Speech to the Libertarian Party National Committee, Alexandria, Virginia, July 30, 2022
Your Huge Victory
First of all, I really want to congratulate you all again on your great victory in Reno. I know how hard yall worked.
I want to apologize to Michael Heise and Angela McArdle, and all the Texas LP MC guys for my relentless worrying in the run-up to the convention. Maybe on the margin it was helpful.
Despite all the great stuff I’ve already heard here this morning, I admit I’m a bit in awe of the potential power of this organization. It’s still sort of sinking in.
Think back to just the status quo this last April. The libertarian movement was my little old Libertarian Institute, Antiwar.com, Mises, the Future of Freedom Foundation, the Independent Institute, the Ron Paul Institute, of course Reason and Cato and 50,000 angry, bearded young men on Twitter and Facebook. And … [quietly], look, don’t quote me on this part but, and the LP, which was sort of like our weird cousin that we don’t really know very well who always seems to say the wrong thing and too late. It was like a big, uh… gun, shooting blanks.
And now … Now – are you like me that the reality of the situation continues to hit you in different waves of recognition? Not only did we win our big fight at the convention and get what we want. But yall: the LP is essentially now the biggest and potentially most important organization our movement has. In an instant it went from side-show to becoming as important as the Mises Institute. And my daydreams about what we can do with it (below), combined with all of yours too, can really only begin to scratch the surface of what we will be able to do with this tool to try to fix what is wrong with this country.
And so, here is
The Mises Caucus Doctrine for the Libertarian Party
Now to start off here I want to apologize. I don’t want to sound too presumptuous with that. I am just a party member. I have no official position here beyond friend and unofficial adviser. Due to my jobs as director of the Libertarian Institute and editorial director of Antiwar.com, both non-profit organizations, it looks like that’s how it’s going to have to stay too.
I was foreign policy adviser to 2004 presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, and unofficially to Gary Johnson, Jacob Hornberger and Jo Jorgensen in the years since, though I don’t take responsibility for it. But I have been trying, and do have a little bit of a record in the party.
But in preparing this speech, I’ve shared it with our chair, Angela McArdle, Mises Caucus chief Michael Heise and one of our possible choices for presidential candidate next time, Dave Smith, as well, for their comments and input.
So this is not just my suggested agenda for the party, but ours. I hope we can all have a great discussion about it at the end too.
The Parable of Ron and Rand
Rand Paul ain’t so bad. In fact he’s probably the best senator in American history. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve recently been informed that he keeps a copy of Enough Already on his desk in his Senate office. Lately he’s been really great on the Covid regime for example.
But there was a time in the past especially when his temperament and strategy have been simply maddening. Yall probably know what I’m talking about.
But let me give the devil his due: For 30 years Rand seemed to be right that Ron, wedded as he was to gold money and non-interventionism overseas, was unfortunately limiting his own influence. “Great, another speech about the business cycle to a room full of four people,” Rand thought. For decades it was like that. But stubborn old Ron wouldn’t give in.
But then came the Giuliani moment. And with it should have been the realization for Rand: the William Lloyd Garrison – abolition now! – principle-first approach to politics really can be successful. Ron just needed the spotlight and the chance to say his most important thing, and, Pow! The rEVOLution was on from there.
And oh man it was glorious. Right-wingers, he said: you don’t have to believe in the wars anymore. Young kids: socialism isn’t the opposite of our corrupt system but more of the same. What we need is a real free market, hard money and peace. Hell yeah. He changed the lives of millions of people, including some in this room today, and American politics overnight.
So the lesson Rand should have learned was that it only seemed like Ron was wasting his time in all that time leading up to the rEVOLution. But it was an optical illusion. Really he was just waiting for his big chance.
Radicals and Pragmatists
It’s really still just the age-old debate within the party about radicalism versus pragmatism. But I like my version of the argument a lot because it’s about Ron Paul. And I like Ron Paul.
In fact, let me tell you a story here real quick. Before the big Mises event in Lake Jackson every year, they have a little party at Dr. Paul’s house for donors to the Ron Paul Institute and assorted friends. So, I think it was in 2019 that I got to have a nice little old one-on-one conversation with Dr. Paul in his backyard there. We talked about his experience running for president on the LP ticket in 1988 and some other things. And I got to tell him what a hero he is to me and then he said some nice things to me and things. It was really cool. But so one of the things he said to me was that, “You know what I like about you Scott, is that you are always so kind and professional and you never talk bad about anybody. And I think that’s so important.”
[Pause for laughter.]
