I pride myself on not being an ethnocentric American. I have traveled the world and served in third World Countries. I studied Anthropology in college and keep myself abreast of most world events. But as we libertarians spout a return to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and balance of power in the government, we look at the world through our red, white and blue glasses with no view for understanding-myself included.
A case in point is our harsh judgment of UKIP (United Kingdom Independent Party) as libertarians. They are touted as the Libertarian party of the UK, yet most American libertarians when presented with their party platforms and listening to their speeches, give them a “thumbs down” in the Libertarian assessment pool. UKIP is making some huge strides in the political realm of Great Britain. Their membership has reached a whopping 28% in EU elections (where they recently won their first seats) and polling at 15% in the general elections. Its American counterpart polls around 8%. This is especially impressive considering UKIP is about 20 years younger than the US Libertarian Party.
The reality of my skewed interpretation of UKIP hit me between the eyes or, I suppose ears, recently as I listened to Robin Koerner of Blue Republican Radio as he interviewed the Chair of UKIP, Steven Crowther. http://dailypaulradio.com/ukip-libertarian-interview-stephen-crowther/
We, as Americans, measure liberty by our culture and our Americanized view of the world. Two of the measures of liberty we fight for are freedom to bear arms and free market health care. We view both of these as an important measure of limiting government and, therefore, important libertarian issues.
When presented with these issues Mr. Crowther could not comprehend them as an important libertarian issue. In the culture of the UK, a society free of weapons (even in the case of the police) and unlimited free health care, is a benevolent function of government. It was in his view almost revered.
Never mind the fact that more medical breakthroughs have happened thanks to the free market medical system of the US. There is also the American clichéd view of Brits not having straight white teeth like the American obsession due to their social medicine. Had the British soldier who was knifed to death by militant Islamists been armed, he wouldn’t have lost his life. But I digress back to my American paradigm.
In any case listening to Mr. Crowther’s confusion at Mr. Koerner’s insistence on the importance of these issues for liberty caused me to recognize my own bias and lack of understanding of the differences between us.
It also struck me that if we strive for liberty in all areas we may be like the lion in the circus, who when presented with the three legged stool, not knowing which one to focus on, is controlled by the trainer. Maybe, like UKIP, who focus on getting out of the EU and immigration reform, we can take a few key issues, that are most important to Americans-like privacy and decriminalizing drug use. Then we can win them over for Liberty and a better America.
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