Do Third Parties really stand a chance?

This one needs the setup from the email that kicked off the response:

Another obstacle to overcome is the fact that Americans are not used to a third party.  Conservatives may agree with the issues and like the candidate, but we are conditioned to think that we are throwing our vote away when we vote for principle rather than the elephant.  How can we help to change that paradigm?

On the paradigm shift front, we’ve hinted at it in our discussions earlier. People are politically unaware, and because of this they tend to accept the current ‘two’ party system. I hold that these days, there is actually only a SINGLE party, composed of two halves that basically want the same things, they just want their particular brand of those things. Like the ‘Coke vs Pepsi’ debate, you’re still talking about a dark carbonated beverage with similar composition and taste, whichever you choose. The so-called ‘third’ option is really a SECOND option, say… tea. It is somewhat similar to the first option (somewhat dark in color, in the South it is sacrilege if it is not cold and sweet), can be adjusted to taste, and is CLEARLY a different and healthier option that you control yourself, or you can choose to have someone else control for you, if you like the way they do it.

Thus, with people consumed by the Coke War, is is our job as tea drinkers to convince them that there is actually a better, healthier alternative. Our victories will usually be small, but they will be real. And the more people we convince about tea, the more people know about tea, and even more people come to drink tea. This continues until relatively soon you reach a point where you no longer have a Coke War, but a Beverage War. At this point, each of the 3 (2) beverages have roughly a third of the populace that prefer their beverage, and both of the original beverages must pay a healthy respect to the wishes of the tea drinkers, even though the tea drinkers aren’t actually in a majority position yet. This is the point where the tea drinkers actually have to become the most vigilant about convincing people their drink is best, as at this point – and maybe even sooner – the Coke and Pepsi producers will try to offer their own tea flavors in an attempt to retain market share.

Thus, I believe that the best way to shift that paradigm is to talk to people, one on one preferably, in groups if needed. Build relationships. Convince them you know what you’re talking about and that you can be trusted. Because once they begin to trust you, they’ll begin to seriously consider what you’re saying.

And I’m a firm believer that once someone starts really looking at the Libertarian positions, it is only a matter of time before they become a libertarian, even if they never become a full-fledged member of the LP. And yes, I know that sounds kinda arrogant, and I do apologize, as that is SOOOO not my intent here!

Gay Marriage

From LP-Ga, on ‘Sexual Rights and The State’:

We hold that individual rights should not be denied or abridged on the basis of sex or sexual preference. We call for repeal of all laws discriminating against women, such as protective labor laws. We oppose all laws likely to impose restrictions on free choice and private property or to widen tyranny through reverse discrimination. We affirm the right of adults to private choice in consensual sexual activity.

Government must neither dictate, prohibit, control, nor encourage any private lifestyle, living arrangement or contractual relationship. We therefore call for repeal of all legislation and state policies intended to condemn, affirm, encourage or discourage sexual lifestyles or any set of attitudes about such lifestyles.

and the LP-National position on ‘Personal Relationships’:

Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

My comments:

The LP-National position is more explicit in that government doesn’t have the authority to regulate adult relationships, period, and this is the school of thought I subscribe to on the issue.

As I’ve told Doug in our own conversations before, the issue to me is not civil unions or marriage for homosexual couples. The issue to me is why the Hades is government involved in relationships to begin with? Marriage should be left to the individuals in question and the religion of their choice. Government should offer no restrictions on any consensual relationship, nor should government offer any benefits to particular types of relationships and not others.

Personally, I have the marriage license from the Probate Court, same as any of us who are married. But that isn’t the authority my marriage is based on. My marriage is based on our relationship with God, and the State (government in general) cannot control that and has no business trying to.

Personally, I cringe every time I hear a homosexual couple using the term ‘married’, but I know of some religions and even some Christian denominations who are willing to perform such ceremonies, and if such a ceremony has in fact been performed, then they are in fact married according to their religious beliefs, and the use of the term is perfectly valid whether I like it or not. Again, I would rather they have the freedom to do something I personally find distasteful rather than any of us live with government making decisions for us.

The War on Terror

Again, starting with the ‘official position’ of LP-Ga from their site, followed by my own thoughts:

While all Americans have a legitimate concern about terrorism, we believe that the new “War on Terrorism” is being used by politicians and demagogues to promote extraordinary and unnecessary increases in government power. Most of these powers had been previously proposed and rejected as part of other government efforts such as the so-called “War on Drugs”. It continues the false rationale by which the state seeks to restrict our 4th Amendment right to privacy, without securing our lives or property in any meaningful way. Therefore, we call for the repeal of the misnamed USA Patriot Act and its successor legislation.

In addition to that LP-Ga position, here is the LP-National position on National Defense from their website:

We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world and avoid entangling alliances. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.

My thoughts:

From the LP-Ga position, we see that their main concern isn’t so much the international aspects of the War on Terror as the domestic aspects, particularly the domestic spying that the Bush Administration began via PATRIOT (and later expanded through a variety of laws), and had even been occurring to a lesser extent long before then. And I completely concur. The National government used an emergency to grab unprecedented powers that it otherwise would not have been granted. And I would argue that had LP-National’s position on Defense been adopted prior to September 2001, there may not be a gaping hole in the ground in NYC right now.

Going back to the domestic spying, there is no reason for the government to have the ability to spy on a ‘suspected’ criminal without a warrant and due process. If the government thinks that a person is involved in criminal activity, they already have a procedure for being allowed to spy on that person, and it involves going to a judge and getting a warrant. This is the Constitutional method, and it should not be changed.

