An epiphany is “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.” Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Bruce Jaynes shared with me two epiphanies that could radically change our understanding of politics.
The first came from talking with a friend who is a Republican elected official. The friend was saying that he ran against a Libertarian who just “stole” votes from him. Bruce corrected him, saying that Libertarians don’t steal votes, they just earn them. On reflection, his friend agreed that he was right, but that Republicans train their candidates and officials to believe that.
The second came from Bruce learning from a psychologist that Americans are politically dysfunctional. In our natural desire to avoid pain, we have allowed ourselves to be conditioned in two dysfunctional beliefs. Changing those beliefs is painful for us. They are: “American government can never change” and “All politicians are corrupt once elected.”
We Libertarians cannot get our message across until we make others aware that all three beliefs are false. Here is the truth:
- Libertarians cannot steal votes. The only way to steal a vote is through some highly sophisticated election fraud – and the systems in place make that almost impossible. Libertarians earn votes with strong candidates and sound beliefs.
- Governments at all levels can and do change when enough people believe that change is needed. In the last fifty years, we have ensured that people of both sexes, and all races and sexual orientations, can enjoy basic civil and voting rights; increased transparency in government through information access (“sunshine”) laws; taken the first steps to end the drug wars; and ensured districts are equal in size for legislative and congressional offices. Change is hard, but it is not impossible. We ended one war (Vietnam) and greatly cut back the scope of two others (Afghanistan and Iraq) through protests and political action.
- Too many politicians do look after their own interests once elected, but not all. Some refund all or part of their salaries to government – others work tirelessly for the people at a time in life when they could enrich themselves far more in the private sector. Some even make good on promises to serve only one term in office.
Political change sounds like a lot of work. And it is. But we can make that work easier once we show people how their preconceived notions are untrue, and how our ideas will lead to better lives for all of us.
- Harold Thomas