New Poll Finds “Libertarian Renaissance in America”

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

A new poll indicates America is smack dab in the midst of “a libertarian renaissance in 2013.” So reports the highly-regarded website POLITICO.

The poll finds that fully “78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.”

Further: “Told that libertarians generally believe individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives, 58 percent of the full national sample said they agree.”

“It’s not that Republicans are suddenly self-identifying as ‘libertarians’ and devouring Ayn Rand novels,” says POLITICO, “but more that they seem to be embracing underlying libertarian priorities and views about the role of government.”

FreedomWorks, the liberty-minded organization that sponsored the poll of 1,000 registered voters, makes the same point. They say their poll “identifies voters who can be fairly identified as ‘libertarian’ based on their fiscally conservative, but socially moderate to liberal answers to questions on polls.

“We do not claim that these are hardcore libertarians who have all read Ayn Rand and F. A. Hayek, or are as ideologically self-aware as readers of Reason magazine. Rather, these voters’ libertarian beliefs distinguish them from liberals and conservatives, even if the word ‘libertarian’ may be unfamiliar to them.”

The poll has lots of great news for libertarians. It suggests that libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans could be on the way to becoming more influential within the GOP than the party’s social conservatives, military hawks and neo-conservatives.

When asked what they are most interested in, fully 40 percent of Republican voters chose “individual freedom through lower taxes and reducing the size and scope of government.” Just 27 percent picked “traditional values,” and only 18 percent chose a “strong national defense.”

Fully one-fourth of Republicans in the poll self-identified as “libertarian” or “lean libertarian.” 42 percent of Republicans view the term “libertarian” favorably and 10 percent don’t know it.

The poll also shows that libertarians have more work to do to get the word out.

Overall 27 percent of voters said they didn’t know enough about libertarianism to offer an opinion. About 40 percent of 18-to-32-year-olds view the word “libertarian” favorably. But about a third don’t know what it means.

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who conducted the poll, told POLITICO that a large and growing number of voters feel the government is too expensive, too invasive and too expansive.

“The perfect storm is being created between the NSA, the IRS, the implementation of Obamacare and now Syria,” Conway said. “People are looking at the government more suspiciously. They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion.”

The poll also found a healthy distrust of government.

Fully 61 percent said “economic policies coming out of Washington” are hurting more than helping. 64 percent of 25-to-32-year-olds who have been in the workforce a substantial time said they favor “smaller government with fewer services but lower taxes.” And two-thirds of 18-to-32-year-olds are favorable towards “free market” and similar terms.

Asked which party they trust to “reform government in Washington,” a whopping 40 percent of American voters say “neither” party can be trusted — outnumbering both the 30 percent who trust the Democrats to reform government and the 25 percent who trust the Republicans. Even among self-identified Republicans, 41 percent say they trust “neither” party.

Matthews: The Lego Gun Scare

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In an absurd display of zero tolerance and anti-gun hysteria, a Palmer, Massachusetts kindergartener was given detention for bringing a Lego gun the size of a quarter onto a school bus. The boy was also forced to write a letter of apology to the bus driver. As much as I’d like to believe that this will instill the child with a healthy disrespect for unwarranted authority, I tragically fear that he will instead be shamed into the submissive acceptance of his incompetent overlords.

The 6-year-old boy was playing with the diminutive toy when another student alerted the bus driver about the impending doom of the G.I. Joe accessory. Acting with all of the tact and logic one expects from a public school employee, the driver then put the children in an exponentially more dangerous situation by bringing the vehicle to an abrupt stop. The Old Mill Pond Elementary School then meted out its punishment to the youngster, presumably feeling as wise as Solomon.

Mieke Crane, the boy’s mother, was not thrilled with the schools draconian response:

I think they overreacted, totally. I totally do…At six-years-old, I don’t really think he understood the zero-tolerance policy and related it to this as the same.”

This is not the first time that school officials have overreacted in the name of zero-tolerance. As I have written about before at Wondergressive, earlier this year a 7-year-old boy was suspended for biting a Pop-Tart into (supposedly) the shape of a gun. Colorado second grader Alex Evans was suspended in February for throwing an imaginary grenade while playing soldier at recess. First grader Rodney Lynch was actually suspended for making a gun gesture with his hand, pointing it at a fellow classmate and saying “Pow!”