Right. So obviously I was just sitting there dying inside because that’s just not true. I’m horrible. Far too often. Especially before but also now too. But yes, I sure have always been very polite every time I’ve interviewed him! So here he is, my hero, telling me that what he likes about me is that I’m a decent gentleman like he is. So I first of all was a bit ashamed but second of all I became determined to do a better job attempting to impersonate this man.
So but so to get to the point: the pragmatists are right that if radicalism means acting like a jerk or emphasizing the most off-the-wall stuff in unpersuasive ways, then it’s the wrong path to take.
But of course the radicals are right that being “pragmatic” usually just means acting like a moderate Republican: For capitalism, but not too bad on pot and gay rights – something like that. And the radicals are right that that is never going to work. It’s not even close to summing up who we are.
So what do we do? The answer to the riddle of course is be like Ron Paul. Harry Browne had it too. Hardcore anti-government radicalism with deep thought, knowledge and purpose behind it, but ironically delivered in an always professional and dignified way. We are trying to normalize these radical politics. Let’s literally do that.
Don’t get me wrong. Of course everyone be yourself. Just be your best, most professional self like what you think might make Dr. Paul proud to be a part of your movement the way we are always so proud of him when he gets up there and tells the truth on our behalf.
Life is not a Twitter fight. I had to quit it for a while to write Enough Already, but when I came back I vowed not to argue with people on there. It’s not good for that. Just mute. It’s easy. Mute mute mute. And not just on Twitter, but everywhere you get in fights that aren’t worth your time.
We’ve got bigger fish to fry. And now we’ve got fire to fry ’em with.
What Are We Doing Here?
The reason I’ve focused most of my attention to the warfare state these last 20 years is because it’s the worst thing our government does and it’s at the center of so much of what else is wrong with our country. I mean if it isn’t an emergency, then why not just be Republicans or Democrats? Why even care about politics at all?
That doesn’t mean that we all have the same priorities or that we should ignore the smaller but also-important issues.
But as a doctrine we should always be focused on trying to end the worst policies and programs – out ahead of and in anticipation of whichever coming crises we can see coming that others cannot, the way so many of us called out our current price inflation crisis two years ago, for example.
Wars, germ controls, inflation and the boom-bust cycle, bank bailouts and other corporate welfare, especially the rigged healthcare system, gun control, drugs wars and unaccountable police, regulations that make small business impossible, fines and fees that are used to bully poor people relentlessly and also suck for everyone else too. Stuff like that. The things that make people hate and fear living here. They shouldn’t have to.
Mind the Gap
On all these issues there is a huge gap between the truth of the situation and the common narrative, and there’s a huge gap between the truth of the situation and what is morally right. And in every case, we libertarians have unique and correct understanding of the statist root causes of virtually all of our social problems. So we can immediately take the side of all decent people on virtually any given important political issue and just show them a new way of understanding the cause of the problem, to therefore get them to be willing to listen to the solution. Examples: wars cause terrorism, the Fed causes booms and crashes, drug wars cause violence and more social problems than they prevent. Same for gun control. Same for corporatism and healthcare costs, Same for welfare and poverty. Same for everything. Once you see it you can never go back.
If we do this right, first we can find ways to really move the margin on these worst things and secondly we will earn the reputation we deserve by fighting the fights we need to fight.
It ain’t magic. I don’t know what will happen. But remembering the last 20 years, I can think of some things I wish the party had done and said, and I believe it could have had a much bigger voice in American politics for the side of peace and liberty that too often instead has gone unheard.
The Horton Rule
Sorry. Michael Boldin named it that. But yeah. It’s like this: good libertarian are better than the right on the things they’re good on (e.g. markets, guns, debt, taxes) and better than the left on the things they’re good on (e.g.: gays, drugs, cops, wars). So we don’t have to budge one inch or pander in any way to simply meet them where they’re at on the things they’re good on and then just ask for a little consistency from there. Examples: war and capitalism, the war on guns. With a right-winger we can agree on inflation and income taxes and hopefully hard money and the necessity of preventing socialism from becoming dominant in America. Well you can’t have all that in a state of permanent war. It’s either abandon the empire and kick the Military Industrial Complex and the bankers off of welfare, or suffer the defeat of capitalism and property and liberty altogether. Republic or empire. You can’t have it both ways.
With someone on the left, for one example, we can agree about the oppression and hopefully the bad economic incentives of the war on drugs. It just makes our society’s drug problems worse in every way, leads to oppressive policing of trade and possession of contraband, etc. Well it’s the same thing for the war on guns, you see. You just create black markets run by actual criminals who have to rely on ruthlessness to protect their territory, a phenomenon almost entirely absent from open market products and services in this country. In this case literally with weapons. And you create a culture of criminality and taboo and intrigue around a tool that should be considered entirely differently by responsible adults.
