Tag Archive | controversy

Shut Up, FFS–Arvin Vohra is NOT Why the LP Loses

First of all, before I get into this, it’s worth pointing out that the LP isn’t really losing. In fact, we just won a number of local and state elections. The LP has no national Congressional officials and has never won the White House, but Libertarians of all people should understand the power of local governments. Yet we seem to have the same fascination with the Federal Government that the Big Government Party has–it’s all that matters to us. “Meh” we say to LP victories in local elections. Anyway.

I’ve noticed that libertarian types lose perspective on popularity almost as badly as anime fans. There isn’t an anime fan out there who doesn’t think their favorite show is extremely popular, even though there may only be 23 people who watch it. Anime fans, of course, tend to obsess over their favorite show, steep themselves in its forums and discussion boards, surround themselves with merchandise and other fans. Just like libertarians do with our political obsession. And with our cryptocurrency fascination. It’s hard to keep in mind that, though a few people know what I’m referring to, when I say something like “lol, S2X just got rekt” on Facebook, less than 1% of my friends have any idea what in the world I’m talking about. Seeing people regularly blame Arvin Vohra for the party’s relative unpopularity reinforces this notion: libertarians generally have no perspective on our reach.

The Libertarian Party is a minor political force in the United States. Running against the two most controversial and despised candidates in living memory, the Libertarian Party’s candidates failed to secure a single electoral college vote, not even from New Mexico, which was the presidential candidate’s home state. When this happens to someone in one of the major two parties, it spells the effective end for their political career (see Marco Rubio losing Florida during the GOP Primary). Absolutely nothing was accomplished by the total selling-out of the party to Bill Freaking Weld and Republican Lites, during the most divisive election in my lifetime.

Many people are looking for reasons to blame for this failure. It’s all rather simple, really. We ran two milquetoast, unlibertarian candidates in an election that a foul-mouthed, uncouth shock jock reality show star celebrity won via social media and jarring tweets. Despite this, people continue to insist that foul-mouthed, uncouth shock jocks saying jarring things on social media are causing election losses. This is quite clearly bullshit, though. Those things caused Donald Trump to win the presidency. It’s for this reason that John McAfee almost certainly would have outperformed Gary Johnson, and likely would have brought in the mythical 15% to secure a spot on the debate stage. Arvin doesn’t need to be toned down. He needs to be shared and given a larger reach, because this is the Golden Age of Grotesque.

“Why didn’t people see this coming?” is a pretty good question, but “Why are people acting like this isn’t the case?” is a much better one. Did these “Arvin is destroying the LP” people not notice that Donald Trump just won the White House? Did they miss that development?

But even if all that wasn’t true, the idea that the vice chair’s Facebook posts are the reason people aren’t Libertarians is horrendously stupid. They’ve lost perspective on the kind of reach the Libertarian Party has. Quick, who is the Republican Party vice chair? Who is the vice chair of the Democratic Party? What is the vice chair of the Democratic Party talking about on Twitter? The only people who know the answers to these questions are politics-obsessed Republicans and Democrats. Even Libertarians, who are notoriously obsessed with politics, by and large can’t name the chair and vice chair of any of the other parties. And those are major parties that regularly bring in more than 40% of the votes.

The Libertarian Party’s reach is a tiny, tiny fraction of what the GOP and Democratic Party’s reaches are. And the vice chairs in these parties have tiny fractions of their parties’ reaches. The only people who pay any attention to what the vice chair of the party says are members of that party. John Q. Public has no fucking idea who Arvin Vohra is, nor does he give a shit what Arvin Vohra is saying on Facebook during a non-election year. We need to step back and get over ourselves. The core idea here is that the LP has a tremendous reach, and that Arvin Vohra, being the vice chair, has a nearly equal reach. This is stupid and incorrect. The only people who know who Arvin is are members of the party.

If we are so overestimating our reach and the reach of the vice chair that we blame him for our party’s failures, then we’re going to overlook and not address the actual problem. The problem isn’t Arvin, Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, or Nick Sarwark. The problem is obvious: a strong aversion to third parties, brought about by the fallacious myths that a vote only matters if the candidate its cast for wins, and that third party candidates can’t win. The latter is quite obviously a self-fulfilling prophecy–“Third party candidates can’t win, so I’m not going to vote for third party candidates.”

The former, of course, is equally stupid. A vote doesn’t gain value relative to the outcome, but relative to its effect on the outcome. If Donald Trump won by ten million votes and you voted for him, then your vote has much less value than if Donald Trump won by one vote and you voted for him. People understand this when you explain it to them. “The only vote that is wasted is the one that isn’t cast,” I said to a person once who said that she liked the LP but wouldn’t vote third party because it was wasting her vote. She agreed with the statement, said that she had never thought of it that way, and went on to vote for the LP.

