In early 2018, I chose to join the Libertarian Party (LP) and to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the Maryland 3rd Congressional District. I did so because…
…I could no longer stand by idly as our political liberty, our economic prosperity, and our social cohesion came under greater and greater threat; as the Democratic and Republican Parties increasingly demonstrated themselves to be lacking the ideas and courage to restore decency, respect, and hope for the country.
I joined the LP because, as I found, it is the only party dedicated to a consistent set of ideas for preserving our liberties while advancing justice and prosperity for all. The LP is the natural home for the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” voters who, like me, have become increasingly uncomfortable and unwelcome in the established parties.
I launched my campaign to offer my neighbors…
- An invitation for reconsidering their lifetime political affiliations;
- An opportunity in the voting booth to take, as I am taking, a stand for steady economic and social advance; for decency and civility in our national politics.
I arrived to my decisions as follows…
Why not the Democratic Party?
The challenge for the Democratic Party is that it has never offered a coherent set of ideas other than the relentless expansion of government programs and regulations. This approach to politics has enabled Democratic stalwarts to celebrate short-term legislative victories. But the programs and regulations themselves have failed to bring long-term improvement to the lives of the poor, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged. The intentions may have been good; the actual results have not.
Which is to say, the Democratic Party requires a faith in government that I cannot share, because government too often harms rather than helps the very people for whom the politicians claim to be fighting. The harm comes from individuals and populations becoming overly dependent on government; from government itself being unaccountable for doing that which it said it would do.
Far more troubling, the Democratic Party has recently become captive to its so-called Progressive wing. (As have college campuses and the mainstream media.) The Progressives are the self-described, self-anointed social justice warriors (SJWs) who are obsessed with race, gender, and sexuality. Their goal is to abolish pretexts for social grievance; to eliminate disparity or inequity in social conditions.
In pursuit of their goals, the Progressives and SJWs practice a resentful, intolerant, and punitive politics. Economically, they are Marxists; politically, they are Leninists. Under a self-serving narrative of oppression and victimization, they present themselves as avengers of a racist, sexist, and inequitable America.
And, yes, our country does exhibit racism, sexism, and inequity. As do all countries. The question for each and every country is, how much of it?
Enough in America’s case to condemn it as an irrefutably racist, sexist and unjust country? Enough to demand that we renounce our society, our history, and our institutions? Enough to warrant imposition of a punitive justice?
Perhaps a contrary proposition is true?
Maybe America compares favorably to other countries around the globe and in history? Maybe our 160+ years of penance and progress against racism in particular should count for something? Maybe the last 50+ years of programs and preferences for women and minorities should confer some degree of redemption for past sins?
Maybe we actually have reason to be proud of our country, its history, its institutions; proud of our steady advancement in liberty, justice, and prosperity for all?
And howsoever that might be, are there not explanations for disparity and inequity other than racism and sexism? Even if we could somehow miraculously eliminate racism and sexism from humankind, would not disparity and inequity remain? Whether in our country and civilization or in any other?
The Progressives and the SJWs give no sign of wanting to debate rationally and civilly on such questions. Instead, they persecute their skeptics; they demonize their opponents. They behave, in short, as if they are crusading members of a religious sect. Which in the politics of a democracy is not merely disgraceful; it is dangerous.
The rise of the Progressives and SJWs is a recent event within the Democratic Party; on college campuses; in the mainstream media.
It is a betrayal of the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., who sought to provoke civil debate; who embraced his oppressors as sinners to be redeemed; who dreamt for his four daughters to be judged on the content of their character instead of the color of their skin.
It is a departure, too, from the politics and policies of Bill Clinton, a moderate Democrat who recognized that social inequity could not be explained, let alone remedied, without reference to the personal choices by those whom we seek to assist.
The rise of the Progressives and SJWs being a betrayal, a departure, and a threat, it should be a trigger for lifetime Democrats to reconsider their political affiliations, just as the 2016 election was the trigger for me to reconsider my own.
Why not the Republican Party?
The Republican Party was until recently my own political home, because it promoted policies that I found to be reasonably consistent with the idea of a limited and responsible government that protects our liberties while advancing social justice and economic prosperity for all.
The party of Lincoln, preserving the union and freeing the slaves. The party that joined with Johnson to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The party that enacted the first environmental laws under Nixon. The party that stood against the existential threat of communism, defeating it under Reagan. The party that in the 1980s espoused a compassionate conservatism.