Most disturbingly, Honor Student Savana Redding, then 13, was strip-searched down to her underwear under suspicion of possessing prescription-strength Ibuprofen. The humiliating search proved fruitless. The Supreme Court decided 8-1 that the school officials did indeed violate Redding’s 4th Amendment rights by illegally searching her. However, the Justices ruled that the officials could not personally be held liable for their criminal actions. All in the name of zero-tolerance for both guns and drugs.

Sanity and reason are not the end-goals of these bizarre, one-size-always-fits-all policies. Instead they serve to protect teachers and union officials from parents who might sue for malfeasance or neglect.

Recite the magic incantation of “Procedures were followed!” and no litigious harm shall befall you! As long as these bus drivers, teachers and principals are not held accountable for their misdeeds, the absurdity will only magnify. Only when they are personally liable for their own actions will they (unwillingly) step away from the Cliffs of Insanity.

Stories like this help to reveal the madness that is currently brewing in American public schools. They also help illustrate the growing fear of firearms in the country. The disconcerting part of this trend is that fear is a rational response to something threatening. The current mania sweeping the nation is more properly described as an irrational phobia of guns – hoplophobia to be exact.

Despite highly visible and tragic events like the Sandy Hook shooting, violent crime has actually been dropping for about two decades. The gun murder rate has almost halved in that stretch. The overall non-fatal violent crime rate involving guns dropped 75% between 1993 and 2011.

Yet despite this good news, when polled by PewResearchCenter, a whopping 56% of Americans falsely believed that gun crime had increased over that period. Only 12% correctly responded that crime has plummeted.

As witnessed by the innumerable calls for further gun control post-Sandy Hook, Americans are increasingly frightened of firearms despite the demonstrable reality that the world around them continues to be safer than at any time since the early ’90s. This irrational fear is crescendoing into a palpable phobia for all things ballistic.

This fear of guns is very animistic in nature. In animistic religions, plants, animals, and even inanimate objects are imbued with special powers or spiritual significance. When you look at the irrational hatred of firearms through this lens, the insanity of zero-tolerance begins to come sharply into focus. It doesn’t matter that the Lego gun is the size of a quarter, in the eyes of hoplophobes it is still a gun with magical powers. It doesn’t matter that it’s simply a kid’s Pop-Tart chewed into an ambiguous shape, it looks like a gun, dammit!

The best example of this phobia is poor 7-year-old Rodney Lynch, whom I previously mentioned was suspended for making a gun shape with his hand. He was punished merely for making a representation of a firearm. In more Biblical terms, he was penalized for making a graven image of an unholy object. He had to be punished for this sin, lest he or others repeat the blasphemy.

Another aspect of this irrational fear is that it’s only directed towards everyday citizens, something that doesn’t apply to police officers, who are viewed as a special breed of humans. Famously, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had to walk back gun control legislation because it didn’t exempt police officers from the ban on “high-capacity” magazines.

To clarify the governor’s position, spokesman Matthew Wing said:

Police officers possessing ammunition clip [sic] with more than seven bullets are not in violation of this law and they never will be, period.”

This special privilege granted to the Boys in Blue seem unwarranted given their behavior.

During the manhunt for former – LAPD officer Christopher Dorner earlier this year, at least seven officers amazingly mistook Margie Carranza, 47, and her mother, Emma Hernandez, 71, for the sizable black fugitive. They fired upon the pair and Hernandez was shot twice in the back. Carranza was injured from flying glass and shrapnel from the over two dozen bullet holes that were found in the back of their pickup truck.

Those officers seem like models of restraint.

More recently, Philly.com reported on a surge in police shootings in the City of Brotherly Love:

The number of shootings by police in 2012 resulting in death or injury climbed to the highest level it’s been in 10 years. Philadelphia police shot 52 suspects last year while responding to calls for reported crimes. Of those shot, 15 people died.”

These shootings represent a 50% increase over 2011. The police department hasn’t provided a reason for the increase and they have refused to release any information concerning the shootings.

Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey supported his department’s use of force, saying:

I think we have a solid policy and consider it best practice.”

Mistakes were made. Procedures were followed.

Another disgusting aspect of this animism manifests itself in the way it’s reported. Almost invariably the passive voice is used to describe police officers shooting a victim.

Three years ago in Detroit, a 7-year-old girl was fatally shot during a raid in search of a murder suspect. The police fired a flash-bang into the house to disorient its occupants and stormed in. Rather than directly blaming Officer Joseph Weekley for killing the girl, amazingly the Associated Press writes that “A gunshot then went off inside, fatally striking [Aiyana Stanley-Jones] in the head while she slept on the couch.”