If you voted for Donald Trump and he won by ten million votes, then your vote* was almost completely without value.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton and she lost by ten million votes, then your vote was almost completely without value.

If you voted for Donald Trump and he won by one vote, then your vote had extremely high value.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton and she lost by one vote, then your vote had extremely high value–you forced every single Trump supporter who voted to get out and vote. If even two of those had decided not to, your vote would have been the reason your candidate won. So while your candidate didn’t win, that doesn’t really matter.

LP Federal Fascination

As stated in the intro, Libertarians seem to focus almost exclusively on federal elections, seemingly forgetting that we’re a party that advocates that government, if it must exist, should be local and small, and this focus is so intense that many Libertarians continue to call the party a failure that doesn’t win elections despite having just won elections this very month. This is our Achilles’ Heel. We’ve let ourselves buy into the Federal Government Obsession.

We expect the Big Government Party to focus on federal elections–and they do. The Republicans and Democrats out there in the mainstream have no idea that an election just passed. I accidentally texted someone a few years ago telling her to vote in the election, and she replied, “What election?” I’d bet that most of the country has no idea that there was an election this month. But they’ll turn out in 2020, and they turned out in 2016. Why aren’t we taking advantage of this?

We know that they don’t pay much attention to local and state governments. Odd years should see Libertarians swept into offices in enormous numbers. Instead, I don’t know of many Libertarians who voted this month at all. If we play their Only Federal Elections Matter game, we will lose. We have been losing, and we will continue to lose, because they have an enormous aversion to voting third party. But they also don’t matter when it comes to state and local elections, not nearly as much. If everyone who voted for Gary Johnson had actually bothered to go and vote for Libertarians this month, we’d have won thousands of elections. Voter turnout during odd years is so low that it’s hard to even find stats on it.

Republicans and Democrats do not care about odd year elections. And they only partially care about non-presidential even year elections. Those are our times to shine, because we’re supposed to be the party that doesn’t care about the Federal Government, and that cares about local elections. Combine all of these things together, and the reasons for the LP’s failures become obvious:

  1. Mainstream voters have an extreme aversion to third parties.
    1. This is because they think their vote’s value is derived from the recipient’s victory,
    2. And because they think that third party candidates cannot achieve victory.
  2. Mainstream voters don’t care about odd-year elections, and only kinda care about non-presidential even years.
  3. Libertarians have almost fully adopted the same mentality, caring only about the Federal Government and outright ignoring local and state elections during odd years and non-presidential even years.

It’s got nothing to do with Nicholas Sarwark, Arvin Vohra, Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, John McAfee, moderates, centrists, anarchists, socialists, or anyone else. It’s the fixation on the Federal Government, where competition is extremely tight, and almost total ignoring of state and local elections. We shouldn’t need to win Federal Elections, because we should have taken control of local and state governments to such an extent that we could resist all efforts by the federal government to tyrannize the states and localities.

Want to achieve liberty in our lifetime? That’s how. Ignore the presidential elections entirely. We probably have to run a candidate, sure, but it should be a quarter-hearted effort at best. Instead, save our energy, money, and resources for odd years and non-presidential election even years.

 

* Ignoring the intricacies of the electoral college and the fact that the mythical popular vote doesn’t strictly determine the election outcome, but the electoral college does nothing but give your vote more value by creating the possibility of you being the one vote that flips your state from Red to Yellow, or from Blue to Red, or from Red to Blue, or from Blue to Yellow.

Being Audacious & Courting Disaster

You ever do something that you know, beyond almost any doubt, is going to have severely negative consequences? Because I’m about to do that. And I’m really not sure what the fallout will be, but it’s going to be an interesting ride.

First, I was successfully voted into the Audacious Caucus of the Libertarian Party. In fact, I was voted in unanimously with 18-0, and am the second prison to have been voted in with no dissent (The other was Starchild). Even Arvin Vohra isn’t likely to be voted in unanimously.

Second, speaking of Arvin, he was chosen as the first inductee into The Call to Freedom’s “Libertarian Drama Hall of Fame.” It was decided that Arvin is basically the LeBron James of Libertarian Drama, and that’s true, although the drama around him has been pretty mild lately. It’s sort of like South Park–once upon a time, people were outraged, but not it’s just like, “Well, that’s just South Park being South Park…”

That’s the trick of being audacious. If you’re audacious all the time, it becomes almost passé. It’s like the left protesting constantly and marching all the time; eventually, people stop paying attention, because it’s just expected. It’s not exciting or interesting. Arvin seems aware of this (hence his place in the Hall of Fame), because he’s generated no controversy lately, but I’m positive that he will. He’s Arvin. It’s what he does.