We can use this approach – looking for those gaps in the narrative and persuading based on where people are already standing – on all sorts of issues.
Back in early May, I made big promises to a group of Yemeni peace activists on yall’s behalf. I told them at the end of the month me and my friends are going to seize control of the national Libertarian Party and then we are at your service. They were all really excited. And boy did the party come through for you-all, huh? And then boy did you-all come through for these peace activists just like I promised you would.
Here we’re outflanking the antiwar left and the America First right, and bringing them along on our mission.
I am so grateful for all the support and effort yall have put in to getting HJ Res. 87 and SJ Res 56 passed this summer. The fight for it is still on, so don’t relax yet.
Seriously, thank you. You all have come through wonderfully on this so far already.
Part of the idea here also was as a trial case for just how can we use this party. If we can corral the party membership from the 50 states and Facebook to all prioritize the same thing together, for just a short period of time at least, maybe we can really make a difference on some things. It was a nice coincidence that the Reno Reset was completed just as a cease-fire is reining in Yemen and a War Powers Resolution was being introduced in Congress. I was told by the antiwar activist Hassan El-Tayyab from the Friends Committee on National Legislation that our effort was being heard in Congress and had definitely impressed the rest of the groups participating in the Week of Action there a few weeks ago.
I’ve been advising people that if they have a Democratic Congressman, to tell them the President said he wants to end this war. He needs us to support him on this to help him face down pressure from the Republicans. Also, emphasize the humanitarian crisis and the idea that ending this war now will be good for the Democrats in November.
If your rep is a Republican, you should tell them you believe in America First! Obama started this war, Brandon sucks at implementing it. This is not the war on terrorism against AQAP, this war actually directly benefits them by targeting their worst enemies. Wasting money on policing the world when we’re running out of baby formula makes me angry. And passing this resolution will embarrass and help to weaken Biden and the Democrats for November. Stuff like that.
Talk to your Congressman as though you’re from his or her same party, we don’t have to identify ourselves as Libertarians all the time. Word will get out and we’ll get the credit eventually, but what’s most important is that we get the margin moved on this policy. Then we will also have something to brag about after the fact.
Also, believe me, I get it that it would be foolish to ask the rank and file of the few tens of thousands of Libertarian Party members that we do have to all just be me and become and stay obsessed with Yemen for the next seven years. But the past few weeks have proven that a few weeks at a time is a reasonable way to approach these subjects. Hit and run and make a difference we can measure. I think this test case shows that we can really have a great effect and that we can replicate this kind of action again and again on different issues. Not just wars and phone campaigns but all kinds of things.
Again, I am not asking for the national party and the broader movement to change their priorities to mine for the long term. We just do Yemen for a little while. Then guns or whatever you guys think is important. But let’s practice herding these cats and giving them missions. A couple of ten thousand people ain’t bad at all to have to use to start with. They joined the party for a reason, right?
We really could help stop a war. If we try hard.
Unfortunately, the vote has been delayed until after Congress’s summer break. But we’ve laid down a good baseline and let them know there is support for it. We will have to go back at it in September and see it through.
We have got to get out in front on this. The left is just horrible because the Democrats are in power and Putin is their stand-in for Trump, a right-wing hate figure unattached from the reality of the situation. So, this is a great opportunity to attack the right from the right and try to force a confrontation inside the GOP between neoconservative hawks and America Firsters.
What if we held “No War in Ukraine, Negotiate Now!” events all over the U.S. with real turnout and outreach to other groups, especially conservative pro-gun groups and such? We could easily promise to show up at any pro-gun thing they have coming up that we’d’a gone to anyway.
I know we don’t have much of an advantage to press here, like with the War Powers Resolutions on Yemen, but we have to try something. And as the new national LP, we can’t not try something. I personally have been a little quiet on this the past few weeks only because I’ve been focused on the LP convention, putting my latest book out and a couple of speeches, and the silence feels deafening. Thank goodness the boys at Antiwar.com are picking up my slack.
If we survive, we will regret it if we look back a year from now and we didn’t do and say everything we could about this disaster as soon as we had control of the party. The Yemen genocide is the worst thing in the world right now. The war in Ukraine has the potential to become the worst thing that has ever happened to mankind.
I’m very much open to ideas here as I hope you all are. Especially on working with the America First right on this. I know the Twitter account has been great on it. And what a relief.
One last thing on foreign policy here, as you heard Robly Hall explain earlier, and that is the Defend the Guard legislation being pushed by our friends at BringOurTroopsHome.us and DefendTheGuard.us. Many of you know that the great Pat McGeehan, a war veteran and member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, came up with this idea a few years ago, and it’s really spread like wildfire across the country. The legislation says that the president may not nationalize state guard troops for overseas combat without an official declaration of war by the Congress, which of course means never, since they will never take responsibility on their own.
