This analogy was first proposed by Gene Burns, a candidate for the LP presidential nomination in 1983, as a railroad train, but I prefer a bus because the route is not as fixed. We can think of our country as a bus traveling on a road going east and the further east we go the more authoritarian our government becomes. We reach totalitarianism when we get to the Atlantic Ocean. Currently I put us somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains.
The bus is currently driven by the duopoly and they are firmly committed to an easterly direction. The Democrats might want to speed up a bit and head a bit more northeasterly and the Republicans might want to slow down a bit for better mileage and head a bit more to the Southeast; but make no mistake about it, they are both heading east. They are protected by their voters, who are sitting up by the driver enjoying the view and not worrying about the final destination.
Most people on the bus have never thought about where we are headed, think we are a lot further from the ocean than we are, or figure that there is no way to do anything about it. The Libertarian Party is the only group trying to turn the bus around and head it toward the freedom of the Pacific Ocean. Currently the LP is predominantly made up of people who want to go as far as Sacramento (minarchists) and those wanting to go to the coast (anarchists). Many of these people show little tolerance for anyone wanting to stop at any point before Sacramento. Their strategy is to spend any outreach efforts to either find those who already agree with their destination or convince people that the only acceptable destination is between Sacramento and the Pacific coast. All the time that they have been fighting among themselves and looking for their political soulmates, the bus has moved closer and closer to the Atlantic.
I believe that until the LP gains control of the bus and starts it heading West, the battle over the final destination is a waste of effort. Unless a person is happy with the government we currently have or wants to expand it, they should be welcomed into the Libertarian Party. The LP must stop pandering to itself and its internal interests and focus on taking control of the bus and heading it west. We cannot hope to begin heading to Sacramento if we drive away anyone who wants to head west but does not at this time want to go that far. We need to welcome people who want to go only as far as Las Vegas, as Denver, as Kansas City, as Saint Louis, even only as far as Columbus Ohio.
Only in this manner do I believe the LP can become large enough soon enough to have a political impact on our nation. Let us focus on turning the bus around. When we get to Columbus, I believe that most who originally wanted to only go that far will want to go further. If not, I suspect they will leave the LP and the rest of us will continue to try and drive the bus further west. The purpose of the LP is not to provide a stable and comfortable home for ourselves, but to change the arc of history and save our nation from tyranny. Our Country needs us and it needs us NOW.
Joe Hauptmann for LNC Vice-chair