Opinion

I first heard the story of the Kaiser family on the radio. This is a couple who got divorced so their shared girlfriend could marry one of them and have the legal parental status of their three children. They were all in love and wanted each other to be on as equal footing as possible. The local DJ not only called it weird and “messed up”, but also said that if their kids got beat up at school, it was the parents’ fault and should be expected. I was pretty upset when I heard that, but have to admit that it’s not an unusual attitude to have about anything different from the norm. Nearly every news story on it said that the couple was getting divorced so the girlfriend wouldn’t get “jealous”, which doesn’t seem to be exactly what the family was saying about their decision.

What I don’t understand is why anyone cares? Why does the government care, and why does it matter to strangers? Should anyone have the right to tell you who to love and to spend your life with? What is the difference between legislating marriage based on an individual’s sex and/or number of partners and their race, profession, or hair color? We don’t have cookie-cutter lives yet we are expected to conform in ways many people never question.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they are not entitled to decide how other people live, nor are they entitled to cause harm to anyone who decides to live a different sort of life. Children and parents ought to anticipate a certain amount of teasing because that’s what children do. However, the use of violence is never acceptable, and violence initiated against children because of bigotry and ignorance is especially heinous. Tolerance doesn’t mean acceptance, it means you don’t get to perpetuate violence on those who don’t conform to societal norms.

St Paul Capitol Building Protest on Marriage Rights
People gathered in the St. Paul capitol building in support of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people including the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Of course, when all is said and done, the government invading our personal lives is the core issue. What is the benefit to anyone of government approval? We accept their intrusion because marriage comes with legal benefits, but it shouldn’t. Instead of tax breaks for being married, how about fewer taxes for all? Instead of the government declaring who is allowed to parent a child, why not let the parents decide that? In matters where there is a dispute, those can be arbitrated, but most cases do not need state interference. There are only a few reasons for government regulating the marriage industry; one is because the government wants to control every facet of life that it can. Legislating one group’s view of morality benefits nobody except that particular group. It’s better to let society make morality judgments instead of a centrally planned force with a monopoly on violence. What would happen if the government decided tomorrow that your way of life was immoral? Another reason for government regulation of marriage is a moneymaking scheme through licensing fees, though admittedly, you would think that reason alone would make them consider more marriage alternatives just to rake in the cash. However, the everlasting entanglement of religious culture and government is far more important. This needs to end.

Marriage was, for most of western human history, a contract between families. The church was involved with making it official beginning in the 13th century and continued to increase their involvement in the process over the next several hundred years. In 1753, it became law that the church must grant marriages for them to be legal and set standards by which marriage be performed. This included a license issued by the church. When the United States formed, they kept most of the marriage laws from England. By 1837, a civil marriage became possible as the state offered an alternative to a legal church wedding. Marriage licenses in the USA, issued by the states, began as a way for the state to control race mixing, prevent polygamy, control the marrying off of children, force blood tests, and to prevent the marriages of same-sex couples.

Libertarians - trying to take over the world and leave you alone

The reasons that we have these marriage laws no longer apply. As a society, we’ve come to accept people of other races and persuasions. We marry for love, not the financial or social benefit of our parents. We have ages of consent that most people consider reasonable and that should prevent child marriages without the need for further government involvement.

The libertarian stance on this is: mind your own business and don’t try to legislate things that have nothing to do with you. This is as true for marriage as anything. We don’t need to concern ourselves with who or how many. It’s an individual choice that should only be made by the people involved. That’s what marriage in a free society should look like.

Party Politics

This is an exciting time for the Libertarian Party, coming off of its most successful presidential campaigns in the party’s history. Gary Johnson, though uninspiring and clumsy as he could be, was enough to engage a large number of people that were previously independent or uninterested. Paired with the two lackluster, scandal-ridden major party candidates, the LP was able to look reasonable, and even attractive. With more media attention than usual and an acceleration of the social media campaign opportunities, The Libertarian Party and its candidates were able to convince over four million voters that they had a chance to make history.

