Yesterday a friend of mine published this video from Reason on Facebook. It struck a chord with me. A negative cord. Did I laugh? I’ll let you be the judge of the humor content.
This was my initial response.
Yes, let’s piss on the one good thing that is occurring in this election. Surely that won’t piss off the other 80% of the population.
“Nice shooting, Tex.”
What the video represents is precisely the kind of miscue that first started alienating me from the LP and libertarians. They just can’t see the kinds of emotions their attempts at humor generate. That their principled stands generate. They are, as most of us are, their own worst enemy.
What this reminds me of is the LP precinct meeting I attended immediately following the attacks on 9-11. I’m going somewhere with this. Let me take you there.
Try if you can to imagine that time, even if you were there. Shell shocked. In denial that we could be targeted by a foreign group, in the heart of one of the greatest cities on Earth. The entire world in mourning over the senseless loss of life and destruction. The first rumors of retaliation were circulating, and a meeting was convened at the precinct level of the Libertarian party with the specific purpose of passing a resolution condemning retaliation and war.
Now try to imagine me in this situation. It’s hard. I know. I’ve been told enough times. Here I am, a guy who roundly condemned Bush I for being a warmonger. It was how I became a libertarian. Hung images up in my cubicle at work that made my employers livid. I was a radical advocate for staying the hell out of the Middle East, slipping flyers into free magazines and newspapers in the area condemning the First Gulf War. Celebrated joyously when the conflict was over in weeks.
And I know that this resolution proposed by my peers in the Libertarian party was completely the wrong move. I know it, in my gut. It is going to alienate people who rightly think we have to strike back at whoever attacked us. It ignored the real possibility of continued violence on the part of the group that we had just started hearing about, Al Qaeda and their leader Osama Bin Laden. It was the wrong thing, politically, morally, strategically.
So I went to the meeting specifically to scuttle the motion, prodded by a few members who agreed with me that sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. We were on a surge in popularity in Texas at the time, needing to get recognizable percentages of votes to stay on the ballot, and negative press about the pacifist Libertarian party was not going to play well in gun-toting Texas.
I had been looking into how to postpone a motion and had stumbled across the idea (or it had been whispered to me, I can’t remember) of motion to table. So I made that motion and it was promptly seconded by my allies and the purpose of the meeting was defeated. Some of my more pacifist friends were livid with anger. Why? Why would you do that?
I tried to explain to them that the trends that had been set in motion were bigger than a personal stand against war and violence. That standing in the way of the juggernaut that was about to be unleashed was suicidal at best. In the end, several of them never forgave me for that sneaky tactic, and that is understandable. The discomfort I felt after that event lead me to study Robert’s Rules and in so doing I realized that I had broken the tabling rule as it is currently spelled out. But we got what we wanted and the Texas LP was one of the few branches of the LP that didn’t denounce the retaliation that occurred in Afghanistan.
I questioned my own wisdom when Bush II decided to go to war in Iraq on what I just as firmly believed was a contrivance, a method to establish a firm beachhead in the Middle East from which to advance throughout the area, subjecting it to American rule through proxies. And for awhile it looked like he might actually succeed in that operation. Until the resistance started, and the costs mounted and the housing bubble collapsed in 2007.
The financial bubble bursting is what made it possible to hope again, politically. Which is a weird way to look at it, but it was the culmination of nearly 30 years of Reaganomics and it was bound to happen eventually given that trickle-down economics just doesn’t work.
So it wasn’t just coincidence that Obama’s campaign tag was “Hope & Change” and I really wished him luck on that course. In hindsight it looks like he’s been a very good president, possibly the best one to serve in my lifetime. But now his 8 years are at an end, and we need to decide where to go next.
Which brings us to that video, and my sense of where we are now.
There is a wisdom in large groups. Large groups of people will generally come to a better estimate of value, quantity, etc. than any one member of the group can achieve. We have known Hillary Clinton for a very long time. I hated on her along with most of my fellow Texans through her husband’s entire presidency. Still cringe remembering how I had to explain sex to my children because of something the president was caught doing. Was outraged by the parsing of is in lawyer speak like so many others.
But Hillary Clinton happened to be right. Which is also weird to admit now. Right on a number of things. We rejected her as not having enough experience in 2008, and she wisely went back to the drawing board, was appointed Secretary of State and managed to do a passing good job at a very difficult task. Perhaps one of the most difficult times to be a Secretary of State for the United States.
And now she is the presumptive nominee of the Democratic party, a feat that no woman in history has achieved. She has proven herself to be a consummate politician, outmaneuvering many of her peers so that she was the presumed candidate for the Democrats long before she even officially threw her hat into the ring.
But another way to look at the primary is that Clinton employed a less masculine strategy to win. She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 208 members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; only eight have endorsed Sanders.Ezra Klein on Vox.com
The fact that a woman has finally run the gauntlet and will likely receive her parties nomination is well worth celebrating; and if she wins, it is more likely to be because she is perceived to be a better leader by the average person, than it is that she’s a woman.
Deriding her because of the imperfections (near fatal flaws, worst case) of the government she will take control of is not only unfair or unjust, but puts the lie forward as the truth; that we cannot change government with her in charge. If that is true then nobody in that chair or in any chair in government can make changes to government by their participation, and that is obviously false on its face.
The bully pulpit has limited power. There are a whole host of ways to make changes in government without taking control of the presidency. Ways that are better, more reliable and possibly welcomed by her government if she is elected. What she will bring with her is the most progressive slate of Democrats to be seen since at least LBJ’s time in office, and if we support them we may actually see the change that Obama promised eight years ago.
I’m not supporting Hillary Clinton because she is a woman. I’m not supporting her because I think she will win. This is the first time in my life where I actually think one of the candidates for the two major parties is a decent choice before they were elected to office. Weirdly that happens to be Hillary Clinton. No one is more surprised by this than I am.