Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Politics Is An Evil Business

  Several years back I was  accosted at a street festival by a local politician who was running for  state representative.  I'm not sure if they were already an incumbent or not, but they asked me what they could do for me up at the capitol. I  told them they could leave me alone.  I told them to not pass any more laws and  to get rid of  the ones they had.  They assured me they were big advocates of 'limited government'.  What they were really advocates of was big campaign contributions from  corporate welfare hopefuls.  They were handily elected and proceeded to  busy themselves with 'bringing home the bacon' and 'making friends' because after all, that's how you get things done.  Life marched on.
  A few years later,  with Obamacare looming, a friend of mine decided to cast his hat into the ring and challenge the incumbent.  This fellow was a true blue  liberty advocate, a reader of Mises and  Hayek.  In fact, this guy was the guy who loaned me Tom Wood's book on nullification.  We were excited, and my whole family got behind this campaign.  It was a heady beginning.  He  told me that his plan was to run for one term, make a bunch of people mad, and then return home.  The incumbent was  status quo, and our friend was a dangerous  outsider.   Not everybody involved in the campaign was  excited about his libertarian roots. From the beginning I saw that  his extremism was a source of heartburn for the people that were trying to actually get him elected.  As the campaign wore on he was  asked to tone down the rhetoric by his campaign advisers while the small  crowd of crazies  from the living room   encouraged him to continue fighting the good fight.
  What happened next may have been the worst thing to happen to him.  He won.  He did fight the good fight for a while, but the  wheels of the well-funded machinery began to wear at him in the  state capitol.  The things he wanted to get done were blocked and stymied at every turn by 'conservatives' who weren't advocates for liberty, but they were advocates of 'limited government'. His chances of repealing things and nullifying things  grew more and more minute . I specifically remember a heartbreaking conversation we had when he told me that the Republicans in my state would never allow  Obamacare to be nullified, and it was a waste of time to try.  I thought something that I did not say.  I thought 'well then why are you running for re-election?'.
  Speaking of re-election, the former incumbent financed a primary opponent against him, and he  squeaked out a victory.  Somewhere in the middle of that he  experienced some minor legislative victories (however you define victory), and began  to be liked in the  capitol. The people that opposed him and blocked him in the beginning began to  advise him and  endorse his ideas.  I told him in the  grocery store one day that he was no longer the  dangerous outsider; he was the incumbent.  Along the way he pushed for  funding to  help bring home some bacon for his district. he began to talk about the importance of  a politician  providing jobs for the community.  He fell out with the local Tea Party group that he had been an early member of. He  broke a campaign promise to  vote against a tax increase, claiming he had inside information about how necessary  the tax was.  He began to attend Republican dinners and fundraisers.  He began to prepare to run for a third term.
  The  old incumbent and  some  well-heeled friends of   theirs  mounted yet another  establishment pro-corporate welfare candidate against him in the primary.  He was  put in a position to prove all the  good things he had done in his first two terms.  This is measured by  how much money you bring  back home, because its hard to argue  for all the things you prevented from happening after all. He sent out slick multi-colored mailers saying how he has been endorsed by all the GOP hierarchy in my state.   I'm sure he'll do well in the primary, and I'm supposed to go vote in a couple of hours but I don't know what I'm going to do.  I refuse to vote for his opponent, but my friend has become , unfortunately, the lesser of two evils.I say that knowing that, in all probability he will read this.
  Please understand that all of this breaks my heart. I really like the guy. We love his family, and I'm sure he  thinks he's stayed by the stuff. I know the typical wisdom is that you do what you have to do to get the  job done. The typical thinking is that without powerful friends, without playing the game you can't get anything accomplished.  I'm sure he would make the argument that it takes a lot to get there, and it takes a lot  to stay there. I'm certain the case could be made that he wasn't elected to represent just the libertarians, but the whole district..
  My point in all this is not that my friend got caught up in pragmatism, but rather that politics is a horrible filthy,  comprising business. You have to go day in and day out and deal with people who have made it their life's work the practice of acquiring power over other men.  What are the odds they won't get any power over you?  They charm and manipulate for a living. What are the odds you can carry that fire in your bosom and not get burned?  How  can you hope to escape without  selling off at least a portion of your soul?
  If government isn't the answer, then getting involved in government cannot possibly be the answer. Those of us that truly want liberty cannot  worry and fret ourselves with running for office. The odds aren't that you will convert the machinery to the cause of liberty; the odds are that you will be converted. You will be assimilated, and you might not even realize it. If you feel yourself in any danger of 'playing the game', your only hope is to resign and run as far away from the halls of power as you can.   Let lesser men seek power over other men, we've got a world to build. 
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