Friday, October 5, 2012

Jesse Walker discusses libertarianism

I was interested in the dialogue that New York magazine posted the other day between MSNBC's Chris Hayes and Jesse Walker, a Reason magazine editor who often pops up in these pages. I thought the discussion on Walker's libertarian views was particularly interesting, inasmuch as he's trying to explain himself to someone who isn't a libertarian.

I liked this:

Jesse: One thing I've learned from the left is that social movements are ultimately more important than electoral politics. Obviously that isn't an either/or thing. But in the end I'm more interested in building a movement that can pressure politicians who don't agree with me than installing politicians who do agree with me.

Also this exchange:

Jesse: Have you ever voted third party? Not counting fusion votes.

Chris: I have.

Jesse: Who?

Chris: I cast my first vote for president for Ralph Nader in N.Y., in 2000. Had I been in a swing state, I would have voted for Gore.

Jesse: I almost always vote third party. I have voted for the Libertarian Party's nominee in every presidential election of my lifetime, save one. And more often than not, I think they've put up a terrible candidate. You have to hold your nose pretty tight to vote for a guy like Andre Marrou. But I did it anyway, telling myself I was registering a generic protest vote for liberty rather than a specific protest vote for the standard-bearer. So you could make the case that I'm a lesser-evil voter, too.

Chris didn't ask Jesse the obvious follow-up question: Who was the one Libertarian candidate you couldn't bring yourself to vote for? So I wrote Jesse and asked. His answer:

In my first election I voted for Dukakis. While I had my problems with Ron Paul, I prefer him to most of the nominees that I *did* vote for; I just wasn't ready to fully abandon the major parties yet.

This leads me to post another question. Does anyone know if Robert Anton Wilson ever voted for a Libertarian Party candidate for president?


Eric Wagner said...

I don't know if Bob ever voted for a Libertarian for president. I think he voted Democrat in 1988 & 1992 & perhaps 1996. I remember telling him in 1988 that George Bush scared me, and he said, "He scares me to." Bob said in 1988 he hadn't voted in the last few presidential elections. If he voted in 2000 and/or 2004, I don't think he voted for a Democrat or a Republican. I remember some people hassled him for not voting for a Democrat against George W. Bush.

Jesse said...

He did indeed vote for Dukakis, arguing that "Duke and Kitty are wonderful names. They sound like a pimp and his top hooker." He added, however, that he was "deeply suspicious of Dukakis because he once taught at Harvard but still sounds as dumb as Bush on most issues."

Bobby Campbell said...

I met RAW just before the 2004 election, I doubt he voted himself, but he did express hope that Kerry would win. Lesser of 2 evils style. Which surprised me bc his public opinion seemed to be that both parties were lying bastards and fuck the whole system.

I think it'd be cool if a bunch of 3rd party candidates banded together to campaign for electoral reform. Something like 'instant runoff voting' maybe. Multiple niche candidates running a campaign, not for personal gain, but rather systemic change. Otherwise what are they even doing, really?

Jesse said...

In 2004 he said he planned to write in himself.

jwthomas said...

Great idea! Write in RAW for the current Presidential election. He's no deader than the two "major" party candidates. I was planning to vote for either Gary Johnson or Jill Stein (I'm not an ideologue :)) but the RAW write in might be more fun.