Friday, December 21, 2007

Obama's Appeal

Ron Chusid, quoting an article from the American Prospect, does a great job summarizing Obama's appeal to libertarians, independents, and disillusioned conservatives in just a few sentences. Bottom line: Obama knows what he believes, but he also realizes that conservatives, libertarians, and people of just about any political stripe not only believe differently, but actually may have valid points that deserve a seat at the table. In Obama, you get someone who seemingly understands that he is fallible, and who seems sincerely concerned more about getting things right than winning political points or just winning by throwing mud at his opposition. In many ways, he is the prototype for a politician who generally seeks an "anthropology of ideas" before he seeks to attack an opponent's motives.

In essence, the value of Obama is that he appears willing to compromise details, but not principles, which is the goal of the ongoing education debate Kyle and I are having. A candidate willing to do that is a candidate who is willing to give libertarians a seat at the table. The thing about most (not all) libertarians is that we're ideologically required to accept that not everyone will agree with our ideals; as long as government gives those ideas a place on the shelf in the "marketplace of ideas," libertarians are likely to be happy or at least accepting. At least then we know that our ideas were just unpersuasive rather than being kept out of the competition in the first place.

The problem with Romney and most of the Republican candidates, not to mention Hillary and Edwards, is that they only seem interested in listening to the libertarian point of view when that libertarian point of view props up a pre-existing interest/policy proposal of theirs. In the case of Edwards, you are dealing with someone who probably has no interest in hearing the libertarian perspective on any issue.

By the way: politicians should not be required to give libertarians a seat at the table. However, a politician willing to give libertarians a seat at the table is better for libertarians than a politician who only gives libertarians a seat at the table when he wants an ideological basis for a decision he's already made.