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Why We Left the Left: Personal Stories by Leftists / Liberals Who Evolved to Embrace Libertarianism Paperback – September 12, 2013
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From the Author
Why We left the Left: Personal Stories by Leftists/Liberals Who Evolved to Embrace Libertarianism was awarded Honorable Mention in the non-fiction category of the League Of Utah Writers Published Book Competition in September 2013.
About the Author
I am the youngest of four children to two Dust Bowl Okies who migrated to Shafter, California in the Central Valley. My family was fairly apolitical, with Republican leanings. I graduated with a BA in political science from California State College, Bakersfield in 1974 (magna cum laude); earned a MA in political science from University of California, Davis in 1976; and finished everything but my PhD dissertation (ABD) in political science at University of California, Santa Barbara in 1980. I began political life as a typical McGovern liberal, moved left to become a card carrying member of the Socialist Party USA, and in the late 1990s evolved into a libertarian. In 1972 I joined the War Resisters League and participated in and organized anti-war protests, including giving public speeches before crowds numbering in the hundreds at UC Santa Barbara. For more than 15 years I protested a portion of my income taxes as being war taxes. In the latter years of that period, I withheld part of my income taxes from the federal government. In 1980 I was arrested, along with hundreds of others, for civil disobedience at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. From the early 1980s to the mid-1990s I was a hyper-active socialist: twice running for Santa Barbara City Council openly as a socialist in the mid-1980s; worked with tenants (three city-wide rent control campaigns in seven years), and gays and lesbians (Deb, my wife, was the first heterosexual on the Gays and Lesbian Resource Center Board of Directors); and fighting political cultists in California's Peace and Freedom Party (the only socialist party with ballot status in California). During this period I also found time to work full-time as an editor (from 1982 to 2000) of a political science journal published in Santa Barbara. From the early 1980s to 2000, I published several political articles in publications such as Liberty magazine, the Santa Barbara News-Press, the Santa Barbara Independent, The Socialist, Left Out, and Tenants United. In the last three years (since 2010) I have concentrated on publishing essays in regional newspapers--The Salt Lake Tribune and The Spectrum (local St. George daily newspaper). The majority of my more than 35 published articles (as of September 2013) are hiking/travel stories along with some political and humorous essays. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit the Why We Left the Left Facebook page. Your comments are welcome.
Top customer reviews
FYI to the disclaimer: I received no compensation for my contribution, nor will I receive any in the future.
I wrote my essay in a bubble of my own reality and experiences. I wondered how Tom Garrison--this name on an email and picture on a Facebook page--could possibly organize all of the contributors into a cohesive book. Based on my own experience, I knew he was not heavily editing the essays. For the average political book reader, this may sound like a negative. However, I am someone that hates poor editing, and I didn't notice it with this book. I was too involved in reading about normal, everyday people that wrote about their experiences and their reality from their bubbles.
I found myself wanting to meet many of them (I haven't). Every single person was real. They weren't some talking head on TV or a picture above a syndicated news column. They were neighbors. As a Libertarian that feels civil rights are just as important as limited government, it's rare that I can find someone that sees life from a similar perspective. Even within the Libertarian party--as with all political parties regardless of how organized--there are schisms. This book is so optimistic about the future that I shake my head in disbelief that somehow 23 of us, independent of one another, and having no idea what the others were writing...we all managed to sound so POSITIVE about the future.
Libertarians are not known for being optimistic. At least, I've never felt like the group gave off that feeling. Republicans and Democrats shake their heads at our "stubbornness" and try and convince us (every 4 years) not to waste our vote. Sadly, many Libertarians (card-carrying and just leaning) are swayed to the right or the left so that their vote won't be lost. At that moment in the voting booth, the optimism that was displayed so vibrantly in each of these 23 essays disappears.
Republicans could read these stories and learn a valuable lesson. There are a few contributors that self-identify more with the right and admit to being Republican. However, I saw those contributors as on the edge of full conversion to Libertarianism. If Republicans read these stories and learned about why the right-leaning aren't over the Libertarian fence just yet...they might be able to coerce them off the fence. It would be a good challenge to see if Republican readers could use these stories to sway Libertarians to their cause.
Having said enough about Republicans, it's time for Democrats. Democrats and Liberals would like to believe that they are the party of optimism and hope. But I ask you, what is optimistic about cashing a government check? To me, that is the most depressing thing. To be at a point where charity, friends, family, and your own abilities have left you dependent on the one entity that won't say no--the government. It's a dark place to be. Let the optimism and different viewpoints from these everyday people pull you from that place. Liberals believe (I was one once after all!) that all of us not on their side are bigots, racists, sexists, elitist, money-grubbing, careless, angry, mean, cruel, heartless, evangelical snobs. I challenge any liberal to read all of these stories and then to believe in their big (dare I say bleeding? humor!) hearts that all of us in the book are exactly as you believe. As one of my fellow contributors is a schoolteacher in the public school system (and a few others were once there, but left), I don't think you can do it.
The most important reader of this book might be the least likely to read it. Libertarians struggling to stay optimistic during this election year are the ones that need this book the most. They need to know about the everyday people that are out there mentally supporting the right of all people to live their life. When Libertarians are in-fighting and arguing about the party platform, when they are struggling for ballot access, when they are fighting for Gary Johnson to get on the debates, and when they know that all of this fighting will most likely end in defeat...they should read this book. This book isn't the light at the end of the tunnel. It isn't the outside of the cave. This book is a call to make your own way and to stop following the path laid out by the right and the left. It makes you want to look up, instead of right and left. Look up into the third dimension. Look up and rise above all the fighting and bickering and government waste. And when you get to a higher place above all the two-party garbage, you can shine the beacon of liberty and feel the optimism grow. This book shows that you are not alone.
Lonely Libertarians...please read this book.
Mr. Garrison describes his journey from a self-described "card carrying socialist activist" to a libertarian. It offers stories by other leftist liberals who also came to see individual liberty and responsibility as the fountainhead of true human freedom and dignity.
As a leftist, he was willing to use the power of government to force people to live one model of justice and harmony. He saw government control of enterprise as a way to make life fair.
As a conservative, I saw maximum liberty and maximum personal responsibility as the ultimate goal of anyone who believes in freedom. I knew that the individual making decisions for himself and the "unseen hand" of the free market was the best solution to poverty and want. However, I was comfortable with allowing government to make laws, use force, regarding beliefs, practices and activities where a free man’s government has absolutely no business being involved.
Mister Garrison and I were both raised high on our own carefully constructed petards! If we valued freedom above all, how could we embrace governmental models that were repugnant to the freedom to others? How could we expect the world to respect our individual concepts of liberty while advocating the denial of liberty to someone else?
I am quite sure Mr. Garrison and I will disagree on some issues. The difference now is he and I are both in close agreement with the premise of maximum personal freedom with maximum personal responsibility. From here we can have a dialogue including passionate debate but without the rancor and the immediate closing of minds that occurs when one is labeled "liberal" or "conservative."
The hope of this book is that there a lot more people of good will who believe they are polar philosophical opposites but actually agree with each other when it comes down to basics. This book is a quick easy read and is available on Amazon . Please get it and read it. There is harmony to be found.
So I was curious to get a more balanced perspective on this political viewpoint.
This collection of short essays from two dozen former self-proclaimed leftists who came to embrace Libertarianism did just that. From college students to businessmen, plainspoken to eloquent, these pieces reflect opinions that are accessible to Democrats like me who think it's important to see the other guy's POV.
Although I'm still a (disgruntled) Democrat, I came away with a deeper understanding of a position not unlike my own. Living in the People's Republic of San Francisco, I found myself sharing many of the sentiments of these everyday people looking for a voice in a limited political landscape.
Tom Garrison's compilation of these stories is thoughtful and thorough and his piece and foreword some of the most insightful. If you want a quick deep dive into a political stance different from your own, you won't go wrong with this collection.