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Return of the Conservative-Libertarian Coalition?

It's no secret that the Bush years have severely strained and perhaps broken the conservative-libertarian political coalition. Most libertarians were deeply disappointed by the Bush Administration's vast expansion of government spending and regulation, claims of virtually unlimited wartime executive power, and other departures from limited government principles. As a result, many libertarian intellectuals (and to a lesser extent, libertarian voters), actually supported Barack Obama this year, despite his being a very statist liberal. Republican nominee John McCain had opposed some of Bush's excesses, including rejecting Bush's stance on torture and being one of the very few GOP senators to vote against Bush's massive 2003 Medicare prescription drug program. But McCain had numerous statist impulses of his own, including the most famous piece of legislation that bears his name. Even those libertarians who voted for him (myself included) did so with grave reservations.

With Barack Obama in the White House and the Democrats enjoying large majorities in Congress at a time of economic crisis, it is highly likely that they will push for a large expansion of government even beyond that which recently occurred under Bush. That prospect may bring libertarians and conservatives back together. Many of the items on the likely Democratic legislative agenda are anathema to both groups: a vast expansion of government control of health care, new legal privileges for labor unions, expanded regulation of a variety of industries, protectionism, increased government spending on infrastructure and a variety of other purposes, and bailouts for additional industries, such as automakers.

Even if conservatives and libertarians can find a way to work together, it would be naive to expect that they can block all the items on the Obama's agenda. Many are going to pass regardless of what we do. However, a renewed libertarian-conservative coalition could help limit the damage and begin to build the foundation for a new pro-limited government political movement.

Obviously, a lot depends on what conservatives decide to do. If they choose the pro-limited government position advocated by Representative Jeff Flake and some other younger House Republicans, there will be lots of room for cooperation with libertarians. I am happy to see that Flake has denounced "the ill-fitting and unworkable big-government conservatism that defined the Bush administration." Conservatives could, however, adopt the combination of economic populism and social conservatism advocated by Mike Huckabee and others. It is even possible that the latter path will be more politically advantageous, at least in the short term.

Much also depends on what the Democrats do. If Obama opts for moderation and keeps his promise to produce a net decrease in federal spending, a renewed conservative-libertarian coalition will be less attractive to libertarians. However, I highly doubt that Obama and the Democrats will actually take the relatively moderate, budget-cutting path. It would go against both their own instincts and historical precedent from previous periods of united government and economic crisis. If I am right about that, we will need a revamped conservative-libertarian alliance to oppose the vast expansion of government that looms around the corner.

Reforging the conservative-libertarian coalition will be very hard. Relations between the two groups have always been tense, and the last eight years have undeniably drawn down the stock of goodwill. But if we can't find a new way to hang together, we are all too likely to hang separately.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The VC's 2006 Discussion of Libertarian-Conservative Fusionism:
  2. Return of the Conservative-Libertarian Coalition?
Pensans:
It also depends on what libertarians do.

The natural connection between conservatives and liberals rests on the Whiggish traditions of the U.S.

This allows room for communities to establish laws conformable to their ethical traditions while leaving vast swathes of governmental action limited by protection for property and contract.

Libertarians who join in the culture war of denunciation against traditonal communities and seek to dismantle completely the relation between law and religion cannot be allies of conservatives.
11.6.2008 12:23am
Matt_T:
This is doable, but Palin and the idiot wing must be discarded. The right must abandon the statists and regulators within if it wants libertarian support against those of the left.
11.6.2008 12:31am
emdash:
Agree strongly that casting off the idiot wing—and the conceit that idiots deserve high office simply because it serves the elitists among their opponents right—is necessary. Voting Republican shouldn't always be something that urbanites with brains can't bring themselves to do.
11.6.2008 12:51am
Doc W (mail):
The neocons have to go. No truce, no coalition with the big-government warhawks,

I would have thought the religious conservatives had learned their lesson, that seeking to impose their will on their neighbors invites counter-imposition when the political tides shift, but the first comment above suggests maybe not.

I think Ron Paul sets a pretty good example. Work with whoever supports liberty, issue by issue. Never mouth the party line or sell out your principles just to gain influence. You'll only get used.
11.6.2008 12:52am
MisterBigTop (mail):
I posted this in the other thread, but I'll do so here as well.

Being gay, one might expect me to be a Democrat. However, I agree with the Republicans on abortion, economics, crime/punishment, and defense. If any of those were to be removed from the platform, I have to admit that I might rethink my allegiance to the GOP.

I agree with the idea that the party needs to lay off the anti-gay rhetoric, but for some republicans, social issues other than gay marriage are still important, so if you remove that faction completely, you're going to lose a significant number of voters. You can call them the kook fringe if you want, but those voters do come out in droves and it'd be a shame to completely lose them instead of figuring a way to work with them under the big tent.

In all honesty, the best way to create a big tent is for Republicans to promote federalism. I agree that we would win more elections if the culture wars were off the table on the national level, but that won't happen until the courts change. Promoting our understanding of federalism can change that.

I know this will offend some libertarian purists, but I have no problem with one state banning abortion, another banning it after the first trimester , and yet another funding it in its own clinics. That's the beauty of our country. The federal courts should not be magically creating rights where the Constitution does not contain them. In that sense, Roberts and Alito have been great so far. We need more judges like them in the federal judiciary.
11.6.2008 12:52am
Suzy (mail):
There's no need to sever connections to religion and tradition, but those things need to represent stability and safety, not this extremist stuff. It makes people nervous, not secure. Even Huckabee, a favorite of the Evangelicals, has broader appeal because he seems like a guy who isn't going to shove his religious views down your throat. I don't know whether that's true, but he didn't come across as a real fire-breather.

Think about how the gay marriage thing works as an issue. If either side can define it as the opposing side forcing their beliefs on people who just want to be left alone, they win! The same principle applies to govt. activities: Take care of us, so we don't have to worry and fear, but then leave us alone and don't take our money. The liberals are preparing to take care of us and also not leave us alone. If they fail to take good care of us, and we don't like the extra meddling, then a new storyline can emerge that's compatible with small govt/local control conservatism.

Can I emphasize again, if Palin or someone like her is chosen as the vehicle, this fails? Her dedication to winning wars doesn't seem reassuring; instead people worry it will make things worse. Her idiocy doesn't reassure anyone; just the opposite. Her religiosity only appeals to those of exactly the same stripe; everyone else bristles.
11.6.2008 12:53am
Cold Warrior:
Yeah, the mainstream media did its damndest to make Palin look quite the fool.

But it could never compete with what the McCain campaign is doing to her now, with the curious support of Fox News ...

... latest report: she didn't realize Africa was a continent rather than a country.
11.6.2008 12:57am
ARCraig (mail):
It all depends on how the GOP conducts itself in Congress, how they sell themselves in 2010, and most importantly who they nominate in 2012.

Personally, I think the current crop of conservatives and Republicans have proven that their libertarian rhetoric is completely meaningless if they actually gain power. The GOP has done pretty much everything it conceivably could to not only alienate libertarians, but to drive them screaming from the party. Short of a major purge and/or shift in Republican/conservative leadership, fusionism will stay dead and rightfully so. I frankly think the future of libertarianism lies more in reaching out to the socially tolerant, instictively libertarian youth than in continuing the beat the dead horse of conservative-libertarian fusionism. There simply can't be any real alliance between libertarians and the social/moral authoritarians that make up the most substantive and influential bloc of conservatism, not to mention the war hawks. Fusionism has been completely unproductive, and arguably even counter-productive, in moving the country in a more libertarian direction.
11.6.2008 12:58am
Anonperson (mail):
For this to happen, the Republicans really, really need to ditch the anti-intellectualism, the anti-immigration attitudes, accusations of un-Americanism, and general fear-mongering. It was such a joke for McCain to hold up "Joe the Plumber" as an American hero.
11.6.2008 1:07am
greenish (mail):
What does it even mean for there to be a "coalition"?
11.6.2008 1:16am
JB:
The Republicans need to get back to the very basics: Making government work. Libertarianism and the free market are not the best system because they descended from heaven or something--they're the best because they are the most successful at providing liberty and prosperity. If something better comes along in a specific instance, libertarians must work to make sure it works.

The Republicans over the last 14 years had the attitude that "Government is the problem, so if we run it badly it doesn't matter." That has to go. Government has a small but essential role, and no matter how big or small it gets if it is entangled in corruption, regulatory capture, and bad governance it will be a disaster. "Good governance through smaller government" has to be the slogan going forward.
11.6.2008 1:24am
Gilbert (mail):
As far as McCain's opposition to torture, my recollection is that, while McCain took a principled stance against torture to begin with, he ultimately caved and, after meeting with the president, endorsed a definition of cruel and inhumane conduct that permitted a great deal of ambiguity.

If I am wrong, I hope to be corrected.
11.6.2008 1:28am
eyesay:
Ilya Somin wrote
"Many of the items on the likely Democratic legislative agenda are anathema to both groups [libertarians and conservatives]: a vast expansion of government control of health care,
We can't have that. Never mind that by getting rid of the insurance companies, we could provide health care for all for less than we're paying now for health care from some. Never mind that the United States is the only industrialized nation without national health care, and citizens of these other nations are far more satisfied with their health care than we are with ours. Never mind that their health care results in longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and better health overall.
new legal privileges for labor unions,
We can't have that. The workers are looting &mdash looting, I say — the ability of management to pay itself multimillion dollar salaries, even as they drive their own companies into the ground
expanded regulation of a variety of industries
We can't have that. We have to let the investment bankers, hedge fund managers, mortgage repackagers, and other finance wizards work their magic unfettered by commie regulation.
protectionism
We sure cannot allow product safety regulations, workplace safety regulations, or any other environmental or labor standards get in the way of corporate megaprofits. Most important, we sure don't want any laws restricting the importation of melamine-contaminated dairy products.
increased government spending on infrastructure
We have to make sure that bridges in Minneapolis are allowed to collapse on a regular basis, in order to keep the bridge-building industry busy. We sure can't reinforce the flood control system in New Orleans, or the Sacramento River delta for that matter, because that would, uh, uh, [head explodes].
and a variety of other purposes
because there's nothing in the constitution specifying that the purpose of government is to promote the general welfare, oh, wait. . .
11.6.2008 1:29am
Case2L (mail):
I absolutely agree with MisterBigTop. This thread and others here recently have gotten me quite depressed about the future of big-tent Republicanism. I happen to fit into both groups, being an evangelical Christian social conservative and a libertarian. Its quite possible to be both, especially when so many of their interests and issues coincide.

Why is it necessary for all the members of a party to share exactly the same views? You jettison either group, and both of them will be spending many years in the wilderness until some similar schism in the Democrat Party happens between the "Labour Party" types and the Progressives. People have to learn to set priorities, and be willing to negotiate on items that are lower down on the list. To not support someone because of what church/synagogue/mosque they go to, even if it has a minimal effect on how he or she legislates or governs is just crazy, especially when not supporting that person leads to somebody else much worse winning the election.
11.6.2008 1:30am
Sam Draper (mail):
In the last day or so I have been reminded about the contempt many libertarians hold for social conservatives. They blame social conservatives for recent losses and suggest they should be jettisoned from the Republican Party, which is of course ridiculous. Without social conservatives, the Republicans would get like 15% of the vote.

I have become pretty dispirited about the prospect of a new fusionism. Libertarians are suicidal in their politics, more self-righteous than any preacher and generally very immature and absolutist in their political thinking. Present company excepted of course.

I believe fusionism could still work, as both the social conservatives and libertarians fundamentally want the government off their backs, but from what I have experienced too many libertarians have become completely unhinged. Things are going to have to get pretty bad for the old marriage to be put back together again. There is probably only one person who can accomplish that.

Obamawankanobi, you are our only hope.
11.6.2008 1:36am
Frater Plotter:
Here's how Republicans can start earning the vote of this libertarian:

Get rid of the "law-and-order, to hell with your rights" attitude inherited from Clinton and Janet Reno. Get the CIA out of domestic politics, the FBI off of everyone's phones, and the DEA the hell out of my yard.

Stop confusing dissent with disloyalty. Anyone who seriously uses the word "un-American" should be booed; anyone who makes knowingly false accusations of treason should be charged with slander. Use that vaunted party discipline to rein in the fascist tendencies.

Learn the word "diplomacy". Nixon was a crook, but even he got this one right. A foreign policy consisting entirely of saber-rattling, air raids (see also Clinton), and invasions is not worthy of the name. Obama will probably try to do the right thing here; don't get in his way.

Start looking for competence, not political correctness, in appointees. Here, I am not sure if Obama will get this right. Republicans should use congressional review of appointments to demand highly intelligent nonconformists, not partisan hacks.

If you're looking for budget cuts, don't dick around with small change like Medicare. Go for the big bucks -- like military boondoggles and fraudulent wars. Cut those first; they cost the taxpayer a lot more than Medicare does.

Push for serious, hard-hitting reductions in government power. This means firing jack-booted thugs (remember them from the Clinton years?) and repealing the laws that call for them. This means holding the line against new or reborn forms of authoritarianism (like the "Fairness Doctrine") while still cutting old authoritarianism too.
11.6.2008 1:40am
Anonperson (mail):
Without social conservatives, the Republicans would get like 15% of the vote.

In terms of policies, I'm probably center-right. However, I am so turned off by various aspects of Republicans that I usually vote Democratic.

I'm not turned off by social conservatism per se, but rather actions such as picking Palin (which was ridiculous not because of her social conservatism, but because of her gross unfitness) and holding up Joe the Plumber as some kind of great American hero.

(Social conservatives would go a long way towards dispelling the notion that they are idiots by disowning Sarah Palin.)
11.6.2008 1:45am
David Warner:
A question for those so terribly concerned about people "imposing" their views on you. Which ones? How have they been "imposed" on you? If that effort wasn't successful, how close are they to successfully "imposing" that view on you?

Are you aware that the Moral Majority is:

(1) No longer a majority
(2) Very disillusioned with political (as opposed to cultural) solutions to the problems they perceive
(3) Have actually achieved some of their objectives (reduced teen pregnancies, for instance), and so are less militant in any case
11.6.2008 1:48am
David Warner:
Frater Plotter,

Great points, all.
11.6.2008 1:50am
MisterBigTop (mail):
"ts quite possible to be both, especially when so many of their interests and issues coincide. "

I agree. It's quite possible to be a little bit of both, especially when one considers the difference between national and local politics.

It's important to remember that the social conservatives who vote GOP tend to ALSO be conservative in other areas. (As opposed to social conservative minority groups who will often go for the Dems because other beliefs are more important to them. ) Having talked with many of these conservatives and libertarians over the years, there are many areas in which the two factions strongly agree.

I think both sides need to learn to compromise. For example, take the issue of drugs. it's true that most social conservatives are staunchly opposed to drug legalization and most libertarians are pretty strong in favor of it, but even then there is some room for compromise. Most conservatives would be willing to end the issue at the federal level and return it to the states as part of a larger movement that removed some power from all branches of the federal government and returned it to the local governments. While it wouldn't satisfy the libertarian purists who see drug use as some form of constitutional right, it would take care of many of the concerns of libertarians about the War on Drugs. Then, state by state, the merits of legalization could be debated. The conservative states would probably ban them and the more liberal states would make it legal, but. The two sides could come together in swing states to reduce sentences for simple possession and things like that.

In order for the coalition to work again, compromise must be made by both sides and common ground found without expecting either side to toss out everything it believes in.
11.6.2008 1:51am
ARCraig (mail):
Frankly, I don't see how it can be claimed that conservatism as it stands now is any more libertarian than mainstream liberalism. A 4% change in the top income tax bracket does not outweigh massive increases in spending, complete contempt for the Constitution, a huge needless war, expanded Federalization of education, massive new handouts, unprecedented corporate welfare, and last but not least all the social authoritarians and moralizing puritans. Not that I'm saying the Democrats are any better on the whole than Republicans, I just don't see how any one can claim the latter to be the more libertarian of the two after the past eight years.
11.6.2008 1:55am
MisterBigTop (mail):
Apologies for my many typos and errors. I haven't slept well since the election results came back.
11.6.2008 1:58am
Frater Plotter:
David Warner - What makes you think that the drop in teen pregnancies has anything to do with social conservatives achieving their goals?

The science shows that areas that embraced social-conservative policies such as abstinence-only sex education and limited access to abortions have increased rates of teen pregnancies, while comprehensive sex education and a liberal attitude towards sex goes along with decreased rates of teen pregnancies.

A drop in teen pregnancies has been achieved in spite of social conservative anti-education policies, not because of them.
11.6.2008 2:03am
kiniyakki (mail):
First, why do conservatives (and libertarians) dislike the idea of gov't run health care? It seems like it is becomming an area that only the gov't could run. I'm not fan of gov't taking over industry, but health care seems like libraries, schools, police, fire, parks, railroads etc. The gov't should create and run a central system - but leave plenty of room for private enterprise - just like the areas I mentioned above. Balance could exist where everybody had coverage, but the private industry (like private colleges, libraries) pushed the envolope. Maybe I can't see the problems that would emerge in the details, but this seems the case to me.

Second, does anybody think Obama can/will shrink the federal gov't and balance the budget (or at least lower deficit spending)?
11.6.2008 2:12am
kiniyakki (mail):
MisterBigTop (or any libertarian),

Do libertarians want all drugs legalized? Or just marijuana?
11.6.2008 2:14am
David Warner:
Frater,

My understanding is that the science is inconclusive one way or the other, which explains why a lot of soc-cons have shifted their emphasis from policy to culture. I'm going to need some pretty strong linkage on the former to convince me otherwise, as the only studies I've seen backing your claims are pretty suspect.

Regardless, the stated goal having been largely reached, the militancy is lessened.
11.6.2008 2:18am
David Warner:
kiniyakki,

"Second, does anybody think Obama can/will shrink the federal gov't and balance the budget (or at least lower deficit spending)?"

Yes. The Pentagon will soon be known as The Triangle.
11.6.2008 2:20am
Brian K (mail):
As far as McCain's opposition to torture, my recollection is that, while McCain took a principled stance against torture to begin with, he ultimately caved and, after meeting with the president, endorsed a definition of cruel and inhumane conduct that permitted a great deal of ambiguity.

your recollection is correct. he (briefly) talked the talk, but couldn't walk the walk.
11.6.2008 2:31am
MCM (mail):
However, a renewed libertarian-conservative coalition could help limit the damage and begin to build the foundation for a new pro-limited government political movement.


And what is it that the libertarians bring to such a coalition? Their large share of the electorate? Their numerous votes in the House and Senate? Perhaps control of some of the 50 state legislatures across our nation?

Of course, conservatives will be more than happy to come to libertarians for intellectual firepower when building their case against government health care initiatives or raising taxes. And those same conservatives will be just as happy to turn their backs on you when the next Grand Theft Auto game comes out.
11.6.2008 2:41am
musefree (www):
Kiniyakki --

On the drugs issue, most libertarians want all drugs legalized, (with regulation to ensure that they are not sold to children, that people don't use drugs and drive etc).
11.6.2008 2:44am
Bedrock Principles:
I know this will offend some libertarian purists, but I have no problem with one state banning abortion, another banning it after the first trimester , and yet another funding it in its own clinics. That's the beauty of our country.

Not only libertarian purists. Basically this positon protects the unborn in one state but allows their murder in another. To condone abortion is to condone murder. And not only should the abortionist be held responsible, but also the woman, for it is she who instigates the crime.
11.6.2008 3:05am
Splunge:
Well, Somin, in the first place I think you need to distinguish between libertarians and mere narcissists. A lot of the latter masquerade as the former, e.g. pretty much the entire crowd at slashdot.org, substantial slices of the Reason potheads, and lawyers eager to fling monkey wrenches into the persecution (I use the word advisedly) of public enemies so long as it brings them personally some bankable fame.

For these folks, "liberty" pretty much means I get what I want, even if it puts everyone else into chains. They believe in "liberty" in the same degenerate sense that a Stalinist believes in "sharing." (Oy! Comrade, if you share with me your bread, I will share with you my slogans to educate your stupid peasant mind.) No one following in the philosophical steps of Madison should give these fraudsters the time of day, let alone indulge the illusion of meaningful alliance. They belong to the party of ego and self.

The remaining core of principled libertarians, who really do believe strongly in live and let live, should be regarded as a militia, not a standing army. They'll rise up when sufficiently enraged to defend their liberty, but between active threats they disperse to their actual lives. I mean, the principled libertarian is nauseated by the necessity of government, and tends to loathe every application of it with which he cooperates. It's like taking out the garbage. Who prolongs it? You run for the dumpster, get it over with as fast as possible.

So the notion of some extended mutual NATO alliance-building, complete with cultural exchanges, is kind of unlikely. True libertarians are going to just zone out, thinking about skiing or sex, during your logistics and strategy meetings. A better idea would be to fashion some kind of skeleton structure of conservatism, into which the libertarian militia could comfortably slot itself when an existential threat arose.

That means, on the conservative side, conservatives have to carry the ball for libertarians when the latter are off-duty. You can't neglect those principles -- small government, property rights -- when you're at peacetime strength, because it's like stripping off the insignia. When you call for libertarian reinforcements, they don't recognize you any more as their ally.

From the libertarian side, there needs to be some appreciation for the fact that conservatives do form the standing army. Libertarians tune in for crises, then drop out and go on with their lives. But somebody has got to keep watch all the time, and that tends to be conservatives. Libertarians need to give them credit for that, make accomodations to some of their reasonable claims for leadership. You can't reserve the right to refuse every marching order, parachute in and out of the party as you please, and expect to wield the same level of leadership as those who are full-time and fully loyal soldiers.

They also need to practise a little strategic deafness. Conservatives like to talk about values and sin a lot, and it grates on the libertarian ear, because the libertarian fears such talk leads to oppressive action. But very often it's just talk, a form of mere community bonding -- ghost stories over the campfire -- that libertarians don't quite get, not being that fond of community bonding in the first place. Frequently enough, if you merely let conservatives have their talk, and nod appreciatively I see what you mean, yes, an interesting and valuable point then they're happy enough.
11.6.2008 3:07am
Reg (mail):

why do conservatives (and libertarians) dislike the idea of gov't run health care? It seems like it is becomming an area that only the gov't could run. I'm not fan of gov't taking over industry, but health care seems like libraries, schools, police, fire, parks, railroads etc.


Ignorance like this is why Republicans are embracing big government.

#1 Problems with our health care system are due to government regulation of insurance and medicine, and subsidy of insurance and medicine through employer tax breaks, medicare, and medicaid. We've built the expectation that everybody is entitled to the best care possible, regardless of the marginal cost or benefit. When you subsidize something, it increases the cost of it, and leads to overruse. (inefficient allocation of resources to medicine)

#2 Why the hell do you think ONLY the government can run libraries, schools, parks, or Railroads? Railroads are private! Libraries don't need to exist in a world with Barnes &Noble, amazon, and Netflix. There are private parks all over. Schools could be easily privatized under a model that would work to fix a lot of the problems with medicine: VOUCHERS.

