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Sat Dec 28, 2013, 08:38 AM

Why I fled libertarianism — and became a liberal

I was a Ron Paul delegate back in 2008 -- now I'm a Democrat. Here's my personal tale of disgust and self-discovery

EDWIN LYNGAR


The night before the 2008 Nevada Republican convention, the Ron Paul delegates all met at a Reno high school. Although I’d called myself a libertarian for almost my entire adult life, it was my first exposure to the wider movement.

And boy, was it a circus. Many members of the group were obsessed with the gold standard, the Kennedy assassination and the Fed. Although Libertarians believe government is incompetent, many of them subscribe to the most fringe conspiracy theories imaginable. Airplanes are poisoning America with chemicals (chemtrails) or the moon landings were faked. Nothing was too far out. A great many of them really think that 9-11 was an inside job. Even while basking in the electoral mainstream, the movement was overflowing with obvious hokum.

During the meeting, a Ron Paul staffer, a smart and charismatic young woman, gave a tip to the group for the upcoming convention. “Dress normal,” she said. “Wear suits, and don’t bring signs or flags. Don’t talk about conspiracy theories. Just fit in.” Her advice was the kind you might hear given to an insane uncle at Thanksgiving.

Then next day, I ran into that same operative at the convention, and I complimented her because Ron Paul delegates were being accepted into the crowd. I added, “We‘re going to win this thing. 'Bring in the clowns,'" she said, and smiled before I lost her in the mass of people.

I will never forget that moment: Bring in the clowns. At the time, I considered myself a thoughtful person, yet I could hardly claim to be one if you judged me by the company I kept. The young lady knew something I had not yet learned: most of our supporters were totally fucking nuts.

full article
http://www.salon.com/2013/12/28/why_i_fled_libertarianism_and_became_a_liberal/

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Arrow 41 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why I fled libertarianism — and became a liberal (Original post)
DonViejo Dec 2013 OP
mdbl Dec 2013 #1
zeemike Dec 2013 #9
Lasher Dec 2013 #2
Nay Dec 2013 #3
groundloop Dec 2013 #4
niyad Dec 2013 #14
skepticscott Dec 2013 #16
santroy79 Dec 2013 #5
Nay Dec 2013 #6
Lasher Dec 2013 #10
ensemble Dec 2013 #8
calimary Dec 2013 #39
calimary Dec 2013 #40
tanyev Dec 2013 #7
progressoid Dec 2013 #28
DonCoquixote Dec 2013 #32
another_liberal Dec 2013 #11
freedom fighter jh Dec 2013 #12
skepticscott Dec 2013 #18
treestar Jan 2014 #41
mitty14u2 Dec 2013 #13
calimary Dec 2013 #38
MyNameGoesHere Dec 2013 #15
7962 Dec 2013 #17
valerief Dec 2013 #19
Bernardo de La Paz Dec 2013 #20
starroute Dec 2013 #23
Bernardo de La Paz Dec 2013 #30
starroute Dec 2013 #31
truebluegreen Dec 2013 #25
mountain grammy Dec 2013 #21
freshwest Dec 2013 #22
Octoberfurst Dec 2013 #24
truebluegreen Dec 2013 #26
calimary Dec 2013 #37
heaven05 Dec 2013 #27
RainDog Dec 2013 #29
calimary Dec 2013 #36
Jamaal510 Dec 2013 #33
freshwest Dec 2013 #34
calimary Dec 2013 #35

Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:22 AM

1. nuts and manipulated

It's sad that these groups like the tea party and libertarians exist solely for the exploitation of a few greedy idiots because, as this account states, they don't have normal minds of their own.

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Response to mdbl (Reply #1)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:45 AM

9. Exactly correct...manipulated.

And they do it on all fronts...
Welcome to DU.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:30 AM

2. Clean up the quotes in that next to last paragraph.

Good article, I'm reading the whole thing.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:31 AM

3. A very good description of the libertarians I have known personally. nt

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Response to Nay (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:35 AM

4. Yes, they want less government but bitch if there's a pothole in their street.

All government is bad, unless it has to do with something they need.

