OK, some good stuff -- The antiwar.com people had perhaps the biggest table there, and they are not completely insane. I learned that they are an offshoot of something called the Randolph Bourne Institute, which I approved of -- in fact I could have sworn I'd discussed Bourne here but Google says not, anyway, he is best known for the phrase "War is the health of the state". Well. I'm antiwar, so I could get behind them and the fraction of speeches that related to that. OTOH, their honcho Justin Raimondo is co-publishing with Hitler apologist Patrick Buchanan -- that kind of puts a damper on their appeal for me.
There were plenty of teatards, drug legalizers, 9/11 truthers, old weathered beatnik types, along with some minor local politicians in suits. The major theme, other than opposition to war, seemed to be financial crankery, "sound money", paranoia at the Fed, proposals to go back on the gold standard, etc. Someone running for the State Assembly handed me a leaflet proudly announcing her opposition to such vital issues as water flouridation and the "Codex Alimentarius". It was a pretty small-scale event, considering the nominal leader of the entire Libertarian movement was speaking.
I didn't feel much like engaging with this crowd, but my son hasn't been burned out with decades of the same old arguments like I am, so I encouraged him to get verbally combative...he needs the practice. He got into it with some woman at a table promoting the Bay Area Voluntaryists for around 20 minutes, and held his own pretty well -- I'm encouraging to get on the debate team. He took a version of the Nolan test and it indicated that he the most statist person there. A sensible boy, and he generates his own opinions.
I guess my take on this is not that different from this one on a left-wing anarchist gathering -- I can't help feeling some genuine fondness for individuals trying to make sense of the world, and willing to go out on ideological limbs to do so, but damn, can't they manage to do so while retaining a minimum of critical reasoning facilities? Don't people who want to devote their lives to this sort of thing have an obligation to think at least one step beyond their visceral dislike of authority and try to understand what government is, why it is, and how maybe its structure reflects some human realities and getting rid of it does not get rid of the problems that it arose to solve? Argh. OK, it took me awhile to think through these issues myself, and I consider myself pretty bright, so I guess it's no surprise that so many others haven't gotten past the first step.