Thinking Outside the Fringe

Expanding on some comments I made on Maria's post earlier, I think there's a tendency among libertarian types to focus on the difference between their own beliefs and those of other groups. This tendency lies in everyone, of course, but one can greater afford to refuse to find common ground when one is in the mainstream.

It's easy to point at the abysmal results of past alliances with, say, paleoconservatives, but alliances have tended to be along the lines of "I'll help get you in power if you listen to me." Instead, I propose forming temporary coalitions for specific common agendas, so that libertarians can start to get their voices heard in the mainstream rather than just among their friends.

The two examples I gave in my comments were gay marriage and teaching creationism in schools. These are both examples where generic federalism can help out pretty much everybody.

In the gay marriage example, I think it's a very bad idea to propose having government redefine marriage at all. What might be best would be to suggest that allowing government to even define what marriage is in the first place will leave marriage permanently open to being defined by politics. Perhaps the religious conservatives should be reminded that they have not always been the ones in power.

On the other side, one might point out to people pushing for "gay marriage" that the result is just as likely to be a constitutional amendment banning it as a change permitting it. My agenda here is to get government out of marriage entirely, so I would push for civil unions, basically just a branch of contract law dealing with marriages and all sorts of other property-sharing agreements among people.

As for schools, most libertarians want government out of education altogether, but it seems to me that step one is to get people to acknowledge that the Federal government, at least, doesn't need to be involved with education. As Patri has blogged about in the past, smaller political units and ease of voting with your feet makes for better government, and I think the same goes for schools: it's easier to move to a different district or county than to a different state or country if you don't like the way the local school system is run. Then we can start local experiments with potential solutions.

Another example that came up when I was chatting with Scott earlier is gun control. Sure, we think people should be able to defend themselves with whatever tools they think are appropriate. However, I think most people would agree that gun laws that did not disproportionately disarm the law-abiding and more effective police forces would be an improvement over the current situation.

Then there's the minimum wage. Why waste any breath at all talking about the minimum wage when it's so small as to be practically economically insignificant? It's hard to use statistics to show any effect of such a small minimum wage, so perhaps a better tactic would be to figure out how to make the least productive workers, the ones who are affected by the minimum wage in the first place, more productive, through expansion of internships, tax breaks or just exemptions from requirements like the minimum wage for apprenticeships, or whatever.

I think the best way to convince people (perhaps the only way) is by speaking their langauge; working toward our position from theirs rather than shouting at them to come on over. Perhaps by finding common ground we can be more effective at making changes where changes are most needed and easiest to make rather than trying to make people swallow an entire philosophy all at once.

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Carnival of Liberty #2 Here

Carnival of Liberty #2
Here it is! The one, the only, the second Carnival of Liberty! We've got a good variety of various topics here. I tried to vaguely categorize them by main topic.

Law and Regulation:

Eric's ...