The LP’s success was historic, but the future may be looking even brighter. One must examine the social climate of America, and abroad, to understand the collective consciousness shift that has been taking shape to understand the full implications and opportunity presented to such a minor actor in the current political sphere. Where do Americans place their beliefs? What are their expectations in a candidate, or a party? How does a candidate address the gravitational pull of populism? How can the party appeal to the common man in meaningful ways, and generate an identity of its own? First, we must examine the events leading up to the election.

In 2014, presidential nominees were already showing interest, hinting at bids, and making campaign preparations. I have no faith in either major parties to represent the people. Thus, I was almost certain that we would see the most expensive consent ever manufactured, with a 90’s re-run of Bush vs. Clinton. Since my entrance into the liberty movement in 2007, I had conceded that the major parties have a will of their own. They serve to protect the politically and economically elite. The country, just four years prior, had equally moderate shades of status quo. I thought it would be nothing short of a money-slinging showdown of two equally terrifying candidates. Then, in 2015, the world was introduced to two wildly extreme choices, and I was proven completely wrong about the power of collective activism and a uniquely American desire for radical change.

First, Donald J. Trump, a real-estate mogul with zero experience holding public office. A flamboyant millionaire television personality with a seemingly genuine disgust for both parties. His campaign, and his nomination was nothing short of spectacular. He faced some of the most powerful and popular conservative republicans. He showed no shame in saying whatever it took to win support, often contradicting himself in the same day. His views were never in line with true conservativism, and quite often it seemed he went out of his way to embrace, and embellish, the stereotypical Republican, as seen from the left.

Second, Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont. A self-professed socialist, targeting millennials with unrealistic promises such as outrageous minimum wage standards, tuition-free secondary education, and higher taxes on the rich. Bernie ran against, arguably, the most powerful public figure in America, Secretary Hillary Clinton. Not even the Democratic Party was ready for the following he would garner. Bernie successfully captured the bleeding hearts in the young and old, while offering solutions to those financially struggling, regardless of how unrealistic his promises were.

Two things they each had in common, was a rabidly aggressive, public disdain for the “establishment in DC,” (I’m sure we can find a reference to that in almost every speech both candidates,) and promised radical change. To me, those are the ideas that won the election. The same can be applied to Brexit. That’s what’s selling right now, radical outsiders, rebellious warriors, antiheroes of the people.

Bernie’s controversial defeat, paired with Trump’s failures and puppet-like behavior since the victory, have even further shattered the confidence of Americans that the answers they need will come from Washington, or the two major parties. They are correct, and it’s about damn time they wake up. Rule number one, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Rule number two, never trust a politician when he promises the state will care about, or for, the people.



Then we have the Libertarian Party, and Johnson/Weld. Two former republican governors, moderate republicans, moderate liberals. Self-identified as Jeffersonian Classical liberals. Their campaign, and nomination were also unprecedented. Gary Johnson narrowly won the presidential nomination after two contentions, and Bill Weld’s VP nomination was also contended, defeating Larry Sharpe in a second vote by only a few delegates. The anarchists were furious, feeling the party had traded principles for pragmatism, prompting James Weeks II to strip down to a thong, live on C-SPAN, assumingly in protest of the moderate candidate that would be representing him.

As the election race continued, Clinton struggled to garner the youth and minority vote that Bernie inspired. Gary Johnson continued to distance himself from the hardline, and traditional, Libertarian beliefs, even distancing himself with the conservative libertarians that got him elected. Meanwhile, the “Trump Train” turned the volume up to 11, promising to build a massive wall, crush Islamic terrorists (all of them), and jail Secretary Clinton if elected. Gary limped to the finish line with a disappointing, yet still record number, 4% of the vote. Clinton won only in the small pockets you would expect a Democrat to win. Trump, meanwhile, seemed to have united the country in a crushing electoral victory.



