In America we claim to live in the greatest democracy in the world. Yet at the same time, we also ascribe to the cliché of voting for the lesser of two evils. The nation was even furious at Ralph Nader for daring to run for president and “making” Al Gore lose the election. India has 1,161 total registered parties and we get angry when people try to establish a 3rd?!
If you were to deconstruct the etymology of “republican” and “democrat,” it turns out they translate to exactly the same thing. Just one is in Greek, the other Latin – both meaning “for the people.” That sounds fine and dandy, but when you realize that the only time the people’s votes actually correlate with how their representatives vote in their behalf is when corporate lobbies agree with the people, then it is hard to believe that our “democracy” isn’t highly flawed. When corporate interests rule politicians then the will of the people will only be acknowledge when it serves the bankers and Wall Street.
I have often wondered what this country would look like if there were legitimate alterative parties to choose from. How could that be a bad thing? Not only would that put pressure on the pigs and donkeys, but it would also provide citizens with a chance to actually choose.
The Libertarian movement is an effort to become that 3rd party. I live in New Hampshire, the “live free of die” state, so we attract a pretty sizable population of people who espouse the libertarian philosophy. Recently the NY Times wrote an aritlce on a Libertarian effort called “Free Keene” which is an initiative to save the people of Keene NH from the “kings tariff” of parking tickets. A group that calls themselves the “Robin Hooders” go around and fill parking meters before meter maids can give you a ticket, and then leave a friendly card on your windshield reminding you of their good deed. I actually have been a beneficiary of this and although I didn’t realize it was a libertarian effort at the time, I was like “Score! Thanks a lot whoever you are!”
However, some of the citizens of Keene are not fond of this initiative, and a local battle has ensued. There even is a “Stop Freeing Keene” group that has formed to counter act these meter maid cock blockers.
Even though neighbors fighting may seem like a horrid thing for a community, I think dissent is a pivotal part of a healthy democracy. I also think people dissenting the dissent is equally important. This is the most politically engaged I have seen people for a long time, and at least this has ignited a conversation about out political viewpoints. Sometimes it is through challenges and controversy that we are forced to look at what we really believe.
In this week’s podcast we interview Carla Gericke who is the president of the Free State Project to get her take on this political tension. If you are wondering what the Free State Project is, let me tell you. She is working to get 20,000 libertarians to move to the State of New Hampshire so they could create a real voting block and a libertarian utopia.
It is refreshing to talk to a libertarian Lady because the female perspective is not as widely known as the classic stereotype of “white man with gun and deer slung over his shoulder.” Carla is very level headed and has a compelling take on American politics. Even if you may not ideologically agree, being a part of the dialogue is what democracy is.
Free Keene, free the state, and free my soul!