I Endured Repeated Insults This Morning

I was repeatedly called a “conservative”.

Granted, the speaker was speaking not just to me, but the entire Tidewater Libertarian Party.  And, he was not of the opinion that “conservative” is an  insult.  You see, a gentleman named Mike Prunty dropped by to invite us all to be part of an organization he is forming as a coalition of conservative organizations.

I hope Mr. Prunty has occasion to read this.  Furthermore, I hope he comments.

Every time we libertarians try to form a coalition with conservatives on some set of issues where we nominally agree, we hear the unmistakable sound of crickets chirping.  But when the conservatives have some initiative and ask us for our help, we’re expected to leap to attention and help, but stay away from the adults’ table where decisions are made.

Please tell me, Mr. Prunty, what obligation do we have to people who called us Paultards for supporting the only candidate for President who accurately predicted this current economic meltdown and correctly identified the causes of it?  Straw polls and caucuses at various places around the country were cancelled in violation of the respective Republican Party branches’ own by-laws when Paul supporters arrived in large enough numbers to place highly.

Please explain, Mr. Prunty, what obligation we have to the same conservatives who have berated us at many of the Tea Parties around the country?  After years of being conspicuously absent from tax freedom marches and End the Fed rallies initiated by libertarian organizations during the Bush administration, conservatives walked around the Tea Parties with blue arrows that said “Tea Party Crasher”, pointing them at libertarians.  And they did so with no sense of irony whatsoever.

The history of conservatives treating us like long lost red-headed stepbastards aside, there’s another one more reason I take your invitation as an insult.  You and all other conservatives need to know this.  If you take nothing else away from this post, please learn this, and never forget it.  If you need to take a restroom break or top off your coffee, I’ll wait.  Ready?  Ok, here goes.  In spite of what you may have heard elsewhere…

LIBERTARIANS ARE NOT CONSERVATIVES.

Have I made that point sufficiently?  We are not disaffected conservatives.  Nor do we fit this simplistic description of fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

Fiscal conservatives don’t seem to have much of a problem with the exorbitant amount of money that is spent on maintaining 700 plus military activities in 130 plus foreign nations.  Fiscal conservatives are often fond of indignantly denying that military spending represents more than half the federal government budget, citing spending on the Department of Defense as the only money spent on the military, while carefully ignoring spending on the VA, foreign intelligence, and defense spending on other departments.

Fiscal conservatives don’t have a problem with spending money on enforcing prohibition.  The obscene pursuit of using violence to prevent a person from putting what they want into their own body, selling their own body in any way they want, or risking their own money in any way they wish,  is made exponentially more obscene by the amount of my money that is spent doing it.  The vast majority of fiscal conservatives would adamantly refuse to cut one penny of that spending, and would in fact like to increase it.

I could go on and on and on about the things fiscal conservatives like spending money on that I disapprove of, but this post is mighty long already.  You see, if I were to withhold my money from the federal mafia, out of principled opposition to any of these programs I find objectionable and immoral, said mafia would not hesitate to send me threats.  Then, if I were to ignore their threats and continue to keep my money, they would send men with guns to kidnap me.  If I did not want to go with the men with guns they would kill me.  Nearly all of the people you want me to consort with in your new organization would fully support the federal mafia kidnapping or killing me for this.  Please explain to me why I should support an organization that would largely rather see me dead or on the inside of a cage than acting on my principles with my own money.

Mr. Prunty, thank you for your time, and for the invitation.  But for the reasons outlined above, I must respectfully decline.  Good day.

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9 Responses to I Endured Repeated Insults This Morning

  1. Don Tabor says:

    Wow, Rick, not out to attract guest speakers, are we?

    While I agree that ‘conservatism’ has become authoritarian in too many areas, I still hold out hope that many of them can be persuaded to become Libertarian. I hold out similar hopes for sincere liberals.

    But if we are to persuade them, we must engage them in cordial debate, explaining to the social conservatives that the powers they give government to enforce their preferences on others can later be used to force the values they disdain on them and their children.

    Liberals must be educated in economic reality, so they understand that only a strong, capitalist economy can generate the wealth required to help people through voluntary charity.

