L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 218, April 7, 2003
WHILE THE WAR SHINES
Special to TLE
In 2000, running for Congress for the first time as a Hawaiian resident, with neither a web-site nor an e-mail address of my own, I was invited by Ko'olau News to participate in The Level Playing Field. This was an invitation to all qualified candidates for public office to submit written responses to their questions on a variety of topics that were then posted on their site as a public service to their readership on Windward Oahu. The most memorable and enjoyable of their assignments was to write an essay illustrating what the participants imagined might result from their run for office. Editor Shannon Wood stipulated that the candidate should imagine that he or she was elected to office, and that a fictional reporter or essayist in the year 2059 was describing our impact. Letting my imagination run away with me for a while, this was my response.
Adam Felix Duquesne
It seems that Pops was right about at least one thing. Alan Greenspan didn't live forever. Fortunately, we managed to return to the Constitutional Bi-Metallic Standard before the Federal Reserve System was dissolved and monetary authority returned to the Treasury Department.
As I write this today in response to Kiliana's kind request, it occurs to me that today is the birthday of that venerable savior of the American economy. I've taken to flipping a Twenty Dollar gold piece bearing Greenspan's effigy, a practice that Pops would likewise endorse, though he would prefer that Calvin Coolidge had remained on the Twenty and handed a larger piece over to Greenspan's memory.
But popularity wins out on the more commonly circulating coins, and there's little chance of shaking Reagan loose from the Five Dollar silver, or Edison from the Deuce, or Ike from the Single, so it's the Twenty Dollar gold for the last Chairman of the Fed. America will adjust to Cool Cal's displacement. America has always adjusted.
Maybe I get ahead of myself. Mother had a way of reworking Pops' advice. Pops would say, "Open your eyes first and your mouth last." Mother would simply say, "Start at the beginning." Much more elegant and to the point. Of course, she started out HER political career very simply, at the age of nine years by saying, "My Dad is running for Congress. Please vote for him." Ever to the point.
As for me, well, the son of the President doesn't have to do anything to distinguish himself. Really, he can't, unless he pursues the life himself. Not for me. Pops lived for the theatre, and found the public arena to be the grandest stage of all. Mother followed him and Granny at an earlier age than they started, and soared beyond their wildest accomplishments.
And as for me? Well, I think I'm starting again. Verbosity has always been a Duquesne family characteristic. I am the son of our recently retired President. Many of you voted for her. A few of you hated her, three people tried to kill her, and, according to the polls, most of you loved her.
This story is not about her, or me, but about her father, my grandfather. I call him Pops, she calls him Daddy, and his supporters know him as Citizen Duquesne. His friends call him Lehr. He was a member of the Congress at the beginning of this century, and later our first Libertarian Secretary of State. He would take issue with that, as he claims that Thomas Jefferson was just about our first libertarian everything, but he's discussing philosophy, and I'm talking party label. He wouldn't let the issue go until I clarified it precisely. My grandfather, Lawrence Knight Duquesne, after serving as Hawaii's first Libertarian Representative to the United States Congress, was appointed Secretary of State in America's first Libertarian Administration. He is an argumentative old cuss now, just starting his second century, and unavailable for comment, as he is vacationing in the asteroid belt and almost certainly has his cel-vid disconnected. Since he is unable to speak for himself just at the moment, and Kiliana insists that Ko'olau News has strict deadlines, his legacy is at my mercy.
Pops first ran for the Congress in 1982 at the delicate young age of 26, still wet behind the ears, still fresh from his service in the United States Air Force, and still an undergraduate at Oregon State University studying physics and mechanical engineering. In those days the Libertarian Party did not enjoy the universal ballot status it does today. In fact, it, and many other "third parties", were quite ruthlessly excluded by the "Democratic" and "Republican" parties, who have since joined the Federalists and Whigs in historical oblivion. Today, with universal suffrage, liberal ballot access requirements, and proportional representation in most States, the "Bipartisan" stranglehold on political consciousness is as obsolete as slavery, witch hunts, and the "War on Drugs."
Anyway, since Libertarians were not on the ballot in Oregon in 1982, Pops ran a very modest write-in campaign. He got very little attention from the press (as they tended in those days to focus on the "horse race" aspects of a contest, rather than the ideas of the candidates), and fewer votes. The next 14 years are a little fuzzy. He remained interested in politics and the theatre, I guess, but it wasn't until 1996 that he ran again. Again from Oregon's 5th district, and this time the party enjoyed hard won ballot status that would not be snatched away by incumbent perfidy. His modest showing in '96 (just under 2%) did nothing but encourage him to press his case. He was resolved to run again and again every two years, building his name recognition, widening his network of support, training himself, refining his approach, and, as he likes to say endlessly, "banging his drum."
