How to Be a Half-Decent Democrat

Yesterday, David Weigel noted "Daily" Markos Moulitsas' essay defining himself as a "libertarian Democrat." The ensuing reader comments contained a lot of talk about whether Moulitsas' program deserved the libertarian label, but not much about a more interesting issue: Assuming the Dems' next nominee won't be a self-described libertarian, what can he (*) do to make himself attractive to libertarian voters?

The short answer -- and this applies to Republican candidates too -- is: (a) Don't be as bad as the other guy, and (b) Be actively good on at least one important issue. As far as Democrats in particular are concerned, I have three specific pieces of advice:

1. Be good on the issues where the left is supposed to be good. When I was a lad, liberals were supposed to support peace and civil liberties (within the constraints, alas, of the Second Amendment Exception). These days, only one Democratic senator could bring himself to vote against the Patriot Act. John Kerry voted for the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, and since he wasn't willing to say he'd gotten them wrong he was reduced to complaining that Bush hadn't executed them properly. (Here's Kerry in March 2004: "The real problem with the Patriot Act is not the law, but the abuse of the law.") Say what you will about Ralph Nader's other views; on these issues he's pretty good. But he isn't a Democrat.

If you want me to see you as an alternative to the Republicans, be an actual alternative. Tell us you'll use the military to defend Americans, not for utopian schemes to remake the Middle East. Stand up against the steady encroachment of executive power. I'll understand if you're too frightened to oppose the war on drugs in toto, but you could at least allow the states more leeway to set less oppressive policies. In general, don't be afraid to condemn an ill-conceived intervention abroad, and don't forget that freedoms exist that do not involve the word "reproductive."

2. When you talk about tolerance, mean it. I'm glad to see you sticking up for gays and religious minorities. Don't wreck the effect by picking on smokers and gun owners. I don't want to be bossed around by the lifestyle police any more than I want to be bossed around by Pat Robertson.

"I don't hate smokers," you object; "I hate the cigarette companies!" OK: So take on tobacco subsidies, and go after the cartel created by the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement. Go after corporate welfare; go after corporate crime. But don't go after people who merely take risks you disapprove of.

3. Don't be a slave to the bureaucracy. Look, I don't expect you to turn into a libertarian. But there are ways to achieve progressive goals without expanding the federal government, and if you're willing to entertain enough of those ideas, you'll be more appealing than a "free-market" president who makes LBJ look thrifty. You could talk about the harm done by agriculture subsidies, by occupational licensing, by eminent domain, by the insane tangle of patent law. And no, I don't expect you to call for abolishing the welfare state -- but maybe you'd like to replace those top-heavy bureacracies with a negative income tax?

We have airline deregulation today because consumer groups, liberal politicians, and left-wing muckrakers wanted to break up the old airline cartel. But in the years since then, few Democratic leaders have emulated their example and looked for ways to shrink the state. In the presidential races, the two significant exceptions are Gary Hart and Jerry Brown, and of course they both lost. (When Brown ran in '92, he called for abolishing the Department of Education. Sounds a lot better than No Child Left Behind.)

So that's all I ask. When Republicans are bad on civil liberties and foreign policy, be an alternative. Extend your social tolerance to folks to the other side of the culture war. And if you can't be as pro-market as Hayek, try at least to be as pro-market as Jerry Brown.

Footnote: I say "he" even though the frontrunner is a "she" because there isn't a chance in hell that Hillary will do any of these things. Not that I expect her chief rivals to be much better.

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  • ||

    Mr. Walker:


    I'm trying to help a libertarian-leaning Democratic attorney get elected to the bench. Lord knows, I keep trying to get him to see the light in bucking the Party Machine, which has done NOTHING for him contribution-wise, and insists that he kowtow to union labor (such as paying exorbitant prices for print materials that he could produce himself in-office for just a fraction of the cost).

    Since the Republicans have blown it, this is a good time for Libertarians to overtake the DNC, wherever we can.

    And then if the Dems get back in power, we switch right back to the RNC, since it will be more amenable to libertarian ideas, being the "opposition party."

    Libertarian Triangulation: The Wave of the Future ...

  • ||

    Of course, all of this assumes that the LP's candidate is as weak as the last time around.

    Otherwise, no major party candidate's getting my vote. As the old saw goes, voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for an evil.

  • ||

    "Of course, all of this assumes that the LP's candidate is as weak as the last time around."

    Are you kidding me. Who would be a strong LP candidate and is that even possible given the extreme ideology of the LP.

  • M. Simon||

    When I was on the left it was about the end of tyranny by any means necessary.


    How times (and memories) have changed.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    We have airline deregulation today because consumer groups, liberal politicians, and left-wing muckrakers wanted to break up the old airline cartel.

    Ugh, and do you see the riffraff they allow on airplanes these days? When I was a boy, "gay" meant "happy" and flying had class!

  • ||

    This is great Jesse,
    I'd support all 3 of your points. I've had a special beef with licensing laws, one of the ways to keep the poor down. But is there any hope to move Democratic politicians in this direction? I don't know. They seem just so beholden to special interests, like the agricultural lobby. And to many dems are just supporting status quo stuff to be in the in-crowd; Anti-gun ownership is unfortunately like a religion among some of my liberal bretheren. But there's always hope.