#3 Where does the money come to pay for all of this? We need a charismatic Ron Paul to explain how massive debt spending causes inflation, which is really a massive tax on wealth, and distorts the market, leading to credit bubbles that lead to massive unemployment and depression.
11.6.2008 3:19am
Reg (mail):
Where is it that libertarians fear religious conservative "imposition" of their values?

First, take abortion of the table because the pro-life case is every bit as libertarian as the pro-choice case, the value judgment being made isn't with regard to liberty, it's with regard to who is entitled to liberty.

For the most part, religous conservatives are seeking liberty to live as they see fit without government interference or indoctrination. If you privatize schools, let them raise their kids according to their beliefs, and give religious groups and businesses freedom to organize according to their precepts, outside of discrimination laws, you have given religious conservatives 95% of what they want, and it wouldn't be difficult to get them to sign off on getting the state out of the business of licensing marriages. Look at them like the Amish.
11.6.2008 3:29am
Splunge:
First, why do conservatives (and libertarians) dislike the idea of gov't run health care?

Because health care is nothing like fire prevention or providing public parks. Fire prevention is a precisely-defined task: Oops, there's a fire. Put it out. Pretty much everyone agrees on the ingredient list for a good park, too: grass, trees, assorted wildlife.

By contrast, health care is characterized by its undefinability, it's huge burden of individual taste and circumstance. Tell me, what defines "treatment" of breast cancer? Let us even be very specific -- of Stage III (locally metastatic) cancer in a 75-year-old widow with a touch of CHF but otherwise in good health? Do you not immediately see that there are about a million deeply personal choices to be made there? Aggressive treatment or palliative care? Experimental therapies or not? What kind of regimen, what kind of psychological support, what kind of trade-off of expense in money and suffering and quality of life for sheer quantity of life?

Who on Earth could ever hope to make a one size fits all, whipped up in Washington by a bunch of lawyers, plan that would do justice to every one of the 10,000 women who must make those decisions every year? You would, inevitably, massively screw it up, and I can't imagine any economics of scale savings that would compensate for that misery.

So don't try. Leave the crazy-quilt system in place, so people can vote with their feet, slot themselves in wherever they like, with whatever combination of providers and philosophies and economic tradeoffs they prefer.

The only really useful thing would be to get rid of the stupid tax policies that lock health care to full-time employers, so that you choose your health plan, not your CEO and board, and there is not such a giant penalty for having a gap between jobs, or going part-time, or becoming self-employed. But the only guy who proposed to address that just got fried in the election, so that's that.
11.6.2008 3:29am
David Warner:
Splunge,

"Frequently enough, if you merely let conservatives have their talk, and nod appreciatively I see what you mean, yes, an interesting and valuable point then they're happy enough."

Exactly. Unfortunately for the R's, Obama's already figured this out. Its about respect (Palin got it too). Only if he takes direct action, or fails to prevent direct action, against principles the moderately SoCon center holds dear will they be available for any conceivable coalition outside the Democratic Party.
11.6.2008 3:42am
kiniyakki (mail):
Reg,

Your explanation that this was "ignorance" is very useful. Don't become bitter b/c your guy lost and won't become arrogant b/c my guy won.

I don't understand your #1. Too many other countries have sucessful gov't health care programs for me to buy this generalized argument.

Your #2 misses my point. I don't think "ONLY the government" can run these services - the government takes the lead, but the private sector takes part also. Particularly in university education - gov't schools do a lot, but a significant amount of the ground breaking research is at private universities. Why couldn't this same situation exist in health care? (note - THE ALL CAPS MAKES ME THINK THAT YOU ARE OUT OF CONTROL AND YELLING)

As to #3, we can do this and not have debt spending - see the Clinton years (and to show I am not ignorant and biased - Reagen policies should be credited for a big chunk of the extra revenue Clinton had).
11.6.2008 3:44am
MCM (mail):
why do conservatives (and libertarians) dislike the idea of gov't run health care? It seems like it is becomming an area that only the gov't could run. I'm not fan of gov't taking over industry, but health care seems like libraries, schools, police, fire, parks, railroads etc.

Ignorance like this is why Republicans are embracing big government.

#1 Problems with our health care system are due to government regulation of insurance and medicine, and subsidy of insurance and medicine through employer tax breaks, medicare, and medicaid. We've built the expectation that everybody is entitled to the best care possible, regardless of the marginal cost or benefit. When you subsidize something, it increases the cost of it, and leads to overruse. (inefficient allocation of resources to medicine)

#2 Why the hell do you think ONLY the government can run libraries, schools, parks, or Railroads? Railroads are private! Libraries don't need to exist in a world with Barnes &Noble, amazon, and Netflix. There are private parks all over. Schools could be easily privatized under a model that would work to fix a lot of the problems with medicine: VOUCHERS.

#3 Where does the money come to pay for all of this? We need a charismatic Ron Paul to explain how massive debt spending causes inflation, which is really a massive tax on wealth, and distorts the market, leading to credit bubbles that lead to massive unemployment and depression.


Nonsense like this is why libertarians get less than 500,000 votes out of 130,000,000 cast.

#1 Problems with our health care system exist because our system of socialized losses with privatized profits is apparently incapable of producing enough supply to meet demand. The solution is either to fully privatize the system or to fully socialize the system. Given that every other industrialized country on this planet has settled on the latter, my conservative impulses lead me to believe we should do the same instead of embarking on such a brave new policy as not investing in a healthy workforce.

#2 I say this as gently as possible, but the idea that "libraries do not need to exist because we have Borders" causes me nothing but pity for you.

In any case, yes, we could privatize schools and roads and parks and all that. The question is whether or not the market will end up producing the optimal amount of those goods and services. Historically it's pretty clear that the answer has been "No". But who knows! Perhaps the fundamentals of human economic behavior have changed while we weren't looking.

#3 You're presupposing that government cannot balance a large budget and must instead engage in deficit spending. You're also wrong that deficit spending itself causes inflation. Inflation is the result of the money supply growing faster than the supply goods and services that the money supply is meant to act as a counter or token for. Anyone can add goods and services to the economy, while only the government can add money to the economy. Assuming the economy is growing, the government must add more money to the economy, or you get deflation instead. Deficit spending is one way to add money, and it doesn't necessarily result in inflation itself.
11.6.2008 3:47am
kiniyakki (mail):
Splunge,

How does the variety of medical treatments rule out the possiblity of gov't providing at least minimal coverage for everybody? I understand that minimal coverage might mean all choices aren't available for everyone - but that isn't the case now anyways.
11.6.2008 3:50am
a knight (mail) (www):
Jeff Flake? Please stop Professor, you're making me laugh. Flake is only libertarian minded when it comes to the money. When he comes around to a libertarian perspective about immigration, let me know, ok?

No rational libertarian would think about aligning with conservatives presently, given their debauchery during The GOP Gong Wild In D.C: 2002-2006. They have plundered the treasury, and they have engaged in the illegitimate theft of habeas corpus. Nine (soon to be 8, and when Stevens gets taken down 7) recognized conservative Senators voted against the McCain anti-torture amendment.

Cheer up though, Bob Barr will soon be singing in your choir.
11.6.2008 4:02am
Frater Plotter:
And while I'm making demands, here's some other things the Republicans could do to impress me:


Stop fighting with scientists over the facts of scientific discoveries, be they global warming or evolution. Scientific discoveries will stand or fall on their own and do not benefit from partisan meddling. (Please note: Al Gore is not a scientist. Argue with him all you want about policy. But the moment you start censoring scientific publications in the name of policy, you're in the same boat as Stalin and Lysenko.)

If you do not believe that the government can solve market problems in the case of the health care market, please consider applying the same logic to other markets, such as fuel and food. It is not the government's place to pick winners. Subsidizing ethanol, for instance, has proven to be bad for the taxpayer and for the market.

More broadly: Industry is vital to the future of our country. But industry cannot be competitive in a global market if it is weakened by a dependence on subsidies and protectionism. The Republican Party can use its minority role in Congress to act as a gadfly on wasteful spending -- including subsidies that soak the taxpayer and weaken American business's competitiveness.

Oh, and that fixing the tax code thing? Obama's big on helping ordinary Americans. Work with that. Don't try for giveaways to the rich or anything as radical as FairTax. Instead, make sure that Obama gets his promised tax cut for ordinary Americans -- but with a simplification of the tax code and a reformation of taxes for small businesses and the self-employed.
11.6.2008 4:34am
Is it over yet?:
Reading this whining infantile drivel is more depressing than November 4th.

Ilya Somin is so right about the ignorance of the typical voter/citizen. The statements made here show a level of wanton stupidity that defies belief.

And, yes, that's intended to be a massive insult, so there's no need for anyone to follow-up reiterating the obvious.

The Democratic Party will be in power for a very, very long time, having discovered how to fool 50.01% of the people every two years.
11.6.2008 4:40am
smitty1e:
Recommendation: how about getting past Libertarian and Conservative labels and instead being pro-Constitution?
11.6.2008 6:04am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
If Obama opts for moderation and keeps his promise to produce a net decrease in federal spending...


HAHAHAHAHAHAAA *giggle* *snort*.

That's a good one.

Recommendation: how about getting past Libertarian and Conservative labels and instead being pro-Constitution?


Which constitution are you referring to? The one that authorizes the government as health care provider. the one that forbids the government from banning guns, or the one that guarantees a right to gay marriage?
11.6.2008 7:11am
Alexia:

Not only libertarian purists. Basically this positon protects the unborn in one state but allows their murder in another.


I am not a lawyer. But I am pretty sure that the laws against murder are on the books of the states, and not the federal government.

The Constitution doesn't give the right to regulate murder, abortion or otherwise, to the federal government.
11.6.2008 7:13am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
And while I'm making demands, here's some other things the Republicans could do to impress me...

Subsidizing ethanol, for instance, has proven to be bad for the taxpayer and for the market.


You had your chance to elect pretty much the only senator with the balls to say no to ethanol right to the face of the farmer lobbies. Politicians will learn from your decision.

Shouldn't this be a demand made to the democrats? Or do they get a pass?
11.6.2008 7:16am
blabla:
We should also throw our support--intellectual, financial, and otherwise--behind the most libertarian Republican presidential candidates. Right now I'm looking at Mark Sanford, but I'm sure there are others. Another plausible tactic might be to support the "Blue Dog" Democrats, depending on how they behave over the next few years.
11.6.2008 8:00am
Horatio (mail):
Who is John Galt?

I, for one, can't wait for our new Overlords to start implementing policies for "the greater good", and I fully expect cooperation from Republicans.

No matter how you cut it, with very few exceptions, members of Congress are there to pass legislation that in some way regulates behavior - social or economic.

Oh well, the Gulch may not be a physical place, but it embodies a real mindset. Time to deny the looters their booty.

++++++++++

For twelve years you've been asking "Who is John Galt?" This is John Galt speaking. I'm the man who's taken away your victims and thus destroyed your world. You've heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis and that Man's sins are destroying the world. But your chief virtue has been sacrifice, and you've demanded more sacrifices at every disaster. You've sacrificed justice to mercy and happiness to duty. So why should you be afraid of the world around you?

Your world is only the product of your sacrifices. While you were dragging the men who made your happiness possible to your sacrificial altars, I beat you to it. I reached them first and told them about the game you were playing and where it would take them. I explained the consequences of your 'brother-love' morality, which they had been too innocently generous to understand. You won't find them now, when you need them more than ever.

We're on strike against your creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. If you want to know how I made them quit, I told them exactly what I'm telling you tonight. I taught them the morality of Reason that it was right to pursue one's own happiness as one's principal goal in life. I don't consider the pleasure of others my goal in life, nor do I consider my pleasure the goal of anyone else's life.

I am a trader. I earn what I get in trade for what I produce. I ask for nothing more or nothing less than what I earn. That is justice. I don't force anyone to trade with me; I only trade for mutual benefit. Force is the great evil that has no place in a rational world. One may never force another human to act against his/her judgment. If you deny a man's right to Reason, you must also deny your right to your own judgment. Yet you have allowed your world to be run by means of force, by men who claim that fear and joy are equal incentives, but that fear and force are more practical.

You've allowed such men to occupy positions of power in your world by preaching that all men are evil from the moment they're born. When men believe this, they see nothing wrong in acting in any way they please. The name of this absurdity is 'original sin'. That's inmpossible. That which is outside the possibility of choice is also outside the province of morality. To call sin that which is outside man's choice is a mockery of justice. To say that men are born with a free will but with a tendency toward evil is ridiculous. If the tendency is one of choice, it doesn't come at birth. If it is not a tendency of choice, then man's will is not free.

And then there's your 'brother-love' morality. Why is it moral to serve others, but not yourself? If enjoyment is a value, why is it moral when experienced by others, but not by you? Why is it immoral to produce something of value and keep it for yourself, when it is moral for others who haven't earned it to accept it? If it's virtuous to give, isn't it then selfish to take?

Your acceptance of the code of selflessness has made you fear the man who has a dollar less than you because it makes you feel that that dollar is rightfully his. You hate the man with a dollar more than you because the dollar he's keeping is rightfully yours. Your code has made it impossible to know when to give and when to grab.

You know that you can't give away everything and starve yourself. You've forced yourselves to live with undeserved, irrational guilt. Is it ever proper to help another man? No, if he demands it as his right or as a duty that you owe him. Yes, if it's your own free choice based on your judgment of the value of that person and his struggle. This country wasn't built by men who sought handouts. In its brilliant youth, this country showed the rest of the world what greatness was possible to Man and what happiness is possible on Earth.

Then it began apologizing for its greatness and began giving away its wealth, feeling guilty for having produced more than ikts neighbors. Twelve years ago, I saw what was wrong with the world and where the battle for Life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality and that my acceptance of that morality was its only power. I was the first of the men who refused to give up the pursuit of his own happiness in order to serve others.

To those of you who retain some remnant of dignity and the will to live your lives for yourselves, you have the chance to make the same choice. Examine your values and understand that you must choose one side or the other. Any compromise between good and evil only hurts the good and helps the evil.

If you've understood what I've said, stop supporting your destroyers. Don't accept their philosophy. Your destroyers hold you by means of your endurance, your generosity, your innocence, and your love. Don't exhaust yourself to help build the kind of world that you see around you now. In the name of the best within you, don't sacrifice the world to those who will take away your happiness for it.

The world will change when you are ready to pronounce this oath:

"I swear by my Life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man,nor ask another man to live for the sake of mine."

+++++++++++

The only questions remaining are:

Can you name the real life analogues of Mr. Thompson, Balph Eubank, Floyd Ferris, James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Paul Larkin, Robert Stadler, Simon Pritchett, Wesley Mouch, Eugene Lawson, Cuffy Meigs. Nominations anyone?

Where are Galt, Francisco D'Anconia, Ragnar Danneskjold, Henry Rearden, and Dagny Taggart?
11.6.2008 8:02am
Eric Dondero (mail) (www):
Not hard at all. We Libertarians, and especially we Libertarian Republicans have stood by our Conservative friends for years, even in this election. Yes, we swayed to Bob Barr for a while. But when McCain picked libertarian Republican Sarah Palin, we came back to the GOP fold with gusto!

Wanna ensure continued libertarian support for the GOP?

Sarah Palin 2012!!!

Eric Dondero, Publisher
Libertarian Republican blog
11.6.2008 8:25am
Sarcastro (www):
Palin: Libertarian to the core, but too classy to show it off.
11.6.2008 8:50am
Matt_T:
Either Eric Dondero is a better troll than Sarcastro (today, anyway) or he's been eating paint chips.
11.6.2008 9:09am
Gamecockjerry (mail):
How long is this trashing of Palin going to go on? Now it is the Africa comment. So, you want me to believe that someone who actually traveled to Africa did not know it was a continent, but a country. I guess she went looking for dinosaurs.

The way to win is to defeat the fear supplied by the Dems. Logic does not work for Dem voters.

1. Jews vote democratic because they fear what the Christian right might do one day as they side with pro-PLO/Hamas pols, when PLO/Hamas are actually killing Jews today.

2. Unions vote democratic because they fear the Repubs will destroy the unions as they side with the envirocrazies who are determined to destroy the union jobs - autos, coal, oil,

3. Single women vote because they fear Repubs will take away abortion.

4. Minorities fear the repubs making them 3/5s again.

5. Old people fear loss of Soc Security.

it goes on and on. Fear trumps logic.
11.6.2008 9:10am
Sarcastro (www):
Gamecockjerry is right. And to me the best antidote to fear is a nice relaxing "Obama means another 9-11!"

Though in times of stress, I need let the anxieties float away with "He'll take our guns!"

These days, I've been really digging on the fear-eliminating "Obama means the destruction of Israel."

Conservatives: eliminating fear and bringing in the logic since Sept. 11, 2001.
11.6.2008 9:20am
Metoo:

Matt T Said: "but Palin and the idiot wing must be discarded"


This is really quite funny. I don't really know how you expect to win any election by alienating your base.

I grow weary of being maligned by my "betters". And I would remind you that Joe the Plumber did not ask Obama about abortion or gay marriage - he asked Obama about TAXES. A fiscal conservative, that Joe the Plumber. And if you look at how Palin governed - she is a fiscal conservative too. She did not waste time on pushing a lifestyle agenda (although she admitted to strong personal opinions on these issues).

So you need to stop being idiotic unless you want to lose every election going forward.
11.6.2008 9:23am
Calderon:
Conservatives could, however, adopt the combination of economic populism and social conservatism advocated by Mike Huckabee and others. It is even possible that the latter path will be more politically advantageous, at least in the short term.

I think that's exactly what will happen (though I'm a naturally pessimistic person). The Republican leadership looks back on the credit crunch, buys into the idea that deregulation was the problem, and swings heavily populist on economic policies to appeal to the lower and middle classes while continuing to portray the Democratic party as the party of economic and social elites.

The Republican candidate in 2012 is Pat Buchanan with a human face (Huckabee is an obvious choice but it could be someone else). Republicans come up with a platform that is protectionist with proposed tariffs and a "they took our jerbs" mentality; in favor of heavy regulation of the financial sector; strongly pro-small business while being more willing to raises taxes on larger or international companies (and this time with actual policies to subsidize small businesses); looking to raise taxes significantly at the very top (though more likely $1 million plus than $250,000 plus); willing to consider taxing high earners in certain "non-productive" industries like finance and law more heavily than other taxpayers; much more willing to bail out struggling American industries, etc. all the while continuing to promote social conservatism (an anti-gay marriage amendment being passed in California will only strengthen Republican beliefs that America is socially conservative).
11.6.2008 9:24am
Metoo:
The problem with the liberatarian view of immigration (open borders) is that we are currently living in a welfare state. Bringing in masses of unskilled labor into our state places a high burden on the taxpayers.

I love how people tell me how cheap my oranges are with all this illegal immigration. Yet I pay a lot of taxes to support social services for these new arrivals. How cheap are those oranges, really? No very.

Also, the 'comprehensive immigration reform' was to include, I read, Earned Income Tax Credit rights for the newly recognized residents. YIKES! Neat trick for business - transfering part of the cost of wages to the taxpayer ("We can't find anyone to do this job (at the wages we want to pay) so we need immigrants!) And this is a liberatarian position?

If you want open borders - get rid of the welfare state!
11.6.2008 9:35am
some dude:
You voted for McCain? Do you think you would even be talking about a possible "Return of the Conservative-Libertarian Coalition?" if you got your wish and McCain won?
11.6.2008 9:39am
Gramarye:
I'm speaking here as a "pragmatic" libertarian, not a principled one; my voting record over the course of my young life is reasonably purple and I don't just reflexively vote for the more libertarian candidate.

If libertarianism is to have a place at the table, either as part of a conservative fusionist coalition or in a newer "liberaltarian" coalition of the kind recently advocated by Brink Lindsey, libertarians are going to have to do a better job explaining to us hoi polloi why what certainly seem to be market failures are somehow failures of public policy, particularly of overregulation, overtaxation, or direct government involvement in the marketplace.

Also, while I sympathize with those libertarians who argue that social conservatives need to find a way to rein in or marginalize their radicals, I'd encourage those libertarians to look within their own ranks, too. Case in point: the above poster who said that we don't need libraries now that we have Amazon and Borders (which do not let you borrow books, only buy them) and Netflix (which, IIRC, involves borrowing movies, not books). I'd add to this those who have elsewhere on this blog and elsewhere on the Internet advocated privatizing police, fire, and road functions.
11.6.2008 9:41am
Floridan:
"It's no secret that the Bush years have severely strained and perhaps broken the conservative-libertarian political coalition."

To the extent that this is a libertarian-oriented blog, there is no real evidence for this statement. It seemed to me that a great deal of the pre-election blogging that was functionally in support of the Republican candidates -- there was little, if any, consideration given to voting for the Libertarian Party, for instance.

Libertarians may have been "deeply disappointed" by the Bush administration, but as long as they can be counted on to go forth and spread the GOP talking points, why should anyone believe libertarians actually believe in what they profess?
11.6.2008 9:51am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Gamecockjerry - Agreed on your Africa comment. It takes a special breed of stupid to believe that actually thought Africa was a country instead of a continent. The same kind of stupid that leads the same kind of people to trust the media that feeds them that crap and never ever questions it.
11.6.2008 10:15am
a knight (mail) (www):
Eric Dondero
Libertarian Republican == Poseur Libertarian
Libertarian Republican == Fainéant Republican
Libertarian Republican == Three Blind Mice
11.6.2008 10:29am
Robert Farrell (mail):
Real libertarians -- and I'm not sure there are enough of us to matter electorally (the author may actually be talking about liberal Republicans as opposed to libertarians) -- care about protecting civil liberties and opposing a governmental drift towards tyranny. With the Patriot Act, torture, rendition, the US attorney firings and various and sundry other abuses of power, conservatives have severely damaged their relationship with libertarians.

Conservatives need to remember that for libertarians, protecting freedom from a power-hungry state is job one. And while government-funded healthcare for all may pose in an indirect sense a threat to freedom, the ability of your government's law enforcement agencies to arbitrarily declare you an "enemy combatant" and without any burden of proof or due process strip you of your civil rights and your physical freedom, poses a far more direct threat of tyranny than S-CHIP.
11.6.2008 10:31am
Another David (mail):

Jeff Flake? Please stop Professor, you're making me laugh. Flake is only libertarian minded when it comes to the money. When he comes around to a libertarian perspective about immigration, let me know, ok?


Somebody who's only libertarian on economic policy is still roughly seven billion times more libertarian than most of the Republican Party.
11.6.2008 10:34am
Oren:
Case2L, whether you can sell it depends on whether I think you will ultimately cave to the social-issues-conservatives in your tent. At least I personally won't be comfortable with the coalition so long as it includes the Tipper-Gore/Nancy-Reagan crowd intent waging war on popular culture/videogames/pornography/drugs/gambling.

