Wake Me Up When the Election Is Over
Party politics is gross. Most libertarians know this, but despite themselves, they can’t help but get involved in the election drama. Every single time. The whole process is a staggering non-sequiter, but there’s something about it that attracts them.
The pomp and bombast about it makes us feel obliged to continue evangelising the liberty message. But although it seems logical to appeal to people when they are especially interested in politics, it is probably the time least likely to persuade new converts.
When people are being swept up in the excitement of an election campaign is precisely the worst time to try to persuade someone towards reason. When you’re on a high by the false idealism of a Trumpers or RomBama, the last thing you want to hear is that it is all a waste of effort.
It’s not as if these well-meaning people are mildly wrong and need a little steering. They are wildly off track and headed for disaster.
One might think that warning them would be the right thing to do. True, but only if they were capable of listening to you in the first place.
Libertarianism is a movement of sound ideas and principles. These things don’t mix well with the political process. Elections are about money, partisanship, rivalry, cult of personality, compromise and cronyism.
Sound ideas are hinted at, sometimes, but never get in the way of a good smile and bland notions of making the nation ‘great again’ (what does that even mean?). In an election campaign, the ideological content of a speech should be secondary to making the candidate look like ‘good leadership’ (????).
And you can forget about principle. If you bring up principle to someone who is passionately getting behind a candidate they will respond incredulously. Principle has no place in the election process – that would require consistency of ethics. People who are consistent are extremists, un-compromisers, and unrealistic. How on Earth do they expect to get anywhere with this congress? What we have here is a non-President who is a blatant failure and it is absolutely essential to get someone in who can lead this country . . .
And apart from being frustrating from a principled perspective, isn’t it all just insufferably boring? Aside from the occasional outlier and amusing debate gaff, the whole process is soul-sapping dullness. Again and again, I am astonished at how people can listen to the same old talking points and take it at face-value, and then write articles and even books about this stuff as if these guys are actually saying something. How can any thinking person can look at an election debate and actually be interested by it is beyond my ability to understand.
Want to know something scary?: we may have to wait 2 years until we can rationally discuss politics again.
By the end of the year the election will be over, but we still won’t be able to have a discussion. We still need to wait for the new President to break their promises. Only after a year of being in office, and when people realise that their beloved candidate, shock, is the same or worse than the last guy, they will be open to you.
This sounds a bit depressing. But in the meantime, let us cultivate our garden. We can be strengthening the existing movement, working out new strategies for both ideological change and cutting back state power where we can. Every regulation repealed is a victory.
We may have more joy with those that are not particularly interested in politics. With no strong feelings one way or the other, they are not blocked off to argument by dedication to a particular individual. It will still be difficult, but the only obstacle is the ideas, rather than ideas plus partisan passion.
We can also be cultivating ourselves. We know that creating the ideal society is the mindset of a utopian. But we can be idealistic on the individual level – by working on being the best version of ourselves we can present society with at least one improved unit.
We are most definitely playing the long game. If we focus too much on elections and punish ourselves by attempting in vain to appeal to political campaigners, we are at risk of getting downhearted.
I can’t wait for it to be all over though.
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For personal and political freedom