Obama as the End of Identity Politics as We've Known Them

(And I Feel Fine)

We are nearing the end of American identity politics as we know it.

Bearing that gift to those who prize the individual over the tribal is a messenger who shared a Hyde Park neighborhood with Milton Friedman, though with a public record that suggests he is more statist than classical liberal.

But Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), can’t be categorized that simply. He is, rather, an intellectual and ideological work in progress. Not stuck in cable-babble caricatured time, he may be traveling the circuitous path many “liberal-tarians”—or libertarian Democrats like me—treaded as we grew and found our way back to the self-reliant values that informed our pluralistic democracy. We lost those values in the Industrial and Progressive eras, when advocates of centralized planning prized society’s perfection over individual liberty. While Obama’s positions don’t exactly channel the Cato Institute, his departure from usual Democratic Party left-liberalism is reflected in the left’s suspicion of him for not having all the 162-point plans of Sen. Hillary Clinton, or spewing the syrupy populism of trial lawyer to the underclass, Sen. John Edwards.

To me, this suggests the beginnings of a journey away from the Great Society mind-set of the Democratic Party. I was a 1960s teenage political junkie who wanted to complete the New Deal, with wealth redistribution and “social justice” managed from Washington. I morphed into a 1980s DLC centrist, embracing mushy “progressive” politics as a halfway house from statist liberalism. Now in my own sixties, I have rediscovered the founder of my party, Thomas Jefferson, in an information era in which we are desktop-empowered to seek our own way and make our own choices, much like the agrarian age inventors of our political system.

I can’t claim to know exactly where Obama is on this ideological continuum. He may not even know. But in his personal evolution, he has moved from the white world of boy Barry in Hawaii and Indonesia, to left-liberal enclaves at Ivy League colleges engaging with young conservatives, to a kind of noblesse oblige organizer bearing the white man's burden (half, in his case) on the streets of Chicago. He went from a young state legislator too aloof, in too much of a hurry for his colleagues in Springfield, to a failed U.S. House candidacy against former Black Panther Bobby Rush, hobbled by an inability to translate the language of the Harvard Law Review to the vernacular of the street. From that latter experience, he drew lessons allowing him to grow as a politician, hearing and incorporating some of the style of the black preacher—including the one who was to later cause him so much grief. He returned to Springfield after that failed congressional bid a different man.

He seems to be a grounded but still searching, an intellectually curious 46-year-old, with a breadth and depth of life experience that will help him make informed choices in a pluralistic democracy that demands its leaders split a lot of differences.

Compromise is a word doctrinaire libertarians find more appalling than appealing. But there's a lot that is appealing in Barack Obama.

Look at his health care plan. While it certainly won’t satisfy free-market purists, it relies on private insurance coverage, encourages portability and choice, promotes competition, and allows purchase of prescription drugs from other countries. It wasn’t by accident he proposed fewer government mandates for purchasing coverage—and was pummeled for it in every debate by the politician who, back in 1993, seemed to seek personal control of a big chunk of our economy. Though drugs and crime can be political minefields for an urban black candidate who has acknowledged marijuana and cocaine use, Obama has no hard line positions in favor of neo-prohibition and has made promising comments about pulling back from America’s status as one of the world’s most prolific jailers. Immediately, his election will restore America's reputation around the world as an opponent of interventionist elective wars.

But perhaps most important to libertarians, his election will put the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business. No longer will they be able to peddle victimology or mau-mau their way through the political landscape, demanding diversity training, minority contracts, or other tribal reparations from bigots they find behind every bush. The myth of unassimilable “minorities” dies when a majority white nation selects a leader “of color,” just as religious social distance was diminished when a majority Protestant country chose a Catholic a half-century before.

There is no perfect leader in the wings. I'll settle for one whose election will signal the end of the world of racial politics as we know it. And, with a nod to R.E.M., I'll feel fine about it.

Terry Michael is director of the non-partisan Washington Center for Politics & Journalism. He came to Washington in 1975 as press secretary to newly elected progressive Sen. Paul Simon (D-Ill.), was a press spokesman (1983-87) for the Democratic National Committee, and now offers “thoughts from a libertarian Democrat” at his blog.

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  • ||

    But perhaps most important to libertarians, his election will put the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business.



    No. It won't. Feel free to quote me on this.

  • x,y||

    Anyone know what libertarian positions Terry holds that aren't bread and butter Democratic positions?

  • ||

    You can get rid of cockroaches easier than racial hucksters who make a living on victimology. They are a hardy bunch.

  • matt||

    You keep using that word, "libertarian". I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • TallDave||

    "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

  • Russ 2000||

    You can file that under "Too good to be true."

  • Terry Michael||

    x,y and matt:
    I know very well what libertarian means, thank you. Government: out of my bank account and bedroom, away from my body and out of the backyards of the rest of the world. Read my libertarian Democrat blog and libertarian Democrat manifesto. http://www.terrymichael.net.
    I am more libertarian than thou....LOL

  • Episiarch||

    Former DLC press spokesman and self-described "libertarian Democrat" Terry Michael

    Good thing you put that "self-described" in there, otherwise I'd think that you might be confused over what libertarians stand for. However, since you got Steve Chapman right, I'm not worried.

  • Feelin\' Free||

    No. It won't.

  • ||

    did thatcher mark the end of gender id-pol in the uk?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    " An Obama election, says Michaels, will put the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business."

    Yeah right.

    You think Obama will come out against all the racial quota systems AKA "affirmative actions" that are in existence?

    Not a chance.

  • No Name Guy||

    Didn't he go to a Jackson/Sharpton-like Church for 20 odd years?

  • ||

    You think Obama will come out against all the racial quota systems AKA "affirmative actions" that are in existence?

    Actually, Obama has stated that he supports AA based less on skin color and more on socio-economic status.

  • MikeB||

    Obama will probably win and that worries me. I can't get past the terrible feeling that he will drastically increase affirmative action and promote discrimination against white people to make up for our past sins.

    I am bewildered why there is much more support here for Obama than Barr. Afterall, he is the Libertarian party candidate.

  • economist||

    Dammit, first the goo-goo article by Steve Chapman, and now this tripe? I might just support John McCain to spite these groupies.