A human being didn’t pull the trigger. The gun magically “went off.” The writer then reports that “[Weekley] didn’t prevent his gun from firing” and later that “Police have said his gun accidentally discharged.”

Guns don’t accidentally discharge. The safety was off and someone pulled the trigger when it was pointed at a human being. But in the animistic view of firearms, they possess a will of their own and the supernatural ability to impart it on the world.

The hoplophobia of many Americans today has manifested itself in bizarre and increasingly paranoid ways. Pop-Tarts and Legos are viewed as functional weapons by school officials yet the violence perpetrated by police officers is seemingly justified in the eyes of the press and the public. Malfeasance is explained away by triggers with self-determination.

Guns are tools, just like automobiles or hammers or ladders, and they can be dangerous when they are misused. But they are not magical talismans. They are not to be inherently feared. Rather, like with any dangerous device, criminal users of firearms or cars should be held culpable for their neglect or malicious intent.

People need to be educated about guns and their productive uses and also their potential dangers. By outlawing the mere representation of firearms, it ensures that people will continue to reflexively and irrationally fear them, knee-jerking into draconian and pointless legislation.

More education and less bed-wetting terror is needed to end this hysteria. However, I fear that many people deem guns to be too impure and icky to dare challenge their own animistic preconceptions of them.

For the sake of liberty, I hope I’m wrong.

Evan Matthews is a Guest Contributor to We Are Libertarians.

Sources:

dailycaller.com/2013/05/29/kindergartener-gets-detention-forced-to-apologize-for-lego-gun-the-size-of-a-quarter/

www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt09a03.htm#16

www.abc15.com/dpp/news/national/pop-tart-gun-josh-welch-school-suspends-7-year-old-for-biting-pop-tart-pastry-into-shape-of-gun

www.nydailynews.com/news/national/boy-7-suspended-throwing-imaginary-grenade-article-1.1256200

abcnews.go.com/US/maryland-grader-suspended-pointing-finger-shape-gun/story?id=18123294

www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/06/25/savana-redding-strip-sear_n_220717.html

www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-homicide-rate-down-49-since-1993-peak-public-unaware/

www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-gun-crimes-pew-report-20130507,0,3022693.story

www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/01/18/ny-guv-looks-to-clarify-gun-law-after-concern-about-exemption-for-police/

articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/23/local/la-me-ln-women-shot-by-lapd-during-dorner-manhunt-get-big-payout-20130423

www.philly.com/philly/news/local/Police_involved_shootings_in_Philly_soar_as_violent_crime_falls.html

www.foxnews.com/us/2013/05/29/detroit-officer-goes-on-trial-in-death-7-year-old-girl/

Miah: The Kokesh March is Peaceful!

Veterans Protest Against Iraq War

“One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

I am opening this piece with a quote by MLK, one that was contained in a letter he wrote while in jail. I guess you could say the July 4th Civil Disobedience march on D.C. is very similar to the type of activism MLK practiced. Not to harp too much on that, but just chew on that for a moment before I get really get going.

So wait. What? What am I actually talking about here? Well, for any of you that may have been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, there is going to be an open carry civil disobedience march on Washington D.C. on July 4th this year. It is expected to draw roughly 1,000 people to the capital to march – rifles slung, from the “National Cemetery…across the Memorial Bridge, down Independence Avenue, around the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the White House, then down Constitution Avenue to peacefully return to Virginia across the Memorial Bridge.” A very bold route for certain, but bold compared to what? It’s going to be a tight group of people moving through D.C. that day, and a peaceful group at that. The event organizer has even stated that anyone participating that meets resistance from the police should submit peacefully. Maybe they’ll need a bunch of handcuffs. Maybe they’ll need none at all.

So there are quite a few people out there talking about this event already and it’s more than a month away. But most of them are full of s***. Let’s start with the plain ol facts to calm the rustled jimmies of so many.

  • This protest is a peaceful one and is not being organized as a violent march or an attempt to start the revolution. In many different ways this is solidified in truth starting with the statement above regarding police resistance. You also have to realize that the event organizer is going to have everyone get into a military type formation in order to literally march into D.C. The ranks will be inspected as to uphold the limitations that the group has imposed such as: 1. only active duty police are allowed to possess handguns in formation. And 2. all others are long guns only. It is said that all participants must be dressed professionally – which I am taking to mean no tactical vests full of ammunition (appearing outright ready for violence). Basically this is going to be a well-organized and respectfully armed group protesting against government. That doesn’t sound so bad right?
  • This is a civil disobedience march. Laws are going to be broken and that’s the point. As with so many others in activism, arrest is inevitable and is sometimes a great tool to prove one’s point. We know what the laws are. We know what the consequences of breaking said laws are. And with those two points in mind, we are being adults about this in the strictest sense.
  • The person organizing this event is not doing this just for themselves. This is not just for attention or fame. Like with anything this is for a cause and has a purpose. I can’t honestly prove this to you. However, I can say that anyone who questions the intent of the organizer should investigate for themselves and be wary of a lot of misinformation.

This isn’t going to be much different from what hundreds of Cop Block members do every single day, what Antonio Buehler of the Peaceful Streets Project does, what Adam ‘Ademo’ Mueller does constantly, what types of things Pete Eyre gets himself into or even to go back, MLK and Rosa Parks. This is a being called a march to mark the high water mark of government and to turn the tide. It is really that simple.

It is to provide the world, history, and all of us right here, right now, an indicator of where our government is and that we are under it. I could go into many a lofty ideals that this march could portray (or mean), but that’s up to each individual to decide for themselves while they are there. And yet so many are being talked down to by all their friends for wanting to go.

So many people are being attacked right now for their support of this event. I will flatly state that it is mostly due to who is organizing the event. Adam Kokesh has a history of being anti-military, and most of the GOP hates him for that. He has been very active over the years with in-your-face activism and has (in my opinion) been very successful in his endeavors. Still, I don’t think people understand how the Libertarian and Anarchist world works when it comes to mass organization. Some feel that we do not need leaders and some would say that we should simply not follow them as strictly.

Many say events like this only work with mass solidarity and that this event has no solid end goal to rally around and so it will be fractured. That’s not even remotely true. But to point out the fact that we are dealing with a group of Libertarians and Anarchists, we all pretty much have solidarity all of the freaking time towards a common goal – which I guess some are calling a bad thing.

This event will be historical. It may not be recorded in the textbooks or talked about much in the news, but it will be a moment when a group of people stopped hiding behind their little parties and elected officials e-mail inboxes, and go out of their way to say “F*** YOU GOVERNMENT.” Let me sum up exactly how I feel about it all with a quote that always goes over well except for with this event – a quote from a well-respected man whom I do not particularly like, but it speaks volumes of truth.

“When the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson

So ask yourself, “When was the last time the government feared the people?” When was the last time a group of people took a stand as nothing but individuals and stood up in peaceful protest against the government? We are NOT looking for bloodshed! Let’s make that clear. We are NOT looking to preempt the revolution! We ARE looking for some respect as human beings and also for an opportunity to showcase the atrocity in front of us known which is the Federal Government.

The only negative I have seen thus far is that now Alex Jones is calling for his army of tools to show up. That makes me say “thank goodness for the guidelines surrounding this event.” Not that him doing that will be all negative. It should bring many more cameras to the event which is never a bad thing when dealing with a police state.

Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/252728144871259/
Current Counts as of this Writing:  Going 4,557 Maybe 4,039
Known Number of Federal Crimes: 4,450
Adam Kokesh : www.adamvstheman.com/
DC Police Chief’s response: libertycrier.com/government/d-c-police-chief-vows-to-take-action-against-july-4th-gun-marchers/

Miah Akston is a Guest Contributor at We Are Libertarians. She has been a presence on the We Are Libertarians podcast and is also the mastermind behind Creating Miah (if you don’t know look it up), and The Uncontrollables – a podcast at Indiana Talks.

Miah’s views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of We Are Libertarians as a whole – nor other WAL contributors. In fact, Miah was inspired to write this piece based on Daniel Peffers’ recent article opposing the Kokesh march. See his statement Adam vs. Activism here: wearelibertarians.com/peffers-adam-vs-activism/

Ripley: Scandal and Government

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During a recent commencement speech at Ohio State University President Obama lashed out at political opponents.

“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems.” President Obama continued, “Some of these same voices also do their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

One of those voices was Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Most bad government has grown out of too much government.”  Today we are witnessing just how bad the government can get, and how right our founding fathers were about limiting the size of government.

Over one-third of the house committees are involved in hearings related to missteps and wrongdoings committed by the Obama White House. Improper targeting by the IRS, the Benghazi terror attacks, seizing the phone records of Associated Press reporters, and an investigation into political fundraising for Obamacare will keep our elected officials busy for a month in oversight and criminal investigations.

President Obama tried to distance himself from some of these incidents by claiming that he learned about them from the same media reports that the American people watched as these stories broke. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has spent the better part of a week re-enforcing the “know nothing” status of the Oval Office: “We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department.”

Tell that to the Associated Press. The Justice Department secretly subpoenaed two months of phone records of AP employees in what some have called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into a news organization. This aggressive trend of intimidating the press and informants from bringing government wrongdoing to light is troubling. The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all past presidents combined.

Senator Rand Paul added: “The Fourth Amendment is not just a protection against unreasonable searches and seizures; it is a fundamental protection for the First Amendment and all other Constitutional rights. It sets a high bar, a warrant, for the government to take actions that could chill exercise of any of those rights. We must guard it with all the vigor that we guard other constitutional protections.”

In other news that President Obama knew nothing about, the Justice Department is investigating the IRS for improperly targeting conservative groups seeking a tax exempt status. An independent report from the Inspector General’s office confirmed these findings and acting director Steven Miller was fired. However, Miller’s departure has not toned down the rhetoric.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “These allegations are serious — that there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with, in the middle of a heated national election. We are determined to get answers.” Former White House senior adviser David Axelrod, quickly came to the president’s defense:  “Part of being president is there’s so much underneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast.”

This excuse strikes at the heart of the issue. Thomas Jefferson also said, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Conservative groups and the Associated Press saw their liberty trampled by an ever-growing government, as did the families of the four Americans who were left to die in Benghazi. But President Obama isn’t alone in dealing with scandals. They are historically a bi-partisan issue.

President Nixon had a rough night at the Watergate hotel, President Reagan forgot about an arms embargo with Iran, President Clinton “did not have sexual relations with that woman,” and President George W. Bush thought there were weapons of mass destruction hiding under oil wells in Iraq.

Over the coming months, numerous hearings and investigations will shed more light on recent events and tell us why government has gotten so bad. We may even see a few of these past transgressions used to give insights in to the current White House woes. There will be grandstanding and ceremonial bills and rhetoric laden press conferences. What you will not find are laws that reduce the size of government which, as Thomas Jefferson would tell us, is exactly what is needed.

Ripley: Fort Wayne Indiana & Responsible Budgeting

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Fort Wayne has a $6 million budget deficit and a $65 million backlog of unfunded street repairs that dwindling reserve funds can no longer cover. Too many years of short-sighted planning and a “don’t just stand there, spend something” mentality led to this mess. A bi-partisan fiscal policy group was even created to fix it.

City officials would have us believe that the loss of revenue due to the property tax caps – $53 million lost since 2009 – is largely responsible for the current condition of the budget. However, the impact of the tax caps was known and was predictable for the past 5 years. If you know that your income is going down, doesn’t it make sense to cut your spending as a first step to solvency?

Not according to the policy group. They have recommended a smorgasbord of new taxes to fill in the budget gaps. The adoption of two new local option income taxes (LOIT), each at a .25 percent rate is at the top of the list. These new income taxes would cost the average tax payer an additional $120 per year and would raise nearly $14 million in annual revenue for the city.

The financial policy group also recommends a municipal cumulative capital development fund implemented that would raise an additional $1 million through a property tax. They would also like to tap into the banked levy that adds $1 million, and utilize $1 million in interest from the $75 million legacy fund over the next 5 years to address street repairs backlog.

Other governmental bodies are not in agreement with raising taxes. Allen County officials have rightly pointed out that the LOIT’s would impact nearly 70,000 residents in unincorporated areas.  These residents do not have access to all of the city services and they do not have the ability to vote for city representatives.  This is a clear case of taxation without representation.

To soften the negative reaction to higher taxes, the policy group proposed a $5 million reduction in city operating expenses.  The first recommendation is to add a fire protection fee to the City Utilities bill that would free up $3.5 million in the budget. The policy group has also recommended changing the healthcare policy for city employees and revamping how sick time is accrued.

Unfortunately, these recommendations do not lead to a true reduction in spending. The fire protection fee adds about $2.40 per month to our City Utility bill. This is technically a “tax increase” in the form of a new fee. Whether or not the unions will allow employee benefits to be reduced is far from known at this time as well.

If benefits are really being looked at as a source of savings, then the policy group did not dig deep enough. During the last election the salaries of Fort Wayne officials were called in to question.  Our Mayor, Chief Operator, and City Controller are all paid more than Indiana State Governor Mike Pence who makes $111,687.94 per year.  There is a case to be made that salaries of top officials have climbed past appropriate levels given the financial state of the city.

It’s important to remember that the property tax caps were enacted by Indiana voters to reduce the size and spending of local government. Cities and counties that responded to the call for smaller government across the state are in strong financial shape. Cities like Fort Wayne, whose administration lacked even the most basic of fiscal discipline, are now in need of new revenues to maintain their poor spending practices.

Citizens must demand that their local government act as good stewards of tax dollars and pass balanced budgets. Families across the state have made difficult decisions in the face of a down economy and the government should be expected to do the same.

Until the city learns how not to spend more than it takes in, handing over more tax dollars to the city administration to solve the budget problem is equivalent to giving an alcoholic more booze to sober him up.

Ryan Ripley is a 33 year old husband and father of two from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a BS in Business Administration. Prior to joining the Libertarian Party Ryan ran for a seat on the Marshall County Council in 2010 and on the Plymouth Common Council in 2011 as a Democrat. During that time he also served as the acting Chairman of the Marshall County Democratic Party. Ryan can be found on Twitter (@ryanripley) and can also be reached at ryan@ryanripley.com

Guest Submissions can be sent to Ruiz@wearelibertarians.com. Please provide links to any sources cited in your submission. Every variety of libertarian thought is welcomed. However, We Are Libertarians will keep up a standard of professionalism and as such will not accept pieces based solely on conspiracy theories and/or  pieces that are overly obscene. We look forward to your contributions! 

Ripley: Rhetoric Chess


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Shortly after joining the Libertarian Party I realized that this is a community of intelligent, policy-minded individuals. Discussions can become deep quickly and often become impassioned. The Constitution is upheld and defended on principle, conspiracy theories are traded like baseball cards, and holes in economic theories are called out faster than you can say Henry Hazlitt.

From the inside the community looks like a bazaar of ideas being freely shared and sharpened. From the outside, it simply looks bizarre.

This outside perception is problematic. An election is won by convincing people to show up to the polls and vote for your candidate. These people have mortgages to pay, kids to feed, and all of the other distractions of day-to-day living. Their limited attention to our message must fit into this very small window of opportunity and it must appeal to the typical voter.  But this is no easy task.

Being the “Party of Principle” complicates this situation even further. The positions that we take as libertarians are typically well researched, constitutional, and counter-culture. Without the proper context, our positions can seem extreme. Take for example the stance that the Department of Education (DoE) should be eliminated.

In “Liberty Defined,” Dr. Ron Paul provides the key arguments against the DoE:

  • There is no constitutional authority for the federal government to be involved in education.
  • There is no evidence that the $70 billion spent annually on the DoE has improved the quality of education.
  • The current system is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, most Americans view our public education system as a “sacred cow” that shapes our society and provides the best education in the world. What we have here is the right idea, but the wrong message.

Fortunately, Republicans and Democrats have perfected the art of condensing their messages into sound bites that are easy for voters and the media to consume. By borrowing this technique we can frame the discussion around our principles and have policy discussions on our terms. This important skill improves communication with the voters and prepares candidates for debates where two minute responses are the norm.

Let’s look again at education. We know the federal story, however; at the local level the Libertarian Party supports school choice and advocates strongly for parents and teachers to be the authority on the curriculum used in the classroom. This is a good statement, but can we frame the story to our advantage? Keep in mind that many of the voters we are targeting know the teachers in their communities. Vouchers and other school choice programs have been characterized as anti-teacher initiatives.

Framing the discussion away from the constitutional argument and far from the emotional pitfalls of changing the public education system, we can have a more meaningful discussion. Consider the ultimate prize of the libertarian position and it is simple to come up with a properly framed statement on education:  Hoosiers should decide how to educate their children, not politicians.

That statement reveals the ultimate benefit of the libertarian approach to education and it is easy for the voters to remember. Our opponents could try to agree with the statement, but their votes to fund the Department of Education betray such efforts to mislead the public. At that point we can dive deeper in to the issue and have the discussion on our terms.

Taxation is another topic that causes emotions to run high. When libertarians talk about eliminating income and property taxes some people immediately agree. Others worry that the government would no longer provide “essential services”.

If we tell the voters that every government spent dollar is taxed away from us we frames the taxation discussion in terms of cutting spending – which will end up eliminating taxes – and also helps a candidate pivot to a related topic – like tax abatements.

After setting the stage with our statement on taxation a candidate could make an impact by asking the following question:  Tax payers create government jobs every day, where’s their abatement?  This framing could lead to some more difficult moments for Republican and Democratic candidates.

It is important to keep in mind that we are not throwing away our principles with this approach. The principles and values of our party are what set us apart from Republicans and Democrats. By framing the discussion in a digestible way, we give undecided votes an on-ramp to our way of thinking. We can throw Rothbard and Spooner at them later. For now, it’s more important that potential voters understand the goal of our policies and realize that they are not as bizarre as some might make them out to be.

Ryan Ripley is a 33 year old husband and father of two from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University with a BS in Business Administration. Prior to joining the Libertarian Party Ryan ran for a seat on the Marshall County Council in 2010 and on the Plymouth Common Council in 2011 as a Democrat. During that time he also served as the acting Chairman of the Marshall County Democratic Party. Ryan can be found on Twitter (@ryanripley) and can also be reached at ryan@ryanripley.com

Guest Submissions can be sent to Ruiz@wearelibertarians.com. Please provide links to any sources cited in your submission. Every variety of libertarian thought is welcomed. However, We Are Libertarians will keep up a standard of professionalism and as such will not accept pieces based solely on conspiracy theories and/or  pieces that are overly obscene. We look forward to your contributions! 

Eppenbaugh: Racism & Engineering

Purdue Engineering

 

It is a given that students in college will always try to find some way to make life a bit more exciting in between studying at 3am, researching a group project at the library, and taking endless amounts of exams. These extra-curricular activities range from bar runs, to frat parties, to minor mischief. However, a group of students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana decided to pass the time by creating a music video. At the same time, they proved that engineers lie about how much work they actually do. A bunch of engineering students, created a parody song titled “This is Engineering,” of the song “Thrift Shop,” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. In the video they sing about how they do a lot of work and dance around many of the classrooms on campus. They even get Purdue President Mitch Daniels involved in the video. Now who could potentially be against such a video (Indiana University fans not withstanding)?

Believe it or not there is someone who is against the video (and they’re from Purdue no less).  Bill Mullen, Professor of English and American Studies wrote an op-ed for the Lafayette Journal-Courier claiming that Purdue University should take down the video because there was not enough diversity in it. Professor Mullen makes “demands,” including taking down the video and providing money for a video with a diverse group. He gives no proof that the University directly funded this video. For all we know the students put up no money, and just asked various people throughout the University to use their equipment. As a member of the Purdue Anti-racism coalition, he makes a lot of assumptions about the video that help fuel racism.

It seems that people tend to understand things a lot better when Morgan Freeman is talking about any topic. He gave an interview on 60 Minutes with Mike Wallace on racism. Morgan Freeman gives the perfect solution for stopping racism, and that is to stop talking about it. It seems that there are too many people who still look at the color of a person’s skin. Dr. Martin Luther King believed that there would be a time where his, “four little children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

Racism exists because we talk about it too much, not because we don’t talk about it enough. Politicians on both sides of the aisle use race to advance their own agendas. Whatever happened to looking at someone as a Man or a Woman? Either people have forgotten about it, or they’ve never been taught it.

Gary D. Eppenbaugh is a Guest Contributor. 

Guest Submissions can be sent to Ruiz@wearelibertarians.com. Please provide links to any sources cited in your submission. Every variety of libertarian thought is welcomed. However, We Are Libertarians will maintain a standard of professionalism and as such will not accept pieces based solely on conspiracy theories and/or  pieces that are overly obscene. We look forward to your contributions!  – Joe Ruiz, Managing Editor

Morrell: The Mike Pence Plan

pence

 

This might come as a surprise to pretty much everyone: I am a Libertarian and a pragmatist. I want a slim government (Local, State, and Federal).

Governor Mike Pence is trying to pass a 10% tax cut on Indiana incomes. From a distance it sounds like a nice proposal. But to be honest, Indiana has pretty well right-sized government. Our constitution requires the state to provide some very important services. We have to provide for excellent common schools. Our citizens chose a state government that provides for top-notch transportation. Heck, our motto is “The Crossroads of America.”

The Pence plan would reduce our income taxes from 3.4 to 3.1%. If you make $35K a year, that is a tax burden of $1,190 bucks. The Pence plan saves you about $105 a year…Sorry but you are really not going to miss those savings.
Now the State Senate wants to reduce the proposed tax cut to a mere 3%. That is a whopping $45 bucks a year. That way the Senate can save face for the Governor’s campaign promise of cutting taxes. The Senate is simply trying to find a small victory that they can celebrate for the next cycle. We need real tax cuts, but not from Indiana’s income tax. We need them from federal taxes, local property taxes, and sales taxes. Of all of the taxes I pay, the Indiana income tax is probably the most reasonable.

