar of the GOP and the Democrats until Ross Perot ran for president in 1992 and got 20% of the vote! Then, suddenly, both sides were on the deficit-cutting bandwagon. Perot didn’t win, but his platform was quickly absorbed by both parties.

And that also takes care of another tired zero-sum argument by the two-party monopoly.. that it was useless to support a candidate who "cannot win." If Perot’s campaign was "useless", why did both parties go out of their way to co-opt his platform?

This is not a horse race. This is about choosing the candidate you feel best represents you. That’s what the whole election process was designed for in the first place!

Many third party candidates like Ralph Nader and Libertarian Party’s Harry Browne know that they won’t win this year. But they can serve as the symbol for all of those disenfranchised voters who have been screwed over by the two-party monopoly, and get that two-party monopoly to take a more serious look at their ideas.

There are basically three groups of people for whom the elections ARE all about winning and losing: The career politicians themselves, the special interest groups, and the political consultants. Three groups of people who have a vested interest in winning, because it means power and money for them.

The rest of us? Well, your average Joe and Jane Six-pack could care less whether a jackass or a bloated elephant wins. The letters R and D have become so interchangeable in recent years that they’ve lost all meaning to the general public. All they care about is what the government will do for them and to them.

Doggett likes to talk about history, saying that the two-party monopoly has always been the mainstay in American government.. well, somebody better explain to him how Abraham Lincoln got elected president in 1860, because at the time, there were not two, not three, but FOUR main political parties. There were the Democrats, the Southern Democrats, the New Whigs, and that fledgling party called the Republicans. Now if the two-party monopoly then was really as strong as people like John Doggett would like to think it was, Abraham Lincoln would NEVER have been elected president. It would have been between the Democrats and the New Whigs.

So much for history.

Lastly, let’s put to rest the crux of the "wasted vote" argument.. the notion that if you vote for a third party candidate that you’re somehow "stealing" votes from the other candidates.

That is perhaps the utter piousness of our two-party monopoly.. that somehow each party candidate OWNS a particular block of votes automatically, and that third parties somehow deprive them of "their" votes. For instance, that Republicans "own" the conservative voters, or that the Democrats "own" the environmentalist voters.

Well let’s get brutally honest here.. those votes are not theirs to begin with! Never have been, never will be. They don’t own votes outright simply because they have the "blessings" of the two-party monopoly. This is not some kind of federal entitlement program for career politicians. Like any other candidate, George Bush and Al Gore have to EARN each and every vote they get. And if they fail to get enough votes to win, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

If Al Gore loses in the general election, it would not be because Ralph Nader "stole" votes from him. They were never HIS votes to begin with!

If George W. Bush loses in the general election, it would not be because Pat Buchanan or Harry Browne "stole" votes from him. Those votes were never HIS to begin with!

Bush and Gore are not entitled to any vote outside of their own, and if one or the other cannot earn enough votes to win the day, that person has nobody to blame but himself!

But can you truly "waste" your vote? Yes, you can. You can waste your vote by either not voting at all, or by surrendering your vote to those "wasted vote" advocates like John Doggett.

Remember that voting is about choosing the candidate that YOU feel would best represent you and your beliefs. You. Not some special interest group with an agenda to push. Not some political consultant looking for even larger consulting fees and a cushy chair on the Sunday roundtable shows. Not some career politician looking to line his or her retirement account on your tax dollars. It’s about picking the candidate who best represents YOU.

Always remember that, and always remember what John Quincy Adams - the sixth president of the United States - once said: "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost."

Monday, October 23, 2000

Week of 10/23/2000

Target: The Non-Vote
- by David Matthews 2

Let’s suppose you put ten people in a room and tell them they have to come up with an idea and a spokesman for that idea. Two people come up with ideas that sound a bit ridiculous, but other people sort of nod their heads in agreement. The problem, then, is how to select one idea over the other. Although both ideas sound similar, the two sides are both dedicated to belief that THEIR idea is the ONLY idea, and that THEIR spokesman is the only spokesman.

