An Open Letter to Austin Peterson
Every few years in the world of politics a messiah emerges. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ron Paul have all shared that status, carrying the hopes and dreams of an entire political movement on their shoulders. While Ron Paul was a Republican, he inspired a movement and taught millions of people how to identify themselves politically and ideologically as libertarians.
While libertarianism and the Libertarian Party (LP) are not new to the political landscape, the recent growth of the LP has been explosive. Since approximately 2007 the LP has gained traction within the American body politic, becoming the third-largest political party in the United States, with chapters all over the world and its very own emerging cadre of superstar saviors.
One in particular, Austin Petersen—that darling libertarian, who with his charming smile, sharp wit, silver tongue, a virtual cult following within the liberty movement, and who managed to achieve runner-up for the LP nomination for President of the United States behind two former state governors—has done the unthinkable. He has defected to the Republican Party.
For those of us who follow Petersen, and understand that he was never a paragon of libertarianism but nonetheless held him in high regard as a pinnacle player in the rise of the LP, this defection is a heavy blow. While his views on military policy and the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP) often seem less than libertarian, Petersen still stood in the middle of the tent as a pragmatic libertarian and necessary in the elevation of the LP as a viable political party. He maintained political positions that appealed to the entire spectrum of political beliefs while remaining generally true to the principles of liberty. These are the politicians the LP needs as candidates; not philosophers, purists, or anarchists, but people with broad appeal. The LP needed Peterson, a man who can stand upon a pyramid, shouting to the masses, rousing the rebels to free themselves, all the while pleasing the populist nature of contemporary politics with answers born in liberty. The LP needs that lady-in-the-streets, but the freak-in-the-sheets type of politician who can say the things needed to gain support and be electable, while secretly plotting to set their constituency free and move the needle of liberty forward. That person, that man, that politician, was exemplified in Petersen.
After all, the LP is not an activist group or a think-tank, but a political party whose goal is to get candidates elected to office. The LP would have rallied behind Peterson in a way that has not yet been seen in our movement. The LP is full of extremely hard working, passionate libertarians who sacrifice every single day for the cause of liberty and there is no doubt those people would have poured support toward Peterson. In his farewell letter to the LP, Peterson cited the desires and wishes of supporters who are Democrat, Republican, Independent and Libertarian. But why? If they supported him as a libertarian before defecting, would they not have continued to do so? Of course they would have, which makes his farewell suspect, to say the least. The truth is that the duopoly always, always, always, attempts—usually successfully—to nullify any potential threat by offering the threat the keys to the kingdom, if only they sign the dotted line and swear fealty to their oppressor. Peterson should have seen the offer for what it was; the recognition of him as a threat, and as a viable, worthy opponent.
Peterson may view many of the LP opinions on his defection as simply sour grapes from a jilted bride, but his actions have cut so much deeper than that. So often the LP is looked upon as not being a viable political party or being a party full of infighting and power struggles, and that may be true to some extent, but why is that the case? Because the duopoly controls ballot access, controls the narrative through media and they pour every resource available into forcing the LP into a corner of hopelessness. After all, how will the LP ever become viable if their best and brightest are lured to defect, or persuaded to neglect the very party that represents them, elevates them, and supports them? So, to Austin Peterson, the following message is for you.
You have betrayed the party that loved you. While you may take many LP supporters with you and feel as though you won, know that you have not, nor will you. You have gone from messiah to pariah and joined forces with the Devil himself. You have joined the party of endless war, the drug war, the perpetual and omnipotent state, the prison industrial complex, the military industrial complex, the corporatism of a republic, and the power that controls and destroys the world through tyranny. You have joined the party that does more harm to society, liberty, and the world than any single organization in the history of mankind. The worst part is that you know it. You have traded your principles for the prospect of a win. You have traded the hope of a party for an idea of power. And regardless of the mental gymnastics you must use to justify it, the truth is that even if you win, you will be forced to constantly trade principle to retain power. So, enjoy your feast, but know that it is poisoned.