Today, September 11th, is a day to remember the dead, and renew our hope. On this, the 7th anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, we have much to consider. Never in our history have we needed more wisdom; never have we so needed hope. Now cast your mind back in time. In those days after 9/11 you should remember that the world reached out to us with compassion. We were poised for peace, not war. No contrast could be greater. Today we understand how we were manipulated.
Today, finally, Americans are coming together, slowly erasing the chasms that have divided us. In so doing we are finding hope that, despite the deterioration in our economy, did not exist 7 years ago. Sometimes what you need to lose is your illusions.
We have moved through shock to confront truths that are unpalatable. We have found wisdom, gaining understanding and appreciation for what we have so nearly lost. What you come close to losing, you truly value.
In September 11th my daughter should have been in one of those towers. An argument with her fiancé kept her home. Small things change our lives.
Now, so close to losing freedom, we need to see the world clearly and find wisdom.
In 1955 a wise man shared with me his vision of freedom. His words remain with me today. Those words changed me and my life. For a million different reasons today each of us sees ourselves, our nation, and freedom differently having learned it from many wise men and women over time.
While this is true for all, for those who work politically this takes on a special meaning now.
Over the last week events have taken place, refocusing us on what must be done if America is to turn back towards freedom. The two major parties have announced their candidates. John McCain found coat tails, lifting his faltering campaign out of the coffin.
That is politics as it has been.
Political parties are like all other human organizations; tools for our use and convenience. Human organizations are constituted for specific purposes. That may be civil, for business, or worship. They may be political. Any political party, like any organization, must be judged on its usefulness as a tool to enact our will. It matters not if you are a Republican, Democrat or member of a third party or refuse to participate. It matters mightily that you understand that in America the power was to remain always directly in the hands of the people.
Read the Declaration of Independence if you doubt the clarity of that intention. Every American should read it, every child should hear it and understand what it means to them personally.
The two party system has come close to destroying America . It has become the tool of those who steal our power. This week a coming together took place that was to send a profound message to all Americans. That message was muted by discord but still rings true.
Ron Paul held a news conference in Washington DC, calling on Americans to support third party candidates, refusing to endorse John McCain, who had begged him to do so. Paul was joined on the podium for the event by presidential candidates Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party, Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party, and Ralph Nader of the Reform Party. Conspicuously absent was the Libertarian candidate for president, Bob Barr. Those gathered were making the point that the two party system has stifled our choices politically and our freedoms. It was a point that needed making; a coming together that spoke loudly, joining action to rhetoric. Left to Right in American politics is disappearing. More and more every day, we are coming to see that our issues have one solution.
It was a profound moment.
Ron had built found common ground and urged all of us to stand together with one common agenda for peace, privacy, financial sanity, and the end of the Federal Reserve. Not a complete agenda, but a real beginning. Then Bob Barr was heard.
Barr did not attend the Coming Together News Conference. Claiming it conflicted with his own news conference, scheduled to take place just a short later in the same location, Barr thought his was more significant.
Barr has decided to offer Ron Paul the slot of vice-president. Anyone who has been a Libertarian longer than a day knew that Ron was the LP candidate in 1988 and could have had the LP presidential nomination at any time for the asking. Mary Ruwart, the candidate for the nomination this year who nearly defeated Barr, would have stepped aside to give it to him - if he would have taken it - in a heart beat. So why would Ron Paul want to accept a second slot to Barr? Clearly, he would not. His own agenda transcended party affiliation, which is completely in line with the founding vision of those who founded the Libertarian Party and makes a move away from partisan politics entirely.
If you listen they always tell you what they really mean. By announcing the 'offer' Barr proclaimed his desperation. Having promised to raise millions he is left with a rate of fundraising running at $25,000 a week. He has raised in total less than a million dollars. He has only 8,000 donors to the nearly 100,000 now donating to Ron Paul, who is not a candidate. Barr needed a Palin and the original was not available so he made a bid for Ron Paul, who declined.
The body with the power to change candidates is not Barr but the Libertarian National Committee. This fact obviously escaped Barr giving the onlookers another insight into how his mind works.
Libertarians govern their own organization. The LNC decides who will run if a replacement becomes necessary after the nominating convention. They have considered seriously removing candidates before. That might happen again.
Barr's clever strategy fell flat on its face, embarrassingly so. But Barr provides a useful example of a politician who persists in believing that his nomination was in effect an anointing. He has made his living selling the rhetoric of freedom in place of reality for his entire career. But he believes that politicians rule. He probably sees no difference between the words used to control and pacify you and the elemental truths affirmed by the words of Thomas Jefferson. Those likely confuse him.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. “
This latest revelation on what Bob Barr really thinks should therefore give all Libertarians pause, not just to consider why they nominated him in the first place but the deeper issue of why they allowed themselves to buy the lie of words intended only to deceive in place of the real thing.
Through the last more than 200 years, the hunger for freedom has endured despite the persistence of such lies. Over and over again Americans have believed the words, losing the reality of freedom. That same hunger founded the LP in 1971. Moved by the vision of America's founders, the original libertarians were determined to return government to the people.
Everyone makes mistakes and Libertarians are no different. But the mission remains. If the LP has a mission it is to awaken that truth in the minds of Americans. Never accept words in place of the reality of freedom. It is time to remember what freedom means.
Efficiency it is not freedom. Freedom is simpler and more profound; its nature lies in its universal truth, speaking to each of us and through each of us.
When I was very young the wise man I mentioned earlier told me what freedom was to him. We were sitting in the back yard watching butterflies. My little brother had exercised his own freedom by wandering off with his new lasso after our cat, Tiger Lady. Tiger had retreated slowly, keeping an eye on him. We watched. At age three Stephen's aim was not very good. My new lasso was sitting on my lap. Later, I would continue to practice spinning. This very wise man had just finished telling me about the courage and perseverance of Howard Roark the character from the Fountainhead. At age 6 I had yet to hear of Ayn Rand. Looking me right in the eye he said this, “Your freedom is is not one thing. It is everything. Freedom is your life, how you spend it. As you grow it will become all the things you dream, wish and work for. Those things,” he continued, “will be the record you take to God of how you spent the life He gave you. Freedom is God's gift to you.” Freedom is different for each of us, in each case unique. Freedom knows only the limits you accept.
Later this month, on September 30th, the man who spoke those words to me, James Byron Dean, will have been dead 53 years. He lived his life a free man, as each of us should. Life and freedom, Jimmy knew, comes with no guarantees.
Freedom is personal. Government is the human tool we use to order our lives, reduce conflict, and secure justice. If it works it is a good tool. If it doesn't work we are free to change it.
Today, September 11th, remember what freedom is for you and renew your determination to be someone who, working peacefully with others, governs yourself.
Next time you see Barr let him know.