A vote is taken. Four people agree with option A, four people agree with option B, and two people are so disgusted by either idea that they refuse to choose one over the other.

So the people behind option B decide to convince those two holdouts to join in. They beg, they plead, they offer to give concessions. But the two holdouts don’t give. If anything, they are even MORE disgusted by the idea.

But then the people behind option A decide to use a different tactic. Instead of trying to convince those two holdouts to vote, they start trashing option B. They pick on the tactics used by the supporters of option B and show just how far they’re willing to betray their supporters just to get two measly votes. Supporters of option B then come to their defense and call the tactics of option A supporters "mean-spirited" and "divisive." They start questioning the integrity of option A supporters and questioning their morals. Option A supporters then attack the morals and integrity of their counterparts, and the whole process degrades into mud-slinging and name-calling.

Another vote is called. Three people support option A, only two support option B, and now five people are so disgusted that they refuse to vote.

Three votes to two. Option A wins.

That is the power of the non-vote, and it is a sound political tactic used today across America. Politicians not only use it, but they base their entire political careers on the disgust of the voters.

Traditionally, politicians who want your vote would compromise. They would try to make concessions and try to gain as much support as possible. They would try to appeal to as many people as they can and get them to the ballot box.

Special interest groups, however, don’t like to compromise. Compromising to them means losing. The more fervent the position, the less willing they are to see it diluted by any candidate. They believe their positions are pure, and they will settle for nothing less than a candidate that thinks so too.

That’s great if you happen to be in the majority, but what if you aren’t? Let’s say only a quarter of the people agree with you. How do you get the remaining people to your side without compromise?

Simple.. you turn them away from the voting process.

President Bill Clinton and his supporters would have you believe that his 1996 re-election was a "mandate from the people." Truth be told, that kind of statement was about as accurate as one of Al Gore’s tall tales. In 1996, only 49% of the registered voters went to the ballot box. That kind of voter apathy had not been seen since the 1920’s! But Clinton and his supporters knew that the people were disgusted at him, at his challenger Bob Dole, at the members of Congress, and the whole entire political process. They counted on the people to not show up at the polls.

Republicans aren’t any better. In 1994, when they took over Congress in what they like to call a "revolution", they did so not with a "mandate" from the people, but rather with only 20% of the voting public. That means that 80% of registered voters were either disinterested or disgusted by the whole process to not even bother to show up to vote!

Excuses, of course, are plentiful. The people didn’t "know" the candidates well enough, no one candidate "stood out" for them to vote for, they’re "all crooks", their vote "doesn’t matter." Excuses, excuses, excuses.

People are under the delusion that if they withhold their vote, it serves as some kind of punishment for the politicians. They are not only phenomenally wrong in that regard, but they are actually playing into the hands of the politicians, and of the political parties.

What matters to the politicians are the people who do vote, and if they can get as many people as possible to be disgusted by the whole process to not even bother to show up at the ballot box, then they don’t have to bother with concessions. They don’t have to pander to that group of people. They don’t have to care about that group of people. Those non-voters can drop dead tomorrow, and the politicians will shed not one single, solitary tear for their demise… unless there’s a camera present, of course.

That is the true power of the non-vote. It is not designed to hurt politicians, it is designed to HELP them!

A researcher for MTV Networks, in studying youth voting trends, said only one-third of people ages 18-24 would even bother to show up at the ballot box. Most explained that they weren’t interested in the issues that have dominated the current campaign. Issues like Medicare, Social Security, prescription drugs, things that they themselves will not personally have to deal with for decades.. or so they believe.

A whole segment of voters who have been turned off by the political process because they feel that the politicians are ignoring them. And they will lose out, because every time you hear Al Gore or George Bush talk about their particular government program to help out the elderly, or to help out working families, or to any other special interest group or whatever social demographic of the day that has people who vote, it will come from money taken from THEIR paychecks in the form of taxes.

You remember taxes, don’t you? That thing that gets taken out of your paycheck before you even see one red cent.

