Saturday, October 13, 2007

Confessions of a free man

Finding that 1995 Jim Lehrer interview with Al Gore yesterday pretty much solidified a thought I've been having for some time now: Individuals who base their view of politics on strong principles are going to find themselves drifting back and forth between the "left wing" and the "right wing" depending on who's in power.

The reminder that in 1995, the Republican Senate passed a resolution to "support the troops" but oppose the Democratic administration's war policy, cinched it for me. When Democrats talk that way today about the Republican administration's war policy, GOP apologists snarl about how "you can't have it both ways," 12 years after their boys and girls talked precisely the same way.

A person who thinks the US of A has no business invading other countries to enforce its will protect its national security would be considered a right-wing Republican in 1995 and a left-wing Democrat today.

Thus you have experiences like Murray N. Rothbard had when he wrote "Confessions of a Right-Wing Liberal," seeing the ground shift underneath him as the Old Right became the New Left and vice versa. And you have Ronald Reagan's famous statement, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party ... the party left me."

As a rabid Republican apologist for much of my life, that's where I've been the last 15 years or so. The scales started falling off my eyes when I attended an appearance by Libertarian Party presidential candidate Andre Marrou in 1992, but I still was under the belief that the 1994 Republican election victory was going to make a big difference. Even in 2000, although I wasn't very impressed by Bush II, I thought a Gore win would have meant a continued erosion of individual liberty in the face of an ever-intrusive central government. It took Bush's acceleration of that erosion to complete the process of clearing my eyes.

Now we are entering willynilly into the quadrennial exercise where Americans delude themselves that a simple regime change in Washington will make a significant difference. This despite the major players' promise to continue the US of A's imperial adventures overseas whenever necessary and expand the powers of the central government. Imagine Hillary Clinton or Rudy Guiliani or most of the others, playing with the toys in the USAPATRIOT Act box, or setting the Homeland Security Department loose.

Freedom will not be found among the power-seekers who are campaigning for votes, because their desire is not to liberate you - their desire is to govern you. A city transit bus is usually equipped with a device called a "governor," which limits the engine's ability to accelerate. To govern is to limit - government is an institution designed to limit people, not unleash their innate abilities.

Freedom begins when you relinquish the belief that liberty requires a specific leader or a specific brand of leader, be it Republican, Democrat or Libertarian. Even President Ron Paul could not give you freedom. All leaders can do is place restraints on the freedom you already possess, usually "for the good of the collective."

Let your only governing rule be that you will not impose on your neighbor's freedom or property - the word "neighbor" defined as all of the other people in your universe. That decision, and no election, is the beginning of a big difference.

Ground yourself in that philosophy, and you'll be amazed at the way the political world spins - I felt myself shifting constantly between "left" and "right" until it occurred to me that the real conflict is between statists and individuals. I'm much less dizzy these days, and I am certainly neither Republican nor Democrat, neither "left" nor "right." I'm just me.

OK, in many ways I'm not yet the free man I declared myself in the title of this little essay. But I've found the internal compass that puts me on the trail - and that is most of the journey.

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Blogger jomama said...

...the real conflict is between statists and individuals.


11:45 AM  

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