Way, way back around the turn of the century, I caught a fun little indie film called The Tao of Steve. It relates the tale of Dex, an overweight stoner who, against any rational expectation, has a knack for seducing women, and his encounter with a woman who turns the whole narrative upside-down. Dex, well-played by actor Donal Logue (who won Best Actor at Sundance for his portrayal) posited that the way to succeed in life is to emulate famous Steves (in particular Steve Austin the Six Million Dollar Man; Steve McGarrett of Hawaii Five-O; and of course Steve McQueen).

From these inspirations, and from his heavy reading of Eastern philosophy, Dex puts together a simple three-step guide to seduction:

1 – Be Desireless: Don’t be needy, don’t pursue, don’t show any sign that you’re out to seduce.
2 – Be Excellent: Demonstrate your skills, talents, positive qualities.
3 – Be Gone: Go away, make yourself scarce, don’t be hanging around puppy-dog style.

In the movie, it works. Until it doesn’t, until he break Rule 1. That’s the nature of romantic comedies of course. But, this doesn’t invalidate the core concepts in this “Tao of Steve.”

One of the great libertarian characters in modern pop culture is Parks and Recreation’s iconic Ron Swanson. A man’s man, devoted carnivore, libertarian, able and skilled in a wide range of trades, and loaded with wisdom, Swanson has a massive cult following on social media. He also, probably by coincidence rather than emulation, adheres to the Tao of Steve, and in doing so validates it as universal truth. And, in Season 5, his demonstration of these three steps secures the interest of, and eventual marriage to, Xena, the Warrior Princess. Well, actually, a middle-school vice principal named Diane, played by Lucy Lawless, but she will always be Xena.

While Dex is a underachieving philosophizer who gets by on intelligence and a good heart, and embraces the Tao of Steve for purposes of seduction, Ron lives the Tao of Steve. He is independent and self-reliant (some would say to a fault, but he demonstrates endless support for those who choose to walk the same path, while not suffering fools), he is excellent in countless ways, and he is “gone,” in that he is perfectly content in independence, liberty, and self-containment. This doesn’t make him a misanthrope (except when deserved) or hermit, because he does choose to interact with others on mutually-agreeable terms (“Ron, I want to do things the Swanson way.” “Wonderful. First rule– no conversation lasts longer than 100 total words. You have used 9. I have used 20. Continue.”).

Ron lives by a code of excellence (“Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”), independence, and self-reliance. He has little use for government, even less use for cowards and weak-willed men, and is perfectly content being left alone. And, yes, Ron is a libertarian. You know, those people diligently plotting to take over the world and leave you alone. Steves are libertarians. Be more like Ron and Steves.

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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