You don’t think that the money will come from the elderly, do you? Of course not! They will get exemptions and assistance and social programs to help them out, because they foolishly believe that they have "paid into" those programs. Truth be told, that money was long since spent on previous generations that have grown old, just like the money we get taxed on now will go to support the older generation of today. There is no "lock box" to protect it, and there never will be one as long as that money is in government’s hands. The whole Social Security fund was supposed to be a "lock box", but that has been raided more times than Poland!

Let’s get brutally honest here…. politicians pander to the wishes of the elderly because THEY VOTE! They pander to the special interest groups because THEY VOTE! They pander to the religious groups because THEY VOTE!

Are you noticing a pattern here?

But if the non-vote only serves to help the politicians, it has the opposite effect on third party and independent candidates. It serves to hurt their cause, because it takes away all of those voters who would vote for them! The political parties KNOW this, which makes them even more determined to get as many people turned off of the whole process as possible.

Some people feel that the third party supporters shouldn’t even bother trying to get the support of the non-voters. That they should simply wallow in their apathy and pay the price for it with more taxes. To just turn them and say "screw you!"

Well, I’d like to, but I can’t.

You see, third party supporters like the Reformers and the Libertarians and the Greens NEED those non-voters. They need those non-voters because as more and more people get turned off by the Democrats and the Republicans, the only people left will be those diehard voters. Plus, those non-voters are already pissed off to politics as usual, so they would be a bit more receptive to other ideas that would shake up the system.

Remember that ten-person exercise I mentioned earlier? Suppose one of those apathetic five came up with an idea all their own that sounded better than groups A and B. All that person would have to do is get three more people to agree, and they would have won.

It’s not an easy process, but third parties must reach out to those disenfranchised voters who have given up on the process. The ones who feel alienated by the system. Go to the strip clubs and the night clubs and the gun clubs. Get them mad. Get them angry. Give them a fire in the belly and get them re-involved in the whole political process. It’s more than just getting them to realize how bad the system has gotten. They KNOW that part already, otherwise they wouldn’t be apathetic in the first place. Now we have to give them a reason to go back to voting.

Trust me, the rewards to that are phenomenal. You will see true change happen if you can get those disenfranchised voters to the ballot box. Remember Yugoslavia? The political system screwed those people over one time too many, and they refused to simply lay back and let the government screw them over again. We don’t have to go that far for change.. all we have to do is get those non-voters to become voters.

Let’s put it this way.. if I had a choice between having my candidate, Libertarian Party’s Harry Browne, be elected president of the United States this year, or getting 95% of registered voters to vote, I’d rather have that 95% of the people vote.. because once they do vote, I can always try to convince them to vote Libertarian next time around.

The greatest threat to freedom does not come from any outside force invading it, nor does it come from the ambitious tyrant working within the system to subvert it. The greatest threat to freedom lies in the apathy of people who feel that they are no longer part of the system that governs them. Without the apathy of the voters, a tyrant is just another angry citizen.

Monday, October 16, 2000

Week of 10/16/2000

Lessons Forgotten
- by David Matthews 2

"It is easier to show the disorder that must accompany reform than the order that should follow it." - Frederic Bastiat

This past week, World Net Daily featured a conservative article by Casey Brooks that bemoaned about what she sees as liberalism gone wild. She constantly talked about how "God" has been taken away from everything in the world… as if that were even possible!

It’s pretty much the usual conservative spiel, talking about how the sexual revolution took away the "sanctity" of sex from marriage, how abortion took away the "sanctity" of the womb and of motherhood, how removing "God" from the schools somehow permitted lawlessness and mass murder to run rampant through the hallways. Then she complained that liberals would eventually remove "God" off our currency - thus completing what the writer saw as the completion of the liberal agenda of a god-less, hedonistic, "humanistic" world of chaos and destruction.

Of course, the conservatives ALWAYS have a solution. And not just a solution.. but THE solution: turn everything over to them! Go back to the old days where the church and state were essentially one and the same. Bring back government-enforced prayer by the dominant religion of the area. Once again criminalize anything sexual in nature unless sanctioned by that same dominant religion. Force their morals down your throats, and indoctrinate your children, and your children’s children… all in the name of "a better society."

