A lot of people write to me in favor of decriminalizing drug use.
Without a doubt. How can we expect our society to grow up while something as illogical and indefensible as the Drug War is going on all around us? Since it has been a couple of years since I have heard any decent case made for the Drug War's continuation, I have shifted my attack on the subject. Here is my new method in action:
To those who reject the idea of decriminalizing drugs: please defend the continuation of the Drug War, and please acknowledge both the thousands of unfairly ruined lives caused by it, and the era of Prohibition as an historical precedent.
I think if folks spend their time pushing for "legalizing it," then they will be subject to the same "hippie"-taunts that have plagued the legalization movement since the sixties. If you demand a justification of the Drug War, you put yourself in the position of being able to turn the tables, and use "nazi"-taunts on those who try to defend the senseless persecution.
The "legalization" of "victimless crimes" is one of the parts of my platform that is nearly inflexible. I've been listening for a compelling pro-Drug War stance for 6 years now, and haven't heard one. I truly hope the issue gets resolved before I seek office, but I suspect that being "pro-legalization" will be one of my defining and contentious positions in the '08 race.
While I definitely support the "rule of law," I have a lot of problems with the criminal "justice" system.
One of the reasons I support the dissolution of many of government's current dys-functions is so that more energy can be concentrated on the services it should be providing- namely, U.S. defense, the courts and dispute resolution, "criminal justice" and the protection of Constitutional rights.
Currently "law enforcement and general government" consumes only 2% of our hard-earned tax money. Pardon me for saying, but 30 Billion dollars is chump change to be spending on justice and "general government."
Go to a small-town courthouse (it'll be the building that looks like an old school building), and go to the bathroom (it'll be in the basement, probably), and you'll see what I mean.
Speaking from a long history of direct experience with our criminal injustice system, I can say that it, like most of our current government, is nearly useless.
Excepting the lawyers, I'd dare say I've had more "days in court" than most people. Regardless of my personal interests in each situation, I can tell you that the system works like crap, and everybody involved knows it. It's really quite sad, when you think about it, because that 2% of our budget is the only part (besides the military) of our government that actually exerts direct force on people. Enforcement and prosecution are randomly selective, and circumstance, mood, money, class, timing, budget, etc. play a much greater part in determining whose life gets stolen from them than "justice" does.
The strangest part is that our criminal justice system is supposed to be the objective part of our system. And yet, as a private citizen in court, ingenuity, luck, money, and determination are all required to succeed. And even then it's a toss of the dice.
Try defending yourself in a trial. What a hoot.
I've been meaning to talk to you about Capital Punishment. A few points. People who commit the crimes that get the death penalty either a) don't care about their life or death b) operate under the assumption that they won't get caught or c) don't think they'll die even if they get the death sentence. I think more fall in the first two categories than the last. Thus, I think the death penalty as a deterrent for especially hostile crimes is ineffective.
And as for the death penalty as an eradicator of scum humans: it saddens me to think that we as a society can't come to a better solution than to start killing our own citizens. I think that rehabilitation is a completely viable concept. People seem to think that certain criminals are irredeemable. Yet the focus of our corrections system has never been strongly focused on rehabilitation, but instead simple containment, detention, deprivation.
Speaking of deprivation...prisoners are stripped of their right to vote. What's up with that? We're supposed to be releasing these people as potential productive citizens; Yet, for the duration of their incarceration, they have had no official relation to the electoral process.
Maybe it's because we have judged them to have bad judgment, to not be able to properly distinguish what is good for the country.
Should prisoners, probatees, parolees, convicts, etc. be allowed to vote?
I say yes. Unless we exile them, they are U.S. citizens, and should have as many rights as their confined situation will allow.
Mentally handicapped people can vote, right? Ron Reagan can vote, right? Do they know what's right for the country?
In the modern age of media and politics (1980-present), we have yet to have an outsider Presidential Candidate with a reasonable level of money, credibility, and charisma. If Harry Browne had had Ross Perot's position (in '96), or if Jerry Brown had had Ross Perot's position (in '92), I think you might be singing a different song.
Pat Buchanan is worse than a bad example. Even if he wasn't staffed by racists, he didn't go in with enough money. And he wussed out in the end.
Ross Perot, an eminently unelectable man, has heretofore been the only candidate with enough clout to make himself fully apparent. If he was a better candidate, he almost surely could've won.
