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When to raise the Big Government card versus the Liberty card
As an audience member playing the game Who’s Driving?, it is essential to distinguish when the Libertarian interviewee appears to be in control -- and when he or she is actually in control, or driving the conversation.
If the Libertarian appears to be “winning the debate,” makes clever arguments or effectively rebuts the Interviewer’s assertions, he or she is not necessarily driving the conversation. Big Government is usually driving because the discussion is usually about today’s Big Government or in response to about proposals to expand Big Government.
Liberty is driving only when the Libertarian interviewee is controlling the conversation by generating discussion about a specific Libertarian solution for less government.
When the Libertarian allows the conversation to be about existing Big Government, or proposals for more Big Government, she is not driving the conversation, but reacting. She is leaving Big Government is in the driver’s seat, so the Big Government cards stay up.
If the Libertarian lays out a specific Libertarian solution, and if the Interviewer responds to it and starts to refute its legitimacy, the Liberty cards stay up because the Libertarian interviewee has taken control of the interview by keeping it focused on a proposal for less government and more freedom. Regardless of whether the Interviewer discredits her proposal effectively.
In other words, it’s not about whose arguments are more compelling but whose agenda is being discussed.
If the Interviewer changes the subject, and the Libertarian neglects to change it back to a Libertarian solution, Liberty is no longer driving. The Big Government cards go up.
When the Libertarian’s proposed solution is clearly the focus of discussion, the Liberty cards go up. If it’s not clear, then the Libertarian has not succeeded in putting a Libertarian solution firmly on the table and is not advancing a Libertarian agenda. The Big Government cards go up.
In order to judge which cards should go up, the audience members should be continually asking themselves, “Are they talking about a specific solution to shrink Big Government right now?” If the discussion is about anything other than a specific Libertarian solution, the Big Government cards go up and stay up.
The Need to Distinguish Platitudes from Action
If the Libertarian talks in terms of what he believes, supports, favors, or is for, he is not advancing a Libertarian solution and will fail to distinguish himself from his Big Government opponents.
Republicans say they “believe in the free market” and “favor tax cuts.” A Libertarian who does no more than talk in platitudes, he is no different from a Republican in the eyes of voters and, in fact, is not offering them anything more.
But when a Libertarian proposes a bold reduction in government, such as ending the income tax now, the Republican will oppose it 99+% of the time. The Libertarian therefore contrasts himself sharply to the Republican, revealing to voters which one is the true friend of the taxpayer.
Democrats say they “support” civil liberties. A Libertarian who says something similar is not offering to expand civil liberty and will appear no different from the Democrat to voters.
But if a Libertarian proposes the full and immediate repeal of FISA, the Patriot Act and NDAA, the Democrat will oppose these measures 99+% of the time. The Libertarian therefore contrasts himself sharply to the Democrat, revealing to voters which one is genuinely in favor of protecting citizens’ rights and privacy.
Therefore whenever the Libertarian merely talks about what he believes in, wants, favors, is for, or supports, the Big Government cards stay up.
The Liberty cards go up only when the Libertarian articulates specific actions, e.g., “If elected, I will propose and work to advance legislation to immediately end the state income tax.”
Articulating specific proposals to shrink government not only differentiates the Libertarian from his Big Government opponents. They also serve to give him the leverage he needs to implement those proposals if elected.
A Libertarian who gets elected on “favoring tax cuts” has no real mandate for change. But a Libertarian who gets elected on immediately ending the state income tax has a voter mandate to advance a bill in the legislature to actually end the tax.