Saturday, February 27, 2010

Instead of Instead of a Speech


No, the headline is not a typo. "Instead of a speech," etc., was part of the working sub-title of a speech I was scheduled to give at the Free State Project's 2010 Liberty Forum in Nashua, New Hampshire next month.

The Liberty Forum is a fine event with a great reputation for being incredibly fun and productive, and I hope that as many of you as can go, will go. Without going into excruciating detail, a combination of travel plan troubles and health issues has driven me to cancel my appearance there.

I was planning to use my speech there to make a specific announcement. Since I won't be making the speech there and then, I'll go ahead and publish the first part (still in rough draft, but it gets the point across) here, so as to get the announcement out:

Good morning/afternoon/evening!

My name is Tom Knapp and, as your schedule notes, my talk today has a long, unwieldy title: "What Is To Be Done? The futility of traditional politics: Why the Libertarian Party fails in its mission and how it can renew itself to become the vanguard of a successful American freedom movement."

Let's shorten the title a little. It will be easier to remember that way. Let's change it to "Instead of a Stump Speech, by a Man Who's No Longer Running for President."

With those words, I'm attempting to convey this announcement: Effective immediately, I'm no longer seeking the 2012 nomination of the Libertarian Party or the Boston Tea Party for President of the United States. Announcement ends.

I can see that most of you didn't know I was running for President when we walked in here.

I can see that a few of you who did know are relieved to learn that I'm no longer doing so.

I'm pretty sure that not a soul walked into this room, heard my melodious voice, and said to himself "now THERE is a man of presidential timbre!"

So, enough of that, anyway. This speech isn't about the fact that I'm no longer running for President, but it is at least in part about WHY I'm no longer running for President.

When I sat down to write this speech, I didn't know I'd be writing this speech. I thought I was writing the introduction of my presidential campaign book. But my son's hamster's wheel squeaks, and for that reason I ended up writing this speech instead of that book.

I'm sure you've heard the analogy of third party electoral politics to a hamster on a wheel -- it runs and runs and runs, but never gets anywhwere. It's a great analogy. And every time I sat down to start my campaign book ... squeak ... squeaaaaaak ...

I had to go look, and when I did I discovered that my son's hamster is different with respect to the analogy.

He doesn't just run on the wheel. He runs on the wheel for about five minutes, then he stops, gets off, walks to the front of the wheel and looks. He looks at the wall of the cage, then he looks back at the wheel. Then he looks at the wall of his cage some more, and looks at the wheel some more. Then he gets back on the wheel and starts running again.

From analogy to cliche: The definition of insanity -- or possibly the result of having a brain the size of a pea -- is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

As a libertarian political activist, I could handle being a hamster on a wheel. But when the full weight of the fact that that damn wheel hadn't taken me anywhere and that it was never GOING to take me anywhere landed on my consciousness, I was forced to choose between the insanity of returning to the wheel and the saner approach of taking a closer look at the cage wall and thinking about how one might actually chew through it.

As a side note, the hamster died last week.

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