Libertarianism is one of the grandest movements in history. And every single libertarian should feel proud to be a part of it. We follow in the tradition of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, David Crockett, Jim Bowie, William Travis, and so many others who have fought so hard to capture or recapture their freedom. And our principles follow the tradition of such things as Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
Those who should feel terrible shame for what they have done to this country are the leftists and the conservatives, who have not only abandoned the legacy and principles of our ancestors but have done so in the name of “freedom.” The New Deal. The New Frontier. The Great Society. The war on poverty. The war on wealth. The war on drugs. The war on illiteracy. The war on immigrants. The war on bigotry. The welfare state. Public schooling. The regulated society. Foreign wars. All of this junk — and more — has been sold to the American people by both Democrats and Republicans in the name of “freedom.” Today, having to face the dismal fruits of their beloved trees, Democrats and Republicans should hang their heads in shame.
Yet, the problem is that all too many libertarians are the ones who lack the confidence and self-esteem associated with the political philosophy to which they have devoted much of their lives. All too often, we see libertarians, especially those in the political arena, whose quest for “respectability” and “credibility” causes them to compromise or conceal crucial and important libertarian positions. Some prime examples of libertarian positions that libertarians often compromise or conceal are: drug legalization, abolition of public schooling, and open immigration.
The socialistic welfare state and the regulated society have done untold damage and destruction to the American people as well as to people all over the world. The only hope to finally put an end to all of this lies with us libertarians. If libertarians won’t fight — and fight hard — against what the U.S. government and Democrats and Republicans have done and continue to do to the American people and others around the world, then what chance is there to see freedom in our lifetime?
Why do so many libertarians, especially those in the political arena, run away from libertarian principles and positions rather than embrace them enthusiastically? One reason is that many libertarians lack the intellectual and emotional confidence that they are right, especially when it seems that most of the whole world is standing against them. When a person isn’t sure of himself, he is more apt to succumb to the temptation of seeking the approval of others rather than standing foursquare in favor of his own values and principles.
In order both to advocate libertarianism and to gain the approval of his fellow citizens, the unsure libertarian decides to engage in compromise and concealment. He doesn’t actually lie about favoring such things as legalizing drugs, abolishing public schooling, and opening the borders. He just doesn’t mention them, unless he is directly asked about them. And he reaches out to the public with code language that is only covertly consistent with libertarian principles: “I favor smaller government. I want government to be the smallest size possible. I want to return to the Constitution.” Very nice pabulum, but also quite meaningless.
These shaky libertarians sometimes try to place the blame on other people for their compromise and concealment rather than taking responsibility for their own lack of confidence in arguing libertarian positions. “The public is just too ignorant to understand difficult libertarian positions,” they say. “We have to spoon-feed them with simple libertarian positions.” “Voters only want to hear sound bites and slogans, not philosophy and principles.”
Actually, however, the problem is not an external one involving the inability of others to grasp the libertarian philosophy. Instead, it is an internal one involving an inability to competently argue the libertarian philosophy. Long ago, Leonard E. Read, founder of The Foundation for Economic Education, pointed out that the best method for advancing liberty lay in self-improvement. Rather than trying to fix or change other people, a libertarian is better off trying to improve his own understanding of libertarianism as well as his own skills in expounding it.
As a libertarian learns more and more about a certain libertarian position — the historical roots, the political philosophy, the economic consequences, the moral implications, the manner in which real people are harmed, and so forth — his confidence and self-esteem improve. This self-improvement will inevitably be reflected in his increased willingness to “take the battle” to the enemy. Equally important, people who are looking for answers and solutions to society’s ills will be more willing to seek out that libertarian’s knowledge and expertise on libertarianism.
As someone once pointed out, nothing worse can befall a good cause than to have it ineptly defended. Whenever one sees a libertarian candidate engaging in compromise and concealment, a safe assumption is that that person cannot adequately defend the position he is compromising and concealing. When prodded on the issue — whether it is the drug war, public schooling, open borders, taxation, or whatever — the reaction is often anger, frustration, flailing, or personal attacks.
What is the antidote? Work. Work. Work. Libertarians in all aspects of life, especially those who run for public office (they are so much more in the public eye), must steep themselves in the libertarian issues where they lack the most confidence. Books. Articles. Tapes. Seminars. Lectures. Discussions. Debates. As the person’s knowledge and competence about an issue increases, his self-confidence increases, as does his eagerness to take on all opponents on that particular issue.
Moreover, as libertarian self-esteem rises, the libertarian finds that he is no longer on the defensive about such issues as drug legalization, public schooling, and open immigration. And he starts realizing the importance of taking the offensive and going after his opponent on these issues rather than on marginal, relatively unimportant issues. Remember — it is Democrats and Republicans who should be ashamed of such things as the drug war, public schooling, and the war against immigrants. And libertarians need to remind them of their errors and their shameful conduct.
