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Monday, January 11, 2010

On The Beat With The Troll Police

Brian Holtz // Jan 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Neither Ron Paul nor Dana Rohrabacher nor Jeff Flake ever won an election before Congress. Where is there evidence that this farm-team strategy can work for a third party, and is not simply cargo-cult political strategizing?

What I'm hearing from Slevin is: "As libertarians, we believe in the importance of spontaneous order arising among free agents pursuing their individual utility functions. Therefore, every libertarian who doesn't pursue the strategy I centrally dictate to them is an idiot."

Activist time and money is not a fungible commodity, to be redirected on the angry whims of people on the sidelines. Why should anyone take political strategy advice from someone who is obviously inept at influencing people who largely agree with him?

Brian Holtz // Jan 11, 2010 at 4:25 pm

Austin again repeats the point that Slevin can't see through all the spittle on his screen: ceteris paribus, it's better to have a Libertarian choice on the ballot then not. Slevin thinks that if he just curses loudly enough, 98 Libertarian ballot choices all across California can coalesce and transmogrify into one super-duper-candidate who can win a water board seat and thus begin an unstoppable march to the White House. Slevin asks for 25 serious LP candidates, but I ask him to name just 5 candidates of any smaller-government anti-rent-seeking party who have ever used the farm-team strategy to get to just the second rung on the electoral ladder.

I happen to agree that our better candidates — in terms of resume and resources — should focus on the least unwinnable races. But it's simply addled to say that the LP should not take advantage of the scores of Libertarians who are willing to spend the time and money to get themselves on the ballot and thus let the electoral system measure just how many voters want more liberty.

Liberty in America won't be gained on the votes of LP legislative majorities. It won't even be gained on the swing votes of LP legislative minorities. It will be gained the same way it was lost: by incumbent politicians co-opting the positions of the candidates and parties that they see eroding their electoral margins.

But I'm not so politically obtuse as to think that every LP activist will agree with the strategy this insight naturally suggests. Nor am I so politically obtuse to think that the only good political strategy is a centrally-directed one like Slevin demands (and that he hallucinates the LP dictating). So I say, let a thousand activism flowers bloom, and let every activist pursue the forms of outreach that he finds most effective and satisfying. Just don't waste too much of your time on inreach, trying to persuade other activists that their outreach utility function should replicate yours, and discouraging them from doing any outreach that doesn't follow your divinely-revealed strategy.

Again: how obtuse does one have to be, to not see the irony in failing to sell your recommended political strategy to people who agree with your libertarian values, and then screaming impotently at them for their failure to win more votes from a public that largely doesn't share those libertarian values?

Troll Police // Jan 11, 2010 at 4:41 pm

troll n. someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community

"Posting 20 different times in a row with sometimes as little as a four word sentence" is trolling. It has nothing to do with being passionate. It's about trying to do with insults or repetition what you know you can't do with reason. It's about your R-complex writing polemical checks that your prefrontal cortex can't cash.