Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christine Smith's Unfocused Christmas Ramblings

Christine Smith has posted more silliness on her blog. A "Christmas message" full of fluff and nonsense, signifying nothing other than that she's not ready for prime time.

Apart from the embarrassingly silly photos of this presidential aspirant frolicking in the snow (buried in snow up to her waist in one of them), there are her unfocused ramblings. Smith tells us that many people begged her to stay in the presidential race, that she likes Ron Paul, then she heaps praise on Christmas, and non-religious people, and liberty, and compassion, and Frederic Bastiat.

Smith writes: "For me, Christmas is all about liberty...all about freedom."

It may be for her, but it's an inaccurate understanding of Christmas. Liberty is good, and Christmas is good, but Christmas is not about freedom -- unless Smith means that Christ freed us from sin. But Smith never mentions sin in her post. Perhaps she imagines that Christianity is a celebration of doing your own thing?

She goes on to explain: "[Christmas] is a celebration of love, and love, by my definition, is the opposite of fear...and thus a celebration of love, Christmas, is inherently a celebration of liberty."

For the record, I am both a Catholic and a libertarian. It's my assessment that Jesus was apolitical. One can be a socialist or a libertarian, and be equally Christian. Jesus permits one to "render unto Caesar" because Jesus' kingdom "is not of this Earth." We may choose socialism or libertarianism while on Earth. The ancient Hebrews chose monarchy. I choose libertarianism, but it's not an inherently Christian choice. (Murderous totalitarianism is anti-Christian, but most forms of government are not -- sorry, fellow libertarians.)

Smith writes: "[Christmas is] also a time when libertarianism flourishes whether people realize it or not. People and businesses voluntarily give to charities and individuals, with compassion being the motivator. It's a lesson for all those who cling to their fundamentally immoral socialistic programs: people care, people freely give, people will care for one another - and we don't need Big Brother stealing from us to supposedly give to the poor on our behalf."

That's a nice sentiment, but again, it's inaccurate to say that "libertarianism flourishes" because altruism flourishes. Libertarianism allows for altruism, but does not require it. A society that shuns the poor, and one that voluntarily helps the poor, can be equally libertarian. One may behave as Scrooge or Mother Teresa and be equally libertarian (although not equally Christian).

Libertarianism is not compassion. It allows for altruism, and it allows for selfishness. It makes no judgment. In "selling liberty," some libertarians claim that a free society is more generous to the poor than is a socialist society. This may or may not be so, but it's a sales pitch. Let's not confuse the pitch with the philosophy. Only a dishonest or intellectually confused libertarian would do so.

There are, of course, intellectually dishonest people in the LP. Those who bend the philosophy to make it more palatable to the public. There are also intellectually weak-minded people in the LP. This happens when "getting votes" and "attracting members" become more important than educating the cadres and the masses.

There's much feel-good mush interwoven into Smith's unfocused "Christmas message." She tells us: "There are Christian libertarians, Jewish libertarians, pagan libertarians, agnostics and atheists...there are as many type libertarians as there are unique individual beliefs in this world, and this fact reinforces for me the intrinsic rightness of liberty. Because what we share in common is our focus on liberty, and for me, liberty recognizes, respects, and honors each individual's choice to worship or believe as they so choose. Liberty is the state of true love for mankind, giving all the ability to live life as they so choose free from intrusion and regulation."

Smith's is a standard politician's message (albeit written without benefit of a skilled speechwriter or editor). She hits many positive "talking points" but fails to convincingly tie them together. Liberty is good. Christmas is good. Compassion is good. If you don't believe in Christmas, that's good too.

Smith's "Christmas message" is intellectually insulting to both Christianity and libertarianism, because it dummies down both. Whether Smith does so out of ignorance, expediency, or poor communication skills, I don't know. I suspect all of the above.

Other libertarian bloggers have found Smith to be lacking in intellectual rigor. Maybe that's why Smith's "Christmas message" name-drops her reading list. She writes: "This year has found me discovering the many writings of Frederic Bastiat, Leonard Read, and Hayek. I cannot begin to explain the joy I feel at finding them."

I guess it's nice that Smith feels such joy, but I really don't give a damn about her -- or any other candidate's -- feelings. It reminds me of "compassionate conservative" Bush spending the 2000 race rambling about his feelings, always wanting to "tell you what's in my heart." In a candidate, I want a principled person with a clear understanding of, and commitment to, the Constitution. Not some squishy mush-head spouting a stream-of-consciousness about her feelings, even if she does pepper her ramblings with positive words like "liberty" and "freedom" and "compassion."

There's much nonsense when Smith's rambles about her feelings, some of it as embarrassing as her snow frolic photos: "I celebrate this re-awakening of the basis of libertarianism within me...my heart sings and I am flying again as a result."

Fly away, snowbird! Fly away!

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