Perhaps you don't hold those ideals but it is reasonable for me to be wary that you will compromise on those issues with members of your coalition in order to govern effectively.
11.6.2008 10:50am
Weary Libertarian (mail):

Which constitution are you referring to? The one that authorizes the government as health care provider. the one that forbids the government from banning guns, or the one that guarantees a right to gay marriage?


Maybe the one that says everyone is entitled to the equal protection of the law----and then condones the kind of practices challenged in Bakke, Hopwood, and Grutter....

Oh, wait a minute. Given Tuesday's result, we're alll post-partisans and post-racialists now!!
11.6.2008 10:54am
MisterBigTop (mail):
Oren,

Enjoy never getting elected.
11.6.2008 10:57am
MisterBigTop (mail):
Oren,

Enjoy never getting elected.

You lack the ability to compromise. While video games and pornography raise 1A concerns to almost anyone, most people don't view drug use (especially anything other than marijuana) on the same level.
11.6.2008 10:59am
Bill2:
Where to begin... I guess with the original post. I agree. As someone who was a self-described libertarian before I read Meade's Jacksonian piece, I've always seen libertarians and conservatives as natural allies against the much-more-threatening common enemy ("The Left", socialism, collectivist, tranziism, whatever you want to call it). A key point that both sides need to realize is that many of the points of disagreement are moot anyway, because one side or the other has politically impossible policy preferences anyway. I've posted before about how much of the social conservative agenda that libertarians dislike is impossible anyway - banning abortion, prayer in public schools, creationism in public schools, etc... Short of a second civil war that plays out like the English Civil War (the Puritans were the last military force standing and imposed their will for a generation), none of that stuff is happening. The same is true for certain ideas dear to libertarians but rejected by most conservatives, such as drug legalization. However, the nasty stuff that the left wants and that both libertarians and conservatives agree are bad is all quite likely to happen if the left is in power.

So, let's cooperate on the common ground - taxes, entitlements, RKBA, economic liberty, etc... Let's politely agree to disagree on legislated morality (I actually lean libertarian here), law &order, drugs, immigration and national defense. Let's recognize that, considering both capabilities and intentions, the left is a greater threat to either of our viewpoints than either of us is to the other.

I was going to address some of the particular bad ideas floating around this thread - Palinphobia, "purge the Fundies from the GOP", defense of socialized medicine (what's that even doing in this thread, given that libertarians and actual conservatives agree its a bad idea). I think I won't do that directly. Instead I'm going to address what I see as a special affinity between libertarians and the particular Jacksonian flavor of conservative.

Jacksonians actual straddle the party divide. That's because they distrust big anything, except for big pentagon. This means a lot of them traditionally support Democrats because they buy into Democrat and union arguments against big business. Before Reagan, they had been with the Democrats for a long time on that basis, and the New Deal seemed focused on helping people like them (middle class taxpayers) as opposed to the Great Society emphasis on the non-working &non-taxpaying poor and minorities. However, most of those Jacksonian Democrats supported Reagan because they resent where the Democrats started going with the welfare state in the 1960's. They also strongly dislike the lefty's war on the RKBA. When big labor gets overbearing, as with Card Check, their dislike of authority can be focused in that direction, too. They are very open to libertarian &small government conservative arguments that engage their natural distrust of institutional authority (with the caveat that they do and will always trust the military, and you'll turn them against you if you preach the evils of that particular type of big government or come across as not dedicated to winning any war already in progress).

Another point to clarify - most of the Christian Right are Jacksonians, but most Jacksonians are not members of the Christian Right. It is a big mistake to think otherwise. The Jacksonians who are not, and even some who are, will be open to libertarian arguments against legislated morality if presented properly. Again, Jacksonians have an instinctive dislike for being told what to do - even if you are telling them that they must do something they were going to do anyway, or can’t do something they were not abut to do anyway.

So, the bottom line is that libertarians and conservatives of all stripes can successfully cooperate to oppose the left, and that libertarians can be especially successful engaging Jacksonian resentment of authority to support libertarian causes. However, that requires losing some of the elitist disdain, and particularly the Palinphobia. Palin is in fact not an idiot, and despite her personal faith is not a Religious Right ideologue. She is, however, a charismatic Jacksonian who can either be the focus of aligning Jacksonians with the common cause, or the focus of Jacksonian resentment against libertarian elitism that disrespects her - and through her the entire Jacksonian tribe. Then the left wins - divide &conquer.
11.6.2008 11:01am
trad and anon (mail):
Libertarianism is a marginal political philosophy in the U.S. There is virtually no support for libertarian polities like abolishing Social Security and Medicare. The only libertarian in Congress is Ron Paul.

The only place conservatives have any influence is by being vastly overrepresented among conservative elites, as with the existence of the Cato Institute. Or law schools, where the small percentage of libertarian professors vastly exceeds their even smaller numbers in the general population.
11.6.2008 11:04am
Sarcastro (www):

conservative elites

Balderdash! There is no such thing! All elites are liberal.
11.6.2008 11:10am
Calderon:
Libertarianism is a marginal political philosophy in the U.S. There is virtually no support for libertarian polities like abolishing Social Security and Medicare.

Agreed, it's time for libertarians to give up, at least for the foreseeable future, and start advocating for government policies that benefit them the way everyone is. You can always cloak the self-interestedness of these policies to seem like you're for the public good.

For example, most (all?) of the Volokh Conspiracy members are university professors. Time to get out there and start talking about how important a college / university education is, education is the bedrock of our nation and economy, and how students need more financial aid to let them attend college. With that additional money, and how it allows for higher tuitions, universities will have more money to bid up your salaries. The only ones who talk about financial aid giving rise to higher tuition is liberatians; if you shut up about it, you'll be better off.

If things turn several years down the road (and they might given spending increases, higher interest rates caused by foreigners less willing to buy American debt because of the large deficits, the coming bailout of the Big Three, etc.), then you can just pull a Bob Barr and say you've seen the light and go back to libertarianism.
11.6.2008 11:26am
DC:

Of course it would be nice if the Libertarians would at least run a real Libertarian... Barr wasn't much of a choice.

Nonetheless, as I was not in a battleground state, I held my nose and voted for the fake Libertarian that they did run.
11.6.2008 11:47am
opq (mail):
pure libertarianism . . . no libraries. nice. all those kids who can't afford Borders shouldn't have books or computer access. oh wait, somehow the free market will provide books to children whose parents don't buy them. and let them use the internet. riighhhht.
11.6.2008 12:03pm
Oren:
I won't get elected allying with conservatives, but I'm perfectly happy joining the Obama camp. I might not like his tax policies but the social liberty that he represents (Griswold's legacy) are fair recompense.

I would rather compromise my economic liberty than my civil and personal liberties. That is the bargain that libertarians must make -- join the conservatives and lose civil, join the liberals and lose economic. I will chose the latter 100 times out of 101.
11.6.2008 12:08pm
Weary Libertarian (mail):

That is the bargain that libertarians must make -- join the conservatives and lose civil, join the liberals and lose economic. I will chose the latter 100 times out of 101.


Economic (property) rights are civil rights. Without the former, you don't have the latter (at least not for long).
11.6.2008 12:12pm
Bedrock Principles:
Alexia:

The Constitution doesn't give the right to regulate murder, abortion or otherwise, to the federal government.

My comments assumed MisterBigTop's argument that the "right" to abortion would be returned to the states, where most conservatives/libertarians wish to see it. I contend there is no right to abortion, whether at the state or federal level, since abortion is murder. And under certain circumstances murder is a federal crime.
11.6.2008 12:33pm
Oren:
WL, I see it precisely the other way around. If the government can criminalize consensual sexual conducted in private between adults then they will find a moralizing reason to criminalize anything. What kind of protection for your substantive economic rights can you imagine will be provided by a man that believe it his right to regulate your sexual life?
11.6.2008 12:33pm
Mark@bloodstar (mail) (www):
Whatever, Economic Rights are meaningless if you don't have social rights. Conversely, the ability to assemble (Free Speech Zones? WTF?), the right to the religion of your own choice, the right to own fire-arms, to Not have to worry about illegal Search and Seizures, etc. Have nothing to do with if the government taxes you 10 percent, or 50 percent.

Mind you, I'd also enjoy being able to keep all the money I make, but if I'm given the choice of earning 50K and having all my constitutional rights, and earning 250K and having my fourth amendment rights trampled, or having my right to assemble and protest removed, or the right to travel freely in my country without having to present papers.

I don't know about you, but all the money in the world is pretty much meaningless without all the other freedoms.
11.6.2008 12:36pm
tsotha:
Conversely, the ability to assemble (Free Speech Zones? WTF?), the right to the religion of your own choice, the right to own fire-arms, to Not have to worry about illegal Search and Seizures, etc. Have nothing to do with if the government taxes you 10 percent, or 50 percent.

This is wrong, not necessarily because of all the things you can no longer afford to do, but because you can't have these liberties and a leviathan state. Take a good look at what's happening in Britain, where the increase in the capability of the government (with the best of intentions, and that's not sarcasm) has created a monster that will punish you for having an overflowing trash can.

I'll give you an example from California - helmet laws. Are motorcycle helmet laws on the books because the state really cares what happens to your gray matter? Nope. We have helmet laws because the state is (ultimately) on the hook for the costs when an uninsured rider suffers a traumatic brain injury. Some bean counter in Sacramento realized hospitals will save x amount of dollars if every motorcycle rider wears a helmet, so they made it mandatory.

If not for the second amendment, guns would be gone for the same reason. Prohibition is returning in very small steps under the guise of public safety. Where does it end?
11.6.2008 12:50pm
Sigivald (mail):
MCM said: In any case, yes, we could privatize schools and roads and parks and all that. The question is whether or not the market will end up producing the optimal amount of those goods and services. Historically it's pretty clear that the answer has been "No". But who knows! Perhaps the fundamentals of human economic behavior have changed while we weren't looking.

Optimal, Sir?

You suggest that the State produces an "optimal" amount of something by fiat, while the mass infomation-sharing of a market somehow produces the "wrong" amount?

Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds to anyone with even the most basic understanding of economics and government action?

(What's the optimal amount of roads?

Somehow, evidently, distinguished )by what means?) from "the amount of roads that people will actually pay for willingly if offered the choice"?

Now, you could argue very plausibly that State control will mean there are more roads, parks, libraries and schools than under a fully-privatised provision. (At very least, after all, the State wants to look busy and look like it's "providing" a lot, and keep those road-builders employed, and the teacher's unions happy, etc.)

But "more" and "optimal" are not synonyms.

How many libraries are optimal?

And indeed, why do we need big public libraries that are anything more than internet access terminals and inter-library-loan stations, connected to warehouses full of books (for access to all that stuff that isn't online, and for that matter wouldn't be at your local library either)?

I mean, it's 2008, for God's sake. It's not like we need to have giant, impressive buildings full of books waiting to be checked out.

It was a great model in 1870, or even 1970. It's a complete waste of tax money in 2008.)
11.6.2008 12:54pm
kshankar:
Eyesay:
"We can't have that. Never mind that by getting rid of the insurance companies, we could provide health care for all for less than we're paying now for health care from some. Never mind that the United States is the only industrialized nation without national health care, and citizens of these other nations are far more satisfied with their health care than we are with ours. Never mind that their health care results in longer life expectancy, lower infant mortality, and better health overall."

You can argue for nationalized health care all you want. Its really not the point of this specific post, however.

But if you must bring those up, the United States has the following problems:
-Obesity
-Sedentary lifestyle, stemming from driving everywhere, and sitting on couches while eating
-Higher alcohol and drug problems
-Unhealthy diets
-Higher levels of stress than most other countries

Europe?
-Obesity? ha, not a problem there is it?
-Public transport and/or walking is utilized MUCH more
-Lower problems with drug and alcohol abuse
-Healthier diets, smaller food portions
-Fairly relaxed/laidback lifestyles

Do you realize that these issues, all of which can determine average lifespan and general health have absolutely NOTHING to do with healthcare? They have everything to do with the lifestyle choices the people of the USA make, as opposed to the people who live in the European countries.

There has to be a better way to argue for socialized medicine than that
11.6.2008 12:57pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Eyesay:

You can't be such a newbie to the heathcare debate that you are unaware that Europeans 'cheat' on the infant mortality numbers, can you?
11.6.2008 1:15pm
Oren:

This is wrong, not necessarily because of all the things you can no longer afford to do, but because you can't have these liberties and a leviathan state. Take a good look at what's happening in Britain, where the increase in the capability of the government (with the best of intentions, and that's not sarcasm) has created a monster that will punish you for having an overflowing trash can.

Britain does not have a Constitutional system as ours. By way of analogy, you could say that Parliament sits in perpetual constitutional convention.
11.6.2008 1:32pm
tsotha:
Britain does not have a Constitutional system as ours. By way of analogy, you could say that Parliament sits in perpetual constitutional convention.

Yes, that's true. But they managed to have a relatively free society until about a decade ago (maybe a bit longer). To the extent a person is much less free in Britain than he was a decade ago, the cause can usually be traced to a well-meaning expansion of the state, though I admit there has also been erosion of liberty from security concerns as in the US.
11.6.2008 2:06pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
By way of analogy, you could say that Parliament sits in perpetual constitutional convention.


Oh, is that anything like a 'living constitution'?
11.6.2008 2:09pm
Angus:
WTH?!? "Jacksonian" Libertarian is about as much of a contradiction as you can get. Jackson was one of the most power hungry, Constitution abusing, racist, and shameful Presidents in our history. In his entire 8 years he managed to do a grand total of one thing right: threaten to hang everyone in South Carolina.
11.6.2008 2:38pm
Mr. X (www):
Reforging the conservative-libertarian coalition will be very hard. Relations between the two groups have always been tense, and the last eight years have undeniably drawn down the stock of goodwill. But if we can't find a new way to hang together, we are all too likely to hang separately.


As Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, "What's this 'we' shit, kemosabe?"

I have seen no indication that Republicans have any serious interest in less government and more freedom, so why should I care if the Republican party and the conservative movement that embraced and enabled it drop from the face of the earth? One less enemy of freedom to oppose, IMHO.
11.6.2008 2:47pm
MCM (mail):
MCM said: In any case, yes, we could privatize schools and roads and parks and all that. The question is whether or not the market will end up producing the optimal amount of those goods and services. Historically it's pretty clear that the answer has been "No". But who knows! Perhaps the fundamentals of human economic behavior have changed while we weren't looking.

Optimal, Sir?

You suggest that the State produces an "optimal" amount of something by fiat,


Is that what I suggested? Funny, I don't see those words anywhere above. Perhaps you should focus more on what I did write and less on your straw man.

while the mass infomation-sharing of a market somehow produces the "wrong" amount?


What is the "wrong" amount? If you're suggesting that the market always produces the correct amount in the absence of any government intervention, then congratulations on taking your argument full circle. Obviously a market, strictly speaking, cannot produce the "wrong" amount any more than gravity will be "wrong" in throwing you to the ground reliably. However, I would suggest that at times our civilization would benefit from a different result than the one the market would actually provide, just as occasionally we find it convenient to temporarily overcome gravity in order to achieve some useful goal.

Do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds to anyone with even the most basic understanding of economics and government action?


Indeed your straw man arguments are do sound quite ridiculous! It's a good thing they're not what I was actually saying. On the other hand, I do have a something of a basic understanding of economics and government action, and what I was ACTUALLY explaining is the basic reasoning behind the very concept of government action in the economy, which I don't think sounds very ridiculous at all.

(What's the optimal amount of roads?

Somehow, evidently, distinguished )by what means?) from "the amount of roads that people will actually pay for willingly if offered the choice"?


I don't know! And it's a good thing I wasn't suggesting the State would have to know that either, or else your comment might be relevant to something.

Now, you could argue very plausibly that State control will mean there are more roads, parks, libraries and schools than under a fully-privatised provision.


You've almost managed to correctly understand what I was actually saying! I was saying that State intervention will produce more than a fully-privatized system, which would produce some amount that is less than the best possible number. Now, you jumped to the erroneous conclusion that I was saying the State would produce the best possible (optimal) number. I wasn't - just that the market will under-produce, and that the State will produce more than that. Is the number the State ultimately produces the optimal number? I have no idea!

(At very least, after all, the State wants to look busy and look like it's "providing" a lot, and keep those road-builders employed, and the teacher's unions happy, etc.)


(Much as you want to look right by arguing against propositions I never put forth).

But "more" and "optimal" are not synonyms.


You're really showing those straw men who are boss, aren't you? Go get 'em tiger!

Once again, you assumed that I was using them as such. I was not.

How many libraries are optimal?


Some number more than zero?

And indeed, why do we need big public libraries that are anything more than internet access terminals and inter-library-loan stations, connected to warehouses full of books (for access to all that stuff that isn't online, and for that matter wouldn't be at your local library either)?


Funny, if someone asked me to describe a modern library I might just have called it "a warehouse full of books with an attached internet access terminal and an inter-library-loan station.

I mean, it's 2008, for God's sake. It's not like we need to have giant, impressive buildings full of books waiting to be checked out.

It was a great model in 1870, or even 1970. It's a complete waste of tax money in 2008.)


Yes, it's almost as if we'd expect the functions of our institutions to adapt to the times. It's too bad I specified that government-funded libraries should be static institutions, unchanging over the centuries. Otherwise it could have been obvious that libraries could take such technological developments as the internet into account.
11.6.2008 2:50pm
Gramarye:
MCM wrote:
In any case, yes, we could privatize schools and roads and parks and all that. The question is whether or not the market will end up producing the optimal amount of those goods and services. Historically it's pretty clear that the answer has been "No".


Sigivald wrote:
Optimal, Sir?

You suggest that the State produces an "optimal" amount of something by fiat, while the mass infomation-sharing of a market somehow produces the "wrong" amount?
He might not, but I will, particularly with respect to schools. Individuals under the age of eighteen do not spend on their own educations; specialized fiduciaries (a.k.a. parents) are expected to do so on their behalf. The libertarian model here trusts to love, not rational self-interest, to incentivize optimal behavior (except in perhaps the sense that one might calculate that educated children would be more able to provide for the parents themselves in their failing years, which I submit is something of a weak incentive). That means that I need not argue that the government will do a better job than free individuals acting in their rational self-interest; I need only argue that the government can do a better job than individuals under soft expectations of altruism flowing from familial bonds and attendant cultural expectations. That, I will gladly do.

Pull yourself out of the world of theory and face facts. Suppose all schools were in fact privatized, and all taxes that support them returned to those who pay them. There are many individual who pay extremely little in such taxes: families who live in rental housing and would likely see their rents decline only negligibly, if at all, when their landlord's property tax burden was reduced. Those people would be faced with paying private school tuition or letting their children go completely uneducated. It's true that more economy-grade private schools would arise to fill the market need, so the current sticker price of $15,000 or so might well come down, but keep in mind that Catholic schools are already subsidized by substantial charitable giving and it's hard to even find one of those for under $5,000 per student per year. Multiply that by two kids and thirteen years and you're at $130,000 over 15-20 years. That's for a Catholic school with the true market price masked by the gifts of the faithful. At even a relatively modest secular private high school--say $12,000 (Columbus Academy, the lone example in my neck of the woods, is $18,100)--you're looking at $312,000 over that period. It would hardly be surprising if some parents decided that it was "in their rational self-interest" to forego educating their children--and by "in their rational self-interest," I mean "physically impossible to make any other choice no matter how much they might want to do so."

You may call that "optimal" based on the fact that it was the equilibrium reached by the free market. I'm unconvinced. The education of the young is a collective (yes, I used the dreaded "c" word) responsibility.
11.6.2008 2:53pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Yes, it's almost as if we'd expect the functions of our institutions to adapt to the times. It's too bad I specified that government-funded libraries should be static institutions, unchanging over the centuries.


Hint: You think you are being snarky, but the joke is on you. Being a government program is usually a guarantee that the institution is static and does not adapt. Here, you are talking about a prime example but clearly are incapable of learning from it.
11.6.2008 2:56pm
MCM (mail):
Hint: You think you are being snarky, but the joke is on you. Being a government program is usually a guarantee that the institution is static and does not adapt. Here, you are talking about a prime example but clearly are incapable of learning from it.


You're actually right: no state-funded library has access to, or has even heard of, the internet.
11.6.2008 3:03pm
Spitzer:
I think reviving the Libertarian Party in certain districts may be an effective way to revive the conservative-libertarian alliance. That is, if the LP can start seriously contesting seats in solidly-Dem districts, that would give the LP (and especially any candidates who actually won) a real seat at the table - perhaps leading to an informal LP-GOP coalition.

Maybe we can look to the UK's complex 3-party interrelationship for an answer. In the UK, there are 3 main parties - the conservatives (tories), Labor, and the Lib-Dems (an unusual coalition of old-line liberals, modern socialists, and environmental radicals). In actual practice, though, most MP districts are contested seriously by only 2 parties - that is, it is blue (tory) v. red (Labor) in 1 district, blue v. yellow (lid-dem) in another, and yellow v. red in a third. Thus, in places where a living tory never could be elected, the Labor candidates often face an effective opposition in the lib-dems (the same applies to the tory districts).

Given the scorn with which the national GOP is treated in certain regions (think New England and many inner-city and affluent-suburban districts), perhaps there is scope for the GOP to defer running a candidate in favor of throwing their (meagre) support to a Libertarian Party candidate? I could imagine LP candidates being viable in certain districts - especially the wealthier and better-educated places where the southern-friend social conservative image of the national GOP is anathema), but the LP often fails to have much success because the GOP nevertheless runs a sacrificial candidate in that district.

Thus, if the GOP and LP reached a non-compete agreement (antitrust laws don't apply to political races, and it was widely rumored that the Lib-Dems and Labor formed a similar such agreement for Blair's first 2 elections), it may be possible for libertarians to win libertarian districts and the GOP to win socially-conservative districts. The result, assuming they cooperate, is that it would be impossible to marginalize libertarians in the resulting grand center-right coalition.
11.6.2008 3:18pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Weary Libertarian

You are conflating; all private property rights are not equal. Natural rights to property extend out only as far as an individual utilises the property in their day to day life. All else is a gift of the state. (See: T.J.; Letter to Isaac Mcpherson, Monticello, August 13, 1813) This elevation of all possessions to axiomatic rights is a fallacy. Additionally, it is contradictory to a theory which posits a weak and anemic state. Only a robust state can protect property, held in abstention, from being appropriated by those in position to directly utilise it. The same holds true for all Intellectual Property Rights. No one has a natural right to possess a thought, once they have shared it with another.

You desire material wealth more than you do personal freedom, and have been deceived with Austrian gruel. What libertarian theory needs is more Thomas Paine, Samuel Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, minus the monarchism of Edmund Burke.
11.6.2008 3:24pm
Reg (mail):
With respect to privatization of schools, of course it will never be done unless vouchers are also provided. We sort of have the same thing with the rise of charter schools. Libertarians and conservatives need to promote privatization with subsidies (vouchter) for those who can't afford to pay market prices.

