Bill Smith, Beatnik
the high point in the 1956 conventions was that glorious moment
when the irrepressible Terry Carpenter of Nebraska proposed to nominate
one Joe Smith for President, and grand old Joe Martin, in his usual
role as bastion of the democratic process, told Carpenter to "take
your Joe Smith and get out of here." No other incidents marred
the smooth unity of the convention. Well, now I am proposing for
President a man equally obscure, but who actually exists and is
running for the post: William Lloyd Smith of Chicago.
Smith is a bookstore owner, duly nominated in solemn conclave by
the national convention of the Beat Party of America, held in the
beatnik Greenwich Village nightclub, the College of Complexes. To
forestall any misunderstanding, I wish to state at once that I am
unalterably and 100% opposed to the overall Beatnik philosophy.
I am a champion of almost all the bourgeois values against which
the Beatniks are rebelling. But politics, as we all know, makes
strange bedfellows, and it is the political philosophy to
the Beats that now deserves our attention.
we must note that Bill Smith is the leader of the responsible
beatniks. The Irresponsible, or outnik, faction, apparently headed
by one Joffre Stewart of Chicago, fought the very idea of nominating
a candidate (like, only square parties really nominate someone),
or of insisting on binding the nominee to the adopted platform ("only
finks play to win, anyhow.") But I am happy to point out that,
after a bitter floor fight, the responsibles won out, and Bill Smith
will campaign on the platform.
should we squares vote for Bill Smith? Well, in the first place,
this was perhaps the only convention this year that wasn’t
rigged. The voting went to four ballots, something unheard
of since the Television Age decreed that no one have to stay up
too late to watch the balloting. Seven men were originally placed
in nomination; three of them were Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, Senator
Eastland, and Senator Kennedy, presumably without their express
consent. Hurried conferences with the parliamentarian came up with
the ruling that only people attending the convention were eligible,
which ruled out the august Congressmen. Ballotting was then confined
to Smith, Big Brown of Washington Square, Tom Condit, and the Golden
Greek. The convention was nip-and tuck, with Big Brown (the "big"
refers to his height, 6’6") the local favorite son, in the
lead. But after a long recess and much caucusing, Bill Smith, the
golden-voiced orator who had delivered the keynote speech, was selected.
Stewart, by the way, was selected for Vice-President. The final
ticket does lack geographical balance, it is true (both Smith and
Stewart are from Chicago), but selecting Stewart was nonetheless
a gesture as shrewdly and coolly political as Kennedy’s pick of
Johnson. For in picking Stewart, Smith, too was bringing much-needed
unity to his party by selecting his bitterest opponent to run with
him. Furthermore, the party is now fully integrated, since Stewart
is a Negro. It is to be hoped that the irreconcilable extremists
on both sides of the fence will face the facts and close ranks.
are Bill Smith’s qualifications? Well, not the least is that Bill,
too, is a symbol of 1960’s New Men of Youth. Yes, Bill is a representative
of the post-war generation that is now staking its claim to political
power. In fact, Bill is 36, which is younger and therefore
more representative and more symbolic than even Jack Kennedy. Bill
is unmarried, not I take it for the usual squalid Bohemian reasons,
but because "when you declare war on the values of society,
it’s a hell of a thing to drag a women into it." Well, what
could be more forthright or heroic than that? Bill, like his Republican
and Democratic opponents, is also a veteran of World War II. But
Bill was not a PT-boat hero. Not quite. In fact, Bill Smith rather
proudly proclaimed that he was brought up five times on charges
of court martial. I submit that this is a most welcome change –
even a New Frontier. Not only does Bill Smith’s war record touch
a chord of American sentiment that has seldom been tapped by the
major party candidates, but we can be sure that Smith is a firm
anti-militarist, and will not lightly surrender the principle of
civilian control of the armed forces.
the real glory of the Beat Party is not so much that candidate as
the platform. Let me hasten to say that the platform is, at times,
vague and even inconsistent, but what platform isn’t? There is no
point in being too purist about all this; after all, every
platform is a compromise of contending interests. One plank calls
for "abolition of the working class," presumably a reference
to the future glories of automation. Another calls for a $10,000,000,000
subsidy to artists – apparently a sop to the socialist faction.
A third was a little unclear in transmission, but it called for
something like a "balanced debt" and a "repudiated
budget," instead of the other way around. (So, all right, do
you think Galbraith’s economics any better?) But the true
greatness of the Beat Party platform lies in its foreign policy
plank, and its main political philosophy plank. Both are the most
libertarian to be found in any party this year, if not any year.
The foreign policy position is remarkably clear-cut and free of
contradiction: absolute peace with all nations, because the "Beatniks
all-time purest libertarian plank, however, is the following: Bill
Smith pledges that, when elected, his first act will be the immediate
announcement of the dissolution of the Federal government.
His second act will be his instant resignation. No one, not Barry
Goldwater, not even J. Bracken Lee, will ever top that one.
so – Mr. And Mrs. Conservative, if you want a real choice
this year, if you are tired of the socialism of the Democrats and
the me-tooism of the Republicans, and if you have given up hope
of the third party that has been long promised and never fulfilled,
awake and take heart! There is a real choice this year, there
is a real third party in the field. Maybe it’s not everything you
hoped for, but in is by far the best you will have. So face the
facts of political life, and vote for Bill Smith for President and
Joffre Stewart for Vice-President. Don’t waste your vote again!
Rothbard was S.J. Hall Distinguished Professor of Economics at the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and vice-president for academic
affairs of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
Read Justin Raimondo’s biography of Rothbard,
An Enemy of the State, and Lew Rockwell’s collection, The