I was a Teenage Anarcho-Capitalist

Since I was old enough to have political opinions, I’ve always been pretty socially liberal. My dad was a bit of a biker type, and my mom was kind of a hippie, and for the most part they espoused the old “live and let live” philosophy. I learned to value genuineness and self-expression, and maybe even a bit of non-conformity and anti-authoritarianism. But like a lot of working middle-class folks, they bought into the old quasi-Biblical platitudes like “you don’t work, you don’t eat” and “God helps those who help themselves” (although my mother would’ve been quick to point out while she found the second one theologically sound it’s not a phrase that’s actually found in the Bible). I think most people’s initial political stances are are shaped heavily by their parents, and I was no different. As a fledgling voter in 00’s America, I identified most as a Libertarian – socially liberal, economically conservative – small government, personal responsibility, and free markets.

In an episode of the sitcom Shameless, character Lip Gallagher posits “every Libertarian is born on third base and thinks he hit a triple“. I’m not a big baseball fan, but I know enough about it to understand the sentiment. Most people know hitting a home run is when you’re able to round all the bases off one hit – a triple is just short of that – you stop on third base instead of continuing on to home. A runner on third base is most of the way to scoring already – the run isn’t guaranteed, they may still get tagged out heading for home – but they’ve got better chances and less work ahead of them than a guy that’s fresh up to bat.

It’s a poignant metaphor and its history goes back further than Lip Gallagher, even though the writers of Shameless seem to be the first to tie it to Libertarians in general rather than specific, individual people of privilege (previously it’s been leveled against George Bush, Sr. and Jr., for instance). The idea is that it’s hypocritical for a person that was born with advantages to take all the credit for their own accomplishments. If you were “born on third”, you had a lot less ground to cover than a guy that had to hit his own triple. It doesn’t mean you didn’t still face the risk of failure, and it doesn’t mean you didn’t have to run as hard as you could if you wanted to score, but the odds of your success were a lot more favorable. And the unfortunate truth is that a lot of people that have those kind of advantages are blind to them – they do think they hit their own triple.

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