Optics & the LP: A Facebook Post

So, I was stewing on this during the Libertarian National Convention and I wanted to reflect on it by articulating my mixed feelings about some stuff.

Back in February, there was a whole lot of drama in liberty circles because of a claim that the LNC refused to invite Ron Paul to speak at the national convention which would be over 4th of July weekend.
That wasn’t exactly accurate to what happened, since it wasn’t the LNC’s decision (it was one person), and they DID extend him an invite which he didn’t accept, but the end result was that Ron Paul did not speak at the convention, and the LP either looked good or bad depending on how you feel about Ron Paul (and I’m still annoyed over a certain person’s tactics to make other people look bad on purpose).
Anyway. Ron Paul spoke at the Mises Caucus’ Take Human Action bash on June 30th. He sent a video in directly addressing the Caucus. I was there. It was great.
For the record, I’m a huge compartmentalized Ron Paul fan. I worked for him in 2008, and I’ve known him a long time. I have read those awful newsletters and I’m disappointed in the company he kept then and the company he keeps now, and some of the things he’s let people publish in his name. I think of him as a very good person with a lot of awesome ideas who jumped on some really terrible ideas in the 80s and 90s, and to this day he is still tainted by those associations – both in reputation and possibly intellectually/socially.
BUT Ron Paul is responsible for SO MANY of my newer friends in Liberty. His Revolution brought so many into libertarian thought – and most have gone PAST him, beyond the Republican Party, many to pure anarcho-capitalism.
They didn’t love this cantankerous old grampa of liberty because of racist newsletters or social conservatism – they loved him because he spoke out against WAR, and against the economic policies of President Bush and then Obama. Because he talked about blowback and practical understandings of terrorism and war and explained why our money constantly decreases in value. They loved him because he talked about actual liberty.
I applaud him for that, and I do not discount the INCREDIBLE contribution he’s made to liberty activism that invigorated a new generation of people who love liberty, who have started businesses and organizations and think tanks and are going to change the world for the better. I absolutely give him tons of credit for that, and I love seeing him at events, and I loved seeing him at the Mises Bash.
So understand, despite our differences on abortion and my hatred of the things he allowed to be published in his newsletters under his name, I love the guy. I really do.
But sometimes I’m not thrilled to tell other people that.
Because then…
On July 2nd, a staffer under Ron Paul made the decision to post a really shitty meme on his social media. It showed racist caricatures and was quickly removed, but that didn’t stop dozens of websites (and FB posts) from reporting the “racist tweet from Ron Paul”.
Everybody knows that Ron Paul didn’t post it. Likely some idiot intern did. I *do* hope they were fired.
The problem with Ron isn’t what HE currently believes, but that he has shown poor judgement in the people he allows to speak for him, whether they wrote newsletters in his name 30 years ago or whether they tweet stupid shit on his socials now.
And in that moment, when Ron Paul was associated yet again with really shitty stuff that my movement keeps getting associated with, I became PROFOUNDLY relieved that the Libertarian Party did NOT end up having Ron Paul as a speaker at our National Convention – since it likely would have been the same damn day, and then the news would have been sure to associate the LIBERTARIAN PARTY with the shitty tweet.
There are people who complain about the optics of the LP when it comes to statements Arvin Vohra made over the past two years. People who complain that I talk too much about sex or drugs or abortions. People who complain about my hair or Caryn Ann Harlos‘ hair, or Starchild’s costumes, or the antics of the Audacious Caucus. Or the fact that a self-described Anarcho-Communist was in our Chair debate. Or our National party tweeting quotes from Satanists.
And yeah, we have weird optics and sometimes ill-advised optics. We are a WEIRD party that manages to offend a new group on a daily basis, sometimes for cause.
But Ron Paul would have been yet another optics controversy.
And it sucks. Because I like to make waves. And I don’t want us to be bland. I want us to be full of flavor, and wildness, and be bold and striking and make people look at us.
But I want what we do and what we say to INSPIRE.
I want it to light FIRES of liberty in people. I want people to look at us and go “whoa, I never thought about it like that before” and come check us out. It’s something that Judd and I try to do with our pictures. Make the movement beautiful. Show a better way.
Some attempts to inspire will fail. And people vary in WHAT inspires them. That’s totally okay.
But I wish that when fellow libertarians (or staffers under famous liberty names) took to social media or stages or any soapbox anywhere, when they had the opportunity to troll or to fight or to offend — I wish more of them would ask themselves how to frame what they wish to draw attention to in a way that *inspires* others.
So that I don’t have to be relieved that somebody lost the Vice Chair race, or that someone didn’t show up at our convention. So that I can just be proud of what we do.
That’s all.
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