  • M. Simon||

    How about going after the medical cartel?

  • Dave W.||

    harm done by agriculture subsidies, by occupational licensing, by the insane tangle of patent law.

    couple responses to this:

    1. I have a hard time believing that the business world couldn't get rid of the patent system or cut back on it. I mean there is the examiner's union to fight for the system and the patent bar I suppose. I just have a really, really, really hard time believing that these groups are what is really perpetuating the patent system. At the very least, patent lobbying seems to be a low priority for Merck, IBM, MS, SONY et al.

    2. that link doesn't really show an insane tangle or really any net damage at all caused by the patent system. A one click patent issued. an appellate court (specializing in patents) got rid of it. O, the carnage! same thing with the blackberries. a tiny, tiny violin indeed, even if you don't weigh the less visible benefits of patent system (eg, enhanced willingness for investors to risk investing in new, untried technology).

    3. What M. Simon said. Mr. Walker is ignoring the 800 lb cartel that really is sitting on all of us in a way the patent system is not. How much of your paycheck goes to pay patent royalties? How much for your health ins? Duuuuh-uhuh.

  • ||

    Are you kidding me. Who would be a strong LP candidate and is that even possible given the extreme ideology of the LP.

    Depending on what you want out of a candidate:

    Eugene Volokh, Alex Kozinski, Penn Jillette, Ron Paul, Drew Carey, Jack Chambless, Virginia Postrel, Walter Williams, Andrew Napolitano, John Stossel, Dennis Miller, Larry Elder, Dixie Carter, Gary Johnson, Trey Parker, Matt Stone....

  • Jesse Walker||

    Last I checked, Dave, the medical cartel relied on occupational licensing, same as the Louisiana florists' cartel.

  • ||

    With all due respect, "front runner" has little meaning two years before the primaries. I'm with joe--welcome President Warner. Don't know why, but I've got a feeling one of those guys is going to emerge. Clinton won't even get close to the nomination--she's not been at all impressive as a senator (Who is the smart Clinton, again?), she's divisive (among Democrats, too), and she'll probably end up mobilizing a much larger response from the GOP--a really bad thing that the Democrats do not want in an election likely otherwise to be highlighted by GOP apathy.

    McCain might do something on the other side, but I doubt his ability to make a sustained run, too.

  • ||

    Dave W.
    How much of your health ins goes toward patented medicines which should not be patented. You can only make a 'generic brand' of a medicine currently in production by a 'name brand' company or else your med ins won't recognize the medication. So, what the big pharma companies do is change the formulation, say from a 4 hour pill to a 12 hour time release and patent the new formulation. They then pull the original medication leaving you no alternative but to accept the name brand at the monopolistic price. There are many reasons for this, negotiated deals with HMOs and Ins plans are one but a flawed patent system is another.

    I am not saying that the AMA and the Health cartel isn't a bad thing, simply tying in your example with a major flaw in patent law as it stands. If a politician were to try to reverse that, I have no doubt that Merck, Pfizer, GSKW and all the other big pharma companies will hire lobbyists out the wahzoo.

  • Larry A||

    These three points are at least a beginning. However, it won't do the Democrats any good to talk the talk. They need to roll up their sleeves and do something.

    Gun owners, for instance, aren't going to buy a Democratic candidate saying, "We've changed our minds on gun control." They'll need to see Democrats voting for national reciprocity and castle doctrine laws.

    <Hell = -30F>

  • ||

    In a Through the Looking Glass world where libertarians commanded even a fraction of the votes needed to deserve 'courting' by either coalition, I'd agree with these points.

    As it stands, pick through them and figure out which bringer of more votes a coalition would be crapping on if they adopted items 1, 2, and 3.

    Being good on civil rights issues, etc.: This presupposes that some big portion of the Dem coalition is fundamentally anti war at times when the rest of the country isn't. Not true. You will find some voices on the left and few to none on the right, but it is a mistake to assume that those voices are mainstream left coalition. They get marginalized by their own party. Similarly, rust belt democrats don't oppose any portion of the war on drugs.

    2) The Dem notion of tolerance will never trump the more fundamental concept of The Public Interest.

    3) This is as far as you can get from reality. The basis, the very core belief of the Dem coalition, is that government is to be used to improve lives. You can't go around arguing that the private sector is 'unaccountable' and then let it do anything unmolested.

  • Dave W.||

    the medical cartel is much more dependent upon the fact that healthcare is structured as (somewhat government subsidized insurance).

    Back in the 50s there was state licensing, but no medical cartel to speak of. Doctors and hospitals were managed in a decntraized manner, despite the fact that doctors were licensed.

    I am talking about the structural changes in the healthcare market that occurred between 1950 and 2006 that converted it into a cartel and allowed it to run off with a much bigger chunk of the GDP than the individual doctors ever managed to when they played by competitive market rules.

