Saturday, June 4, 2016

In The End, Our Stupidity Will Save Us

At some point, we got really stupid.  We stopped remembering what jerks we can be to each other, and started trusting one another.  That's when we were saved.

Stupid is not good. Stupid is as Stupid does.  We only had to be stupid in one particular way.  We could be geniuses in other ways.  In that funny sense, our stupidity saved us.

"Actually, it was your mutual trust that saved you," you say.  That is true, too.  Mutual trust turned out not to be so stupid, after all.  Once people started trusting one another deeply, they started developing incredibly creative ideas together.  Those ideas solved all sorts of social problems, and made peace where before there had been war.

All that sounds idealistic.  That's how it is intended to sound.  We can also be practical.  When we get practical, we do politics.  And when we do politics, we compromise.

Even when we compromise, we can still vote our consciences.  How is this possible?  By a system of voting that does not deprive us of our voices when we choose the candidate that most closely represents our views, and allows us to switch our vote between rounds.  We are always telling other people to vote their conscience.  We should do what we say.

I am an extreme left libertarian, so I voted for Vermin Supreme on the first ballot, because he was obviously the most extreme left libertarian in the bunch who were running.  It is amazing that there were not more left libertarians among the delegates who saw it that way.  Vestigial fear must have been at work.  It's OK, you can vote the way you want, without being penalized (he says reassuringly).  This is the Libertarian Party!

I might have held to my first ballot, but with only one vote, it didn't really look like Vermin had the momentum to win.  With 49%, Johnson was looking pretty unstoppable already.  So I considered switching.  Not to Johnson, because he seemed too conventional.  Petersen is too right wing for my taste, although I am overjoyed at all the young Ron Paul types he brought in.  Austin and his followers will be a pillar of our Party for many years to come; maybe already are.  Feldman didn't have enough momentum, even though he did have the best rap.  That left Perry and McAfee.  I seem to have a preference for scary (as my sole vote for Vermin attests), so I voted for McAfee.  Although I admit it was a close call.

Johnson got 55% on the next round, and voting ended more suddenly than many would have liked.  Having voted my conscience twice, I compromised.  I accepted the majority selection as the Party's nominee, even though I hadn't voted for it.  So did everyone else, while reserving their rights to protest about the selection, at least until all the complaining becomes too wearisome to bear.

Johnson and Weld have since been given substantial interviews on MSNBC, CBS, and elsewhere.  Gary has never sounded more articulate.  Even while speaking next to the highly articulate, intellectual Bill Weld.  Gary's courage in selecting so presidential-sounding of a running mate speaks volumes about his humility.  If somebody has to sit in the White House, let it be a humble person.  Listening to the two of them go on, interviewed on those liberal channels, the fog cleared to reveal the political landscape.  In retrospect, the Johnson-Weld ticket was the second most left-libertarian proposition that hit the ballots at Convention. So maybe I should have voted for those guys instead, after I deserted Vermin.

Lefties are always getting into trouble for being willing to tax and spend for social issues, and that pretty much describes those two.  To explain a prevalent left viewpoint: the aggression of an imposed monopoly centrally-controlled economic system that enriches a privileged economic class justifies the reciprocal aggression of redistribution by taxation.  We all know it doesn't always work that way in practice; it's just theory.  We would like very much to get rid of the aggressions on both sides, without abandoning the needy.  In two words: we care.

I owe Tobias Knight gratitude for uttering those two words, "we care," when asked the question, "what should the unifying statement of the left-libertarian caucus be?"  I had been thinking we should try to explain something about those darned property rights that people are always divided over.  What a fool I was.  Property rights are important, even though we lefties are always trying to find ways to make them less important, while making a good reputation more important, in terms of social status.  Property helps us discover what is valued and in demand - the scarce resource - and allocate that resource to those who can do the most good with it.  That's the theory, anyway.  We all know it doesn't always work that way in practice.  So why pick a divisive subject for an unifying statement?  "We care" pretty much says it all.

We care when students take on lifelong unforgivable debt, to obtain an education that does not give them the means to pay back the debt comfortably.  We care when health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies get richer and more powerful, as the quality of our health care declines, and its costs go up.   We care when government policies leave people helpless and dependent, unable to take care of themselves or their families.  We care when the least fortunate among us go hungry, without shelter, without supportive society.  We care when isolated teens kill themselves, and when war-traumatized veterans do, too.  We care when the differently-gendered are not permitted to be themselves with dignity and acceptance by others.  We care when ex-convicts of victimless crimes struggle to rebuild their lives after serving time for nothing.  We care when our nation's alliances and commitments abroad cause bombs and bullets to burn civilians, to pierce soldiers, and starve children.  We care when the environment, the gene pool of life, human freedom, and all other good we have been given, are not preserved for future generations. We care enough to make sure that the things we care about get taken care of effectively, and with the least possible amount of prior aggression.  Eventually, with none at all.

We won't let our caring cause us to impose our will on others who choose to live in peace while pursuing a different kind of happiness.  Justice matters, and cannot be done when we place those who we care for in chains.  The law must allow all people to be truly equal before it regardless of the quality of the lawyer they can afford, and to preserve life before property.  Might does not make right, and the ends do not justify the means.  

2016 will be a good year for the left-libertarian caucus of the Libertarian Party.  We are left libertarians, and We Care.