Ramesh Ponnuru  points out yesterday that in a Libertarian fantasy world the Cato institute’s platform would win in a landslide. I would hasten to add that the only reason that the whole thing is a fantasy is because nobody’s bothered trying to sell the American public on it. It’s that vision thing, again, that changing of minds, that’s lacking, here.
All that Cato, the Libertarian party, and so many other groups of the same ilk, have managed to do is to preach to the choir. There is no outreach to speak of, no serious attempt to mainstream the philosophy. As such, nobody really understands what they’re about, what the philosophy is about, and the ramifications of that philosophy put into policy. Nothing in the operational manual apparently about changing minds, which is that long process I spoke to with Billy Beck some months ago, and with several others since. Changing minds is always the harder thing to do, and in the short term, the less productive. We have become, I fear, a nation of short termers, even those who claim otherwise.
The libertairan movement…. (in which I include the small L and the big) which already suffers under images of kookdom, as a result of that lack of salesmanship, does itself no favors when it nominates genuine kooks like Bob Barr, to the banner’s attempt at the White House. This is decidedly not how to change minds. They’re after the short term gain. McGehee, yesterday , remarked that Bob Barr’s platform sounds amazingly like that of Pat Buchanan. And he’s right. Frankly, both of them have ideas that I find attractive. Yet there is enough kook in them both to turn me off to the whole thing. And the LP signs off on their candidacy because they bring money into the party, and fresh blood. Trouble is, the fresh blood they bring in knows little about what the part is all about past what Barr, in this case, mouths at them… a lot of which seems contrary to the libertarian talking points of even the recent past.
Perhaps part of the problem is that the Libertarian party, like the Democrat and Republican parties, respectively, can’t figure out itself, what it stands for, and thus falls victoim to it’s own short term goals. The party finds itself in unworkable conflicts as regards its basic philosophy and premise. But they’re not alone.
A look across the aisle in the Republican and Democrat parties, it shows a similar situation, where the ends of the party continued to march in their opposite directions. Thus do we see in the Democratic Party for example, the item spectacle of Hillary Clinton being labeled the lesser candidate, because she’s not liberal enough, supposedly. And, thus do we see the Republican Party dealing with a nominee who for the most part, is not conservative enough.
Look; The left had massive success from the 1930s forward, mostly because they took the long view of things. They had a vision in their heads, and were willing to work overtime to convince other people of that vision. Whatever it took; Fireside Chats, and the like. Thus it was that they had nearly 70 years of uninterrupted dominance in both houses of Congress. The whole of the political spectrum these days, and so much of our society, even absent politicking, anymore, refuses to take that long view. That possibly is our problem.
My own view of the last several cycles has been to elect people who would do us the least damage, so as to allow us to grow past the immediate. The long view, after all, is nothing if not survivalist. It’s that point now, which causes me to have struggles with a vote for John McCain; will we in fact, survive the man in the White House?
And with the short term blinders on, will we be able to identify the politically survivable path when we find it?