In other interesting news, perpetual dickbag Augustus Invictus followed in Austin Petersen’s footsteps and left the Libertarian Party to join the Republican Party. As with Petersen, actual libertarians celebrated the development.

This seems to be the beginning of the exodus of the paleo-libertarians and alt-right fascitarians from the party, including the likes of terminal idiot Jared Howe, Molyneaux, Cantwell, and others who thought the Libertarian Party meant “liberty for me, not for thee.”

And, on that note, the stupid thing I’m about to do: I’m forming an affiliate for the county I live in. The first meeting is July 29th, but I don’t expect it to generate much buzz. The second meeting is when things will begin to get interesting, because by then word will have spread.

I’ve no intention of peddling being transsexual to any sort of advantage or as any tool for getting publicity, but I’ve been a resident of Mississippi long enough to know how this is going to play out. Once that ball gets rolling, it’s going to snowball to unknown degrees, but I expect that at least half the county will be buzzing about the transsexual atheist chair of the county party. This, of course, will motivate many of those people to learn about libertarian philosophy and, especially, how a transsexual person isn’t a Democrat and actually advocates for the right of free association (and has years of history doing it).

It will surely warrant a statement at some point, to which I’m looking forward, which will allow me to change a lot of people’s minds about trans people and liberty. I’d rather the transsexual matter never be brought up, but it will be–persistently. I will be the #1 thing people bring up when they discuss the Libertarian Party of the county, because the chair of the county party is a transsexual atheist.

This will create many problems. Many of my clients are old school, and needing to earn money to not die has left me in the awkward situation of having to continue working as a male, but it’s the elephant in the room. Everyone has noticed. Dudes don’t typically dye their hair vibrant red. Some employees at various clients have even discussed it with me or my colleague; it’s not exactly hard to notice for people who only see me once every few weeks.

I think that’s going to go better than other people expect, though, because the effect of rapport cannot be denied. I discussed this recently–relationships are the destroyers of bigotry, and I’ve got existing relationships with the clients and their employees. They like me. They already know that I’m strange (everyone knows I’m weird), and they don’t mind. The revelation for some of them will just be that I’m more weird than they knew.

Yet there is at least one client for whom it will present an irreconcilable problem, because the client is managed by a couple with a gay son, whose sexuality they are in denial about, and who pulled him out of school to shelter him from the corruptive agents of mainstream society. I could be reading that entire situation wrong, but that assessment is based on my conversations with the guy and with my own experiences with oppressive guardians. So I don’t think that I am.

The remaining two members of my family whose opinions somewhat matter to me will learn the truth, but that’s just as well. I sheltered them from it, but the bell is going to ring, and it really doesn’t matter to me any longer.

There is a real risk of danger and attack. I’ve been attacked before, both for being trans and for being an atheist. A year ago, someone was trying to find out where I lived so that they could pay me a visit. Oh, well. My shotgun stays loaded.

I fully expect the message of liberty to form a bridge between me and most people, because that’s what liberty is: a truce. From there, personal relationships will pick up the slack and allow people to at least rely on cognitive dissonance to not fire me as their I.T. contractor. Or I could be wrong, and they all fire me. I could very well be digging my own grave almost literally.

But I don’t think so. As I said, most of them already know. They can only make so many comments about how I remind them of their step-daughter before it gets to the point of, “Yeah, just go ahead and say it.” Like I said, in most cases it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

Let’s have some conversations about liberty, and let’s disabuse people of some incorrect ideas.

Slavktivism or Activism?

There sometimes comes a time when the voices of internet activists are so loud that they begin to effect an actual change in the real world. There sometimes comes a time when enough people shouting, “We aren’t happy!” prompts other people to ask, “So what do you want us to do about it?”

It’s true that my activism takes place primarily on the Internet. There are a few reasons for this, but it’s mostly a matter of timing, and I’ve been working through the last six months to transition that activism into the real world. Even so, I don’t think that internet activism is automatically slacktivism, because I can point to at least five people whose ties to libertarian thought originated with my Facebook posts. Five, of course, is a drop in the bucket, but I would consider the time spent writing to be well used if I’d introduced even one person to libertarian philosophy.

Something I’ve written about before is continuing to happen, though, and Arvin Vohra gives is a clear case of it within the Libertarian Party. I’ve frequently said that Black Lives Matter enjoyed the national spotlight for nearly two years and yet didn’t accomplish a single thing except to make people aware that they weren’t happy. No policies were changed, and no police were found guilty. You’d be forgiven for thinking that we hadn’t just seen interstates throughout the nation shut down by protests. It’s a curious thing that protesters could command that level of attention and organization, yet accomplish absolutely nothing.