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Response to groundloop (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:02 AM

14. whenever I encounter a libertarian running for public office, I point out the hypocricy. somehow,

they never have an answer for it. nor do they for the fact that, although I hear them whining about public education, medicare, blah, blah, I NEVER hear them suggesting that the military be done away with. (the last time I attended a public forum of libertarian candidates, I needed several drinks afterwards just so my mind could function again.)

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Response to niyad (Reply #14)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:16 AM

16. Ask any libertarian

 

to give you a complete list of what they think the essential functions of a centralized government should be.

It's fun.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:35 AM

5. not to take away from a great article but

 

I have my own concerns over 9-11 and anybody ever took the time to actually research 9-11 for a hour or 2 would have tons of questions and concerns. To call these people crack pots is pretty sad. Families that lost people have unanswered questions also ... people who didnt care about government or politics before 9-11. If you think we know the whole truth your sadly mistaken.

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Response to santroy79 (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:39 AM

6. Remember that "a stopped clock is correct twice a day." I also have reservations

about what exactly went on in 9-11, but don't give much credit to the libertarians for thinking the same; they are the equivalent of the "stopped clock."

And welcome to DU.

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Response to Nay (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:49 AM

10. A succinct quote from the linked article:

"...a few good ideas don’t make up for some spectacularly bad ones. Their saving grace is a complete lack of organizational ability..."

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Response to santroy79 (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:44 AM

8. yes...

I'm a liberal because I think government has a place in the society/economy and the free market is not always the best solution. Unfortunately both major parties sweep a lot of history under the rug to protect the system and their positions in it.

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Response to ensemble (Reply #8)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:14 PM

39. Welcome to DU, ensemble!

Good to have you with us! I think all of us liberals are liberals because of what you describe - belief in government that has a place in society (and actually can be a force for good), and free market solutions aren't always the best or most worthy of trust. Government isn't in it strictly and exclusively to make a profit. The free market is. And there's a lot to life in this society in this day and age that SHOULD NOT be relegated to the "it's gotta make a profit" column. It maybe okay for the Ferengi, but that's not who we are.

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Response to santroy79 (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:18 PM

40. Welcome to DU, santroy79.

Not calling those questioning 9/11 crackpots. But there are other elements that MORE than deserve that title.

As the author points out:

Libertarians "are generally supportive of the gay community, completely behind marijuana legalization and are often against ill-considered foreign wars, but a few good ideas don’t make up for some spectacularly bad ones."

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:41 AM

7. Oh, I love this quote:

"Their saving grace is a complete lack of organizational ability, which is why they are always trying to take over the Republican Party, rather than create a party of their own."


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Response to tanyev (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 12:51 PM

28. "Their saving grace is a complete lack of organizational ability"

I was thinking the same thing.

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Response to progressoid (Reply #28)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 08:50 PM

32. we have that problem too

some parts of our party want revolution, and some want to join the GOP.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:53 AM

11. Delightful!

 

Thanks for posting this excerpt.

We all thought that, but now . . .

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 09:59 AM

12. Libertarians are visionary . . . and blind.

We all have our blind spots. Libertarians are distinguished by having different ones than the rest of us do.

On YouTube I heard a libertarian say he did not believe in the U.S. Constitution. Even though I do believe in the Constitution, I found his comment a refreshing break from all the Constitution worship you seem to hear in politics all the time. His statement seemed to free me to take a middle position: The Constitution is just the framework that our founders established, and later statespeople amended over the years, to serve as the basis of our government. Why can't we just look at it that way instead of trying to one-up each other about how much we love it?

Later, I heard the same speaker, at a conference (I was watching on YouTube again) complain about airport delays caused by the bad old government. He pointed out that he had flown a thousand miles in the same amount of time it had taken him to work his way through an airport. Fly is what you do when government is not involved. Trudge is what you do when government is involved.

