Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Jesse Ventura's critique of Minnesota Libertarians

According to Damon Root of Reason Magazine in his article yesterday The Body is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Understanding Jesse Ventura's long, sad decline,
Plus, [Jesse Ventura]'s no longer so quick to identify as a libertarian, sneering nowadays that Minnesota's Libertarians "tend to want anarchy."
I have heard this theme repeatedly from former governor Ventura with his recent reappearance on the political scene.

I don't necessarily disagree with him. Thirteen years after I left the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, where I had been an active member in 1994 and early 1995, chairing the Legislative Committee, contributing to the libertarian groundswell of that day, I returned two evenings ago to see what I could do if Bob Barr were to win the nomination. Perhaps the Minneapolis Bob Barr Meetup could help gather signatures for Barr to appear on the state ballot. The executive meeting was open to the public and friendly.

This week there's tumult in the Libertarian Party at the National Convention in Denver. As I have written many times, "liberty and anarchy are opposed." Now the self-described "anarcho-capitalists" would describe themselves as "purists". They are mistaken. There is nothing pure about advocating vigilante justice, when one person accuses another of violating his or her rights. How can the market ensure "due process"?

On the other hand, the Libertarian Party risks losing the real message of liberty if candidates go forth with policies which brazenly violate people's rights, such as government control over everyone's pursuit of health care.

Both are unacceptable.

I believe the key point is taxation. There are those who insanely believe in no taxation, no government, now.

I share the point of view of founding father James Wilson, who wrote
by some politicians, society has been considered as only the scaffolding of government; very improperly, in my judgment. In the just order of things, government is the scaffolding of society; and if society could be built and kept entire without government, the scaffolding might be thrown down, without the least inconvenience or cause of regret.
and that of William Ellery Channing
Legislation has its limits. It is a power to be wielded against a few evils only. It acts by physical force, and all the higher improvements of human beings come from truth and love. Government does little more than place society in a condition which favors the action of higher powers than its own.
Wary of physical power, Channing looked forward to when moral power, "mightiest when most gentle," would "supersede the coarse workings of government" as "guardian of all right."

Until then we'll need a constitution. Indeed even afterwards we'll need one in case we slip back.

With the anarchists, I have noticed a proclivity for blustering language as well. This is unacceptable. Such language is unacceptable for a serious political campaign where civil behavior is a must.

On the other hand, we must insist on the presumption of liberty, on a respect for our rights. For example, I believe Mike Gravel has a ways to go. I do like his videos, and I hope he continues to engage and debate.

After reading Bob Barr's book The Meaning of Is (2004), I believe he's the candidate most capable of standing up for our civil liberties and due process. His election would be the next best thing to an impeachment, to send an important message to government office-holders that they are not above the law. Barr's track record as described in his book speaks volumes.

Last night I wrote a response to Jesse Ventura's characterization of Minnesota Libertarians as a comment on the Reason Magazine website,
I was an active member of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota in the heady days of 1994 when the Republican Party listened to our message, which was a goal, given our small numbers. It was around that time when I first heard Jesse Ventura announce he was a libertarian on the radio. His colleagues Jason Lewis and Peter Thiele from KSTP came to our LP convention along with the Republican Party House Minority Leader Steve Swiggum, who had a T-shirt saying "Vote Republican" on the front and "or Libertarian" on the back, which he had worn at the Republican convention earlier that day (and which had gotten wet in Barbara Carlson's famous hot tub in which she interviewed politicians). We made our presence known by the revolutionary acts of simply asking pointed questions at town hall meetings on health care, for example, courageously confronting politicians by breaking taboos, speaking repeatedly about the Constitution and the Declaration. We also fostered friendly relationships with those politicians who listened to our message, as did Rep. Swiggum after we had presented him with a petition for term limits at his office. Curious he asked us to stay and talked with us for 45 minutes or so. I remember mentioning how the idea of term limits went back to James Harrington and his influential book "Oceana" in the 1600s. Later he and two other house members met with us and invited us to run as Republicans, an invitation we politely declined.

Later in 1994 Jason Lewis visited with us at Gluek's Restaurant while we waited for the election results on Nov 8, when libertarian messages were predominant in political discussions and swept the Republicans into power. Interestingly Reform Party candidate Dean Barkley and his team joined us, too, there at Gluek's where he then saw the returns come in that qualified his party for major party status, which set the stage for Ventura's run 4 years later. The point I'm trying to make is that it was quite collegial across party boundaries.

Another point is that I have always been a strong advocate for the Constitution. Indeed I have written many times, "Liberty and anarchy are opposed." Where is there a market for due process? To my mind anarchy would lead to feudalism, which is more in line with a desire for old-world conservatism. Anyway I see myself as quite a principled advocate for liberty, for example in my advocacy for Hayek's denationalisation of money.

The other day at Jesse Ventura's book-signing at the Mall of America I handed him a copy of an article I had written in 1994 suggesting a form of election that would get us past the increasingly rigid two-party rule we suffer, by eliminating the problem of spoilers, allowing candidates to act as electors throwing their votes towards leading candidates after a general primary, leaving only two candidates in a mandatory run-off. I thought he'd be interested in this based on what he's said recently about the two parties and their hold on us. We chatted a bit, after he immediately repeated his view that libertarians are anarchists when he realized that my article had been published in The Minnesota Libertarian (State Fair issue, 1994).

I believe the Dallas Accord was silly, and I constantly am dealing with the confusion it wrought, along with the pledge, which should clearly allow for constitutionally limited taxation. I support Bob Barr and hope anarchists have nothing more to do with libertarian political activity. In the academic world, it's good to explore all ideas, but practically speaking when you're at a Ron Paul meetup and someone says that they can't wait for a private war, it can be a bit off-putting.
Here is where Jesse Ventura critiques the "two-party dictatorship." Here is my modest proposal on how to get past the two-party monopoly and save the republic.

Version 1.1.1 (May 23)

No comments: