James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, May 16, 2005

Lost Cause A, B, or C

Advocates of liberty and small, limited government have three options, all bleak.

Lost cause A is the two-party system, so lost in its corruption and busy-body fascism that it votes in the Senate 100-0 to continue the murder of Iraqis and the creation of a National ID internal passport. Only strong, well-organized, and well-funded challenges in primary elections can re-build small government "wings" within the two-party system.

Lost cause B is the third party option. This has been marred by prohibitive ballot access, lack of funding, disorganization, faddish or come-and-go interest, and, dare I say it, ideological extremism. (If people would have to agree with a philosophy before joining a party, they are less likely to do either) Only a strong, well-organized, and well-funded campaign with well-known and accomplished leader and consistent growth can make this a realistic happening.

Lost cause C is the non-electoral option. This includes the hard-core libertarian who won't vote because that is giving "consent" to the government (but who will still file income tax returns to avoid jail). The hope is that the entire system will collapse at the same time freedom ideals are spread and embraced amongst the people. But the reality is that the principled non-vote is counted the same as is the 65 million who don't vote because they don't give a damn one way or another. Option C is not viable at all unless it is a well-organized tax revolt. But if jail (or worse) is not the price to pay to lead a tax revolt, it is pretty damn hard to condemn advocates of causes A or B who want to at least drastically cut everyone's taxes and restore liberty by repealing laws.

Casting my lot with A or B does not imply "consent" to the regime, nor would allying myself in coalition with those who have reconciled to the State. But the question is, which is most realistic and feasible, to reform an existing American institution (one or both of the two parties), or establish a new American insitution (a new major, competitive, permanent party)?

What is the most principled course? To lead a tax revolt, or at least to spurn the tax laws individually. If we do not do that, then the best we are doing is still compromising. We are forced to make "lesser of two evil" judgments of one kind or another, and what I have to do is to prioritize the issues according to my values, to compromise on the least important, in order to advance the most important.

I confess that what I think we need, whether through the two-party system or a third party, is a great leader, someone who can sell our ideas by selling himself, and who can also sell himself by selling our ideas. Such a mix is hard to find in the media age, and anyone we may find is going to have faults and ideological impurities. But if such a leader emerges, I doubt we can any longer spurn him or her for any ideological impurities.

Let us remember: liberty is not a religious ideal, in which heretics are expelled. It is instead, a political end, and those who can deliver more of it than we have now, should be rewarded.


  1. I maintain that there is a fourth option: Independents.

    Look at Vermont. Bernie Sanders has won how many elections as an Independent? It can be done. An uphill battle in most other states to be sure. But, it seems a more doable option than the third party option.

  2. I agree with Kevin - Independents form a fourth useless option.

    The way to do it is to get everybody connected in a totally transparent communications system that allows thinking people to debate topics throughout the election period and introduces the candidate the day before the election in such a way that the megaparty and their lapdog media have no time to react with muddy slings and arrows.
    My guess is that it can be done through civil disobedience in the tradion of Thoreau and Ghandi - but only if our numbers hold fast. I think the state/non-state dichotemy requires us non-state folks to invent a different game entirely for resolving our own political disagreements. Perhaps a mock judicial website where normal people can play solomon and decide issues for other normal people?

  3. of course - calling us normal people is quite a leap. :-)

  4. Interestingly enough there now appears to be a 5th option: Make elections nonpartisan.

    Oregon may try it: http://theindependentvoter.com/2005/05/toying-with-nonpartisanship.html