Recently, Ari Armstrong recommended joining the Republican Party as a Reason and Rights Republican, which he called the ONLY solution for participation in party politics. Armstrong is a serious thinker and experienced political activist. However, Selfish Citizenship disagrees with his recommended course of activism based upon the virtue of integrity.
Armstrong’s objective is to identify what a reasonable, liberty-loving, reality-oriented individual can do to make a difference in achieving political goals and educating the polity through engagement in party politics, if that is that individual’s objective. We agree that political activism is an optional value, which is not required, but is instead objectively based upon an individual’s selected hierarchy of values.
Based upon Armstrong’s actual experience with the Libertarian scum, he dismisses participation in a minor party as a waste of one’s resources, time, money, effort. He applies his personal lesson to the recent platform of the American Capitalist Party.
Despite loathing several factions (theocrats, anti-immigrant, and anti-market) within today’s Republican Party, Armstrong has joined that party in order to change it from within. He expects that liberty minded Independents and Libertarians becoming Republicans will shift the Republican Party’s program towards protecting individual rights.
On this, Armstrong and I have different conclusions. Should either effort amount to anything, then reality will judge who chose wisely.
In part, I am influenced by an experience with a telemarketer decades ago. He attempted to get money from me for Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD). While I objected to drunk drivers, I also objected to the political actions of MADD related to a national drinking age and draconian criminal penalties for impaired drivers. The telemarketer attempted to persuade me that I need to pay in order to influence the political policies of MADD. Armstrong is as wrong as that long ago telemarketer.
Engaging in the rhetorical flourishes that Armstrong made in dismissing any alternative idea, I am concerned that he is starting down a path towards a painful breakup; like the girlfriend who thought that she could change her incorrigible boyfriend, but instead compromises her integrity, wastes her time, and inadvertently supports negative behaviors that she had intended to oppose.
Engaging in the vulgarity of LBJ, the difference between Armstrong’s recommendation and my personal choice is…do you want to be inside the tent pissing out or outside the tent pissing in? Without a doubt, the Republicans want Armstrong in the big tent. That 26 year old goal should give Armstrong pause to consider if he is allowing himself to be duped by the ghost of Lee Atwater.
Let’s start to chew Armstrong’s idea by identifying the nature of the Republican Party. My post-election analysis of the Republican Party, in 2013, as a hydra remains true today. The Republican Party is an ideologically incoherent coalition of factions, which has been true since its creation, through the period of Stalwarts and Half-Breeds, and on to today. Essentially, the Republican Party is a pragmatist party that believes in stewardship as a governing philosophy. As pragmatist stewards lacking the ideas for managing political affairs, policy innovations come from the neoconservative, theocratic, and libertarian minority factions within the party. Armstrong’s recommendation is to marginally increase the ideas from the small faction of the Republican Party supporting individual rights.
What is the price to be paid for that minority influence that Armstrong seeks? To really be influential, Armstrong will need to be a “good Republican,” which means actively supporting candidates who he opposes, the pragmatists, the theocrats, and neocons. It is a package deal! You do not get the influence unless you compromise your integrity to advance candidates who you personally oppose. That is the choice Armstrong will have to make in exchange for influence.
Importantly, if Armstrong plays by the Republican Party rules, he is foolishly naïve if he thinks that the evil elements of the Republican Party will do the same. Best case scenario, Armstrong sacrifices leads to the selection of a pro-freedom Republican candidate for the general elections. He can count on the theocratic Republicans to abstain from supporting any Republican Party general election candidate that fails to promote the rights hating anti-abortion positions of the theocratic Republican faction. That has been a fact in Virginia elections where gubernatorial candidates lose for their failure to adhere to the theocrats while the lower positioned but ‘faithful’ Republican candidates for Lt. Governor and Attorney General receive move vote than the faithless candidate for Governor. It is a trick me fuck me game that Armstrong will lose after wasting his life energy supporting Republicans.