Defend the Guard is already a huge phenomenon and is an absolutely excellent opportunity for us to combine our antiwar and anti-imperialist principles with our strategy of rollback and decentralization, nullification and interposition as the state level.
The Inflation Fighter
Obviously us libertarians are the only ones who even understand what inflation is. Teaching people about the evils of inflationary money is obviously at the core of our mission. But while we fight to End the Fed, we have to figure out other ways that we can help people fight the effects of inflation right now too.
In the 50 states we can push for at least temporary freezes on state gas taxes. Another one would be moratoriums on increased property taxes when everyone knows we’re in the middle of a massive real estate bubble and that those prices are sure to crash soon.
And on money, we have an obvious alternative: as the U.S. Constitution specifically authorizes, the states can mint gold or silver coins. The New Hampshire Goldbacks are a great idea worth copying too – Have yall seen those? I bet we can get some Republicans interested in passing laws like that in at least a few states. It would certainly get an important conversation started. When we say End the Fed, we need an answer for how we could do it instead. This is a good one.
Then of course there is Bitcoin. I’m sure many in this room already have large-scale plans to make the Libertarian Party leaders in that field. Good luck, we’re all counting on you.
We could also focus on ending fines and fees and tax stickers and pretext stops and failure to appear warrants and all the evil things that local governments do to fine and jail people over nonsense all the time and just treat poor people like outlaws for no reason, or worse, just for the revenue.
And how about blanket pardons and commutations of sentences for pot felonies in the states where they’ve legalized? It’s something we could probably make a real difference on for people. Time wins more arguments than reason. So let’s demonstrate what we’re about on this by sticking up not just for business owners, like in people’s false beliefs about us, but for everybody. And it’s not pandering like Rand. It’s being badass like Ron. Different.
There’s one test case on the drug war that I want to bring up here real quick. Are yall familiar with the social media app Flote? It’s great. Run by libertarians. Two of them are this wonderful couple from Marble Falls, Texas, Kingsley and Erin Edwards. Yeah well, Kingsley’s dad is sitting in a Florida prison on a 60-year sentence for a bag of cocaine. Yeah. Really. And here’s the kicker: He’s already done 30. That’s right. He’s been in prison his son’s entire lifetime over a bag of cocaine no bigger than the President’s son goes through in a night. So, what if we used the LP email list and Facebook and Twitter accounts to coordinate a full-court press like on the Yemen War Powers Resolution, but just for this one guy? Think of what 20 or 30,000 national Libertarians could do all working on that one issue on the state level. We could have a campaign to influence the governor, the DA, the courts, the local media, TV, radio, etc. We could make him famous. And maybe help to set him free. Wouldn’t that be another nice way to get our great new project off to a good start?
We can continue to push total constitutional carry in all states and hard against any new gun control proposals, and likewise pardons and commutations for simple possession convictions.
And we need to get lawyers to look at it, and see if we can launch a massive effort toward training and preaching safety and responsibility while advocating for firearms ownership. Again, it’s not pandering. It’s what we should be doing anyway. It would draw attention and make us look good too. “Let everyone be armed. And let us teach everyone everything about how to do it right.” Maj Toure’s Black Guns Matter is potentially a great template for the party to follow.
Libertarian Party gun trainings and shooting contests etc. could be great recruitment events. Probably most of us are some kind of experienced gun guys. And there are obviously many true experts among us, including veterans.
So let’s hear some ideas about what more we could to fight for the right of the people to keep and bear arms, especially on preventing any attempted bans on semi-automatic rifles or the passage and implementation of the new so-called “red flag” laws, which are blatantly unconstitutional.
This absolutely has to be one of our top priorities.
We need to master all the most serious studies about the effects of the CON laws and other regulations that prohibit competition in hospitals, doctors, medicine and insurance. And we need to wage a massive scorched earth war against the state and the medical cartels that rig supply against their customers: in this case sick patients.
Life expectancy is crashing in this country. It’s because of the unavailability of recreational pills on the open market (Literally an old high school friend of mine died and was resuscitated after ODing on fentanyl he bought on the black market that he thought was a Xanax.) and because the healthcare industry in America is as corrupt as the Military-Industrial Complex. This is a huge issue. All of you and everyone else has experience with this crisis. I know literal right-wingers who voted for Bernie Sanders. Because “someone has to pay these damn bills.” That’s why Mises said the middle of the road leads to socialism.