Life intervenes. Mother quotes John Lennon. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Pops did not run in '98, as he'd intended after the '96 election. He even toyed briefly with the notion of entering Oregon's Republican Primary for the sake of expediency and "respectability." Fortunately he managed to avoid so base and superficial a scheme. He confessed to me when I'd asked him about it that he "wanted to win, and if I couldn't win, I'd like at least to be taken seriously." Stubbornness won out, thanks in part to circumstances (about which more anon), and he reconciled himself to Libertarian loyalty and possible "third party" obscurity. He couldn't have been luckier. It turns out the "obscurity" was a kinder and gentler fate than Republican oblivion, but that would take a while.
Circumstances, on the other hand, will ever intervene in our lives. Due to a combination of factors, professional dissatisfaction, wanderlust, and Granny's precarious health in those days, in the summer of 1997, Pops and Granny packed up Mother and the rest of their lives, and moved to the Big island.
"For the first time in my life," says Pops, "I knew I was home. This is where I will plunge in my roots." So they settled in to their new homeland, bought this very house that they later sold to me, and proceeded to firm up their new network.
"Your Grandfather is very good at taking the credit," says Granny, "but the truth is I had to push him every step of the way. He wouldn't have done it without me."
"We couldn't have done it without us," answered Pops. "Moving here or buying this house, or rebuilding half of it. It was all teamwork."
Sometimes Granny just smiles and lets him have the last word. He does seem to enjoy it so. They're very good for each other. Still they squabble endlessly. Two months ago at their 70th wedding anniversary they were dubbed the Bicker Brats. That one actually shut Pops up for almost thirty seconds, during which time Granny couldn't stop laughing.
So anyway, back on track. Because they had the logistical consideration of the moving and the house and the new jobs and Granny's health issues, Pops took a pass on the '98 elections. He excused himself as follows. "I insist that I will always have a Libertarian to vote for for the rest of my life. I'm done with voting against. In 1998 Noreen Chun was on the ballot, and I was proud and pleased to vote for her, and even willing to stand aside if she wanted to take it on again in Y2K. But I will always vote for a Libertarian, even if it has to be me."
Since 1996 he has managed to keep that pledge to himself and to America, always voting for a Libertarian, and through the 2000's, either voting for his election, or re-election, and later his successors in the House, after he'd moved on into the Cabinet.
During the first few elections of the century, Libertarians started slowly trickling into the Congress. Once they finally precluded either the Republicans or the Democrats from achieving an outright majority, the Libertarian micro-minority exhibited astonishing innocence. They were naive enough to expect one party or the other to approach them to form a coalition majority with libertarian leanings. But, when the Bipartisan Super-majority coalition was formed it first looked to be pretty grim, as Libertarians were excluded from any meaningful committee assignments.
The maneuver, however, soon backfired. The voting public began to realize that forty years of Democrat control produced dangerous inflation, hideous wars, and suffocating regulations. Another decade of Republican control, rather than turning anything around, increased the budget, increased taxes, and increased regulations. After two years of undisguised Bipartisan collusion, it became clear to all but the most dedicated partisans that the "Me-Too Party" and the "More-of-the-Same Party" were as different as night and evening.
The next election produced a mix of Libertarians and Greens and Constitutionalists and a few Bipartisan vestiges, but America hasn't gone back, and as the practice has proven the premise, the Libertarians continued to gain ground until they finally achieved the outright majority that they have enjoyed since. The Greens and the Cons and Democrats and Republicans have since either joined Libertarian ranks, or collapsed into the Socialist Party, and America is once again a Two Party system. That seems to be our fate. America has always adjusted.
And we've had a great deal to adjust to. As the Sovereign State of Hawaii celebrates its centennial, we fly a flag with (so far) fifty-four stars. For a few months only it was Alaska, and then for almost fifty years Hawaii was America's "New Kid on the Block." Puerto Rico joined the Union in 2008, just a year short of Hawaii's Golden Jubilee, and just in time to get in on the States of the Union Commemorative Quarters Celebration.
With two native Spanish speakers in the Senate, and seven new Hispanic Congressmembers, Anglochauvinist hysteria almost undid us, but also led us quite naturally to accept Jamaica and Belize when they petitioned for cession in 2016. And that makes only fifty-three stars on our flag.
