With the last few posts I have been lurching towards answering this question: “how do we get the angry masses on our side”? Can we get the Donald Trump supporters on our side? (no matter if Trump wins or not) Can we get the Bernie Sanders people on our side? Can we get the average American who is just fed up with all the politics on our side?
And what side is that you might ask. (I would) The side I am talking about is reducing the size and scope of government as much as we can and as fast as we can. I especially want people on my side who are anti-interventionist as was the “old right” of the 30s and 40s along with the “new left” of the 60s. Anti-war sells in the realm of ideas once people understand the benefits of peace, and most do.
Murray Rothbard suggested that our course as libertarians is to employ populism: right-wing populism. He believed, as I do, that a successful libertarian strategy will have to employ a heavy dose of populism. After all, libertarian theory and Austrian economics is not going to win the day unless the man you are trying to convert is willing to read, say, Human Action by Mises and The Ethics of Liberty by Murray Rothbard.This is not going to happen with more than a tiny portion of the people we want to reach and bring to our side.
Successful populist messages must contain an answer to “what is in it for me”? So we have to show the people how they are getting ripped off and how our program will help stop that. We must show them that the corrupt ruling elites are cheating them and that our populist program will stop the bastards from cheating them.
We can stick to first principles and still have a popular message. We embrace right-wing populism and that will be the fastest way to show the man in the street that the state and all its lackeys are enslaving us. We do not have to try to convince the “man in the street” to adopt all of the program of hard-core, radical libertarianism like Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism. I will not deny that I wish everyone would read all of Mises and Rothbard as I have done as see where that leads one to — but that just is not going to happen. So, we try to get them to take baby steps towards reducing the size and scope of the state.
We must have a strategy that attempts two things. We must build up a legion of libertarian opinion leaders as well as small government wordsmiths in the press. The internet allows for a “new press” where we can get our allies heard by the common people. We must also go directly to the masses or the state’s propaganda legions will swamp us as they have always done. We must find a way, or many ways, to communicate directly. Communicating directly is crucial.
We must alert the people that the elites are the ones looting and oppressing them, both socially and economically. We can not attack the ruling class in the abstract as libertarians have so often done in the past. Taking a cue from Ron Paul’s great successes reaching people, we must show concrete ways the people are getting screwed right now by the state and all its minions.
What groups do we libertarians seek to reach out to? The answer is simple, we reach out to everyone, but more than that we must first seek to concentrate strategically on those groups who are most oppressed and who also have the most social leverage just as Rothbard told us years ago. Those people would be the “average” working class family and the people supporting Donald Trump right now. We hope to reach those who are already “right-wing” or at least leaning that way.
Most people are too busy living life and taking care of their families to have any free time to read Rothbard, Block, or read economic theory. So we have to keep our message easy to understand, beneficial to the people, and easy to sell. The message must be of things that are not that hard to adopt — we can’t sell utopia. Hell, I don’t believe in utopia, do you?
Ron Paul used: “End the Fed” and “Get out of the Middle East” in his two runs for president to enlist many new libertarians. I started this whole series after talking with one former progressive who is now “libertarian leaning” because of Ron Paul. So Ron won even though he lost at the polls. He won even with some on the left wing!
What would a right-wing populist program look like? I am not a politician nor an “opinion leader” but I think I have listened to enough populists over the years to come up with a system for today. Not a single idea below is my own. I have heard everything from someone else (often many others) over the years.
A RIGHT-WING POPULIST PROGRAM:
The right-wing populist program that will convince people to join us on the libertarian side must concentrate on dismantling the crucial existing areas of State and elite rule which have become a tyranny and are oppressing the people. We must concentrate on liberating the average American from the most egregious features of the oppression of the state.
Some of these are obviously interrelated. You can not drastically slash taxes while running a military empires.
1) America First. A key point, and one that is being used in the present election cycle by Donald Trump with great effectiveness. The American economy is stagnating. Many cities are dying and the nation’s infrastructure is crumbling, all while we give money away to other countries and police the world at a cost of unimaginable amounts of money. Plus our foreign policy tends to make people hate us.
2) Bring all troops home. We are killing innocent men, women, and children overseas in countries that have never threatened us and have no ability to invade this country; other than by us allowing emigration of their people who would attack us via terrorism.
3) Slash Taxes. We would drastically cut all taxes.Sales taxes, income taxes, business taxes, and on and on. But especially the most oppressive tax ever devised: the income tax. We must abolish the IRS.
4) Slash Welfare. The welfare system has helped to destroy the family in this country and to keep the welfare class down. For God’s sake stop oppressing these people even as you claim to do them good. And besides that, we must end the welfare system to help keep people from coming here illegally just to get all the free stuff. Welfare was never intended to be a lure for illegals to come here.
5) Abolish Racial or Group Privileges. Abolish all racial or sexual preferences such as affirmative action. We should point out that the root of “victim class” quotas and so on is the entire “civil rights” structure, which tramples on the property rights of every American. A business owner’s property is not “public property”! It is private property.
6) Abolish the Fed. As Ron Paul pointed out so very well, the central bank is one of the state’s main ways of looting the common people of his country. The Fed will destroy us.
7) Take Back the Streets and end the Drug War: By ending the drug war and legalizing all drugs, we can then put the police to working on stopping rape, murder, theft and other crimes against the people. To hell with the state saying what I should be allowed to ingest into my body.
8) Defend The Family. Get the State out of the family, and replace State control with parental control. Make education a totally local thing and encourage private school by paying the tuition of private schools up to what it would cost to send the child to public school. Stop the indoctrination. We should also not force little girls to go to the bathroom with perverts.
9) All control to be as local as possible. Every act of government should be as close to the people as possible. There is no reason for the people of California or Florida to tell the people of New Hampshire how to conduct their business. If they want to allow public nudity, then that is their business and not mine.
.There is much else I could add to each of the above but the post runs long as it is and I expect to address various points in separate posts as time allows.
I will add that whatever government that is left, until we can privatize the whole edifice, that we should seek to run government in the manner most like a good business and to have the control as close to the people as possible. Local control would be a key point.
I realize that in building an alliance with right-wing populists we may have to compromise — this is politics after all — but to slash the size of the state I am willing to make compromises over present day policies as we move towards a state so small as to be unnoticeable.