Does Running for President Make One Stupid?

January 28, 2002

Below is reproduced an editorial by L. Neil Smith, wherein he takes Pat Buchanan to task for daring to question his holy grail:  Libertarianism.  For those who are interested, Buchanan's column, "Does Libertarianism Lead to Statism?" (1/24/02) which so raised Mr. Smith's ire may be reviewed at:

We all know who Pat Buchanan is; he's the new Harold Stassen, perennial presidential election wallflower.

Those unacquainted with Mr. Smith should know that he is author of a number of wildly-popular science fiction novels with a libertarian flavor.  To all appearances, Mr. Smith intends to run for President on the Libertarian ticket in 2004, which might do more than anything else to explain his antipathy towards Mr. Buchanan.

Here are both points of view in a nutshell -
       Buchanan:  Libertarians are wrong to advocate open borders and free trade; that's what is killing America.
       Smith:  Libertarians are never wrong; you just aren't doing it right.
       Buchanan:  IS!
       Smith:  ISN'T!!

Well, Mr. Smith, I will not pretend to write well enough to best you in wordsmithing. 

Nor will I defend Buchanan, who I view as having betrayed us the first time he ran (withdrawing and supporting the Republican), then the second time, as well, by pandering so pathetically to liberals with his VP choice.

Nor do I believe Buchanan requires others to defend him - he does so rather well all by himself, most recently in his "Death of the West," which you clearly have not read (I commend it to you, as it forcefully refutes much of the castigation you inflict upon its author).  Buy it quickly, though, because I have seen far less inflammatory books banned and removed from circulation in America these days.

However, you raise an excellent point with your paint-by-the-numbers prescription for political fortune:  do it all, just as recited, else don't do it at all.  Where have I heard that before? 

Oh, yes, that's what the communists always say, isn't it, in excusing one execrable failure after another?  Guess the Libertarians must have the formula right, though, despite having to resort to this tired, old incantation.

As my 11-year-old daughter might say, sir:  Catch a clue, dude.  In other words, if you need laboratory conditions to make it work, don't expect results in the real world.

Wipe all forms of welfare, including public schools, off the books?  Sign me up!  I'll buy the whole Libertarian load, in fact, if you will first sell everybody else.  Life in Utopia.  Wouldn't that be just grand?

But, there's the rub, isn't it?  In the real world, the whole load just doesn't fly (nor will it ever).  By your own formulaic approach, then, it isn't worth even starting the trip.  That's why, though I was a card-carrying Libertarian 30 years ago (I walked precincts for Anderson), I no longer toe the party line. 

Now I support what works. 

What worked was America, for the first 150 years, excepting only that dreadful suspension of the Constitution for the Civil War.  But, no more.  Unfortunately, not much does work these days.  Nor do I believe our system can be fixed within the framework that exists. 

That's why I agree with Buchanan's new-found belief in borders, tariffs and other forms of protectionism and separatism.  Libertarian thinking has been a large part of the conservative decision to roll over for the globalists now in control.  In that sense, we would be better off if the Libertarian party had never formed in the first place.

But, then, if a total system breakdown is what might lead at least some of us to return to true on, because you hasten the day that some of us can pick up the pieces and construct a New America, using what worked once and can work again:  The Constitution.

New America.  An idea whose time has come.


"I didn't say it would be easy.  I just said it would be the truth."
            - Morpheus

