L. Neil Smith's
Number 213, March 3, 2003


If I Ran the Zoo
by L. Neil Smith

Special to TLE

(With apologies—again—to Dr. Seuss)

Whether or not a third party candidate for President (or any other office, for that matter) expects to win, he has an obligation to his supporters—as well as to his opponents and their supporters—to let them know exactly what he would do during his very first day, his first week, his first month, his first hundred days, and so forth, in office.

The whole point, if you'll recall, is freedom.

I've had a little more experience at this kind of thing than most individuals, having co-authored Hope, a novel about a libertarian who finds himself elected to the Presidency more or less accidentally. Rather than reiterate what Aaron Zelman and I said there about Alex Hope's first days in office, I urge you to go to jpfo.org and purchase the novel to find out for yourself. It's much more than a political diatribe, it's an adventure—and a love story (or two), as well.

But the whole point is freedom.

Hope was written and published before the events of September 11, 2001—which change nothing, in principle, that I myself would do or refrain from doing if I were in Alexander Hope's place. However those events do change priorities in a few instances. Also, I've since thought of some things I didn't think of when we were writing the novel.

I'm ashamed Alex's first act as President wasn't to declare a tax amnesty retroactive back to 1913. Along with establishing a commission to investigate the Constitutionality of the Sixteenth Amendment and the possible illegality of its ratification, this would do more to restore confidence in our civilization than anything else I can think of.

How would revenues from this amnesty be replaced? They wouldn't be. The money belongs to the people who made it and nobody else. They will use it more wisely than anyone in the government, and even if they couldn't, it would still be theirs. In any case, the government has too damn much money, which is why it feels free to start a stupid, unneccesary war and to spy on and control the people it's supposed to serve.

The proper goal, I think, is to keep Woodrow "I won't send your boy to war" Wilson's lying mealy-mouthed promise for him, that no one would ever be taxed more than five percent to support the government—only I'd shoot for five percent total, of all taxes, local and national.

In the second term it'd be one percent and absolutely voluntary. Starve the government, feed the cause of peace, prosperity, and progress.

Not to mention freedom.

The whole point, after all, is freedom.

The next thing I'd do, my first day in office, would be to declare a "lockdown" on organizations like the IRS, DEA, ATF, OSHA, EPA, NSA, CIA, FBI, and any other government tentacle whose "franchise" consists of preventing Americans from fully exercising and enjoying their rights under the first ten Amendments to the Constitution. All agency activity would cease immediately, all cases and operations would be suspended indefinitely, all employees would be disarmed, report to work, and sit at their desks, twiddling their thumbs, while their past performances were criminally investigated and evaluated with regard to compliance with the Bill of Rights. Nuremburg Tribunal standards would apply and "I was just following orders" would be disallowed as a defense.

The "War on Drugs" would end.

The war on the Second Amendment would end.

The "War on Terror" would end.

The war on the Bill of Rights would end.

The Pax Libertariana would begin, to be crowned, eventually, by a national Moratorium (at first a century long) on legislation of any kind.

Because the whole point is freedom.

Following the creation of a Presidential Bill of Rights Compliance Commission to do the investigating, government employees found guilty of having violated the rights of individuals, or having stolen their property, would be expected to make adequate restitution out of their own pockets. Under a provision of the Fourteenth Amendment, they would never be permitted to hold any government job, at any level, ever again.

Former government employees would also be investigated, as would anyone who ever worked for the Department of so-called "Homeland Security". In general, the new President's message to the bureaucracy would be this: look at the Constitution, specifically at Article 1, Section 8. If what you've been doing isn't there, you'd better start packing.

And maybe hopping a flight for South America.

For them, the whole point is freedom, too.

It's important to recognize that nothing any libertarian President does on his first day in office will come as a surprise, or come to pass, without vehement—even violent—opposition. The election campaign will have given everything away, and from early November, when he's elected, until late in January, when he assumes office, all of the enemies of individual liberty will have been sharpening their knives.

As will the militant moderates of his own party.

By the same token, the new President will have been preparing, as well. In the same ten weeks, lists will have been prepared, by what's been called the "transition team", of victims who have been imprisoned or otherwise punished under unconstitutional laws. Every effort will be made to restore them to their previous condition or to compensate them. If necessary, as I believe Alex Hope put it (or should have), the White House will be converted into an "executive clemency factory".

Like I said, the whole point is freedom.

Everyone in the world will know that in January, on his first day in office, the President will declare a worldwide troop withdrawal. Our allies won't like this a bit, and our enemies will try to take advantage of it. It will be the most complicated and difficult thing the new President ever attempts. Every effort will be made, between the election and the inauguration to involve America in a shooting war. Once the withdrawal is accomplished, however, the world will know that the US government—and the US military—stops at the US border.

Not a penny of "foreign aid" will ever leave this country again. Meanwhile, any impediments to genuinely free international trade will be abolished, if necessary by the executive clemency factory. The shape of the world will immediately begin to change for the better and we'll finally have our Peace Dividend—in the shape of a new renaissance.

Alexander Hope restructured the military along volunteer militia lines as anticipated by the Founding Fathers, and I would do the same. (I could easily write another, longer essay on that subject alone.) Alex repealed, nullified, or otherwise disposed of laws or regulations that interfere with the development of private space travel. NASA and its clumsy, expensive, half-hearted efforts became a thing of the past. My generation could look forward, once again, to retiring on the Moon—and visiting our grandchildren on Mars, or in the Asteroid Belt.

Fundamentally, it's the obligation of any libertarian President to enforce the Bill of Rights energetically and enthusiastically, within parameters established by the Zero Aggression Principle. Basically, that means undoing everything government has done since the Lincoln Administration. No one individual can accomplish that in a single, or even a second term. Therefore it's the responsibility of a libertarian President to make sure that his Vice President agrees with him in every important respect and can carry his work forward in the next two terms.

More broadly, public stances like these, taken by a libertarian Presidential candidate, lay an essential foundation for the future candidates of his own party, who may have a better chance of winning. At the same time, they set standards for the candidates of parties who, for the time being, have a more reasonable expectation of being elected.

Finally, how does a libertarian President avoid becoming corrupted by the power of the office? If the answer isn't "personal integrity", I don't have the faintest idea what it is. Personally, I'd avoid it by not having a cellophane snowball's chance in Hell of ever getting elected, but running a campaign that will bring us closer to our goal, anyway.

Remember, the whole point is freedom.

Three-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith is the author of 23 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collection of articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at lneilsmith.org. Autographed copies may be had from the author at lneil@lneilsmith.org.

L. Neil Smith writes regular columns for The Libertarian Enterprise webleyweb.com/tle, Sierra Times sierratimes.com, and for Rational Review rationalreview.com.


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