During the President's recent sex-scandal "apology" speech, he
stated that he wanted his "private life" back. He also expressed his
outrage that the special prosecutor has turned his private life into a
At one time in this nation, people actually did have private lives. In
the last century there was a clear distinction between "public" and
"private". A person's home was considered sanctuary, businesses were
private property and communities only regulated offensive "public"
behaviors. Peaceful private behavior was mostly free from government
scrutiny because peaceful behavior was considered no one's business,
especially not the government's business.
This is no longer the case. As private citizens, we are subject to
roving wiretaps on our phone lines. Government bureaucrats may read our
mail and email. The IRS monitors our incomes and expenditures. Legions
of social workers interfere with family matters. Edu-crats indoctrinate
our children contrary to our values. And employers are required by law
to report on the private lives of their employees.
We once had a system that was based upon individual liberty. We now have
one that can only be described as a budding Orwellian State. Not quite
Big Brother, this Nanny State promises prosperity and security at the
expense of our freedom and our privacy. It has been an unfulfilled
The irony of Bill Clinton's plea for privacy is that he now wants what
his bankrupt Nanny State ideology and its bi-partisan practitioners have
taken away from us. He wants privacy from government scrutiny at a time
when his administration has embarked on a massive government intrusion
into our personal lives. Clinton bristles at HIS private "consensual"
activities being opened to public view while his administration dreams
up ever more ways to catalog, collate and spindle the most private
aspects of OUR lives.
One has to wonder if President Clinton understands the term "equal
justice under the law". If "It Takes a Village" for us, why does the
President and Mrs. Clinton feel that they should be above the prying
eyes of the state that they have helped create? If our children belong
to "society" and are a "national resource", why should Chelsea's privacy
carry anymore weight than any other child's privacy? If even businesses
are now considered public property, why should the public Oval Office be
treated as if it has the status of what was once called private
property? We have to re-establish "privacy" and the meaning of "private"
in the lives of all Americans. If Clinton is above the law, it is a law
Even as I write this, the President and Congress, in "bi-partisan"
harmony, are promoting legislation that violates the personal privacy
that is supposedly guaranteed to all Americans by the Bill of Rights. Do
you want a National ID number? Do you want your email cataloged and
parsed for political correctness? Do you want your medical history
accessible to the prying eyes of any bureaucrat? Do you want the
government to censor what you can view on the Internet or on TV? Do you
want government agencies tracking you via your cell phone calls? Do you
want your name on a federal list of American gun owners? I don't know
anyone that wants these new laws.
When it comes to Bill Clinton's privacy, he adopts libertarian rhetoric
in a cynical attempt to manipulate public outrage against an insatiable
privacy invading federal government. He protests when it intrudes into
HIS life and demands that the Nanny-State that he promotes and fosters
now leave him alone. What the President seems to miss, is that
libertarianism is about justice and freedom for all, not just for a few
elite at the top of the political heap.
If it weren't for such hypocrisy, a little sympathy might be in order.
Let the President strip the powers over our lives that his beloved
Nanny-State has granted to the HHS, the DoE, the CIA, the INS, the FBI,
the BATF, the EPA and the NSA. Let him veto the various pending bills
that will turn SS numbers into a national ID tracking numbers. Let him
revoke his executive order on federalism that bypasses our state
governments and our individual rights. Let him ask Congress to repeal
the laws that allow government agents to confiscate our private property
without due process of law. Let him send those D.C. fed and bred
edu-crats back to academia so we can regain parental control of our
children's education. Let him return our financial privacy and freedom
by helping to repeal the XVIth amendment and abolishing the most hated
federal agency, the IRS. And most important of all, let him figure out
how to cut federal expenditures by 45% so there is a balanced budget
after the income tax is eliminated.
If you agree with me, write your Congressperson and the President to
tell them that we are ready to make a deal: President (or ex-President)
Bill Clinton can have his privacy back, but only if we can have ours
returned too. Better yet, send Congress and the President a real
message. Send me, a real libertarian, to Congress and I will personally
hand deliver our message that WE want freedom and privacy returned to
ALL Americans and we want it now.
Gary M. Shoemaker
Gary Shoemaker is the Libertarian Party candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania's 19th district. He is running in a Republican-dominated
district against moderate 24-year incumbent Bill Goodling.
The author would like to acknowledge that his inspiration for this
article came from "Private life?," written by Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr.
of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Shoemaker's article was published as
an Op-Ed piece in Shoemaker's hometown newspaper and is an example of
how LP candidates can combine current events and libertarian
perspectives to advance the cause of freedom at the grassroots level.
Neither Rockwell nor the Mises Institute have endorsed or are in any way
involved in the author's candidacy.
See Gary Shoemaker's work at Liberty Journal and read about his candidacy at Shoemaker 98.
© 1998 Gary M. Shoemaker. This article may be reprinted for non-commercial purposes, as long as it is reprinted in full with no content changes whatsoever, and is accompanied by this credit line. The article may not be re-titled, edited or excerpted (beyond the limits of the fair use doctrine) without the written permission of the author. For-profit publications will be expected to pay a nominal reprint fee.