Hillary Clinton’s announcement of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate caused one of those silly bits of random association that bubbles up from the depths of my brain from time to time. I flashed back to Kwai Chang Caine, the character of the 1970s television series Kung Fu.

Obviously, the only commonality between Kaine and Caine is the homophonous surname. That’s a bit of a shame, because our modern politicians could learn something from Caine.

For those unfamiliar, the television show Kung Fu was the story of a boy born in China to a Chinese mother and American father in the 1800s. The boy, Kwai Chang Caine, was accepted into and studied at a Shaolin monastery, where he learned both Buddhist philosophy and the martial arts for which the Shaolin are famous. As a young adult, he killed a royal nephew who callously and pointlessly shot one of his old masters. Caine spoke to his dying master, confessing that he disgraced himself. His master replied, “No, sometimes one must cut off a finger to save a hand.” Caine fled to America to avoid capture and execution for his act of retribution and justice, and the series follows him as he wanders the Old West.

More than anything, Caine seemed to want peace, to go about his life unmolested, and to, as an individual, help others who need and welcome his help. Trouble always seemed to find him, though, both from the Chinese pursuers sent to punish his “crime” and from bad people in the towns he visited.

Clinton could learn something from Caine’s peaceful wanderings. It is, at its core, the essence of individual liberty. It’s a person’s want and need to pursue that which makes him happy, and a want and need not to have that happiness managed and decreed by others. It’s the antithesis of statism and nannyism, of the Left’s desire to manage every aspect of our public lives (and, indeed, the Right’s desire to manage many aspects of our private lives). It’s not about the Buddhism that Shaolin monks practice, it’s about the freedom to pursue whatever we wish and the ability to choose whatever path we wish. Even Caine’s act of violence was itself a response, not an initiation, and it aligns with the tenets of liberty and libertarianism.

It’s not what modern government offers us, though. There are very few areas of life today where our choices are not restricted, guided or mandated by government in some way or another. No matter our desire to be left alone, politicians, bureaucrats, nannies and our fellow citizens who think they know better simply won’t. Clinton’s agenda is a laundry list of what “we” (meaning government) need to do. What “we” actually need, though, is to be left alone to pursue our own happiness.

Caine could teach Clinton a thing or two about that. Kaine? Not so much.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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