  • Russ 2000||

    Actually, Obama has stated that he supports AA based less on skin color and more on socio-economic status.

    If one could actually find an even stupider form of AA, that one might be it.

  • economist||

    MikeB,
    You're probably right. I've no desire to test that theory, though. I think there's a lot of support for Obama here for two reasons: 1. People here are angry with the Republicans, so they'll support anyone who's not a Republican. 2. It's chic to support a relatively young black guy for president.

  • economist||

    Russ2000,
    AA based on socio-economic status actually seems slightly less illogical than AA based on race, if your goal is to correct for the effects of past events that could affect the circumstances one was born into. I still don't agree with it, but that reasoning at least avoids the tortured rationalizations about the need for "diversity".

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Actually, Obama has stated that he supports AA based less on skin color and more on socio-economic status."

    And that's merely a lie to facilitate continuing to have it primarily benefit racial minorities while simultaneously claiming it's not based on race.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "
    AA based on socio-economic status actually seems slightly less illogical than AA based on race"

    I've got to disagree with you on this one. Someone may be in a socio-economic status because of hard work or lack thereof. No one chooses a race. I do not support either but if I had to choose between one or the other I would choose AA based on race.

  • MikeB||

    I think the free market already practices AA based on socio-economic status. College recruiters give alot of weight to the fact that a person had to support themself and paid their own way through school. I agree with the belief that they are hard-working focused people.

    That along with all the student aid seems like enough. There is no longer a need for any form of government mandated AA.

  • ||

    But perhaps most important to libertarians, his election will put the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business.

    There's a fine line between optimism and delusion.

    Would that it were so.

  • ||

    Terry Michael "Government: out of my bank account and bedroom, away from my body and out of the backyards of the rest of the world."

    And the democrats are campagining on going deeper into your bank, your bedroom, closer to your body and more international adventures under the guise of "diplomacy" and "reaching out."
    You are really demented Micheal. There is no such thing as a "libertarian democrat". The democrats are socialists. That is what the advocate always.
    You are a self delusional schmuck. Just because you say you are a libertarian doesn't mean you are one.
    You have no concept of what the word "libertarian" means.
    Get some therapy asshole.

  • Dormouse||


    I am bewildered why there is much more support here for Obama than Barr. Afterall, he is the Libertarian party candidate.


    That's the thing, Obama is a Democrat. No one expects him to be a libertarian. So anything that makes him more palatable than your average Democrat is worth celebrating. Between Obama and Mccain, I'll take Obama anyday. But Barr is running as a Libertarian, people have a right to expect more libertarianism from him.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "That's the thing, Obama is a Democrat. No one expects him to be a libertarian. So anything that makes him more palatable than your average Democrat is worth celebrating. Between Obama and Mccain, I'll take Obama anyday."

    And in what way is Obama more libertarian than McCain?

  • ||

    An Obama election, says Michaels, will put the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business.

    Based on his 20 year association with and support for them, I guess.

    Nah. It'll be just the opposite. Every disagreement with Obama will be "racism," the hucksters will have unprecedented access and influence. The way things are shaping up now, if Obama gets elected it may well be because of a large block vote by blacks, putting him in hock to the hucksters.

  • stephen the goldberger||

    Don't really have much to add, since all the bases have been covered but I agree this is article is insanely naive. Im not being cynical but the overarching vision of this article is so delusional and idealized it can't be anything but false.

    I hope he's right, but he's not. To believe the argument requires me to ignore basic human nature.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Yeah, I mean, identity politics was so absent from the Democratic primary process.

  • ||

    I think there's a line to be walked between Daily Kos-ian "Democrat calling himself a libertarian, but isn't and is fooling no one" and "former Democrat who became a libertarian, but doesn't want anyone to think he's a Republican."

    I'm not judging Terry Michael, but the second scenario is fairly common and the "libertarian Democrat" formulation is a fine semantic hair to split. Mostly because of the "Republicans who want to smoke dope" Manichean dualism constantly portrayed by the left (i.e. if we aren't Democrats, we must somehow be Republicans.)

  • ||

    We can end racial politics by voting for a candidate based on his race?

    I would guess that President Obama would be reason for Sharpton and Jackson and white guilt liberals to claim that multi-culturalism, affirmative action, quotas and diversity training work and justify that more of it is needed.

  • Dormouse||

    And in what way is Obama more libertarian than McCain?

    He isn't really more libertarian, as such. However, he does seem to be slightly more anti-war, which is very important to me, and some segments of "libertarianism". Honestly, almost anyone is better than Mccain IMO. Except possibly HRC.

    And at this point, faced between a choice between a white guy and a black guy (all else being equal), I'd go with the black guy. It shouldn't hurt, and it might help rid us of the "identity politics" the article mentions.

  • ||

    This has got to be a joke.

    "will put the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, and the white identity politics liberals out of business."

    Are you kidding me?

  • ||

    Why is Terry Michael even associated with Reason?
    The end of identity politics? Terry, you might as well forecast the end of racism, the end of ethnic-pride parades and the end of Asian children doing well in math.
    As for you "libertarian Democrat" moniker, give it up. There is no such thing. And if you take the "libertarian" part of that name even a shade more seriously than the "Democrat" part, you'd have abandoned that regulatory and socialist nightmare of a party years ago.
    Get a fucking clue, dude.

  • economist||

    Seriously, what makes anyone think that Obama is a libertarian, or even a left-libertarian, apart from his opposition to the war in Iraq? We've split some hairs over this before, but I'd be really interested to find one concrete thing they can point to showing Obama is anything other than a knee-jerk liberal who supports or opposes things in lockstep with his leftist friends.
    Still, Steve Chapman takes the cake in idiotic comments for "a candidate cannot be accurately measured as the sum of his positions and policies". Essentially,"he might not act like a libertarian, but we know he is one in his heart of hearts". Excuse me while I go get drunk.

  • Rimfax||

    I think the Everly Brothers covered this one a while back.

  • ||

    Hey, I just noticed something: You never see Terry Michael or Eric Dondero in the same room together.
    FUCK! It was right there the whole time.