Sorry folks, but I’ve got to be brutally honest with you on this.. the conservative dream is nothing but a pipe dream!

First of all, you cannot "go back" to what someone considers to be the "good old days." The only way that would be possible would involve a time machine.

Each decade and each period of human civilization is conditioned by previous events. The "Roaring" 1920’s came as a response to the insanity of World War I. The 1950’s were a response to the chaos of World War II. The 1960’s came in response to the conservative backlash of the 1950’s. The "greedy" 1980’s came as a result of the baby boomers of the 1970’s. Each era and each circumstance dictated by unique events, as well as the advancements of technology. World Wars I and II were unique from the Civil War because motion pictures and radio made it possible to bring the war home. The Vietnam war was different than from any other war because television made it possible for the horrors of the battlefield to come straight into our living rooms. Even how Saddam Hussein was able to communicate to his forces in Iraq during the Gulf War - and thus remain hiding from US forces - would not have been possible if not for the Internet.

But while each era may be unique, there are lessons in each period in history that must be learned - both for good and for bad - or else they will come back to haunt us if we fail to heed them. And in that regard, both liberal and conservatives are dreadfully failing History 101.

Take the issue of sex and the sexual revolution. Contrary to the delusions of conservatives, the sexual revolution was NOT about creating some kind of world-wide, anything-goes orgy. Rather, it was to give people the right to decide whom they were going to be intimate with. That means breaking down a LOT of laws and rules that were established by.. you guessed it.. moralists who determined that the physical act that leads to human reproduction did not really belong to the individual. They felt it belonged to the state, to the church, and ultimately to THEM. So to take control of your body, they had government pass laws that dictated which actions were and were not permitted, even between consenting adults, even in the privacy of their own homes. And they dictated that ANYTHING sexual in nature was under their control. Sexual expressions, sexual clothing, discussions on sex, even the means to control pregnancy was subject to government laws and government controls, crafted and enforced by people who did their damnedest to make such things illegal.

The whole purpose of the sexual revolution was to free sexual expression and sexuality from the clutches of government and from the dictates of religion and of those dysfunctional moralists, and put control of your body with YOU, where it belonged in the first place.

In other words, one could very well argue that the whole sexual revolution was to get government off our backs and out of our private lives. Sounds like a certain conservative mantra of the 1980’s, doesn’t it?

Then there is the issue of "God" and state, "God" and the workplace, "God" and school, and "God" in any other place that conservatives complain about. I say "God" in quotations not because I don’t believe in God, but rather I make reference to the dominant religions. You see, in the eyes of these dominant religions, THEY speak on behalf of "God".

Many conservatives believe that there really is no such thing as a separation of church and state. That’s why they are so fervent in getting their religious views integrated into every aspect of society. What they fail to understand, though, is that the freedom of religion that they so proudly proclaim is diluted when religion integrates itself into government.

Conservatives love to proclaim that the words "In God We Trust" are a part of the US monetary system… but it was only put in there in the 1950’s BY conservatives on the excuse to separate themselves from the "god-less" Soviets. Same thing with the Pledge of Allegiance.. a poem written by a self-professed Christian Socialist. The words "under God" were not included until the 1950’s. Both of these references to religion can easily be removed, and should be.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote that men are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights", he did not necessarily mean God. Only those church-state conservatives who have "God" on the brain equated "Creator" with their "God."

But when liberals moved to purge those influences of theocracy and separate church and state, they put the onus of religious teaching where it belongs - with the parents and with the church. The state has absolutely no business whatsoever endorsing one particular set of religious beliefs over others, be they in a courthouse, in the halls of Congress, or in the local schools.

Conservatives always seem to have the answer.. and the answer is just to go back to those "good old days". They never seem to modify their position, or to offer any practical solutions that help us move forward - even though such a notion could very well be an oxymoron for conservative (with emphasis on the "moron" part). There is a good reason behind it. If they do modify their position, then they will have to admit that the stances of the past that they so devoutly defended were WRONG. They would much rather wait, and have society buckle under their own mistakes and then let the liberals admit that THEIR ideas were wrong.