Like I said, I am a Libertarian. I want to cut taxes, streamline government, and LIVE FREE. But for $45 bucks a year? Keep that cash and come up with a real way to make my life more free. Improve the roads, lower my property taxes, or repeal a law or two, or three.

Jeremiah Morrell is a Guest Contributor at We Are Libertarians. He was the 2012 LPIN candidate for State Representative in District 54, earning 27% of the vote. Jeremiah has served on the LPIN’s State Central Committee for three terms. He holds a BS in Management from Indiana Wesleyan University. As almost all other Libertarians, Jeremiah works a day job that allows him to work within the LP.  He is a Sales Representative at Gerdau, selling steel in Indiana and Kentucky.

Guest Submissions can be sent to Ruiz@wearelibertarians.com. Please provide links to any sources cited in your submission. Every variety of libertarian thought is welcomed. However, We Are Libertarians will keep up a standard of professionalism and as such will not accept pieces based solely on conspiracy theories and/or  pieces that are overly obscene. We look forward to your contributions! 

Knarr: “DOMA” is a Misnomer

DOMA, which stands for the Defense of Marriage Act, is quite inappropriately named. First of all, there is nothing contained in it that defends my marriage. Second, even if I did need some outside party to defend my marriage (which I don’t), I certainly would not choose the government to do so.

How does DOMA defend my marriage? By refusing to acknowledge someone else’s marriage? That is exclusivity, not defense. Refusal to acknowledge the marriage of two loving people does not make my marriage more sound anymore than refusing someone else food makes me more full. It is simply a ridiculous idea. The value and sanctity of my marriage is based solely upon the value my wife and I place on our marriage and how we act within the bounds of that marriage.

I don’t know how many times I have heard, since this debate started, that “the Bible defines marriage as one man and one woman.” I find it ironic that in a country which was founded largely to escape religious persecution, so many would use their own religion to persecute others. Not everyone in this country is a Christian. And not all Christians in this country use their religion as a reason to deny others their Constitutional right to equal protection under the law. I do not want to live under Sharia law, regardless of which religion it is that is imposing it on the rest. I consider it a great thing that residents of this country are free to choose any religion they want, or no religion at all, if that is their preference.

As for the idea of the government being the one to defend my marriage, that is simply out of the question. How is a government which cannot balance the budget, repeatedly violates our civil rights in name of “security” (NDAA, Patriot Act, TSA, etc), and starts wars with no exit strategy supposed to make me feel more secure in my marriage? I would sooner entrust my marriage to a pack of wolves. At least they understand the concept of loyalty.

In summary, the time for DOMA to be overturned was before it was ever passed and signed into law. But as the saying goes, better late than never. It is past time that we live up the ideal put forth in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal.”

Knarr: On the State of the Union Address

We need to socialize everything we can, ensure that only the government is armed for your own good, end the war in Afghanistan sometime (but only when Israel and AIPAC are ready for us to go to war somewhere else), improve the economy by spending more of your hard-earned dollars, and continue the policy of nation building and sending our money overseas. That is the sentiment of what I heard during President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address last night.

That is it in a nutshell. These are really the exact same policies that the Republicans are promoting – just wrapped in a different nutshell. When are we going to wake up and realize that whether it is a peanut or a macadamia nut, once we crack them open, they are still nuts?

How can we change it? Well, it’s easy really.

Bring the troops home tomorrow and let the Department of Defense concentrate on defense. Pass a balanced budget in 2013 and demand a balanced budget every year from here on out just like the rest of us have to do at home. Get the government out of healthcare, out of the way of our teachers, and out of our wallets. Stop the printing presses at the Federal Reserve and make the United States of America operate on a budget. Live on the hard work and sweat and blood this country was founded on.


Most importantly as my friend, Andy Horning always says, “If you keep voting for what you have always voted for, you will keep getting what you have always got.” It is time for a change from the two-party system. Check out your local or state Libertarian Party. We are the real voice for change and we will stand for what’s right for the American people each and every day.

Ken Knarr is a Guest Contributor. 

Guest Submissions can be sent to Ruiz@wearelibertarians.com. Please provide links to any sources cited in your submission. Every variety of libertarian thought is welcomed. However, We Are Libertarians will maintain a standard of professionalism and as such will not accept pieces based solely on conspiracy theories and/or  pieces that are overly obscene. We look forward to your contributions!  – Joe Ruiz, Managing Editor