Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 588, September 19, 2010

"They want our lives to be as miserable as theirs,
and they will stop at nothing to have their way."

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Sapients in Name Only
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

It's passing strange to hear your own words and ideas coming back at you from the radio, especially across a gap of thirty years or more.

Yet that's what I seemed to be hearing this morning, from Mark Davis, a radio talk show host from Texas, filling in today for Rush Limbaugh.

Employing almost exactly the same phrases and concepts I did three decades ago, Davis was attempting to explain to the badly-wounded "country club" Republican establishment—in the light of recent victories won by candidates associated with that dreadfully ragtag proletarian Tea Party movement—why adhering to principle no matter what is more important in the long run than winning any particular election.

I knew that he really got it, when he described the satisfaction of knowing that you've done the right thing even when it leads to defeat. A defeat that, in the end, will prove transitory if you just hold fast. Unfortunately, a lot of people in politics never do get it, and whether they do or not, they make fun of it instead of trying to understand. They act surprised when the compromises they've made, or the weak-kneed candidates they've supported, lead them straight into disaster.

In politics, unprincipled people call those of us with principles "purists" and refer to themselves haughtily as "pragmatic". The fact is that acting consistently with principle represents an investment in the future. You may not win the game this time, or even next time, but sooner or later, if what you believe is truly consistent with reality, you will win, and you will keep on winning, altering the course of events.

That's how history gets made; it doesn't get any more pragmatic than that. Great men don't "move to the center", great men move the center.

In addition to attempting to influence what I considered to be my own people, in the days before the Internet I wrote one pathetic letter after another to Libertarian Party directors who, it turned out, had not the slightest intention of ever being caught acting on principle. I was also inspired, now and again, to write "letters to the enemy" (at one time, that was the working title of what became Lever Action), for the edification of those I believed were on my side.

Using newfound tools of communication, I wrote open letters to our detractors, specimens like Robert Dornan, Patrick Buchanan, and little Michael Medved, who were complaining bitterly and constantly in those days that LP candidates were taking away votes that, in someone's demented fantasies, rightfully belonged to them, letting Democrats win, instead.

I told them that those votes belonged to whoever won them, but that all they had to do, to remove the libertarian thorn from their tender side, was to be better on important issues—more consistent with the Founding Fathers and with the Bill of Rights—than we were. Then the marginally libertarian voters would vote for them instead of us.

Problem solved.

But nobody listened to an e-columnist in those days. They wouldn't have accepted my advice even if they had listened. So I don't suppose I should have been too surprised—although I was disappointed—if what used to be my party was unable to learn the lesson, either. They had better things to do, like diverting campaign money to family and friends.

The GOP went right on being what Denver radio talk show host Peter Boyles calls the "lucky sperm" party of Nixon, Ford, and Dole. Some started calling them "RINO": "Republicans In Name Only". Given their butt-stupid policies and behavior, I prefer "SINO": "Sapients In Name Only". Their Australopithecine many-times-great grandma Lucy would be ashamed to be associated with them, as would any self-respecting Neanderthal.

At the same time, they went out of their way to make it just as hard on libertarians as they could. They colluded with the Democrats to block our campaigns by raising petition signature requirements—unbelievably—right in the middle of election seasons. And now their braying media mouthpieces laughed at us for our dedication to the Bill of Rights and the Zero Aggression Principle, and took to calling us "losertarians".

Finally, when [A] George W. Bush had screwed the pooch until it yelped, [B] they had insanely nominated a candidate someone described as an "unwrapped mummy", and [C] it finally penetrated their tiny dinosaur ganglia that they had a really rough election coming at them, to remove any threat that the Libertarian Party represented (in a year when voters were extremely angry at the Republican elite and the LP might otherwise have done very well with a decent candidate), they sent in a ringer, ex-congressman drug-thug Bob Barr, to wreck it completely.

Which he did efficiently and with great dispatch.

Now the only reason the GOP has a shot at the White House in 2012 is that the beneficiary of their monumental cowardice and stupidity—I'd never have believed it possible without seeing it, myself—is an even worse President than Bush, whom they are dismindedly trying to rehabilitate.

What all their efforts actually won them, of course, was the Tea Parties. It turned out that libertarians weren't the only ones who were fed up and pissed off. They weren't the only ones tired of being bled dry by taxes, strangled by regulations, or sick of watching the Bill of Rights shredded to confetti. It was even remotely possible that they weren't the only ones who wanted to end a pair of expensive ugly wars being cynically waged for the sake of Bush and Cheney's petropals.

And if the Tea Partiers' efforts appear less consistent, less coherent, less cogent than those of a healthy Libertarian Party would have been, if Tea Partiers seem harder to please because the silver spoon Republicans can't put an expensively manicured finger on what they all want (why would any decent citizen ever demand lower taxes and fewer regulations? It's just crazy!), then they—the silver spoon Republicans—have only themselves to thank for that. They're the ones—not Obama and his goblins—who made it necessary and inevitable.

Just as a single .22 pistol on the airliners could have stopped 9/11, a single testicle in the House and Senate—belonging, say, to someone who refused to vote for the Patriot Act or Obamacare without having them read out loud—could easily have prevented the present mess.

And if Tea Partiers stubbornly remain leaderless and centerless, at least they don't have a head, like the late, lamented LP did, that can be hacked off savagely and replaced by that of a ventriloquist's dummy.

Congratulations, to all of you country club silver spoon lucky sperm Republicans! Welcome to times that are about to be thoroughly Jacksonian.

And I don't mean Michael.

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Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of more than 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas is currently running as a free weekly serial at

Neil is presently at work on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Where We Stand: Libertarian Policy in a Time of Crisis with his daughter, Rylla.

See stunning full-color graphic-novelizations of The Probability Broach and Roswell, Texas which feature the art of Scott Bieser at Dead-tree versions may be had through the publisher, or at where you will also find Phoenix Pick editions of some of Neil's earlier novels. Links to Neil's books at are on his website


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