That should also be the plan for medicine. The idea is a lean, efficient system, using competition to drive out inefficiences, with a reasonable (economically sensible) safety net to ensure the poor have access.

Whoever made fun of me for saying libraries are obsolete because of Borders and Netflix, because libraries don't have movies obviously has never been to a library lately. The ones by us rent movies and make you pay for it. If we want internet for the poor, we could do so at a lot cheaper of a cost than our current library systems, and free books for kids can be done through other means as well.
11.6.2008 3:25pm
a knight (mail) (www):
Splunge - The same old and tired derogation of narcissists? As one who was tagged by the LP's current authoritarian leadership as being in their "anarchist wing", I am greatly amused with your predictable non sequitur. You don't really believe in human liberty. You seek to demean what flows naturally from libertarian theory, to toss away what you consider to be inappropriate, simply because of your own persona version (per.version) of morality.

I am not a narcissist, and have no personal horse in the race regarding the abolition of drug prohibition, until the state starts regulating caffeine ingested through a hot beverage delivery system. Narcissism isn't what motivates libertarianism; it is the will to be free of state intervention in personal lives. Go back to the Republican Party, and quit pretending you're a libertarian.
11.6.2008 3:39pm
Gramarye:
Reg: I was underwhelmed with your Netflix example because Netflix doesn't let you borrow books, not because your local library doesn't let you borrow movies. That is the real reason Netflix is a poor example of a potential market substitution for public libraries.

Also, as a frequent library-goer, I admit I do like to browse (not just looking at covers, either). Therefore, even if Netflix did offer books, it wouldn't be the same as actually having a brick-and-mortar facility to patronize.
11.6.2008 3:40pm
John Stephens (mail):
This debate is interesting, but premature. The only effective argument for small government is big government, and Obama and the other Democrats are about to spend the next two years making that argument at length and in detail. There will be time enough in 2010 for the rest of us to contribute.
11.6.2008 3:40pm
a knight (mail) (www):
John Stephens, what has been the effect of the last eight years, if not a bigger government, if not a theft of the people's liberty under false pretenses of an external threat?
11.6.2008 3:51pm
Reg (mail):

it is libertarian to have me help subsidise the education of other people's children in religious institutions I find personally reprehensible? ROTFLMAO!


Your objection is the same objection many religious people have to public education. If we have education subsidies at all, it must be done on a VIEWPOINT NEUTRAL basis. Like college loan subsidies. You are subsidizing religious colleges right now.


I admit I do like to browse (not just looking at covers, either). Therefore, even if Netflix did offer books, it wouldn't be the same as actually having a brick-and-mortar facility to patronize.


Same here, but I'm not going to argue that everybody should pay for our preference. I can do that now at Borders anyway. Why tax to pay for public entities to with existing private ones?
11.6.2008 3:52pm
MarkField (mail):

WTH?!? "Jacksonian" Libertarian is about as much of a contradiction as you can get. Jackson was one of the most power hungry, Constitution abusing, racist, and shameful Presidents in our history. In his entire 8 years he managed to do a grand total of one thing right: threaten to hang everyone in South Carolina.


Jackson supported "universal" (i.e., white male) suffrage. He gets credit for that too.
11.6.2008 3:53pm
Bill2:

WTH?!? "Jacksonian" Libertarian is about as much of a contradiction as you can get. Jackson was one of the most power hungry, Constitution abusing, racist, and shameful Presidents in our history. In his entire 8 years he managed to do a grand total of one thing right: threaten to hang everyone in South Carolina.


I am not referring to the particular actions of President Andrew Jackson and the particular policies of his administration 1829-1837. I am referring to the community of opinion about contemporary public policy described by Walter Russell Mead in his book Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World, which he happened to name after Jackson.

You can find an article by Mead that is more or les a chapter from the book introducing the Jacksonians at http://www.lts.com/~cprael/jackson.html.

Some high points as pertaining to the prospects for libertarian-(Jacksonian)conservative alliance are...

"Suspicious of untrammeled federal power (Waco)"
"skeptical about the prospects for domestic and foreign do-gooding (welfare at home, foreign aid abroad)"
"opposed to federal taxes"
"generally prefer a loose federal structure with as much power as possible retained by states and local governments"
"civil libertarians, passionately attached to the Constitution and especially to the Bill of Rights, and deeply concerned to preserve the liberties of ordinary Americans" (although most passionately devoted to the 2nd Amendment, while "Jeffersonians" - including libertarians, I imagine - are more devoted to the 1st)
"No one has a right to tell the self-reliant Jacksonian what to say, do or think."
"insists on remaining, independent of church, state, social hierarchy, political parties and labor unions"
"will never yield to an imposed authority"

There are a lot of principles on which the two groups can agree, and a lot of room for libertarians to sway Jacksonians to their specific policy preferences if they make the appeal in the correct terms.
11.6.2008 3:53pm
tsotha:
If the libertarians ever want a piece of the political pie they're going to have to be willing to compromise, if only with each other. I know scores of people who self-identify as Libertarian. To an individual they want to end government involvement in everything except (fill in the blank). But the service, or handout, or special tax break, or legalization they want to enact/preserve is always different, and coincidentally happens to benefit them personally. Would you be willing to give up your mortgage interest tax deduction to end the drug war?

I will take libertarianism more seriously as a political movement when its adherents come up with a cogent platform they're willing to support even if they don't think it's perfect (like everybody else). Is anyone else weary of the "oh, I consider myself a small-L libertarian, but the Libertarian Party is run by kooks."

Spitzer, that is an excellent suggestion. But how much appeal are the Libertarians likely to have in those districts?
11.6.2008 4:05pm
Bill2:

Would you be willing to give up your mortgage interest tax deduction to end the drug war?


No, but I'd gladly give up both to see the 2nd Amendment enforced with the same vigor as the establishment clause in the 1st.
11.6.2008 4:10pm
Mr. X (www):
<blockquote>Would you be willing to give up your mortgage interest tax deduction to end the drug war? </blockquote>

In a heartbeat.
11.6.2008 4:30pm
Pyrrhus (mail) (www):
Well as long as they're not making any laws I guess we can claim that Republicans are whatever we want them to be.
11.6.2008 4:52pm
I Know It All:
The Repubs cannot win without the social conservatives, so they best not form a circular firing squad on those folks.
11.6.2008 5:08pm
mca (mail):
Government running healthcare works pretty well in terms of cost control but not producing longer, healthier lives.

Its in the govt. interest once healthcare becomes a govt. expense to discourge new and expensive treatment... all it does is cost money and expand the lifetimes of people its paying benefits to in the form of social security or pensions... which is why the UK has a vastly lower cancer survival rate than the US.
11.6.2008 5:14pm
rrr (mail):
Given that so many libertarians were so willing to embrace a statist like Obama makes me suspect of any coalition with them. They can't hold true to their principles any more than Republicans can. Conservatives are better off with what an early commenter called "Palin and the idiotic wing." At least then we're not dealing with two-faced proclaimers. Let the libertarian-conservative coalition rot. I, for one, am not interested.
11.6.2008 5:20pm
Ubu Roi (mail) (www):
The problem with "conservative-libertarian" coalitions is that there are differing definitions of conservative. As someone told me recently, I can't be a conservative, because stopping abortion isn't my first (nay, ONLY) priority. It's not that I don't oppose abortion, but the pro-life lobby has chased this position for thirty years now, and all we've got to show for it is a bloated, powerful government that thinks it can control our "access" to rights that we were born with. I'm not going to continue to sacrifice my rights, guns, and hard-earned money on the altar of the unborn.

Big statism and big spending; the RINO's know they only have to lie to the pro-life evangelicals long enough to get through the primaries, and they're golden, even if they never deliver anything but more taxes, more giveaways, and more government creep. No more.

I say no more, because I AM a conservative: American Conservative Party in 2016.
11.6.2008 5:25pm
2Am4Sure (mail):
I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Republican Liberty Caucus http://www.rlc.org/ which exists to further such cooperation.
11.6.2008 5:39pm
Sk (mail):
Why in the world are libertarians interested in being Republicans anyway? If libertarians are: fiscally conservative, but socially liberal (a reasonable simplification), that means they have as much in common with Democrats (social liberalism) as they do with Republicans (fiscal conservatives). So why not go with Democrats and attempt to nudge Democrats in the right fiscal direction (rather than with Republicans and attempt to nudge them in the right social direction)?

Given that the two parties are so similar fiscally (whether attitudes to the bailout or towards tax policy, they are more similar than alike), it seems obvious that the main difference between the two is therefore the social differences. And given the social future of the country (over the next 4 or 8 years, as well as the long-term), it appears to me that the Republican Party is dead. Gay rights (Whether marriage, in the boyscouts, in the schools, in the military, or whatever) is coming, (regardless of Proposition 8). Socialized medicine is coming. Affirmative Action will be back (again: regardless of the vote in Nebraska). Abortion is rejuvenated. And so on. If you are a social conservative, you will have to be a social conservative in spite of the common culture (rather than with that culture). Conservativism lost, and its not coming back.

I say that as a Republican and social conservative. We held on for a generation or two-say from 1968-2008, but its over.

Sk
11.6.2008 5:40pm
mishu (mail):
Thank you Splunge. I realize I've been wasting a lot of time today reading the feces flinging of blog comments all day today. I was feeling more stupid by the minute until I read yours. It was finally the salient point I was looking for apparently. Once again, thank you.
11.6.2008 5:42pm
Robert Bidinotto (mail) (www):
I have searched the preceding posts for any hint of a shared principle that could unite conservatives and libertarians.

I have failed to find a single principle that could unite self-defined conservatives with other conservatives, and self-defined libertarians with other libertarians.

And I don't find this state of affairs at all surprising, for these reasons.
11.6.2008 5:53pm
social conservative:
Like Mr. Big Top, I'm a social conservative AND a libertarian. I have to chuckle at the idea that libertarians are demanding concessions to rejoin the coalition. The number of libertarians is a small fraction of the number of social conservatives. No party with any desire to win would throw overboard social conservatives to mollify libertarians.

So libertarians should be looking for ways to get social conservatives to sign on to libertarian policies. How about a program centered around

1) Federalism. Social conservatives may very well be willing to have no socially conservative policies at the Federal level if they can fight for them their own states.

2) Individualism. Social conservatives don't need a nanny state as much as the average person. They have their churches and other community organizations.

3) Freedom for adults but protection for children. Adults get to do whatever they want in the privacy of their homes, but social conservatives in return get a public square that they feel they can bring their children into. This means no censorship of cable TV or websites you need prove you are an adult to enter, but reasonable restrictions on adult content on broadcast TV or any other medium that its hard to keep your children away from.

On this last point, there will be howls from libertarians. Why is it my problem to protect your kids against stuff I think they should probably see anyway?

But again remember we need to build a coalition. A lot of social conservatives are not economic conservatives but are willing to be if there is something in it for them.
11.6.2008 5:59pm
JeremyR (mail):
I think people are jumping to conclusions. It was a 6-7 point loss, despite:

Obama having a 4:1 money advantage

A very, very unpopular war (albeit a fairly successful one by any historical standard) resulting in low approval ratings for the sitting President

A huge financial crisis blamed (unfairly) on Republicans as opposed to say, Barney Frank.

A very charismatic young leader vs one that was the oldest candidate ever and not that great at speechs

All the media (except Fox) in the tank for Obama


So basically in order to court the 6-7 percent that voted for Obama, the best result is to ditch the 46 that voted for McCain? Or court the .5% of the population that is Libertarian? Brilliant.

Also, all the bashing of religious people seems a little misguided. What policies are their aiming for that are so radical? Pretty much the only thing I can think of is not embryonic funding stem cell research as fully as possible. Most of the other claims are simply hysteria. Banning video games? The Democrats are the ones big on that (and Lieberman, who may end up a Republican, since it looks like he's getting kicked out now the Dems don't need him any more).

And as to the whole bit about them dominating the Republican party. Don't you remember the 80s? Apparently not. In then we had rather silly tirades about things like heavy metal music and Dungeons &Dragons. But even that was largely a bi-partisan effort, look at Tipper Gore and Hilary's books from then.
11.6.2008 6:02pm
John Moore (www):
This thread is depressing, and reminds me of why I left the Libertarian party long ago. THere's quite a mix here, typical of the libertarian "movement:"

*anti-religious bigots - calling religious conservatives idiots is bigotry, plain and simple. Religious conservatives, with a very few well publicized exceptions don't want to impose our religion on you. As was pointed out above, anti-abortion policy is not anti-libertarian (whether you agree with it or not).

*Ideological purists - folks who are the libertarian equivalent of useful fools.

*Paranoids. The assertions about the goals and views of conservatives, including social conservatives, are just ridiculous - really absurd. The ONLY anti-libertarian government policy agendas of significant are anti-gay-marriage, not to be confused with anti-gay, and anti-abortion stance. Many of us would settle for federalism on the abortion issue. Don't fall for the small minority so frequently publicized by the anti-religion media. We DON'T want a theocracy.

*a few thoughtful libertarians.

*Oh, and then there are the many libertines, who are basically little kids who think libertarianism means doing whatever they want (Bill Mahr is a great example of one of these).

This whole thread is like a few mice yelling at an elephant that he should become like the mice. It's pathetic.

The main thing most libertarians do politically is vote against the sum of their interests, by failing to vote for Republicans. Not that Republicans are very libertarian (or conservative, at the moment), but they are the ONLY alternative to the clearly statist and anti-freedom (despite their pronouncements) party. The only freedoms the Democrats really stand for are sexual (which is the *only* reason they give lip service to privacy). Other than that, they have been taken over by elites who know what's best for you, labor unions who want to use government muscle to rob us all, and various other rent seekers.

We elephants wouldn't mind if some of you mice tag along. We'll even listen to you, as libertarian ideas are not necessarily wrong, and serve as a good check when making policy. But given the history of libertarianism and its utter failure to make political headway except inside the Republican Party, it's only threat to us is to siphon off the votes of the misguided, throwing an occasional election to the statists.

The looney mice(about 2/3) can go your merry way.
11.6.2008 6:10pm
celebrim:
"From the libertarian side, there needs to be some appreciation for the fact that conservatives do form the standing army."

A very interesting analogy.

I would love it if the conservative leadership stood up more often for libertarian values (small government, property rights, individual liberty, etc.) more consistantly and more often. I would equally love it if the libertarian core recognized that its strict ideology often amounted to absurdism when applied to the practical matters of a functional society.

I very much empathize with the idea that there should never be 'victimless crimes' and have spoken out against say, 'Motorcycle Helmet Laws'. But taken to an extreme - as ideological radicals like libertarians are likely to do - such a philosophy becomes absurd. For example, very few people think that building codes are a significant enfringement upon liberties, yet strictly speaking they criminalize activities that do not involve a victim but which hopefully prevent one.

It sounds silly, but I think 'building code laws' of various sorts are the heart of the philosophical differences between libertarians and conservatives. To make an analogy, if a 'compassion conservative' is a really a liberal in disguise, then I would suggest that conservatives are really 'compassionate libertarians'. To believe in conservative values requires you to accept failure as a possible outcome to a far greater degree than if you believe in what is now called 'liberalism' (and ain't). To somewhat the same extent, being a libertarian requires you to accept failure as a possible outcome to an even greater extent than a conservative.

Take for example, probably the dividing issue between conservatives and libertarians. No, not abortion although that's pretty high up there. Criminalization (or decriminalization) of narcotics. The biggest dividing wall I see isn't over whether or not unborn children deserve the right to life (or more particularly, whether the unborn child's right to life trumps the mother's right not to be burdened with a child they do not want), because believe it or not I think we could hurdle that one. The biggest divide is over the 'building code' ideology inherent in drug laws. The libertarian idea of legalizing them strikes your average conservative as insane. Conversely, the idea of continuing to fight a 'war on drugs' with all the collateral damage to liberties associated with that strikes your average libertarian as insane.

So the question is, can we build a bridge on the criminalization/decriminalization of narcotics? If we can do that, we can bridge anything I think. Before you answer, consider that for so long as decriminalizing narcotics is at the top of your priorities you are pretty much forever marginalizing libertarianism. If you want to get _any_ strong libertarian values to carry the day, you may have to deprioritize some of them.
11.6.2008 6:21pm
Dougger (mail):
The argument that since government pays for education, fire protection, parks and libraries justifies government paying for health care is a good one as long as you recognize which government pays for it. All these functions are primarily paid for by State and Local governments, not the Feds.

So too should universal health care.

If a State or locality wants universal health care in their jurisdiction, great! More power to them. They can raise their state or local taxes and provide health care to their people. Those who don't want to pay higher taxes in those jurisdictions can move to another state.

The Constitution is pretty clear that it is not within the powers granted to the Federal Government to institute universal health care. I also recognize that the Federal Government (since FDR anyway) won't let the constitution get in the way of a feel-good idea.
11.6.2008 6:24pm
Spitzer:
Tsotha:

A GOP/Libertarian coalition, in which the parties agree not to compete in the same districts (which will help with voter competition and may help with money competition as well) may be workable precisely because socially-conservative republicans (and the starkly social conservative reputation that the national party bears in some parts of the nation) are simply toxic in socially-liberal communities.

In general, I doubt libertarians will have much appeal in many Dem districts - particularly in poor, ethnic ones (though I could well be wrong!). My suspicion is that heavily union communities also may not be fertile soil for libertarians.

But I do think there are places where libertarians could be competitive qua libertarians, especially if the LP is taken seriously and has sufficient money and organization to challenge the Dems. Take, for instance, many New England districts - there are good republican districts that are now represented by Dems, largely because of the social conservative reputation of the GOP. A libertarian party candidate free from the social conservative baggage in those districts may well be competitive.

There are also many Blue districts in which libertarians may be competitive under the right circumstances. I think that the LP could be competitive in university towns, for instance (think Ann Arbor, Charlottesville, and the Research Triangle), and in the leafy suburbs where "republicans" are increasingly analogized to lower-class religious types (think Arlington Virginia, or Bucks County PA).

Anyway, it could be worth a try if the GOP was serious about restoring power - after all, the enemy of my enemy is my ally, and my best guess is that may be 25-50 House districts where the LP could be competitive under the right circumstances. After all, why would the GOP continue to put up candidates who never win more than ca. 30-35% of the vote? This problem is heightened by the fact that the GOP does not invest real money in those same races precisely because they are deemed non-competitive, whereas the LP may have a very different view of the same district.

Ron Paul proved that libertarians can raise tons of cash when excited. Maybe libertarians should leave the GOP under appropriate circumstances (that is, in places where the GOP is not competitive) and strike out on their own? After all, the LP cannot possible do worse in those 25-50 districts than the GOP, and they may have a positive effect: (1) by running serious campaigns, they will force the Dems to spend money in safe districts; (2) they will force Dems to respond to specifically libertarian policies and criticisms; and (3) their regional independence may well translate into greater influence within the GOP as a whole - especially if they win some seats and/or help to change the direction of the national political conversation. Best case scenario would be that the LP would steal enough seats from the Dems that they could enjoy majority status in a coalition with the GOP - the classic kingmaker strategy, used traditionally by the quasi-libertarian LDP in Germany.

The point of this is not that Republicans should have majority status for its own sake, but that libertarians should exercise a greater voice in national politics. It is my sincere view that libertarians should remain within the GOP in competitive or safe-GOP districts, and in most statewide and presidential elections, because to do otherwise would assist the left in seizing power. But if the libertarians do not exercise the choice to leave the party in non-competitive (for the GOP) seats, they risk forever being consigned to a political ghetto, forever fighting for informal influence with more powerful members of the GOP. Libertarians with roots in independent races and independently-held seats would have far more influence.
11.6.2008 6:26pm
John Moore (www):
The idea that conservatives are all for the drug laws is falsified by the fact that the father of modern conservatives, W. F. Buckley was consistently in favor of drug legalization.

Personally, I have great difficulty with the drug issue. I see NO ideological guidance on it. Legalize the drugs and, sorry libertarians, there will be a huge amount of harm - at least with things like heroin, crystal meth and crack cocaine. Keeping them illegal also has a whole lot of things wrong with it.

Anyone with an ideologically reflexive opinion on this issue, IMHO, is not thinking clearly.
11.6.2008 6:26pm
John Moore (www):
"But I do think there are places where libertarians could be competitive qua libertarians,"

snicker
11.6.2008 6:28pm
wyswyg:
I think that both conservatives and libertarians have been disappointed by Bush. His term in office saw the rise of the Rockefeller wing of the party. At times it seemed like the GOP was simply the political arm of the Chamber of Commerce.


But in the long term I think that both small government conservatives and libertarians are doomed to lose, due mostly to demographic changes which (ironically) the libertarians favor.

If you want a libertarians country you need a libertarian people. Most libertarians ignore this, perhaps because the movement has always assumed that all real political power should be held by a handful of lawyers.

Barring the sort of judicial oligarchy favored by some libertarian theorists, America in the future is likely to have two fiscally liberal parties, one of which is socially liberal, the other socially conservative.
11.6.2008 6:36pm
Spitzer:

(link)Robert Bidinotto (mail) (www):
I have searched the preceding posts for any hint of a shared principle that could unite conservatives and libertarians.



Robert: I think there is a shared principle uniting libertarians and conservatives: skepticism of human nature. Both see people are fundamentally flawed, and recognize that governments are run by people with the same basic flaws. In light of these flaws, we are best off with smaller governments because bigger governments are likely to take away further of our freedoms based on flawed reasoning (and flawed ideals). The Left, on the other hand, believes at root that humanity is perfectible - often perfectibly through the use of reason, but sometimes by other means - and that we can achieve a New World if only (a) the vanguard of perfect humans takes power and (b) leads the rest of the benighted humanity into the promised land of perfection.

That is, the central link between conservatives and libertarians may be found in the thinking of someone like Hayek, who was focused on the epistemological problems of social and industrial planning (i.e. markets are information exchange mechanisms spontaneously generated, and no group smaller than the whole can truly understand it; therefore, central planning must fail because it is inescapably inefficient, and those inefficiencies grow over time).

But there may be a disagreement between libertarians and conservatives on this front, albeit it is one of degree and not of kind: libertarians are skeptical of all power and, Rand-like, seek to imbue all or most of power in rugged individualists; whereas conservatives are more likely to argue that people are sufficiently flawed that they cannot be imbued with complete license, but because of the flawed nature of humans in (and out) of government, restraints on behavior are best sought in cultural traditions that reflect the agggregated (and experimentally-tested) wisdom of our ancestors.

