When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.
When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.
Act for the people’s benefit.
Trust them; leave them alone.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 75, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
Today’s chapter is probably my all-time favorite chapter. It really puts the libertarian in libertariantaoist for me. With only eighty-one chapters in the Tao Te Ching, and this being chapter seventy-five, Lao Tzu is getting in some of his last lessons on the art of governing. It isn’t like he hasn’t said these things many times before. You, would-be leaders, say you want to act for the people’s benefit. But, talk is meaningless, when you don’t act for the people’s benefit. For, if you did, Lao Tzu insists, you would trust them; and leave them alone.
I am in the midst of a debate with myself, over whether I like the fact, none of the candidates running for U.S. President can be taken seriously; or, whether I should be concerned, none of the candidates running for U.S. president can be taken seriously. It is so easy to lampoon them all. Every last one of them. Yet, I know there are people who are taking this very seriously. And, they think I should be, too. But, I can’t. I just can’t.
The circus had only two rings for so long; until Gary Johnson announced his candidacy. And, on the same day he announced his intention to run, he also announced his desire to ban the wearing of a certain Muslim woman’s attire. This, from the candidate who promised he was going to be a spokesperson for individual liberty.
Now, I know, the very next day he admitted his error. And, kudos to him, for realizing his mistake, admitting it, and correcting it. But, it certainly wasn’t the best of ways to kick off a campaign. And, it just highlighted, for me, the circus has three rings, now. Can we, really, take any of these candidates seriously? The gibberish that poured out of Sarah Palin’s mouth as she came out to endorse Trump as the “anti-establishment” candidate made me wonder, just how much crazy can be allowed on one stage.
I know some of you think Trump will be the most entertaining of possible choices for president. And, you are probably right. But, all of them, each and every one of them, is so bat-shit crazy, I just wonder how many bait and switches are going to be pulled off by the two most powerful parties before November 8th finally gets here. Who knows who will end up getting the nomination of either of those two parties?
I know of plenty of people who are feeling the Bern. But I understand enough about electoral politics to understand the electorate doesn’t choose who gets the nomination. I don’t think anyone fearful of Bernie’s democratic socialism has anything to fear. Hillary certainly has the advantage when it comes to electoral politics. The Democratic establishment is still solidly behind her. Why? I don’t understand. I think it is likely Republicans will retain control of Congress; and, I think a Hillary presidency would only be spent on endless impeachment hearings. That leads me to believe, at the last possible minute, someone else will be brought in to replace her.
The libertarian in me wonders, if a Hillary presidency wouldn’t be the best of outcomes. Government could actually grind to a halt. On the other hand, I would be interested in seeing any Republican get elected, even Trump, if I thought the Democrats could regain control of Congress, and actually offer anything more than token resistance to them.
That is the libertarian in me. Who would be happy to see less government intrusion in our lives, instead of more. But, who am I kidding? I can’t even kid myself. It doesn’t matter whether our would-be leaders are Democrats or Republicans, they don’t really understand, or care, when taxes are too high, people go hungry. They have interests of their own, not the people’s, and taxes are going to go up, up, up to enrich the political class, regardless who gets elected come November.
I think that is why I can’t bring myself to take the freak show seriously. We laugh at them, because it is our spirit’s very last defense. The government has been too intrusive for far too long, with no signs of ever letting up. All our leaders, and would-be leaders, only pay lip service to civil libertarians’ demands for some kind of break from all the intrusion. The people are losing, or have already lost, their spirit. And, maybe, that is a good thing, as well. Something is bound to eventually be the catalyst for real change. Still, I think we have a long way to go. How much worse can things get? We will soon find out. That revolution of unlearning our dependence on authority cannot come too soon for me. Even if THEY won’t trust us, we better learn to trust ourselves.