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The constitutional-Libertarian

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Ken Berry Posted: Wed, Jan 21 2009 10:43 PM

The constitutional-Libertarian

The title of constitutional-Libertarian should not bring to mind a new splinter group of libertarian thought, but rather an umbrella with room for many, from the conservative who happens to also believe in absolute freedom of speech, to the liberal who just happens to believe in smaller government. 

It is the smallest of compromises for the pure libertarian, but it allows room for thousands who are not (yet) quite so dedicated to liberty in its absolute form(s).  I respectfully submit that pure libertarianism does not sound at all attractive to the average man on the street because its precepts are so foreign from his present paradigm.  While true that lengthy debates and diligent study, I believe, would bring most around to the libertarian view, it must finally be admitted by libertarians that most people don’t like lengthy debates or the diligent study of philosophy, economics, governance or anything else.

Now one can almost sense the strictest of libertarians beginning to grumble, but hear me out.  In order to actually change the course of our federal government, we must eventually have a voice that can be heard by more than just the choir; in order to start to set things aright, Libertarians must develop a voice that is palatable, and eventually be elected to office; and no matter how hard you blog and believe, polling 6% will NEVER get your man elected.  I’m not advocating selling out or giving in, just of putting our best foot forward.  By becoming a party with a platform that doesn’t scare 95% of the electorate away after reading the first 10 words, we increase our ability to change the shape of American politics.  God-forbid we might actually win an election or two…  Believe it or not, the clothes you wear to a job interview actually matter, and the quality of your grammar matters, and the packaging of your ideas and philosophy matter.  There was a time in my young idealistic libertarian youth when I would have ruffled at such thoughts, but now as a more mature business owner, I know these things to be facts of life.  Leading off with ideas such as the dissolution of all borders and the legalization of certain substances and the immediate closing of all government offices does not sound good to the average American, it sounds kooky or even scary.  The speaker is immediately demoted to the category of fanatic, and the debate trudges on without him.  However, leading with lower taxes, less government control and more freedom is much less abrasive and confrontational, and more likely to win minds and votes.  If after reading more about their newly discovered love of liberty, these neophytes move (as I think they will) towards a more pure version of liberty, then that is ok too…

This title can be looked upon as a promise to the average American that I am not some screw-ball who intends to turn America into a borderless, lawless, substance-enhanced orgy.  Pure libertarians do not seem to understand this, but that is how the party is currently viewed by many who have gotten the wrong impression after speaking with some or reading a website by some, that is if they have even heard of the libertarian party.

Can we all agree that if the political and economic measures of our countries happiness and success were pictured as a number-line, any move towards Liberty would tend to increase both happiness and wealth?  Similarly, any move towards Statism must lead to more unhappiness and decreased prosperity.  Thus, any move towards liberty should be viewed as a success, however small, and a whet of The People’s desire for more liberty. 

I know for some, compromise is a dirty word, but there were quite a few wise men in Philadelphia a couple of centuries back who realized that compromise was the way to start, the way towards the light, the way to begin this great experiment that has been the envy of the whole world.  For hidden in some of their compromises was the seed of future freedom for millions.  So, if you decide to lump me into this group of learned, well-read “sell-outs”, I will take the compliment, for perhaps the word compromise has, when studied, a much deeper meaning and more subtle power than the mere sell-out. Do not doubt there were founders and ratifiers who would have banned slavery from the outset, but to utter such things in public during their time would have been considered kooky, or even scary.  But, the seeds of freedom they were able to plant in the founding documents were the beginning of freedom for entire races of Americans; had it not been for their measured compromise on language and moderation of obvious intention, liberty might have been many more decades in coming to those in bondage.

There is no doubt that government is and always will be less efficient than the market in providing services, and be susceptible to abuses of power as would be expected according to the laws of human nature.  Any man given power over another will abuse that power; however slight the abuse may seem to him, his servant will feel nothing but the whip.  The large majority of the people, if the matter is properly framed, currently believe that government is better suited at providing for such matters as defense and infrastructure, and strict adherence to the constitution prevents such a government from metastasizing.  Of course the market can provide virtually every service more efficiently than any other method, but we must move the people slowly back to these forgotten ideals by using gentle wisdom and diplomacy, and calm persuasion.  No matter how right our cause, sophomorically clubbing people over the head with liberty has not and will not work.

Over the past eight years the Republican leadership has utterly succumbed to the temptations of empire and has revealed itself as a political prostitute without a care for the Oath.  The Democratic Party leadership will, over the next four years, reveal its love affair with Fabian socialism, leaving millions of liberals disenchanted and looking for a different answer.  This irrefutable failure of both ideologies will leave a huge leadership vacuum which, if libertarians are willing and able, can be filled with a well-presented, well-spoken constitutional-Libertarian party with a message that appeals to the disgruntled and disappointed from both (formerly) major parties.  Former democrats will love our guarantee of personal freedoms and human rights, and reformed Republicans will prosper within our truly free markets free from a withering I.R.S.

This idea if properly framed, widely disseminated and vigorously pursued has the potential to change the face of American government over the next twelve years.  The people of the world and The People of America are ripe for this movement back to the American ideal of Liberty.  Democrats want personal freedom from government prying, and Republicans want freedom from business regulation; let us give them both, and teach them about Liberty along the way.

Ken D Berry, MD

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