  • economist||

    "With a choice between a white guy and a black guy, I'll choose the black guy."
    Why would Barack Obama be against affirmative action, anyway. He would be the first president elected by affirmative action.

    I will now prepare for the "racist" charges.

  • crazy survivalist||

    i'll justr go and hide out in the wilderness with my guns until this al blows over.

  • ||

    Eric Dondero says that "self-described" libertarians are True Libertarians.

  • Episiarch||

    After Obama ends identity politics, he will then make Yankees and Red Sox fans get along, turn fat girls attractive, and cure cancer.

    Is there anything he can't do?

  • Icl||

    I would like to see more consistency in those of you who say that there is no such thing as "libertarian Democrat." If that's true, then there certainly shouldn't be such a thing as a "libertarian Republican" Both Bob Barr and Ron Paul would fall under "libertarian Republican" category.

    I don't consider myself a "libertarian Democrat", but I am supporting Obama. I disagree with him on the economy, but he is the only candidate who will end the war, help restore civil liberties, and prevent Jesus nuts from getting on the Supreme Court.

  • economist||

    I read Obama08's health plan. It was a little vague on specific policy proposals, but if I closed my eyes and pretended that Saint Barry could never lie or be in the least bit dishonest, I felt happy and carefree and was filled with a great love for my fellow man.

    Doubtless I'll wake up later with a severe hangover.

  • adrian||

    Terry Michael: A douchebag or THE douchebag

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "He isn't really more libertarian, as such. However, he does seem to be slightly more anti-war, which is very important to me,"

    Obama isn't anti-war for any liberatarian reason - he's just pandering to the Bush-hating left wing base of the Democrat party.

    What's more important to me is that he wants to massively increase income and wealth redistribution, expand the welfare state, raise taxes, interfere with free trade and he's in the pocket of the labor unions.

  • adrian||

    I don't consider myself a "libertarian Democrat", but I am supporting Obama. I disagree with him on the economy, but he is the only candidate who will end the war, help restore civil liberties, and prevent Jesus nuts from getting on the Supreme Court.

    yes because socialists never start wars! (i refuse to godwin this). And no democrats voted for patriot act? how about his stance on guns?

    please tell me you are trolling

  • economist||

    Icl,
    I never said there was such a thing as a libertarian Republican. Personally, the fact that some libertarians are looking to Barack Obama as a hopeful figure suggests that the libertarian movement is dead. And it's never coming back. It is now time to embrace our cosmotarian overlords, pay our income taxes, and never ask if the people getting our tax money deserve it or not. Resistance is futile.

  • ||

    We've split some hairs over this before, but I'd be really interested to find one concrete thing they can point to showing Obama is anything other than a knee-jerk liberal who supports or opposes things in lockstep with his leftist friends.

    I love this line of thinking. Because there are so many areas in which libertarians and Democrats agree - abortion rights, rights of the accused, civil liberties, reducing our military footprint, privacy in the bedroom, and on and on and on - you cannot point to those things as evidence of a libertarianish political philosophy.

  • Zac in VA||

    Keepin' it civil, Terry. Good one.

    While I don't disagree with you entirely on the charges you level at the Democrats, I'm honestly confused at your accusations that they are "your bedroom, closer to your body and more international adventures under the guise of 'diplomacy' and 'reaching out.'" This is Bush's war, the Republicans want to repeal Roe v. Wade, and the Republicans are the ones who want to keep anti-sex laws on the books to keep consenting adults from doing what we want in our own homes.

    The Democrats have plenty of faults, and they could stand to man up a bit, but most of the charges you lay at their feet are misplaced.

    Also, Dormouse? Good call.

  • Pottsy||

    As for you "libertarian Democrat" moniker, give it up. There is no such thing.

    If that's true, then 8 years of GOP control resulting in out of control spending and a disastrous war of foreign conquest means that there's no such thing as a libertarian Republican either. Name a single libertarian thing besides a shitty tax cut (and without a concurrent reduction in spending, btw) that 8 years of Republican rule have yielded us.

  • ||

    After 6 years of single (Republican) party rule in the House, Senate, and executive branch leading to the most massive increases in spending since LBJ, a completely unnecessary war, and a completely unnecessary elevation of the police state, I think libertarians should be more open to working with Democrats. The LP is a great organization but lacks the resources and message to make effective change. Pragmatic libertarians have to work within the existing major parties.

    The Republican Party treats libertarians and fiscal conservatives like the Democrats treat blacks and gays. It makes nominal accomodations to their viewpoint but basically takes their votes for granted because the opposition is slightly worse.

    Well, libertarians should make the Republicans hurt this time. We ALSO are social liberals, civil libertarians, and military non-interventionists. The Democrats are better in those areas. If we're going to be taxed and regulated to death, we may as well retain and regain our civil liberties and a more sane foreign policy. Maybe after two years of an Obama presidency we will have a fiscal conservative / Contract With America style revolt like we did in 1994.

    That is why pragmatic libertarians are enthusiastic about Obama. Not racial fetishism or the "chic" factor.

    Oh and he's not fucking retarded like the current occupant of the White House.

  • ||

    abortion rights (mostly) rights of the accused (not when it comes to the drug war), civil liberties (bipartisan Patriot Act?), reducing our military footprint (Kosovo? Darfur? The fact that the Democrats authorized the use of force in Iraq?), privacy in the bedroom ...

    Keep going, joe. One out of five ain't bad.

  • ||

    ah, yes, "NOT LIBERTARIAN ENOUGH"

    Suspend thought now.

    BTW, the Congressional Democrats voted against the war in Iraq by a large margin. So, Jamie, you haven't just lost perspective there, but are wrong on the facts.

  • Icl||

    "yes because socialists never start wars! (i refuse to godwin this). And no democrats voted for patriot act? how about his stance on guns?"

    Easy now, Adrin. I don't want to be responsible for getting you so worked up that you accidentally shoot yourself with your gun.

    I did not say that I support Democratic Party. I never voted Democratic before, but I am voting for Obama. He made his views known about "patriot" act regardless of how his party voted. And if you think Obama is more likely than McCain to start another war, I'd like to have some of what you are smoking.
    And don't worry, he is not going to take your gun(s) away.