But, again, the difference between, say, an objectivist conception of the ruthlessly superhuman rugged individualist, and the conservative preference for the social mores of our ancestors, is much smaller than the chasm that separates them from the Leftist view of humanity as perfectible angels (with the concomittant rejection of limits on the power of the superhuman vanguard that seizes power, and the poorly-veiled suspicion and hatred of the benighted masses of humanity who have, somehow, failed to reach this state of perfection (and, worse, those twisted souls who refuse to be reeducated and enlightened, who deserve nothing better than to be slaughtered like barnyard animals).
11.6.2008 6:42pm
wyswyg:
"Take, for instance, many New England districts - there are good republican districts that are now represented by Dems, largely because of the social conservative reputation of the GOP."

If the people in those districts currently prefer liberal Democrats to social liberal/fiscal conservative Republicans (which is all the GOP runs in those districts) then I don't see what that would change simply by altering the party name.

The evidence seems pretty solid at this point that there is no great mass of libertarian voters out there. The Republicans ran a man (McCain) who is far from being a social con, and still did not get the libertarian vote.
11.6.2008 6:42pm
wyswyg:
"while government-funded healthcare for all may pose in an indirect sense a threat to freedom, the ability of your government's law enforcement agencies to arbitrarily declare you an "enemy combatant" and without any burden of proof or due process strip you of your civil rights and your physical freedom, poses a far more direct threat of tyranny than S-CHIP."


I'm pretty sure that "more direct" was not the formulation you were looking for, and that you do not actually fear that you will be detained without due process for daring to say what you just said.
11.6.2008 6:47pm
John Moore (www):
Spitzer says...

"I think there is a shared principle uniting libertarians and conservatives: skepticism of human nature. Both see people are fundamentally flawed, and recognize that governments are run by people with the same basic flaws."

Too many utopian libertarians seem not to share that view at all. They assume that when cooperative action is needed, it will happen as those rugged individualists join in mutual defense (or whatever). That's very high order folly.
11.6.2008 6:51pm
wyswyg:
Jeff Flake? Please stop Professor, you're making me laugh. Flake is only libertarian minded when it comes to the money. When he comes around to a libertarian perspective about immigration, let me know, ok?

The libertarian perspective about immigration is that it needs to stop.

That's as opposed to the liberal perspective espoused by liberals in libertarian clothing. Continued mass immigration is already leading to the growth of the state, as both parties pander shamelessly to poor Hispanics and other groups. Also, the driving down of wages for poorer Americans makes them more receptive to class warfare.


"Libertarians" for open borders are socialists, plain and simple.
11.6.2008 6:58pm
John Moore (www):
wyswyg - you are absolutely right. Without national sovereignty and the control of borders and immigration that comes with it, libertarianism is really anarchy.
11.6.2008 7:02pm
Anthony A (mail):
The Republican Party would be idiots to attack the social conservatives. In California, one of the most socially liberal states (in political terms and in everyday life), an anti-abortion proposition (Prop 4) heavily outpolled the Republican candidates pretty much everywhere, and an anti-gay proposition (Prop 8) did even better, and won. Even without any black votes, Prop 8 would have outpolled the Republican party.

What keeps the Republican party the minority party in California is its economic libertarianism.
11.6.2008 7:03pm
Spitzer:
wyswyg,

I agree that the LP is not about to run competitive nationwide races. The polls seem to indicate that ca. 10% of voters self-identify as libertarians, and with the vagaries of geography I presume that the proportion is far greater is some places (and smaller in others), which may open the door to LP competitiveness in the right districts.

I think we are talking at cross-purposes on, e.g., the New England districts. I absolutely agree that the GOP is losing races up there despite running socially-liberal candidates. My thesis is that those candidates should be competitive in those places, and that those candidates would be more competitive in those districts if they did not have the "GOP" label tied to them. Just as the Dems have run socially-conservative candidates across the Deep South and lost consistently, voters are voting not only on the basis of the candidates stated views, but also on the national reputations of their parties. Just as with the old "Yellow Dog" districts, a great candidate tied to a party with a locally-terrible reputation is going to lose, even to a much-inferior candidate.

That's precisely where the LP comes in. LP candidates won't be tied to the GOP national party in the same way, and so voters may not think of, say, George W. Bush or the like when they go to pull that lever. The LP may have an added advantage in that those same voters will still think of, e.g., Pelosi and Reid when they think of the Dem candidate. Thus, the very lack of a GOP label may overcome just enough anti-GOP prejudice in those district to make the races competitive. The analogy in New England would be Bernie Sanders, the Socialist Party member from Vermont - the Dems do not run serious challenges to him because they view him as an ally, even though Vermont is surely Dem territory. I can see LP candidates being competitive in Maine, New Hampshire (especially!), western Mass and Cambridge, Greenwich CT, and the like - candidates who are socially liberal, not tied to the GOP, and able to get their messages across. But unless and until the GOP stop running candidates in those same districts (candidates who are guaranteed 30-35% of the vote), the LP idea is a non-starter.

Think about this: if we assume that the GOP will always get 30-35% of the vote in a given district, and if we assume that most or all of the GOP voters would vote for the LP candidate (and against the Dem) if there was no GOP alternative on the ballot, then the LP candidate merely would need to convince another 10-15% of the Dem voters to switch their votes to be competitive, and 15-20% to win. If we further assume that independent voters make up 25% of the voters in those districts (and 75% of them swing to the Dems and, more importantly to them, against the GOP), then the LP may have a real shot of getting competitive (we may be looking at ca. 18-20% of the independent voters who routinely vote Dem in those places to be capable of being convinced otherwise, and that alone may swing the tenor of the political debate in a libertarian direction.

The keys are (a) making sure that the GOP voters in those districts won't dislike the LP candidate or his or her policies so much that they switch parties or don't vote; (b) making sure that the voters overall understand that the LP candidate is NOT a republican; and (c) tailoring the LP candidate's message to the middle third of the local electorate.

Again, this is something that occurs regularly in the UK (the Lib Dems) and Germany (the LDP), so the real question is only whether that experience can be translated to the US. I think it can.
11.6.2008 7:04pm
Lemmy Caution (mail):
I have to agree with John Moore. Libertarians lack conservative skepticism in two important senses: first, in their presumption of rationality in decision making (particularly in-re markets), and second, in their blindness about the socially transforming effects of markets. (I keep thinking of Marx's "all that is solid melts into air" - contemporary consumer and labor markets are the engine for the clearing of traditional communities, more than the rather late-arriving public sector is.)

The libertarian equivalent of belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity is its belief in its fundamental rationality.
11.6.2008 7:08pm
wyswyg:
"But, again, the difference between, say, an objectivist conception of the ruthlessly superhuman rugged individualist, and the conservative preference for the social mores of our ancestors"

Not picking on you, just a point I wanted to make: -

Libertarians tend to be smart people, usually men, who work in academia and/or in large cites. The term "metrosexual" applies. Rand's followers were about as far from being rugged superhuman individualists as it's possible to get, as anyone familiar with them already knows.

If objectivist-libertarian America were invaded by a totalitarian army, it's reaction would be to file a lawsuit.
11.6.2008 7:10pm
Spitzer:
John Moore:

I agree that there are a lot of utopian libertarians out there, but I still think that libertarianism itself is based on the notion that imperfect people in position of power will trample our rights, not extend them, exactly to the extent that they exercise power. Now, these same libertarians may be overly optimistic of their own perfection or perfectibility, but it is clear to me that their thinking in that regard is not nearly so rigorous or closely-held as it is by the Left, which is absolutely dedicated to the idea of perfectibility of man (typically through the prodding (and worse) of self-appointed members of the vanguard). If libertarians truly thought of themselves as individually perfectible, then I should think that they would be more inclined to support government power (and get themselves into that power) or that there may be other perfectible people out there who might provide the Platonic beneficient tyrannny that mankind needs.

No, I suspect that many libertarians have high self-regard, and maybe unrealistic ideas of their own military or physical power to resist the mob and the government, but I do not think that they share a systematic view that mankind is perfectible.
11.6.2008 7:13pm
MSR (mail):
Splunge,

Your comments are absolutely spot-on.
11.6.2008 7:14pm
wyswyg:
"My thesis is that those candidates should be competitive in those places, and that those candidates would be more competitive in those districts if they did not have the "GOP" label tied to them."

That may be. Though there is nothing stopping the Libertarian party from running there now.

Except the fundamentals of our election system which makes third parties almost impossible. I'd love to see a libertarian push to alter the laws to change that.

"Just as the Dems have run socially-conservative candidates across the Deep South and lost consistently"

I don't think that they lost, really. There are large numbers of Democrats in Congress from the so-called "red states" who are, or pretend to be, more conservative than their party as a whole.


"Again, this is something that occurs regularly in the UK (the Lib Dems) and Germany (the LDP), so the real question is only whether that experience can be translated to the US. I think it can."

They have very different rules for elections. I've been looking at them and I'd like to see some elements adapted here, as they make third parties possible. Of course the GOP and Democrats might unite to oppose such a thing.
11.6.2008 7:19pm
Spitzer:
Lemmy Caution: it is the quest for, and cult of, rationality that lead Rosseau's disciples to found the modern Left. That is, rationality is the most common basis of the secular conception of the perfectibility of man. Libertarians have faith in markets, to be sure, but I am not sure that that faith is based on neo-classicism (it may be, among some) so much as it founded on the Austrian school's epistemological prong - if markets are just information-exchange mechanisms representing the collected desires, needs, and abilities of everyone who participates in them (which is to say, everyone), then no group smaller than the whole can understand the markets, and any control exercised over the markets will cause them to behave inefficiently. That does not deny the fundamental insights of the behavioral economists, who have noted the irrationality (and ignorance) of individual consumers, based on their lack of information. Libertarians - and the Austrians - see such faults as affirming the importance of leaving the markets be - over time, those mistakes will rectify themselves. Leftists see the same irrationality and presume that the government needs to intervene to protect people from themselves.

wyswyg: Point taken. I had always assumed that most libertarians would be too stoned to file a lawsuit. Remember, though, that many libertarians came by their ideas by reading Ayn Rand's works, and many are romantically attached to the notion of the rugged superhuman individualist, even if they themselves are far from that ideal. Unfortunately, too many libertarians are comfortable with simple navel-gazing, whereas my ideas would require them actually to stand up and do something about it.
11.6.2008 7:21pm
Kevin Murphy:
Having done my time in the LP, I can tell you that it is a waste of energy. At best it is a gadfly, at worst it occupies enough of a political niche to prevent a practical lib-center party from forming.

If you look at the Nolan chart, and especially at the scatter from answers to the LP "quiz", you'll see quite a few responses on the lib-center axis. YET THE LP PERSISTS IN OCCUPYING AS SMALL A CORNER ON THE CHART AS POSSIBLE, repelling all attempts at a real party of incremental change. Purists only need apply.

That being said, unless the religious right can release their death-grip on the Republican party, there may be little choice but schism. The economic conservative/socially tolerant majority of would-be Republicans needs to find a home. Some of us have tried, really tried, to hang out in the Republican party. Under Reagan, and then Gingrich, we had hope. Under DeLay and Bush not so much.

It's time for the religious right to go back to the barracks and let the rest of us Republicans have our shot.

First up: dropping the abortion plank. Republicans need to accept some limited abortion right (e.g. first trimester). Yes, Roe sucks, but it's done and we just piss everyone off by pretending otherwise. If we really want to restore Constitutional rule, we should offer up a limited abortion right amendment ourselves (first trimester on demand for paying adults, all else a state matter), and let the Democrats be unreasonable. Or not. Sure would like to get some judges through without having to listen to all that all over again.
11.6.2008 7:22pm
wyswyg:
"The libertarian equivalent of belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity is its belief in its fundamental rationality."


Yes, I think that libertarians believe that people are fungible. It's a function of the movements grounding in economics. Perhaps of it's over-reliance on that discipline. Social science, political science, and history all have a lot to tell us about how best to construct a limited government system. But many libertarians disdain those fields of study.
11.6.2008 7:25pm
Spitzer:
wyswyg: you are absolutely right about the statutorily-mandated unbalanced electoral field. However, it is much easier to qualify for the ballot at the congressional level, and the laws of most states lower the bar for future qualification if the party or candidate performs sufficiently well (obtains a certain minimum percentage of the vote, or comes in second).

The Dems are not shut out of the deep south, as are the republicans in New England today (not a single GOP congressman in New England anymore!). But if you look at most of those southern districts with Dem congressmen, they are largely in (a) urban areas, (b) college towns, or (c) minority-majority rural districts. Frankly, a southern Dem who competes in the non-minority-majority district is likely to be more conservative - substantially so- than the republicans running in New England. But those conservative Dems often lose - not because their own policies are disfavored by the local voters, but because those same voters are savvy enough to know that it will be Pelosi and Reid (and Ted Kennedy, etc) calling the real shots, so the candidate has that cross to bear.

The thing that prevents the LP from running successfuly in those New England districts right now is that the GOP keeps running useless candidates as sacrificial lambs, making it impossible for the LP candidate to get (a) press coverage (b) money or (c) enough votes to be competitive. This whole strategy would require the GOP (tacitly, at least) to promise to stop running sacrificial lambs. If the GOP steps aside in those places (and early enough such that the LP has time to get its act together), I do think that the LP effectively could step into the GOP shoes (in terms of base voters and money) without the burden of the "GOP brand".
11.6.2008 7:29pm
John Moore (www):
Spitzer

I think we read it the same way.

Most conservatives (to be distinguished from Republicans) fear government for the same reason libertarians do and you elucidate. However, we are more willing to give powers to government because we see some things as necessary.

The key, and I don't think George Bush understands this, is that the government is a necessary evil - certain programs are both necessary and evil.

See Laws of Bureaucracy for a take on this.

Take, for example, the military. It is pretty inefficient and does a lot of bureaucratic things, well, bureaucratically. But we need it. We need a lot of it, and we need to use it broadly and pre-emptively to deal with threats before they are at our front door. This is an area where one can find significant differences between most conservatives and most libertarians.

Or consider the issue of the Bush eavesdropping. Now that will be in Obama's hands, and I trust the Dems far less about potential abuse of that power (given how they have abused the election process). But I still favor it, because it is one of the best, least freedom-reducing weapons we have, and because we have a relative advantage in our abilities compared to our adversaries.

But finally, consider medium to large corporations. To often, they behave much like governments. The same moral hazards exist in their bureaucratic innards as exist in governments. Recently, we have seen how the unfettered free market has clearly misdistributed capital to CEO's who have acted against the interest of the owners of that capital.

Which, of course, leads to another issue... the problems with free markets. I think both conservatives and libertarians are far too sanguine about the ability of the markets to achive good results, while the Democrats are crazily optimistic about the ability of the government to do the same.

Modern economics has thoroughly demolished the idea of the efficient market, as it has shown (as in this discussion) that irrationality is a big player.

So things are complex, which is why I have little respect for those who are ideologically reflexive.
11.6.2008 7:32pm
Spitzer:
Kevin Murphy: you point out the biggest weakness of my theory. This "coalition" strategy would require the LP (or its equivalent) to be sufficiently pragmatic to run candidates that people might want to vote for. Think Ron Paul, Gingrich, or Reagan, or Goldwater, not the radical purists who (in many cases) are big turnoffs. But the LP is fairly decentralized (or at least it should be) and it does have an identifiable brand name (most people could tell you what a "libertarian" is, at least in the most general sense).

But to be clear, I am not suggesting a complete schism - that's suicidal in districts where the GOP is competitive, and at the national and most statewide levels. No, I am suggesting a "coalition" strategy that recognizes that our national parties are themselves just coalitions of regional parties with differing interests. So, I'm not talking about "schism" in New England, I am talking about replacement.
11.6.2008 7:34pm
wyswyg:
Spitzer

Well, I don't know about the Deep South, but I do know that many of the states in the Plains and the Mountain West that usually go GOP at the Presidential level also have Democratic Senators.

"The thing that prevents the LP from running successfuly in those New England districts right now is that the GOP keeps running useless candidates as sacrificial lamb"s

I can't give you names and places offhand, but my understanding is that in many of those districts the GOP runs nobody, or makes the most token of efforts. That's not a LP impediment.

Living in the North East, I have to say that this is big government country. I can't imagine anyone running and winning by pledging to slash spending and close government agencies. It simply would not happen.


without the burden of the "GOP brand".

My guess, and I concede that's all it is, is that the GOP brand helps more than it hurts.

If we had a different system under which everybody could vote for who they wanted to, we'd have a more accurate assessment of the size of the different factions.
11.6.2008 7:41pm
John Moore (www):
Kevin Murphy

As a new member of the religious right, I am glad to be called intolerant. Because I *am* intolerant of state sanctioned murder, and libertarians should be also. On the other hand, the use of intolerance is somewhat bigoted, because it is almost always used by intolerant people ;-)

Abortion is a difficult issue because of the different belief bases, ranging from the pure life-begins-at-conception to the fetus-isn't-human-until-it-breaths air range.

Your view is, politically, fairly viable. But the real solution is to go back to federalism. The federal government, and especially the Supreme Court, has no business dealing with the issue. A fiat, delivered undemocratically by an unelected court acting far outside the bounds of the constitution, has resulted in one of the most divisive issues of our time.

If we return it to the states, even if it takes a constitutional amendment to reign in the men in black robes, so be it. As a pro-lifer, I would be unhappy to see California, just down the road from me, legalize abortion at any stage of gestation. But at least it would be democratic, and it would not longer be a big national issue.

Those who are so intolerant of social conservatives (and intolerance it is) should remember that the Christian right movement was created as a result of the abortion decision and the rapid slide of our culture into the muck of narcissism, amorality and libertinism.
11.6.2008 7:42pm
wyswyg:
It's time for the religious right to go back to the barracks and let the rest of us Republicans have our shot.

Note that the anti-gay marriage amendment passed. In California. In a Democratic year.

I know people here won't like to hear it, but the social con message is notably more popular than the Republican party as a whole, and much more so than the libertarian agenda. This is the case even in very liberal states.

That's what the results say, and the libertarian movement would stand a better chance of success if it became less ideological and more data driven and empirical. At present I'm afraid the movement rivals the communists in it's rigid insistence on dogma, and it's disinterest in hearing that the theory might not be working the way it's supposed to.
11.6.2008 7:49pm
tsotha:
First up: dropping the abortion plank. Republicans need to accept some limited abortion right (e.g. first trimester).

Nope. That doesn't need to happen at all. All we have to do is recognize it's not a federal issue at all, and let the states hash it out internally. Before Roe abortion wasn't nearly as contentious of an issue, and 70% of states had legalized abortion with varying restrictions.

In any event, it won't happen. There are far more people for whom this is a single issue than there are libertarians.
11.6.2008 7:51pm
Vermont Woodchuck (www):
As a Libertarian, I am amazed at the lashing out posted here at Palin, social conservatives, dopers, non-dopers, GOP'ers, RINO's ad infinitum.
Such tumult, yet the party never polls a great number in elections.
Perhaps the party needs to get it's collective head out of it's ass and form a cohesive message that fiscal conservatives and constitutionalists would find appealing.

I find that most social conservatives and liberals wish to legislate that style of life I may enjoy; a whiff of anarchy sets off paroxysms of anxiety. This is not to say no laws are needed. Pure capitalism is vicious and and produces cartels; social laws prevents mayhem in the streets. A modicum is needed.

Less dithering and more bellybutton lint removal is needed in this party or it will remain in the shadows.

Thanks for the time.
11.6.2008 8:06pm
Splunge:
How does the variety of medical treatments rule out the possiblity of gov't providing at least minimal coverage for everybody? I understand that minimal coverage might mean all choices aren't available for everyone - but that isn't the case now anyways.

Because, kiniyakki, "minimal" is no easier to define than "appropriate" or "best." Indeed, it's probably harder.

Let's make an analogy. You need to move, and the government out of recognition that moving is an inherent part of American life and a constitutional right found in some adumbrated penumbra or other (Cal. Rep. 4 Foo Baz, op. cit.) has committed to providing the moving truck at public expense. But alas, the demands on the Treasury being what they are, the truck isn't big enough to fit everything you want. So you have to leave stuff behind.

Now, if the truck is so tiny you must leave with essentially the clothes on your back and what fits in your two hands, your choices are easy. You pick the two most precious portable objects you have. Done. This, I suggest, corresponds to what you imagine the "minimal" health care model is. It's easy, because it "just" covers some totally obvious really core stuff. But the bad news is, that's pretty much already taken care of, what with decent public sanitation and cheap vaccines and antiobiotics that nearly eliminate the threat of infectious disease, reliable machines and good roads plus OSHA and FDA laws that nearly eliminate the dangers of accidental poisoning of your food and drink, or occupational injury.

Really, what's left to threaten serious compromise of your biblical threescore and ten years? Only the occasional car accident, so OK, let's cover trauma costs. We don't really need to do so formally, as they're covered already informally by the fact that ERs can't turn away emergency trauma victims anyway, even if they can't pay. So we're already de facto paying for trauma care for anyone who can't afford it.

So actually, we're already guaranteeing a true "minimal" level of health care. You can, at this point, sail through life with social guarantees of good health at nearly zero personal cost that would turn a 19th century American green with envy, and which are pretty much guaranteed to get you on average to age 65 or so.

But, strangely enough, people are still passionately dissatisfied with this "minimal" level of health care. Because, it turns out, they also want top-notch care for the diseases of old age -- of heart disease, cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, stroke. They're no longer satisfied to regard the onset of such disease as simply the time to settle up accounts and die, as their ancestors as recently as 1930 or so did. They want to fight, and it costs enormously. This is the health care people want, and substantial chunks of which they would, in fact, define as "minimal."

So we're back to the moving truck, and now the moving truck is big enough to take roughly an eighth of your belongings, just like (say) our "minimal" health care is going to provide 1/8 of what people presently get from the standard employee health plan. You get coverage for (say) one of heart disease, cancer, stroke. Or: you get treated for Stage I cancer only, plus high cholesterol drugs (but no stents or CABG surgery), watchful waiting only for prostrate cancer, et cetera. Or something else entirely.

Now, how hard is it to decide which 1/8 of your life's belongings you take with you? Probably damn hard. Just like it would be damn hard to figure out which 1/8 of "complete" health care equals the "minimal" health care that would make 100 million different people happy.

Besides, ask yourself what the point of government-mandated "minimal" health care is. To make you, the person with "full" health care feel morally smug? So you can step around the beggars on the street without feeling guilty? Screw that. Go see a priest and confess, or volunteer in a soup kitchen. I see no reason to redeem your conscience with my good money. And if the point is to make everyone feel satisfied with their health care, the way we mostly do who have "full" health care -- well, that short-circuits the entire "minimal" business, doesn't it? You're talking the whole nine yards, and we're back to the complexity of making a one-size fits all plan.