Copyright © Edgar J. Steele, 2002

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> by L. Neil Smith <>
> Exclusive to THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE [subscription info at end below.]
> Dear Pat,
> Despite Spider Robinson's heartwrenching advice to the contrary, I
> once changed the master brake cylinder on my wife's 1969 Volkswagen
> Beetle.
> (Stick with me, here, I'll be making my point directly.)
> Although I'm a pretty good gunsmith, I don't know much about cars, so
> I was very careful to follow each instruction, step-by-step, and make
> sure I'd done it right, before going on to the next item on the list.
> The operation was a success. We drove the old Bug for a long time
> when our daughter was a baby, before we retired it to the garage --
> having bought ourselves a Subaru -- intending to restore it sometime
> in the 21st century as Baby's First Car. She's 12 now, and can hardly
> wait.
> Now I can't say for certain -- remember I said that I don't know much
> about cars -- but I suspect that if I'd followed another, very
> different procedure, none of the three of us would be alive today,
> and I wouldn't be writing this. What procedure is that? Just follow
> every _other_ instruction, items 1, 3, 5, 9, and so on, to the
> letter. But do the exact opposite of whatever is called for by items
> 2, 4, 6, and 8.
> You could pretty much destroy a computer system that way, too, I
> guess.
> Or a nation.
> What brought this to mind is an item that a dozen folks "clipped" and
> e-mailed to me from the Tuesday, January 22 _WorldNetDaily_. It was
> written by you, Patrick J. Buchanan, and I've got to tell you, Pat,
> in a World and on a Net brimming over with Daily stupidity, your
> piece takes a solid gold medal for clear evidence of evolution in
> reverse.
> In your column, after saying what you probably thought were a bunch
> of nice things about libertarians and libertarian thought (only in
> those areas, of course, where we happen to agree with you), you turn
> suddenly and accuse them -- us -- of being the source of just about
> every social and political evil since the Paleolithic Era. Why?
> Because "we" believe in, and advocate, open borders and unrestricted
> immigration.
> The idea (I suppose you'll insist on calling it that) is that by
> somehow encouraging a massive, uncontrolled influx of vile, unwashed
> foreigners, we libertarians have caused the welfare rolls, the crime
> rate, and the "need" for government "services" to expand explosively.
> By advocating geographical freedom, you charge, we're actually
> causing government to grow, costing everybody a lot of money and
> diminishing their liberty. Hence your snappy title "Does
> Libertarianism Lead to Statism?"
> Naturally, a great deal of what you have to say about this rests on a
> bizarre, and almost certainly bigoted premise, unwarranted by facts
> or logic, that newcomers to this country are all ineducable, that
> they can't be reached by those who value individual liberty (or
> whatever it is you think you're in favor of), and that it's
> inevitable and immutable that, from now until the end of time,
> they'll only vote for left-wing collectivists (as opposed to
> right-wing collectivists like you). I've seen these arguments before,
> of course, invariably supported by twisted statistics worthy of a
> Sarah Brady or a Charles Schumer.
> What it sounds like to me is a typical Republican excuse for not even
> going to the effort of trying to reach the immigrant heart and mind.
> The idea (before one even starts considering the flimsy factoids and
> specious logic) begs an all-important question Tonto asked the Lone
> Ranger at a moment when they were surrounded by hostile redskins
> intent on collecting scalps. Kemo Sabe asked him, "What are we gonna
> do?"
> "What," Tonto replied, "do you mean _we_, paleface?"
> You see, Pat, I'm part of that "we". I was there. I remember the
> Libertarian Party being all over the place on open borders and free
> immigration, at the national level, where I served on a couple of
> platform committees during the most formative period in the party's
> history (a time when it was dominated by one of the think tanks you
> mention in your piece), and at the state level, where I vividly
> recall arguments that deteriorated into inadvertent spitting and
> outright screaming.
> What sticks with me most of all is that, influenced by Rothbard and
> LeFevre, and following the Non-Aggression Principle, I advocated open
> borders and immigration restricted only in that there should be no
> welfare of any kind -- including public education -- waiting for
> newcomers when they arrived on these shores (or river banks, as the
> case may be). Not that I believed this would reduce the influx. The
> idea that people come here for handouts is no more than a
> cryptoracist myth.
> Ask the immigrants, yourself.
> People come here, Pat, more and more mistakenly, for political and
> economic freedom, the opportunity to better themselves by seeking
> work vastly more arduous than most native-born Americans are willing
> to accept.
> But I digress. You're right, some libertarians enthusiastically favor
> open borders. But others enthusiastically do not. Sadly, the
> principles for which I fought for were rejected -- vehemently -- by
> many of the leading libertarian lights of the day. That's just one of
> a great many reasons that I left the LP to write books about genuine
> libertarianism.
> Failing to make a case against libertarians or the ideas you claim we
> all share (on a bet, Pat, I could have done better), you then try a
> Stupid Politician Trick. Having pointed out the ways we agree with
> the GOP (which makes us Fine and Noble), you then ask why we agree
> with Democrats on the issue of immigration (which makes us Nasty and
> Mean). Specifically, you mention "Big Government liberals like
> Clinton, Gore, Daschle and Kennedy", saying that we stand
> shoulder-to-shoulder beside them.
> Guilt by association, from you, of all people.
> Fact is -- and you know it, Pat -- it's irrelevant and accidental
> that the Party of Government A, the Democrats (as opposed to the
> Party of Government B, the Republicans) agrees with many libertarians
> about the issue of open immigration. Even a broken clock -- of the
> analog kind -- is right twice a day. In any case, your precious
> Republicans have abandoned the Constitution and scuttled the Bill of
> Rights. To my point of view, that makes them a lot more like a broken
> _digital_ clock.
> Back to basics. Let's overlook the pathetically obvious fact that
> libertarians are in charge of none of the areas of national life that
> you accuse us of having screwed up -- nor have we ever been -- and
> that nobody ever listens to libertarians where matters of policy are
> concerned.
> If we libertarians were in charge of things, Pat, there would _be_ no
