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Occam's Banana

How I Became a Libertarian

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Quote Originally Posted by Occam's Banana View Post
C-SPAN did it for me. Or, at least, C-SPAN was the vehicle that delivered the libertarian payload ...

The very first time I ever heard the word "libertarian" was in 1980 when Ed Clark ran for POTUS as the Libertarian Party candidate. I saw one of the TV ads aired by the campaign. I had absolutely no idea what a "libertarian" was or what the word meant. My reaction was surprised delight and bafflement. I had never, ever heard of anything except Democrats & Republicans, and the idea of there being something else was really "neat." I gave the matter no thought or attention beyond this, though. I was only 12 years old at the time, so my awareness of politics was not exactly what you could call "sophisticated." I was much more interested in the really important things in life - like riding my bike around town & hanging out with my friends.

While the government-school education I received was by no means terrible, I had no idea what it meant to say that one was a Republican or a Democrat, and I could not have told you the difference between a "conservative" and a "liberal" if my life had depended on it. When we got cable TV at home, I became an avid watcher of things like CNN's World Report & Crossfire. Crossfire provided the invaluable service of teaching me that I was NOT a Republican, Democrat, liberal, OR conservative - I seemed to agree & disagree with them all in more or less equal measure. I therefore came to the conclusion that I must be a "moderate independent" (how wishy-washy is that, hey?). I was in high school at the time, and I was a huge science fiction fan. So it will come as no suprise that the "big issues" for me were federal college financial aid and the space program (NASA). I was very much in favor of both, of course. Also, I thought Social Security seemed kinda dumb. Other than that, I had no particular political opinions - certainly not in terms of fundamental political philosophy. My political views were still not what you could call "sophisticated."

That all changed when I saw the Libertarian National Convention on C-SPAN in 1983. I stumbled across it while channel-surfing. Recalling my thrill at those Ed Clark "Libertarian" ads (which I had not thought of at all since seeing them), I realized that "Hey! This must be the same thing! How about that?" So I watched. out of nothing more than curiosity. I became interested enough that I even sent off for more information using the contact information provided by C-SPAN. The promotional & introductory material sent to me by the Libertarian Party eventually led me to Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, and all the other usual suspects. And that, as they say, was "all she wrote" ...

This is not to suggest, however, that my metamorphosis into libertarianism (and eventually, anarcho-capitalism) was an "overnight" thing, however. It was a relatively slow & gradual process that progressed as I learned more & more over the ensuing years. Remember, there was no World Wide Web back then - so my progress was limited by things like "snail mail" and having to save enough money to order books and such. But the process was essentially complete by 1988, when I was old enough to vote in my first election (I voted for Ron Paul, of course).

Updated 12-04-2012 at 07:48 AM by Occam's Banana

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