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The controversy surrounding whether or not the LP should have issued a press release on the Waco, Texas situation exemplifies the split between the “reformers” and the “purists”. Yet, the split need not exist in my opinion. What we need to do is to maintain our radicalism but present it in a different, more marketable approach.
If we don’t have the guts to stick up for government atrocities such as the one committed by BATF in Waco, then I see no point in having a Libertarian Party. For me, the issue is not whether we cover the issue, but in what manner.
The press release was worded ok until the platform was quoted. “We demand the immediate abolition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.” Who are we to demand anything? Does this statement sound like one that would come from a party of tolerance? How are we going to back up our demand? We have very little power. And if we did have the power to enforce such a demand, would that be the libertarian thing to do? Or would we first go through a judicial or democratic process?
When we start to “demand”, that is when we start to sound like kooks, or should I say two-year-old spoiled brats. Let me suggest an alternative rhetoric.
“The BATF has a history of violating Constitutional rights. When our own government officials don’t obey the law, why should we expect ordinary citizens to do any differently? Whatever useful purpose the BATF serves is grossly overridden by the cost of its abhorrent, violent and unlawful manner. If, as many conservatives say, government is to be a moral teacher, then what the BATF is teaching is violence and crime. It is time to question the further existence of BATF. Maybe, the country would do better without such an organization. Perhaps, BATF employees should find more constructive (and safer) work in the private sector rather than destructive work in the public one.
“May we suggest a novel notion—that the US government and its agencies refrain from initiating force against US citizens if they haven’t harmed anyone else.”
Here we suggest instead of demand. We question rather than dictate. We employ some verbal judo on conservatives, by using their own philosophical foundation. Yet the message is still radical and rings loud and clear.
I speak only for myself, not the Committee for a Libertarian Majority.
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