Really: why do you want government health care? What will it really do for you? Unless you're a moron, you can't believe it will be cheaper. (Government doesn't own any money trees.) Greater uniformity? You want to know your healthcare options are precisely the same as anyone else's? What for? Do you want to drive the same car as everyone else, work in the same job? What's the attraction? What advantage is worth giving up so much liberty in such a vital area of your life's decisions? You'd probably fight like the devil to avoid having the government decree which cable channels you can buy or which gym you can join -- why is that minor liberty more precious than the freedom to buy the particular form of care for your very life and health that you find the best possible value for your money?
11.6.2008 8:28pm
Tennwriter (mail):
I came here hoping to boost for fusionism. Unfortunately, John Moore is quite perceptive.

There is a problem between Tarians and Socons. Tarians are driven by fear, have plenty of bigotry on display (Socons should know their place at the back of the bus), prejudgice (Socons are theocrats), unreality (D's are good on social issues, but R's are good on economic issues. Instead, D's are bad on both, very bad.), and absurdity (the far weaker party to a negotiation gets everything he wants in a negotiation.)

I still believe in fusionism with reasonable libertarians. We need your help (maybe not, but it certainly would be useful). We mostly agree (not always for the same reasons, but we usually are trying to enact the same policies.)

But you have to stop the Let's Attack the Socons. Its way out of proportion to their offenses, and the hysterical tone does not help in convincing.

Let me offer one way a Socon can agree on an aspect of the Drug War as an olive branch. I still don't agree with selling drugs, but sending SWAT teams in to arrest people using marijuana seems way excessive. It also seems like a 'great' way to get lots of truly innocent people shot, and although I will still go along with arresting marijuana dealers, I think capital punishment for the crime is a mite excessive.
11.6.2008 8:32pm
The Angry Optimist (mail):
Curious that, even thought the post says "libertarian-conservative" alliance, every one here is going on and on about the GOP.

The GOP left true conservatives a long time ago. Yet conservatives keep going back to it, like an abused wife goes back to her abusive husband.

GOP: "I promise! Things will be better this time. There's just a lot of stress at work and Barack Obama is really getting to me. I'll love you forever!"

Conservatives: "Well...ok."
11.6.2008 8:39pm
HitNRun (mail):
The real problem I have with attacking religious conservatives is that there doesn't, as the Corleones used to say, seem to be any percentage in it.

What, exactly, is the point? Social cons are roughly 6 times a bigger voting bloc than trueblood Libertarians. Social cons are amicable to most of the libertarian agenda. Social cons may not like parts of it and speak out on those instances - as libertarians do when social cons say something unpalatable - but they almost never complain with their ballots.

The areas where they disagree are mostly dead-letter situations. Neither gay marriage nor abortion are up for (serious) legislative debate, one barred by the SCOTUS and the other by a 75% disapproval of gay marriage. If either were to be become live, libertarians could easily join with Democrats to form a winning coalition.

I simply don't see what all the hand-wringing about social cons are. Here you have 25-30% of the electorate willing to vote for candidates who would move the country in the libertarian direction, and they're treated like pariahs because they wouldn't want to go cold turkey tomorrow. And is it really that big a deal that they insist on keeping God in the national Odes, Anthems, and Mottos?
11.6.2008 8:48pm
Reg (mail):

I simply don't see what all the hand-wringing about social cons are.



Social conservatives aren't cool, and libertarians care more about being cool than furthering their agenda. (See, e.g., Reason magazine.)

Here's a question, what harms the nation more: the party that tolerates creationists, or the party that demands economic stupidity (protectionism, unions, socialized medicine, massive regulation, and inefficently designed social programs). I'd say the Republicans have been extremely stupid on economic issues as well, but you don't get run out of the party when you say things like "Unions are a labor cartel that causes higher unemployment, and which survive only by sucking money from businesses to lobby for continued government protection."
11.6.2008 9:37pm
Happycrow (mail) (www):
The marriage isn't over b/c it failed. The marriage is over b/c the conservatives intentionally ran the libertarians out. Short memories don't particularly seem to remember the explicit "we don't need you" meme floating around the net when there wasn't an election on the line.

So, frankly, why should a libertarian care about conservatives' electoral fortunes, given the truly appalling job on the one feature that supposedly makes the Republicans any better than the Democrats? (i.e., governing like the tax-and-spend liberals). Hell, the Cato Institute gets more airplay on NPR than with the Republicans.

They don't want us, folks. Our political philosophy truly is marginal, and small-l libertarians talk about the "Reagan coalition" .... but 99% of conservatives could give a crap what we think, and the remaining 1% has no pull whatsoever.
11.6.2008 9:55pm
wyswyg:
"The marriage is over b/c the conservatives intentionally ran the libertarians out."

Strange. I don't recall that happening. Can you provide any details?
11.6.2008 10:10pm
wyswyg:
Let me offer one way a Socon can agree on an aspect of the Drug War as an olive branch. I still don't agree with selling drugs, but sending SWAT teams in to arrest people using marijuana seems way excessive. It also seems like a 'great' way to get lots of truly innocent people shot, and although I will still go along with arresting marijuana dealers, I think capital punishment for the crime is a mite excessive.

I'm both a so-con and a libertarian. (Not an uncommon thing I suspect.) So I'm already there.
11.6.2008 10:13pm
Warren Windrem (mail):
Hey, What is this libertarian problem with the war all about? As far as I'm concerned, this war has made Iraq in general, and Kurdistan in particular, a much safer place for libertarians. The attitude of some libertarians seems to be "Libertarianism for me, but not for thee".
What were Iraqi libertarians supposed to do before the war? "Well, if you have a problem with your government (probably the most non-libertarian government immaginable), it's up to you to contact and contract with General Dynamics to by tanks. Oh, and it's up to you to do your own fund raising, too, preferrably by the free market system. Don't go asking for handouts from the US CIA or State Department or Pentagon, you cringing little overly dependent user of government services, you!"
Of course, running your own company in pre-war Iraq without falling afoul of the Saddam Husein power structure would be problematic. And, of course, our revolutionary capitalist libertarian would be in constant danger of tipping his anti statist ideological hand, in which case, at the least, he would lose his private business, and, more likely, lose his life.
If money were no object, I would LOVE to start a bar in Bagdad and one in Sulamaniya called the "In Spite of Ron Paul Libertarian Bar". Just like I would like to sart an "In spite of Nancy Pelosi Lesbian and Gay Bar", and an "In Spite of Medea Benjamin Feminist Bar" also in Bagdad.
11.6.2008 10:16pm
Warren Windrem (mail):
Hey, What is this libertarian problem with the war all about? As far as I'm concerned, this war has made Iraq in general, and Kurdistan in particular, a much safer place for libertarians. The attitude of some libertarians seems to be "Libertarianism for me, but not for thee".
What were Iraqi libertarians supposed to do before the war? "Well, if you have a problem with your government (probably the most non-libertarian government immaginable), it's up to you to contact and contract with General Dynamics to by tanks. Oh, and it's up to you to do your own fund raising, too, preferrably by the free market system. Don't go asking for handouts from the US CIA or State Department or Pentagon, you cringing little overly dependent user of government services, you!"
Of course, running your own company in pre-war Iraq without falling afoul of the Saddam Husein power structure would be problematic. And, of course, our revolutionary capitalist libertarian would be in constant danger of tipping his anti statist ideological hand, in which case, at the least, he would lose his private business, and, more likely, lose his life.
If money were no object, I would LOVE to start a bar in Bagdad and one in Sulamaniya called the "In Spite of Ron Paul Libertarian Bar". Just like I would like to sart an "In spite of Nancy Pelosi Lesbian and Gay Bar", and an "In Spite of Medea Benjamin Feminist Bar" also in Bagdad.
11.6.2008 10:16pm
Happycrow (mail) (www):
@wyswyg: I'm moving on (we're very late in, here), but for a bare beginning, you could look up Peter Lawler, and check out some of the fairly vitriolic stuff around the blogosphere during the Schiavo case.
11.6.2008 10:25pm
wyswyg:
Here's why I think that social conservatism is compatible with libertarianism, rightly understood.

People are not and never will be the sort of "individualists" which much libertarian theory supposes. From what I can see, even hard-core libertarian purists don't live up up to the individualist idea. People always have and always will depend on one another in many ways.

That being the case, what are the options?

One option is to try to create the libertarian individualist via government action. This has been the aim of much government policy for the last few decades. The problem is that breaking the bonds of family and local community does not create rugged libertarian individualists, it creates people who are dependent on the state.

The other option is cut the state out of the deal as much as possible, in which case people depend more on the attachments they form with friends, family, community. That is, the social con ideal.

Those seem to me to be the only two realistic options before us. I'm a "lapsed libertarian" to some extent. I still believe in the goal of small government, but I'm convinced that it is libertarian individualism which is responsible for much of the spectacular growth in government in the past half century.

The basic libertarian supposition of "individualism = minimal state" has been tried, and found to be utterly and completely wrong. Individualism has been Miracle Grow for the state. America is vastly more individualistic than it used to be, and the state has grown apace.

I reconsidered my premises and I encourage other Tarians to do the same. You're going down the wrong path if you want to shrink the state, and the right path if you want to grow it.
11.6.2008 10:33pm
wyswyg:
"you could look up Peter Lawler"

The wikipedia entry on him gave me no clue as to what you are getting at.


"check out some of the fairly vitriolic stuff around the blogosphere during the Schiavo case"

There was some vitriolic stuff said, on all sides.
11.6.2008 10:37pm
Warren Windrem (mail):
I suppose Ron Paul might answer the "Libertarianism for me but not for thee (you poor, unfortunate Iraqi Libertarian)" argument by saying, "Well, in a certain sense, the world is sort of a de facto federalist system. If you, Mr. Iraqi Libertarian member of the pre-war Iraqi National Soccer Team had a problem with Uday Hussein torturing members of the National team for losing games, you can always move to Beirut, which is more Libertarian friendly."
To which, I would hope that our hypothetical Iraqi libertarian would reply, "Great! Okay, Mr. Kentucky libertarian. If you have a problem with Kentucky's drug enforcement policy, why don't you move to more Libertarian friendly San Franciso or Portland, Oregon. Hey, that's the beauty of Federalism, right guy?"
11.6.2008 10:57pm
Hogan:
interesting thread. as a libertarianish conservative, i think one of the big things the GOP could do, if it really wanted libertarian enthusiasm, is work on a more sensible drug policy, if only towards marijuana.

it's not by any means my pet issue, but i think it's the major thing that keeps lots of libertarian leaners (especially among the young) sympathetic with the Dems. (along with the prevalence of dead letter kulturkampf issues that make the Dems seem like sophisticates). it's stupid, because obviously the Dems aren't going to do anything to reduce the drug war, but c'est ca. the frequent successes of medical marijuana ballot initiatives suggest that it's not such a politically untenable suggestion. and i think conservatives could agree that, even if they disapprove of smoking marijuana, it makes little sense to keep in place an enormous government effort to ineffectively impose a Prohibition on an easily obtainable, mild drug that a large proportion of the country has used.

it wouldn't need to go as far as legalizing harder drugs, but i think something like this might hint at the value of gop cooperation to many persuadable libertarians. to the extent that the gop has any "brand" problems with independents because it's seen as a gauche party of moralists (or something), becoming the party of flexibility on this might help. just a thought.
11.6.2008 11:06pm
newscaper (mail):
A general point and a more specific one:

The general: conservatives and many minarchist libertarians reluctantly believe that some reasonable level of law and regulations are needed to *prevent* the wost societal spillover effects from the negative consequences of individual activity.

The more anarchocapitalist libertarians tend to think there should be almost no specific laws or regulations, and that any negative externalities should be dealt with *after the fact*, only once harm has been done. Presumably the lessons of precedent would be enough, over time, to indirectly discourage the activity.

One simple example: states' having mandatory car insurance laws versus letting individuals weigh the risk of going w/o it themselves. The nice libertarian ideal breaks down on the rock of reality - many people who would blow off insurance also have no assets, minimal income and/or a crappy credit rating so simply relying taking them to court to recover damages is utterly dead in the water. No blood from a turnip.

A different, specific point:
Here's opportunity for some common ground on abortion (assuming you're not one the purists who think children should have every same right as adults) that would go a long way to removing some of the issue's sting: shoot down the craziness of laws requiring that underage teens be allowed to get abortions w/o their parents' permission (or court order for genuine extenuating circumstances).
In any other case a doctor could be sued for performing n unauthorized procedure. This selective nullification of parental rights is an actual *intrusion* by the law. the counterexample I like to give is this: ask a feminist what she;'d think if a plastic surgeon gave her 16 year old daughter breast implants w/o permission.
11.6.2008 11:09pm
Warren Windrem (mail):
Further Iraqi Libertarian retort to Ron Paul:

"So, Doctor Paul, since the world is essentially a de facto federalist system, if I don't like Saddam Hussein, I should move to more libertarian friendly Beirut. Should all 20 million of us move to Beirut? Are you advocating the Soviet Jewry exodus response to Totalitarianism?
I realize that open border immigration policies are very hip in libertarian circles now, but 20 million of us? Hey, Jordan and Syria are having problems with the much lower numbers of us who HAVE used the 'federalism relocation strategy'. just how practical is that?"
11.6.2008 11:29pm
Oren:

[talking about Jacksonian liberty]
"civil libertarians, passionately attached to the Constitution and especially to the Bill of Rights, and deeply concerned to preserve the liberties of ordinary Americans"

You've got to be joking? Are we talking about President Andrew Jackson here? The same one that, in violation of court order, deprived thousands of Cherokees of life and liberty without even a shred of basic human dignity for the sake of grabbing some land with gold under it?

What sort of insane libertarian position equates freedom with that absolute worst kind of government coercion -- the use of soldiers with guns to deprive people of the basic natural rights endowed by the Creator?
11.6.2008 11:53pm
Oren:


The other option is cut the state out of the deal as much as possible, in which case people depend more on the attachments they form with friends, family, community. That is, the social con ideal.


That is a different sort of social conservatism that I'm familiar with. So long as there are soc-con that advocate more criminalization, more censorship and more exclusion from the public sphere of dissenting views.

A good litmus test is George Carlin's "Seven Words you can't say on TV" -- an overtly political diatribe on the meaning of the first amendment that is, itself, censored from broadcast on television. I'm no big fan of Carlin's politics (he's a big Rudy fan) but, the way I see it, his right to expression of unpopular political ideas is beyond question.
11.7.2008 12:01am
Bob Goodman (mail) (www):
while government-funded healthcare for all may pose in an indirect sense a threat to freedom, the ability of your government's law enforcement agencies to arbitrarily declare you an "enemy combatant" and without any burden of proof or due process strip you of your civil rights and your physical freedom, poses a far more direct threat of tyranny than S-CHIP.

But what if the worse deprivation of liberty is done to only a handful of persons, while S-CHIP is inflicted on the millions?

Meanwhile, the ideas I have for the compromise on narcotics would be hypocritic -- and therefore to my way of thinking, useful and even fun in a cynical way, like this one: What seems to bother most about narcotic "abuse" is its visibility -- public dealing &intoxication. Why not promise to get drugs off the streets while secretly stopping undercover enforcement? Don't ask, don't tell, don't pursue. The wowsers stop seeing problematic behaviors, and the druggies get to continue in private. No change in the actual laws needed, just in methods of enforcement. The conservatarian would succeed in getting drugs off the streets, probably better than present enforcement methods do.

Eventually technologic changes will make narcotics &abortions non-issues, allowing political realignment. Of course eventually technologic changes will make all of today's issues non-issues -- and raise new issues! Like when/if we develop the ability to kill other persons at any distance by pure mind power, who's going to care about any of this stuff? Or when everyone's so wealthy (Or so poor!) that redistribution is either no longer possible or not a desideratum?
11.7.2008 12:02am
Warren Windrem (mail):
Further note to Ron Paul:

One of the things that FINALLY got the Europeans off their duffs and in action about the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia, was the fact that they had a problem with being hosts for the Soviet Jewry Exodus method of coping with totalitarianism. The idea of all those Kosovars and Bosnians coming to Italy and France and Austria and Germany didn't appeal to them. I guess the Germans and French and Austrians just weren't libertarian enough. They probably figured that they had enough problems already absorbing the North Africans in the Paris banlieus and former East Germans into united Germany, without dealing with more refugees exercising their right to the federalist "you don't like it, move to a more libertarian friendly place" coping mechanism.
11.7.2008 12:05am
wyswyg:
"That is a different sort of social conservatism that I'm familiar with. So long as there are soc-con that advocate more criminalization, more censorship and more exclusion from the public sphere of dissenting views."

I think you garbled your sentence. At least I don't understand what you meant to say. Everyone favors censorship and the exclusion of dissenting views from the public sphere, liberals most of all. I'm sure you have some experience with out college system.


"A good litmus test is George Carlin's "Seven Words you can't say on TV"

What do those words, all of which repeatedly did say on TV, have to do with political ideas, unpopular or otherwise?

And a good litmus test for what?
11.7.2008 12:08am
wyswyg:
You've got to be joking? Are we talking about President Andrew Jackson here?

Oren, this was an interesting thread before you showed up and started emoting like crazy. If you can't talk like an adult, don't talk at all.

Feel free to call that censorship and "exclusion of dissenting views". I'm sure that will give you the delicious frisson you seek.
11.7.2008 12:13am
Oren:
wyswyg, I have never in my life condoned the absurd idea that refusing to discuss a matter is censorship. Nothing anyone does on this board even meets the government-action predicate of censorship (let alone the rest of the test) so let's just get that out of the way at the beginning.

Secondly, talking about Andrew Jackson and civil rights in the same sentence is a joke. A man that sends the army to abuse human beings in the worst possible way is not a model for any sort of libertarianism that professes as its goals the end of government abuse.
11.7.2008 12:32am
Anguilimala (mail):

But what if the worse deprivation of liberty is done to only a handful of persons, while S-CHIP is inflicted on the millions?



There is a point to that, but its also a suspiciously convenient thing to say when someone is in the many and not the few.

When it amounts too, as it looks to me, "Better that a handful of innocent people other than myself be accidentally detained for years, tortured, and possibly killed, in captivity than that millions of people, including me, have to pay some small amount of cash",you don't look libertarian, you just look like your lamely trying to rationalize selfishness.
11.7.2008 12:35am
Oren:

I think you garbled your sentence. At least I don't understand what you meant to say. Everyone favors censorship and the exclusion of dissenting views from the public sphere, liberals most of all. I'm sure you have some experience with out college system.

To the extent that liberals have advocating censorship and the exclusion of contrary views, I have consistently opposed them (check my long history of commenting on this blog for positions to the contrary). These actions are equally abhorrent no matter where in the political spectrum they come from (the fairness doctrine and Tipper Gore's ludicrous campaign against music and video games stand out as two notable examples of liberals with little respect for free expression).

That said, I don't buy this "liberals most of all" qualifier. Liberals never tried to censor christian rock in the way that modern secular rock is censored on the radio. Liberal action groups never emulated the PTC's unending campaign to rid the airwaves of programming they find objectionable.

Finally, whatever we decide on the bounds of public expression, the focus of my sentence (or at least the focus of my thought, I may not have written it quite right) was on the soc-con drive for increased (or continued) criminalization of matters that are none of the state's business. Most inexplicable to me is the continued defense of the Texas sodomy law overturned in Lawrence. I am willing to compromise on a lot of issues, but I will offer no peace whatsoever to anyone that thinks that it is the proper place of the State to regulate private consensual sexual conduct between adults.
11.7.2008 12:43am
John Moore (www):
You paint with a broad brush when you impute to soc-cons the defense of the Texas sodomy law. Yes, some soc-cons defended it. And yes, some libertarians are against having a standing army.

So friggin what? There are always fringes.
11.7.2008 12:52am
Oren:


"A good litmus test is George Carlin's "Seven Words you can't say on TV"

What do those words, all of which repeatedly did say on TV, have to do with political ideas, unpopular or otherwise?

And a good litmus test for what?

It's a good litmus test for whether one can make the distinction between things that one disapproves of and things that others ought not to be allowed to do. This psychic separation between one's personal values and what we ought to impose on others seems to me critical for any sort of principled limited government (as opposed to the unprincipled variety that amounts to "freedom to do only those things which I approve").

Specifically, George Carlin prepared a monologue on a manifestly political issue expressing his particular and idiosyncratic view on that issue. When aired on television, however, that political expression was censored and the station that aired it fined.
11.7.2008 1:06am
peter jackson (mail) (www):
Until now the morality wing of the the Republican Party has called the shots. When virtue is the primary governing, every conflict between the moralizers and the (classical) liberals will result in freedom losing out, every time, including (especially?) economic freedom.

The Republicans need to change biases and take up the cause of freedom first and foremost. This will require the moralizers to voluntarily concede that the state should not be the enforcer of a particular point of view regarding social virtue. Abortion should be sensibly restricted, but ultimately remain legal. All marriages should be civil unions in the eyes of the state, and should include same-sex couples, with all claims of "marriage" or "holy matrimony" ceded to religious institutions. Also, an honest assessment of the American war on drugs needs to be made.

Social conservatives need to realize that the GOP is where it is because of it's willingness to compromise personal and economic freedom. They need to understand they they are responsible for those compromises, and the epic fail it has produced, and give the libertarians a shot, even though the social cons are larger in number.

~peter
11.7.2008 1:34am
wyswyg:
as opposed to the unprincipled variety that amounts to "freedom to do only those things which I approve"

I see that you're about twenty years old. All freedom is "freedom to do those things which I approve". You want the sort of freedom you would like? Leave society and live on your own in the wilderness.


"This psychic separation between one's personal values and what we ought to impose on others "

Sounds to me like you're pretty gung ho about imposing your personal values on others. The fact that you would not phrase it in that fashion simply exposes the limitations in your thinking.


George Carlin prepared a monologue on a manifestly political issue expressing his particular and idiosyncratic view on that issue.

What you meant to say was that he acted like a moron and broke the rules, rules which exist for the benefit of us all.


"whatever we decide on the bounds of public expression, the focus of my sentence was on the soc-con drive for increased (or continued) criminalization of matters that are none of the state's business"


Once again, you are saying that you want to impose your own views on everyone else. The question of what is or is not the states business is one for the citizens of the state to make. If you deny them that right than you have zero business pretending to be a defender of liberty. In fact, you are a tyrant. No doubt in your own mind a benign one, but all tyrants think that.
11.7.2008 1:38am
peter jackson (mail) (www):
Sheesh ^

voluntary governing principle

This will require the moralizers to voluntarily concede that the state should not be the enforcer of a particular point of view regarding social virtue.

p
11.7.2008 1:40am
wyswyg:
"Until now the morality wing of the the Republican Party has called the shots"

Dear God, you people are stupid.


"This will require the moralizers to voluntarily concede that the state should not be the enforcer of a particular point of view regarding social virtue."

You and the rest of your faux libertarian ilk are the most obnoxious moralizers on the planet. You want your own idea of virtue to prevail. Guess what? The public loathes libertarian ideas of virtue.


