The woman with the twenty-dollar bill.

The woman* in question was at Norm Dicks‘ (D, WA-06, D+5) town hall, and dared the Congressman to take her money.  As in, she brandished a twenty dollar bill and told Dicks to come and get it, if he wanted her money so badly.

(See also Hot Air and Ace of Spades HQ.)

Which Dicks of course did not, being a Democratic career politician whose instincts have rusted over the years. What the woman meant by all of this is addressed below.

I will conceal nothing from you: while some of my best friends are libertarians, I’m not one, particularly – and I’m less of one than when I was younger.  But I know enough about them to recognize one when I see one; and this particular speaker was pretty clearly a libertarian.  And while I’m also not the sort to have memorized Lysander Spooner, I can recognize his arguments when they show up, too:

The fact is that the government, like a highwayman, says to a man: “Your money, or your life.” And many, if not most, taxes are paid under the compulsion of that threat.

The government does not, indeed, waylay a man in a lonely place, spring upon him from the roadside, and, holding a pistol to his head, proceed to rifle his pockets. But the robbery is none the less a robbery on that account; and it is far more dastardly and shameful.

The highwayman takes solely upon himself the responsibility, danger, and crime of his own act. He does not pretend that he has any rightful claim to your money, or that he intends to use it for your own benefit. He does not pretend to be anything but a robber. He has not acquired impudence enough to profess to be merely a “protector,” and that he takes men’s money against their will, merely to enable him to “protect” those infatuated travellers, who feel perfectly able to protect themselves, or do not appreciate his peculiar system of protection. He is too sensible a man to make such professions as these. Furthermore, having taken your money, he leaves you, as you wish him to do. He does not persist in following you on the road, against your will; assuming to be your rightful “sovereign,” on account of the “protection” he affords you. He does not keep “protecting” you, by commanding you to bow down and serve him; by requiring you to do this, and forbidding you to do that; by robbing you of more money as often as he finds it for his interest or pleasure to do so; and by branding you as a rebel, a traitor, and an enemy to your country, and shooting you down without mercy, if you dispute his authority, or resist his demands. He is too much of a gentleman to be guilty of such impostures, and insults, and villainies as these. In short, he does not, in addition to robbing you, attempt to make you either his dupe or his slave.

I present this passage not because I really agree with it – it’s, ah, a touch extremist – but because I’m pretty sure that the woman* who went after Dicks agrees with it more than I do; and it behooves conservatives to see what our libertarian cousins are doing with the growing populist movement out there. The short version is, they’re influencing its underlying message.  There have been some very silly people out there who have decided that the movement symbolized by the Tea Party meme is somehow beneath their notice as conservatives; too unwashed, too uncivilized, too loud.  So they’ve consciously disassociated themselves with it – and subconsciously assumed that, without their association, the movement will lack the intellectual framework that it needs to grow and thrive.  Which was a blunder only surpassed by the Democratic party’s decision to follow the lead of the progressives and attack the movement using the crudest sexual terms; because if a movement truly needs an intellectual underpinning, it’ll go out and get one – and the libertarians were more than happy to oblige.

Does this mean a third party is coming?  No.  The Libertarian party is simply not designed to win national elections; and most of the population instinctively operates in a two-party paradigm that won’t be broken this election cycle, this decade, or quite possibly my lifetime.  But just because the Republican party will be stronger after next year’s elections doesn’t mean that it has to resemble the Republican party that we have now… or the Republican party that mainline conservatives themselves wish to institute.  So some people may want to reconsider how engaged they actually want to be, if they want to be engaged in January 2011…

Moe Lane

*Who may be Liberty Belle of Redistributing Knowledge.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.