Of Convenience

Let’s look at two of the biggest fringe movements in Minnesota politics today:

First;  the “Ron Paul” faction in the GOP.  Mostly in the GOP, anyway; they skitter back and forth between the GOP, the Libertarians, and the “Splendidly Above It All” party.  (And bear in mind – I agree with 80-90% of what Ron Paul says). 

Then – the “Independence” Party; the party that has had precisely two elected officials and two unelected ringers in its entire history; Ventura and liberal-Republican Senator Sheila Kiscaiden, who left the GOP in 2002, and skipped onward to the DFL in 2006 (In addition to Dean Barkley’s month in the US Senate, moderate Iron Range DFLer Bob Lessard joined the IP for his lame-duck term).  The party hangs on to relevance – its “major party status” – by dint of the fact that it manages to eke out over 5% in at least one state-wide election every four years. 

The party was founded, essentially, by “good government” moderates; fiscal sorta conservatives and social mostly liberals.  And that’s who they’ve run for office; among the endless stream of trivia questions that are the Indy Party gubernatorial candidates, we’ve had:

  • 2002 – Tim Penny.  Former moderate DFLer who got left in the middle as the party swung to the left. 
  • 2006 – um, who knows?  I coulda swore they nominated someone, but even Wikipedia doesn’t say.  Peter Hutchinson – a moderate Democrat education industry thinker/bureaucrat.
  • 2010 – Tom Horner, former liberal Republican who, in his entirety, was intended as a spoiler to the Emmer election.  And it worked. 

So what does this tell us?  Ventura – Libertarian In Name Only.  Barkley and Penney – fiscal moderates who epitomized the IndyParty’s loooove of tinkering with the wheels and levers of government.  Lessard and Kiscaiden – a moderate DFLer, and a liberal Republican who turned DFLer when the IndyParty ceased to amuse her.  Horner:  a big-government IR-era not-conservative-at-all Republican in the Arne Carlson mold. 

It’s a party that – to the extent that it has principles – is all for “good government” (best described as getting the biggest bang we can for our ample tax bucks) and social liberalism. 

But in a scene straight out of one of my dramatizations, they’ve endorsed a Ronulan; Hannah Nicollet, who after months of talking about running for Senate, stepped over to the Governor’s race:

“We anticipated we were going to have a Senate endorsement battle, but Hannah Nicollet recognizing that we did not have a candidate who was up for endorsement for governor talked to her family, talked to advisors and came to the leadership before the endorsement started and asked if she could seek the endorsement for governor,” said party chair Mark Jenkins.

Nicollet backed libertarian former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul for President in 2012. She saidshe still supports the majority of that party’s fiscally conservative, socially liberal platform.

So a “libertarian” “supports” the “majority” of a party whose platform traditionally reflects the desire of big-government wonks to play with the wheels and knobs of goverment – which is ostensibly anathema to Ron Paul and, supposedly, the libertarian-Republicans that the IndyParty is courting with bald-faced desperation? 

Now, this isn’t to say that I don’t personally find some resonance with some of Ms. Nicollet’s policy stances.  I do.  But then, I’m a libertarian-conservative, so that’s not a real stretch.  What is a stretch is that the Indy Party – founded by and for people who like to marinade themselves in the sweet smell of “good government” – have suddently had a sincere conversion to “libertarianism”. 

So what could possibly be behind this seeming change of political heart on the IndyParty’s part? 

I’m going to guess “a sizeable donation from Alita Messinger and her DFL-supporting deep-pocketed friends, suitably laundered to conceal the appearance of a paid spoiler”. 

That’s a guess.  Nope, no evidence.  Not yet. 

Just speculating, here.

PS – there are some in the Twin Cities “libertarian” community – Ron Paul supporters and the “Magnificently Above It All” faction – who insist, sometimes with a straight face, that…:

  1. I’m not a Libertarian
  2. That I’m a “shill for the Weber-Meeks Cabal”
  3. My opposition to certain fringe-Libertarian figures makes me “establishment”.
  4. My long involvement with True North, coupled with the fact that True North had no “Ron Paul” sympathizers among its writing staff meant that I’m “anti-liberty”. 

