Why do people get involved in political campaigns and movements? Some do it because they’re trying to change things, either nationally or as it relates to some local issue they care about, but the biggest percentage of them are simply political junkies.
When I look back at the people I dealt with while I worked in politics for two decades, it’s really obvious that most of them were in politics for one simple reason. They loved the game. They might have paid lip service to the idea of making the world a better place — they might have even believed it — and they were definitely ideologues to one degree or another. But most were simply addicted to the thrill of being around the intrigue of the struggle for political power.
Most of us grew up being taught that “good citizens” are informed about news and involved with politics. If you’re one of those who’s attracted to power and is thrilled to be near those who have it, there’s no better excuse to indulge yourself. You’re just being a good citizen. You deserve a pat on the back as you name-drop about the people you’ve met. But it’s a game. It’s about the chase for power and ego gratification. You either become a political professional and get paid for or else it becomes a hobby for you.
Since I write and talk about political ideas, it confuses many people that I no longer care about politics. Many of those who generally agree with me about the sort of future I would like to see are confused that I don’t promote political advocacy and that I actively discourage people from participating.
Let me try one more time to explain why politics is no longer my hobby.
My reasons fall into two categories. First, I don’t believe in the possibility of making meaningful changes through the political process and I don’t believe in the morality of the system anyway. Second, I have better and more productive things to do with my time.
When I started working in politics, I told myself that I was doing it because I could make a difference. When I look back, I see absolutely nothing I did in 20 years that mattered. I did work for candidates running for offices ranging from city councils to governors. I helped make some politicians and their supporters happy, but I don’t see that anything I did made the slightest difference in reducing the power or size of government. Absolutely nothing.
I’ve discussed many times why I lost faith in the political process and how I slowly came to the conclusion that the entire idea of majoritarian rule was immoral. I didn’t want to conclude that, but I couldn’t come up with any moral justification for any random majority to have the power to give orders to everybody through their chosen candidates. (This interview with Ben Stone for the Bad Quaker podcast about a year ago covers some of my transition in that regard.)
If I don’t believe in the system and I don’t believe it’s actually possible to change anything politically, there’s no reason to be involved unless I’m being paid or I’m just a political junkie. I reached the point that I couldn’t ethically continue to do what I was doing, so I couldn’t keep doing it for money. And even though I had been following politics avidly since I was a small child who was too young to understand the ideological arguments, I was coming to realize that my time was better spent on my own future rather than playing the political game.
As I’ve said here repeatedly, I expect economic and social collapse at some point, whether that’s in two years or 50 years. The interesting questions to me revolve around what’s going to come next and how individuals can position themselves to take care of their families in that chaotic future. I don’t care who’s elected president in 2016 — or who’s elected to any other office — because I don’t think it makes any difference and because I think focusing on those trivial things distracts me from what’s important.
I had to come to these conclusions on my own. I read and heard other people who had concluded the same things years ago, but I stuck with politics until I was convinced for myself that it was a dead end and a waste of time. For that reason, I’m not upset with those who haven’t reached my conclusions yet. If you’re on a path that leads you to believe in individual liberty and reject the “social contract” that says others own you, I think where I am is the inevitable conclusion of that path. You might or might not ever agree with me on that, though
I don’t like to use labels to define what I believe, because they all come with baggage. Voluntaryist? Anarcho-capitalist? Libertarian? All have their strengths and weaknesses, I suppose. But the bottom line is that I feel so completely outside of the existing system that I don’t feel the need to define myself in relation to the “establishment.” I don’t see myself as rebelling against anything. I simply see myself as someone who’s looking realistically at the future and thinking about what to do in terms of that world — one in which today’s political system and labels are irrelevant.
Most of my friends are still heavily invested in the political system, for one reason or another. Among them are conservatives, progressives, libertarians, anarchists and socialists. Every one of you who claims one of those labels and chooses to be part of the system does so for his own reasons.
I have remarkably little interest in convincing you that I’m right. I have even less interest in arguing with you if you believe I’m wrong. I’m only interested in meeting like-minded people and sharing ideas about what we might do to get ready for a post-statist future. I have a lot of work I need to do in order to get ready. I don’t have time for many of the distractions that have wasted my time in the past. Politics is one of those useless distractions.
For those people who are still invested in the system, there are different motivations. For some, it’s a deep belief that they can change the system, despite all evidence to the contrary. For others, it’s simple inertia, because it’s always been “the right thing” to be politically involved. And for still others, politics is a hobby, because it’s fun and exciting.
I’ve been through all of those stages, but that’s not where I am today. I’m focusing on making money and building a future for myself — and my future family, for which it matters even more — taking into account the coming collapse as much as I can. Those are my urgent concerns. Partisan politics is an already distant thing that becomes more distant every day.
I encourage people to drop out of the system, but everyone has to do what seems right to him or her. For me, though, politics isn’t a hobby anymore. My life is much better as a result.