Teeter-Totter Syndrome

rvf9ww7m-1435680516By Jeff Smith

“If you wish to view politics with clarity you need to get off the teeter-totter.” ~Old Man Anarchyball

Ever hear of a political syndrome called the teeter-totter? Imagine, a playground teeter-totter. Now mentally title the right-side seat Republican and the left-side seat Democrat. When the right-side seat is up in the air the Republicans are “winning” (debates, arguments, etc.). When the left-side seat is up, the Democrats are “winning.” It goes without saying that when one side is up in the air, the other is automatically down on the ground. In the real world politics doesn’t work like this, but it is amazing how many people believe that it is so.

We are all aware of the dislike the Republican and Democratic Parties and their supporters have for one another. In many, that dislike is closer to a foam-frothing hatred. This hatred between supporters can be so great that it becomes imperative to each side that they win at almost any cost. Each passionately believes that their side must always be in the up position on the teeter-totter or automatically the opposing side is winning. The power of this syndrome is such, that it is speculated that if Joseph Stalin were to come back to life and run for president on the Democratic ticket, and Adolph Hitler were to come back and run on the Republican ticket, one of these two monsters would become the president of the United States. Neither side can tolerate the other side winning and will do almost anything to ensure it, leading to lying and trickery. This is known as the ends justifies the means. That in order to achieve the desired goal, it becomes acceptable to deceive and trick the public. Strangely, it never occurs to the supporters of each side, that what they have come to believe about their own side, may not be entirely true, due to the same lies, trickery and deceptions utilized to obtain their support in the first place.

We are human. We are easily trained to play to win in politics, just as we do in sporting endeavors. The teeter-totter syndrome is part of the state’s training (brainwashing) to accept lies as being truths. A well-brainwashed supporter will defensively deny the truth without realizing it, especially if that truth differs or threatens the normal belief system of that side. The human brain is an amazing and powerful tool. When properly prepared the human brain can consciously fool itself into seeing an altered truth. this naturally hampers the ability to see facts as they really are. Subconsciously, humans are able to realize that they are not processing a real truth, but when combined with hatred and fear (of the opposing party), people can deny themselves the truth, in order to maintain a lie. A good example of this is when voters blame the opposition party for current and ongoing problems, but are unable to see the fault of their own side (denial). Another example is when voters change their position on an issue (war, liberty) based on which party currently holds office. When the parties change which holds office, so changes the supporters positions. In discussing this behavior with the supporters of both sides, they deny any change in their opinions, even though it is plainly obvious to the casual observer.

The teeter-totter syndrome is directly responsible for the tyranny and corruption Americans suffer from. Neither side being able to see and admit that their side is equally part of the problem, not the solution. Because the majority of the people are stuck in this teeter-totter syndrome the Democratic and Republican Parities hold complete economic and individual control over our lives, all the while, the syndrome convinces the individual to believe that they are actually free. The two monopoly mega-parties intentionally feed and fuel the teeter-totter hatred in order to maintain control. In public the two parties passionately attack one another, but in private they are friends, co-partners in the biggest slave trade history has ever witnessed.

The people need to see the truth. That there is no teeter-totter. It is just an illusion of the mind, a tool for the state. If the people could cease hating the other party they would be able to see the world through clear eyes, thus being able to make better choices. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic solution. Hate and fear are natural human traits. They cannot be regulated. The only real solution is to remove the ability of people to have control over other people’s lives. If they can’t see clearly they have no business involving themselves in the solutions others need. This removal of control over others must also include the state, as it is made up of these same people who cannot “see clearly.” Until that day arrives, the government will continue instigating hate and fear so that it can retain control, all-the-while, blaming the other party not currently in office.

Jeff Smith is a political activist who has been involved in libertarian politics since 1975.  He sometimes uses the moniker Old Man Anarchyball.  This piece has been reposted with his permission.

[Image from theconversation.com]

Thoughts Of The Democratic Debate

Image from CNN
Image from CNN

Last night, the Democratic Party held their first presidential debate.  Aired on CNN, the event lasted about two hours.  The five participants were: former Virginia US Senator Jim Webb, Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders, former First Lady, former New York US Senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, and former Rhode Island US Senator and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Some of the Democrats gathered at a local brewery in Harrisonburg to watch the debate.  Although I didn’t watch it live, I thought it would be useful to see it in its entirety and not merely snippets in order to be informed.

Here are my my thoughts:

I was very unimpressed by the front-runner, Hillary Clinton.  It is quite possible that she articulated some point on which she and I agreed, but, if so, I do not remember it.  Her declaration that she is running to be the first woman president sounded like needless pandering.  Yes, there is nothing wrong with a female president, but voting for a candidate strictly based upon gender is as foolish and myopic as voting for a candidate based upon race.  She repeatedly attacked the Republicans without offering specifics sounded like nothing more than an effort to score cheap points with the Democratic audience.  In addition, she used far more generalities than anyone else.  Even though she has the highest name ID, based upon her performance in the first debate, she would be my least desirable choice.