There are 90 million (or so) eligible voters who are registered Democrat or Republican. There are 90 million (or so) who aren't.
I can't yet believe that, in the end, it's not up to the voters. Give them something worthwhile to vote for, and they'll vote.
I do not believe that the idea of political "IMPOSSIBILITIES" can hold water for much longer. They are losing the reins faster than they can grab them.
Ross [Perot] lost because he fiddle-faddled on his desire to run (both in '92 and '96), because he is old and Bill played the young-card well (and wisely) (mostly in '92), and because he showed himself to be issue-selective.
Much of this is not ultimately Ross' fault. In '92, he was largely thrown into it, and I can well understand why he was reluctant, and unprepared. In '96, he was already spoiled, and should have known that for him to run would set the election (for Bill). In my opinion (and the media's, the voters', and the Washington Establishment's), there was virtually no way (aside from a phenomenal Two-Evils scandal) he could've been elected in '96.
I think that Ross would have been wiser to use his time and resources to pick and groom a viable candidate for '96. I hope (with great vigor) that he will have the sense to do so in '00. Ross, if you're reading this- Please don't waste another election! I do not (can not) know if Ross' media pullabitity and millions of dollars and birth-child Trying-To-Be-A-Reform-Party could get a truly "presidential" presidential candidate elected. I think he (it) could.
It was Ross Perot's ability to become a serious potential independent candidate, despite his crippling political defects, in 1992, that first inspired me to consider the office- and to understand the value of preparation and presentation.
Jerry Brown, Pat Buchanan, and Steve Forbes, despite their alignment with the Two Evils, all made "independent" efforts. All failed, not due to the media's portrayal of them (or lack of attention), but due to their flaws as candidates. They were portrayed as fringe, because they acted like fringe. Steve was visually unelectable, plus a one-issue candidate; Pat's problems are many, but, at the root, his ideology is not in line enough with the population; Jerry never made a serious effort to remove his 80's flake reputation, and thus, it never left him.
I was days away from joining Jerry Brown's campaign in '92. I had spoken with his primary campaign staff, and had warned my employer I might be leaving abruptly. He had won the CT primary, and temporarily turned the campaign on its ear. It was like a week 'til the NY primary, Brown's make-or-break-er. He (if I remember the timeline right) was being hounded about an alleged "coke party" back when he was CA governer. He was also getting stress for what would come to be known as "Forbesitis"- a refusal do do anything other than tie everything into the "flat tax." I waited to see if he would rise to the challenge (which he could've done, I think). He did not. Jerry Brown was on a blue-streak rampage, visibly shaken by his time in politics, and wildly driven to do something about it. You could watch the fervor of his campaign eat him up. He lost his voice, he lost 20 pounds, and he didn't have the proper handlers to keep him alive. I really came to admire him, but it seemed he never really took the time to think about what was going on. He had the ball, and he ran with it, but his eyes were closed.
One of my biggest intended advantages in the '08 campaign is preparation. In '88, my politics were disinterested, and still primarily my mother's (an unwavering Democrat). In '92, I kept a pretty good eye on things, as did many people. I voted to keep George Bush out (yes, I voted for Bill), because I knew Ross had blown his chance. I also began to think that maybe I should run for President. I was enjoying a lot of political success in college, and when Newsweek called me (for a story on young people doing impressive things, which never ran), I came to some conclusions about my political viability. When Bill Clinton fired Joycelyn Elders, I lost all respect for him, and for the Two Evils system in general. That was a defining moment in my life, and the seed around which my campaign has grown.
Since then, I have a much more focused view on politics, and I observed Campaign '96 voraciously, following every relatively major candidate, every day, with a strict analytic view. There were about 20 of them altogether, and only one won. In fact, he never had a serious competitor. But I watched all the others fail, and made sure to understand why. IMHO, the only other electable candidate (except maybe Lamar Alexander, but I don't feel like talking about him) last year was Harry Browne, who was substantially lacking in both dinero and media attention. If he had had equal exposure to Bill and Bob, or even Ross, I believe we would have a substantially different American Political Scene right now. And I'd like to believe that he would've had a chance.
Before anyone discredits that statement, please acknowledge that there is no way to even conceive of what a race with equal Libertarian exposure would be like. For now, it defies the paradigm of our political landscape.
