With a certain longshot libertarian Republican presidential candidate having, inevitably, failed to get the GOP nomination (and having been all-too-aptly skewered in this cartoon forwarded by Marcia Baczynski) and having said he won’t seek the Libertarian Party nomination (his Quixotic followers now turning their attention, I’m told, to organizing April anti-Fed and anti-IRS protests), it’s tempting to instead look to the LP for a possible Mike Gravel/Bob Barr ex-Democrat/ex-Republican fusion ticket — but it’s worth remembering that (Buckleyesque) fusionism, not just fusion, is the goal.
(I actually inquired about registering Independent with the Registrar of Voters when I first moved to New York City, lest anyone think I’m just a gung-ho partisan, and I was told the closest thing I could pick was “Independence Fusion Party,” the innocuous-sounding but deranged and Marxist political organization of the activist Lenora Fulani, who, like so many other campaign-funds-seekers, went on to try fusing with the Reform Party, necessitating a brief, profoundly weird alliance with Pat Buchanan in 2000.)
In this Year of Obama, it’s easy to forget sometimes that finding common ground, blending opposites, and uniting different elements is not necessarily a valuable accomplishment. Tempting as it is to think that if the two major parties would just find some way to come together and stop fighting, all our problems would be solved, it’s the wider world that presents us with problems to be solved, not just overheated electoral politics. The Democrats and Republicans could learn to love each other so much that they decided to fuse into one happy party, perhaps called the Repocrats, and we’d still be profoundly screwed policywise and perhaps even become, as a nation, more comfortable embracing stupid spending and regulatory ideas, since, at long last, “We’re all the same team, hurray, all of us in this together!”
That’s the last thing we need. We are not all in this together. We are 300 million people — 6 billion, really — with wildly differing agendas, and anyone trying to replace that delightful diversity with one unifying vision (“East and West!” “Democrats and Republicans, working together!” “Bipartisan solutions!”) is a totalitarian monster at heart, warmed by the thought of everyone sharing his goals and plans in much the same way kings of old no doubt thought themselves at their most warm-hearted when surveying the masses prostrate as one before them, looked upon with condescending love from the throne. Trust least anyone who speaks of unity or the brotherhood of Man.
Don’t get me wrong — if fusionism of some sort is my goal, I have to look with some excitement upon developments like the new Gravel/Barr camaraderie. A coalition stretching from Greens to militia-like Bob Barr fans would be big enough to at least make the two major parties worried about close states, for good or ill.
Such a fusion would effectively make the LP part of a new Reform Party-like grab bag of the disgruntled, though, and “being fed up with the current system” doesn’t necessarily lead to someplace better. And don’t ever say “Things couldn’t get any worse.” As my Arkansas state rep pal Dan Greenberg wisely says, “Things can always get worse.”
I would describe Americans’ current mood as annoyed rather than revolutionary, though, so I don’t think they’ll be much more likely to grab a drink down at the Gravel Barr than they were to join the libertarian-conservative Love Revolution earlier this year.