Yo, genius, air travel owes its whole life to government. In aviation's early days, the Post Office created air mail service specifically to help the air travel industry get started. Now, air traffic is controlled by a government agency. If it were not controlled, airplanes would be smashing into each other all the time. Then people would not fly and there goes the airline industry. And it only makes sense that government should do the controlling, since the skies are public.

Libertarians seem to see things that people on neither the left nor the right can see, while missing what is obvious to everyone else. I believe we have something to gain by listening to what they have to say. Listening, that is, without signing on to their whole package.

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Response to freedom fighter jh (Reply #12)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:23 AM

18. The libertarian answer to that is

 

that we should have no FAA, and that the government should stop regulating airline safety in any way. Airlines that have a lot of crashes will lose (or kill) enough of their customers that they will be forced out of business (so their theory goes), and those that don't will succeed. Problem solved. Free market triumphant.

Of course, all hard-core libertarians are sure that THEY are too smart and savvy to ever be on one of those planes that crashes and burns...that will be other, inferior folks who don't deserve to live anyway. Good riddance.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #18)

Wed Jan 1, 2014, 04:15 PM

41. Like the people on the train in Atlas Shrugged

The true "producers" would always be on the best airline.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:00 AM

13. Libertarians had a lot more votes then Republicans want to admit.



So what's going on here? I wouldn't want to speculate too much based on this limited data set. But I could easily believe that a growing proportion of conservative-leaning voters are too disgusted with the GOP to pull the Republican lever, but who won't vote for Democrats either, are choosing a third option and going Libertarian instead. This thesis dovetails with something else we saw this year: independents generally leaning more rightward simply because at least some former Republicans are now refusing to identify with their old party. It's not much of a stretch to imagine that some folks like that don't want to vote for their old party either.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/15/1162077/-Libertarians-provided-the-margin-for-Democrats-in-at-least-nine-elections#

Many young voters are influenced by Libertarians, also many Republicans are playing as Independents to skew the polls and to diversify the talking points. Think Tanks have thought of every variable. Conclusion, “Voter Suppression, Period”. Is the winning fix and that’s not necessarily 100% guaranteed but will cut into close elections, enough to take back power?

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Response to mitty14u2 (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:11 PM

38. Welcome to DU, mitty12u2!

Glad you're here! I think you make a good point. But then again, I've always felt that people who are ashamed to admit openly that they're republi-CON always claim they're libertarian. As though that somehow excuses everything and makes it all better.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:09 AM

15. I lost my label maker a long time ago.

Now when people ask me what I am politically, I just stare back at them dumbfounded. I suppose I need to find my label maker so I can get labeled.

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Response to MyNameGoesHere (Reply #15)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:17 AM

17. Good point. You need not go any further than here, with a different opinion on something,

 

and dont worry, you'll get labeled!! I know most here arent like that, but some are quick to pull the trigger

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:34 AM

19. kick

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:36 AM

20. Those aren't libertarians; those are right wing looneys.

Ron Paul and the lunatics latched on to the "libertarian" label as a way to gain at least a label for themselves even though they don't know what it really means or all the ramifications. "Down with government" is good enough for the looneys and they don't look further. They don't do nuance.

Similarly, here on DU, people have latched on to the label "libertarian" as a way to tar and feather people they don't like even though they don't really know all the shades of it. Just like there are many different kinds and degrees of "liberals" and "progressives", there are many different variations of libertarians and many degrees. But that doesn't stop many here who just love to metaphorically whack with their extremist "libertarian" 2x4 any deviant from a purist leftist line.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #20)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 11:06 AM

23. That may be so, but are there any "good" libertarians left?

When I was in high school and college, I knew some old-style libertarians. They were a bit dogmatic and over-privileged, but they weren't insane. After college, I no longer traveled in circles where I ran into libertarians much, so I wasn't really aware of the movement until it erupted in the form of all the Ron Paul hoopla -- and at that point, it was very different.

So my question is, what changed? Have the old-line libertarians gone nuts? Given it up and fled for the hills in disgust? Or are they the people who now try to pass themselves off as "anarcho-capitalists"?

I'd really like to know.

