The Hero We Need
If Donald Trump is the bumbling billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne by day and the cut-throat, rule-breaking dark knight of politics by night using linguistic ninjitsu to disarm his opponents - and we already know he's Batman - then Austin Petersen is definitely Harvey Dent. The upstanding, clean-cut, pretty boy white knight who enjoys standing in the limelight and being a warrior of true justice.
Austin's a grass roots populist and a poster child for what modern libertarianism ought to be.
He's as peculiar as the heartland Missouri town into which he was born, whose motto is: "Where the odds are with you," and the odds are certainly with Austin Petersen in his bid for Senatorship in Missouri.
Like Trump, he understand trends and the power of optics. He's a master at political theatre and the art of trolling his opponents. He'll bend social conventions and expectations for strategic reasons, but his branding could not be more different than that of the New York business mogul. Petersen comes equipped with that country boy charm. He doesn't smoke weed despite wanting to end the drug war, he's always polite, and he doesn't even like swearing.
In fact, he's quick to apologize for even a light use of cuss words.
Yet he's not afraid to adopt Trumpian persuasion tactics, being one of the few, it seems, to have actually read and applied the negotiation strategies in Art of the Deal, the tactical keys of Art of War, the logician's toolset as described in Art of the Argument, as well as relying on his own experience in media and the fashion industry.
Austin may have strong ideals, but he's a political pragmatist. He gets what most libertarians don't, which is that optics matter. Pathos matters. Reaching people where they are matters. It's not enough to simply have solid facts and principles, you have to seed them on a carrier wave of emotion. No one will care about your platform if you deliver it poorly.
What good is it to spend all your time crafting a work of fine crystal if it shatters in transit?
I'd written about this in previous articles on Being Libertarian, that the Libertarian Party has a branding problem and a purity spiral problem. It may be morally consistent, but is so far beyond the pale for most people, so far outside social convention, that no one will take it seriously. It scares the average person who's been conditioned their whole lives to a certain way of thinking, and if you don't walk them back from the madness of statism by degrees, they will simply clam up, lock you out, and call you a fringe lunatic, because people aren't persuaded by facts, but by emotion.
This is something the left gets, but the right still doesn't.
Likewise, I'd also written that the LP - or any third party - is simply fighting an uphill battle within our First Past the Post System. That it'd be better to try and infiltrate one of the two main parties and shift their Overton Window towards a platform of individual liberty until we can fix it. Trump shifted from the Reform Party to the Republicans. Bernie is a fabian socialist but runs as a Democrat. Ron and Rand Paul are both libertarians at heart with R's next to their names.
(The only Independent we've had that I can recall was Joe Lieberman, but he was the except.)
Austin Petersen is one of the few people in the libertarian camp who genuinely gets both of these concepts - that feelings matter, and that you need to temper ideals with sound political strategy - and his profound success in the Missouri elections over McCaskill is well-rewarded for it.
If you want proof of his talents as a Master Persuader, look no further than his Omaha speech.
I first became aware of Austin back when I did an I Side With test some years ago. At the time, his name came up as the person whose views most closely resembled my own, which I thought was interesting, given I'd never heard of him before. I briefly looked up his policies and set that aside for a while, simply nodding that I could see the resemblance.
During the 2016 election, I paid very little attention to the LP primaries, focusing mostly on Trump, for reasons I've already mentioned. I knew that Austin was a frontrunner in the primaries alongside Gary Johnson and John McAfee, but that was about it.
I didn't even really watch the LP debates. It just all seemed irrelevant to me; and if I didn't care as an avowed libertarian, how much less did the general public care?
My next encounter with Austin wasn't until some months later when I watched his appearance on the Rubin Report. Once again, I was elated to see someone who finally understood what I'd been talking about. It was refreshing to hear someone else from the inside levy such necessary criticisms against fellow libertarians and the way they'd been embarrassing themselves.
I didn't agree with Austin on everything. Abortion and the Wall being two big ones, but I agreed with him on enough things - and more importantly on his ability to deliver them effectively - that, much like with Trump, I felt confident endorsing him as my guy. It was for this reason I began following him on Twitter, later adding him to my Portraits of Inspiration gallery, and I even donated regularly to his campaign despite not being from Missouri.
I'm not exactly sure if that's allowed, but I didn't see anything that said I couldn't, so ...