Truth be told, we need less bantering from the liberal and conservative sides and turning to more libertarian solutions.

The way conservatives can prove that their positions were in the right is not to push for going back to the days of trickle-down moralization from government. Rather they need to take their arguments to the streets and argue their case one-by-one to the people. Yes, it means having to admit in some ways to being in error. There’s nothing wrong with that. Think of it as further proving that only one being in the universe can be absolutely perfect.

Liberals also need to be willing to emphasize the shift in responsibility when they talk about breaking down the old laws and old rules. There’s nothing wrong in letting people develop their own standards to replace the ones you’re knocking down. Change will not happen overnight, but letting people get used to it at their own pace will make things go smoothly. Think of all of the things that were once taboo that are now accepted!

In order for us to learn the lessons of today, we must be willing to embrace that middle ground- the more libertarian perspective. If we can’t grasp those lessons, and are willing to learn from them, then they WILL come back to haunt us. And haunt us they will, again, and again, and again, until we do learn those lessons and move on!

Or as Edward Gibson once said, "All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance."

Monday, October 9, 2000

Week of 10/09/2000

The Media Versus Libertarians?
- by David Matthews 2

"When watching men of power in action it must be always kept in mind that, whether they know it or not, their main purpose is the elimination or neutralization of the independent individual- the independent voter, consumer, worker, owner, thinker- and that every device they employ aims at turning men into a manipulable ‘animated instrument’ which is Aristotle's definition of a slave." - Eric Hoffer

I guess there’s no other way to say this, so I’m going to come out and say it…

What does the media have against Libertarians and libertarian ideas?

Open the newspaper to the letters to the editor section and you’ll catch a few Libertarians sounding off about whatever issue of the day. Turn to certain political columnists, and they’ll mention Libertarian candidates. Longtime Georgia political columnist Bill Shipp recently did a wonderful article about local third party candidates running for the US Senate.

And yet, Libertarians still get the cold shoulder from the rest of the media.

Libertarian-based Cato Institute is only recognized in the media as a "conservative" think-tank. Card-carrying Libertarian Neal Boortz is recognized in the media as a "conservative" radio talk show host. It is as if saying the word "Libertarian" was forbidden.

When USA Today wanted to show who would be competing against incumbent Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, did they turn to Libertarian Party candidate Carla Howell, whose earned the attention of the local newspapers, including the both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald? NO! They turned to Jack Robinson III, the GOP candidate who couldn’t even get enough signatures to qualify to be on the ballot! In fact, the only reason that Robinson is on the ballot right now is because he went to court and had a judge order his name be put on the November ballot. But the USA Today article made it appear as thought Robinson was the ONLY alternative to Kennedy.

When Tim Russert, host of NBC’s "Meet The Press" wanted to have his own little "debate" involving third-party candidates, did he include Libertarian candidate Harry Browne? NO! He invited only Green Party’s Ralph Nader and Reform Party’s Pat Buchanan, even though poll after poll shows Browne either running neck-to-neck or beating Buchanan! But even when given those facts, did Russert and the people of NBC include Browne? NO! NBC’s people said that it, quote, "just wasn’t in the cards", unquote, to have Harry Browne on Russert’s show before the election.

Now let me point out that Tim Russert is more than just some political journalist who managed to finagle his way into the center chair of the long-running NBC Sunday morning show. Russert is also the head of the political journalism department for NBC News. If Tim Russert declares Harry Browne to be not worthy of his attention, then NBC News will run a twenty-minute feature on Boffo, the farting flying monkey, before they even think about mentioning Harry Browne’s name.

It’s not just NBC and USA Today either. A Lexis-Nexus search revealed that while so-called "impartial" polls have placed Browne either tied or beating the Reform candidate, media coverage of Buchanan has outnumbered the Libertarian candidate 60-1!

Browne isn’t just being under-appreciated.. he’s being deliberately ignored!

Let’s get brutally honest here. It’s high time we abandon all pretense about the media being "unbiased" and "impartial" when it comes to politics. They are about as fair and impartial as a Yugoslavian election being run by Slobodan Milosevic!