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Response to starroute (Reply #23)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 03:03 PM

30. Yes, but it's a good question you ask as to where they are.

I think they are mostly laying low and trying to find another label, preferably without reference to anarchy despite the relationship. I'm sure they can be found, but I don't go looking for them. There is of course the official party, and there would some scholarly discourse in academia. I suppose I should look over again at a forum site I have perused in the distant past and see how it has evolved or if it has been taken over by lunkheads with snakes on their Tea-shirts.

I met thinking libertarians in Silicon Valley. One in particular was accepting of the political landscape but saw libertarianism as an ideal goal.

The vision he promoted was one of a highly organized society that was organized by communities (geographic and virtual) not governments. That there would be a lack of coercion but a very high degree of enlightenment so that charity would accomplish the usual goals of a welfare state: people would not lack for education, health care, or smoothing over the rough patches in life.

The necessary enlightenment is totally absent from the 1% pseudo-libertarians and the Tea bagger faux libertarians. The latter form a very shallow pool.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #30)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 06:09 PM

31. That one person sounds more like an anarcho-syndicalist

Hard-core libertarians don't seem to believe in communities -- only in individuals. They think that the only valid relationships are contractual and that altruism is a weakness. So what you say that one acquaintance believed in sounds a lot more like Chomsky-style anarcho-syndicalism.

I'm starting to wonder if the poison at the heart of libertarianism is Ayn Rand. But of course that wouldn't explain the crazies.

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Response to Bernardo de La Paz (Reply #20)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 12:26 PM

25. More like "down with the federal government"

 

since Ron Paul at least has no problem with states making restrictive laws...

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:39 AM

21. Good article! The first time I listened to Ron Paul speak against our foreign aggression

in Afghanistan and Iraq, I stood up an cheered. Then he kept speaking.....

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 10:46 AM

22. Thanks so much, DV for bringing this here. These 4 paragraphs say it all:

If you think that selfishness and cruelty are fantastic personal traits, you might be a libertarian. In the movement no one will ever call you an asshole, but rather, say you believe in radical individualism...

From the ashes of the election rose the movement that pushed me from convinced libertarian into bunny-hugging liberal. The Tea Party monster forever tainted the words freedom and libertarian for me. The rise of the Tea Party made me want to puke, and my nausea is now a chronic condition...

I began to think about real people, like my neighbors and people less lucky than me. Did I want those people to starve to death? I care about children, even poor ones. I love the National Park system. The best parts of the America I love are our communities. My libertarian friends might call me a fucking commie (they have) or a pussy, but extreme selfishness is just so isolating and cruel. Libertarianism is unnatural, and the size of the federal government is almost irrelevant. The real question is: what does society need and how do we pay for it?

...I don’t think regular Americans have any idea just how crazy libertarians can be. The only human corollary I can offer is unquestioning religious fervor, and hell yeah, I used to be a true believer. Libertarians think they own the word “freedom,” but it’s a word that often obfuscates more than enlightens. If you believe the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free,”  then libertarians live in a prison of their own ideology.

That and his mention of how often they use the n-word says he has truly made the change. Yes, they do, but don't want to be called racists. I've run into these overbearing, proud fanatics who destroy democracy with zeal, using philosophical points to call it mob rule because they see themselves above others. They speak in the language of aristocrats and the plutocrats when they scornfully refer to social justice movements.

Much conspiracy against government is from the sources that enriched themselves off all the wars, to defame democratic government and push people away from working their minds in the real world instead of the feverish fantasies this man describes so well here.

JMHO.