To which I respond:

  1. On the one hand, stipulated.  On the other?  I will suggest that my show and blog do at least as much to advance liberty as does the current incarnation of the “liberty” movement. 
  2. I’ll “Shill” for any cabal that wants to pay me to do it – and not cheaply – and I’ll disclose it fully.  The news that I’m their “shill” will no doubt amuse Vin Weber (whom I’ve never met or associated with in any way) and Annette Meeks (a social acquaintence).  I’ve never received a dime for my opinion, outside of advertising and donations to my annual fund drive (and there’ve been no donations from anyone’s cabal, either) 
  3. If fighting against divisive, self-promoting glad-handers who do more harm than good to the liberty and Second Amendment movements is wrong, I don’t want to be right. 
  4. What, Craig Westover is chopped liver?  True North, in which I’ve had no day-to-day involvement since December of 2013, actively solicited “libertarian”, Paul-affiliated writers.  None stepped forward.  My theory; precious few among them feel any need to convince anyone outside the echo chamber. 

That is all.

13 thoughts on “Of Convenience

  1. Let’s ask Hannah (politely, of course) how she feels about the IP platform, especially its opposition to Citizens United, and support for renewable energy.

  2. Fiscally conservative and socially liberal? Hilarious!
    What will they do when socially liberal policies lead inexorably to fiscally liberal policies? Refuse to pay their taxes?
    How does a fiscal conservative deal with mothers who can’t afford to raise their children or drug addicts who rob people for money?

  3. There is a difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. But most of the difference is which part of the elite they steer benefits to. They’re both parties of the elite for the elite. And yet I have never been tempted to vote for populist alternatives.

  4. a “shill for the Weber-Meeks Cabal”

    Heh. I was accused of being a member of that faction myself. I guess that means I’m in good company.

  5. “But most of the difference is which part of the elite they steer benefits to.”
    This is overly simplistic. George Soros and Richard Scaife both benefit from low taxes on capital appreciation, neither benefit from an increase in the minimum wage.

  6. I know what you’re saying, and I’m not the fascist that some above have accused me of. I’m just being cynical. In my experience there are generally only two types of politicians. The first is an elitist who tries to govern well with varying degrees of success, but tends to favor the elements of the elite who helped to elect him. The other is a populist ‘voice of the people’, who almost invariably puts in place policies which on the surface benefit some element of the poor or disadvantaged, but which run up debt/create inflation/discourage investment/destroy private property. Of the two, I prefer the elitist to the populist.

    I’m not surprised that that politicians tend to favor the needs of the elite and ignore the desires of the general public. The general public individually favor many policies which deliver short term pleasure and long term pain. And the elite have more influence on the politicians who are their neighbors and colleagues. But I can’t think of a time or place where that has not been the case. I can’t think of a system of government which would be successful where that wasn’t the case. The problem is human nature.

  7. There were claims made in 1992, that Ross Perot had contacted the Libertarian party to see if he could buy their nomination rather than setting up his own party. All these years later, it looks like Perot’s legacy is more politically relevant than the party he tried to co-opt, at least in Minnesota, where we’ve always liked oddball splinter movements.

  8. Fiscally conservative and socially liberal? This means they’re democrats. I’ve never been able to unmask them. They’re chameleons who cannot tell you what they think because it defies logic.

  9. Full disclosure: I was a Weber shill in 1980 when he ran for Congress in the old Sixth Congressional District, even had a bumper sticker. That was before I got my job working for Matador Trucking, a division of Koch Industries, briefly making me a Koch minion. Since then, I’ve aspired to be promoted from shill and minion to higher office, henchman maybe, but without success.

  10. Do you consider the position of ‘minion’ or ‘henchman’ to be a trade or craft?

  11. Pingback: You Can Laugh If You Want To | Shot in the Dark

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