It’s slacktivism.

The activist has goals, and usually has at least some idea of how to get from where we are to that destination. The slacktivist has no goals, and instead has only emotions. “Everyone should be treated equally!” isn’t a goal, after all–it’s an emotional statement that could lead one to formulate a goal. “The military should be dismantled entirely” is a goal, albeit one that is hard to sell to the masses. It’s an actual action with an actual outcome, not a loose guide.

Considering Arvin Vohra, the emotional statement is “You shouldn’t say negative things about this group!” while a concrete action would be “Arvin should be removed from office!”

At a glance, I’d say that the difference between activism and slacktivism is that the slacktivist wants to tell other people what to do, while the activist wants to do things that have a desired outcome. The slacktivist proposes mandates of other people’s actions, knowing that they can’t be enforced, while the activist cares little about what other people are doing because the activist is working personally for the change they want to see. The slacktivist says, “You do this.” The activist says, “I’m going to do this.”

The goal of the slacktivist is nothing better than ensuring that everyone knows how unhappy they are; the activist doesn’t really have time to wax at length about their emotional reactions to various stimuli. In Buddhist terms, the slacktivist says, “I am suffering,” while the activist says, “There is suffering.”

Everyone has goals, though–even the slacktivist. However, the slacktivist just wants everyone to know that they aren’t happy. Slacktivism obviously isn’t limited to the internet, but the internet has made it much easier for Random Joe to spread his discontent, so it’s going to be more common on the Internet. How many pointless, ineffectual petitions are there on Change.Org? Tens of thousands? That’s slacktivism in a nutshell.

Why, there’s even a petition there to remove Arvin.

When the slacktivist sets out, their goal is to make sure other people know they are unhappy, and their method is to tell everyone that they aren’t happy. They want nothing beyond that, and if their voices become so loud that it seems they could actually achieve something beyond that, they’ll strangely back off. The child doesn’t want the parent to do anything except acknowledge that the child is throwing a tantrum.

It came as no surprise to me, to see a motion put forward to remove Arvin, and to immediately have the masses of people calling for his head to say, “Oh, hold on, let’s not be hasty here!” The same thing happened with Comey just a few weeks ago–mere months ago, liberals were calling for his head, but as soon as something real happened, they flipped entirely to the other side.

It reminds me of when I ran for class President my senior year, and proceeded to Ralph Nader the crap out of it. I didn’t want to win, and it’s a tremendously good thing that I didn’t. But, strangely, that didn’t stop me from running and campaigning. I didn’t win, but I split the white vote (in a school that had a very slight white majority, and it’s a matter of record that most people voted along racial lines–yes, even the black kids) enough that the black girl who had run and lost each year actually won the election. All that said, I didn’t want to win, and I didn’t even really want to spoil the vote. But that didn’t stop me. I guess I just wanted to see if I could. I don’t know. I was an idiot high schooler who dropped out a month later.

The platitudologists among us would probably say that the slacktivists truly want to accomplish things, but they are more paralyzed by a fear of success than anything else, and that could work as an explanation of this strange behavior, but I don’t think that “fear” is the right word. They’re not afraid of success; they’re just not aiming for the goal that most people assume, and that they even express to be their goal.

They say they want Arvin removed, and I know of many people who said that, right up until a motion was made. The removal of Arvin Vohra was not their goal; however, the threat of removing Arvin Vohra was among their methods for achieving their goal. They just wanted everyone to know they weren’t happy, to give them attention and acknowledge their discontent, and to at least pretend to give a shit what they feel. Toward that end, they did two things: they bitched, and they made what they thought were mostly empty threats. Like if I said I was going to nuke Washington D.C. (Hello, NSA/CIA!) if Trump didn’t step down, that would be an idle threat that no one would take seriously. But what if some rabble-rouser who shared my sentiments agreed and sent me a nuke?

Uh-oh. I’d suddenly be in a pretty awkward position (not to mention–in Gitmo) of having to find some kind of way to avoid admitting that I was totally full of shit. To that end, I’d backpedal from my previous hard-line stance, and would probably say, “You’ve gotta give Trump a chance to comply…”

Just like people backpedaled on Vohra and, now that they metaphorically have nukes, are suggesting that he must first be given a chance.

“Full of shit” indeed.

They didn’t want to remove Arvin. They just wanted to threaten to, as a way of forcing people to take their incessant whining seriously. Without that threat, they have nothing, and can easily be dismissed. “I’m not happy!” by itself is a lulz-worthy whine. “I’m not happy! Fix it or I’m gonna…” can be a potentially serious threat.

I say we should call them on their bluff, and call them on their bullshit.