With the rise of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) in the presidential primary polls, America may be ready to crush crony capitalists by embracing "libertarianism."
As the founding philosophy that once unified our nation, today libertarianism represents the true existential threat to the crony capitalism that has flourished for decades in both established political parties. But with both political parties in decay and independents positioned to determine the outcome of next year's presidential and congressional elections, voters seem ready to embrace a political philosophy that puts strict limits on all government activity in order to maximize individual liberty and economic freedom.
Libertarianism is defined as "any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals." To the political party establishments who fund their existence on the ability to attain this power and rent it back to their crony capitalist fellow travelers, libertarianism was dismissed as a "popular, dogmatic political cult in the vein of Marxism-Leninism."
The political elites have been comforted that "libertarians would never get hold of true power, for unlike their Marxist-Leninist brethren, they are a political cult without a broad base of support; they have no proletariat and no peasantry!" But in the age of social networking's viral formation of voluntary associations at virtually no cost, libertarianism has found its broad base of support online and now can compete favorably versus paid advertising that drives the "peasant" support of the established parties.
Over the last 12 months, there has been an unreported groundswell of support for Paul's libertarian philosophy that virally self-organized through social media. Paul never captured as much media attention as other Republican presidential candidates, even after placing second in the early Iowa Ames Straw Poll. When his name came up on the cable news shows, his libertarian ideas were dismissed as the fringe ramblings of an un-electable candidate.
The media remained oblivious to Paul's emergent online following. According to the Pew Charitable Trust's Project for Excellence for Journalism, in a new study analyzing more than 20 million election-related tweets from May through November, Paul "fared far better" than any other Republican candidate. Pew found that Ron Paul was referred to "positively" in 55% of the 1.1 million Twitter assessments about him; versus 15% negative assessments and 30% neutral.
America's libertarian roots were incubated in the run-up to American Revolutionary War of 1776. The British raised taxes by 500% from 1698 to the 1773, and imposed the taxes without consent from America's own directly elected representatives, denied Americans their right to a fair trial by enforcing the Sugar and Stamp Acts in military courts, and kept troop levels high to intimidate the colonial settlers into submission.
American Exceptionalism is associated with our libertarian tradition of personal freedom, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire. Of course these values clash directly with the goals of crony capitalists to extract massive wealth from U.S. government contracts, permits, grants, special tax breaks and so forth. But the low-cost economics of libertarian social networking is driving a determined challenge to crony capitalists' tight-fisted grip on elections.
CHRISS STREET is the former Orange County treasurer-tax collector and a Newport Beach resident.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun