Saturday, October 22, 2005

Why Libertarians Aren't Succesful at Anything, Including Ending The War in Iraq

This article, by RollingStone's Tim Dickinson, is very insightful (+4, Insightful). It talks about how the anti-war movement in the US, while it has momentum and even the support of public opinion, may ultimately be unsuccessful because the movement is "too fractured."

As public opinion turns against the War in Iraq, the anti-war movement has grown and, in many ways, become more credible. Veterans and families of veterans involved in the war (literally) have come out against the war, and they obviously have a huge amount of credibility. On the other hand, the "Free-Mumia" wing of the anti-war movement detracts from the success of the movement because (1) they're seen as radicals in the first place, and (2) because they can't stay on-message. From the article:
When Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother whose vigil at Bush's ranch in Texas catapulted the anti-war movement from the margins to the mainstream, took the stage, organizers even tried to cut her speech short -- after barely two minutes -- to make way for a screechy slew of unknowns, who shouted on about the Angola Three, the Cuban Five and "legitimate revolutionaries" branded as terrorists by the "U.S. puppet regime" in Manila.
Get it? The wackos in the movement are ruining the credibility of the people that are actually on to something. Sound familiar?

Libertarians have been battling this problem almost since the inception of the party. A powerful minority of LP'ers wish they were alive in 1776 to fight against the British and in 1789 to ratify the Constitution. They go off about the gold standard and fiat currency, as if anybody besides themselves cares. They wear three-corner hats to anti-tax rallies at the post office on April 15th.

And these people become the face of libertarianism. Literally! The three-corner hat wearing protester--he's real! He was on national TV (Jimmy Kimmel Live)and wasn't afraid to admit he was a member of the Libertarian Party. Great, the perfect spokesman!

Anyway, all of the non-crazies that are either in the LP, consider themselves libertarian, or would at least vote for a libertarian are done a tremendous disservice by the movement's more...eccentric members.

Now back to the RollingStone article. I found the following passage interesting.

President Bush and his men certainly aren't worried about the opposition. "There is no real anti-war movement," Karl Rove reportedly declared before the September rally. "No serious politician, with anything to do with anything, would show his face at an anti-war rally." Rove knows that beyond its simplistic sloganeering about "Out now," the peace movement has failed to develop a pragmatic exit strategy -- one that mainstream Democrats can embrace without being blasted as part of Cut and Run. Opponents of the war have to do more than pillory the president's policy -- they must bring a serious alternative to the table.
"Everybody knows that things are fucked up in Iraq," says Rieckhoff. "But the question is, What do we do now? The Republicans got us into this mess, but the Democrats don't have a plan to get us out." Rieckhoff suggests that opponents of the Bush Doctrine sit down and formulate a viable exit strategy guided by generals who oppose the war -- the "Zinni Doctrine," say, or the "Shinseki Doctrine" -- that would serve as the basis for a broad-based coalition. "That's ultimately what's needed," he says. "The problem is, that kind of coalition isn't being formed now."
The LP released its Exit Strategy in July, and shortly thereafter the LP's Michael Dixon was interviewed by Alan Colmes. There was a lot of discussion in the vaunted "blogosphere," both for and against the plan. The libertarian pragmatists largely supported the plan, as it seemed like the quickest we could get out of Iraq in a reaonable, politically-viable maner. Of course, libertarian purists railed against the plan and its gradual troop withdrawal and economic assistance to the Iraqi government.

Well, it's been a few months since the plan was released, and there's not much talk about it in the media now. Sure, there's a bunch of discussion about an exit strategy, but not about the LP's specific proposal. Clearly, Tim Dickinson either isn't aware of the LP's plan or if he knows about it doesn't take it seriously.

My question is this: with public opinion turning increasingly against the war, why isn't the LP solely focused on promoting their exit strategy. The LP should be THE anti-Iraq War party. They've been against the war from the start and are against it now. Yet probably 2% of Americans know this. Even the LP's own site shows where its priorities are. Tucked up in the upper left corner is the graphic linking to the Exit Strategy. But front and center is a big image asking for more money!

Why is the Exit Strategy getting the shaft? Who's responsible for not [re]-striking while the iron is hot? Are the LP hardliners holding back this plan because it's not "principled" enough? Is there any other issue that the LP can ride a wave of popular support to mainstream credibility on? What's the deal?

UPDATE: For comments, see the original blog post here.

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