Resolutions To See You Through a New (Election) Year

Too many of your friends and neighbors are tribal idiots, but they're not the worst tribal idiots in recent memory, by any means.


Nationalists to the right of us and progressives to the left of us sneer at the idea that people should be left alone to do their own thing. It can be a little demoralizing. But another year dawns, and with it comes the opportunity for a fresh take on the world in which we live. Yes, New Year's resolutions are a bit of a cliché, but they can help us break bad habits and reboot our lives. What you do is up to you, of course. But you might resolve to: 

Get some perspective.

Too many of your friends and neighbors are tribal idiots, but they're not the worst tribal idiots in recent memory, by any means. Friedrich Hayek wrote The Road to Serfdom at a time when trendy thinkers agreed that free societies were a passing fad, debated whether they'd be superseded by fascism or socialism, and waged their argument in the streets and on battlefields. Anne Frank wrote her diary while hiding, ultimately unsuccessfully, from psychopathic Nazis who ruled an empire, not a website. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago documented the horrors of the forced-labor camps that were an integral part of life under Communism. And in The Girl With Seven Names, North Korean Lee Hyeon-seo described an entire country turned into a forced-labor camp. By comparison, Americans' current fascination with brown shirt/red shirt cosplay should be taken as a warning, but it doesn't yet rise to the heights of historical awfulness.

Work on your self-reliance.

You can't control the world, but you do have some say over you. Instead of fretting about tough times, make sure you and yours are in the best position possible to weather them. If the economy takes a hit, are you ready to switch gears so you can keep making a living? Are you taking good care of your health so you don't find yourself at the mercy of others' goodwill? If you are prepared, are you in a position to help family, friends, and neighbors who might get blindsided by events?

Think about picking up a few skills that contribute to your handiness. Basic plumbing or carpentry, for example, can come in very handy for patching things up or making a few bucks. If nothing else, you'll save yourself money on home repairs.

Get out.

It's amazing how worries peel away when you step down a trail and realize how much of the world remains undeveloped and beyond earshot of busybodies, political campaigns, and compulsive rageaholics. But "out" can also mean the pleasant environs of a music club or a museum. We sometimes need to remind ourselves of what people can accomplish when they seek to create instead of to destroy.

Reach out.

To be honest, our relatives were always idiots; current political disagreements just change the context of disputes that were probably going to occur anyway. But they're our idiots, so we should hold them close—it's easier to keep an eye on them that way, too. Keep friends and neighbors near, for the same reasons.

As libertarians, we're in a pretty good position to build bridges that the main political camps would burn if left to their own destructive devices. We're not (usually) perceived by the big factions as existential threats. And we don't view politics as the be-all of existence, since our goal is to dramatically reduce the role it plays in our lives. That leaves us better prepared than most to keep our social circles and communities functioning—if we put in the time and effort to nurture them. Stop arguing online and invite some folks over for a barbecue (or a happy hour if that's more your thing), or go volunteer for a local organization that addresses issues that matter to you.

Stay firm.

Team Blue and Team Red look poised to continue alternating power and implementing terrible ideas for the foreseeable future. You can't stop that, but you don't have to obey, and you don't have to lose your cool.

Resolve to take this new year in stride. You might as well, since it's coming no matter what. Realize that it could be a lot worse, make sure you're prepared for a rough ride, enjoy the world around you and the people in it, and stay true to yourself!