Well, tonight President Obama gave his “farewell address” and I could not be more pleased to say farewell. Sadly, in just over a week, we will have to endure an “inaugural address” from President Trump and I could not be less pleased to welcome his administration. It is not easy to be a libertarian. I find it awfully amusing when people on the so-called left or right complain about how unfair this or that news outlet might be or how ridiculous it is that this or that celebrity shares their political views. Hey! At least you have a few thousand people appearing regularly in the media who share your views. Enjoy that as not everyone does.
Politics in America is a lot like the Super Bowl. There are crazed fans on either side who have spent a ridiculous amount of time, energy and money to support their “team” and a barrage of media attention that goes beyond excessive to absurd. And, of course, the only people who actually get anything out of it are the large corporate interests who watch the game from their private boxes while counting their money. Curiously enough, even people who support neither team still end up contributing to the madness and are expected to pretend that they care.
A lot of people have some vague notion of what it is to be a libertarian. For a while, it was one of those taglines people liked to throw out because it made them sound cool. Many of those people were just poseurs. For my money, there are a few simple principles that make one a libertarian and I thought I would share them tonight.
First and foremost is a belief, shared by most people, that aggression against others is wrong. It is wrong to try to harm anyone who is not threatening your life or property. It is also wrong to try and interfere with how a person chooses to live their life. You may not agree with those choices but, unless they somehow interfere with your life, you should respect the person enough not to use force to try and stop them. I would argue that most every advance in civilization is a result of more and more people accepting those principles.
The second and more controversial belief of a libertarian is that no individual or group of individuals has a right to violate that principal of non-aggression we discussed in the last paragraph. No one. No group. No government. No group of individuals possesses, collectively, any rights or powers that any individual member of that group does not possess apart from the group. You should have no special privileges because you are a man, a woman, white, black, brown, gay, straight, Jew or gentile. You are a person and that is the only source of your rights. Oh, and being a President, a Governor, a judge, a police officer or a member of the military also gives you no rights you did not already possess.
We are often told our government rests upon the “consent of the governed” and that sounds pretty good to me. So I would just like to say that I never once “consented” to Obama as my President and I do not now “consent” to Trump as my President. I do not consent to having any taxes removed from my paycheck nor do I consent to being called for jury duty. Sadly, it appears that all those things are continuing to happen, despite my lack of “consent.” You can contort the meaning of consent as much as you will and convince yourself that, by choosing to live in this country and being part of our democratic republic, I have consented. Up is down. Black is white. Left is right. And two and two are five.
The story of the Emperor who has no clothes is an old “fairy tale” from Hans Christian Anderson. For those unfamiliar, it tells of a king convinced by two rather clever and devious tailors that they will fashion a suit for him which only the wisest people will be able to see. Of course they “dress” him in nothing at all. The people, whether they be the nobles or the common folk, all claim to see his fabulous clothes and marvel at how beautiful they are. No one, after all, wants to be thought of as a rube. Until one day a simple child exclaims what everyone already knew: “the Emperor has no clothes!”
That, to me, is the heart of libertarianism. It is the one with the heart and soul of the child who sees through the nonsense of the world around him or her and gazes upon the established and the powerful and simply utters what most everyone should already be able to see: “You have no clothes!”
It is one of my New Year’s resolutions to try and be sure to offend someone with every single posting this year. I’ve got quite a collection of such postings ready to go so expect to be irritated at some point. Until then, thanks for reading and have a great week!