- You don’t drain the swamp — the swamp drains you. The system swallows everyone whole, even someone as audacious as Trump.
- To get elected, you need support. To get support you need to make promises, which often will include statist actions.
- You need funding. People only donate big money if they will see a financial benefit, which usually involves a government privilege.
- Even small money makes you more susceptible to pressure, because it’s harder to say “no” to someone who has given you money, even if they want a statist policy.
- You have to get along with people: candidates, bureaucrats, civil organizations, unions, the media, voters, etc. That means not rocking the boat. Avoiding hard truths. Not being unpleasant. It’s hard to get the truth out this way. It’s like trying to put out a burning building with your hands tied behind your back.
- Every small compromise leads to a bigger compromise, and so on, until you are fully coopted into the system. If you accept the premise that a little bit of statist action is okay as long as your end goal is the removal of a bigger statist action, you will never be able to see that you are being coopted. In your mind, you are fighting the good fight, but in reality you are merely doing the work of the state, with a fun, but hypocritical, marketing plan.
- Look at the opportunity cost of doing politics. How effective is electoral politics, versus media or business? Lots of energy spent for meager results.
- If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas. Politics is dirty and savage. The people in it are assholes. If you get into the game, you have to play hard to win. That means eventually you have to become as nasty and back-stabbing as your competitors. How can you avoid it? By buttering everyone’s bread and going along to get along, i.e. statism.
- Winning is losing. If you win office, you take a salary funded by taxpayers. That is inherently unethical. If you forego the salary, you have to make it up otherwise. If someone funds you, then you are beholden to them, which usually means statism. If you are independently wealthy, then politics is an awful waste of your time. You’d be better off buying professional politicians, than being one yourself. Focus on making more money and funding media and tech ventures to benefit the liberty movement.
- Why hasn’t electoral politics tended to increased liberty, but only increased statism? What fundamental change will happen to reverse this trend? Politics is structured to produce an increase in state power. The simple act of being “in power” demands that one exercise power. If one’s only agenda is to refrain from using power, one will not have it for very long, as someone else will take it. Seeking power to restrain power is a performative contradiction.
I was floored by the sheer inanity of Walter Block going back on his word to disband “Libertarians for Trump” after the convention. This nonsensical shilling for a would-be tyrant by a smart, prominent libertarian, based on nothing more than a willful naivete around a politician’s lies, is very discouraging.
Remember candidate George W. Bush’s claim to be against nation-building? Boy, did that work out well. Now we are supposed to believe Trump is a non-interventionist, even though his psychology and history clearly do not point to that conclusion. It’s like the last 16 years never happened and no lessons were learned about believing presidential candidates’ words.
Walter Block isn’t the only libertarian with googly-eyes for Trump; Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, and others as well. Maybe they are more paleocons than libertarians after all? Who can tell. But if these libertarian leaders can be so taken in by the emotional con game, what hope is there for the masses? Can education and spreading ideas really result in a voluntary society? Do we not have the right ideas yet and that’s why we’re falling into error? What are we missing?
Here are a few suggestions of what I think we need, that we’re missing.
#1, devise ways to measure how much progress we’re making toward the goal of a voluntary society. We need to be able to tell which tactics work and which don’t, which are more effective and less effective. We clearly don’t have a good handle on this, judging by the constant debates on the merits of voting.
#2, create an institutional alternative to the Libertarian Party, focused on non-political means of achieving a voluntary society. There are plenty of options already on the table; they should be catalogued, nurtured, promoted, and funded at an institutional level. Right now, most people assume that electoral politics is the only way to effect change. A non-political action organization would help break this paradigm.
#3, develop self-reinforcing systems of advancing liberty. The problem with relying on education to advance liberty is that it’s a constant struggle, and only a few will have the motivation, time, patience, curiosity, resources, etc. to understand the issues and go against their emotional instincts. Even with this education, as we’ve seen with “Libertarians for Trump”, it’s easy to go off the rails.
Just as the market functions regardless of the personal opinions of its participants, we need to devise systems that inherently advance liberty by their very nature. Ideally, such systems would align people’s financial interests with advancing liberty. It’s hard to stay in the fight if you have to scrape by to survive. A focus on systems of coordination, not just the ideas of liberty per se, is needed to make the liberty movement an effective social force.