Now here we are in 2017, and it seems that the Trump revolution will be nothing more than a few tax breaks, lavish vacations, and WWIII. The Berniecrats are busy creating gender pronouns and microaggressions, and the Republican conservatives have been reduced to observers and obstructionists within their own party. We essentially have much of the people feeling politically homeless.

This is what the Libertarian Party has been waiting for. I know 2016 was sold as the best chance the LP would ever get at success, but I can’t disagree with that enough. We were woefully unprepared. I’m not talking about the infighting, and I’m not talking about the on-camera Gary-gaffes and blunders. I’m talking about, in my best Gary voice, BOOTS ON THE GROUND! State and local affiliates were either unorganized, unwilling to participate, or non-existent. There is no chance of winning without community presence and outreach. ZERO! Without the R or D stamp of approval, the only way to get a large enough number of votes is organically, through advertisement, marketing, and putting a local face on the LP brand.

The good news, it’s happening. Currently, there is a massive influx of members and support, and it’s shaping into an entirely different brand of Libertarian than we’ve ever seen before. Growth is not always peaceful, friendly, or smooth, however. The growing pains can be seen most recently as the infighting and arguing over branding and message continue to evolve. One thing that is happening regardless of the Party and its members, is libertarianism is becoming cool. The ideas of self-ownership, free markets, and individual empowerment are sweeping through college campuses. Young Americans for Liberty, in ten years, has gone from hosting speeches to be heard by dozens, to thousands. It seems the most extreme, or disenfranchised, of them have found the Libertarian Party as a vessel for activism.

The LP can position itself as a dominant force in politics, but it must shed its moderate/conservative skin. The people are clear, they want a radical, and they want that person far removed from the current business-as-usual model. They don’t need to be eased into accepting freedom. They need to be exposed to it, in an open and honest way. They need to be invited to it, by having the party and its members actively engaging individuals currently ignored. They need to have reason to vote, and pure, unadulterated liberty offers the reason for everyone. Liberty is logic. Liberty is honesty. Liberty is anti-establishment. Liberty is change. Liberty is cool, and it’s about time the Libertarian Party presents itself as an outlet for intelligent, virtuous, rebellious, and open minded individuals of all walks of life.

Opinion

The Libertarian Party is not a safe space. Just in case you don’t understand that, the Libertarian party is not a fucking safe space. For far too long, the Libertarian Party has been relatively stagnant. In 30 years of being fringe conservatives and impotent anarchists, they have little to show for their existence. Their only path to success was through the Republican Party, as the closest reality we could ever achieve is to look conservative enough to do a few conservative things. Now, with the Libertarian Party on the brink of revolution or destitution, is not the time to play the same old Republican games.

This is not to discredit the libertarian minded Republicans that have been able to help grow our party, and spread our ideals. From Ron Paul to Justin Amash, the liberty movement itself is far from useless in the Republican Party. In fact, I would go as far as to say that: If you are adamant about holding office and effecting real change, no matter how minimal, the Republican Party is the most viable and pragmatic.
However, this has achieved NOTHING for the Libertarian Party, itself! The numbers have remained consistently abysmal, at best for over, for over 40 years. It wasn’t until the election of 2016, with that special combination of two horrible major party candidates, and the Johnson/Weld ability to gain media coverage. Gary was chosen as a pragmatic, former Republican governor to represent the party. Seemingly, this fit into the Republican with a bong, Randist, stereotype of Libertarians.

Something went terribly off the conservative tracks, though. Gary started pandering to the left, trying to pick up Sanders voters. Suddenly, pragmatism shifted left, and the former pragmatists couldn’t stop crying about principles. Gary is advocating for Universal Basic Income and Carbon Tax. While his running mate, William Weld, is explaining how to DIY an automatic weapon, and openly admitted that his goal is to help Clinton win. That was not the pragmatism they were hoping for, or accustomed to.