  • stephen the goldberger||

    Justin Sobodash you are discussing the best case scenario for Obama, including a republican take back of congress in 2010. I agree that that very rosy and wonderful, but the problem is although he has a high ceiling, his potential floor is disastrous.

    Obama with a democratic congress is a scary proposition, especially when you look at some of the stuff he's running on.

  • Icl||

    Sorry Adrian, I didn't mean to misspell your name.

  • ||

    People who make a point of not distinguishing between "better" and "worse," but only aboslutes, are people who are more interested in being part of a vanguard than accomplishing anything.

    Talk about your identity politics.

  • ||

    I've never understood why so many libertarians tend to cut Republicans more slack than Democrats. I (sadly) have to agree with joe in this case. Dems give lip service to as many of my ideals as do the Reps. Neither ever comes through, though.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "People who make a point of not distinguishing between "better" and "worse,"

    There is no measurable basis on which Obama is "better" than McCain.

  • Ian M||



    The difference is that a significant portion of the Republican's platform embraces the basic premises of Libertarianism, even if it does put them into imperfect practice. On the other hand the basic premise of being a Democrat is a belief in socialism, and if socialism is not the exact opposite of Libertarianism, then there is no such thing as Libertarianism. Though most of us disagree with most Republican's views on gays, drugs, wiretaps, foreign intervention etc. these disagreements stem from an application of the principle of individual liberty in terms of degree. Mainstream party Republicans go a few steps down the road of freedom, we take the principle to its logical conclusion. The Democrats on the other hand reject the principle of individual liberty entirely and instead embrace collectivism.

    I'm sorry sir, but calling yourself a Libertarian Democrat is like calling yourself a Big-Government Libertarian, its simply an oxymoron and fools no one.

    Where are the Dems on Free-Speech? They want to use the Fairness Doctrine to shut down broadcasters they disagree with!

    Where are the Dems on the draft? They want to create a compulsory public service program for high school students!

    Are there any Democrats that think profit motive is not in some way a bad thing?

    Are there any Democrats that think a person's right to their property and earnings is inviolable?

    I wish the Dems were a viable opposition to the Big Government tendencies we have seen from the Republican party these last eight years, unfortunately they are so much worse on almost every single issue that Libertarians care about.

  • No Name Guy||

    I'm not looking forward to an Obama Presidency because EVERYTHING will become about race. Both his supporters, his detractors, and the media will look for the racial angle on every little thing, merited or not. Its going to suck, hard.

  • Icl||

    "I'm not looking forward to an Obama Presidency because EVERYTHING will become about race. Both his supporters, his detractors, and the media will look for the racial angle on every little thing, merited or not. Its going to suck, hard."

    It shouldn't be much worse than with Bush and being retarded.

  • Episiarch||

    Terry Michael: A douchebag or THE douchebag

    Obama: a savior or the savior?

    P.S. I fixed the tag for you.

  • end||

  • begin||

  • Elemenope||

    It is, apparently, pile-on day. Yes, let us call the article writer a deluded naif, a liar, and a charlatan, and while we're at it, why don't we call the candidate to which he is referring a craven naif, a liar, and a charlatan.

    Not because of reasoned arguments, mind you. But just because they prefer to affiliate with the left instead of the right.

    There are so many unbelievably insufferable former republican fucks around here who have this huge "at least were not Democrats" chip on their shoulders. Despite that a few here have pointed out that over the last fifty years, the only party consistently more hostile to liberty than the Democrats has been the Republicans.

    Color me unsurprised. It's par for the course that to belong to one group one must find someone to hate.

  • Icl||

    Elemenope
    +1!

  • Episiarch||

    Elemenope: a hater or the hater?

  • Elemenope||

    Elemenope: a hater or the hater?

    That's the question, isn't it? ;)

  • T||

    Despite that a few here have pointed out that over the last fifty years, the only party consistently more hostile to liberty than the Democrats has been the Republicans.

    I'd call it a tie, truthfully. They both suck. Which is why, despite his many manifest faults, I'm voting for Bob Barr. Obama is, by past action in his state career, indisputably hostile to the 2nd Amendment. McCain has eviscerated the 1st. I can't vote for either one.

  • stephen the goldberger||

    It is, apparently, pile-on day. Yes, let us call the article writer a deluded naif, a liar, and a charlatan, and while we're at it, why don't we call the candidate to which he is referring a craven naif, a liar, and a charlatan.

    Not because of reasoned arguments, mind you. But just because they prefer to affiliate with the left instead of the right.


    It was worthy of the piling on. The piece was ludicrous and indicated a total lack of connection with reality. What has the past week's news stories been? How can Obama attract Clinton Females? How can Obama win working class whites? How can he win Reagan Democats? The entire democratic race has basically been one giant discussion of Identity poltics because basically both Dem candidates were running on identical platforms, and the only thing distinguishing the two candidates where their personalities, i.e. what the voters identified with. Voters were then pigeon holed into neat little social identities for discussion purposes and thats ALL we've been talking about.

    I mean the writer of the piece is either completly ignorant or delusional, and completely worthy of the drubbing he's taking.

  • ||

    P.S. I fixed the tag for you.

    Wait a second, does it really work like that?

    Hey, now it's in bold...

  • ||

    ...and now it's not.

  • ||

    Where are the Dems on Free-Speech? They want to use the Fairness Doctrine to shut down broadcasters they disagree with! Don't like the Fairness Doctrine? Fine, but I defy you to name a single Democrat who has stated that he wants to shut any broadcasters down, and I defy you to name a single broadcaster who was shut down under the Fairness Doctrine.

    Where are the Dems on the draft? They want to create a compulsory public service program for high school students! I defy you to name a single Democrat, and provide a quote, supporting COMPULSORY - as opposed to optional - national service.

    Are there any Democrats that think profit motive is not in some way a bad thing? Bill Clinton? Most of us, actually. I don't think the profit motive is bad, any more than I think the sex drive is bad. They're just not adequate, in and of themselves and without incorporating other factors, as a foundation for a decent society.

