by R. Lee Wrights
When I was young and just starting out in political life, I believe I went through the same terrible experience Ron Paul supporters just went through in Tampa. Part of my political awakening was learning that the views I held, the belief in individual rights and personal responsibility, had a name — libertarian. I also learned that these views weren’t always acceptable in politics. People who held such views, or dared to speak of such things as individual rights, fiscal responsibility and limited government, were very often ignored, derided, mistreated, and sometimes threatened by the leadership of the establishment parties.
Ron Paul supporters paid their dues to the GOP, played by the rules, and elected enough delegates to place Dr. Paul’s name in consideration for nomination for the presidency. But when their grassroots, libertarian movement was successful, it threatened the status quo. So the GOP establishment changed the rules, disenfranchised them and made sure their movement would never be as successful again.
Why were they surprised? I wasn’t. Dr. Mike Munger, a Duke University economics and political science professor and former Libertarian candidate for governor in my home state of North Carolina, explained this phenomenon exactly. He said complaining about the lack of integrity and corruption in politics is like complaining about dogs eating garbage. “They can’t help it. It’s what they do.”
One of the first things I learned in my early years of political activism was that neither of the so-called major political parties want their members to speak their minds. Their primary goal is not to advance ideas and certainly not to promote liberty and freedom. The primary goals is control and submission, and to gain and maintain power. And in a two-party state that means everyone in the party must be made to toe the party line.
Just when I had about enough of such treatment, and was about to give up on politics altogether, I found the Libertarian Party. Here was a group of people who not only believed as I believed, but weren’t ashamed to speak their minds. And, they weren’t afraid to let everyone else do the same. There was no judgment or condemnation of anyone with a different opinion. And there was no demand that everyone conform for the sake of “party unity.”
This was my politician epiphany. I learned a simple truth: Don’t be afraid to be what you were meant to be. Don’t be afraid to be different, because being different is the only way we can make a difference.
Libertarians are different because we recognize that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. We’re different because we won’t vote for someone we don’t believe in just to get someone else we don’t believe in out of office.
Libertarians are different because we believe that if it’s wrong for someone to spend more money than they earn; and, it is also wrong for government to spend more money than it collects.
Libertarians are different because we believe that if it’s wrong for an enemy to torture or mistreat our soldiers, it’s also wrong for our soldiers to torture or mistreat the enemy. We’re different because we believe that’s its wrong for any nation to engage in preemptive war, or “humanitarian” war, and that the only defensible war is a war of defense.
Libertarians are different because we believe that all rights are individual rights, given to every human being by virtue of their existence, and not dependent on any written document or government favor. We’re different because we believe government has no business telling us who to love, who to marry, or what we eat, drink or consume.
Most of all, Libertarians are different because we are not afraid to be who we were meant to be. We’re different because we’re not afraid to Live Free.
So this is my message to all Ron Paul supporters: Don’t be afraid to be what you were meant to be. You’re not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people who believe as you do and who are not afraid to be who they were meant to be. Join us. We won’t change the rules on you.
R. Lee Wrights is an editor, writer and political activist living in Texas. He is currently the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party national committee. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All. Contact Lee at [address removed].