Background: My husband, A., works for a local government, and has for nearly 15 years. He is almost automatically a believer in government, as are most of his co-workers, who see daily the effects of tax spending on the public. He tends to vote Democratic party line, but is more progressive than that. He gets mad at right-leaning Republicans, and didn't really know what a Libertarian was before we had the following conversation.
A.: I was listening to the guy who leaked Valerie Plame's name in his column - he was on Dianne Rheam today. He made me so mad that I had to turn off the radio!
me: Bob Woodward?
A.: Yeah! He was talking about government, and he said "It comes down to two things, either you believe government is the solution, or you believe that government is the problem." I had to go to music.
me: Do you know what a Libertarian is?
me: A Libertarian is someone who believes that less government is better. Daniel (guy I used to work with, a staunch Libertarian) is convinced that there should be fewer laws and fewer government agencies. This apparently means that they believe in no libraries, all-private schools, and private roads everywhere.
A.: But if people don't have to make their kids go to school, some of them won't!
me: I know. But these Libertarians believe in the power of the free market to get people what they want.
A.: If they can't pay for it, they won't get it.
me: Right, and apparently that's just too bad for them.
A.: Well, he (Woodward) was a freak, that's for sure.
me: He was one of the Watergate guys, you know.
A.: He was raging on about the 'liberal media'. He was talking about how there's all this liberal bias in the newspapers, which equates to all of the media...
3-year-old: Mommy and daddy! Come fly airplanes with me! Please! Varoooommmmmm!!!!
So that was a few days ago, and I keep thinking back to the many conversations I had with my former co-worker Daniel. He is a hard-line Libertarian when it comes to programs that are invisible to him, such as social services and medicaid, but his kids go to public school, he drives on public roads, and he graduated from a public university. I got mad at him one day years ago (in the runup to the 2004 election, I think), and he said "Look, it's all just a game. Nobody really gets hurt by this stuff!" This had the effect of making me madder, so I walked back to my office so I wouldn't scream at him. I HONESTLY can't believe that he was really that naive, but apparently he was.
Here's the thing, though - this guy IS smarter than that, but when something isn't in his face all the time, he manages to convince himself that it doesn't exist and isn't a problem.
I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I'm still steamed about something my co-worker said to me probably 4 years ago (and that office doesn't even exist anymore!)
Just had to get it off my chest.
Edited to add: Yeah, it probably was Novak. I get my Bobs mixed up a lot.