Monday, October 2, 2017

Neither Populism Nor Elitism

The people who disagree with my proposal to change the Libertarian Party Bylaws have trouble classifying me and my motives. Half the time they accuse me of being a populist. The other half of the time, the accusation is that I am an elitist. I am neither. I wish everybody could have a veto on everything that affects himself and no say at all on anything that affects only others. In the free market, each person does get a vote on precisely those things that pertain to himself. I wish we had a free market for government, too. But barring that, I want to make sure that representation, when representation is meted out, does not all go to the majority. Why? Because the closest thing to freedom, under any form of government, is checks and balances to make sure that one group of people cannot victimize another group of people just because they outnumber them. Which is why I keep bringing up the Constitution of the United States as an example of limited government. I don't do this because I think the constitution is divinely inspired or the most perfect document imaginable. I do it because it is an example we all know about, and it seemed to work for a short while, before it was so altered that it stopped working.

Populism is letting everyone vote on everything, and allowing the majority to decide all things for everybody else. Elitism would be allowing a small number of select people to have the only votes and to decide everything for everybody else. What I want to do with my proposal is to allow the majority to elect the presidential nominee, but then let the next highest minority choose the vice presidential nominee.

My proposal is not more populist than the current provisions in the Bylaws, because it takes power away from the majority to decide everything. But it is also not more elitist than the current provision in the Bylaws, because the minority who gets to elect the vice presidential nominee is not defined in advance. It is not an elite group of people who know they are the elite. It is not going to be the same group of people each time. It is not based on financial status or skin color or gender or even belonging to a particular faction of the party. It is just the next most numerous group who happen to agree on their choice of a presidential nominee after the winning group. In all likelihood, just like the winning group, the second group will consist of a diverse part of the Libertarian Party membership who just happened to support the VP nominee as a better presidential nominee than the one chosen by the majority. Every time we go in to vote as delegates, we will not even know in advance which group we belong in: majority or minority.And that is the beauty of the proposition. The Silver Rule we all should follow is: When you are in the majority, treat the minority the way you would have them treat you if you were in the minority and they were in the majority. Isn't that a great rule? Wouldn't you like to see it implemented in our party's bylaws?

People have asked me: Why can't we just have a second election where the vice presidential nominee is chosen? Because the same majority that chose the presidential nominee will be able to choose the vice presidential nominee, if majority rule is what we are going by. So it really does not matter if they run as a ticket or are chosen separately: if the same people are choosing them, the same choice will be made as if they had been running as a ticket, so long as this is what that faction wants to do. Only if a Presidential nominee supported by the majority does not choose a running mate will the practice of having two separate votes for POTUS and VP nominee make any difference at all.

When I patiently explain this to opponents of my proposition, some retort that it would be like handing out trophies to losing contestants out of a desire to spare their hurt feelings. They speak about it as if a political race were like a physical race to determine who can run the fastest, or a beauty contest to see who is the fairest of them all. And by fairest, I don't mean who has lily white skin like snow white. What then is "fair"?

People argue that fairness in such a competition is to award the prize to the fastest runner or the most beautiful contestant. Handing out a trophy to a loser would be unfair and smacks of political correctness or worse, SJW shenanigans. Letting the VP be a person not supported by the majority would be like handing out prizes for participation, they say. But in an actual race to see who can run the fastest, the second and third best do get trophies routinely, and even Miss Universe has a first runner up who will replace her in the unlikely event that she is disqualified or otherwise unable to serve. Even when casting parts in a play,  a producer will select an  understudy, who is usually someone deemed less desirable than the person cast, but still good enough to step into the part in the case of an emergency. Choosing the second-best person as spare in the event of a disaster is actually a very normal practice in real world selection processes not involving politics. The Vice President of the United Stares was originally intended to be the second runner up or understudy to the President. It's only through a convoluted series of historical events that that was ever changed.

But besides all of that, there is this: Our choice of Libertarian Party nominees for President and Vice President is not a reward to the candidates for a job well done in running such a nice campaign prior to the national convention. Those people are chosen to represent us. And they will -- whoever they are -- in all likelihood represent precisely the interests, not of everybody, but of those delegates who selected them.

