Baffled by why statists think the way they do, and why they still brush off libertarianism? It’s all about psychology, and how people view government. In this three-part series, I explain the three central arguments libertarians need to make to win over progressives and other statists.
Most non-libertarians, especially progressives, make three inherent assumptions about the United States government. They assume that our government has our best interests at heart, is inherently transparent, and is fundamentally representative. Those core beliefs explain why they can see government behaving badly, see the NSA and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and a thousand other messes, and still vote for more government.
They see those actions as the exception, occasional mistakes by our otherwise benevolent elected officials.
Want to convert a statist? Tackle these three assumptions. My first two blogs argued that government is selfish and non-transparent. On to assumption three: government represents us.
This is often the anchor of the statist belief in government: the idea that our government works for us. That we vote officials into office in order to serve our needs, and if and when they stop doing so, we can replace them. However, the majority of those wielding power in Washington are unelected and often unknown. We as citizens don’t get to vote for the head of the FBI or the EPA. We have no control over which lobbyists help write which laws or entertain which Congressmen. Any list of the top 10 most powerful officials in Washington would have to include the president’s chief of staff, but most Americans have no idea who Denis McDonough even is.
In 2010, there were 2.65 million federal employees. We elected 537 of them. 100 Senators, 435 Congressmen, the President, and