What on Earth happened?

It’s clear that in the Libertarian senate primary, something went terribly, terribly wrong.

Robert Murphey and Dax Ewbank came to a sort of agreement: both would run for the Libertarian nomination to test the primary mechanism with Murphey making it quite clear (well, apparently not clear enough) that he did not want the nomination.  Murphey through this whole process has always declared support for Ewbank.

But Murphey won by an astounding 20%.

There are, as of this writing, exactly 807 registered libertarians in the state of Oklahoma.

As of this writing, 2,607 people voted in this election.

Assuming that every libertarian voted in this race (which is not likely) 1,800 independents voted in this election.

Murphey won with a lead of 448 votes (as of this writing.)  Normally this is not a large amount, but in a race like this we can consider it a landslide.

It is clear that the independent vote upset the race.  Of course, we must not assume that every libertarian is as plugged in as they should be.  It’s entirely possible that half of the libertarians had no idea that Murphey intended that libertarians support Ewbank and, recognizing the name of that long-time libertarian, simply voted for him.

It’s also clear that many independents, either not interested in joining the party or haven’t been able to yet, supported Ewbank.  If every libertarian supported Ewbank (which as previously mentioned, isn’t a given) he still had 200 independent votes.

But, again assuming that every libertarian voted for Dax, it means that somewhere in the neighborhood of 1500 independents voted for Murphey – a candidate entirely unknown with no publicity, website, or social media presence at all.  This is entirely unusual.

It is less unusual if it is certain that there was no ballot rotation.  This voter cannot remember if Dax was first or second listed; if Murphey was indeed the first name on all ballots it is less curious.  It is conceivable that 1500 naive independents waltzed into the precinct station, got a ballot, and voted for the first name they saw.  However, it is becoming increasingly clear that there was some form of ballot rotation, as some have reported that Dax was first on the ballot.

Entirely unusual.  Short of an outlandish conspiratorial explanation, there is no way to explain this mishap.  Ewbank has never hesitated to call James Lankford on his endless hypocrisy; at one time to his face.  It is also clear that Ewbank would be a stronger opposition candidate.  But to say that nearly 500 (or more) independent voters were mobilized to prevent a Ewbank win is a stretch I am not yet entirely willing to make.  This paragraph is included here after some hesitation as simple food for thought.  

Now I wish to make it perfectly clear: it is not a particularly melancholy thing that Murphey won this primary.  He too is a dedicated and well-respected libertarian who certainly deserves the nomination as much as his opponent did.  However, it is true that there was a massive miscommunication or lack of any communication, and that was all the more unfortunate considering that the Libertarian party is still, despite the dedication of it’s members, still a vulnerable thing.

All in all, it is my contention that while it felt good to be able to vote in a libertarian primary (and that was a victory in itself,  though more symbolic) it was an unnecessary, premature and naive attempt to test a mechanism that really didn’t need testing.

 

 

Was it the gun, or religion?

The bodies of the victims could not be removed before yesterday’s tragedy began to be politicized; that is the standard these days.  If one waits to comment until the proper time, his comments are doomed to irrelevancy.  I hesitate to write upon this so soon, and it is with my apologies that I do so.  However, I feel it is worth making these thoughts known.

Where does the blame fall?  The answer to that question, if it is anything other than, the man is to blame, largely depends upon one’s place upon the political spectrum.

It’s the assault weapon!  And thus is heard the same, tired cries for restricting automatic weapons.  It’s the religion!  And thus is heard the same, tired cries for restricting Islamic immigration to the United States.

Problem is, this man does not fit conveniently into any preconceived narrative.

It cannot be said that he was motivated by Trump’s “rhetoric of hate” because he was a registered democrat and, if I may conjecture, would not have supported Trump.  Nor was he any sort of nut motivated by the NRA or tea party conservatism, as the left is so quick to guess in the immediate aftermath.

It cannot be said that gun laws would have prevented this, as he had all the proper permits to possess weapons, being that he was a security guard for a private firm.

It cannot be said that this is the consequence of the flood of refugees, as this man was a citizen born in the United States.

So, barring the mental imbalance which is the key factor, but obviously much more difficult to talk about, we are left with the two minor factors: the gun and the religion.

People call the banning or restriction of one or the other according to their preconceived agenda.  But unlike past incidents, this tantalizingly serves as fodder for both arguments.