And everyone knows there’s a problem. But only we know what it is. The left says capitalism is the problem and socialism is the solution. The right says socialism is the problem in the first place. But the problem is corporatism: these massive interest groups that lobby to write the laws to benefit themselves. The more socialism the left asks for, the more corporatism we get, the higher the prices, the more socialism they ask for.
The solution is to smash the healthcare cartels into a million pieces and make all these companies compete in a free market. The way to do that is a wholesale abolition of all the regulations in the healthcare industry. The lobbyists have captured the state. Only laissez faire can reduce costs, improve quality of care and return the U.S.A. to first world status on this issue.
Whoever are our best people on this: we need you to come up with a real program for the rest of us to get behind. The Libertarian Party should be the American people’s greatest heroes on this most essential issue.
Let’s face it: In America, it’s a 51 percent, winner-take-all system. That’s why there are two parties in the first place, right? They are two massive coalitions of different interest groups united under the theory that they’ve got to keep the other side from winning most of all. The Libertarian Party can win some races, especially on the local level. Maybe a U.S. House seat one day if everything lined up perfectly. But are we going to replace the GOP as the right-side coalition party in the U.S.A. here in the medium term? No. We’re not. But that does not mean that we are powerless. Not at all.
I believe that the Libertarian Party has missed a major opportunity these last many years. Instead of running against both candidates in the general elections, we need to focus on attacking Republicans from the right — mostly. The libertarian right of course, I’m not saying pretend to be what we are not or be bad on things that we’re good on. I’m saying attack Republicans by calling them big spending liberal RINOs, fake constitutionalists, soft on gun control, weak on Defend the Guard, etc. like that.
I saw the guy who ran against Beto and Cruz in 2018 boast that since one poll had him within the margin of error, that meant that no matter who won, he and the Texas LP would be able to claim credit for defeating the other guy, and then the other parties would have to do whatever we say and only run good candidates from now on out of fear of our presence. It did sound foolish, but I’m not trying to make fun of the guy, I’m just saying that he was actually onto something there, but kinda missed it. What he could have done was just mercilessly barbecued the incumbent, Ted Cruz, as a big spending, war-mongering, fake constitutionalist for a few months, and then if Cruz had lost, then our guy really could have been able to claim credit for that. And then we would have at least some leverage to try to use against them for next time:
If they do what we say, we could stay out next time. Or if they really go the extra mile, we could run to the left of the Democrat instead. That way we have sticks and carrots to help modify their behavior. I am not saying cut deals with them and make compromises. I’m saying find ways to show the people who actually have the power that we can help them or hurt them based solely on their votes and policies and how angry they make us. Let them do the compromising.
The LP can win in some cases, but where we cannot replace the right-side candidate, we have to make them hate and fear us. The same thing can work against Democrats too. And there may very well be opportunities to play the same game against them. The key is to really focus on opposing one side at a time so they know that our attacks were the margin of their defeat when we can help to achieve it. Then we really have something to threaten them with if they do not comply with our wishes.
This could also be an answer to the question of why should anyone vote for a minor party if it is perceived that we cannot win 51%. “Well sir, we’re trying to explicitly deny a victory to the Republicans this round so that we can extort them into passing Defend the Guard legislation next time. The bigger our margin, the better shot we have at trying to force the major parties to bend to our will and set people free.”
First of all, we should avoid all the current trans-gender bullshit controversy at all costs. I am so sick of it all. Every damn day. It’s like they’re trying to make right-wing reactionaries out of everyone. But the libertarian movement and party have always been good on gay rights. Not because we’ve been racing to pander to the wokest elements of the left. It’s just because we actually have a unified conception of what rights are and so have of course always applied them to everyone. So, yes, we support the right of adults to live however they want. But not because we are into all this woke gender ideology leftist bandwagon craziness, but again just those same basic rights of everyone . So we don’t want to be identified with this crazy new movement nor the right wing reaction against it, right? Mostly I’d like to just ignore all this woke nonsense to death. It’s just a passing fad after all. How long can a circular firing squad last? When it comes to Libertarians on school boards and things, please simply let good sense and decency prevail. Finding the reasonable lines should not be difficult.
And personally, I don’t like “national divorce.” First of all, it’s not our term. It’s what right-wingers like Margaret Taylor Green say. It’s like using “cathedral” for “establishment.” It’s a signifier of membership in somebody else’s movement. Secondly, nobody knows what it means: secession and possibly war? Going back to the Articles of Confederation? 50 sovereign nations, with 1/2 of them landlocked from the sea but with really great trade deals? The real culture war divide in America is between town and country, not red states and blue ones. So, yes, by all means emphasize decentralization, but liberty most of all.