Like Alan Greenspan, it turned out that Fidel Castro also could not live forever. After his final heart attack, Senor Ortega struggled for a couple of years to hold it together, but a half century of Socialist mismanagement had reduced Cuba to the most impoverished basket case in the hemisphere. After Bay of Pigs II, there was little resistance to the notion of bringing Cuba home. It still has the lowest standard of living, the highest infant mortality, the shortest life expectancy, and the greatest illiteracy of all the States, but it has come a long way, and Governor Ros assures us that it will soon close the gap with Mississippi, Alabama, and Puerto Rico.
The notion of Statehood for the District of Columbia was neatly short-circuited with the passage of the 28th Amendment, which Pops introduced in his first term in the House. DC gave up its three Electoral College votes for President, but in return received an actual voting Representative in the Congress. No Senators, of course, as they are strictly reserved for the States. Briefly, for those of you who don't keep track of such things, the 28th Amendment grants representation in the Congress to all Federal Districts, Territories, Possessions, and Protectorates in proportion to their actual numbers just as if they were States, but no representation in the Senate. In addition, it grants these same entities Presidential Electors equal in number to their representation in Congress. At present, then, DC has its own member, Samoa has one, the Lunar Settlement has one, and Guam and Saipan and the rest of the Marianas have two altogether.
Back home in these Islands, the pace has been a little slower, but changes have been inexorable.
The Sovereigntist/Secession movement reached its crescendo at about the same time that Libertarians achieved their first working majority coalition with the Republicans and the Constitutionalists. As federal assets were being divested to resolve the debt and retire Social Security, Pops included the "Millenial Mahele" rider. Those federal lands not essential to national security, nor having unique historical significance, were returned to all the peoples of the Islands on the basis of ancestry, nativity, and longevity. The ancestry component was his only public racist act and he refuses still to apologize for it.
"We are all Hawaiians, whether we were born here or not," he said when he introduced the amendment, "whether our ancestors arrived here from the Marquesas or Tahiti, from India or Indonesia or Indiana. We all deserve a piece of the pie, but some of us are going to get bigger pieces. Crimes were committed against the Hawaiian people and the Hawaiian nation, but the criminals are all dead and the victims are all dead. We are left to pick up the pieces. This is my compromise. For every year you lived here you get credit. For being born here you get credit. For tracing your grandparents in these islands to the eighteenth century, you get additional credit. How much remains to be seen. The catch is, you stop your whining and get on with your lives. Now let's hammer out the details." And of course, Hawaii has adjusted to all the extra private property. There are a few competing nativist enclaves, and by and large the Hawaiian language and culture continue to flourish. It is, after all, an integral part of our unique heritage. Unfortunately, the whining hasn't stopped, but at leat the volume has been turned down.
When the Democrat/Green/Socialist dominated Senate attempted to push through the Inter-Island Highway System, and the Lib/Rep/Con controlled House killed the measure, Pops nearly lost his job. But with the economy newly stimulated by the substantial tax cuts and regulatory relief, with the population increasing on the neighbor islands while Oahu's flattened out, some investors took the notion and ran with it.
Inside of two years a system of tunnels had linked Oahu and Molokai and Maui and Lanai. Later, after Kahoolawe was finally cleaned of live ordnance by violent criminals (with surprisingly few casualties), it and the Big Island were connected to the traffic grid. Of course the airline lobby shrieked and howled that the tunnels were a threat to public safety. And it is a matter of knee-jerk reflex among the Socialists and the last remaining Greens that the State Government should seize the tunnels from the predatory Road Company and operate them for the benefit of all Hawaiians, rather than let them enrich a few greedy investors. Most people, however, rather enjoy driving from island to island and don't mind tossing a few silver coins into a wire basket. We remember what air travel used to cost, both in money and in time. It's faster to drive.
Besides, even among the tunnels there is competition, if you don't mind driving the long way around sometimes. After NASA built the magnetic induction track from Puolo Point to the peak of Mauna Kea to launch cargo canisters into orbit, it leased space on the structure to other investors so there is now an express route from Kauai to Hawaii with links to the southern coasts of all the islands it passes.
I'm going to have to wrap this up so I can get back to work, but before I depart I'll leave you with this last bit. Since Mother left office there has been talk of Pops returning to the public arena and making another run at the White House. Twelve years as Vice President under two separate Presidents apparently hasn't cured him of the notion, so he refuses to rule it out. I think he's actually taking the idea seriously.
America will have to adjust.
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