    Are there any Democrats that think a person's right to their property and earnings is inviolable? After the last three specific examples, this retreat into generalities really sticks out like a sore thumb. Does this mean "are there any Democrats who think that all taxation is theft?" No, nor are there any Republicans. You probably couldn't even get a majority of libertarians to agree with that. So, on this one, we find ourselves back in that "in terms of degree" situation you mention.

  • ||

    So how is increased consumption an corprate taxation and mandatory government health care libertarian again?

  • ||

    Yawn.

    Take a crack at responding to an argument that's been made. See how it feels for a change.

  • Invisible Finger||

    It is, apparently, pile-on day.

    Nah, if it was pile-on day, we'd be taking the print edition editor to task for letting such a poorly written article into publication - completely ignoring the obvious that the entire Democratic Primary process has been one large identity festival - merely because the editor has an intense dislike for McCain.

  • Icl||

    Why is there an ad for Ann Coulter on top of this page. Do we really need to attract more right wingers to this site?

    I guess this might be one of the rare examples of "profit motive" being bad. Right Joe?

  • Elemenope||

    completely ignoring the obvious that the entire Democratic Primary process has been one large identity festival

    I disagree slightly. Certainly it has been *portrayed* that way by the chatterers, and Hillary for one did nothing to play down the notion (particularly late in the campaign) that her womanhood had a lot to do with her candidacy...

    But Obama, for his part, hasn't made a big deal (or really *any* deal) of his African and/or mixed race heritage. Certainly many of his supporters point it out as a bonus, but beyond that?

  • economist||

    This entire argument is irrelevant anyway, because nobody gives a flying shit what libertarians think, anyway. Maybe the reason Obama gets such high praise here is that some people think he might condescend at some point in his glorious reign to recognize the existence of libertarians and give them some small token of apprectiation, like legalizing pot. John McCain, on the other hand, is completely frank in his dismissal of libertarian views.

  • economist||

    Elemenope,
    Sure, Obama doesn't make a big deal about his heritage.
    Except when he trashed his grandmother to justify going to a church led by a psychotic pastor for twenty years.

  • Eric Cartman||

    Screw you guys, I'm going home!

  • Indigo Montoya||

    psychotic pastor

    ???

  • Elemenope||

    Sure, Obama doesn't make a big deal about his heritage. Except when he trashed his grandmother to justify going to a church led by a psychotic pastor for twenty years.

    I'm with Indigo Montoya on the "???", but beyond that, he only mentioned and addressed race when he was practically put upon by the whole fucking world to do so, mainly because apparently the views and sermons of a person who is not the candidate is fair game when talking...about the candidate.

    If people were required to agree with all or even most of their pastor's views in order to attend, all churches would be empty on Sunday.

  • Charles Johnson||

    Reason.com is rapidly becoming a shill for the Obama wing of the Democratic party. Libertarians ought to care principally about economic issues for social issues come from economic policy, but yet, the Reasonoids don't seem to reason that obvious conclusion.

  • economist||

    Basically, he compares his pastor's claims that 9-11 was justified and the government created AIDS to kill black people with his white grandmother's fear of young black men passing on the street.

  • economist||

    For that previous post, I'll probably get a barrage of emails claiming 9-11 was justified and the government did create AIDS to kill black people.
    LMNOP,
    Agreeing or disagreeing with a pastor's views kind of does matter when they make up the entire fucking sermon. I don't much give a damn either way, but if you feel you must be religious, could you at least have sermons related to your religion?

  • economist||

    Charles Johnson,
    Change "rapidly becoming" to "has become".

  • Obama!||

    Obama is THE libertarian candidate. He will legalize cannabis, forgive all student loans , immediately withdraw from Iraq and redeploy peace forces to Darfur,institute free universal healthcare, end home foreclosure,and grant gays the right to marry.

    Who cares about guns? McCain will give you a free one when he drafts you.

  • Elemenope||

    he compares his pastor's claims that 9-11 was justified

    He didn't say that. Try not to either ignorantly repeat FOX News talking points and/or slanderously lie through your teeth.

    and the government created AIDS

    A common canard on the Left (particularly the African-American Left), probably untrue, certainly stupid, but not exactly *terrible* in the realm of silly beliefs. For an equivalent stupid canard from the Right, one mustn't look far ("Hey, look, that planned highway is a harbinger of the evil North American Union; to arms!")

    his white grandmother's fear of young black men passing on the street.

    A matter-of-fact example of prejudice, probably more invidious than idly speculating about the origin of AIDS.

    So, what was your point again?

  • J||

    I can't believe there are libertarians that would support McCain. His hatred of the first amendment, national greatness conservatism, moderate fiscal views (still much better than Bush) and many other things are worse than the increased taxation (also horrible) from Obama.

    Not that I think there is a good choice. Just a slightly less horrible one. McCain also scares me a bit in terms of judgment, which may color my views of his policies a bit as well, for full disclosure.

  • Icl||

    "national greatness conservatism"
    What is that?

  • Obama!||

    McCain is a crazy white racist. He calls the victims of our genocide in Vietnam "G**ks".

    McCain is in the pocket of the NRA and "Big Guns", enabling the slaughter of people of color at home as he endorses the slaughter of Muslims abroad.

    McCain opposes the free and fair card check solution to Democracy in the workplace.

    McCain has been a consistent enemy of a woman's right to choose.

    McCain opposes clean ethanol and a national rail system as a solution to our dependence of foreign oil.

    McCain flip-flops on the proposal to rescue homeowners who are the victims of predatory lending.

  • Elemenope||

    "national greatness conservatism": What is that?

    Masturbating with an American flag while bathing in Apple Pie filling and humming the Star-Spangled Banner through a kazoo.

  • Some Guy||

    I can't believe there would be libertarians who would trade civil liberties for possibly having lower taxes.

    You'd have to be absolutely opposed to all government spending to think that McCain would reduce the hold government has on our lives.

    I seriously hope that the people calling Obama a "socialist" are voting for Barr instead of McCain. Voting for McCain would be the highest form of a libertarian selling out.

  • ||

    Obama = Jimmy Carter in blackface
    Terry Michaels = James Carville without the quaint southern accent

  • Icl||

    Elemenope, Thanks for clarifying this for me. It would make great bumpersticker!

