Liberty and Power

The Young Fogey has done a good job of covering a number of things in the wake of the election.  Spirits do seem to be running high in the libertarian camp this week.  Among the items I found fascinating was this video featuring a discussion from awhile ago between Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Sarah Palin:

Judge Andrew Napolitano goes to great lengths to find out where these three politicians have common ground, where they can work together to build a practical political coalition.  Someone in the course of the conversation said that if another man agrees with you 80 percent of the time, he’s your ally and not your enemy.  I’d say it depends on how essential the other 20 percent is.  Even Ed Rendell, who was also interviewed, was able to agree with much of what was said in the earlier segment of the show.  Keep an eye on him as a potential challenger to Obama if the situation for the Democrats doesn’t improve.

There have been many fears that the whole Tea Party phenomenon could be co-opted by the mainstream corporatist right.  This is a possibility not to be discounted, and in fact it seems to me that it’s already happened to some undetermined extent.  Another seemingly as-yet unexplored possibility also looms, however:  Assuming a candidate with unassailable libertarian credentials is elected to the White House in 2012, will he or she be able to resist the allure of power?  Will anarchists like me suddenly begin to defend the State because there is someone in place with whom it’s easier to have a measurable degree of sympathy?  If this seems ridiculous, think of where the Reagan movement started, and where it ended.  The only thing holding it all together was a smug optimism about America being the greatest country on earth.

This is not to say that I find faults in the characters of the Pauls or even of Sarah Palin; I’m in no place to judge any of their souls.  But the corruption that comes from power is part of human nature.  Look at where the modern Left has placed itself:  some of the hippies burning draft cards in the 1960’s are now in the Congress, routinely voting to extend hopeless foreign military ventures.  Many of the other “draft-dodging” (good for them!) hippies are voting for these Congressmen, and with little sense of reluctance, to boot.  Will today’s libertarian movement end up the same way?  Ayn Rand’s libertarian credentials are highly questionable; nevertheless she’s certainly on the rightward side of the political spectrum and joined happily in the clamor for small government during her lifetime.  Yet, she ended her life advocating for compulsory military conscription.  Will today’s libertarians, after a possible political victory, go down in a similar moral defeat?

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