> welfare state, no social "services" to expand explosively, all of
> which are blatant violations, not only of the underlying principles
> of libertarianism, but of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as well.
> The crime rate would be lower than that of the 19th century for the
> same reason it's fallen in double digits in places like Florida, and
> lowest of all in Vermont. There would be no prohibition -- nor even
> any regulation -- of the acquisition, ownership, and defensive use of
> weapons.
> Look what we have, instead. Libertarian Instruction Number One --
> open immigration -- is followed, albeit by default, because nothing
> in the world (the Great Wall of China was complete bust, Pat, and so
> were Hadrian's Wall and the mighty Maginot Line) can stop it from
> being followed.
> But then Libertarian Instruction Number Two -- "Thou Shalt Not Steal
> Other People's Money and Give It to Third Parties" -- is trashed.
> Libertarian Instruction Number Three -- the idea that people should
> enjoy complete freedom of association, especially in the workplace,
> where they should be free to work at any job they're qualified for,
> and employers should be free to hire anyone they like -- gets obeyed
> for the same reason Libertarian Instruction Number One does.
> But then Libertarian Instruction Number Four -- the notion that folks
> should be free of harassment and violence from jackbooted thugs
> stalking them because (just as your ancestors did, Pat, having
> decided that the Auld Sod offered them no more future than my Polish
> ancestors were offered by remaining some genetically depleted
> Cossack's serf in the Old Country) they decided to try and improve
> their lot in life, and the lot of their children, by stepping over
> some imaginary line created by the mortal enemies of improving one's
> lot in life -- is violated.
> I could go on, Pat, but by now the point should be clear, even to
> you. These libertarian instructions work in _series_, not in
> parallel. And, as Robert A. Heinlein informed us, "Bilge one, and you
> bilge them all". Don't accuse libertarians or libertarian ideas of
> having screwed things up, Pat, unless you implement each and every
> one of those ideas correctly -- or better yet, get out of the way and
> let libertarians do it.
> Most instructive, Pat, is the whimpering you do over the damage you
> say open borders are doing to your poor party. The way you put it --
> "Thus does mass immigration not only lead to endless enlargement of
> state power, it points to permanent minority status for any party of
> limited government" -- attempts to smuggle in a few ideas you haven't
> supported logically or factually, or course, but we've gotten used to
> that.
> To begin with, you haven't made the case that immigration leads to an
> increase in state power, so you simply don't deserve a "Thus" or a
> "therefore". You also imply that Republicans are a party of limited
> government, and that libertarians should worry about endangering its
> hopes.
> What hallucinatory concoction gave you the notion that genuine
> libertarians have any interest whatever in advancing the fortunes of
> the party of Nixonian wage-price controls, the War on Drugs, the
> Brady Bill, the adequate magazine ban, and recently the destruction
> of due process in the name of "antiterrorism", and the insane and
> murderous slaughter in Afghanistan? The same smoking materials,
> perhaps, that make you believe the GOP is a party of small government
> and individual liberty?
> Let me make it perfectly clear, Pat, once and for all, that the only
> interest libertarians have in the Republican Party is seeing it
> crumble and vanish, so that there'll be one down and only one left to
> go.
> And that, of course, is the point, isn't it? More and more the
> electoral balance of power lies with the Libertarian Party, whose
> "losing" candidates have proven themselves capable of handing a race
> to your adversaries if they wish. 'Fess up, Pat. You'd advocate the
> abolition of the LP if you had the guts, wouldn't you? Instead, you
> have to resort to this kind of incompetently devious claptrap over
> immigration.
> There's an easier way, Pat, to remove the "threat" to your party that
> libertarianism represents. I remember a time when you were a
> libertarian-leaning conservative. A time when you advocated free
> trade and maybe even open borders. A time before you decided that the
> only way to get ahead was by sucking up to xenophobes, bigots, and
> labor unions.
> I remember something else you said, a few years ago when you were
> deciding to run as ... well, whatever it was you decided to run as.
> You patronizingly urged Libertarians to abandon our unwonted
> "purity". Yours was the only train headed in the direction we wanted
> to go, you said, and we'd damn well better hop aboard because it was
> leaving the station.
> Well your train turned out to Lionel, didn't it, Pat? Going around
> and around in endless circles and never getting anywhere? I can't
> honestly say the same isn't true of the LP, but I can say that the
> 21st century had better be the Century of the Non-Aggression
> Principle and the Bill of Rights -- or no human being will live to
> see the 22nd century.
> And I can also say we're the only train headed in the direction you
> claim you want to go, and that you'd damn well better hop aboard. It
> should be simplicity itself to defend the existence of your poor,
> precious party, Pat. Just be better than we are on all of the issues
> that count. Enforce the Bill of Rights stringently, energetically and
> enthusiastically. Declare "Peace with Honor" in the illegal War on
> (some) Drugs. Repeal, nullify, or otherwise dispose of the
> 25,000-plus laws that presently deny Americans their rights under the
> Second Amendment.
> In short, abolish the welfare/warfare state.
> Can't do it, can you?
> Won't do it, will you?
> I've said for many years that the socialists who call themselves
> liberals habitually break freedom's legs with irrational legislation,
> and then criticize it because it can't run. They have no interest of
> any kind in seeing the Bill of Rights enforced, because most of them
> would wind up on a street corner somewhere selling pencils from a tin
> cup.
> But they are far from alone in their nasty habits, Pat. It isn't
> libertarianism that leads to statism -- we were already there a long
> time before the birth of the modern movement -- it's socialists like
> you, who call themselves conservatives, who have taken us where we
> are today.
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> Excerpted via
> THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE ................................ ISSUE 158
> January 28, 2002 ......................... Anarchy, Slaves, and Death
> <>
> Web edition of TLE courtesy of Ken Holder.
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