Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Making Freedom Visible

Freedom is a cherished human value. Individuals move towards conditions of freedom whenever and wherever they can. We know that people die every day trying to enjoy the freedom offered by America. They weight the dangers of sneaking across borders and they put their lives at risk. They would not send in a donation to the LP, even if they knew it existed. The political dialogue that takes place so visibly to us, isn’t even background noise to most people around the world.

People listen attentively to what you do. Speak loudly and clearly with your actions.

Libertarians need to ask themselves, who is our constituency? Who most needs the benefits of freedom?

Women are the best constituency. They most need freedom. But that is only one reason that Libertarians should take up their issues of freedom.

Libertarianism needs women more that women need us.

Women bring to their political and social activism values and abilities that enable and ensure their success – even when they are dead wrong.

When those who understood failed to protect and defend the rights of those most at risk the battle for liberty was lost to all of us. Libertarians want to believe that we are the defenders of individual freedom. That is a claim ignored and disparaged by the left, who have held the moral high ground in this country for three generations. The civil rights movement, the anti-war movement of the Vietnam Era, challenging the state for the handicapped and for women; the left has engaged the establishment and changed law and custom.

What are the cultural practices and institutions that would allow for an optimal expression of human equality and freedom? Before we take up the question of what to do we need to consider where we want to go.. We must also consider the nature of political dialogue and the process by which the majority of Americans adopt new practices and customs.

How can we effectively communicate to our fellow Americans the forms of governance that will best perform the functions now carried out by government on all levels?

We must fight the perceptions that the Federal government is a sacrosanct entity that properly exists for its own purposes. This is the heritage of the failure of the Civil War along with the long-term working alliances forged between government on all levels and business. The common perception today is that government is the only institutional means for governance,.

We have all of the means we can imagine at our disposal. There are a lot of things that we have irrefutably established do not work. The past thirty years have both educated us and enlarged the tools at our disposal There have also been success stories. Privatization is one of these. Both of the original libertarian think tanks, Cato and Reason, used models for privatization to produce policy that is now being adopted into mainstream usage. Privatization has worked because it provides a means to demonstrate that it works. The consumer, in this case the governmental entity, can see that their costs drop or the service provided is more satisfactory by other criteria.

Markets work. Where market mechanisms can be introduced the unwieldy governmental management models can be changed. The first successes were small and regional. Now there is an entire industry that is founded on making money to provide privatization studies and services. A simple perusal of the internet reveals many sources and applications for this growing industry.

But privatizing services, thus reintroducing elementary economic principles back into the institutional fabric of government, fails to go to the main issue.

The issue is still freedom and equality. The question libertarians must answer is this. Is the Libertarian Party presenting a viable vision with a better alternative to the American people? If we are marketing a political product, who is our market?

The median Libertarian is a computer engineer, in his late 30’s or 40’s. He is unmarried, doing well in his professional life, and reads science fiction. He is an ideologue, making him one of a very small minority of the general population. His issues are getting government out of his life, making drugs, especially marijuana, legal, and lowering or eliminating taxes and regulations.

This is reflected by the content of the National Libertarian Party web site. If this is the audience the Libertarian Party will never win elections. But that is the least of the problems.

No comments: