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Nov 13 2016

Decision 2016: The Eulogy

Election 2016

Source Photograph by Joe Raedle / Getty / The New Yorker

Cross-posted at Level-Up Liberty and in the Libertarian Associates of Massachusetts newsletter.

It’s finally over. After months of campaigning, the election was won, and the fervor has settled down.

Except it hasn’t.

The liberal left is beside themselves with fury and fear. In some bizarre twist of fate they cannot understand, Trump won the election. In response, the left has armed themselves with labels like racist, sexist, misogynist, and xenophobe, which they hurl at anyone who they think fits the bill – anyone who isn’t a proud Hillary-voting liberal – with more force and ferocity than ever before. They rail against democracy. They call for an end to the electoral college. They destroy private property and attack businesses. They block traffic. They cry and gnash their teeth as they purposefully end relationships because, in their eyes, every conservative and third party voter just destroyed America. Now no one will be safe. The Mexicans and Muslims will be deported, abortion will be banned across the board, rape will be legal and prevalent, gays will be forced back into the closet, segregation will rear its ugly head, and then we’ll all get sick and die because there will be no more ObamaCare. Or so they say.
Election 2016
They are repeating the very same cycle that got them here in the first place – tell someone long enough that they are stupid, racist, misogynistic, backwards, culturally inept, intolerant, and so on, and they’ll throw a brick right through your glass house’s window. Trump, it seems, is that brick.

So much for love, peace, tolerance, and positive discourse.

Democracy did not fail anyone on Tuesday. Democracy, in fact, worked exactly the way that democracy is supposed to work. Never mind that the United States is a constitutional republic and not a democracy. The point is, democracy is a system in which one group can easily infringe upon another, lesser group. Give that majority group a bunch of lobbyists, political favor, and special interest funds, and it’s even more likely to happen. We’ve all seen the metaphor of two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. As libertarians, we know full well who wins in that vote.

As the week has worn on, I’ve heard a few lefties here and there begrudgingly admitting that hey, maybe Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate. Maybe we should keep a closer eye on government, how it functions, and not trust it so easily. And maybe we should stop calling people names. Maybe we should have open discourse and learn to be able to make some of our own decisions, for ourselves, rather than relying on others to make them for us. Maybe, just maybe, we can also let others make their own decisions, instead of forcing them to take on ours.

To these men and women, I say welcome. The libertarians, minarchists, and voluntaryists have been lamenting this for quite some time. We understand your disappointment and your confusion. We understand your distrust, and we certainly understand you wanting to be able to live your daily life in a way that is best for you and your loved ones. In fact, we commend it. Perhaps, if nothing else, Trump’s win will bring others to realize that the big-government political system is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Am I happy that Clinton did not win the election? Yes. Am I thrilled that it was Trump instead? Not particularly.

Election 2016But with any election, it is a passing of a torch that, philosophically, rarely changes hands. Already Trump is reigning in his most extreme of promises, and I fully expect that his presidency will be one of business as usual. Each president may bring about small, cosmetic changes, but the overall picture stays the same. Politics is more about self interest, power, and celebrity narcissism than it is about solving poverty or unemployment. We are taxed, legislated, and infringed upon by politicians who do not know us, do not know our own needs and interests, and have no desire to learn them.

I recently saw a video that – while decidedly leftist – claimed a recent Princeton study found that public opinion has nearly no impact on U.S. law whatsoever. The study, Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, conducted by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, indeed claims that every day people have little to no bearing on government policy, and that the government, no matter who is in charge, tends to stick with the status quo. I can’t say that I find that particularly surprising. But, perhaps, anti-Trumpsters will find comfort in it.

No matter what “side” you are on, what I’d like to say is this: learn from it. Own yourself and your choices. Educate yourself on politics, government, and economics. Truly seek to understand the issues, and possible solutions, beyond “passing another law.” Don’t just take FOX or NBC’s word for it. Learn about the problems facing society and the world and look for solutions that cater to common goals. And then use what you’ve learned to make real change and inspire change in others. Start from the ground up, because clearly the machine at the top isn’t listening.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you want people to rape and murder and promote every -ism in the book, then by all means, continue spouting the insults, burning bridges, and destroying your relationships. Keep mocking the people you see as the enemy, instead of offering kind, empathic solutions, and understanding. Keep invalidating their concerns and resorting to violence. If you are looking for a violent, intolerant world, that is sure to do the trick.

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