Austin was in fact the first political candidate I'd ever financially endorsed, even ahead of my own representatives in New Jersey. I vocally support Steve Lonegan on policy, for instance; but he's very lacking in terms of his use of the Persuasion Filter compared to, say, Kim Guadagno.
I suppose I should do my civic duty and try to help him out with that, shouldn't I?
Returning to Petersen, though, he may not be from my State, but the fact that he's running for Congress means he'll still represent my interests as a libertarian on a national level, and it's for that reason I'm throwing so much of my weight behind his campaign. Like Rand Paul, he's on my team in an ideological sense, and like Rand Paul, he knows how the play the game of thrones.
The two of them together would be a truly great asset. The two of them teaming up with Donald Trump would be even better, and we could begin to see this ship start to turn around away from globalism, away from neocon foreign policy, away from neoliberal fiscal policy, and away from Marxist moral busy-bodying.
And the three of them together would set a trend, wherein it'd be hard to deny their effectiveness and the fruits of their endeavors in spite of the machinations of the media-political complex working against these outsiders.
Imagine if they could make liberty cool again.
One of Austin's biggest promises is to introduce term limits for Congress. If he does nothing else, this alone will help drain the swamp of all the decrepit RINOs and DINOs currently in office who've been there for well over a decade at this point. The McConnells, the Pelosis, the Bernies, the McCains, and so forth. Trump may be one of the few Presidents who'd actually sign it as well.
Petersen has also promised to assist Rand Paul in finally FINALLY balancing the budget and cutting federal spending with the penny plan. The two of them are also against the failed, racist, wasteful war on drugs, the intrusive, rapey surveillance state, and the murderous, imperialistic war on terror.
Again, Trump may be one of the few Presidents who could be wooed into signing off on such legislation, meaning it'd only take a simple majority to get the job done.
This would be great for America, but even greater for the world at large, as the U.S. could once again become the shining city on the hill that Ronald Reagan talked about. Certainly, Western Europe needs the inspiration right now, particularly the UK, which is two steps shy of becoming an Orwellian State at this point. Petersen is leading in the polls, and if there's anything I can do to help spur that along, I'm more than happy to do it. I see no reason to doubt that Peterson is a man of his word, given how hard he works to stay in touch with his constituents. He's got that new CEO mentality.
I believe in Austin Petersen, and you should too.
Having said that, there are a few areas I think Austin can do even better, both for himself and for America. He's no doubt aware of some of these already, having retweeted some of my posts, but just in case - and for the benefit of the public as well - I'll go through them here.
Firstly, his use of the Big Ask with regards to the war on drugs and gun control is a very good move, right out of the Art of the Deal, but I would caution him to also make it known when it gets closer to crunch time his flexibility and his willingness to AB test these ideas. As a libertarian, this should not be too hard as we generally like decentralization. A stronger emphasis on starting off with legalizing weed and seeing how that goes will help encourage those skeptical of moving to harder stuff like heroine, much like Trump did on immigration, starting with "deport them all," to "3x DACA, but only if we get the Wall."
Speaking of the Wall ... I know Austin's against it, as are many open borders libertarians, because they view it as authoritarian to use force to prevent people from entering the country.
I would suggest that this mindset will ultimately harm libertarians in the long run and a better way of viewing it would be in terms of sovereignty - that one's country is much like their house. PEW data shows that migrants, particularly Hispanics, overwhelmingly vote in favor of Democrats, whose platform has predominantly been about expanding the size of government. If the globalists are allowed to have their way, this would make it impossible to win back control of the State, thus leading to creeping authoritarianism as the country slowly votes away our freedoms on a demographic basis.
Again, we can look to Europe as an example of what open borders bring.
That's not to say migrants can't be libertarian (about a third are undecided), just that they generally aren't for whatever reason, and we need to focus on controlled assimilation before we lose the values and institutions that made this country great in the first place. Towards that end, the Wall will go a long way towards stopping the bleeding:
If Petersen's concern is that taxation is theft and it's immoral to fund the Wall that way, why not join those Republicans looking to open the project up to crowdfunding and then use the money to purchase land in Southern border States? This would avoid the issue of eminent domain by effectively creating a private border wall that does the same thing, and which many Americans would be more than happy to pay for if it fixes the problem.
The amount we save just on welfare spending and on enforcement will be huge.