But really, guns and religion – are they not inanimate objects?  Automatic weapons are a creation of man, but as an object it is inanimate and capable of no harm, until acted upon by a human being.  This religion, too, is a creation of man but being nothing more than precepts written on paper, it too is an inanimate object.  Consequently, it is incapable of no harm unless acted upon, or more properly speaking, interpreted by a human being.

Gun control advocates have once again made known their opinions on what gun owners do and do not need, and have wasted no time in doing so.  It is not worth it to rehash the same defense of gun rights endlessly; what good would it do?

I end by noting that this is the beginning of a great battle of political correctness in the United States: when two ideologies contradict, who is to win out?

This is already seen in Europe, where women’s rights have been set back decades in order to ensure Islamic rights; it seems that in practice the two ideologies cannot coexist.

In the United States, we will find that Islamic ideology, in practice, is not compatible with Homosexual rights.  Which one is more important to accommodate?   But unlike the previous case, it does not depend on one’s place on the political spectrum.  It is the left that has been the strongest advocates for both Homosexual and Islamic rights.  Now they are contradicting – and the contradiction is bloody.

And how to deal with this?

You may do as you wish, whatever you wish, so long as it does not affect me. 

When an action has been taken that does negatively affect another person, a crime has been committed.   This is obvious.

Those of the Islamic faith should not have their right to practice religion interfered with so long as they do not interfere with anyone else while doing so.  And indeed, word of a vast Islamic conspiracy to take over the world notwithstanding, the majority of Muslims in the United States practice in this way.

However the ideology, when interpreted a certain way, leads to incidents like these.  How can we prevent these crimes!?

Unfortunately, we cannot know a crime has been committed, until a crime is committed.  

It would not be just to go around punishing perceived causes, as it may not lead to a certain effect.

It would be unjust to punish the owners of guns in the United States simply for possessing an inanimate object, as only a few of the millions of such weapons in existence have been used in such a way.  Why punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty?

It would be unjust to punish all believers of a certain ideology for believing in such a way, as only a few of the millions of believers have instigated such incidents.  Why punish the innocent for the crimes of the guilty?

The answer may simply be, to encourage law abiding citizens to conceal carry a firearm. But that is not a popular solution…

Principles or Party?

And how, with the sudden windfall of relevance now offered to the libertarians, should we conduct ourselves?

Faced with tangible political success, we must do a bit of soul-searching.  It is especially important that we have a good solid footing.  It seems that the anti-party party is adopting many practices of established political parties.  Where do our priorities stand, as a group?  In advancing the party, or retaining (and advancing) the principles which so attracted current libertarians in the first place?

In the discourse lately, it seems to be one or the other.  Should we put some unpopular stances on the backburner, to have appeal?  Or should we stubbornly stand by them?

From my perspective, any mainstream traction we are now experiencing is not due to the legitimacy of the party itself (admittedly, we still have a fair bit of growing up to do) but because of the illegitimacy of the other two parties.   That being said, I think we need not worry about changing our platform or stances to become more palatable.

Not that the libertarian stances are at all unreasonable, but they may appear so.  In this case it does not matter.

On the other hand, the conduct of some libertarians, especially regarding interactions with persons on other parts of the political spectrum, is reprehensible.

Calling names is not a sure way of growing an ideology.  Standing on a philosophical high ground with an air of arrogance is not a sure way of growing an ideology.  Giving off holier-than-thou vibes is not a sure way of growing an ideology.  Libertarians can, and very often are, quite guilty of this.

I don’t mean compromise our principles.  But what we should do, to ensure honest growth of the ideology, is become a bit more diplomatic. 

It goes without saying that one does not need to consider themselves libertarians to vote for libertarian candidates in general elections.  One does not need to adopt the ideology to vote for Gary Johnson in November.  But our goal, our work, should be for a larger purpose: growing the ideology.  

That will never happen if we repel people away with the aforementioned attitudes.   No, rather, we should be welcoming to our conservative and liberal brethren, and treat their opinions with respect.  But this does not require compromising our own.

Political Violence is only helping Trump…

Violence in the streets!  Anarchy reigns!  Such is the attitude of some right wing commentators; perhaps they are being a little over-dramatic.  Of course there is no denying that the violence in the streets is an improper way of voicing discontent, and indeed the anti-Trump protesters are being quite over-dramatic as well; they are acting as if a Trump election will bring about a holocaust to rid ourselves of foreigners.  Even if that is the case, throwing eggs and carrying on as the left does will not help their cause.  Violence like that only cements the support for Trump.  Maybe the left wing ought to try an intelligent argument?  Might be a bit much to ask.