Likewise, Martin O’Malley failed to wow me at all, more or less sticking to traditional Democratic talking points.  However, he did make a good comparison in his closing statement about the difference between the Republican and Democratic debates thus far.

There was a time or two that I agreed Lincoln Chafee, especially when it came to foreign policy, but his defense of several of his early votes was pathetic; his excuse that he had just gotten into office sounded like he had no idea what he was doing and shouldn’t have run in the first place.  I didn’t care much for him when he was a liberal Republican and not much has changed.

I was glad to hear Senator Sanders standing up for our civil liberties against the overreaching power of the federal government when it came to matters of the NSA and the Patriot Act, as well as his arguments for a more reasonable foreign policy.  However, pushing for a domestic policy that advocates so much “free” stuff and raising the minimum wage indicated to me that he doesn’t have a sound understanding of economics and the free market.  College degrees for all, especially those who don’t even want one, makes them almost effectively worthless.

Lastly, although I didn’t agree with quite a lot Jim Webb said, I appreciated his views on foreign policy, gun rights, and trying to stand up for all citizens, regardless of the colour of their skin.  He may have not gotten the most time, but from a liberty perspective, he sounded like the best Democratic choice at this point.

Therefore, based solely upon this debate, I would presently rate the candidates as follows:  Webb, Sanders, Chafee, O’Malley, and Clinton at the bottom.  Assuming I didn’t vote in the Republican primary, which I am planning to do based, of course, upon who is in the race and who is leading, I would consider voting for Webb in the Democratic primary.  After all, I voted for Webb in the 2006 Virginia Democratic primary for U.S. Senate (but not in the general election) as I felt he was the best option in that race.

Nevertheless, I encourage you to watch the debate and decide for yourself.

Republicans & Capulets

Image from 20th Century Fox's Romeo + Juliet
Image from 20th Century Fox’s Romeo + Juliet

Last Friday, Republicans from Harrisonburg and Rockingham County gathered for their monthly First Friday meeting at the Woodgrill Buffet.  The featured speaker was Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) who is facing a Democratic challenger (April Moore from Shenandoah County) in November.  Given the make up of the district he represents, that election is not expected to be terribly close.

Instead of spending much time talking about his race, he mentioned how Republicans across the state need to work to ensure that the GOP continues to hold the Virginia Senate.  Presently, the Republicans enjoy a 21-19 majority in that body and all 40 seats are up for election this November.  Most of the seats are either uncontested or heavily favored for one party or the other.  However, Senator Obenshain identified three seats that could tip the balance of power: The 21st in the Roanoke area, the 10th in parts of Richmond and the surrounding counties, and the 29th in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park.  If the GOP wins just one of these contests, then, assuming no surprises, the party will retain control of the Virginia Senate.

Senator Obenshain then went on to explain that it would be terrible if Democrats won the Senate for then they would control the various senate committees.  As one example, he mentioned the agriculture committee, currently headed by Senator Emmett Hanger of Augusta County.  Should the Democrats win, he declared that Senator Chap Petersen of Fairfax City would be the new head.  He didn’t really explain why that would be such a bad thing other than these points: Petersen isn’t from the Shenandoah Valley, he is a Democrat, and he is from Fairfax.  Oh the horror of allowing a northern Virginia Democrat (one who opposed the 2013 Republican Transportation Tax hike) to lead the agriculture committee!  However, besides the overarching rallying cry to beat the Democrats, there wasn’t much in the way of policy differentiation discussed.

The next morning, as I reflected on the previous day, I was reminded of a Shakespearean play and, assuming you have any familiarity with the subject, read the title of this article, or, more likely, saw the film with Leonardo DiCaprio, you’ve figured out that that play was Romeo & Juliet.  In case you don’t remember the plot from high school English, in this story there are two feuding families, the Montagues and the Capulets. We are told from the prologue that they are “both alike in dignity” and that they have some “ancient grudge” against each other that is never really explored or explained in the work.  As such, the reader has no real idea if either family is motivated by some important ideal other than gaining power over the other.  Was there any reason for the hatred?  It is quite likely that none of the characters in the play truly comprehend the point of the struggle either.  Nevertheless, the Montagues, Capulets, and their assorted friends and allies sacrifice quite a lot as they do battle against each other.

Unfortunately, Verona becomes a much worse place for the average citizen as a result of this constant feuding between the two families.  As Prince Escalus, the leader of the town, states in Act I, Scene I, “Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, by thee, old Capulet, and Montague, have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets; and made Verona’s ancient citizens cast-by their grave beseeming ornaments, to wield old partisans, in hands as old, cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate”.