And back to the defense issue: I personally believe that we should pull every single troop from every single overseas station and place them within 100 miles of the borders, pointing out. Have the Navy establish patrols from the Aluetians to Hawaii to San Diego, from Maine to Miami, and base an entire fleet in the Carribbean as well. Let the Army and Air Force take the Canadian border, with combined Army/Air Force/Marine bases spread throughout the 100 mile border zone.

As it exists right now, our military is spread too thin in too many places, and has necessitated such illegal moves as Stop Loss. It also leaves our nation genuinely at risk, and indeed a West Coast invasion could get to the Mississippi River before it could be effectively stopped, if then. I’ve heard people say ‘but our citizens would resist’. With what? The average American citizen doesn’t own a gun, and most could barely distinguish between an M16 and an AK47, much less the various types of tanks, planes, troop carriers, and other assorted weapons platforms. We don’t have artillery shells lieing around to make IEDs out of, and the military bases that would have the hardware needed to steal and provide a somewhat effective resistance would be the first ones targeted.

Indeed, I don’t know if any of you have read the works of Dale Brown, but he actually puts forth what I believe to be a reasonable theory for how a nuclear attack on the US could be achieved in his ‘Plan of Attack’, he put forth some reasonable theories on drug wars in both ‘Hammerheads’ and ‘Tin Man’, and he actually put forth an idea for a September 11-style attack in his ‘Storming Heaven’- published in 1994, even earlier than Clancy’s ‘Debt of Honor’ which is widely credited with the idea due to its concluding scenes.

Again, I tend to fully concur with both the LP-Ga and LP-National beliefs in these areas.

The Drug War

Drugs:

Here’s the ‘official position’ of LP-Ga, from the platform page of their website:

“We believe the so-called “War on Drugs” is more accurately described as a war on freedom and the U.S. Constitution. It has provided a rationale by which the power of the state has been expanded to restrict greatly our 4th Amendment right to privacy, and poses an especially grave threat to individual liberty and to domestic order. Therefore, we call for the repeal of all laws establishing criminal or civil penalties for the manufacture, use, or sale of drugs. We wish to see an end to “anti-crime” measures that limit our rights to keep and bear arms and that restrict individual rights to be secure in our persons, homes, and property. Furthermore, the ‘War on Drugs’ serves as a subsidy for illegal drug dealers by driving up their profit margin, and has the unintentional effect of increasing crime in our society.”

My own thoughts:

I was a goody two shoes in school, and still am for the most part. To this day, I can’t tell you what pot smells like and have never known where to get drugs of any form other than from a doc/pharmacy, and even then I’ve never known how to get illegitimate prescriptions. I know some of y’all, maybe all, are roughly old enough to be my parents, and you may have fallen under the 18 yo minimum drinking age, but I am 26 and it has been 21 all my life. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol until my 21st birthday. I’ve drank quite a bit since then, but never enough to be of any concern to anyone.

That said, my aunt that died a couple of weeks ago has battled drug addiction for most of my life. I have a cousin I believe to be in jail right now over methamphetamines, and possibly another cousin (the first cousin’ brother) in jail on similar charges. I also grew up in Bartow County, in what was always described to me as the meth capital of GA.

For a very long time – indeed, my views have only within the past 12 months or so changed on the issue – I believed very firmly that those who did drugs should go to jail, pretty much the same as the GOP. What changed me, I do not know, but I believe it came about as I began to realize the full scope of Freedom. A person who is using drugs recreationally is no danger to anyone but themselves, which falls within the Punch Principle and is therefore allowable. Now, if a person is high and causes a wreck, we should hold them fully accountable for doing so, and I even support making the laws for actual, provable physical harm FAR more stringent than they currently are. These more stringent laws would apply equally to the guy that was high and caused the wreck, to the guy that was drunk when he caused it, and to the guy that fell asleep behind the wheel and caused it. He violated the Punch Principle, and he needs to answer for that. Such is a legitimate excercise of government.

Therefore, government should not have a say in whether a person uses drugs, and if a person on drugs violates the Punch Principle, they should be held accountable for the violation of the Punch Principle, not for the use of drugs, which they were perfectly free to do.

Recently, we’ve begun to hear of all this unrest in Mexico caused by the drug cartels. And yes, it is US Drug Policy, including the Drug War, that has caused this. I completely concur with the official position that “the ‘War on Drugs’ serves as a subsidy for illegal drug dealers by driving up their profit margin, and has the unintentional effect of increasing crime in our society.” In a free market unincumbered by laws banning certain substances, prices would be low and profit margins relatively tight. The Cartels would become Corporations, and armed violence over the market would cease as corporations sought better market share through non-violent means, in similar ways that ‘legal’ drug companies currently operate.

Also note that I personally wouldn’t mind a tax on these drugs at a similar level as the current alcohol and tobacco taxes. I don’t have a problem with these taxes currently, as I believe the use of those products to be completely voluntary and therefore if you don’t want to pay the tax, don’t buy the product. I also object to the idea floated by some liberals and moderate conservatives to ‘legalize it and tax the hell out of it’. If you tax it similarly to the current alcohol/tobacco taxes, you achieve a solid balance of providing a solid stream of revenue to government while also allowing the open market to thrive. Yes, you have a level of black market activity, but it is minimal and inconsequential. (BTW: I also don’t believe in prosecution of this black market, even under these ‘legalize and tax’ theories.) HOWEVER, if you ‘tax the hell out of it’, you inevitably drive people back to the black market just as surredly as if you had outright banned the substances, leading once again to most of the problems we already have.

Note that I’ve talked for quite a while on the subject here and haven’t even touched on the jail overpopulation and related issues that would be solved by legalizing drugs.