But anyone who saw Harry in the 3rd party debates, try to picture the impact of Harry's words on the national (or even studio) audience. He got debate-stopping applause when he said we should end the "insane War on Drugs." At speeches (everywhere) the same statement gets standing ovations. "End Social Security, Welfare and Medicare," "Eliminate the Income Tax," "Bring All Troops Back Home" were other things he said.
I think it's fair to say that those statements would have made the election quite a bit more interesting, and October '96 a much-less already-concluded month of politics. There is a huge number of people who are so frustrated with the crap that they would gladly vote for someone who wants to clear-cut the government, and could avoid looking like an idiot for days at a time (unlike Ross, Steve, or Pat).
And the number is growing. :)
We have a real big crisis in this country- social, educational, criminal, political, economic, etc.
The solutions being attempted/approached in the mainstream (read: by the Two Evils and their flocks of sheep) are inherently faulted, as most libertarians know, and most non-libertarians can feel in their gut.
There is an ideal governmental structure, and it has yet to exist in practice in the world. I'm not willing to say at this point that it is pure laissez-faire libertarianism, but I can see clearly that that is the proper direction to head.
Few will debate that the U.S. Constitution is one of the best Government Charters ever developed; and few will debate that it has been run through the wringer, and that our founding fathers would be upset at many of the ways "we" have strayed.
It is my belief that a group of concerned, non-entrenched citizens, given ten or twenty years, could develop a plan on how to restore many of the things that have been lost (freedom, dignity, American Pride, rights) in this country, and (a harder challenge) could figure out the way to get from here to there without destroying our oh-so-fragile social fabric.
It is very important that this process take place outside of the Two-Evils system (it has to do with strict adherence to principles). For this reason, it is unlikely that you will see me run for a state or Federal elected office before 2008.
This system is going to wither and collapse whether we like it or not; it may not be in our lifetime, or it maybe in a few years. Events are rising to a point of volatility that defies confident prediction. There will come a time (if it is not already that time) when the proper combination of crises would drive this country (and to an extent, the world) to its knees.
When the Big Government Shit hits the Critical Mass Fan, I for one want to be ready. Because if we can pose a viable, supportable, researched, studied alternative, at that time of crisis, then we might be in a position to make this country the great bastion of liberty and opportunity it was intended to be.
If we're not ready- with the proper plan, a properly charismatic and dynamic leader/spokesperson (hint, hint), and the numbers to back it up, then the Same-Old-Schmoes are going to use the same old tricks (can you say F-D-R?), and we'll just end up pushing the deadline for our imminent self-destruction a little further ahead.
My instincts tell me that our current system of government is going to hit a brick wall sometime in the next 20 years. Besides the collapse of the Drug War, Social Security, Medi-cash, and the like, the social and racial disparities and conflicts are going to do nothing but get worse. Does anyone really think the L.A. riots were the end of the story?
So, while everybody sits around and scratches their entitlements, I'd rather work on getting some smart, forward-thinking people together to hash out the real answer.
Before I get too flamed for this, I want to clarify: I do not think that there is an answer to all of society's ills, or a best way to live life. I do, however, think there is an ideal system of governance for humans, and I'd like to see how close we can get to figuring it out.
[Lance note: This piece was written in response to the body of general naysayers who think my campaign has no chance, and that I should "grow up and get serious" with my life.]
Most people have resigned themselves to the idea that their life has little meaning, and that they are unable to affect any substantial changes. The idea of "The American Dream," or indeed of achieving any ideals, is questioned more than it is believed.
I have essentially set my sights on the highest ideal- "to save the world." I do not necessarily think that I can pull it off, but I think that we need someone to try that has a chance. I am a uniquely talented, creative, and intelligent individual, with a prevalent ability to lead, and to communicate well. I have considerable energy and relentless determination; what's more, I want to do it, and am perfectly willing to devote my life to my plan.
My cynical side tells me that we truly are running out of time in many ways, and that no serious action is being taken to address the situation. While almost everybody wants things to get better, and many are achieving that here and there, it is going to take really big changes, and the coming together of a number of factors, to stop the Downbound Train. And the forces currently in power aren't going to get us there.
