I said earlier in the day that if people really want to change the government, they can do it.Â But it’s funny how dealing with an infestation of slimy politicians is a lot like dealing with lice.Â We noticed the lice infestation in 1994, got some Kewll out, and applied it liberally.Â For sure, we got rid of a lot of lice, but we forgot to rinse and repeat.Â We need to get voters angry enough that they’ll not only throw the bastards out, but keep throwing them out until things change.Â It takes multiple treatments to get rid of lice, and probably the same for politicians.
People know things need to change.Â Polls show that Americans are very deeply displeased with their government, and for good reason.Â Obama comes in and says that he’s the change we need.Â Polls show people are skeptical of that.Â Not skeptical enough for my comfort, but he’s not blowing away McCain.Â At the root of the problem, is a population that’s largely disengaged itself from politics, and doesn’t really understand the source of their displeasure — they just know that things now pretty much suck. That should be rich soil in which to plant some seeds from the tree of liberty, but so far, it hasn’t been working.Â The media is to blame for a lot of that, but based on my experience with the libertarian movement and in the gun movement, a lot of that blame lies with us.
Libertarians, particularly, are often more concerned about weeding out heretics than they are about building a movement.Â It was a long and painful journey to arrive at that conclusion, but eventually I had to admit that Libertarians were spending too much time and energy arguing about what it means to be one, rather than trying to alter the political landscape to bring it closer to their terms.
It’s probably in our nature, because we are independent minded folks, to abhor collective action, but collective action is required in order to affect lasting political change.Â You have to get out there and advocate for your point of view with people who might only vaguely agree with you.Â You have to select a course of action that gets you closer to your goal, and build allies to get you there.Â You may not like all of your fellow travelers.Â Let me offer an example of it in the gun rights movement.
In my position against my Congressman, I’m pressing the fact that the bill he signed on to, HR1022, would essentially ban semi-automatic shotguns.Â I focus on that because a lot of people own semi-automatic shotguns.Â In fact, a lot of those people who own semi-automatic shotguns, wouldn’t care much for my AR-15, and might not think too poorly of a politician who advocated banning it.Â But I focus the message on the shotgunners, because my only concern is that gun owners go into the voting booth and say “I’m not voting for Patrick Murphy, because he wants to ban my shotgun.”Â The AR-15 guy will understand a Congressman coming after semi-auto shotguns will ban his AR-15 in a heartbeat.Â If I can help defeat Murphy, and replace him with a real friend of gun owners, I don’t really care whether half the guys that helped me do it think the same way Jim Zumbo does.Â In fact, it might just make that shotgunner think “Well, if they are going to label my shotgun an ‘assault weapon’ where’s it going to stop.”Â Jim Zumbo was eventually persuaded too.
In affecting political change, I think it helps to have a big picture in mind, but you must choose your battles wisely.Â No two battles will present you with the same set of allies.Â That’s why I’m an advocate for not shutting people out of the movement for being insufficiently pure.Â When it comes to grounding the movement, philosophy is very important, and we need philosophers.Â But winning in politics requires making friends, so we also need to do that too.