And yes the principle of secession is always worth defending, but let’s not get bogged down arguing about civil war or going back to the Articles or who’s going to guarantee free trade between the states. When the USSR abandoned their empire, they still kept Russia. For the party to argue that we are better off without the U.S.A. at all anymore would be I think an example of the kind of counter-productive radicalism that the pragmatists have a point about.
As a political party in the U.S., I don’t think it’s a stretch for our premise to be that the U.S. Constitution is and should be the law of the land, and unlike the other two parties, we have actually read it, believe in it and want to enforce it. The Bill of Rights is our sacred birthright and we mean to pass it down in good health. So constitutionalism with a strong emphasis on the 10th Amendment should be our basic premise. More of an open marriage than a separation.
Running a national political party on “let’s break up the U.S.A.” does not make much sense to me. I mean, let Hawaii go? Sure. As long as they let us keep our naval base at Sevastopol. I mean Pearl Harbor. But let’s get real: it’s no accident that the biggest military base in America is 100 miles up the road from Austin, Texas. As much as I might like to see it., the Union isn’t taking those chances again in my lifetime.
The Rich White Man’s Anarchy
Still, regarding “strong federalism,” it would be nice to think that if we almost completely decentralized power to the several states, that in this day and age the worst sort of rightwing reaction against minorities would no longer be at issue. But that is not so clear. For example, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton says he wants to take a case to the Supreme Court to see Lawrence vs. Texas overturned so he can start prosecuting gay men, including currently married ones, presumably, over their personal business. I mean this sounds no less insane than if they wanted to stop allowing blacks to attend the University of Texas again. Though, maybe at this point it would be the white people they exclude. [That was a joke.]
At Porcfest, Milton Friedman’s son, David Friedman, and our vice chair, Josh Smith, had an interesting discussion about the threat to individual universal natural rights in regards to the Mises Caucus doctrine of localism and decentralization. The way Mr. Friedman framed it was that if we are putting localism first, does that mean that if it was a local authority violating people’s individual rights, do we then cede our right to complain about it? The answer is absolutely not. We’re just trying to remove the U.S. federal government from its position of final decision maker on these issues.
But there should be no question that any attempt by the states to roll back protections against discrimination against racial minorities, including in housing and for inter-racial marriage, as well as protections for gays, including marriage rights, would provoke a massive and national response from the Libertarian Party and the state parties to prevent any such thing from happening. And, by the way, it should be much easier to pressure state governments than the feds, if we can keep the pressure up.
American blacks especially, face a tough political contradiction: twice in 100 years, the national government intervened massively to protect them from their state governments. Jim Crow did not end until the 1960s. And it did not end because the democratic majorities in the southern states decided to stop being totalitarians. The feds made them. At gun point. Those old Klansmen essentially destroyed the doctrine of limited powers for the federal government (aka “state’s rights”) while hiding behind it as their excuse to oppress others.
At the same time, the federal government is the driver of the most racist things about our society: namely the war on drugs and the war on guns. They’re also responsible for the boom-bust economic cycle that pulls the rug out from under everyone every 10 or 12 years, hitting the poorest the hardest; the education system which pushes socialism as the solution to poverty; and the actual socialism of the welfare state that has done more to break up families – black, white and otherwise – therefore inducing poverty, than any other policy in the country. And if independent political leaders stick their heads up, it’s the national government’s FBI’s COINTELPRO and similar operations that are used to bring them down.
Often times, the fact that the Justice Department can review local police shootings for civil right violations ends up removing possible accountability from the local level by nationalizing these cases to the hands of these supposedly more neutral forces in Washington D.C., when in fact their civil rights review mandate is very narrow, to the point where a cop has to essentially declare, “take that, you n-word,” on video as he shoots a guy to really apply in practice. If accountability is local, the controversy stays local, or with state authorities, who may be easier to influence.
Murray N. Rothbard had the right conception when he insisted on “universal rights, locally enforced.” It is the responsibility of all Americans to protect the rights of the others from the bottom up, no longer turning to Washington D.C. and the Department of Justice to iron these things out for us from above.
By the way: I don’t give a damn about the Loser Brigade liars who lost their party and smear us all day. I’d sooner actually learn their names before I’d pander or disclaim to them. Let them go lie about us to the SPLC some more. No one cares. What I’m talking about is having a decent respect for the opinions of mankind, those pathetic crybabies notwithstanding.
It’s our job as the Libertarian Party to lead the way and show people that their misconceptions about us are wrong, whether based on smears they’ve read about us or their own bad assumptions.
Please allow me to dwell on this last point for a minute. Of course every libertarian understands the principles of private property ownership and the right to exclude others and so forth. But as a movement and as a party, I urge libertarians to adopt a position of “Repeal this last.”