This is one of the dirty little secrets about journalism. It is conducted by very human people; men and women who create articles based on information that is first filtered through their own personal biases. Those articles are then filtered through by editors and directors, who look through each article with their own biases. The process is also supervised by publishers and producers, who can also kill or amend a story at a whim based on their own biases.

Try as they might, the media is no more "unbiased" than you or I. Even more so, however, because of the number of times any given story is processed and refined before we even see it.

Having understood that members of the media are far from the neutral observers they claim to be, we need to then ask just what it is members of the media have against Libertarians. What is it that they fear about us?

Quite possibly the members of the media simply see Libertarians as "conservatives" because they are still adherent to that out-dated two-dimensional political spectrum of liberal-moderate-conservative. If that is the case, then they can easily disqualify someone like Harry Browne under the pretense that they already have their "token" ultra-conservative in the form of Pat Buchanan. Problem being, though, if you were to find a place for Libertarians in that outdated spectrum, it would have to be plain in the middle, because the truest of libertarians are no more conservative than they are liberal. Then again, if that was the case, then the argument could be made that you need to focus on Libertarians to provide that "moderate" perspective.

It could quite easily also be a case of insider bias. After all, Ralph Nader has been a very public advocate for consumers for decades, and one of his chief cheerleaders is Phil Donahue, the father of modern-day talk shows. Both are well-known media mainstays. Pat Buchanan was Ronald Reagan’s communications director as well as the counterpoint voice for the Cable News Network’s "Crossfire" show. His views may not be liked by the more liberal members of the media, but at least they know him.

Libertarians, on the other hand, are virtual unknowns to journalists. Harry Browne is as close to a "name" candidate that the Libertarian Party has gotten, and even then the members of the media have to scratch their heads over who he is and what he stands for. If that is the case, then folks like Russert are simply supporting the devils they know over the angels they don’t know.

Or perhaps the members of the media are deliberately ignoring Libertarians out of fear.

Libertarians, after all, advocate people to think for themselves, and to question anyone that would take away their freedoms. Members of the media, though, relish the fact that there are millions of people that blindly depend on them for their news. They want the people to be like sheep; to be - as the Clinton Regime once so eloquently described Rush Limbaugh listeners - mind-numbed robots awaiting their marching orders. Having that kind of control over people is addictive.. just ask your local rabid minister.

If that is the case, and I suspect it is just as much as the "insider-outsider" theory, then it would explain why they would prefer to stick to that outdated political spectrum of liberal-conservative. Conservatives, after all, also advocate social control.. they just do so under the pretense of "less government".

What should surprise people, though, is how the libertarian movement has grown in spite of the media blackout. Slowly, but surely, people are hearing about libertarianism and their message about less government and more personal freedom. They are tired of hearing about "lesser of two evils" and failed government programs and how slanted the media is. They want change, the media is not offering them any.

If this is what’s going on in spite of the media, imagine the kind of political changes that could occur WITH help from the media!

In order for us to get there, though, we can’t simply rely on the members of the media to change on their own. We have to build even more public support to show the media just how powerful libertarian ideas can be. That in itself is not going to be easy because we are going against decades of institutionalized socialism that encompasses everything from cradle to grave. But if we want to free ourselves of it, we have to stick through with our principles, and not compromise. We must build on our base, and create the kind of force that will get the media’s attention.

We must also recruit more "big names" to speak on behalf of libertarians. Hey, don’t get me wrong.. it’s great to realize that there are some very big names who consider themselves to be libertarians. I get a thrill to know that Drew Carey, Kurt Russell, and Clint Eastwood all consider themselves to be libertarians. I would get an even bigger thrill if they would take the time to publicly support some Libertarian causes, or perhaps to run for office as a Libertarian.

I mean, come on, do you really think that Jesse Ventura got elected governor of Minnesota simply because he was with the Reform Party? Truth be told, it was his NAME that got him his political success more than the message that he gave.

