I have decided to give you three or so thoughts a day, each thought relating to a different location, for four days.
•I have no idea whether Pras of the Fugees got anywhere near the Ron Paul event at Webster Hall on Monday (from which I tweeted profusely once more – and where I took the pic seen at left), as it was rumored he would, but his purported Paul sympathies have led me to wonder what it might have been like had his Fugees bandmate Wyclef Jean won in his bid to become president of Haiti. Imagine the poorest country in this hemisphere being transformed by libertarian policies – or at least adopting the gold standard. (Does Lauryn Hill favor the gold standard? Does anyone down there make Ben Bernanke voodoo dolls? Would that give new meaning to the phrase “voodoo economics”?)
•Do not fear that there were no unexpected characters at the Paul event, though: Although I encountered no John Birch Society members, oddly enough I met a Lyndon LaRouche fan and, perhaps more important, Ted the guy with psychedelic pink pants who was seen on YouTube leading a big call-and-response speech about the Constitution at, yes, the Occupy Wall Street protests (which I had in fact thought was a rather Tea Partyish moment compared to most of the protest happenings, such as cops pepper-spraying an already-immobilized woman in the face).
Half-expecting Ted to say he was either a hardcore leftist at Webster Hall checking out the opposition or just a very confused hippie, I asked him about his views, and it turns out he’s studying behavioral economics and as a result leans toward “asymmetric paternalism,” basically a small government that nonetheless subtly “nudges” people in Cass Sunstein style toward behaviors deemed socially beneficial. Whether we like it or not, I think even weirder political cross-pollination lies in the very near future. Of course, I kinda like it.
•Perhaps this indicates I’m not macho enough to want to be part of a unified conquering army, though: There is, I kid you not, a medical condition called anarchism (also called anorchism) characterized by being born without testicles. This bit of trivia seems like a potentially useful comedic ace up the sleeve, not necessarily my own sleeve, in some hypothetical political arguments. I wonder if somewhere in the world there has in fact been someone who believed in anarchism and had anarchism – and whether this led to any confusing conversations, e.g., “Yes, honey, that was what I was saying earlier, but what I think you need to know now is...”
•Just as Virginia Woolf deduced that “On or about December 1910 human character changed,” so too, “The class war began in 1971,” explains ludicrous columnist Sally Kohn in Washington Post. Like a growing number of libertarians, I’m happy to start the political conversation with the issue of disparities in wealth. The answer to the problem is not more Progressivism, though – the Progressivism-induced entanglement of business and regulation a century ago is how we got here. Now is a good time to remix and remodel ideologies, but what we really need are Counter-Progressives.
Class warfare talk is mostly for idiots, though, the sort who must render concrete and personal any abstract issue such as economics. The upper class becomes a bad tribe, replacing the need to understand the filter processes by which economies allocate resources and society rewards producers (in much the same way that some people’s eyes glaze over if you talk about banking, unless they think they can spot one ethnic group behind it all).
Many – including friends of mine with similar views – have similarly accused the Tea Party of being motivated by racism or religious-tribal self-interest. But if we buy this report, it seems that the people allied with it believe it to be an econ movement and those opposed to it think it’s a social-conservative movement. That certainly jibes with my own experience of these rallies, some of which have been led by black people (and some of which no doubt contain Herman Cain supporters, though Janeane Garofalo has concluded those people are just racists in disguise, of course – you can’t win).
Skin color be damned, though, it’s the influx of hippie-type chicks, which we never had back in the 90s in free-market movements, that really strikes me about the Paul and Tea events. They’re so gung-ho for liberating the economy from big government, they don't even seem to care that Ron Paul's pro-life – even though most of the women themselves aren’t. Another amazing reminder of the culture’s ability to move on from ostensibly-permanent core issues.
And, yes, I’m told libertarian views are even becoming more common at Brown University (take this as a refutation or confirmation of my old attitude toward the place as you wish). I have one spy – pardon me, Facebook friend – who’s there now, and he says a huge portion of the politically interested students he encounters are libertarian-leaning – and probably disillusioned with Obama, too, I’ll bet.
This much I will concede: Poor Obama, who I well realize is not so terribly different from Clinton or Bush or Romney, has become the bete noire, if you will, motivating one of the biggest shifts toward free-market beliefs that has ever happened, I think. (And even among the lefty-artist types of NYC, I am for the first time hearing many of them using the “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” label to distance themselves from ongoing government bungling in the economic realm, though their education will take years yet.)
•It amuses me that I still occasionally find myself among people here who get worked up about whether they are, say, anarcho-capitalists (a term used so often among the young folk now that they commonly just say “an-caps,” a nickname I never heard before this year, I don’t think) or “voluntaryists,” with the latter seemingly becoming a bit popular within this undeniably very tiny demo. I just can’t bring myself to care too much about subsets that tiny anymore. But this catch-all Tea Party thing, by comparison, seems to have (big, big) legs.
THE NORTHEAST (NOT THE SOUTH): Assuming for the sake of argument for a moment that the GOP nominee will still likely be Romney or Perry,I will admit to uncertainty about which would be better: (A) tempering any residual religiosity in the Tea Party with a Romney presidency (since a Mormon would likely stay off the topic and stick to business), (B) augmenting the fusionism with a (dumb but fairly anti-central-government) Perry presidency, or (C) just fanning the flames with four more years of Obama (if we can survive that). It would sure be sweet, I readily admit, to wrench the GOP center of political gravity out of the South and into dear old New England (which is basically part of Canada, I admit), but I wish it weren’t done by a guy who believes in Social Security and minimum wage laws. We shall see, interesting times, etc., etc.
If Perry’s a bit like Bush II, Romney’s a lot like Bush I – basically a Rockefeller Republican, that is – which has its pluses and minuses (basically, focusing the GOP on econ is the plus, and getting econ wrong is the minus). His resemblance to Bush I was noted in the piece “Mitt Romney, Hypocrite,” the Saturday 26, 2011 entry on Roger Stone’s site. And, conservatives, if you think resemblance to Bush I is a good thing, consider this passage from the Stone piece:
Romney reminds me of George H.W. Bush who, after being elected President, took the National Review magazine off the coffee table and threw it in the trash replacing it with the Yale Alumni magazine saying “We don’t need this shit anymore.”
PALESTINE: Is Rosh Hashana an appropriate time to say that, much as I sympathize with Israel, I do not understand how squelching the Palestinian bid for statehood helps anyone? Is there any better long-term solution? What am I supposed to have thought the plan was? (This is in no way an endorsement of Palestinian dreams of ousting Jews from either Palestine or Israel itself, I must hasten to add.)