Some libertarians have in the past made it sound like getting rid of anti-discrimination laws and excluding others is our main point and priority. God help us.
Remember how Rachel Maddow sandbagged Rand Paul on this issue. The one time he was trying to be hardcore, right? He should have argued that yes, ultimately, the states do not, but individual people do have the right to exclude, however this is not even on our list of priorities, much less the top of it. We still want out of Iraq!
There’s little question in my mind or that of the majority of Americans that the Civil Rights Act and incorporation of the national Bill of Rights against the state governments, while contrary to the delineated powers of the national government, were, at the time, in the 1950s and 60s, preventing much greater harm to liberty which was being inflicted on black people by the states. They likely still are today.
Many libertarians, including our own Dave Smith, supported the Florida law that banned private businesses from requiring COVID vaccines. It’s a bit of a grey area isn’t it? The government was intervening in a purely voluntary contract-type situation between private parties. Some of us argued that the private parties in question were essentially insisting on a rights violation that made the government’s intervention the lesser harm. If that’s arguable in the case of vaccines, then it must be in the case of people refusing to serve or allow access to people to businesses that are otherwise open to the public, just for someone’s being part of a racial minority.
Here’s another similar example: The Supreme Court just again incorporated the Second Amendment, in this case against the state of New York, a few weeks ago. Whether they even have the authority to do so under the 14th Amendment is arguable, but many libertarians celebrated this decision. Perhaps it’s centralized power, but it’s siding with us!
So you can see why people of principle could be torn or have nuanced views on these sorts of issues. It’s not so black and white. And if we make rolling back these sorts of protections our priority, we look like jerks and lose anyway. So let’s focus on decentralizing the greatest abused powers away from Washington, D.C. as we carefully address how to protect the individual rights it has been better on without them.
Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying sell out or moderate. I just mean let’s not be or act ignorant of real trade-offs at stake as we push to decentralize power and the most important objections people will make to it. Then we will have our priorities straight and all our best answers ready when needed.
Police and Crime
There’s a big difference between Libertarians and progressives on crime. We have a unified field theory of rights and violations. Violent crimes or white-collar crimes, like organized swindles of the elderly and things like that, are in fact crimes, while everything from drug use to code violation “offenses” simply are not. In a minarchist state we can expect for actual criminals to be held responsible by actual fair trials and for everyone else to be left the hell alone. Why should regular people have to hate and fear their security forces? Let them focus on solving and prosecuting real crime, subject to full accountability of course, and nothing more. Leave it to the liberal so-called “progressive prosecutors” to get the chance to implement real reforms and then blow it. We can do better than them.
This is consistent with the principles of a minarchist party. At the same time, it would also be great for us to promote and support private, alternative security forces, private arbitration and problem solving, drug rehabilitation programs and the rest. If we want to roll back the state, finding ways to reduce demand for the coercion it supplies is always right.
Free Speech On the Internet
Free speech is not just the First Amendment. It’s a vital principle of our entire society. The LP does and must continue to stand against censorship of virtually all kinds. Yes there are some legitimate exceptions on private property of course, but the way that the government has taken control of social media in the wake of the Russiagate hoax is just intolerable.
It looked like perhaps Elon Musk buying Twitter would provide some relief, but now of course, he’s backed out. Hope he made some money off of the pump and dump at least.
We should launch major campaigns for Julian Assange, the publisher whose pending prosecution is a blatant violation of the First Amendment, and against large-scale deplatforming and censorship of dissenters from social media
We should also promote and use as many other alternative social media platforms are available to us to help in our own way to make those centralized, censoring sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube obsolete.
The guys have emphasized to me the importance of the Mises Caucus’s three-pronged strategy: Obviously, winning and influencing local elections is high on our list of priorities.
While we can use the national party and membership to insert our principles and narratives into the conversation as much as possible, our aims should be to most efficiently minimize the influence of the state in the lives and affairs of as many Americans as possible, especially given our scarce resources. Where that can be most easily achieved is at the local level. Localities, through the power of nullification, can become liberty enclaves from which we can build trust in our party and in liberty. The COVID regime showed us that even mayors and city councils can and will seize liberties on a whim. Imagine if we had a strong patchwork of libertarians elected to these seats during the lockdowns and the passports and how disruptive that would have been to the entire COVID regime and the narrative at that time.
I can tell you that I have recently been made aware of a major project along these lines in the works right now. Stay tuned to this channel.
In conjunction with groups like Spike Cohen’s You Are the Power, we can focus on single-issue coalitions with other political groups to help roll back the state.
