The Oregon occupation has been a very good learning experience for the III movement, but for very different reasons than many think about.
The biggest lesson learned to date is that we in the III movement do not have a single, unifying objective. While some will say it is “restoring rightful liberty” and similar sayings, this is so vague that it’s meaningless.
We in the movement have yet to determine what the desired end state is. In other words, in a perfect world, after we win, what do we want America to look like?
In Oregon, we have groups occupying the Federal building, with a variety of different goals. Some seem to be deeply “old-school” ranchers who don’t like the federal government making it harder to use land that the ranchers don’t own. Another group seems to clearly want to “pick a fight” and perhaps incite another Waco. Others seem to be in it for the purpose of rebelling against anything the Federal Government does. There may be other reasons.
It doesn’t seem that these differences were sorted out before they came together and we’re seeing the results. The stated objectives to the media were very unclear in the beginning and seem to be evolving as time goes on.
The problem with the III movement not having a central goal is that anyone can take an action, claim it’s a liberty event, and expect all the other IIIs and liberty-minded folks to support them. And they don’t just expect moral support. They expect physical support such as boots on the ground, logistical support, and written support in the forms of blogs, letters, etc.
The support of the Oregon occupation has been mixed. Some in our movement have supported them logistically. Some have actually traveled out there to be with them. Yet others have written blog entries supporting the effort. Others have chosen not to support them for a myriad of reasons. Still others have taken to the blog and other media and questioned both the occupation and the occupiers.
In the absence of a overall III goal, such responses are to be expected. We all claim to be liberty-minded, so the inference is that we can and do think. It’s part of makes us so different from the masses.
The reaction to those who question the occupation and the occupiers was not expected. Those who weren’t in support of the occupation have been called cowards, pussies, traitors and even enemies of liberty. And these were the nice words.
It seems to me that if you were upset that there wasn’t an outpouring of support for the occupation, convincing others to support the cause would stand a better chance if you resisted denigrating the opposition and spent more time convincing people of the virtues of the effort.
If we are going to convince others of the values of the liberty movement, we need to spend more time explaining ourselves, and less time telling folks that if they don’t see the virtues of the occupation, the problem is with them.
I want a country where you can believe what you want as long as you don’t really hurt someone else. The enemy spends a lot of time and energy convincing folks that there must be blind support of the “approved” causes. How does it serve our cause when some in the blog world tear apart, denigrate and call names to those who might not be completely convinced?
My blog entries have been clear in sharing my thoughts and beliefs. It’s never my intent to make fun of or denigrate folks that don’t agree with me.
My vision of liberty includes the concepts of open and honest debate. If you can convince me, then you’ve gained a convert. If I can convince you, then I’ve gained a reader. If we can’t convince each other, then we can agree to disagree.
We in the III/liberty movement need to have open discussions about what our overall objective is. We need to learn to differentiate tactical objectives from strategic objectives. For example, we might agree that the BLM shouldn’t own so much land. That’s tactical. The strategic objective is federal government overreach in virtually every aspect of our lives.
We need to be honest with ourselves and recognize that liberty includes defending ideas that you hate. We see it all the time where many in the III/liberty movement will say on one hand that they despise the large federal government, but then defend some of the pieces of a large federal government that they like.
We must embrace the discussions and the debate. We’ll be better and stronger for it.