But after Reagan, the party lost its soul. Whether the Bushes, Dole (for whom I worked in 1988), McCain, or Romney, the party’s presidential candidates failed to articulate any compelling rationale for their economic policies; came to look, even if not entirely fairly, like advocates for the rich and privileged. Meantime, the so-called Religious Right came to dominate the GOP on social policy, surely not intending to be intolerant, insensitive, and even threatening; but certainly giving that outward impression.
Then came 2016. While working for Gov. Hogan, whose policies and persona attracted me to his administration so that I could help make a difference here in Maryland, I enlisted in the Kasich for President campaign. And as the primaries unfolded, I watched with rising dismay as the candidates, voices, and policies that resonated with me were overwhelmed by the narrow, fearful, caustic politics of Carson, Cruz, and Trump.
In 2016, the national GOP demonstrated itself to be just as repellant in its tone and just as cynical in its politics as the Democratic Party. Then, once in power in 2017 with control of the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office, the Republicans revealed themselves to be utterly devoid of ideas on healthcare; utterly craven on the budget.
They lost me.
Why the Libertarian Party?
I found my new home in the Libertarian Party (LP), for which the central idea is to respect, promote, and protect the individual. To allow people to make decisions for themselves. To let them be accountable for those decisions, which are not to harm others. And likewise for institutions within business and government.
The LP is the natural home for those who, like me, have described themselves as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative.” The LP exerts the dignity of all people, regardless of their race, gender, or sexuality. It insists that government remove itself from our personal lives, including the profound moral decision on abortion that women may confront. It welcomes immigration as a source of economic and social vitality.
The LP promotes a vigorous competition of businesses in the marketplace; it rejects bailouts for those businesses that fail. It calls for accountability from government, including balance in budgets. It seeks vastly greater competition in politics, partly by standing itself as an alternative to the two major parties; partly by calling for an end to gerrymandering; imposition of term limits; access to the ballot; and other measures to expand political choice and accountability.
Like any party, the LP encompasses a range of views and groups. I myself fall into that which I’m told is the pragmatic wing of the LP, seeking to restrain and reverse the relentless expansion of government, but not calling for a complete or immediate removal of government from society and the economy.
What do I Say and Ask?
1. Say no to the modern Progressive movement. We cannot continue to denounce our history as shameful; our institutions as oppressive; our people as deplorable. The indictments do not stand scrutiny. The narrative is a reverse bigotry that is tearing apart our society; is tempting us to adopt policies proven in the 20th century to be inimical to social advancement and human happiness. The angry demands of the social justice warriors are a sound and fury, offering no hope for a better future. Economically, the Progressive agenda is plunder. Politically, it is nascent tyranny.
2. Say no to deeper dependence on government. We cannot continue to expect government programs and regulations to bring long-term betterment of the poor, the vulnerable, and the disadvantaged. Government programs and regulations simply do not do that which they are supposed to do. Instead of helping, they promote a debilitating and demeaning dependence on government.
If it were otherwise, if the programs and regulations actually had their intended effect, then our mounting debt could perhaps be justified. But since they don’t, since the programs and regulations consistently disappoint, we receive doubtful benefit (at best) from the federal debt that will soon be accumulating at $1 trillion per year, raising the risk of a financial reckoning and crisis; imposing a dead-weight financial burden on the longer-term economy.
3. Say no to the national GOP. We cannot expect the Republican Party in Washington to bring either the changes or the conciliation that we need. If the Republicans in Washington were like Gov. Hogan here in Maryland, then we could hold faith. But they are not, revealing themselves in recent years to be without ideas, courage, or soul. I no longer recognize them. I cannot support them.
4. Take hope in the Libertarian Party. We do have an alternative that offers hope, the Libertarian Party, which is committed to protecting individuals in their choices and actions as the safest, surest way to continue to expand justice and prosperity year-by-year, decade-by-decade, generation-by-generation. Immigrants come here because our country is different and better. Let’s preserve and protect that which has made it so. Again, by devotion to libertarian ideas for the preservation of liberty and the expansion of justice and prosperity for all.
5. Send me to Congress. To advance these ideas, to endorse civility in national debate, and to give a new reason for hope, I ask my neighbors in the Maryland 3rd Congressional District to vote for me on November 6 and send me to the U.S House of Representatives. We need a third party. We need a principled, alternative voice in Washington. The opportunity is here.
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Written by J. David Lashar