Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, June 03, 2004

Those wacky Libertarians
Written by: Beck

Brian Doherty, covering the Libertarian Party presidential convention for Reason Online, answers the age old (well, 30 year old) question, "Why doesn't anyone take the Libertarian Party seriously?" The answer most certainly isn't because people have specific disagreements with the various policies in the LP platform. Most Americans probably couldn't honestly say what the Libertarian Party even stands for, except perhaps legalization of pot (largely incorrect--the LP is pro-legalization of ALL drugs). Further, the reasons people don't take them seriously are not the reasons politically well informed people like myself dismiss them--namely a problem with the philosophical underpinnings of the movement from which their policies are derived. No, the reason the mainstream can't take the Libertarian Party seriously is because their ranks are heavily salted with people like this:
Then there was indefatigable San Francisco libertarian activist Starchild visually letting his freak flag fly, alternately appearing in druid's robes with staff, a tight silver half-vest and short shorts with pink platform boots and fairy wings, and some straightforward leopard-skin drag. This sort of acting out doesn't win the hearts of many libertarians fearful about what the folks back home will think--having not yet concluded that their political ideas are usually quite enough to turn off most voters, San Francisco outrageousness notwithstanding.
Intelligent and informed libertarians, like the folks at Reason, make an error in recognizing this flaw within their party, yet embracing it rather than condemning it, out of a misguided notion that the cause of liberty necessarily must embrace jackassery so long as the jackass in question doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights.

From a more serious political standpoint, the LP has shot themselves in the foot with their nominee, Michael Badnarik. He only won in the third round of balloting, and by Doherty's account of events, he was the least impressive of the three serious contenders for the presidential nomination. The second most popular candidate, Gary Nolan, a radio personality with something of a following--was defeated early. The more brash candidate, a New Yorker named Aaron Russo, with a penchant for heated rhetoric and likely to actually bring some positive change to the party (and also a former Nevada gubernatorial candidate who had made a surprisingly strong showing) which could make it more acceptable to mainstream Americans, was eliminated after the third round of balloting. I can't resist excerpting a descriptive passage about Russo.
Russo was winning, but he was not to win. He had a style that some delegates from the South and Midwest fretted would not sell back home—brash New York ethnic, throwing around the word "baby," cracking jokes, grabbing floating balloons and nuzzling them, then mock-complaining that one of his vocal opponents would probably call that sexual harassment, openly announcing he had no intention of being polite in what he called our war against our own government, segueing from a mention of orgasms to introducing his wife. He swore he'd disrupt any presidential debate he wasn't invited to with civil disobedience; he called the U.S. "imperialistic" freely; he was very concerned with eliminating the Federal Reserve and talked about it anytime he had an opportunity; and he proudly and loudly admitted to having smoked pot.

Russo was abrasive and occasionally outrageous, but to me, charming. At least he exhibited a style no previous LP candidate had really tried. And if there's one thing the LP seems to need after 30 years of failures and on a downhill trajectory, it's something it hasn't tried. Russo already had TV ads running on big networks in the Atlanta area—he was the first LP candidate ever to get a TV campaign rolling pre-nomination.
...and the ants go marching down.

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