The Militant Libertarian

I'm pissed off and I'm a libertarian. What else you wanna know?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

What If They Held An Election and Nobody Voted?


If, in addition to (a) George W. Bush, (b) John Kerry and (c) Ralph Nader, the presidential ballot included (d) "none of the above," there is reason to believe that (d) would win. How is it possible that this presidential race will spend more money on more sophisticated techniques than any other campaign in our history and end up generating less enthusiasm for any of the candidates?

The fact is that presidential campaigns now focus on increasingly narrow strategies to win the electoral vote, while neglecting the larger concerns of the population as a whole. Indeed, no presidential candidate since 1988 has even won a majority of the popular vote.

Consider some of the changes that have led presidential campaigns to seem disconnected from the lives and concerns of most Americans.

* Rather than campaigning in all 50 states, candidates now focus on a few key precincts in a handful of strategic battleground states. In 1960, for example, Richard Nixon announced that he would campaign in all 50 states, reaching every American with his message. Now, unless you live in one of 15 to 20 battleground states, you are unlikely to see a candidate or, in some cases, even view many television commercials. By Election Day, the campaign may be aggressively contended in as few as three states. Don't the rest of us count? * Instead of addressing the undecided voters in the middle, the Bush campaign has been concentrating on energizing its partisan base. Historically, presidential campaigns begin with roughly 40 percent of voters in each camp, and the campaign is aimed at the 20 percent of undecided voters who will determine the outcome. In this race, however, people have lined up quickly on one side or the other and less than 10 percent of voters remain undecided. If only the battleground states really matter, then the number of important uncommitted voters is smaller still, perhaps only 2 percent to 3 percent. Energizing your base is a more partisan style of campaigning that increases the disconnect with other voters. * Reaching the target audience in this campaign reinforces negative impressions voters have about each candidate. When Bush seeks to invigorate his Republican base, he comes off as more partisan, talking about issues in black-and-white, even divisive, terms. On the other hand, when Kerry carries out his more traditional strategy of reaching undecided voters in the middle, he impresses people as too complex and wishy-washy. Experts say that when people watch the presidential debates, they are swayed when candidates reinforce negative concerns voters already have about them. This is already happening and is part of the campaign disconnect.

To put it simply, this presidential campaign is too much about too little. It features more and more of the things people do not like about politics: heavy spending, negative campaigning and saturation marketing and advertising. And it is less and less about the issues that concern most Americans. Polls consistently show that the two issues that top lists of voter concern are the economy and Iraq. But, instead, the campaign seems to be mired in either culture wars (marriage amendments, stem-cell research, abortion and the like) or the wars of history (Vietnam and the swift boats).

In his classic 1991 book, Why Americans Hate Politics, E.J. Dionne argued that voters were weary of meaningless campaigns that offered voters false either/or answers to ideological issues. Instead, Dionne suggested, voters generally live closer to the center and desire candidates who would seek remedies to our real problems. Dionne's book anticipated the need for a political center, which appeared briefly in the 1990s, but didn't last very long.

An old adage holds, "Never make predictions, especially about the future." With the growing campaign disconnect, it is not difficult to predict that, though someone will win, he will win ugly and will find it difficult to govern an increasingly alienated electorate. The longer view suggests that candidates should run the race in such a way as to make the prize truly worth winning.

(David Davenport, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of public policy at Pepperdine University, teaches a course on presidential campaigns.)

C Copyright 2004 by Capitol Hill Blue

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Thursday, September 16, 2004


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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Worst Case Scenario Under Anarchy

by Anthony Gregory

Let's pretend for a moment that governments on all levels vanished instantly. What would happen?

Well, if the governments had vanished because people embraced the ideals of liberty, property, peace, and non-aggression, I honestly think that within a couple decades, poverty as we know it would be gone from most of the earth, warfare would nearly go extinct, and voluntary cooperation and the free exchange of goods, services, and ideas would bring about an amazing, unbelievably high standard of living for almost all people of the world.

