Libertarian philosophy is about the truth - the truth about our lives, our property, and our God-given natural rights. It’s about maintaining honesty in contracts and interpersonal relationships, and it’s about the freedom to defend one’s interests whenever that isn’t the case. Politics and politicking is the very antithesis of that.
Regardless of the party one chooses, running for office to win typically involves shooting dirty pool; otherwise you won't win. It involves chicanery, subterfuge, and calumny, all with a cheerful smile and a kiss on a baby’s cheek. Playing politics is the anthropomorphic embodiment of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Politicking also involves making promises to people; promises that could very well prove impossible to keep. The phrase empty promise is nothing more than an ostentatious term for a lie.
So where in the libertarian doctrine does it allow for such deceit? “That’s just the way it is” doesn’t cut it, just as “I was only following orders” didn’t cut it for the Nazis at Nuremburg. Everyone knows what politicians are about, but the fact that one candidate tells fewer lies or engages in a lesser degree of subversion against their opponent does not make them any less of a bullshit artist.
I have heard many politicians, including Ron Paul, talk about how they have no desire to “run” anyone’s life, but instead wish to “serve” their potential constituents. But what does the phrase ‘to serve’ really mean anyway? Served like John the Baptist’s head to Herod Antipas? Served like in that episode of the Twilight Zone entitled “To Serve Man,” where it involves being on the menu?
Call me a cynic but I simply don’t believe, and I only have history to guide me, that anyone, including libertarians, who take the time, effort, and ass-aches involved with running for public office could or would choose to eliminate the lever of power if given the opportunity. Not only does it not make sense, it goes against our very nature. Government and individual liberty are antithetical ideologies.
Here’s another example of this; the political process is very similar to a never-ending game of liar’s poker, and many that run for office enjoy the endorphin rush they get from “good old timey politickin” in much the same way some people enjoy gambling. Like gambling, politics is just a game, but it’s a game where real power is involved and real lives are at stake. The rush politicians receive from playing the political game is very similar to that of cocaine’s effect upon the central nervous system, and it can be just as addictive.
Unfortunately, most people have come to accept that almost all politicians are self-serving cardsharps. And politics being what they are, most people can also see the inherent moral contradiction of running a political campaign under the “Libertarian” banner. That is the oxymoron. I would bet it’s no small part of the reason the beautiful experiment that is the Libertarian party has been such an utter failure.
“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
But then again, I could be wrong. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, and I fear it won’t be the last.