Populism In Microcosm

The U.S. Libertarian convention has chosen its presidential nominee, i.e., has chosen the man who will be the flagbearer for freedom defined as the liberty to get stoned or marry your dog — if that is your “rational preference.” There was one moment in Chase Oliver’s acceptance speech — captured and disseminated by Al Jazeera, for obvious reasons — when the new figurehead of the Loony Party (a thirty-eight-year-old “openly gay” former Obama supporter) gave his oh-so-freedom-loving version of the standard Libertarian “Death to America!” speech. In this moment (which you can watch here), we see the entire meaning of populism, and indeed of today’s democratic politics in general, encapsulated.

Oliver, in his best mock-angry ranting voice, points his finger at no one in particular while spewing out these barely formed thoughts: “I will be the only national candidate — RFK won’t, Joe Biden won’t, Donald Trump won’t — but I’m saying right now, [garbled verb, presumably “end”] genocide, ceasefire now, and support peace around the world. No more proxy wars.”

As he stares at his notes trying to find what he is supposed to pretend to be passionate about next, a woman’s voice in the crowd is heard shouting “Bring the hostages home!” Oliver looks up and responds, as though this went without saying, “Absolutely, free the hostages too.” As though an anti-Nazi speaker in 1937 had shouted, “End this extermination campaign against the Jews!” but then added, “And stop the Jews from corrupting German society, of course.”

There you have it. The leader of the Libertarian Party supports peace and dislikes war. In addition, he wants to end the genocide supposedly being carried out against the Palestinians, but of course he’d like to see the Israeli hostages released too — not as a condition for “ending the genocide,” mind you, but just as an afterthought, and to make sure all voters hear him say something that appeals to them. And because of course why wouldn’t Hamas release the hostages? After all, they would be so relieved at achieving a ceasefire and hence the cessation of the genocide being carried out against their people, and would thus certainly listen respectfully to the unscripted throwaway line of an American candidate who will get less than one percent of the popular vote and who, if he actually could gain power, is promising to detach America from all foreign concerns and to leave the rest of the world to its own devices. And naturally this great leader wants no more proxy wars, although one wonders whether he has a position on the non-proxy wars that would be certain to come America’s way in short order were she to close all overseas military bases, as Oliver proposes, and adopt a “not our problem” attitude towards all foreign conflict.

I wonder if Chase Oliver has heard of long-range missiles and nuclear bombs. No no, lose that grin, my libertarian friends; I said bombs, not bongs.

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