This is the first part in an ongoing series of articles titled “Saving Liberty: The Future After Ron Paul and Gary Johnson.” For more information on the series, as well as other entries in it, please click here to go to the “Saving Liberty” page.
The liberty movement in America has advanced a great deal in such a short period of time. Aided by two presidential campaigns by Congressman Ron Paul and a series of liberty-minded organizations, many activists have come together to advance the libertarian philosophy. What was once just a scattered group seemingly less than a percentage point across America is now a united, full-force movement with a viable future. While it is strong, it is not perfect. Among the flaws facing this movement is the miscommunication of its principles and the general misconception of what the movement stands for.
There are two things standing in the way of proper communication of principles, which are renegade activists and Ron Paul himself. Renegade supporters, meaning the people who come off as extreme and brash, as well as overly aggressive. These individuals have a tendency to talk down to people, denounce non-believers as “sheeple” or other derogatory names, and shut people off from any potential civil discourse. It is impossible to communicate new ideas to the mainstream if people are turned off to the messengers. The liberty crowd must be effective, not destructive.
Ron Paul may be one of the most principled politicians in American political history, but if there was one weakness he has, it was communication. By his own admission, he may have been his own worst enemy because of it. This is not to say Congressman Paul is a bad man, he is far from it. But it serves as an example to the movement on the topic of communication and it’s importance.
Too much time is wasted by the renegade supporters on calling leaders “Nazis” and wearing out Godwin’s Law, while sounding the alarm on the socialist takeover of America. It may be true that our country is going down a dark road, but the extreme rhetoric will not advance the cause of liberty. People will not listen to rhetoric and will respond dismissively. Considering that the first step in advancing a cause is education, heated rhetoric is thus contrary to the goals.
Too many people look at the liberty crowd and have a vision of violent anarchists who act disruptively with unstoppable anger. True, activists are upset with the way the country is run, but angry is not how the activists should be viewed. Attitude is everything in life, and it is true here. One can have a grim and gloomy outlook on the world, or one can be a realist about the present while optimistic about the future. Liberty supporters should be absolutely honest about how bad things are now, because they are devastating. To the future however, there is much reason to be hopeful.
As far as principles go, here are a few points to consider:
- In terms of foreign policy, the focus should be more on what will be done in the event of an emergency, not what shouldn’t be done now. For example, one place where Ron Paul lost many was with Iran. There are many alarmists out there on the topic of Iran, which is a small barking dog in comparison to Russia, China, or North Korea, but still is treated as the leader of the apocalypse. Paul would often correctly state we don’t need to go to war with Iran. The problem is, the liberty crowd already knows that, but the mainstream believes otherwise. Instead of losing people there by pointing that out, instead respond how Iran would be dealt with if a national security threat did present itself. Use this as an opportunity to educate about the Constitution. If Iran was a threat, then the President should immediately go to Congress for a Declaration of War. Once the declaration is obtained, then deploy the troops immediately in full force, take care of the job and come home. Wipe out the enemy and completely cripple them, but do not stick around to rebuild the bridges and buildings we destroyed in dealing with threats. Most will agree with defense and not rebuilding other nations after we properly defend ourselves. Furthermore, many will agree with the Constitution and upholding the law.
- One dream of many in the liberty movement is ending the Federal Reserve system. The problem here is that is a bit much for the average citizen to take in. Given that many Americans are not economics junkies, the Federal Reserve system is the only thing they know. Change is one thing, radical change is another. Ending the Federal Reserve and having to dramatically overhaul the way our monetary system operates is radical change, which would not be welcome to many Americans. The proper approach would be to take things one step at a time, with the first step being the audit. Who can really argue with transparency? If the Federal Reserve is truly an honest, independent banking cartel as its supporters would claim, then an audit would not be a problem. Most Americans, being supporters of openness, would support an audit. Given that liberty activists already know the corrupt operations of the Federal Reserve, an audit would only vindicate their concerns. Thus, the audit would lead more people to support the “End The Fed” cause.
- Welfare at the federal level is unconstitutional and at any other level, contrary to the principles of the free market. Given that much of America is involved in some sort of assistance program, threatening to end these programs in a crippled economy will not win any new support. The proper approach would be to first note that the federal government is a poor manager in general, which is why the powers granted to it in the Constitution are few and strictly defined. Note that if there is to be any assistance for the disabled or elderly, or temporary assistance for those who definitely need it, it should occur at the lowest levels of government possible. The lower the level in government, the closer to the people, and thus easiest managed. Of course, it is the utopian to have a completely free and fair playing field for all in society, but it is unlikely to happen anytime soon. Thus, it must be taken at a step at a time. As the journey towards true capitalism continues, allow for some assistance, but ensure it is for those who truly need it and keep it at the lower levels of government.
These, of course, are just a few of many examples. It could be discussed all day, but the point is properly communicated. How a message is delivered is everything. If the liberty movement is to make inroads in society with everyday Americans, then it must make a conscious effort to focus its message so people can understand it without being overwhelmed or scared away. Liberty is not radical or insane. Liberty itself, is actually very American and not extreme at all. What America has become is a radical departure from the principles America was founded on. Freedom is the foundation on which the United States of America was founded on. People are not stupid, they’re just mislead. It is the job of everyone who believes in the principles of freedom and liberty to communicate in a respectful manner that liberty is not insane.