As yall know, getting internet libertarians to join the party and get to work can be very difficult. But as an old friend instructed me: it can be easier to turn an activist into a libertarian than a libertarian into an activist. So as long as we’re doing the work, we will find new allies in places we may not have even expected.
And as far as the third part of the Mises Caucus strategy: I’m looking forward to the next presidential election cycle. I think we’ll have a really strong candidate that this party can help to build a Ron Paul rEVOLution-type phenomenon around and move the margin as hard as we can toward liberty.
Imagine the damage we could do up against Donald Trump and whoever the Democrats try to run next time, with a DIY, grass-roots, Ron Paul rEVOLution type movement supporting him.
We can top Harry Browne’s heroic runs in 1996 and 2000, and even rival the excitement behind the Ron Paul rEVOLution of 2008 if we’re willing to work together.
The Never Trumpers
Speaking of which, we sure as hell are not Trump supporters, but that means something specific. Never Trumpers are essentially center-left neoconservatives and liberal Republicans, with some country club-type conservatives thrown in there, as opposed to the more populist right working class boomercons and populists who support him.
Well, some of the last leaders of the LP thought these RINOs would make great Libertarians and that we would benefit from their presence in our party. One of their last major failures was an attempt to recruit Joe Walsh, not the great musician, but the John McCain, center-right hawk and establishmentarian radio host. Thank goodness he declined their overtures. Can you imagine, someone whose principle extends as far as “Trump is uncouth,” being made the most famous capital-L Libertarian in the country? You can expect that if Trump is the GOP nominee in 2024, that the likes of Jeb Bush, Liz Cheney, Bill Kristol and Joe Walsh and their ilk may attempt to make some inroads into our thing. The last leaders may well have welcomed them.
But not us. We won’t welcome Jeb Bush and Liz Cheney into our party until they have already begun to make war crimes trials for W. Bush and Dick Cheney the top priority of their campaigns. They are guilty of the war crimes of launching an aggressive war and torturing at least 113 people to death. They are guilty as well of millions and millions of violations of the felony Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, among many others. They belong in prison. That’s the law. And it’s our official position.
For that matter, yall may have seen a recent article about the opportunity the Libertarian Party now has since so many disaffected Republican voters are leaving the party that has moved further to the right on social issues since the advent of Trumpism. Some predict that many of these people who are more center-right on cultural matters may be attracted to what we have to offer instead. That’s true, but we should never be desperate for their attention. We do want them. We want everybody. But on our terms. We are against central banking and war and the police state and the centralization of everything. If anything we are more populist than Trump, though that’s because we understand liberty and economics, not because we want to bend everyone to our mores. Americans unite. Around that.
Like I say about Ron and Rand. We don’t not need to and should not pander to anyone. But the simple truth is that we got the solution for what ails ya, rich and poor, town and country, black, white, Hispanics, coasts and flyover country, all.
If you’ve got public policy problems: we’ve got your solution: decentralize and repeal.
Let us lead the call for a truce in the culture wars, with an emphasis on 10th Amendment-style rollback of powers to the states as our main and most obvious answer.
There are big changes coming to America and the rest of the West and the world as the empire falls apart.
Some people are predicting civil war and who-knows-what consequences of our economic and political collapse.
It doesn’t have to be this way. It isn’t the American way that’s led to this crisis. It’s that we abandoned liberty as our highest political principle and abandoned the old republic as the mechanism to secure that liberty, instead embracing the post-New Deal and post-WWII consensus of centralized planning and decision-making, including our overseas empire, which has bankrupted the nation economically and morally, and brought us to this point.
As Dave Smith told Joe Rogan a year or so ago, if the U.S. is going to survive, it needs to adopt some form of libertarianism, before the government destroys the whole country.
I went to a nice little event for lifetime donors to the party at Freedom Fest a couple weeks ago in Las Vegas, an event which included much of the old guard leaders. They kept saying in their speeches, that, “hey, let’s not fight anymore everybody,” from their position of weakness after losing control of the party. But what I’m saying is that that’s right. We should not fight with them from our position of dominance in the party either. They can unite around what we’re doing or simply get left behind.
But that means that we have to accomplish no question everything we set out to achieve here and more in terms of recruitment, attention and energy in the party. Again, time wins more arguments than reason. So if in another half a year and another a year from now, people are impressed with all that we’ve done and are doing, it will be undeniable that ours was the way to go.
I know it’s a lot. But this is what you wanted.
Again, let it sink in, the potential now in our hands. We can do so much good and obstruct so much bad. The Libertarian Party belongs to us now. We can, we must, dominate the political conversation in America in 2023, 2024 and beyond. So that we can make the U.S.A. a less-worse place to live in so we can live in it.