That's why voting for the "best man" is almost beside the point in politics. "Best" is only meaningful in relation to what it is you hope to achieve. As libertarians, what we should all hope to achieve is minimal involvement by government in our lives. But for some reason, individual libertarians tend to have pet areas of non-intervention by government, while looking the other way when it comes to other forms of intervention. If we want to have an honest libertarian campaign, we need people on the ticket who represent a wide spectrum of areas in which we do not want the government to intervene in people's lives, ranging from economic issues, to religion, to personal choices of lifestyle to freedom of speech and association. This is important to each of us, and it is important to the Libertarian Party as a whole.

I am not a "typical" libertarian, nor a typical "conservative" nor a typical "radical"
When I joined the LP and supported AP my biggest immediate concern was US Fish & Wildlife confiscating chimpanzees
I am a minority of one -- and so are you!
When the Founders decided that we should have checks and balances built in to the government they were organizing, they could have just divided the Federal government into three branches and then let all the people vote en masse for each office holder in each of the branches. But they understood that if the same majority got to elect all the office holders, then it would not matter that there were different individuals in each of those offices -- they would all still serve only those special interests who had been able to cobble together a majority, leaving the minority unrepresented.  That's why they chose for Congress to have two houses, the lower one to represent the people and the upper one to represent each State. That is also why there is an electoral college, and the people do not elect the President and Vice President directly. It is why Federal Judges are appointed and not elected at all. It is why the Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed for life. All of this is done in order to divide the power of those who rule over us, so that no one will be able to run roughshod over anyone else, just because they happen to command a majority at the moment. And this is why one man, one vote was never a slogan of the Founders. By the time we got to one man one vote as the ideal, our Republic was already well on its way to becoming a democracy. And a democracy is the least libertarian of all forms of government for one simple reason: in a democracy the "people" never vote not to hurt others and not to take their stuff. They vote to only hurt the minority and only take the stuff belonging to the minority. And even though it always turns out the people they voted for do hurt them and do take their stuff, the "people" always persist in trying to vote in new representatives who will only hurt others and only take away other people's stuff. To put an end to this cycle, we need to get away from the illusions and delusions of majority rule. We need to get to a point where everyone realizes that if they vote to take away stuff, it will be their own stuff that is taken. And if they vote to hurt people, they are the ones who will get hurt.

Yes, the Libertarian Party is a private club. Yes, we can make up whatever rules we damn well please. The rules do not have to be fair at all, and anyone who does not like the rules can leave. But if our aim is to take over the government so we can leave everyone alone, shouldn't we start by showing a little more wisdom in how we run our own house? Shouldn't we serve as a shining example to everyone else that our party is not like the others?



  1. Aya, I LOVE your proposed by-laws change! It would not only force the presidential candidate to consider the vice presidential candidate's point of view, but that of his follower's as well. I think this is a great idea and would also help unite the libertarians. Just think - this would have gone a long way in our last presidential campaign. What can we do to support this change?

    1. Thanks, Kathy, for your comment and your support. Since no one on the Bylaws Committee was willing to sponsor this proposal, the next opportunity to offer it up for consideration will be from the Convention floor at the National Convention in New Orleans in 2018. I am getting some coaching on how to do this. Would you like to be a delegate to the LP National Convention this time around? If so, please come to the State Convention in Jefferson City on Feb. 24, which will be held at the Doubletree.

  2. It sounds like you have some good ideas for the by-law changes. No two Liberatarians are alike, and I am tired of people having to fit in one group anyway. Right now one lady and a local politician have decided to raise the local community tax every year for repairing the roads, but my parents already pay a county tax. This tax is so odd, and they changed the voting three times to pass it. People who owned property could not even vote on this property tax unless they lived in the house in this community full time. This hurt a lot of property owners who rent houses but live away from the mountain. Also, the tax is paid per lot, and one man had six lots. I hope someone starts a Libertarian campaign to bring this to light, but my parents are just waiting for someone else to do it. I wonder why everyone else is okay with this superfluous tax who voted for it. A lot of people voted against it, but could not because of how they kept manipulating this local election.

    1. It sounds as if the county where your parents live could really use some libertarian activists. Maybe your parents could get in touch with the local branch of the Libertarian Party for help. Of course, manipulating who can and who cannot vote on something decides the outcome. It sounds as if too many people with nothing at stake are allowed to vote on taxes they will never pay, while those who do have something at stake are kept out.

    2. I am looking when this politician is up for re-election, and then perhaps encouraging them to vote for the more Libertarian friendly candidate.