It is difficult to take the chaos seriously when it is surrounded by such absurdity and hypocrisy.  On the left: so much for being the ‘tolerant’ ones.  On the right: I’m sure armed insurrection has been suggested by more than a few right wingers over the past eight years.

2016 looks very similar to 1968.  Political chaos rampant, the right wing candidate despised and the left wing in complete disarray – what will come of us!?  We remember the storms of 1968, but do we forget that the storm subsided after the politics was over?  One rather loud talk show host is convinced that society is on the verge of crumbling because some are throwing eggs and waving Mexican flags.

It is far too easy to be caught up in the emergency or now or never political rhetoric which dominates now, easy to be carried away in the great drama of American politics.  But after it is all over, I would be willing to bet that no matter what the result, society will not ‘crumble.’ Society was here long before politics and it would be unreasonable to say that politics will bring down a ‘society’ which will exist so long as people are associating and conducting commerce.

But it is politics that is dividing us, but not only is it dividing us, it is dividing us along false fault lines, over non-issues that would be nothing if it weren’t for the fear mongering and propagandizing by the different media outlets.

One talks of the battles of 1968 – yes, they were bad.  They were hideous.  But one forgets to mention the return to some form of normalcy in the time after.  Politics is violently dividing us, needlessly so.

Especially needlessly because it isn’t as if anything is going to change with another election.  I’ll put it very simply: democracy is a sham, at least on a national level.  The status quo will be perpetuated, come what may politically.

What a shame, that people are not so passionate when it comes to local matters, on which some exertion of passion might spur some change.

Is Trump at fault for all this?  No, assuredly not.  Words are just words, entirely meaningless and are especially so coming from him.  These protests would be a little more understandable if these policies were actually being implemented, but seeing as they aren’t going to be, it’s all quite ridiculous to this observer.

But it does help solidify support for him among those that have been on the fence about his candidacy, most particularly the former Cruz supporters.  This political violence, while it won’t be the only factor, may serve to help Trump in a general election.  Especially so, if it continues through November.

 

Is there room for compromise in libertarianism?

Libertarianism is about strong, rigid principles; stances which are concrete and which stand on the firm philosophical foundations which have stood since the enlightenment.  Clearly, however, this rigidness does not always allow for electoral success.

So the question comes down to, should the libertarian party bend the message to attract the political refugees, or shall we stand firm even if that means continual failure?

I have mentioned before that when becoming a libertarian, you make a very reasonable compromise: you may practice and believe what you want personally, but never demand to have those values enforced on others.  

However there are some issues that fall in a sort of grey area, issues which, if not addressed, may affect us all.

Borders and immigration policies are a prime example of one of these grey area issues.  It seems that conservatives are very interested in libertarianism until we reach the issues of borders.  Apparently, to “have a country” it must have borders; and according to a few it must be walled up and controlled in the style of the Berlin Wall.

As for myself, I believe in open borders; in the scheme of things the lines drawn by politicians are pointless and illegitimate.  Besides, controlled borders are contradictory to free-market ideals and after all, does the open border between Oklahoma and it’s neighbors make Oklahoma any less of a state?

But this is not the point of my article here.  I think there is a way to find a compromise, if only temporary so as to please those that think a border is essential and those, like myself, who believe philosophically in open borders.

Think what you will about Austin Petersen, he had a good point when he mentioned an Ellis Island style immigration system, which is an open door in effect, but still offers some form of safeguard and filter.  An immigrant goes through, spends a few hours getting checked and receiving documents and once it is done, it is done.  It is not a decade long process.

We should, for the time being, be demanding immigration reform:  shrinking the time it takes to become a ‘citizen’ of the United States from years to only hours.   This will be a sure way of encouraging legal immigration, if that is your goal.

But in advocating for such a thing, I am not compromising my principles: I still believe in open borders.  But I feel comfortable advocating a reform which brings us closer to that goal.  Certainly such a position will be more attractive to political refugees than just calling them names if they don’t fall in line.  (After all, one does not have to be a libertarian in order to vote for libertarian candidates in general elections!)

I am further confident that with some good faith discussion rather than debate, we can start to form a temporary coalition and find a common ground regarding these grey area issues, as we weather the 2016 storm.

It is worth noting that our victory as libertarians in this election is not winning offices (although that would be an immense victory) but rather, it is simply to meet the 2.5% threshold to retain ballot access and to be noticed.  This will be enough for now.