For Libs at Ray McGovern talk last Sunday

The Libertarian Exemplars, and a Call to Duty

by Karen Kwiatkowski <mailto:ksusiek@…>

I see libertarians as the Stoics of our tattered Republic. We are
certainly the descendants of the anti-federalists, and I like to think
we are the Patrick Henrys and the Nathan Hales of the 21st century. Yet,
recently I read Lew Rockwell's critique of the new national LP Platform
in his article "The LP's Turkish Delight
<> ."

Rockwell notes that the national LP has put on a new suit, one that may
become uncomfortable, sooner rather than later. The suit is made from
conformity, and perhaps it was sewn together in an attempt to sweep vast
numbers of dissatisfied voters into the Libertarian fold.

There are plenty of dissatisfied voters these days. And for every
dissatisfied voter, there are at least two dissatisfied non-voters.
November 7th, 2006 will bring many libertarian-minded folks to state and
national offices. Many of these newly elected people will be
Independents and Democrats.

I hope Libertarians win political offices, and I'm sure we will. As the
political heirs of Jefferson, it seems right that we participate in
politics, and play the political game - as well as educate the public
and serve as a standard bearer of human dignity and liberty
<> , a youthful and pure David against the
well-armed Goliath that is the State. In truth, races we run are races
we win - regardless of the votes gained.

When a Libertarian runs for election, he or she makes it OK for the
silent majority to consider a real alternative - to learn about the true
meaning of human liberty, to see free speech in action, to imagine the
spirit of an earlier time when the poor and the wealthy, the educated
and the uneducated could stand together and boldly challenge an
all-powerful, incredibly quick-to-anger state bureaucracy, and its elite

Retired CIA analyst and peace activist Ray McGovern recently gave a
speech, quoting the Jesuit priest Dan Berrigan, "There are no makers of
peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of
war - at least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to
bring disgrace and prison, and death in its wake."

In talking to Ray afterwards it occurred to me that this is what it is
really all about. It is indeed about laying it on the line for what we
believe, whether that means opposing bad policies, laws, or governments
or promoting good ones.

The LP top leadership perhaps chose a Clintonesque third way on some
parts of the 2006 platform. But why shouldn't party leadership
compromise? In many ways, it is exactly the same compromise we make
ourselves every day, when we talk the talk to the television set, but
stop short of educating our neighbors, our local papers' editorial
board, our town councils. It is the same compromise we make when we
worry that our libertarian beliefs won't be well received by others, or
that we can't articulate or defend them in a powerful way. It is the
same compromise we make when we say "I can't run for office," even
though in the modern age, it has never been easier to fill out the
forms, get the signatures, spread the word and as if it mattered - win
the vote, too.

In terms of America's future, there are many dark scenarios we may
rightly fear. But this country may also rise to the challenge of
recovering some of the more useful attitudes of the Founders, and
employing them both locally and nationally.

The Stoics advised, "abstain from beans." Colored beans represented the
cherished act of Athenian democracy, the vote. Yet Stoics, those very
model citizens of Athens advised against giving the "beans" too much
importance. Patrick Henry asked, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as
to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?" We all know how he
answered that question, and this sentiment of a laying down life for
liberty is echoed by Father Berrigan, and by noble heroes everywhere.

In a time of war, Captain Nathan Hale regretted having but one life to
give for his country. The most important battle in America today is not
whether Republicans will keep the House, or Democrats will be able or
willing to change the course of our domestic or foreign politics. It is
not whether Libertarians will succeed in politics in a given election
cycle. It is whether we will live free on this land we have inherited
from those who understood when to compromise, and when to boldly and
defiantly stand up and fight.

Our libertarian example to the rest of the country, and perhaps the
world, is powerful beyond words and beyond measure. More importantly,
the role of spokesman for liberty, advocate for freedom, and warrior
against the Leviathan falls overwhelmingly to libertarians.
Notwithstanding the national LP program of the year, or races won and
lost, we must never forget that we are this nation's modern Stoics, we
are her Patrick Henrys, we are her Nathan Hales. Let us go forth in that
spirit, and damn the consequences!

This was first published in Virginia Liberty <> ,
September/October 2006.

September 28, 2006

Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail <mailto:ksusiek@…> ],
a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a
libertarian perspective for <>
, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum
<> , and blogs occasionally for <> and Liberty and
Power <> . Archives of her American Forum
radio program can be accessed here <>
and here <> . To receive automatic
announcements of new articles, click here
<> .

Copyright (c) 2006

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