Why Senator Snort Is Not a Libertarian

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Older readers
will recognize Senator Snort. For decades in the cartoon strip,
Grin and Bear It, he was the universal archetype of a United
States Senator. He frequently appeared on Faze the Nation.

There has not
been a libertarian U.S. Senator in my lifetime. Robert A. Taft was
closer to the position than the others, but he buckled on Federally
funded public housing. He was the best we had, but he was not ideologically

There was no
one in second place.

There have
been two libertarian Congressmen: Howard Buffett of Nebraska and
Ron Paul of Texas. Only one of them has attained national prominence,
and that because of a run for the Presidency. Without warning, individuals
used the Web to raise tens of millions of dollars for his campaign.
He did not foresee this when he announced his candidacy. Neither
did anyone else.

He has collected
a large database of people who sent money. This database can be
used for political education. I hope this will be education on local
political mobilization. Any office higher than mayor or state representative
is a waste of time. It had better be a small-town mayor.


The Senate
is carefully guarded by the Establishment. No libertarian has gotten
elected in my memory.

A Senate race
requires huge amounts of money. Only the two parties can supply
this. A multimillionaire might be able to buy his way into a nomination
if he was willing to do what New Jersey’s Jon Corzine did. But libertarians
with this much money are suspicious of politics. They are not about
to spend their money on a Don Quixote effort. Besides, even if elected,
what would they get? Committee assignments. They would preside over
the care and feeding of the beast.

A quarter of
a century ago, I sat down with Paul Weyrich. I asked him about what
it takes to get conservatives — not libertarians — to
run for office. He was forthright. “They will not run for a local
office. I can get lots of people to run for the Senate, if I agree
to raise the money. But they refuse to put in years in the trenches.
They are not interested in lower offices.”

I wrote my
piece, “The Dogcatcher Strategy,” in response to his statement.
It sat in my files unused for almost twenty years. A much-shortened
version of it
was published on LewRockwell.com in 2000.

The Senate
is a vetted organization. The party’s hierarchy screens the candidates.
Then the media screen the two rivals. If one of them deviates from
the acceptable limits of discourse, the media come down on the side
of the candidate who accepts today’s Federal government. No one
gets through the party’s vetting who is hostile to the state.

This has been
known by libertarians for decades. Leonard E. Read of the Foundation
for Economic Education used to say of high-level politicians, “I
do not drink tea with such people.” Read never drank tea, but you
get the idea. Another aphorism on campaign rhetoric: “The higher
you fly to get the office, the farther you’ll fall when you get
it.” He dismissed all but Howard Buffett and Ron Paul with this
phrase: “They leak.”

Local politics
is regarded as meaningless to the parties except in cities. This
is why principled people can occasionally get elected. But they
get outvoted in the bodies to which they get elected. They rarely
are re-elected. They will face challengers from their own party
at the next election. The challengers will have access to deep pockets
in the Good Old Boy network.

This extends
all the way up the chain of command.

Ron Paul faces
this tactic this year. He has not had a challenger inside the Republican
Party for years. He always defeats the Democrat. This year, there
is a challenger for the Party’s nomination. Paul has had to pull
back from the national campaign until the Texas primary on March

This is not
random. The same phenomenon forced Kucinich out of the Presidential
race last August: a challenger inside the Democrat Party.


The two parties
screen candidates. They apply the rule articulated by House Speaker
Sam Rayburn: “You’ve got to go along to get along.” Those elected
local politicians who do not go along do not get along with the
hierarchy, which controls the money.

We occasionally
see someone with no political experience and no understanding of
politics make a run for the Senate or other high office. I remember
one back in 1966: William Penn Patrick. He ran for Governor of California
against Reagan. I voted for him. I thought Reagan was just too liberal.
In the Republican primary, Patrick got 1% of the vote, which anyone
could get if he just got his name on the ballot. Patrick was a millionaire
who had made his money with a multilevel marketing operation that
sold cosmetics. He spent his own money. Nobody with an ounce of
sense ever sent his campaign any money. It was a pure Don Quixote

Nobody wants
to be Sancho Panza at his own expense.

Neophytes get
interested in politics, play around, spend some time, and may even
write a check. But a neophyte who actually thinks he can do anything
except waste his time and money running for high office is totally
misguided. He is without political understanding. Anyone who would
try this without great personal wealth to waste on a Don Quixote
campaign is wasting his time. Nobody will send him any money. People
smart enough to have much money are not ready to waste it on someone
else’s soon-to-crash dream.


Politics is
for our entertainment value. The system is rigged. It is not open
to outsiders. The higher the office, the less it is open to outsiders.
The more power the office seems to offer, the more guarded it is.

can one person do? Develop a digital mailing list for sending out
educational materials on the importance of self-government. “You
mean he cannot effect political change at the national level?” That
is exactly what I mean.

Senator Snort
is not a libertarian. Ever.

20, 2008

North [send him mail]
is the author of Mises
on Money
. Visit http://www.garynorth.com.
He is also the author of a free 20-volume series, An
Economic Commentary on the Bible

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