Are all Libertarians ugly?

20120508-213900.jpg OK. I’m going full bitchy on this one.

There’s always been something that’s bothered me about the Libertarian party. As an ad man, I used to just chalk up my discomfort to the party’s amateurish marketing. Those emails, that logo and those shoes…

This vague discomfort persists whenever I look at this year’s presidential nominee, Gary Johnson, who is far and away the best candidate the party has ever fielded. I like him. I believe in him. I’m going to vote for him. But there’s something…

Then, after watching – what could surely become Saturday Night Live parody fodder – this collection of amateur videos from the national Libertarian convention, I was overcome by a crushing realization.

We Libertarians are not too sexy for our shirts.

I don’t mean that we’re bad people. Sure, our spokespeople might get arrested for trying to kiss babies. We might make Dennis Kucinich look like George Clooney. I mean, we’re so ugly that when we walk down the street people say, holy crap, does it hurt? But we’re not bad people.

But in the world of image and politics, is being good on the inside enough?

Yes, yes, I know I’m being juvenile, petty and an overall asshole for saying it. But I can’t help but wonder if there is a kernel of truth here.

We live in an image-conscious world. Does the Libertarian Party have enough pretty people to sell its ideas to the TMZ masses?

Full disclosure: the ugly truck backed over me. Twice. And being photogenic is no measure of a human being. But if we learned anything from John Kennedy, it’s that, fair or not, looks matter in politics.


Why things are looking up thanks to Ron Paul

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

— Dandamis, sage (4c BCE)

Kairos is an aspect of argument. It means “time,” but not as in time on a clock. It means time as in perfect timing, or an idea that’s time has come.

In America, it feels as if the time has come (again) for an old idea: classical liberalism, or as we know it today, Libertarianism. Love it or hate it, people can’t ignore it, appealing to the fiery idealist and weathered pragmatist alike.

As memes go, Libertarian principles are straightforward, clearly formed and easily conveyed from one mind to the next. The premises are based on simple truths we learned as children. Don’t start fights. Don’t tell other people what to do. Might doesn’t mean right. And don’t take what doesn’t belong to you (especially the rights of others).

Standard bearer Ron Paul is the most visible libertarian-leaning voice. But what distinguishes this “3rd way” from both Republicans and Democrats is that the ideas are bigger than the bringers of the ideas. Ask most any libertarian candidate about their ambitions and they’ll tell you, “I’m just a messenger. It’s all about the message.”

Perhaps glimmers of hope shine brightest in the dark. It certainly got dark in America for a moment. Post 9/11 brought out the best and worst in us. For a time it seemed that dems and GOPers were going to successfully replace America with a darker version of itself. But the legacy of Ron Paul may signal a new dawn.

The Paullites have pierced the veil of the two-party system. They’ve shown us that, as Dandimas may have spoken to Alexander, when we considered only Democrats and Republicans, we were stuck with both sides being wrong.

However it turns out for Dr. Paul, America will eternally be in his debt for giving us – dare I say it – real hope. Perhaps not everyone has bought into the victim mentality of the Left and the police state mentality of the Right.

Now, in addition to left or right, we have up.

If Ron Paul met Carl Sagan…

One of the basic premises of libertarian thought is the belief in the fundamental sovereignty, or independent authority, of the individual – something many have thought to be the natural condition that arises from our “self-evident” equality. But, aside from the yays and nays of philosophy grad students, do the physical sciences have anything to say about this belief?

Are individuals really at the center of their own universes?

If you ask a physicist or an astronomer where the center of the universe is, you’re likely to get one of two responses. Either, the center is everywhere or there is no center.

Let’s consider the implications of both responses.

If the real answer is “there is no center,” then no hierarchy exists. My center cannot be more center than your center because there is no center. If the answer is “everything’s in the center” then there’s still no hierarchy. My center cannot be more center than your center because we are all in the center simultaneously.

Two conclusions seem to come out of these two answers: one, if all things are equal in their centrality, no one can claim a “higher ground” than another; or two, nothing is sovereign. And if nothing is sovereign, then no person or collection of people has the “natural” authority to force another to act (even with popular vote) because 0 + 0 = 0.

Should this make all cosmologists libertarians? (Heck, even string theory levels out the playing field even further.)

I sure wish I could ask Carl Sagan that question. Or better yet, I wish Ron Paul could have. (I suspect Dr. Paul would have an easier time gaining an audience with Dr. Sagan.)

Of course, there’s always Dr. Tyson…

Why I’m not watching the news for six months

Wake me before November.

The shrill battle of the network talking heads is kicking into high hear. Well, here’s some news for them: Count me out. For the next six months, I plan to unplug.

The press exists to seek truth. I get that. But media companies survive by processing the truth into the most disturbing, revolting parody of itself that it succeeds more in its ability to disturb than enlighten.

Frankly, I don’t know who or what to blame. I’m a systems theory guy, so I can’t pin the cause to any one thing. Nor am I really asserting that anything is wrong or needs to be fixed with the press itself. They’re mostly good people doing the best they can.

One day, maybe we will reach a critical mass of critical thinkers in the US. Until that happens, I think I’ll skip the fourth estate drama, send in my absentee ballot for Gary Johnson and catch up on my circle of fifths.

At least until the sixth.