L. Neil Smith's
Number 296, November 7, 2004

"Please, sir, may I have another?"

Thank You, Mike!
by L. Neil Smith

Please Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

It's difficult to write an article, three days after an election like the one we've all just gone through, that is both truthful and upbeat. The news, for now, and for the next four years, is not very good.

It never has been, really, at least not in my lifetime. The first Presidential campaign in which I actively participated was in 1964, for Senator Barry M. Goldwater, running against Lyndon Baines Johnson. Poor Barry was soundly defeated before he ever got started, more by the whorish mass media and liberal members of his own party, than by the official opposition. Portrayed falsely as a crazed Strangelovian militarist who wanted to A-bomb little girls (and, incidentally, prevent socialized medicine and shut down unconstitutional public works like the Tennessee Valley Authority), Goldwater wound up with 38.5% of the vote, losing handily to the murderous megalomaniac already known sarcastically as "Landslide Lyndon". Afterward, the joke went, "They told me if I supported Goldwater, we'd end up in a land war in Asia."

And, of course, we did.

It's all been downhill since then, in terms of the candidates I've chosen to vote for and for the cause of individual liberty in America. In 1968—understand that there was no Libertarian Party back then, although I realize now that I should have cast a blank—I voted for Richard Nixon, mostly, I think, because he seemed to piss the liberals off so much. Also because his opponent, Hubert H. Humphrey, bore a phenomenal resemblance to Porky Pig. Nixon had promised to end Kennedy and Johnson's war in Vietnam, which he did, largely by moving it to Cambodia.

Since then, no candidate of the Libertarian Party (established in 1971 by Dave Nolan and a small handful of others meeting in his living room) has won as much as a million votes, or even two percent of the vote. The LP peaked in 1980 with a little over 900,000, cast for Ed Clark.

I think pretty much every Libertarian, including those who opposed his candidacy, expected our most recent nominee, the highly-principled and handsome (so my wife and daughter tell me) Michael Badnarik, to do great things: break through the million-vote ceiling, maybe put the LP on the map by preventing the reelection of George W. Bush, the 21st century's Lyndon Johnson. Instead, he wound up in fourth place behind Ralph Nader, a 21st century Richard Nixon, who I've always suspected keeps a big Mason jar somewhere, full of flies he's pulled the wings off.

In the end, neither Nader nor Mike appears to have influenced much of anything. Little George, the apple of his CIA-boss papa's Skull-and-Bones eye, defeated them both—and the Democratic candidate as well.

This morning, Little George is still trumpeting, not that he won a mandate, nor even much in the way of a ratification of his first term in office, but that he has accumulated "capital", whatever the hell he thinks that means. What it means for us is that the Boot On Your Neck Party marches onward, to a widening war on everything overseas and to prison camps with the latest high-tech stainless steel razor wire at home.

In hindsight, this election yielded exactly the results one would have expected from 120 million products of the public school system. Half of the voters wanted Daddy to protect them from the nasty bad A-rabs. The other half of the voters wanted Mommy to protect them from Daddy.

In a political environment like that—as unlike the political environment of 1980 as it could be—in which vague dread and abject cowardice outweighed any interest in a better future, there simply wasn't room for a grownup candidate, looking for a million grownup voters.

As my daughter Rylla put it, American pulled its trousers down, bent over, spread its cheeks, and whimpered, "Please, sir, may I have another?"

Understand that I am nothing but proud of Mike. I chose him as my candidate more than a year before this election; I'd do it all over again. Folks across America wrote to me or called me to comment on how hard he worked, how good he looked as our candidate, and how very principled he managed to remain in the face of the ultimate temptation to waffle. I've run for office, myself. I have a fair idea how hard it is.

I do have some pointed questions for some of those who helped Mike run his campaign, and a notion or two for next time, if I like the candidate as much as I liked this one. That battle could be an even grimmer one than this one, as the voters line up like the sheep they are, to be shorn by "anyone but Hillary". But for now, all of that can wait.

For Mike, I have nothing but gratitude and hope, once he's had a chance to relax, that he'll remain active in the party he stood for so well.

Thanks again, my friend.

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.

Neil is presently at work on Ceres and Ares, two sequels to his 1993 novel, Pallas, a decensored and electronically published version of his 1984 novel, Tom Paine Maru, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May. A 180-page full-color graphic novel version of The Probability Broach will be released later this year.


Lever Action by L. Neil Smith, and Hope by L. Neil Smith & Aaron Zelman, both at Discount Prices. www.aspubs.com

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