The result, an exponential boom of interest, activists, and even anarchists. Only one thing is crystal clear from 2016, people want radical change. Gary may have been a moderate libertarian in a lot of eyes, some maybe don’t consider him one at all, but what he did changed the game for the Libertarian Party. It brought exposure to those more radical opponents of his in the Party. People like Larry Sharpe, John McAfee, and Austin Peterson, articulate people within the party, are reaping the benefits of Gary’s shedding of the conservative skin.

So, this is a warning. If you are interested in joining the Libertarian party, beware. They have strippers, Satanists, and anarchists. I feel like the damage has already been done, and it’s too late to stop it. The young radicals have already infiltrated the LP Facebook page, posting nipples and evil. They have members that openly do drugs, and advocate for prostitution and various other kinks. If you try to restrict their ideal of liberty, you may get called words like statist, pleb, or fascist.

I repeat, the Libertarian Party is not a safe space for boring, emotional people. If you are routinely triggered. If you suffer from butthurt syndrome when someone peacefully doesn’t live their life like you. If your feelings, and perception of public image, are easily shaken by young punks and dope smokers. Please, find a safe space somewhere else.

Opinion

When I was a young lad(many, many moons ago), I discovered the Sex Pistols for the first time. I didn’t bother to learn about the history of the band, and it was years before I watched The Great Rock n’ Roll Swindle…all I did was turn on that first record and the absolute rawness, the complete unbridled individuality that screamed out of my speakers, spoke to me on a deep level. Sure, you’re probably wondering how a band that barely knew how to play their instruments(I always joked that Steve Jones and Paul Cook were the best two man band in punk rock history) could be so influential. It wasn’t the music(as many three-chord punk bands who tried and failed to emulate them found out), it was the dangerous message: I do what I want, you don’t own me. It was a message that any rebellious kid could identify with because I mean who wants to listen to their parents or teachers? Most were content to leave it there, and after they hung up their Chuck Taylors and took out their piercings, they joined the rat race and submitted to one authority after another: their professors in college, their boss at their job, their friends who had their own professors and jobs. Punk rock was anarchy-lite, quickly abandoned for the realism of responsibilities and commitments. Death and taxes. But always, underneath that basic “you don’t own me mom” sneer of punk rock was the idea: If my parents don’t own me….does anyone? It’s that dangerous message, the fish-hook buried in the candy bar, that kicked off a world of discovery for me. Listening to the Sex Pistols scream about anarchy in the UK was the catalyst for a life spent questioning all authority, seeking the ultimate freedom of the individual. But these days, the freedom of the individual seems swallowed up in big government nanny-state rhetoric…I’m more likely to see a Bernie sticker on a punk rocker’s guitar than an anarchy symbol. How the hell did we get here?


There’s always been a left-wing lean to punk rock…the working class’ struggles were immortalized in the music of the Clash, songs like “Let’s Lynch the Landlord” by the Dead Kennedys, and lyrics like these by The Ex: “The bourgeoisie was not needed and we proved it / No church, no masters, no guardians / Property collectivized, we took over the estates / No necessity for money to exist, everyone would work / And exchange with other collectives – no need for the state.” There were precious few conservative punk rockers…the Ramones’ own Johnny Ramone was a life-long voting Republican(to the chagrin of his left-leaning bandmates), and the band FEAR has taken some heat by the punk community for being conservative in their politics. But that’s about it…and it makes sense if you think about it. Punk rock in its very origins was reactionary, a nihilistic scream against the materialism and plastic commercialism of the late 1970s. They hated the status quo, and conservatism most assuredly WAS the status quo. Google “anti-Reagan punk” and you’ll have quite the playlist. Punk rock from its very beginnings was anti-authoritarian, populist, and socially liberal above all. The freaks and outcasts from modern conservative society were welcome, in fact being too “normal” meant you were looked at with distrust.