    Those who lust for power for its own sake, or seek to plunder the pockets of others, cannot be redeemed, but misguided idealists of other parties and schools of political thought can be won over, simply because our way, that of personal Liberty and responsibility, is the only one that can be rationally defended and proven by experience.

    But we cannot enlighten them if we won’t talk to them, or so offend them that they will not listen to us. Mr. Prunty’s organization is a vehicle for that engagement and I intend to make use of it.

  2. Rich Roberts says:

    I also do not like to be refered to as a “conservative”. The label does not coincide with my beliefs. But I also believe that many people who lie in that “conservative” camp are in reality “libertarians”, they just don’t know it.
    “Conservativism” has lots of publicity in the media and talk radio, “libertarianism” does not.
    I think reaching out to these various organizations and people would be a productive endevour. There is the potiential to gain and nothing really to lose. If the other people at these meeting don’t see things our way, well that is that and nothing is lost.

    I remain optimistic that we will find individuals who place personal liberty and individual freedom above government control and restriction of choice in all matters. Even religious ones.

  3. I share many libertarian views and I worked very hard to help Ron Paul get on the Virginia ballot. I also worked very hard to help Mitt Romney get on the ballot for the Republican primary.

    I wanted both of these contrasting voices on the Virginia ballot so that Virginians could hear constructive ideas that both of these gentlemen were offering. In spite of my volunteer work for both of these Republicans, I did not support the Republican ticket in the general election.

    It was wrong for the Republican leadership to shun the Ron Paul supporters.

    It is just as wrong for Libertarian Party members to shun someone like Mitt Romney or this fellow, Prunty, based on their failure to meet your test of ideological purity.

    Good and constructive solutions have come from all parts of the political spectrum. You had the opportunity to discuss your ideas directly with Mr. Prunty, yet you instead have elected to rant via this back-door method on a blog that few folks will even see.

    Successful politics is about building effective coalitions, not ideological purity.

    Given that the Libertarian Party can’t even get on the ballot anymore and has lost its position as a recognized party in many locales, it should be a compliment to have someone still bother to take the time to address your vanishing Party.

    Our country desperately needs to find a replacement for the Republican Party. The GOP is going the way of the Whigs. What will emerge from the ruins of the failed Republican Party could be a more libertarian leaning party; an organization that truly represents the working class and traditional values voters.

    However, without building upon common ground issues, an effective coalition will never be built and freedom loving citizens will be faced with ever growing government power for the foreseeable future.

  4. John Wilburn says:

    Mr. Ballance said “The GOP is going the way of the Whigs.”

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious – the Whigs BECAME the GOP…

    Perhaps you need a better comparison…

  5. Britt Howard says:

    To be clear, I didn’t attend the Tidewater Libertarian Party meeting that Saturday. Wish I had.

    I am a former TLP officer, still a proud Libertarian, but I do describe myself as a fiscal conservative. Even though I am a fiscal conservative,Rick, I don’t support wasting our tax money on pursuing victimless crimes, which are not really crimes at all. While I am a bit more willing to be pre-emptive than Ron Paul, I agree that the war in Iraq was ineptly handled and a lot of American assets and lives were pretty much wasted. Though, I share your disgust there, don’t mistake me for not favoring the initial invasion. It was the nation building that was caused all the waste and led to the deaths of American soldiers that suddenly became an occupation force. We went from greatly feared military force to an inept occupation force vulnerable to asymetrical warfare.

    I am not at all insulted when called a fiscal conservative or just conservative. I do believe in networking and coalition building. Opposing views presented at meetings often serve to educate. I don’t agree with every Libertarian on everything. I don’t insist on unilateral agreement from fiscal conservatives or social libertarians.

    I couldn’t rejoin the GOP at this point. I don’t want to take that “oath” and become an oath breaker when I decide not to back a RINO. Since, I value networking and opportunities to politcally educate libertarians, I am not at all upset with some libertarians going to the GOP strictly to push forward the Ron Paul movement. I hear all the abuse you GOP Ron Paulers have to endure. I’m glad not to have to deal with that frustration.

