When I was sixteen years old — only one year after my conversion to Catholicism — I began looking into religion more seriously as a result of a persistent twinge of reason which plagues me to this day. Determined to avoid Atheists and Theists on principle, I instead looked to Thomas Henry Huxley and John Shelby Spong, an Agnostic biologist and a dissenting Episcopalian Bishop respectively. In conference with these two minds, I discovered myself for an Atheist, but also stumbled upon the first truly intellectual concept of my life: it is possible that each and everyone one of us is “right” in every way, shape and form.
From those early days of intellectual curiosity, thumbing through Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change Or Die” and growing my understanding of the individual, I’ve sought autonomy in all aspects of my life. In short, it was no surprise to the few people who know me that I was attracted to the Libertarian Party. I’m a spiritual Atheist. I’m an intelligent idiot. I’m an optimistic cynic. Where else could I go?
I’ve loved the Party. It was a tent big enough to house possibilities, a place that wasn’t crowded with rhetoric and closed-mindedness and half-truths.
And then it happened: my partner informed me that Bill Maher is not — no way, no how — a libertarian.
Imagine my surprise. After all, Maher’s been something of a personal hero to me since my relative youth. If I knew and loved anyone, it was Lewis Black.. But Bill Maher … he was, like, second runner-up. To George Carlin. But I digress.
If Maher isn’t a libertarian, his balls certainly are. With a radical perspective on the Drug War, his much appreciated sneering at feminism and his abhorrence of religion in politics, Maher evidences a sound, logical acceptance of the libertarian philosophy as outlined on the Libertarian Party’s site: “Live and let live.” Unfortunately, my day-to-day experience with card-carrying members of the Libertarian Party indicates a considerably different perspective on the libertarian philosophy: “Live and let live … or else.”
Why would members of a “Party Of Principle” with the aforementioned philosophy exclude other people from their little club because they disagree on a few matters? Why is a platform more important than a fresh idea? Why is youthful intellectual curiosity discouraged among a group of people who profess to want YOU to THINK?
The more “radical” Libertarians — the biggest L’s among us — play a major role in the advancement of the Party in the future. Unfortunately, the readiness and enthusiasm with which they attack their own people distracts them from constructive efforts which only they are capable of carrying out. Like attacking politicians and bringing about actual change.
This year, I made the decision not to renew my membership to the party. Not only am I broke, but I’ve also had as much time since I joined the party to think about what it’s members really stand for as I did between my conversion to Catholicism and picking up Spong’s book. And you know what? It’s high-time “radical” Libertarians backed off. Otherwise, you’re going to have a lot of room in that tent.