If anything, libertarians need to understand that it is an uphill struggle to get the kind of attention that Democrats and Republicans have long enjoyed. They’ve been playing this game for well over a century. Libertarians only started thirty years ago. We must be patient, and we must be diligent.

Monday, October 2, 2000

Week of 10/02/2000

The Phantom Exception
- by David Matthews 2

"Freedom...refer[s] to a social relationship among people- namely, the absence of force as a prospective instrument of decision making. Freedom is reduced whenever a decision is made under threat of force, whether or not force actually materializes or is evident in retrospect." -- Thomas Sowell

There was a scene in the Oliver Stone movie "Nixon" where President Richard Nixon was informed that the Congress was prepared to impeach him, and amongst the charges against him was the bombing of Cambodia. Hearing that, Nixon replied with "They can’t impeach me for that, the President can bomb anyone he wants to."

Whether or not that quote was historically accurate was not as important as the attitude that was portrayed in Nixon, a man who would not be told what to do. A man who had reached the top of the hill in politics, the job he felt he was destined to hold. He would not be told how to do his job, neither by Congress nor by the power brokers who worked behind the scenes.

But that resentment was more than just theatrics. That arrogance stance best typifies certain elected officials, men and women who feel that their job entitles them to do whatever they want, without limitations.

Take, for instance, the federal government. All three branches of office are required, as part of their jobs, to take an oath that they promise to protect, preserve, and defend the Constitution of the United States. It’s not as though they can forget that oath.. sometimes you’ll come across a politician who was so eager to be elected that he or she would actually memorize that oath of office. They’ll fantasize about taking that oath.

Well, hey, to each their own, I suppose. Personally, I would rather fantasize about spending some quality time with a few Playboy Playmates.

Now you would think, however, that with people who fantasize about taking that oath of office, that they would take that oath seriously when that dream becomes real, and they are elected to office. That they would, in fact, do everything in their power to preserve, protect, and defend that Constitution.

If only that were so!

Let’s take a look at the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Each of them are unique, because unlike any other provision in the Constitution, it tells the government what it CANNOT do. It spells it out, in words that can be as plain as day. The very first amendment say that Congress shall make NO LAW restricting the freedom of speech, or of the press, or of religion. No law. You can’t get any plainer than that, can you?

And yet we have members of Congress who are ready at a moment’s notice to violate the First Amendment as easily as you or I exceed the speed limit on the highways.

Take, for instance, the theatrical outrage by members of Congress regarding a recent report by the Federal Trade Commission regarding violence in the media. Once the FTC report came out that insinuated that Hollywood producers were marketing violent movies towards kids (the FTC only found one actual incident according to their own report, and simply "assumed" the rest), members of Congress were "insulted" that Hollywood producers were not available at their beck and call to be interrogated.

Hey, if you knew that you were going to be interrogated by a bunch of pompous, arrogant, self-righteous, power-hungry, media-hogging, politicians with delusions of grandeur, would YOU want to be available for their questions? Hell no!

So when they did appear before Congress two weeks later, they already had their answers and their explanations and their remedies. It wasn’t really THEIR fault that some movies were being marketed towards kids.. it was the fault of whatever marketing company they used. However, they did say that they would look into how those marketing companies operated and make the necessary changes.

What they were NOT ready to do, though, was to follow through with some of the suggestions of Congress, such as not put up websites for R-rated movies, for fear that kids might find them. They were not prepared to subject themselves to whatever hackneyed ideas the self-righteous Gods of Mount Morality would fancy.

That led Congresswoman Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas to "fire a shot across the bow" - to use her words - and warned the movie-makers and producers that if they did NOT appease the Gods of Mount Morality, the "Gods" would FORCE Hollywood to submit to them through laws. And a bill had even passed through committee in the US Senate that would limit violent television broadcasts, much like they do for sexually explicit shows, to late nights.

Now folks, I’d like to believe that Congresswoman Hutchinson and those like her are not idiots. That they can read printed words and understand the meanings of those words, and when it comes to speech, that they understand what the words "NO LAW" mean. I’d also like to believe that these elected officials knew SOMETHING about the Constitution and how those first ten amendments limit their power.