  • x,y||

    I asked if anyone knows if Terry Michael holds any libertarian positions other than bread and butter Democratic Party positions. None other than Terry freaking Michael answers me -- and says he supports bread and butter Democractic Party positions. Well played sir.

  • ||



    Well... count me among them - that is to say those voting for Barr. Neither McCain nor Obama is anywhere close to Libertarian. Barr certainly isn't perfect; but if we're rating on a scale of 1 to 10, Barr's an 8. McCain's a 2 and Obama's a 1 - in my book.

  • Someone Who Doesn\'t Want to L||

    Fixed your faulty end tag there, Dave.

    Nah, if it was pile-on day, we'd be taking the print edition editor to task for letting such a poorly written article into publication - completely ignoring the obvious that the entire Democratic Primary process has been one large identity festival - merely because the editor has an intense dislike for McCain.



    The Republican primaries were identity festivals too, it's just that the only identities represented were "white Christian". However since Type X Christians don't think Type Y Christians are really Christians, it played out the same.

    x,y:

    None other than Terry freaking Michael answers me -- and says he supports bread and butter Democractic Party positions. Well played sir.



    I realize most of what he said were standard Democratic positions, but you did notice that he didn't mention any Democratic positions that Libertarians tend to disagree with, didn't you. Also, the "government out of your bank account" bit may be a little vague but it's hardly Democratic standard issue stuff.

  • ||

    I love this line of thinking. Because there are so many areas in which libertarians and Democrats agree - abortion rights, rights of the accused, civil liberties, reducing our military footprint, privacy in the bedroom, and on and on and on - you cannot point to those things as evidence of a libertarianish political philosophy.



    Joe,

    1. Abortion - Democrats try to play both sides of the abortion issue. It is fair to say they don't support criminalization of abortion, but only a handful will outright support abortion as a right.

    2. Rights of the Accused - Back before Bush took office, it was the Bill Clintons and Janet Renos of the Democratic party stomping on the rights of the accused. And both the Democrats and Republicans support the War on Terror, the Patriot Act, Sobriety Checkpoints, the War on Drugs, and all that law and order shit. The Democrats smell an opportunity to attack Bush on rights of the accused, but that doesn't mean they support the rights of the accused.

    3. Civil Liberties - Is this the same Democrats who want to regulate newspapers and broadcasting to make sure it is more "fair", or the Democrats who want to enact hate-speech legislation, or the democrats who want to trash the second amendment. I will agree with you, the Republicans are no friends of civil liberties, but neither are the Democrats.

    4. Reducing our Military Footprint - Democrats are just as happy for foreign adventures as the Republicans. And they certainly want to keep military bases in their districts going. It might be fair to say the Democrats might reduce our military footprint marginally, but to imply that there will be any significant cut in the military with Democrats in charge is self-deception.

    5. Privacy in the Bedroom - Only a handful of Democrats support gay marriage, most can't fall over themselves fast enough to pander to the family values crowd.

    If you want to say that Obama might be slightly better than McCain, in the same way you might argue Stalin would be slightly better than Hitler, I might agree. McCain *IS* so awful, that a libertarian might choke back the vomit and cast a vote for Obama as the lesser of two evils. However, please save us the Democrat true believer crap - You would get much farther convincing us how awful McCain and the Republicans are than trying to convince us that the Democrats are anything but authoritarian gangsters.

  • Andy||

    Hey, maybe you guys should complain some more about what a guy chooses to call himself. What a jackass, trying to show that there is a wing (or even individual person) within the Democratic Party that is aware of libertarianism and willing to engage it, even if they don't agree on many things right now.

    I've long believed that the best strategy (feel free to post others) for libertarians to get their values represented is to foster sympathetic wings in both major parties, which would have to include a form of "libertarian-democrats". They would be more passionate about civil liberties, responsible foreign policy, social freedom, and moderate on the economy. Then you'd have the "libertarian Republicans" that are strong on the economy, and moderate on other things. Bi-partisan majorities could be formed against issues that are clearly statist, and votes on less obvious threats would be closer because of dissenters in each party. But what do I know?

    Seriously, is the name "libertarian" sacred to you or something? If you're gonna get anal about that, you might as well bitch about "liberal", which was stolen first.

  • ||

    Andy has a good point. I think of myself as being on the left flank of the libertarian movement, but the purists freak when someone tries to suggest that libertarianism has a left-wing. Historically it does. Read the work of anyone from Paine to Emma Goldman to Henry George, for Hayek's sake (Incidentally, Hayek was not nearly as hostile to a modest welfare state as some of you would like to think). And libertarians quote George Orwell freely and seem to admire him. Yet, Orwell was a democratic socialist until the end. I have become more interested in libertarianism recently not because I am trying to co-opt it, but because I am trying to go back and discover what it means to be a liberal. Libertarianism, after all, is really just a radical form of liberalism. Maybe I'll just go back to using that controversial word to describe myself if you guys are going to get so pissy about it.

  • ||

    Yet, Orwell was a democratic socialist until the end.



    To be fair, no-one who didn't call themselves a "democratic socialist" would be accepted by the British literati in Orwell's day. Unless you were writing pulp spy novels or something ala Ian Flemming, your acceptance as a "serious writer" hinged on embracing left-wing politics.

    Even if George Orwell wasn't a democratic socialist, he would have had to give it lip service in order to have a successful career.

  • Elemenope||

    Barr certainly isn't perfect; but if we're rating on a scale of 1 to 10, Barr's an 8. McCain's a 2 and Obama's a 1 - in my book.

    An odd book to be sure. My book:

    Obama : 3 (Bad on gun rights, taxes, some economic issues; good on personal liberty, civil rights, transparency in government, reducing military adventurism, multilateral diplomacy and foreign engagement)

    McCain : .00001 (Good on Gun Rights, sorta; bad on pretty much every fucking else)

    Barr : ? (Who the fuck knows? Used to be a minor anti-freedom demon, maybe saw the light, says *some* of the right things; if I *had* to guess, I'd say probably a 5 or 6)

    Andy & Dave:

    Absolutely right. I just don't get why libertarians want so desperately to chase all their friends away, and then bitch that they don't have any.