The reactionary attitude extended to capitalism as well…it was seen as exploitative, anyone seeking a record deal with a major label was a “sell-out” and bands promoted themselves through fanzines and collective efforts. The more DIY you were, the more “punk rock” you were. Later in the 90s when Nirvana was selling out arenas and record stores Kurt Cobain bemoaned the state of the record industry as co-opting what was essentially a grass-roots movement and selling it as a product. He was absolutely right. The music industry had long been controlled by the “big four” companies: Universal Music Group, Sony, Warner, and EMI. Their monopoly privileges and cooperation with radio monopolies(EMMIS, Radio One, and Clear Channel own most of the radio stations in the US)meant that all roads to super-stardom went through them, and with that came contracts ensuring that the companies owned a majority share in any profits the artist might earn. This state-enforced capital funnel meant that the artists were essentially serfs to their record labels.

Keep in mind this was before the advent of the internet and other technologies which allowed musicians to more directly interact with their fans and circumvent the major labels, so many punk rock acts who were looking to avoid “selling out” started their own labels. The music industry was seen as a vampire sucking the life out of productive musicians and something to be avoided as much as possible. Capitalism was the enemy, they declared…while participating in it. Remember how at its core punk rock was reactionary and anti-authority? The main authority later punk musicians had to rebel against was the music industry itself, a monolithic authority propped up by monopoly privileges and an almost inescapable permeation of every facet of popular culture. This leviathan was the target of many later punk bands like NOFX, Rancid, and Bad Religion, who started their own record labels and movements as a reaction to the exodus in the mid-80s and 90s of many punk bands to the major labels. Bands like the Offspring and Green Day were derided as sell outs and turncoats in the punk underground.

Politically, punk rock focused most of its efforts on this monopoly throughout the 90s. Clinton was in the White House by this point and even though there was still some anti-statist sentiment in most punk music, the Democrats were seen as somewhat “safe” compared to the GOP. Keep in mind punk rock rose to prominence in the 1980s as a reactionary political movement against Reagan conservatism and people who came of age during this time listening to bands like Reagan Youth and the Dead Kennedys found themselves more and more turned to leftist politics. Clinton promised change to the left-wing base, and like most who lived through the Obama years can attest, the left wing is pretty silent when one of their boys is in the White House. Kids who were in their adolescence during the Reagan years were voters now and registered Democrats. The Clinton “surplus” and the relative boom of the dot.com years only encouraged them more and more that the Democrats were the party of the future. Social issues became more important, and the ideas of individual freedom and anarchy gave way to pragmatism and “voting for the lesser evil”. These middle-aged punks got married, had kids, and blended into the cycle of responsibility and paying taxes.

Then the 2000 election happened, and the uproar by the left was matched only by the Trump win in recent days. 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq only fueled the fire. All of a sudden high school kids were getting political and getting into punk music again. Old punkers NOFX trotted out anti-Bush albums and Fat Mike, their frontman, even started punkvoter.com…a website with the stated goal of removing Bush by mobilizing the young voting base to vote Democrat. Holy hell! It was a wild decade, with Rock Against Bush and other protest efforts lining the coffers of Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph with plenty of new fans’ money. This wasn’t the grass-roots anti-authoritarian reactionary movement of the 1970s…this was corporate rock opportunism at its finest. Honed to perfection from decades of working within the music industry, all of a sudden being anti-authoritarian meant voting Democrat! It was hilariously absurd if one hadn’t seen the writing on the wall from punk’s very beginnings. It was always simply a reactionary movement, never an anarchist one. Anarchism in punk was basically nihilism…which is completely unsustainable. One eventually finds values. The punks of the 80s and 90s found value in socially liberal policies and anti-capitalist sentiment. Nevermind that the capitalism they experienced was the result of government intervention in the market, bestowing privileges and monopolies to a few corporations which mined their movement for profit. Their penchant for socially liberal government policies ensured that punks that did vote would generally vote Democrat. Their built up hatred for the capitalist structure(while ironically participating in it wholeheartedly) ensured that they would be receptive to socialist ideas. The rise of Bernie Sanders and the subsequent reaction to the Trump win was, therefore, unsurprising, if not predictable.