Thursday, April 03, 2008

Libertarians Are a Social Club

Most libertarians, of every faction, belong to our party for some combination of personal reasons (friends, socializing, validation, affirmation, etc.). The LP is more like a lodge or a social club (like the Elks or Kiwanas) than a political party.

This mindset is true of all factions, of Reformers and Radicals, and all others. It's certainly true of those who complain the loudest that "we're a political party, not a social club or debating society."

Yes, even those who insist that we're a political party are here mainly for personal reasons.

I base this opinion on my thirty years of observing the LP. And many Libertarians agree with me, often making the same observation themselves, unprompted.

Others (those of little introspection and self-knowledge) insist that this is not true of themselves. That's what happens when you have poor introspection skills.

This is why I ignore threats by Libertarians of "bolting the party." For thirty years, I've heard Libertarians insist that they'll bolt the party if this or that happens. Yet almost no one follows through on their threats. Why?

Because we are a social club (a salon or book discussion group, of sorts), that runs candidates on the side. And few people will leave our cozy fraternity, with its discussion groups and conventions suites and supper clubs, just because of what the platform says, or who our candidates are.

I myself won't vote for an LP candidate who was pro-war. I am passionately antiwar. Yet I won't leave our LP club over the issue. If the LP ever turned pro-war, I'd oppose the LP at the ballot box, yet I'd still socialize at LP events.

Just as today, many pro-war Libertarians continue to socialize in our majority antiwar party. They may support the war, but they won't leave our antiwar club over the issue.

Almost every longtime party member knows that we're primarily a social club, but some won't admit it -- even to themselves.

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