We would have flying cars, cures for cancer, even faster internet connections, a wonderful plethora of new foods, music, arts, and technology. There would be less fighting in the streets, less rudeness on the roads, much less cultural intolerance among different peoples, and the life spans of mortal human beings would continue to climb, perhaps beyond 200 years.

I really believe this. There would still be some violent crime, and there will always be uptight jerks everywhere. But even the prevalence of these would decline greatly.

Some of my favorite websites and organizations would likely go under, which would be one down side. With the state uprooted, Strike The Root would have less a reason to go on, other than, perhaps, to feature the wonderful photos by Rob. and would likely lose their financial base. The Independent Institute, where I work as an intern, would have to find new targets of criticism and analysis, or also close down.

The Libertarian Party would split. Those in the organization who are anarchists at heart would feel relieved that they do not have to devote so much time to the gruesome political process anymore. Those in the party who are minarchists, or who actually like working within the system, would focus their efforts on bringing the state back into existence, just so they could have something to do.

All of these downsides would be quite tolerable for the benefits I'd expect from a truly free society.

Let's say, however, that the masses are not devoted to freedom, peace, and markets. Let's say that they are still prone to accept the institutionalization of violence. What, then, would be the worst-case scenario under anarchy?

First, various bands of crooks with adequate resources and skills in propaganda would begin to dominate whatever geographic areas they could. They would split the land up among themselves, and protect their boundaries with turf wars and armed goons.

They would likely extort "protection" money from the peaceful inhabitants of their geographic area. At first, the theft would be slight. Eventually, they would come to exact, through threats of force, larger and larger portions of the incomes of the people they claim to "protect."

If these criminal gangs were truly astute, they would begin to monopolize, through violence, various industries. They would dominate the roads, the local shops, communications, and major manufacturers. The more money they stole through their protection rackets, the easier it would be for them to cartelize industry. The more they cartelized industry, the easier it would be to exact more in protection money.

If the gangs really wanted to control the population, they would attempt to control money itself, monopolizing banking, forcing participation in their money racket, threatening competitors with violent retribution, and counterfeiting cash whenever they needed more than they could extort directly – empowering and enriching themselves and their cronies while impoverishing the general population.

They would need to keep enough of the masses on their side through propaganda and clever schemes of handing out some of the loot they stole, lest the masses revolt. They would – in the worst-case scenario, that is – try to get parents to surrender their children to indoctrination camps, calling them "schools." Again, they could only get away with this if those parents still believed in the institutionalization of violence.

Maybe the warlord criminal gangs would begin claiming ownership over everyone's lives, telling inhabitants of the geographic regions that they dominate what those people could and could not do with their own bodies. The gangs would also try to take away everyone's guns, and make sure they monopolized the deadliest weapons.

Once in a while, the criminal gangs would have serious conflicts with each other, either over territorial disputes or simply for the purpose of showing off, and they would engage in terrible shoot-outs with each other, killing innocent bystanders and even forcing innocent people to fund and fight in those battles.

So, if people cling on to and accept the institutionalization of violence in their lives, then under anarchy there might emerge – in the very worst-case scenario – governments. This is basically how governments emerged in the first place.

Of course, if governments come to be, it would cease to be anarchy, and we would be back to square one. Strike The Root would be back in business, and we anarchists would return to our efforts to scale back the state – a task that would primarily entail getting people to abandon their acceptance of the institutionalization of violence.

The worst-case scenario I outline is very unlikely to occur under anarchy, because governments are not simply going to vanish overnight. We won't get anarchy unless general attitudes change. If people outright reject the institutionalization of violence, they will refuse to let governments or any criminal gangs steal their money, push them around, or kidnap and indoctrinate their youth.

When people reject institutionalization of violence, it will cease to be. In this sense, anarchy is unrealistic only so long as most people think it is.

But if the worst-case scenario – and I mean the worst-case scenario – that we can expect under anarchy is simply the end of anarchy and the reemergence of government, it seems we have very little to lose in calling for an end to state violence. If the worst-case scenario of something coming to life is that very same thing dying out, that hardly seems sufficient reason not to work toward its birth. Many good things worth working toward die eventually.

