The "Libertarian Bubble"/Tea Party Example

Dear All,

Just a thought, cut and pasted below.



Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Gene Burns' Page

I Have Re-Registered as a Democrat

The fateful lunch took place at about this time 40 years ago. The setting was a media hangout in Baltimore. It was called a restaurant, but was candidly more like a glorified bar, redeemed by the hunk of good beef spit-roasting in the window. Six months into my first job as a talk show host I was eager to expand my ability. I was lunching with the radio station's general manager, Don Kelly, the news director, Cliff Barrett, and promotions director, Joe Clarke. As we methodically tackled sandwiches of rare roast beef sliced from the rotating hunk on fresh kaiser rolls with just a hint of fiery horseradish, the talk turned to the dominant issue of the day.
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I had accepted America's involvement in Viet Nam. Knowing little about the history and complexity of Southeast Asia and remembering that scary summer night when President Lyndon Johnson had somberly reported to the nation that we had been attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, I had said so be it. Now a few years later I had grown skeptical. Persuasive voices suggesting that we had made a mistake grew louder and more insistent. As the death toll in Viet Nam mounted it seemed the price for our involvement in somebody else's fight had become too high. As the "new kid on the block" I was nervous, but finally told my colleagues I had decided to change my position and on my program come out against the war.

Don Kelly asked if I was sure. I said that short of going to Viet Nam personally, I had done everything I could to justify a change in position. "So why don't you go?" the boss asked. "Too expensive," I said. "We'll pay for the trip and you'll send back reports." News Director Cliff Barrett chimed in, announcing, "I want to go too." And so we went.

The trip was life-changing. I returned an ardent foe of the war. As the son of a long line of "blue collar" Democrats, I had registered as a Democrat. When Hubert Humphrey agreed not to oppose the war in order to get Lyndon Johnson's support for the Presidential nomination, I left the Democratic Party and became a Libertarian, an affiliation I maintained until just a few weeks ago.

1968 was a pivotal year in American history. I believe 2008 is also. The Libertarian party has failed to gain meaningful traction for many reasons worth discussing at another time. For now, after a 40-year exile, I have re-registered as a Democrat, allowing me the opportunity to participate in what I see as profound and fateful choices as we attempt desperately needed political and policy course corrections. I can't sit this one out secure in my Libertarian bubble. Oliver Wendell Holmes was correct when he observed that a person must be involved in the passion and action of his or her time or be judged never to have lived.

Rallying the colonists to the daunting task of breaking the yoke of Great Britain, the mightiest power on Earth, the incendiary Thomas Paine observed that the job at hand was too important to be left to "sunshine soldiers and summer patriots." I have that same sense about today.

-Gene Burns