  • ||

    "...the white world of boy Barry in Hawaii..."
    'White world' is probably not a good way to describe a population that is 24% caucasion.

  • ||

    I can't get past the terrible feeling that he will drastically increase affirmative action and promote discrimination against white people to make up for our past sins.

    !!!

    Every disagreement with Obama will be "racism,"

    ???

    McCain opposes the free and fair card check solution to Democracy in the workplace.

    Good for him. See, he's good on some stuff. As for the first couple of quotes, I appreciate the honesty of the writers, even though I disagree with them and think they are suffering from some low-grade racial paranoia (of a sort, interestingly that I'm accustomed to hearing expressed among whites and blacks of the 'disadvantaged classes').

  • ||

    Icl | June 10, 2008, 9:16pm | #

    "national greatness conservatism"
    What is that?


    I like the previous answer, but if could expand on it a bit.

    In the mid-90s, the Weekly Standard ran an article by, IIRC, Bill Kristol titled "Towards a National Greatness Conservatism." Its thesis was that America had always achieved "greatness" through the pursuit of some Great National Project, such as the settlement of the west, the Civil War, and World War Two. Therefore, our politics should be organized around the pursuit of such great national projects. The Great Crusade to bring the Muslim world to heel - er, I mean, liberate them into the wonders of American client-statehood - is an example of such a great American project.

    What's notable is that the author argued for such projects not just on the grounds that they themselves are good ideas on their own terms, but that our society as a whole benefits from being organized and oriented around the pursuit of such a project, apart from the benefits of the project itself.

    John McCain is probably the foremost advocate of this vision on Capitol Hill.

  • Kat||

    In a speech to students at Connecticut's Wesleyan University Obama said, "our individual salvation depends on collective salvation." I'm sorry but that doesn't sound very libertarian to me, sounds more like oh yeah socialism the opposite of what I support.
    The full article is here: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=9429 it gets worse...

  • ||

    I'd say Obama's quote is all the more notcieable because of his use of the word "salvation". No wonder some people think he's a "lightworker" or whatever.

  • ||

    Obama will probably win and that worries me. I can't get past the terrible feeling that he will drastically increase affirmative action and promote discrimination against white people to make up for our past sins.

    Considering he's done nothing to make any rational person think this, the level of projection required to think this is astounding.

    Its amazing how many idiots project their own racial paranoia onto Obama.

  • ||

    Yes, and then the one true victimology will reign supreme, as it should: White Victimology --the only legitimate kind.

    Wasn't this essentially the theme of Clinton from March 2008 onward? Wasn't this part of a few of McCain's attacks on Obama too?

    This article is silly, the writer sillier, and many of the less-enlightened commentators above silliest of all. What is it about discussing black Americans that bring out such primal anger? Guys, they are only 11% of the population more or less. Get a grip.

  • ||

    George Bush's entire political career is an exercise in identity politics, and nobody ever calls him on it.

    The entirety of the modern conservative movement's political strategy revolved around appealing to the identity politics of white rural and exurban people who live in "the heartland," and those who identify with them in a cultural sense.

  • ||

    It must be election season. Every libertarian blog that I read is now overrun by the regular stupid people usually found only in AOL chatrooms and sports message boards.

    You know , the type of person who says "Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim who wants to kill white people" and stuff like that. I would hope people here would be uh, a little more intelligent than those who emphasize a guy's middle name and spend time worrying about flag pins. But who knows.

    FWIW, I am a white libertarian and I agreed with Rev. Wright more than Obama did, or at least I couldn't manage to be outraged that black people are pissed off about shitty treatment or call a military veteran "unAmerican" like a bunch of chicken hawks.

    Obama has clearly stated ( words aren't actions, but we will see) that he is not interested in the Rev. Wright type anger over the past, has tried to distance himself from that, and has pretty much said that he is looking toward the post-racial future.

  • economist||

    I read the article with the "collective salvation" quote. Disturbing but not surprising.
    Libarbarian,
    Maybe you should read one of Obama's books.

  • Billy Beck||

    You know, I can't help but wonder whether Terry Michael would have written something like this if Colin Powell had run back in '96.

  • economist||

    Billy Beck,
    The title would have been more appropriate in that case.

  • economist||

    Elemenope,
    "He didn't say that (9-11 was justified)"
    Actually, "America's chickens are coming home to roost" is a fairly strong statement to that effect.
    And, not to be racist, but while being afraid of black men on the street is stupid, it has more factual basis than believing the government created AIDS to kill black people.
    Plus, my point was to say that Barack Obama's willing to talk about his background if he was trashing a white relative to divert attention from embarrassing statements by his pastor.

  • Terry Michael||

    Re: Billy Beck comment...
    "You know, I can't help but wonder whether Terry Michael would have written something like this if Colin Powell had run back in '96."

    Absolutely I would have, because that's what I thought at the time. My central argument is: Elect a black man "leader of the free world" (American conceit, so I use that phrase tongue in cheek) and you put to lie the liberal racialist view that we're overwhelmed by racist bigots and affirmative action atonement is required. No we aren't. No it's not.

  • whollycow||

    Actually, "America's chickens are coming home to roost" is a fairly strong statement to that effect.

    Actually, before he said that, he cited all sorts of examples (and there are many) of our propensity to mess around with the internal affairs of other nations. In light of all the adventures in interventionism that we have undertaken in the past 100 years, you're a fool to think we haven't created hard feelings amongst our global neighbors.

    I watched most of the sermon in question and agreed a lot more than I disagreed. Saying "our chickens have come home to roost" and saying "we caused a terrible tragedy" are two very different things.

  • Some Guy||

    Vote Barr, people

    A libertarian who votes for McCain is a libertarian who values his money above his freedom

  • economist||

    Terry,
    Elect a black man "leader of the free world" not because of any of his merits but because he's black, and you simply legitimize the affirmative action policy on a large scale.
    (Note: I would have preferred Colin Powell to Bob Dole)

  • Terry Michael||

    economist:

    And who was suggesting that we elect a black man president simply because he is black?