So having ruled out ignorance, illiteracy, and idiot savants, one can only come to the conclusion that members of Congress would be willing to yet again violate the First Amendment, and pass laws that would stifle speech that they deem to be offensive. They would knowing and willingly violate the US Constitution.

But the federal government is not the only body of government guilty of gross violation of the US Constitution. State and local governments are just as guilty of violating the Constitution.. perhaps more frequently than their federal counterparts simply because of the sheer number of state and local politicians out there in the US.

The problem in each incident is not that our elected officials do not know that what they do violates the Constitution, which is the law of the land, but rather they believe that those protections spelled out in the Constitution are irrelevant.

Let’s look at how the federal government violates the 10th Amendment, regarding the separation of powers. The Tenth Amendment prohibits the federal government from "federalizing" crimes that would otherwise be handled by the various state and local governments. But when certain states refuse to pass laws that would appease members of Congress, they find ways to coerce those state governments to action.

One way that they love to use is withholding federal funds. Since the federal government is not under any obligation to give money to the states, they can cast conditions on that money. For instance, only giving money to the states whose legal definition of intoxication is at .08 instead of .1 BAC. This political version of blackmail only works, however, when those state legislators feel they need the money more than they need to preserve their authority.

One tactic the federal government has been trying with little success has been the rationality that certain crimes "must" be federalized because they affect interstate commerce. The US Supreme Court shot down this rationality not too long ago when it came to federal rape laws. Serious crime, don’t get me wrong.. but don’t even TRY to explain how somehow that heinous offense directly interferes with interstate commerce!

Worse yet, our court system has a haphazard record of defending our rights. Even when our rights are spelled out in clear, unambiguous language, the courts have sometimes sided with the government, claiming they have what they call a "compelling interest" to restrict those rights. What "compelling interest"? The only "compelling interest" in most instances is that such laws were needed to make the politicians look good in the eyes of the public. In other words, it’s like having our elected officials claim that "the polls made me do it." It’s a virtual crapshoot when our judicial system decides whether or not to lay down the law.

And because of our judicial system interpreting the Constitution in ways that our founding fathers would never have approved of, our elected officials have more or less acted as though there was a little exemption written into the Bill of Rights. An asterisk under each Amendment, with a footnote that simply says "Void where prohibited by law."

Let’s get brutally honest here.. we cannot rely on our government to preserve our rights. Maybe once upon a time that would be the case, but certainly not today. Today, our rights are in danger every time our elected officials meet, and every time the Supreme Court convenes. We are uncertain when our rights will be made null and void with that phantom exemption that our government has more or less scribbled into the Constitution.

If we want our rights to continue on through to our children and our grandchildren, we cannot wait until the politicians come to their senses. They have gotten so used to running things as is that they will NEVER want to change. If we value our rights and our freedoms, WE have to fight for them.. with our voices, with our words, and with our votes.

Now, more than any other time, we must get involved in the political system. Yes, the two-party dominance has put a stranglehold on the election process, but if you look closely and carefully, you’ll see those rare candidates that are genuinely FOR freedom. The ones that take the Bill of Rights seriously, and refuse to recognize that phantom exception that only exists in the eyes of the career politicians. They are the people we should be supporting, and the ones who truly DESERVE to be in office.

And we must also fight for our rights in the court of public opinion. The laws that take away our rights and our freedoms are often preceded by a cheering section of people who care not one whit about freedom, but rather would sacrifice that freedom to obtain a little bit of "safety." These are the people who send in letters to the newspapers and post messages in online discussion boards. The letters are often the same, often speaking out against our rights and wanting the offensive subject of the day to simply be outlawed. It doesn’t matter how, they just want it banned, and banned immediately.

If we are serious about our rights, we must counter each letter and each article with one of our own, supporting our rights. But we must do more than just that. We must also start offering up solutions to those problems that do not involve the government. In other words, we must offer up solutions that really work.

Thomas Paine once said that "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it." And that we must do. We must support it now. Because if we don’t do that now, then the only fighting left will eventually be of the kind that involves REAL violence, not just what you see coming from Hollywood.