"They need to understand they they are responsible for those compromises, and the epic fail it has produced, and give the libertarians a shot, even though the social cons are larger in number."

Libertarians are the most politically clueless people you'll ever meet. So here is a clue. The GOP is not run by the big bad "moralizers" who haunt your dreams. It's run by the US Chamber of Commerce. They are the people your grievance is with.
11.7.2008 1:48am
wyswyg:
That said, I don't buy this "liberals most of all" qualifier.

The President of Harvard lost his job for saying something which ran counter to the liberal dogma, and you don't think that liberals engage in censorship?

Howard Stern lost his job to pressure from liberals, but you don't think that liberals engage in that sort of thing?

We just saw a private citizen slimed in the media for asking an awkward question of Obama, and you don't think that the liberals engage in suppression of speech?

It's quite obvious that you are seeing only what you wish to see.
11.7.2008 1:54am
wyswyg:
"Social conservatives need to realize that the GOP is where it is because of it's willingness to compromise personal and economic freedom. They need to understand they they are responsible for those compromises, and the epic fail it has produced"


Unless you can offer some compelling evidence that these things you assert are true, I don't see why they should do any such thing.

The reality is that social conservatism is notably more popular than the Republican party. While Obama was carrying California in a landslide, that very liberal state was passing an anti-gay marriage amendment. (Again)

Libertarian economic policies are enormously unpopular, almost radioactive. I saw a poll of Republicans in which a majority expressed their opposition to free trade. Republicans!

But the main drag on the party was Bush and McCain, two of the sorriest leaders any political party has ever had to endure. They were Carter and Mondale quality leaders.
11.7.2008 2:12am
a knight (mail) (www):
wyswyg - Howard Stern never lost his job at CBS, he contracted with Sirius satellite radio, instead of renewing with CBS. He was upset about the restrictions which had placed upon him because of fines levied against CBS by the FCC during GW Bush's first term, so it's hard to understand why you blame liberals for it too.
11.7.2008 2:37am
The Real Pink Pig (mail):
I've called myself a libertarian for 40-odd years, but I really can't abide the elitist position of the current batch of supposedly "libertarian" intellectuals. In my view, libertarianism says little or nothing about foreign policy, other than being supportive of free trade (which is my own preference). I was astounded and appalled at the way libertarian intellectuals, like lemmings, simultaneously decided that the Iraq war was "bad". I can't claim to share that opinion, so I no longer call myself a libertarian, to avoid misunderstandings.

By the way, the war was over in less than a month in 2003; the subsequent period is properly called the reconstruction. Consider this: after the Civil War, the reconstruction of the South lasted more than 10 years, and after the 2nd World War, the reconstruction of Japan lasted at least 7 years. Reconstructions take time. The reconstruction of Germany after WWII took less than that, but Germany was culturally very compatible with the West, and even then it took 2-4 years. Iraq, with a very long, grim (and anti-European) history, compares favorably at 5 years.

Anyway, you referred to "claims of virtually unlimited wartime executive power". What exactly does this encompass? I don't recall a suspension of habeas corpus (as Lincoln did), nor an internment of American citizens (as FDR did). I could agree that the Patriot Act might have led to abuse of authority, but I don't know of any actual instance of that, and the Act was allowed to die a merciful death, which is better than you could say of a lot of government programs.

Exaggeration for effect? Possibly. But then again, I don't recall that being among the tools usually wielded by libertarians.
11.7.2008 2:45am
The Real Pink Pig (mail):
Wow, I just went back and read some of the other comments in this thread. What a bunch of idiots there are!
11.7.2008 2:53am
a knight (mail) (www):
A very typical argument running through this thread is that resolute libertarians are too idealistic about their political philosophy, and need top compromise in order to achieve political victory. This has also a very common argument made by many of the Libertarian Party's leadership, and some of its membership. Good conservative Barr couldn't even swing 1% of the vote, so how is that plan working out? The LP calls itself "The Party of Principle". It is an absurdity to be pragmatic at the price of one's theory, if one wills to remain principled. If I wanted to belong to a compromised political party, I'd still be a registered Republican.

Again: Libertarian Republicans are Fainéant Republicans, who stood quietly by while their party got compromised by New Rightys and Trotskyists. The Republican Party has become the party of spend without end, foisting the costs of today off onto tomorrow; the rationalisers of the torture of human beings detained Under The Colour of Authority Imparted By The American Flag; the defenders of an immoral war, whilst the true perpetrators for 911 were allowed to lick their wounds, then metastasise up in the Pak/Afghan frontier; and the supporters of a President who trotted the globe preaching his false sermon of support for Democratic processes worldwide, while at the same time, he played pocket pool with the military dictator of Pakistan, slept with Islam "Butcher of Andijon" Karimov, and let a Saudi prince slip him the tongue in Crawford. Now they come over to the LP saying the the membership needs to let themselves be compromised for the good of the party. Why don't y'all head on back down to Middling, TX, into that cesspool of yours, and work on what has been spoiled, instead of attempting to spread your infection into the party that I've been a part of for over two decades now? I prefer principles to political wins, and many other long-term libertarians do too. Accept personal responsibility for the polluted mess your philosophy has become, and clean house thoroughly, before you come rap tap tapping on my front door, or quoth this libertarian, nevermore.
11.7.2008 3:09am
The Real Pink Pig (mail):
I suppose I should be less snarky and expand a bit on my last post.

I understood Ilya's post to be a (mild) suggestion that libertarians and conservatives could work together for shared goals (mainly, preventing the transformation of the US into a European-style welfare state). It's happened before, for example during the 80s, when Reagan was President. As eloquent and persuasive as Reagan was, I don't think that the libertarian-conservative coalition that led to his election and reelection were just the product of idol worship. At the time, it became clear to both groups that there was no way they could hope to stem the tide of Carterism without allies, so they joined forces. Later, the conservatives decided that they could dispense with the libertarians and govern alone, but that hasn't worked very well. Now, it ought to be entirely clear to anyone with half a grain of common sense that socialism can't be stopped by "allies" who are constantly at war with each other. Finger-pointing is not going to get us anywhere, except the grave.

For my part, as an American with libertarian instincts, I wish to prevent the destruction of the free market, and along the way, I can tolerate quite a lot of things that I don't otherwise feel very strongly about, such as the pro-life movement. You can go to church as much as you wish, as long as you don't try to force me to do the same. I ask only for fair consideration in return.

Over the last many years, I have put up with people who insist that they know I'm some sort of redneck religious extremist, because I usually vote Republican. I can live with that, mainly because they are wasting their breath. As far as I'm concerned, it's fine if the other side misunderstands me, as long as my side doesn't. I'll probably still vote Republican in the future, but there's a dearth of plausible candidates these days.

Please try not to forget that Reagan won Massachusetts (twice) and New York (twice). It may help to put things in perspective.
11.7.2008 3:21am
a knight (mail) (www):
The Real Pink Pig Habeas Corpus is a right of Humans, not bounded by citizenry. Our Natural Rights are not derived from the Constitution. The Constitution is instead a framework for a limited government which must jump through the proper hoops before it can take life liberty or property away from any human being. The moment detainees were held as "unlawful" or "criminal" combatants and stripped of the Geneva Conventions protections, they were being held by the US government as criminal actors.
U.S. Constitution; Article XIII; Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Surely you cannot be trying to claim that a US Naval Military Base is not a place that is subject to the jurisdiction of the United States? This is about Natural Liberty; it is not the Supreme Court which has the final say, it is the people who are in possession of this right. Yes, this even includes America's enemies. Take these detainees into an open tribunal that strictly adheres to American due process of law, secure righteous convictions against them, and then hang em high. Anything less is a theft of my liberty, and I've yielded none to the state. Decide for yourself how far your knees buckle in the face of tyranny. You think I am some kind of libertarian loon? Is Kenneth Starr a loon also?
An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Thomas Paine, "Dissertations on First Principles of Government", 1795
11.7.2008 3:37am
The Real Pink Pig (mail):
(I don't know why I'm bothering to respond to a non sequitur, but so be it.)

I said, parenthetically as it happens, that Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, which is an actual historical fact, disputed by no one (except maybe "a knight"). It might surprise you, but not everyone in the world believes in natural rights, and quite frankly it's an issue that I think we should all put aside while we are attempting to hold off the destruction of the country. You'd have a hard time defending the claim that habeas corpus is a natural right in any case, given that it was created fairly recently, initially in the UK and subsequently in the US. If you happen to visit France (or even Louisiana), you will discover that you have no "right" of habeas corpus, because it is not a feature of Napoleonic Law.
11.7.2008 3:58am
Warren Windrem (mail):
So, after all this talk about Gitmo, and "immoral wars", and not capturing Osama Bin Laden, and all that, I still wanna know: Is Ron Paul glad, as a libertarian, that Iraq is a safer place for libertarians now than it was in 2003? or that Kosovo and Boznia-Herzegovina are safer places for libertarians now than they were in 1992? If not, why not?
And what is the official libertarian position on "Libertarianism for me, but not for thee"? Frankly, I couldn't give a rhodent's behind whether we caught Osama Bin Laden or we didn't. If he fell into our laps with routine effort, great. I have NO regrets whatsoever that, by making Iraq a safer place for libertarians, we may have blown an opportunity to capture Osama Bin Laden. If libertarians want to parrot the International ANSWER or Code Pink party lines and trivialize the liberation and rehabilitation of Iraq, that's their problem. I'm okay with the trade off of 20 million better off Iraqi Shiites and Kurds and Sunni non Ba'athists at the expense of not capturing Bin Laden.
11.7.2008 6:08am
Warren Windrem (mail):
So, it's 2008, 4000 plus American soldiers have died, and we went ahead without UN approval. So, now, where does Ron Paul stand? where do libertarians stand?

Are he/they/you going to say, "well, it was a rough road, and we paid a heavy price, but, bottom line, I'm happy for the Iraqis", or are he/they/you going to say, like Oliver Stone, "It was a Trillion Dollar mistake; I'm ashamed of my country. Iraqis moving from a horrible totalitarian regime to a (flawed democracy/quasi democracy/more benign authoritarian regime/whatever) doesn't mean diddly squat to me; because Brown and Root or Bechtel made a profit, that in an of itself makes the whole project morally impure, and making Iraq a safer place for libertarians is less important than maintaining spotless moral purity!"
Come to think of it, maintaining spotless moral purity seems to have a higher value to some (certainly not all) libertarians than making real achievements in an imperfect, morally complex world. Sort of like a lot of the Code Pink people, International Answer people, and old line Stalinists I have to argue with here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
11.7.2008 6:58am
wyswyg:
"I prefer principles to political wins, and many other long-term libertarians do too."

Then congratulations! You will get exactly what you want. You will get to feel "principled", and you will never have to worry that you might win anything.
11.7.2008 9:02am
Brian S:
The problem with every last post here advising libertarians to be reasonable and compromise and see that only an alliance with conservatives can help them achieve their goals [or at least slow down the advance of statism] is this:

That's what conservatives told us last time.

They lied.

How many times are libertarians expected to come back into the tent after they're lied to? Seven? Seventy times seven?

Any so-called conservative who wants to prove to me that they're sincere about small government principles has to pass one simple test: they have to be able to show me the paper trail of their public statements of hatred for Bush. It's that simple. If that paper trail does not exist, or if the paper trail shows a history of support for Bush instead, then I will assume that any statement they make now claiming to be in favor of small government will be a lie.

If compromise and cooperation with conservatives got libertarians even part of their agenda, I would favor it. Reagan had many un-libertarian attributes, but he legitimately attempted to slow the growth of government and to increase economic liberty, and if Reagan came back from the dead I would advocate compromise and cooperation. But Reagan isn't coming back from the dead and I have to look at the legacy of Bushism and say, "Anyone who had a hand in this will never be believed ever again. Period."

And to everyone saying, "Well, the voting public hates libertarians, so that's why the GOP screws you over repeatedly," well - if we're so unpopular, then I guess you won't mind not having us around. Good luck with your Peronism.

I am not demanding moral purity because I know that can't happen. But I do know this: conservatives of the Rush Limbaugh stripe made it a crusade, made it their life's work, to attack Bill Clinton, because he was a big-government liberal. Since Bush grew government faster than Clinton, that to me means they should have hated Bush even more than Clinton. Strangely, they did not. Oh, you can find a couple of instances where people like Limbaugh criticized Bush, but if conservatives were sincere, their criticism of Bush should have blazed even hotter than their criticism of Clinton. But it didn't. And that is why I don't believe you now. I don't expect moral purity, but if I don't at least see moral consistency, then you can't be trusted. And moral consistency demands that your small government principles - even if they aren't perfect and aren't libertarian - have to be the same whether you're in or out of office. If they aren't, then your pleas for compromise and reconciliation now are just a trick.
11.7.2008 9:20am
Brian S:
Warren -

To judge whether or not an undertaking has been a success, we have to measure its total costs, and compare those costs to the total benefit achieved.

The Iraq war has cost a trillion dollars, thousands of US dead, tens of thousands of US wounded, the evisceration of the junior officer and NCO corps in our armed services, the embarrassment of the US around the world, and our national honor. And that doesn't even include the costs to Iraqis. For these costs we have achieved the creation of a fragile Iraqi state - a state which may or may not survive our withdrawal, and a state which if it remains a democracy will probably ultimately be a closer associate of Iran than the United States.

That cost/benefit ratio is way, way, way out of whack.

My problem with people who don't acknowledge this cost/benefit ratio is this: if they think the Iraq adventure was worth the costs, they're liable to think any crazy old thing is worth the costs. They may decide to start throwing away a trillion dollars and thousands of men to rescue cats from trees. Because to McCain-style thinking, as long as you can say you "won" the war, then you don't have to even look at the costs. And that makes McCain a dangerous fool.
11.7.2008 9:25am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
In the last day or so I have been reminded about the contempt many libertarians hold for social conservatives. They blame social conservatives for recent losses and suggest they should be jettisoned from the Republican Party, which is of course ridiculous. Without social conservatives, the Republicans would get like 15% of the vote.


Well that is nothing compared to the contempt socons hold for libertarians.

But if socons want to maintain their Cultural Socialism I'm going to park myself with the avowed economic liberals. Because right now it is obvious that there is no Economic Conservative Party in America.

When the socons come back to economic conservatism they will have earned my vote. But I want to see. Not just talk. So get elected in '10 (if you can) and I will consider the R party for '12. But I'm sitting the next one out. As so many Republican voters have done for the last two elections.

I'm tired of broken promises and the vituperation I get from the socons after every election. You want me to stick around - be nice. And it is not policy disagreements that bother me. It is the "what are you doing here? we don't need your kind" attitude.

The only hope for a socon-libertarian alliance is a fiscally conservative party. Call me when you get one and we can talk.
11.7.2008 10:06am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Brian S.

No one knew the value of the British adventure in India for about 400 years. It is starting to work out well.

I'm sorry the Iraq war has not shown a profit on the current quarterly report. Obviously it is time to liquidate our investment and let AlQ liquidate the Iraqis. Fair dinkum all around. The sooner we leave the sooner the Iranians can get their cut. Of course the Saudis might not like that. So there will be a good size war to determine who gets what.

So yes. I see a big improvement in the Iraqi's situation once we pull out in the very near future. Good things will be happening soon. Barry promised.
11.7.2008 10:18am
M. Simon (mail) (www):

The reality is that social conservatism is notably more popular than the Republican party. While Obama was carrying California in a landslide, that very liberal state was passing an anti-gay marriage amendment.


So true. And the margin of difference was the black/hispanic Obama vote.

So now we have a party for white socons and a party for black/hispanic socons. I'd say socons have plenty of options. And libertarians of the Republican variety have the option to stay home, because there is no fiscally conservative major party.

So the socons won and the Republicans lost. Seems like a fair deal to me.

Fortunately we will be going to economic hell in a socon hand basket. I hope the socons find much comfort in that.

It looks to me like the socons are a force that has transcended party. Victory at last. I hope you can put food on the table when it is all over.
11.7.2008 10:33am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
I think Ron Paul sets a pretty good example. Work with whoever supports liberty, issue by issue. Never mouth the party line or sell out your principles just to gain influence. You'll only get used.


Yep. The gang he is hanging with now is just so politically attractive. And Oh So Constitutional. Well Paul was always a pork barreler and a Cultural Socialist. I'm sure he is much happier now that he doesn't have to mouth any of that social liberty crap any more.
11.7.2008 10:38am
Tennwriter (mail):
Real Pink Pig,
I'd have to say it looked like the Tarians kissed off the Socons rather than the other way around. I mean, look at this thread. They are some profoundly irritated socons who feel like they've been given the finger for no really good reason, and there is a fair number of tarians who think they should follow that finger up with a fist (to be fair, there are a number of tarians who seem reasonable.)

Now, I'd like to boost for fusionism, but it won't work if tarians are saying 'its all your fault, you evil socons. change all your ways this instant or I won't talk to you!!!!!!"

As to the person who spoke of a cesspool, why yes, there is one. The Unprincipled lead the R party. The socons would like to change that. We have to change that. If we don't change it, the R party is going down into the drink, and the tarians are going to become a historical footnote and a very minor one at that.

..."the suppression of the Libertish extremist Nazi group was accomplished in 2019 by the victorious Che Guerva Brigades with minimal loss of life from the Brigades. This minor one day action followed the four year war on Evangelicals and Jacksonians which concluded with the nuclear detonation in Nashville.

The Ever Victorious People's History of the Revolution, published by the NYT Government Press 2025 C.E.."

To my fellow socons and reasonable tarians, I have to say this has been a most enlightening thread. I thought I was alone in my views on the Libertarians. Instead, I find many who echo my thoughts (usually more eloquently than I), or even advance the arguement farther than I could see. Very nice indeed. Thanks.
11.7.2008 11:29am
Brian S:
No one knew the value of the British adventure in India for about 400 years. It is starting to work out well.

This is exactly the type of thinking I am talking about - according to M Simon, you can't argue that ANY war isn't worth it, because maybe somehow history will work out that 400 years from now it will be worth it.

I'm sorry the Iraq war has not shown a profit on the current quarterly report. Obviously it is time to liquidate our investment and let AlQ liquidate the Iraqis.

Yes. Yes it is.

The determination of you Trotskyites to export revolution regardless of the costs is the mirror image of the left-collectivist's determination to achieve "social justice" even if it means bloody injustice for every last individual who makes up the social group. Your anger and denial whenever anyone even mentions the costs are the mirror image of the left's denial too.

In any event, even if I decided to say, "Well, the current and ongoing costs in Iraq aren't that horrific, so maybe we can continue with our current policy for just a little while longer, and see if the Iraqi regime stabilizes further," the Iraq adventure as a whole would still be a complete failure by any reasonable cost/benefit analysis. [And it's an even worse failure if we start to talk about opportunity cost.] And acknowledgement of that fact by the pro-war faction is, to me, required - because unless they acknowledge it, I have no way of knowing what sort of new disaster they'll get us into tomorrow.
11.7.2008 11:58am
Happycrow (mail) (www):
@Wyswyg: Your Google-Fu needs improvement. Try "Peter Lawler libertarian"

Tennwriter: you are actually proving my point. The libertarians would like something resembling fiscal conservatism. To suggest that libertarians should pal up with Socons, when the latter are insulted that the libertarians actually have a position to insist upon.... suggests that the one group simply doesn't have any respect for the other.

And, truth is, it doesn't.
11.7.2008 12:11pm
Tennwriter (mail):
Happycrow,

Au contraire, mon ami. There is one group that continually belittles the other group viewing their mere existence as a provocation, and the second vastly larger group mostly ignores the first group. Socons do not view the existence of Libertarians as an insult. At worst, we're apathetic.

Its rather like the relationship of Blacks and Whites. The smaller group is obsessed with the larger group, and the larger group is thinking 'hmmm, hamburger or sausage for the grill, tonight?'.

Now, in the larger group, there are some, such as I, who see the value of having reliable 'shock troops' and a different perspective. We see the value of hard-core logicians compared to the frankly incoherent nature of the socons. We see the value of having a bunch of blue-painted Celts in their birthday suits come screaming over the horizon at the hordes of statists to engage alongside the larger, and more steadfast pikemen of the Conservatives.

You say you want fiscal conservatism? Match me...

Let's get rid of ...
1. Post office. Sure. Fedex and email have made this obsolete.
2. Dept. of Education. Please yes.
3. NEA. Like I really want to spend my taxpayer dollars so some talentless hack can insult me...
4. NPR. Um, radio really seems like a well-established technology for oh, a century now.
5. NASA. I like the moon shot. Now where's my Solar Power Satellites, hunh? Let's go with X-prizes and use the NASA budget. Half goes to tax cuts, and half to X-prizes. The private market in general will do a better job.
6. DHS airport security. Anne Coulter said it combined the worst of all worlds. No additional security, but lots of additional inconvenience. There has to be a better way. Handing out free Bowie knives to all passengers seems a fairly cheap way to ensure no terrorist attack on a plane short of a bomb works. And then actually spend the money to scan all luggage, and we're good to go.
7. Foreign aid (frequently tribute). As a good Jacksonian...Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute!
8. Grants for Science: Glenn Reynolds is for this as a sorta libertarian. I, socon, want the Separation of Science and the State becasue the state corrupts good science. One of the key drivers in the Evolution/Creation debate is the Evos control of all that lovely government cash which they are not going to give up without a fight to the death. Add the Global Warming nonsense in with this as well. AIDS research too...Duesberg may have a point. What if our whole AIDs approach is fundamentally mistaken rather like FDR's attempts to fix the economy?

I could go on. Chances are, I'm more fiscally conservative than a lot of libertarians.

There is a standard conservative. He is good on values, national defense, and fiscal responsibility. This guy is a social conservative. There are variations on this guy....like communitarians and hawks and libertarians. And the standard conservative needs their help. He doesn't need them as much as they need him, but it is a mutual relationship of benefit.

I'm not insulted that you a Libertarian might disagree with me on certain issues. I'm insulted that we probably agree nine times out of ten, and I get called names appropriate for a communist while real communists run hog-wild. I'm an adult. An adult understands that others have strongly held beliefs that they have backed up with reasons. I can disagree with your views without holding you in contempt.
11.7.2008 1:01pm
Brian S:
Tennwriter,

I don't know if you realize this, but you are also being played for a sucker by the modern GOP.

If you believe the things you're writing, then the GOP establishment has lied to you, screwed you over, and betrayed everything you stand for. And you should be one of the people talking about bailing.
11.7.2008 1:29pm
Oren:
What you meant to say was that he acted like a moron and broke the rules, rules which exist for the benefit of us all.
Wow, you convinced me. Now when the next conservative talk radio personality is pilloried for refusing to follow the fairness doctrine rules, I will remember that the rules are there for the benefit of all of us and not to worry.
11.7.2008 2:50pm
Mark Horning (mail) (www):
The abortion plank is the large rabid dog in the Republican big tent. It's what drives people away screaming from the Republican party.