  • ||

    Jesse Walker,
    I do have to admit that if a Dem (or Repub for that matter) came out espousing these statements in the primary, I would change my voter registration to make damned sure they were elected. Hell, I might even work for the campaign. I am a relatively young pup and for as long as I have been aware of politicians, both sides have looked the same to me, both against my rights and beliefs.

  • ||

    This is a great summary.

    recently I followed a link to's own comment on "Kos =/ libertarian?"... here =

    ... and was sorta shocked to read the below argument about what 'The Real Libertarian' approach should be about...

    "Corporations have gotten very good at getting government to empower them to do whatever they want. Without government, corporations could not exist. And the less power government wields over the people, the less power the corporation can leverage to its own ends. Real libertarians are nearly as suspicious of corporations as of the government, as they rightly recognize that corporations derive their power from the government."

    Following this were a few supporting comments, like =

    "Economic power can be as dangerous to liberty as political power...economic power does not need to co-operate with political power to be dangerous. It will exist as long as economies will. If your system does not have some way to keep monopolies and accumulations of economic power in check, it won�t stay libertarian for long."

    Now... admission =

    I was drunk late at night when i came across this, and in my bleary-eyed rage failed to adequately respond to this... All I managed to get out was that economic liberty is required for personal liberty... and a few translations of, "dude, you're fucking dumb"

    But really = what's the deal with ostensible "libertarians" picking up on this Liberal-Progressive 'teh corporshons!' meme?

    What is it with everyone under 30 and their assumption that all the world's problems start with 'big companies'? All these kids wear Gap, play Xbox, and shop on Ebay, and continue to bitch that Big Industry never did a damn thing for anyone?

    Can someone with a bitch-slap of steel please go over there and give them what-for? It seems the public conception of libertarianism is sliding down a toilet, with different people deciding to make it up as they go along.

    Or - do people here really agree that this shit he's saying makes any sense whatsoever?


    I am driven mad by this stuff...all these kids going, "yeah! what did IBM or P&G or The Gap ever do for anyone!" As though the sheer fact of being a public corporate entity meant that you became an Evil-Doer.

  • Dave W.||

    How much of your health ins goes toward patented medicines which should not be patented.

    I have written extensively on this board about how I would pare back the patent system. It is a subject on which I have done so much thinking I have managed to outstrip the intellectual patience of my audience on a couple occasions here.

    will provide links if you want to re-engage those discussions.

    Although I am a patent attorney, I think the system should be cut back and I wouldn't personally be that torn up to see the whole system go.

    Still, I don't like seeing the patent system being made out to be more of a problem and less of a boon than it really is. I really don't think it is a pressing problem relative to what has happened in US healthcare.

    As far as the drug patents problem, my fix on that is really simple: do away with term extensions based on FDA processing time. You want to see Bailey hit the roof, just run that one by him.

  • ||


    Great piece!

  • Dave W.||

    So, what the big pharma companies do is change the formulation, say from a 4 hour pill to a 12 hour time release and patent the new formulation. They then pull the original medication leaving you no alternative but to accept the name brand at the monopolistic price.

    A N T I T R U S T

    You see a Walker Process type claim here, Kwix (cause I might)?

    See a patent misuse case based on tying (Cause I might)?

    Ues, I think HRC would do well to talk lots about antitrust and to start with the pharma's and the healthcare providers. Because only competitive markets are free markets and free markets are why we chose this particular watercooler to chat round.

  • ||

    As I think about it, it seems possible to me that item 1 on the list could be feasibly adopted. For those predisposed to going Donkey, is that enough? If you had a vocal anti war left coalition that all rejected PATRIOT, would that do it for you?

  • ||

    You know, a lot of people at the top of the political food chain were thinking that a large minority of the population were, in fact, at least quasi-libertarian back in the 90s. Although politics is as subject to fads as anything else is, I doubt people with at least libertarian leanings are quite the minority partisans on either side of the aisle seem to want them to be. Are these libertarians easily mobilized or politically unified? No, but that doesn't mean that they don't vote. I'm not counting the LP in this assessment, of course, because it's a special case. Using "special" in the pejorative sense :) I note in passing that even if libertarians were an obvious majority, just how do you get them to vote for you without giving up too much power, influence, and money?

  • ||

    As vodkapundit described it choosing between these two parties is like choosing between shooting yourself in the knee or poking yourself in the eye with an icepick.

    If the democrats actually supported civil liberties instead of just talking about it I would be willing to support them in spite of their automatic reflex to tax and regulate anything that is productive. Unfortunately they avidly support the drug war and are working to unleash the food police upon us. So I can't see the democrats offering any kind of a libertarian alternative to the democrats.

  • ||

    Mr. Walker et. al.,

    I would just like to point out that in The Era of Blogs, this micro-mini-manifesto is potentially a pretty important post. I mean that in the sense that this is the type of thing a frazzled-harried-no-time-to-breathe campaign manager might actually read.

    I wish I could think of a way to give it a nice long shelf life and get it in front of some important eyeballs.

  • ||

    When I was a lad, liberals were supposed to support peace

    Everybody supports peace. The only questions are (a) how best to achieve and maintain it and (b) what sacrifices are you willing to make to achieve and maintain it. