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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Monday, August 01, 2011

COUNTRY LIBERTARIANS

So I just reached out and kicked old green teeth right in the knee.

I've been listening to a lot of Southern Rock lately, after reading my friend Lance's Friday Music post on the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. I found a great music site called Nutsie that has scores of "top 100" song lists you can listen to, each randomly scrambled, and I've found a few gems I didn't know and rediscovered a few I'd forgotten.

Hidden in the Southern Rock songs was "Long Haired Country Boy" by Charlie Daniels. A lot of people have heard of Charlie Daniels as a fiddler and know his song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," but think of him as a sort of old fashioned fiddlin' bluegrassy sort of guy. He's not. Charlie Daniels was a hippie southerner, a country weed smoking anti establishment type who played old fashioned music with a rock and roll kicker. His song "Uneasy Rider" is an anthem for the hippie in the old south trying to make it despite being generally despised by the locals.

The thing is "Uneasy Rider" comes across as amazingly hostile and insulting these days. Daniels portrays a hippie convinced he was in fear for his life from some good old boys and attacks them personally just so he can get away. In the 70s it was kind of funny, today its sort of disturbing. A better song from the period to depict the lifestyle was "Long Haired Country Boy"

People say I'm no-good,
And crazy as a loon.
I get stoned in the morning,
I get drunk in the afternoon.
Kinda like my old blue tick hound,
I like to lay around in the shade,
An', I ain't got no money,
But I damn sure got it made.

Why does he have it made? Well the southerner he portrays here has a lot more in common with the modern southern rural mountain hick than when he wrote it, but the attitude he writes about has been true for the South for more than two hundred years:

'Cos I ain't askin' nobody for nothin',
If I can't get it on my own.
If you don't like the way I'm livin',
You just leave this long-haired country boy alone.

And this is the crux of the matter: the south is the birthplace of basic libertarianism. As long as you leave me alone, I'll leave you alone and we'll get along just fine. Don't poke into your neighbor's life, be polite and friendly in public, don't judge others too much because you've got your flaws. Live and let live.

Daniels spends the rest of the song examining culture and its flaws, like TV preachers, rich folks, poor folks, politicians and so on.

Preacher man talkin' on the TV,
He's a-puttin' down the rock 'n' roll.
He wants me to send a donation,'Cos he's worried about my soul.
He said: "Jesus walked on the water,"And I know that is true,
But sometimes I think that preacher man,
Would like to do a little walkin', too.

Like many southern songs, the contrast between urban life and his life is not especially flattering for the city folks (such as Hank Williams jr's "Country Boy Can Survive") it still has the attitude of "but if that's what you like, go to it, just leave me the hell alone."

And this is the hidden core of what political parties need to tap into if they want to see enduring power. Because behind all the urban posing and political correctness, the right vs left battles, the Tea Party Movement, the Michael Moore films, the battles in Washington and the culture wars, Americans essentially are libertarian. I don't mean the big "L" legalize all drugs, prostitution, and let me do anything I want Libertarianism. I mean the small "L" I love liberty and why can't you just let me live my life libertarianism.

A love of liberty, a suspicion of government, and a desire to be left alone is so much a part of the United States it's in our bones. Its true that a century or so of determined, systematic effort by the hard left to purge that has left us with a lot of man purse packing weenies for men and angry, bitter harpies for women who turn to the government for every problem, but deep down they'd prefer to be left alone.

If this was the focus of politicians rather than "here's what I can do for you" which always ends up "here's how I'll run your life," they'd see a whole lot more success and happy folks. Congress always seems to find a way to interfere with people when its in session, and that's the exact opposite of what most people want -- especially those in the South or the rest of rural America.

And that was the secret of Ronald Reagan's broad appeal, and why he won big in the south. Leftists can't figure this out, since their worldview is that everyone is a child of the benevolent all-powerful state. They think it was some cryptic appeal to racism or media trickery, but it was just home spun old fashioned libertarianism. Government's taking too much of your money and interfering too much with your life. America isn't supposed to be that way. I love this country and it shows in every move I make, and if you give me a chance, I'll work hard to get that snooping bureaucrat out of your life.

Frankly, people are sick of politicians like Romney with great teeth and a yen to control and nose into their lives. The first presidential candidate that works this out and taps into it would be big. Frank Thompson had that approach and despite joining the campaign late, having a fraction the money of others, hardly even campaigning, and having virtually no media coverage, he won Louisiana - after he dropped out. Give people a real option for a real candidate like this and they would do very well indeed.

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