When I look locally at vile Republican scum like state Sen. Dick Black and state Del. Bob Marshall, I can’t even stomach voting Republican much less actively advocating that those troglodytes be re-elected. It is personal! Those knuckle-draggers should not be substituting their judgment, using the force of government, for my daughters’ choice when it comes to abortion and emergency contraception. Armstrong, if he really intends to be influential in Republican Party politics, would advocate that I support my political enemies who intend to violate the rights of my daughters so that I can be effective in politics. Is that really being effective? I say no, but such would be a sacrifice of my integrity.
Personally, I have not been actively involved in electoral politics besides voting and limited participation in primaries, but in the past as a then-Democrat, I did involve myself with the local party. My principle professional involvement in politics has been at implementation, including regulatory compliance issues. In my lost youth, I spent more than 20 years attempting to privatize post-secondary education finance including defending private schools from Republican regulatory sanction. On the cusp of realizing a major success in privatizing education finance, a single Act passed by the then new Pelosi Congress, without committee hearings, destroyed decades of my effort. In the end, I recognized that I had been helping to aid those who I opposed through a ‘private-public partnership’ that was betrayed by the public. In joining the Republicans, I expect that Armstrong is making the same mistake that I had.
In fairness, I cannot take a big ol’ crap on Armstrong’s recommendation without putting forward an alternative. Currently, I remain as an Independent pissing in the tent.
I decidedly disagree with Armstrong’s judgement of third-party candidates. In doing so, his experience with the Libertarian scum is contrasted with the historical facts of third-party candidates. For more on this issue, see my video to ‘Open Letter to Gary Johnson, Libertarian for President,’ which explores how third parties candidates can be influential in changing the policy discussion. Note the correspondence between the populist messages that I identified then and the recent popularity of Donald Trump according to polls.
However, I look favorably at the example of Freedom Party in Ontario as the best option. It is a party whose activism in electoral politics changes the policy debate by concretizing political issues into platform issues that impact the lives of real people, whether it relates to blue laws, public financial support of the Pan Am games, local garbage strikes, irrational speed limits, public ownership of alcohol stores, public control of health care, or ending the self-destructive drug war.
While I have not yet explored the platform of the American Capitalist Party, I unreservedly endorse the author of its platform Dr. Andrew Bernstein. Not only is he an engaging and humorous dinner companion, but he is a brilliant thinker and writer on the subject of Capitalism. Further, at OCON 2015, he proved himself to be a passionate defender of the right of racial minorities not because they are a collective, but because they are individuals. For my black daughters, and his own adoptive Asian daughter, I celebrate Dr. Bernstein for the integrity of his argument.
What is the take away for Selfish Citizens?
- It is for you to decide what to do based upon your own personal hierarchy of values.
- In today’s confused political environment in which principles are called ineffective, you will hear many optional paths of action, but it will be for you to decide what is best for you.
- The following are all good guys doing their best in a horribly contradicted environment: Ari Armstrong, Dr. Andrew Bernstein, Paul McKeever, Robert Vaughn, Robert Metz, myself, PRODOS, and one of my personal heroes Nicholas Provenzo of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism.
- Ultimately, the objective is to create a government based upon objective laws that will protect the rights of the individual from the opinions and whims of the collective.
I encourage each and every reader to engage constructively and lovingly with all of the individual political activists that I mentioned either through Twitter, Facebook, their blogs, or their organizations’ webpages.
The objective is a better future for each of us individually through the promotion of reason, justice, freedom, production, and achievement.
Based upon our mutual concern about this subject, I encourage Mr. Armstrong to PM me if he would like to discuss this further and productively.
Extra Point: Nothing in this post is intended to detract from the high regard that I have for Ari Armstrong as a thinker and political activist. Individuals with broad agreement on essential values may disagree upon points of application. As an example of his stellar activism, I point to his video series related to his living, eating, and making healthy choices on an expenditure amount equivalent to Food Stamps. It is a masterful job of concretization!!!
Extra extra point: It took a lot of effort on my part to avoid asking the question “What is the difference between a Reason and Rights Republicans and a moderate Muslim?” You can examine that question for yourself in the comments, but please do so with due love for the meritorious intellectuals involve in this minor disagreement.