In Act III, Scene I, Tybalt Capulet challenges Romeo Montague to a duel due to a perceived insult against his family.  However, by this point Romeo is smitten by Juliet Capulet, sees no reason to quarrel further, and so refuses to fight her kinsman.  Romeo’s friend Mercutio, although not aligned with either house by blood, considers it dishonorable for Romeo to refuse the challenge.  Romeo attempts to stop the scuffle that follows, but is unsuccessful as Tybalt slays Mercutio.  Although he sought peace, this act rouses Romeo to fight and kill Tybalt.  As Mercutio dies, he curses not only the Capulets who directly cause his demise, but the Montagues as well.

After Romeo is ordered into exile as a result of his deed, Capulet attempts to marry his daughter to one of the leading political figures of the town, despite her protests to the contrary.  Neither, Juliet’s mother nor her father care about her wishes.  Only at the end of the play, when Capulet’s daughter and Montague’s son have fallen, do the two families finally agree to end their seemingly pointless feud.

Could this story from the 1590s mirror our political situation today?  Have many of the Republican and Democrats, much like the Montagues and Capulets, forgotten why they first fought each other, only continuing the battle in order to accumulate power for themselves and their party?  Are the two factions primarily motivated by conservative and liberal values or are these issues merely used as window dressing to convince the grassroots into following them in whatever crusade the leaders deem necessary?  Do the powers that be consider our wishes and desires irrelevant, much like Romeo and Juliet were treated in their world?  If, like Mercutio, you made a supreme sacrifice in the service of a house, would your deed be honored?  Or would you be viewed as a relatively worthless pawn offered on the altar of power?  Perhaps, in his final moments, Mercutio finally realized the folly of the discord between the Montagues and Capulets and how meaningless his death was which was why he declared “a plague on both your houses”.  Could the same thought be applied to our two major political parties, too?11055250_1016461601745975_6011593409906575073_n

To help answer this question, on Saturday a former chairman of the Harrisonburg Republican Party shared this image of a t-shirt on Facebook.  What do you think his opinion is on the subject?

Finding a Political Home

RLC LPThe “On this Day” feature of Facebook is rather amazing, isn’t it?  Today, it reminded me of an event that took place two years ago, my removal from the board of directors of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Virginia.  This action was taken in response to my employment with the 2013 Robert Sarvis for Governor campaign.  Although I fought against my expulsion, at first, as I strongly believed in the mission of the RLC to promote liberty within the ranks of the Republican Party, I did understand where they were coming from and thus did not contest the matter further.

When I posted my piece on Facebook, the Treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Virginia told me that it was “time for you to come home.”  I assumed it was an invitation to join the LP.  In some ways it was a rather curious message.  After all, at that point I was not a member of the Libertarian Party nor had I ever been.  Like many folks that promote liberty and reducing the size and scope of government, the Republican Party was the only political home that I had ever known.  But that home would soon be destroyed.  Little did I know that less than five months later, in early 2014, I would be kicked out of the Harrisonburg Republican Party, a group I had volunteered countless hours with since the age of 15.  I discovered that being without a political home sort of sucks and, as such, a month or two later I ended up joining the Libertarian Party.  Although I ran for office that fall, I did so as an independent for a variety of reason beyond the scope of this article.

Unfortunately, the liberty movement is divided and without a unified home.  Many of us reside within the Republican Party, others in the Libertarian Party, a few with the Democrats, and some that have taken another path or given up on politics entirely.  Even worse, we spend so much of our time fighting each other that often the push for liberty is lost.  Libertarians think Republicans are sell-outs, Republicans declare that the Libertarian Party is a waste of time, and neither group spends much time thinking about the handful of us who are Democrats.

What can we do?  The answer to this situation is illusive.

Being in the Republican fold these days means that my fellow liberty activists are often compelled or even forced into supporting candidates who stand in stark contrast to their principles.  Some of my brothers and sisters in the GOP have told me that they despise the Republican Party and her candidates, but they feel that they have no other option.  I’m sure that many of us profoundly wish that the Republican Party held true to their principles and actually supported liberty and limited government.  Now, there certainly is a segment who do hold to these values, but they are a minority.

Conversely, the Libertarian Party is quite small and faces enormously unfair hurdles in areas such as ballot and debate access.  There are many stories of the LP being bullied by the Republican establishment, presumably done in order to keep the liberty-wing of the Republican Party from switching sides.  The Libertarian Party is plagued by division and a lack of resources.  Like any political party, there are a variety of ideological disagreements among members.  In addition, they have a bit of an image problem; for the longest time I viewed them as little more than immoral, pot-smoking, hedonists.  As for the Democrats…well, I don’t really know what to say about them.

The simple fact is that every political ideology requires a home, a party which promotes its interests.  The liberty movement is divided and is a diaspora.  It needs a major political party to steadfastly promote its principles.  Although they bash each other in public, behind closed doors I have heard conversations from both RLC members and Libertarians who agree on almost every major point.  So, the question remains.  What can we do to find a common political home for the liberty movement, one that both wields significant political influence and one that doesn’t routinely betray the cause?