We can always hope for the best, or even the not quite worst. And if we do get the worst, it's no worse than what we now have.

Anthony Gregory is a writer and musician who lives in Berkeley,
California. He earned his bachelor's degree in history at UC
Berkeley, where he was president of the Cal Libertarians. He is an
intern at the Independent Institute and has written for, the Libertarian Enterprise, and See his webpage,, for more articles
and personal information.

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Monday, September 13, 2004

The Draft: Coming Soon?

The following article appears in the latest issue of the Utah Freedom Activist Newsletter.

The Draft: Coming Soon?
by The Militant Libertarian

Is "the draft" just a rumor perpetrated by anti-Bush zealots hoping to shake up some of their "ultra-conservative" counterparts by pandering to their "conspiranoid leanings?"

Nope. It's based on fact. Maybe not everything being said is true, but at least the core idea is correct: there is pending legislation to create a national draft for the military. Not just any draft either…but full-on conscription.

What's the difference? It's semantics, really. A "draft" in our common parlance refers to a temporary war-time measure meant to boost the number of new recruits into the military to fight a war that will, eventually, end. "Conscription," however, has been used by nations throughout history to keep a fixed-size standing military in place and to, in many ways, control the population of their nation through it.

As an example, the United States in recent memory has used a "draft" to bolster ranks temporarily during World War II and Vietnam. Notable nations currently with or recently with conscription (mandatory service) include the USSR, China, pre-WWII-era Japan, and others.

Well, pending legislation now being considered in both the House (HR 163) and the Senate (S 89)-both bills being nearly identical-would require mandatory service for anyone ages 18-26 in our nation's military. This is not a temporary war-time measure, but a permanent conscription required of all.

Is this good or bad?

Consider three things: 1) this is two more years of heavy indoctrination by our government after 12 years of government school; 2) our nation has never, in all its 200-odd years of history, had trouble getting its people to join in and fight a war…until that war was political in nature-ala Vietnam; 3) the 13th Amendment reads, in part, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…"

Indoctrination is what "public schools" (i.e. government-run public schools) are all about. If you don't believe and understand that, you either never attended or are oblivious to what goes on in public school in reality. Increasing federal involvement in once-localized public schools has only worsened the situation. The military, for most of these public school graduates, is nothing more than two more years of slightly more intense indoctrination into the Way of Fascism that is now our form of government. Look up the definition of "fascism" and see if I'm not right.

In two hundred and fifteen years of history (starting from 1789, with the ratification of the Constitution), our nation has fought over twenty conflicts that any American History 101 student can name offhand. Of those, at least half (probably more) were politically-motivated. At least six of those twenty lasted more than one year and cost more than 100,000 American lives. The first of these that any AH101 student can name that required a draft to force more Americans to fight for the "cause" was the Civil War. The latest one in our history is the often-mentioned Vietnam War. The last war we fought that anyone can recall having a draft that wasn't really needed was World War II, in which there were actually more enlistees (volunteers) than there were draftees participating. Americans are willing to stand up and fight when the reasons are justifiable, but loathe to participate when the war is motivated by politics instead of need.

Finally, the 13th Amendment, created to end slavery in this country, does much more than that. It disallows any form of "involuntary servitude" that is not meted out as punishment for a properly tried crime: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction." I don't know about you, but this reads pretty clearly to me and doesn't require a PhD to understand.

One more thing that's interesting to note about the pending draft legislations are their inclusion of women… For the first time in our history, not only is conscription being put into the mix, but women are being included. University attendance, church service (such as LDS missions), etc. are NOT given exemption either. This means your child will have to wait until he or she is 20 to start college or go on a faith-based mission.

I urge you to begin opposing this legislation NOW, and not to wait until it hits "major media news." By then, it may be too late to stop the wheels from turning. If you let them know now that you are aware of it and it makes you unhappy enough to do something about it, you'll make a much bigger impact with your opinion.

Go to, the online U.S. legislative archive, and look for HR 163 and for S 89 in this 108th Congress. Get the facts and act on them!

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Sunday, September 12, 2004

Vote Cheney

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