Look at what Democrats and Republicans have done to people in the inner cities. They have locked them out of the labor market with minimum-wage laws, licensure laws, and economic regulations. Then they have told them, “Don’t worry about working. We’ll put you on welfare where we can control and monitor you.” Democrats and Republicans have forced inner-city parents to send their children to armed, drug-infested camps called “public schools.” Their kids have been lured into the drug trade as a result of the exorbitant black-market profits that the drug war produces. And many of them have ended up in overcrowded penitentiaries.
All the while, the rest of society has paid a high price too. The drug war has produced robberies, thefts, burglaries, muggings, murders, gang wars, convenience-store killings, sickness and deaths from contaminated needles, violations of privacy, trampling of the Bill of Rights, and the exorbitant taxation and asset confiscation to pay for all of this.
Let’s not forget the primary financial and political beneficiaries of the beloved war on drugs: politicians, bureaucrats, and drug lords. They are making out like bandits with their bribes, kickbacks, campaign contributions, taxes, asset forfeitures, and ever-increasing political power. Is it any wonder that this trio of drug-war fat cats wants to continue this fruitful war forever?
Public schooling has also been an unmitigated disaster for the American people. Even in the “good” suburban public schools, most kids have had the joy of learning pounded out of them by the time they graduate. And parents, who themselves are products of public schools, continue to require their children to be abused by a second-rate “education” rather than demanding the superior education that a free market would bring.
Democrats and Republicans treat Hispanics like a plague rather than the wonderful people that they are. Just one trip to Latin America — or just a few hours watching Latin American festivals or celebrations on the Hispanic cable television station Univision — can’t help but cause a person to fall in love with the Latin American people. Hispanic culture is colorful, alive, and joyful and has brought so much enrichment to the United States, especially in the southwestern part of our nation.
Yet all we hear from Democrats and Republicans is that we can’t let any more of “them” come into America. America needs to build a wall, they suggest, along the southern border, undoubtedly to be manned by U.S. Army sharpshooters with orders to Ruby Ridge any “Meskun” trying to come over here and pollute America’s Anglo culture.
What these Democrats and Republicans fail to realize is that they can look far and wide but they will never find people of higher caliber than those who have crossed over here looking for work. I have personally known many of these people. I have worked in fields by their side. And I can tell you this: when it comes to moral values, family values, work ethic, religious convictions, and humility, no Republican or Democrat I have ever met can hold a candle to these people. They are the among the finest, most decent, most upstanding individuals that mankind could ever hope for.
We libertarians must never stop telling Remocrats and Depublicans that we don’t want their beloved Berlin walls in America and we don’t need their beloved government assassins to “protect” us from immigrant “invaders.” We must never hesitate to tell them that what we want and need instead are friendships and “abrazos” that will help us to reestablish the proper harmonies that should exist among the peoples of the earth.
We libertarians must never permit the likes of Democrats and Republicans to put us on the defensive. It is we who must take the offensive and take the battle directly to them. It is Democrats and Republicans who support and embrace virtually every aspect of German National Socialism as well as Cuban socialism: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public schooling, public works, trade and immigration controls, taxation, regulations, monetary controls, and on and on. We must constantly remind them of their embarrassing and shameful heritage and principles.
It is we libertarians who embrace the principles of liberty of America’s Founding Fathers, who rejected the socialistic welfare state and the regulated society. We must constantly remind Democrats and Republicans of this as well.
Democratic and Republican policies have left nothing but death and destruction in their wake. They have destroyed hopes, dreams, and even life itself — all with the aim of expanding political power over the lives and fortunes of more people. For this reason alone, their vision is doomed.
It is doomed for another reason: the insulting nature of the message that is delivered to voters by both Democrats and Republicans: “You a bad people. If you were a good people, we could abolish Social Security and welfare, thereby trusting you to honor your father and mother and assist the poor. Your American ancestors could be trusted — that’s why there was no welfare or Social Security in America for more than 125 years. But you’re not like them — you’re evil, selfish, and malevolent and, therefore, we must force you to care for the elderly and the poor.”
“If you were responsible adults, we wouldn’t need the war on drugs. Your American ancestors lived without drug laws for more than 125 years. But they could be trusted with these types of decisions. You can’t be. And therefore we must monitor your life and your lifestyle and punish you for ingesting bad things.”
“If you were competent parents, we wouldn’t need public schooling. We could let you decide the best educational vehicles for your children. Your American ancestors lived without public schooling for more than 125 years, but they were competent to guide their children’s education. Unlike them, you’re a bunch of incompetents, despite the fact that most of you spent 12 long years in America’s public school system.”
Our message — the libertarian message — is, by contrast, one of hope and confidence. It is one that offers prosperity, peace, and harmony among people — and most important, human freedom. Here is what we say to our fellow Americans: “We believe in you. But you must begin to believe in yourselves. When that day comes, you will no longer permit yourselves to be abused by Democratic and Republican politicians and bureaucrats. You will demand the freedom to which all men are entitled.”
The road to success — the road to the achievement of freedom in America — lies neither in compromise nor in concealment. Instead, it lies in an unswerving, uncompromising, honest, up-front, passionate devotion to our libertarian principles. If we remain true to ourselves and our libertarian beliefs, freedom will be ours.