08 October 2008

The Presidential Candidates: Thomas Robert Stevens

The Objectivist Party was formed last February 2, the date chosen because it's the birthday of Ayn Rand. As of August 12, the new party had affiliate organizations in 14 states and in the United Kingdom. The Objectivists held their first national convention in Denver, some months before the Democrats convened. On May 25, Stevens, a New Yorker, was nominated to head the national ticket. Alden Link of New Jersey is his running mate. They've made it onto the ballot in Colorado and Florida. Elsewhere they'll have to be write-ins.

Stevens is a lawyer, former cable TV talk show host, and college-level instructor on a variety of subjects. "He has introduced the philosophy of Ayn Rand to many students who have gone on to read her books and to appreciate the philosophy of objectivism," the Objectivist website notes approvingly. He remains a member of the Libertarian Party, serving on the party's Judiciary Committee, and was a supporter of Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican nomination. The Objectivists acknowledge Stevens as the party's founder, but the website doesn't explain why he formed the new party. They have a list of "Featured Members" that amounts to less than 100 people. Of course, that's no accurate measure of how many votes the party will get, but it suggests a handicap when it comes to getting out the vote.

The Objectivist platform, predictably, consists almost entirely of quotations from Ayn Rand. Her utopia was literally and admittedly a police state. Take her word for it, provided by the Objectivist Party: "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man's self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. "

In other words, politics consists of one gang of people hiring another to protect them and their winnings, however earned, from anybody else. No wonder that the party's "platform" doesn't really address any actual issues. But as it turns out, the Objectivists are still debating the content of a more substantive platform. You can keep track of their progress here. Stevens has made his most extensive statement of principles in response to a California Libertarian questionnaire. He posted his answers here, with responses from fellow Objectivists. His views are unsurprising: taxation is theft, eliminate government, etc. etc. Objectivists make a great show of their non-violence, but theirs is among the more barbaric ideologies competing for voters' attention this year. I would say that Stevens and friends are about to learn a harsh lesson about the marketplace of ideas, but I'm sure they'll protest that it isn't a real marketplace at all. I'd be inclined to agree, but not to sympathize with these people. But you might after perusing their website.

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