Thoughts On Candidate "leadership"

by Thomas L. Knapp - Date: 2008-06-20 - Word Count: 673 Share This!

" I don't want you to follow me or anyone else. I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I could lead you in, somebody else would lead you out." -- Eugene Debs

As a candidate for Vice-President of the United States, I don't see myself as a "leader" per se. I'm not asking anyone to follow me. Rather, I'm pointing the way to a better place and asking voters to come with me to that place -- even, in effect, to carry me to that place on their shoulders by casting their vote for me (and, of course, for the candidate whose running mate I am). The nature of any "better place" in electoral politics is such that either we all get there together, or none of us gets there at all. Yes, this raises important questions about the value of electoral politics -- but that's the game we're playing, so let's understand the rules.

So ... why bother? As a candidate of a new, small "third party" I probably have a better chance of propelling myself to the moon by sticking my head between my knees and exhaling than of moving into a new residence at the Naval Observatory next January. I have no expectation that Charles Jay and I shall ride on your shoulders down Pennsylvania Avenue to an inauguration ceremony after November's election.

The simple answer is: Everything starts somewhere, and sometimes it has to start again and again and again before it really gets going.

My purpose as a vice-presidential candidate is to help find more shoulders for the next ticket to ride on. It's to help define the battle lines, to persuade as many of you as possible to the right side of those lines, and to arm you with a weapon: Your vote -- your check mark next to the names of candidates who stand for freedom, who stand with the productive class versus the political class, who are on your side, not just on a checklist of policy issues (although that's important, too) but on the fundamental question of who is entitled to run your life.

Voting for the Boston Tea Party's ticket this November constitutes a powerful moral statement that only you can make, and only for yourself. It is an announcement that you -- not the state, not the state's agents, not the state's cronies, not the parasitic "power elites," but you alone -- own your mind, your body and the product of your labor, and that you intend to exercise and defend that ownership.

That statement's value is not dependent upon how many people make it. Its value subsists in the act of you standing up to make it. Candidates and parties are mere lightning bugs -- your declaration of self-ownership is the lightning bolt.

Yes, the numbers are important in making that statement stick -- but that's where "leadership" comes in. Charles Jay is not the "leader." I'm not the "leader," either. YOU are your own leader, if you need one. Charles Jay, myself and the party we represent, are nothing more or less than convenient labels which we invite YOU to offer those around you as a tool for making the same statement, and taking the same leadership role, for themselves. The entire value of a libertarian political party or candidacy lies in its function as a metaphorical flag for people of like mind to gather round. The flag is not the parade. You, and those who march with you, are.

Remember this well: If the day comes when a BTP (or other allegedly libertarian) presidential slate rides down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the inauguration stage, that party and those candidates will not have set you free -- you and your fellows will have set yourselves free, or at least taken a giant step toward doing so. The candidates and the party will remain nothing more than labels representing YOUR decision to seize the day and seize your freedom. And if for any reason you are ever forced to choose between the label and the substance, I hope the correct choice is obvious.

Related Tags: politics, election 2008, libertarian, boston tea party

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