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Policy Libertarians and Underpants Gnomes

July 27, 2009

Recently I attended FreedomFest with Patri and a few other members of the Seasteading crew. Most of the lectures were fairly uninteresting – partially because the conference was selling speaking slots, and partially because most of the people there were thoroughly invested in the underpants gnomes‘ theory of politics:

Phase 1: Talk about why small government would be awesome
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

The most hilarious example of this was Nelson Hultberg’s speech entitled “The Ron Paul Revolution: Why We Must Form A Third Political Party To Win It.” Hultberg is the head of Americans for a Free Republic, a non-profit which seems to have little purpose other than selling Hultberg’s book. But the mission statement provided on the website gives us some excellent material to rip apart.

Most Republican politicians begin their careers with the desire to slay this spending dragon on the Potomac. They imagine themselves as Jimmy Stewart in the famous movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; but they soon cave in to the reality of the system and realize they must tax and spend like the Democrats in order to be re-elected. They learn early on that the easiest way to power is to maintain the tools of wealth redistribution, i.e., fiat money inflation and the progressive income tax.

Excellent analysis! This Hultberg fellow would fit in well here at ATN.

Thus the evil of our present political system can never be ended by trying to change Republican behavior. It can only be ended by changing the monetary and tax systems that lie at the root of the contemptible “vote buying” in which our politicians partake.

Uh-oh. It seems we are in something of a pesky double bind. The very people we need to change the monetary and tax systems have a direct incentive not to do so, because they need those systems to get elected. But fear not, Hultberg has a solution: A Third Party!

The only hope to do this is with a third political party…It cannot be just another conventional third-party like the ones we see operating in America today, such as the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party. These parties needlessly marginalize themselves because they don’t understand the fundamental law of politics — incrementalism. They both have ideal visions of the way that society should be organized, and they attempt to implement their visions all at once through the political process.

So let’s see if we have this straight. Libertarians will somehow win an election, despite the fact that only about 15% of the population identifies as libertarian and our first-past-the-post system is extraordinarily biased against third parties, and once they do that, they send a whole bunch of Mr. Smiths’ to Washington, who will then enact a massive radical reform of the Fed and the tax system. Splendid Idea! Except that, because they will be doing so in an incremental fashion, this group of Mr. Smiths will do the exact same thing that Republican legislators have done, and realize that tax and spend is essential to their re-election prospects.

But the looniness doesn’t stop there:

AFR’s third-party strategy will bring this about. It is big time, TV oriented, major league politics that will rock the nation and make history. Millions of voters will rally around such a cause. At least 15%-20% of the American people are thoroughly fed up and will firmly commit to the Two Pillars of reform for the Federal Reserve and the income tax. Americans want a prudent, rational program that will offer them freedom, order, and justice in their lives. They want a party that will end Washington’s relentless expansion and domination of our society.
The Conservative American Party (if led by the right candidate) will have a huge, galvanizing appeal, which will allow it to bring in major money and capture 15%-20% of the vote in 2012, then 35% in 2016 and victory in a three-man race. The Demopublican establishment’s corrupt game of buying votes through debasement of the currency and confiscatory taxation will be over. Big government will die, and freedom will be reborn.

There are people who think that entrepreneurial legal system creation is utopian, unrealistic, and highly unlikely to work. They might be right. But at least we have a Phase 2 that isn’t a giant question mark.

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  2. happyjuggler0 permalink
    July 28, 2009 5:49 am

    To paraphrase your biting comments:

    Incrementalism by Republicans doesn’t work, therefore we need a different party to implement incrementalism.


  3. July 28, 2009 1:01 am

    I love this:

    “There are people who think that entrepreneurial legal system creation is utopian, unrealistic, and highly unlikely to work. They might be right. But at least we have a Phase 2 that isn’t a giant question mark.”

    Excellent comparison! Fun post all around.

  4. July 27, 2009 10:00 pm

    You’re going to get a lot of flame over this one. How dare you refuse to kneel before the greatness that is Ron Paul!


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