The national Republican Party was running radio adds across the country accusing Obama of supporting the "worst sort of pro-abortion extreemisim", and my first thought was, you people are idiots. There is a small core group of social conservatives for whom this is a big deal, the rest of the country is far more interested in what is going on with their 401K.

The reason pro-choice and anti-abortion folks can't agree is because they don't even realise what it is they are arguing about. It's not a question of "rights". It's a question of "what is human". Humans have rights, lumps of cells do not.

The vast majority of the country is perfectly comfortable with the idea that if a foetus is old enough to survive outside the womb then it is a baby. You don't walk up a a woman who is 7 months pregnant and ask "how's the foetus doing?"

At the same time the vast majority of the county does not think that a 3-week old embrio is a human being. It's a lump of cells. It certainly has the potential to become a human, but it's not a human yet.

The Libertarians problem is their highly principled belief that all drugs should be legalised. They are 100% right that from a human rights standpoint that what one does to ones own body is his own business. This is utterly unimportant to the Republican who does not want some gy selling crack on the streetcorner in front of his kids elementary school.

For the Libertarians and the Conservatives to come together, they need to reorder their priorities. That means they need to put fiscal conservatism at the top of the agenda, because that's what they agree on. Everything else is a second order priority.

That means that at the local and state level voting against any budget that exceeds the previous years revenues. It means the same at the federal level. Libertarians agree that you can break the budget in a time of war. Republicans agree that a time of war means that Congress actually Declare's WAR.

Libertarians aren't pacifists, they are the most well armed people I know. They do not object to war when attacked; they object to nation-building. As for Iraq, as has been pointed out, we won the "war" in a week and a half. Libertarians don't see a war in Iraq, they see reconstruction and occupation.

Obama, Pelosi, and Reid are going to give us an ecconomy that is going to make Jimmy Carter's administration look like the good old days. That means that in 2 and 4 years the message has to be "fiscal responsibility and fiscal disciplin brings fiscal opertunity."

That means that the social conservatives agree to put abortion on the back burner for a while. The nation is shifting towards your point of view anyway, so give it a rest. Libertarians put drug legalisation on the back burner as well, same thing.
11.7.2008 3:19pm
Splunge:
You say you want fiscal conservatism? Match me...

Oy, Tennwriter, if that's your whole list, this is a toy version of fiscal conservatism, like the toy cell phones you buy for 6-year-olds. You push the buttons and it beeps, but nothing actually happens.

Get rid of everything on your list, and the Federal budget drops by, what, maybe 10% tops? The Federal government for 2008 is $2.9 trillion. Let's see where it goes:

(1) Entitlements, wealth transfer and welfare, including Social Security, Medicare, SCHIP (nationalized health care insurance for kids), Medicaid, unemployment: $1.6 trillion, or about 54%.

(2) National security, including the DoD, War on Terror, DHS, Veterans affairs, Dept of State, most of DoE spending (i.e. nuclear weapons): $0.76 trillion, or about 26%.

(3) Interest on the national debt: $0.26 trillion, or 9%.

Everything else -- including everything on your list -- amounts to a mere 11% of the Federal budget. You could get a whole whopping 11% tax break if you just dumped all of it.

Honestly, if you want to use "fiscal conservative" in a way that respects the language, you need to propose one or more of three things:

(1) Enough with the entitlements and wealth transfer. Save for your own damn retirement. Pay for your health care yourself. If you're disabled, out of work, upside down on your mortgage, down on your luck -- then ring up your friend, family, church, or the Salvation Army, but don't come around to the U.S. Treasury. That will tackle roughly 60% of the Federal Government.

(2) Enough with the international Pax Americana. Europeans, defend yourselves against Putin. South Korea, the DMZ is all yours now. All you folks with Liberian-flagged tankers and freighters? Get the Liberian Navy to chase down the pirates, mkay? We're going to pay for the Coast Guard and maybe a nuclear deterrent (very cheap! compared to men and ships and tanks), but that's it. The legions are coming home. That will tackle another quarter of the Federal Government.

(3) Enough with the progressive tax system, which is what forces you to borrow in lean times (since progressive taxation means tax revenue fluctuations are many times larger than personal income fluctuations). Everyone in America, if you're old enough to vote, and you're employed, then you need to fork over your share of the cost of government. At the end of every year, we tot up every penny spent by government, divide by the number of voters, and send each of you a bill. You pay the bill, you get to vote next year. Otherwise, not. We add a Finagle Factor to each bill to compensate for those who won't pay, based on last year's results, so that each year the money in matches the money out. No deficit, no borrowing, no debt.

Do all of that, and your Federal Budget shrinks to maybe $200 billion, covering everything from the National Bureau of Standards to NOAA hurricane warning centers, the Centers for Disease Control and NIH cancer research, to running the Federal justice system. Every voter/taxpayer gets a $1,600 bill each year, optimistically assuming the number of people who vote now, 120 million, would continue to want to vote. That's fiscal conservatism worthy of the name.

On the other hand -- what happens to the world without Imperial America on the job? Can it run itself OK? Will the barbarians outside the gate produce another Hitler or Stalin who'll break into our garden party sooner or later? Good question.
11.7.2008 4:23pm
John Moore (www):
Tennwriter This soc-con agrees with you on those.

Brian S: I really doubt that Tennwriter is being played by the Republicans any more than I am. I know the faults of the repubs, and I know their potential for good (and their periodic exercise thereof). The Democrats, on the other hand, vary between extreme statism and just ordinary statism, depending on what they can get away with. Beware of telling people they are being played... you are calling us fools. Libertarian's only power is to prevent election of the lesser of evils, and libertarians are not even as consistent as Republicans.

And with that...

Mark Horning

In the context of this debate, you *are* a fool. Your statements on abortion are asserted as if obviously true and any disagreement is obviously wrong. That is pathetic. If you don't understand that this is an issue with valid serious disagreements, you have nothing to offer to the debate.

But perhaps you are willing to be educated on the extremism of the pro-abortion sde. I am not talking about the average "pro-choice" person - I am talking about the activists and the governmental rules that they call for and protect.

How about abortion for kids of any age, without even parental notification, under any conditions? That is an extreme position - the kids can't get a wound stitched up in the ER without parental permission, but can get an invasive and often psychologically and occasionally physically dangerous procedure, abortion, just by asking?

How about no compromise on any issue, and the absolute assertion that a baby may be killed at any point up until full term, for any reason (that's the law of the land right now), while that same baby, if delivered naturally or surgically, has the full rights that you and I do?

How about the utter failure to consider the rights of the father of the lump of cells?

How about the utter unwillingness to consider that there might be any conflict of rights between the mother and the lump of cells - the assumption that the mother has absolute rights in this situaiton?

How about the law that the Republicans were advertising about? The law was to make sure that if an abortion failed, and a living BABY was delivered, that baby would be accorded human rights. Even if you think any fetus is just a lump of cells until natural delivery instantly transforms it, miraculously, into a human being with full rights, are you really for a law against infanticide? Is it really extreme to argue for protection against infanticide when such protection has been shown, by example, to be clearly needed - unless one is for infanticide?

Grow a clue, dude, and realize that if you see everything in black and white, then you have defective vision.

And right now, from your posting, it's clear you need serious vision correction.

Do yourself a favor and stop embarrassing yourself and the more thoughtful libertarians with whom you imagine you share a philosophy.
11.7.2008 4:27pm
John Moore (www):
Splunge...

Obviously you are a true utopian.

You need to consider that politics is about compromise, because unless you can either convince everyone you are right aobut everything, or enforce dictatorial control, compromise is the only way to get anything done.

Many of your positions are quite valid assertions of what the government shouldn't be doing, but are utterly impractical because they simply will not, in the forseeable future, be salable. Period.

If you want Libertarian policies, you need to convince the populace of libertarian ideas. I'd suggest you pick them carefully and do it gradually.

Meanwhile, vote for people who are in the last conflict with your position.

Otherwise, you are not participating in your own best interests.
11.7.2008 4:32pm
John Moore (www):
err... people who have the least conflict with your position.
11.7.2008 4:34pm
Oren:



You need to consider that politics is about compromise, because unless you can either convince everyone you are right aobut everything, or enforce dictatorial control, compromise is the only way to get anything done.

Right, but the question on which priorities to compromise (or, in your words, which politicians are in the least conflict with your position) is not a question of the ideals that you hold but rather one of how you weight the various ideals.

My weighting means that I will prefer to compromise on the economic issues and vote for Obama because I feel that he is the lesser compromise of a socially libertarian fellow like myself (e.g. Lawrence, 1A doctrine, Griswold). Meanwhile, it is perfectly valid for others with the same ideals to determine that it is better for them to compromise for the sake of economic issues and swallow the GOP's gay-bashing culture wars. I do not claim that those that make a different compromise are less valid -- only that we place different weights on our various ideals.

What I don't understand is self-described libertarians (such as wyswyg) that tolerate regulation of the culture that they wouldn't tolerate in economic issues -- e.g. the censoring of popular music, Griswold &other personal autonomy issues. Perhaps it is a failure of communication because I just cannot understand why regulation that is unacceptable in the one case all of a sudden becomes acceptable because it addresses a matter of cultural concern. I see no principled reason why Pacifica is any better a decision than the fairness doctrine (I happen to think they are both abominations).
11.7.2008 4:42pm
Tennwriter (mail):
John Moore, I suspect most of the rest of the so-cons would join you and I to the shock of the Libertarians we are trying to educate.

Brian S, what JM said. I did consider very strongly voting for Duncan Hunter as a protest until Sarah Palin got chosen. Palin changed a lot of things for the better. The socially liberal RINOs had planned on using McCain's victory as a way to shove socons to the curb. McCain, realized at the eleventh hour, that he was about to make a McGovern sized crater to dwarf Meteor Crater in his home state, and chose to win over enforcing the Rinos agenda. They rewarded his good sense by jumping the boat at the last minute in order to try to get in good with Obama and on the guest list for the right cocktail parties.

So yeah, they betrayed me. But they also got massively repudiated.

So...What to do?

Reagan was asked about his Soviet policy....Its simple. They lose, we win.

So...lets draw the saber, raise the black flag, and the first man jack that brings me the still beating heart of a RINO senator gets an extra share of loot, me hearties! Who's with me? Up and at them!

And lastly, the notion that the Dems are better on social issues for tarians, but the Reps on economic issues needs to join other myths like the Yeti and the objective reporter from the New York Times.

I do think we ought to have a piracy system. Destroy a governmental intrusion into people's life, and the rest of the party rewards you with your choice of target for the next massive bombardment of advertising against some other government evil. Make it entrepreneurial. A freebooting ethos might work.

As to setting aside abortion and drug legalization, I think this is a good way to think about it. But I want to retain those single-issue enthusiasts. Tell the legalizers...no more SWAT for marijuana,and 'Christian charity' for the dying. Tell the pro-lifers that yes, you're obviously right, but we need to educate the public by teaching basic philosophy,and we need to be aiming at federalism. So a public push for those two things would in a slightly roundabout way come back to help them.
11.7.2008 5:55pm
Tennwriter (mail):
I lost track of Splunge in the fray.

I propose some very radical stuff, but its not radical enough, hunh?

Well, a few years back there was some interest in going to a Peruvian style SS system. Free market, or more so. It sounded good, but we had some market problems shortly thereafter (my tinfoil hat self is a little suspicious at this point). There's one of your planks.

But I need to remind you that although I am a fiscal conservative, I am not only that. I am a Standard Conservative. I care about values, national defense, and fiscal responsibility.

Or, the only thing more expensive than the best army in the world is the second best. I live in the South (was born in the North). Losing a war is a real bad idea.

Wretchard's Three Conjectures is a good place to look, and so is Jerry Pournelle's ARM stories for guidance for possible problems in the future. We are in a transition from a world in which superpowers had nukes, to minor nations and terror groups have them, to a world in our lifetimes where the crank down the street builds one in his basement. We need to learn how to deal with rogue nations in order to have any chance of passing the next part of the test of history. Otherwise, our grandchildren can learn about the gods who built skyscrapers as they fish with flint spears.
11.7.2008 6:07pm
Splunge:
Ach, no Tennwriter, so far as I can see you propose a bunch of stuff that will outrage many people beyond all sane proportion to the cost saved (chopping Sesame Street) and in other cases be the equivalent of eating our seed corn (chopping NIH-funded biology and medical research), and for all that didn't come near 80% of the Federal budget. You can call it radical, yes, but not radical in the direction of saving money.

What I gave you is the list of ways to save large amounts of money and massively shrink government, if that's your number one goal. If you're number one goal is to strike a wholly symbolic blow at those who have erected the welfare state, really smash their big toe, then your list will do fine.

Incidentally, I personally agree with you about whacking the military. I wouldn't do it. But I wasn't proposing a solution that strongly appeals to me, so much as proposing a real fiscal conservatism, the kind that would have appealed to, say, Jefferson.

Part of the purpose is force recognition of the fact that there really is just about zero support for the idea of really shrinking government, even among avowed libertarians. I doubt you could find 5% support for a mere 25% reduction in government, given what would actually need to be cut. Food for thought, that.

Further, it tells you that when libertarians inveigh against conservatives for being "big" government, it's typically the case that the libertarian wants a government that is, oh, maybe 96% of the size the conservative wants. That's worth a hysterical fight over? Hmm.

Meanwhile, vote for people who are in the last conflict with your position.

Yes, quite right John Moore. If you'll scroll all the way up to where I joined the discussion (or just follow the second link from Instapundit), you'll see I was suggesting that both sides calm down, recognize each other's quirks and good points, and perhaps remember that what divides them is not nearly as important as what they have in common -- which is preventing the stagnation and decline of a creeping Eurostatism, or the drastic threat to liberty of Caesarism.
11.7.2008 7:27pm
Tennwriter (mail):
Interesting, Spunge. I misread you.

By your definition, then I'm way more fiscally conservative than most tarians. I'm not sure thats really the case although it would be amusing if it were true.

Its a good point to as Dillinger said...go where the money is. However, those institutions like NEA offer support for networks of anti-American activists. Cut off their financial support and make them get real jobs will savagely annoy them its true.

However, poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world. We need to try to break the web, the network apart.

Best place to start is something that is really awful, and obviously completely unneccessary. Ideally it would be weak on its own, but a nice force multiplier for their side.

Also, ideally it would be something that would make our side stand up and cheer.

Also, we need to prove to people that they can survive without government. And to be frank, some of these things we can't in good conscience just yank out. Someone who's seventy years old pretty much is entitled to their SS.

This is strategy.

I think hitting the NEA will save some small amount of money which is a step in the right direction (yeah, its largely symbolic there). I think the NEA is a force multiplier for other units of the enemy. I think the NEA is weak on its own as it has a bad rep. I think it would make our side stand up and cheer. I think its a conservative victory as social and economic goals would be met.

I admit that it would be a terrific fight for apparently very little gain. But, like the invasion of Grenada it would show that their is no leftward ratchet of history.

That all said, I'm not entirely happy with this plan, and I'm open to a better suggestion for a target.

As a bonus, it would have a general quenching effect on overspending because everyone in gov't and congress would be aware that if the conservatives dared go on the warpath with the NEA then they could be next. The mice would be very aware that the cat was at home, and ticked off.

That said, a move to a Peruvian SS would have massively good affects as long as we can keep it from being corrupted and debased (a la the recent mortgage crisis). A good private market SS program would be really, really cool for well, pretty much the whole developed world.

We'd have to go at it from the perspective of rebuilding faith in the markets because right now no one has the faith in the markets to give them their retirement. And we'd have to make sure that faith was justified. Clear, plain ethical standards enforced with vigor. And send about ten Congressmen to jail for causing the crisis, and maybe some of the CEO's as well if it can be shown they willingly chose evil rather than Congress forced them into it.

That might do the trick. When you send the rich and connected to jail it does signal that you really mean to be honest.
11.7.2008 10:21pm
Mark Horning (mail) (www):
For John Moore, you clearly DO NOT get it.

Let me make this as clear as I can: As long as Republicans act as if abortion is more important than economics they will continue to loose elections.

That's why the ads were stupid. That money would have been better spent touting the Republicans Energy Policy, or tax policy, or anything ecconimics related.
11.7.2008 11:32pm
John Moore (www):
Mark Horning, Republicans ran ads on all sorts of things. To hear you, one would think the only thing they advertised was about abortion.

That is, quite simply, not at all true.
11.7.2008 11:45pm
FreeRangeOyster (www):
Tennwriter, I find your strategy intriguing. I am not savvy enough in the details of politics yet to venture a guess as to how successful it would be. Here's my one dissent: I think that is a great step four or five. Right now, we're at step two. Step one - admitting there is a problem - seems pretty clearly in place, at least in cyberspace. I have no problem with long-range planning, and as I said, I think you have an excellent idea for an initial salvo. But first we need to get our tools and people in place.

The rational people in this conversation seem to hover very close to an accord on mutual cooperation. Next comes acting. We need to identify and support candidates who will overthrow the incumbent neo-cons (I use that to mean the opposite of libertarian, ie big government so-con) and begin the shift back to true conservative, constitutionalist values. The theoretical discussion is stimulating and informative, but it can only get us so far. We are nothing here but a collection of pseudonyms discussing theories and philosophies. What can we do to put all of this into action? That is the key. Oyster out.
11.8.2008 1:29am
a knight (mail) (www):
The Real Pink Pig - I've called myself a libertarian for 40-odd years

If you're still around, I've decided to call you on this. 40 years is back into the 1968 election.

I'm curious, who was your "libertarian" choice in 1968:
Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey or George Wallace?

Did you opt to travel the principled route and vote for a third-party candidate instead:
Eldridge Cleaver, Dick Gregory, Pat Paulsen or Pigasus?

Being a libertarian way back in '68 must have been exhilarating, riding the first wave with the other 3 guys who comprised the movement then.
11.8.2008 4:42am
David Warner:
a knight,

Goldwater is widely considered to be libertarian. And of course the libertarian movement itself was already in full intellectual swing with Hayek, Friedman, Jefferson, et. al.
11.8.2008 1:33pm
Tennwriter (mail):
Free Range Oyster (so you produce pearls of wisdom,eh :) ),

Spunge challenged me to what I would do with power, and like a true radical, I went um, um, I hadn't thought that far. So, I'm trying to think out this strategy on the fly.

My salvo being step four or five point, yeah, I'll agree with you there.

1. On Election Night, I started a nonfiction book: RINOS Lose: Reforming the Republican Mind. Hopefully, I can produce some good thoughts, and get them widely circulated in right, quick order to have an impact on this debate. This thread is going to have a major impact on what I write.

2. We need to properly define the problem. The problem is NOT Socons, or Libertarians, or Pro-Lifers, or lack of minority enthusiasm. The problem is RINOS, and not just any RINOS. If you're a moderate, and you realize you're in a conservative party, fine. We're always glad to have you. If you think you, the minority that has led us to electoral defeat after defeat should have another chance to run the party into the ground, then there's the door, and buh-bye.

The second problem which is deeply related to the first is corruption. Corruption of principle and of money. Inside the Beltway-ism. Much of the Republican elite needs to have a date with Mr. Guillotine or repent of their corruptions publically.

3. I think reminding people that we're the Party of Honest Abe Lincoln would be a good point. We have issues with honesty, classism, Whiggery, Copperhead Democrats, and African-Americans. Honest Abe Lincoln, the founder of our party, born in a log cabin, and learned to read by candlelight, the man who took the that day equivalent of the Establishment that wanted to be moderate--the Whigs--and tore them down and built the Republicans in their place, the man who struggled to find good generals who would fight, the man who broke the back of the that day 'humans are property' which was slavery then, and is abortion now, the man who dealt with Copperheads as we deal with Code Pink and Michael Moore....

Really, we need an Abe Lincoln. There are so many parrallels its amazing.

Remind people that we are the party of an ugly man who stood for what's right in the face of confusion, cowardice, and corruption.

I know that a lot of Tarians don't like Lincoln. Lets agree that not every decision he made was perfect, and leave it there. There is a lot to be learned from his good decisions and if you ever meet a man who never made a mistake, I advise you to bow and worship the King of Kings. Until then, we're all idiots on occasion.

4. A new approach to dealing with minorities. A. Most legal immigrants aren't that happy with illegal immigrants. We want legals votes. This requires toughening up the voter registration laws so that Chicago machine politics doesn't take over the nation (an interesting side note: Martin Van Buren was a Tammany Hall machine pol who became president. So this is not the first time its happenened.)

B. Confrontation. We got 3% of Black votes. We're trying in our poor way to say 'we're your friends.' It ain't working.

Instead..."We're the Party of Lincoln. Yeah, we freed the slaves. Yeah, your great-grandmother voted hardcore Republican. Yeah, we're the guys who put in the Voting Rights Act. Yeah, we're not the guys with a KKK Wizard in the Senate. No, we're not going to give you special benefits. Why? Because we think you're a free man. If you want to be a slave to the government, why you go right ahead. Me, I stand on my own two feet."

This is going to seriously provoke people, but most people if you ask them "Are you a man or a mouse?", are going to work their way around to 'man'. Then you say "Well prove it."

And this strategy can't do much worse than what we're already doing.

Now, this again may be a bunch of stuff thats more steps further along than Step Two. I repeat, I'm making this up somewhat as I go along.

I'll say that Porkbusters worked very well, and it would be a good idea to ask them what they did right. Also, my home state of Tennessee went from red to bright red so asking the local party what they did would be a good idea.
11.8.2008 3:20pm
wyswyg:
Oren

Now when the next conservative talk radio personality is pilloried for refusing to follow the fairness doctrine rules, I will remember that the rules are there for the benefit of all of us and not to worry.

You're going to scream with rage when the Dems kill off talk radio? Why am I skeptical of that? Come on now. If you cared about free speech issues you would not have supported Obama.


What I don't understand is self-described libertarians (such as wyswyg) that tolerate regulation of the culture that they wouldn't tolerate in economic issues -- e.g. the censoring of popular music, Griswold &other personal autonomy issues.

The culture is now and is going to be regulated. The only topic for debate is, who's going to do it?

I oppose laws against contraception, but I support the right of people to make their own laws. You know, the principle this country was founded on? If the people of CT want to ban condoms, I fail to see what RIGHT nine nincompoops in Washington DC have to tell them that they cannot do so. Telling them that they cannot do so, based a a fantastical reading of the US Constitution, is a violation of their rights and their liberty. And libertarians are supposed to be against that.


You cannot justify a judicial tyranny and a violation of peoples fundamental rights by invoking "personal autonomy issues". It's not libertarian, it's not ethical, and it's not Constitutional.
11.9.2008 12:23am
wyswyg:
Wyswyg: Your Google-Fu needs improvement. Try "Peter Lawler libertarian"

Ok, did that.

Why not just tell me what you're getting at and quit this three card monte? My mind reading isn't what it used to be.
11.9.2008 1:00am