Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

April 15, 2014

WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

CROSSVILLE — The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

Trippi, a Democratic strategist who engineered campaigns for Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean, argues that a third party can successfully employ emerging technologies to break the major parties’ stranglehold on our political system. He modeled such success with Dean’s campaign in 2004.

Joe predicts that our third largest party, the Libertarians, will be the next big thing. Recent polls show that 10-22% of Americans identify themselves as Libertarians — a party whose platform holds that the only appropriate role for government is to maintain a standing army, provide local security, and establish a court system.

Libertarians can be liberal or conservative. Forty-five percent self-identify as Republicans, while 5 percent are Democratic. The party has been described as mostly white, male, and financially secure. In particular, Tea Party members are enamored with the Libertarian message of smaller government and lower taxes. When former Congressman Ron Paul, a card-carrying Libertarian, was unable to succeed as that party’s presidential candidate in 1988, he decided to join the GOP — and that brings us up to date.

Libertarians attract young folks with their message of social liberty. It’s not uncommon for the young among us to object to being told what to do. Millennial Americans are opposed to NSA spying, TSA body screens, government control of whom one can marry, and drone use. But they think it’s OK for the government to require businesses to be fair to all races. (Libertarian/Tea Party/GOP Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, Ron’s son, had to retract his position that the Civil Rights act of 1964 should be repealed.)

The young don’t have the advantage of experiencing history. But most of us should know better. Like its mirror image, Communism, there has never been a successful Libertarian society. While our Constitution may be construed as a limited government “Libertarian” document, our Founders provided for additional consideration.

We learned that our lives are as threatened by industrial waste as by foreign bullets. We decided it wasn’t OK to get rich off of children in sweatshops, and that racism was cruel and not in anyone’s interest. So government grew. The Libertarian credo that self-interest will be good for all of us is, to be kind, immature. Unchecked it leads to corruption and worse. Cooperation and regulation have proven their worth. Charity is nice, but not enough.

Libertarianism is flawed. The grandmother of the party, author Ayn Rand (a pro-choice atheist — oops!), extolled the triumph of the self and abhorred cooperation and altruism. Her Atlas Shrugged “hero, ” John Galt, showed inordinate disdain for the common folk — a.k.a. “most of us” — who do the grunt work that allows the wealthy to get richer. Not surprisingly, many billionaires, including the notorious Koch brothers, sign on with the Libertarians.

Perhaps the next big party will be hosted by the Libertarians. But be forewarned. Chances are, if the “true believers” of the party make out the guest list, most of us will be not be invited.

• • •

This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, coordinator, at jwund@frontiernet.net.

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