The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

The VodkaPundit had quite a few mean words to say about the Paul Wellstone "memorial service". I heartily concur that it was a disgrace, but I was rather surprised by his hurt tone. Stephen wrote about his political activities early in life, and was affronted that people would degrade political debate in such a manner. I found this interesting because Stephen is a libertarian. Why should he be shocked when politicians behave badly?

I shall posit two types of libertarians. Type 1 believes that politics is reasonable and legitimate, even if that outcome of political contests is usually distasteful. Type 2 believes that politics, at least as commonly practiced in America and other Western democracies, is fundamentally invalid and immoral. (I could try names instead of numbers but nothing comes to mind. Existing labels like minarchist and anarchist don't really match up with these concepts, although they are likely to match up with Types 1 and 2 respectively. Also people don't like labels being applied to them.)

A Type 1 libertarian thinks that politicians are well-meaning but that their ideas produce inefficient or unfortunate results. A Type 2 libertarian thinks that politicians are scum.

A Type 1 libertarian respects what you might call "American Civics" -- that people should inform themselves and that they should vote. A Type 2 libertarian has no respect for the political process; he may refuse to vote, or vote in a contemptuous manner.

Stephen is a Type 1 libertarian. I am a Type 2 libertarian intellectually, but a Type 1 emotionally (I root for Republicans over Democrats even though I know I really shouldn't). James Donald is a Type 2 all the way. He hates politicians (and also cops). Recently on Usenet Donald said that if Wellstone was murdered there were 100 million suspects, and that the only real tragedy about the crash is that Ted Kennedy was not on board.

I don't want to come across as some sort of twerp who says "I'm more libertarian than you." (Nor do I hate cops; sometimes I find Donald a bit over the top.) But I do think that people who are libertarians and yet are interested in or participate in politics should reflect on whether it's such a good idea. Politics in America is a disgrace; Wellstone's funeral was a slip of the mask, not an aberration. What you are taught about politics in schools or by high-minded individuals has nothing to do with the real world. Political power is used to extract money from your pocketbook. Political power is used by people who despise you to punish you for behaviors they dislike. Maybe you're better off without it.



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