  • Billy Beck||

    Okay, Terry, how 'bout if, say, Alan Keyes had somehow had a real shot at it in '96?

    Here's my essential point: I think all this "historic campaign" jazz in the media now is so much bloody horseshit because no black man with conservative or (hah!) remotely libertarian ideas would ever get the same huzzahs over the race angle.

  • Roger Maltz||

    Cheap-ass shill.

  • economist||

    gotta love the cock

    mmm-mmm

    NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM COCK

  • ||

    money = freedom

  • ||

    "Libertarianism, after all, is really just a radical form of liberalism."

    wow...i hope you mean classical liberalism...if you mean the other socialist sense then you really are a intellectual dilettante....

  • economist||

    Wow, I must have really pissed someone off, since they feel inclined to make a fake posting under my name.

  • economist||

    "Who suggested electing a black president simply because he is black?"
    You did, when you suggested that electing a black president would put the victimization politics crowd to rest. It would not, because the people to whom that politics appeals would still be pissed off, poor, resentful, and did I mention pissed off?

  • ||

    AU Standard:"wow...i hope you mean classical liberalism"

    Yes, that's what I meant. Sorry, I should have been clearer, since the American connotation essentically means social democrat. I hope the rest of the post made some sense, though.

  • Some Guy||

    "money = freedom"

    You don't think that's a problem? One that we should be working towards fixing?

    This is a society where the very rich can often buy their way into freedom (ie R Kelly). That is a huge problem that won't be fixed by voting for McCain. You'd only prolong it.

    What you've done is chosen your own purported benefit over the freedom of everybody else. You're no libertarian, you're probably some sick, objectivist sell-out willing to sacrifice everybody else for your ends.

    You disgust me.

  • ||

    There are a lot of right wing authoritarian imperialist accumulationists in libertarian clothing here.

  • ||

    "Who suggested electing a black president simply because he is black?"
    You did, when you suggested that electing a black president would put the victimization politics crowd to rest.


    Typical of the sort of illogic that passes for "reason" at this hilariously/arrogantly/hypocritically misnamed site. Noting one desirable consequence of an action (even if one is wrong about it being a consequence) is not the same as advocating the action based solely on that consequence.

  • ||

    "money = freedom"

    You don't think that's a problem? One that we should be working towards fixing?


    In fact most of these so-called libertarians don't. For them, freedom isn't an inherent human right, it's just a formulation of their own perceived self-interest.

  • ||

    "He didn't say that (9-11 was justified)"
    Actually, "America's chickens are coming home to roost" is a fairly strong statement to that effect.


    For intellectually dishonest people who can't think clearly. The moral of the story of the boy who cried wolf was not that the wolf was justified, it was, broadly, that actions have their consequences.

    And, not to be racist, but while being afraid of black men on the street is stupid, it has more factual basis than believing the government created AIDS to kill black people.

    Believing the latter is ignorant, but it isn't racist. Nor is it even irrational, given such things as the Tuskegee experiment.

    Plus, my point was to say that Barack Obama's willing to talk about his background if he was trashing a white relative to divert attention from embarrassing statements by his pastor.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, that's transparently dishonest.

  • ||

    For intellectually dishonest people who can't think clearly. The moral of the story of the boy who cried wolf was not that the wolf was justified, it was, broadly, that actions have their consequences.

    And if you can't reason your way through that analogy, consider poking a hornet's nest. To say that it is foolish, to say that getting stung by the hornets is a predictable consequence, is not to say that the hornets are justified, or to applaud the hornets stinging their victim. To interpret that way is anything but reasonable; it is instead very stupid.

  • ||

    You know , the type of person who says "Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim who wants to kill white people" and stuff like that. I would hope people here would be uh, a little more intelligent than those who emphasize a guy's middle name and spend time worrying about flag pins. But who knows.

    Indeed, most of the people here who call themselves libertarians are frauds, with views nearly indistinguishable from what you can find at FreeRepublic.

  • ||

    Yes, and then the one true victimology will reign supreme, as it should: White Victimology --the only legitimate kind.

    Wasn't this essentially the theme of Clinton from March 2008 onward? Wasn't this part of a few of McCain's attacks on Obama too?


    For many of Clinton's supporters it was, and continues to be, white woman victimology -- the poor little things weren't "respected", while at the same time blathering about Hillary being more prepared than Obama for rough treatment in the GE. What male politician or his supporters has ever whined about not being "respected"? Aside from those of GWB, who whine about "Bush bashing" and "Bush-hatred" no matter how well justified the criticism.

    Another acceptable victimology is, of course Jewish Victomology, which grossly exploits the horrors of the Holocaust to justify any Israeli policy, no matter how vile, supported by a steady stream of American tax dollars to Israel. And thus politicians of all stripes must get on their knees in obeisance before AIPAC. (And I'm Jewish, so eff off about this being anti-semitic).

  • ||

    "Obama will probably win and that worries me. I can't get past the terrible feeling that he will drastically increase affirmative action and promote discrimination against white people to make up for our past sins."

    Considering he's done nothing to make any rational person think this, the level of projection required to think this is astounding.


    There's nothing astounding about this garden variety racism. You must keep in mind that Obama has "played the race card" by the mere fact of being black. Or half-black -- he is alternately blamed for being too black and for not being black enough.

  • ||

    "...the white world of boy Barry in Hawaii..."
    'White world' is probably not a good way to describe a population that is 24% caucasion.


    It's ok for keyboard "libertarians" who never leave home other than to attend sci-fi cons.

  • ||

    Absolutely right. I just don't get why libertarians want so desperately to chase all their friends away, and then bitch that they don't have any.

    Because they tend to be assholes?

  • Fredrick Bernanke||

    I am stunned by the trenchantness and beauty of your writing, though I am not convinced that Obama is quite fits the profile of him you delineate.

    I have posted your article on his official website where I have a blog. I have also posted it on my own blog. All credits have been duly noted.

    MyBlog: http://ProteanPerspectives.blogspot.com

    I await comments from his followers.

  • ||

    "To me, this suggests the beginnings of a journey away from the Great Society mind-set of the Democratic Party."

    Care to walk this one back now, Terry?

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