    I do share the insult that you feel, however at being asked for assistance, but rudely ignored after our usefulness was taken. We had a solicitation from Rubin Communications and possibly indirectly from the local Chambers of Commerce in regard to the “Card Check” legislation. Most in our party would agree with their stance on Card Check, but I was one of several that were likewise insulted. I knew that otherwise we would never be given the time of day. As much as I agreed, I couldn’t put my heart into being an activist for that issue. If I thought there would be ANY AT ALL reciprocation on another issue, even if unfairly small in comparison, I would have been all over Card Check. It is just easier to form coalitions when there is at least some amount of mutual respect.

    As Libertarians, we need to do more networking even among those that closely mirror our views. Libertarians should be joining in many activities with the Republican Ron Paul movements, Campaign for Liberty etc. Those of us that agree SHOULD be forming alliances with the FAIR TAX organizations and 2nd Amendment groups. We should be holding out a friendly hand of mutual respect and interest to fiscal conservative taxpayer advocacy groups.

    Not all Ron Paulers came originally from outside the GOP. Ron Paul gave a home to some already INSIDE the GOP. That networking gives us an opportunity to communicate and form coalitions with those people that would otherwise be lost to us. The same will be true for some of those that are proud to be called fiscal conservatives.

  6. Mr. Ballance, I’m not seeking to align myself only with people who meet a test of ideological purity. I’m asking for reciprocation. We’ve been hitching our wagon to republican and conservative initiated organizations for a long, long time, only to be repeatedly ignored when we start initiatives on issues where those same folks ideologically agree with us. Before I put my stamp of approval on another one, I want them to help us for once. And, when we do show up to help them out, is it too much to ask that they not then call us crashers?

  7. Don, I appreciate your point about turning away guest speakers. I grappled with this factor myself before I posted. But this tendency to consider the libertarian movement nothing but some disgruntled subset of conservatism is demeaning and insulting. I’ve been at this libertarian activism for fifteen years, and that’s long enough for me to put up with being treated like Rush Limbaugh’s rebellious child.

    I know I do not speak for the rest of the TLP membership when I say this, and I certainly do not speak for the leadership. But if by posting this here I deter some future guest from minimizing my point of view by calling us something we are not, then I’m happy with that. If I deter a potential guest speaker who honestly views us as nothing more than that from actually coming to speak to us, I’m okay with that too.

  8. One more thing, Mr. Ballance.

    I chose my audience carefully, and carefully selected platform where that audience would be most likely to read it.

    The audience I had in mind was the TLP membership. They do visit this website with regularity. It was never my intent for this message to reach a broader audience who was neither at the meeting, nor will be part of future meetings where this organization will be discussed. I have access to some of those platforms, and I deliberately did not choose them. I hope Mr. Prunty does catch wind of this post, and responds.

    Furthermore, the reason I chose not to confront Mr. Prunty with these ideas at the meeting is because we only had him with us for one hour, and others at the meeting had questions. My concerns were too numerous to condense into a brief question. Out of consideration for my friends, I chose not to filibuster.

    So you see, it was not some poorly thought out rant, placed here to avoid a face to face confrontation. I chose my words carefully, and meant every one of them. I deliberated for almost four hours over whether I wanted to post it, out of the same concern Don expressed about offending potential future guests.

  9. Robert Lawson says:

    The trend to classify libertarianism as merely a subset of conservatism is a crime that even many libertarians are all too willing to commit. I have heard the phrase “libertarians are the REAL conservatives” or “if you want a conservative then vote libertarian” numerous times at Tidewater Libertarian Party meetings.

    What strikes me as rather odd is the emphasis within the TLP on “conservative” topics such as property rights, taxes, spending, etc… whilest “liberal” topics like gay rights, victimless ‘crimes,’ and the seperation of church and state are under an all-out attack by the McBollinelli administration.
    Instead of pandering to conservatives all the time, perhaps libertarians should start emphasizing the MANY things we have in common with liberals and start working with them more actively on accomplishing liberty in the social sphere. If we are to make alliances with any party at all, it should be with both parties on the respective issues we agree with each of them on and not just with the Republicans.

    Anything less and we’d merely be acquiescing to being a branch of conservatism.

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