The changes needed to restore an honest reason for hope in this country must come from an outsider, with a broad body of support, and a solid, unflappable campaign with the proper financial and political momentum. The likelihood of that happening is shamefully slim. But many people will try. They will inevitably fail (myself included) -- unless they get everything right.
Quite honestly, I think I could be that "outsider." And I have padded in an extra 14 years to make sure I've got everything right. And if I don't win in '08, I plan to come back in '16, and again in '24 (leaving enough time between runs to avoid becoming a Bob Dole or Lyndon LaRouche). In 2024, I will have spent over 30 years actively working on achieving my lofty ideals (And I'll only be 52!) I will inevitably have a body of supporters. And I will have inevitably influenced thousands (I should hope millions) of people's thoughts about liberty, and the Two-Evils system of government.
And while I can only muse about whether or not I will ever be President (or save the world), I have absolutely not a single shred of a doubt in my mind that I will have done something productive with my life.
Taking a Political Leap of Faith
Bill Clinton is very good at assembling minds in order to assemble policies, but he lacks the quality of discernment. He is a slave to the polls, and thus a slave to a very confused, concerned, malleable, misinformed and frightened population. He has no political theme other than to keep his approval rating above 50%. Republicans and Democrats alike put together their platform based on "the numbers" and try to design a plan that will attract the majority of voters. They then exploit those chosen demographic groups to sway them to embrace their particular potluck of planks.
I, on the other hand, am playing the "game" a bit more riskily. My platform will be molded around principles, and I will gamble that I and those like me will be able to make those principles popular enough to get my platform supported with the least amount of voter manipulation possible. We will surely conduct polls, but not to find out which group of people we need to customize a platform plank for. Polls will be used to find out who we have not convinced yet.
The principles I embrace are freedom and individual liberty, and I wish to design a platform that provides for the absolute maximum amount of individual liberty possible in a free, safe, prosperous society.
This will not change based on any polls or feedback, period. My methodology may change, my approach may change, my image may change. But I will advance a platform in 2008 based on what I appraise to be the strictest possible adherence to the principles of freedom and individual liberty possible in America.
If I build it, and they don't come...oh well. But I'm hedging my bets that a guy who has defended liberty and eschewed heavy-handed government for his entire adult life will be able to find a place in politics in 2008-24.
I received a comment recently from a concerned citizen-
...the only reason I support a party who supports this here war on drugs, is for the lesser of two evils. At least I have a say in the system. Libs can toss their vote to [Harry] Browne or Lance (in the future). I'll stick with my ole compromised self.
the only reason I support a party who supports this here war on drugs, is for the lesser of two evils.
Does this mean that not supporting the War On Drugs is the greater of two evils? And Libertarianism is the great evil, while Demorepublicatism is the lesser evil?
And if you're simply saying that the Dems and Reps are The Two Evils, and you are choosing one (which you presume is less Evil)-------Why are you choosing evil? Presumably it's because
At least I have a say in the system.
You have a say in the system that arrests 500,000 people each year for marijuana crimes, and self-admittedly is graduating millions of morons annually from its schools. Congratulations.
The founding fathers had "a say" in the British-ruled government of their Colonies, too. Over the distance of a vast, vast sea. Just like us. In order to change the rules that they lived by, they had to go begging to the Motherland. Since the Motherland didn't actually live under the rules, it was difficult for It to understand the implications of those rules locally, or to care. It didn't work then, and it isn't working now.
You "have a say" within a very limited framework, one that will perpetrate evil no matter what you say. The implications of the level of involvement in our personal and financial lives that the Two Evils advocate and enforce is immeasurable. The agency in charge of collecting almost 2 Trillion Dollars from us (IRS, don'tcha know!) hasn't released a conclusive organizational budget (their own budget, not the big one) in years, and the number of deaths caused by over-reaching military involvement (also immeasurable) is something that you couldn't lower if you wanted to.
We all know the atrocities; The list is practically infinite. How many involuntary experiments on citizens and soldiers? How many unjust wars? How many opportunities stifled? A biggie- How many people unfairly jailed?
Under a Libertarian Government, the capacity for these atrocities would be diminished severely. Indeed, the government's near-sole purpose would be to eliminate the use of force against others.
While you might have to work to stay alive if the Libertarians were in charge, you sure wouldn't have the government spiking your punch, or eradicating innocent foreign folks without cause.