Sunday, June 26, 2011

For Libertarians, dual role comes with the territory

Sometimes, a comment or sequence of events just seems to always standout in memory with unusual clarity. Such is the case with one explanation I heard last year from a friend regarding what he saw as the real difference between men and women when it comes to political activity.

He pointed out that when it comes to getting a political movement underway, women tend to be more task-oriented and focus on the nitty-gritty work which comes with it. All the while, men on the other hand are more likely to sit around and think deep thoughts and carry-on deeper conversations. In more pop culture-friendly terms, women are more inclined to “Walk The Walk” as opposed to “Talk The Talk.”

Based on that observation, he is insistent the Libertarian Party needs a lot more women to join its ranks.

There is great truth to what he says. And, I’ll just come right out and say it: I can vouch for at least half of his premises through my own activity. If you look at my Facebook page, you’ll see a lot of blogs as well as links to various articles of libertarian, small-government interest and the occasional comment on world events.

Still, there is an important point I wish to raise on the topic. Circumstances in our society almost dictate that anyone who joins the Libertarian Party must to some extent be ready to wear the hat of “armchair philosopher.”

Among the general masses, when you invoke the words Republican or Democratic, there is an inherent understanding of where those two political parties stand (in theory, of course) on a host of issues and subjects.

This is a luxury we as capital-L Libertarians do not enjoy.

Last summer, shortly after returning to work from a layoff I was settling-in with my new coworkers on the assembly line when the topic of politics came up. One gentleman, known for being a staunch Republican, expressed his curiosity what my political leanings or affiliation were. Being a candidate for Congress at the time, I boldly and proudly informed him of my membership as a Libertarian – to which he replied, “So how liberal are you?”

It would take the next three months we worked together to explain and impart at least a little bit of understanding how the old one-dimensional, left-right paradigm was outdated (although, thankfully for him, not in those abstract terms).

All this laboriously leads me to my ultimate point. In the vast majority of conversations across this great land of ours, those who identify themselves with either major party don’t need to explain what that identity means. We Libertarians, on the other hand, almost invariably need to engage in some degree of discussion as to what our core principles are.

And that is not to say this is a negative development. Every opportunity to espouse the virtues of true liberty for all citizens is a potential seed of thought planted in the minds of those who will engage us in these conversations.

But, all those who will join our ranks as active, participating members of the Libertarian Party for the foreseeable future will need to be ready to accept that dual role. While the need for functionaries can never be fully met – no matter how successful we may become – the need for the additional skill of readily espousing what true liberty really means inevitably will come with the territory.

So, ladies, be prepared to roll your sleeves up and back down at a moment’s notice.

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