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 11:25 AM

24. Libertarians are utopians.

I was a Libertarian for a short time back in the 1990's. I admired their anti-war stance and their live & let live philosophy when it came to lifestyle choices. They were pro-gay, pro-choice, pro-immigrant and pro-legalization of marijuana.
But over time I became disturbed at their glorification of self-interest over the needs of others. Their worldview truly is a survival of the fittest/dog-eat-dog philosophy. You look out for number one and to hell with everyone else! They never seemed to care that there were people suffering because they could not afford health insurance. When a horrible natural disaster happened they saw no need for the federal government to send any kind of aid. They came to the defense of big business as it ran roughshod over the workers. (After all they said, a company should be able to do what it wants. Let the market decide if they were right or wrong.) I grew to hate their, "I'm doing fine, sucks to be you" mentality. I came to realize that having Libertarians in office would be a nightmare. A Libertarian Congress & President would show nothing but callousness towards the less fortunate. So I left Libertarianism and became a progressive Democrat. I now know Libertarians have a utopian vision of how life works. For some reason they think that letting businesses do whatever they want will make society prosper when recent events prove that is not true--i.e the 2008 financial meltdown. They are basically zealots and zealots never make good leaders.

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Response to Octoberfurst (Reply #24)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 12:27 PM

26. Well said.

 

And welcome to DU!

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Response to Octoberfurst (Reply #24)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:07 PM

37. Welcome to DU, Octoberfurst!

Glad you're here. Glad you saw the light, too! Hey, the Pope's on their case now, and calling 'em out. I think their "IGMFU" schtick ("I Got Mine, F-U" schtinks!!!

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 12:36 PM

27. I went to one meeting. felt no genuine human warmth.

 

nor acceptance. No overt hostility, though. that was 6 years past. I believe in one or more conspiracies. I allow for population manipulation and control techniques being used by 'leadership' people who 'democratically' were voted in or who came in on the business end of an M-16a1, Chicom, Kalashnikov. This is all a part of living existence in any country, just look at the slaughter of people in Syria, by their own government apparatus. Extremely sad situation. Yet people(citizens) are murdered, assassinated, covertly or openly by disaffected and/or threatened members of any group in any given country all the time. War is part of this slaughter that we haven't gotten our fill of yet. I wonder. But back to the point, nothing overt turned me off of them(libertarians), just unease at their extreme reservation of talking in front or even with me. I was the only, classified as such, african-american in attendance that evening.. I just see me as a part of the human race, not better, not worse. If their reason for not accepting me 'in' was something as petty as ones skin hue, shame on them. Their loss. I find most 'groups' have their theories on current and past, usually, political intrigues. No harm in that. I believe our poles are going to melt. I just pray both won't. This 'methane' and the Fukushima things worries me. That's not so bad, as is the worry IT IS the 'clowns' running their show. We do some pretty horrible things to each other in the name of 'power and profit'. Just my take on Libertarians. They are a diverse crowd, intrigue and conspiracy wise, I see. Liberal is a good way to go about. Acceptance of all unless a person show themselves as not worthy of respect, like hitler, ghengis kahn, bush/cheney/rice cabal, assad in syria..

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sat Dec 28, 2013, 01:30 PM

29. I see libertarianism as political puberty

it's very ideologically rigid, that Ayn Rand obsession...and it emphasizes self-sufficiency and ego - just the thing for some teens who are trying to create a separate psychological identity from their parents and move into adulthood.

some people seem to get stuck there - sort of an extended adolescence.

At some point most people realize that we are part of communities and that Ayn Rand is a shitty writer.

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Response to RainDog (Reply #29)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:04 PM

36. Political puberty!!!

ROFL!!!!!

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Sun Dec 29, 2013, 03:37 AM

33. The 2 biggest threats to libertarianism: progressivism and persistence.

Many libertarians excel not only at hypocritically prioritizing certain freedoms over others (why are you so quiet about voting rights and women's rights, Rand Paul?), but also at creating blind cynicism about government (particularly lazy false equivalencies between the 2 major parties and pushing conspiracy theories about "big brother", tyrannical takeovers, etc.) to get people to give up and stop being involved. When more people realize the differences between the D's and the R's and that THE PEOPLE are the government and are the ones who have the ability to shape it, though, that is when libertarians (and the RW in general) lose. It is all about us being in the know about how American government works, how our system is designed, and actively participating in every election.

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Response to Jamaal510 (Reply #33)

Sun Dec 29, 2013, 11:26 PM

34. +1

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Response to DonViejo (Original post)

Mon Dec 30, 2013, 05:03 PM

35. LOVE this!!!

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