Third is abortion. I wrote about that already. I think the best approach would be to simply kick it to the States and untether Planned Parenthood from the federal government altogether. We prosecute rape and murder at a State level, there is no reason this has to be a federal issue and the only reason it is right now is because of taxes. Much like with the Wall, let those who want it fund it and those who don't can be left alone to use means other than government to persuade their fellow citizens on whatever social or moral axis they care to argue.
Same with Medicare and Medicaid. In the short term, if we can't abolish the welfare state, we can at least decentralize it, or at minimum block grant it to the several States.
This leads to my next point, which would be to try and propose a trade to the American people. To help reduce spending and get rid of welfare, consider introducing legislation that consolidates all welfare programs into a single, cheap, efficient universal basic income. I know that's not strictly libertarian, but in terms of direction, it would go a long way. No one gets kicked out on the streets and all they'd have to do is give up a bloated, bureaucratic, inefficient, wasteful, corrupt plethora of disparate welfare programs in order to get it.
I'm sure someone with Austin's persuasion skills could make that sale no problem if he had the facts behind him and the impetus to do it, which is easy enough to get.
Jordan Peterson and Bret Weinstein actually make a very compelling case for that:
Fourth is to get Americans to refocus on a culture of preventative, holistic health. We talk about health insurance all the time, but very little attention is given to actual health care and that is a huge deal.
I've written about this already on Being Libertarian and probably one of my next articles will talk about it more as well, as the public still doesn't seem to get this point. That the reason most people are sick isn't due to income or access so much as basic lack of knowledge of how their own bodies are designed to work and so you get Big Pharma cozied up to Big Government and then wonder why prices are so damned high. It's because the people themselves are making this more costly than it needs to be.
Rights and duties are correlated. Who pays the piper calls the tune.
I know that Austin understands the value of relying on social, religious, and market institutions apart from government. He knows better than to throw the baby out with the bath water and that just because you get rid of government doesn't mean an end to problems. These few issues would be prime examples of problems that need to be solved with a plurality of institutions.
Another thing that needs to be reinforced, especially now, is an emphasis on freedom of speech and free press. Austin is a great champion of gun rights and property rights. I would like to see that same fervor for freedom brought to issues like the government's treatment of people such as Count Dankula, Lauren Southern, Tommy Robinson, Brittany Pettibone, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and many others.
Censorship is prison. If you're not allowed to talk about something, you're already in jail.
If you're not allowed to say what you want when you want in a public space, or to hold the government accountable when it does the wrong thing, then we're already living under tyranny. At that point, it won't matter if you think the person you're talking to is a Nazi (and they most likely aren't), because the real Nazis will have already won. The same people whining about how Donald Trump is basically Hitler for rebuking the media remain strangely silent when the reporters and citizens I just mentioned get silenced by the government.
If you have no freedom of speech, it means the authoritarians are already in power. You don't have to look any further than that. It's why we have a First Amendment and I would love to see Austin use his voice to protect those without one, and to urge Donald Trump to do the same.
I'm sure he would have no problem with that.
Lastly, I would advise Austin to study transhumanism and technology, particularly where it intersects with liberty, and to use his skills as a Master Persuader to help start the essential discussions about it.
Regardless of whatever else we might do socio-politically, technological advancement will creep up on us sooner than we expect, and the human race isn't ready for it in the least. Not by a long shot. In the next twenty years, it's forecasted that automation will claim 47% of the jobs worldwide, putting us back into Depression levels of unemployment. Because of the limits of IQ and genetic factors of temperament, we won't be able to retrain the vast majority of people to find new jobs (hence another short-term use for UBI).
Even if we could, technology improves exponentially whereas humans learn linearly. So even if we get new job sectors opening up in twenty years, by the next fifty years, robots will be designing and building themselves more or less, making humans all the more obsolete.
That is a big, big problem that hardly anyone in the government is talking about.
Austin's smart, he's charismatic, he's young, he knows persuasion, he knows libertarian values. I think people like him, Michael Shellenberger, and a few others could really be the next wave of politicians that help bring us into the technological age.
Whether Austin adopts these suggestions or not, I've full confidence in his ability to win and that he'll leave the country in a much better place than when he found it. And since you seem to enjoy speaking in bumper stickers, Austin, I've got a slogan you might like. I think it fits you rather well. Feel free to use for your next Presidential run:
A Future of Freedom for All
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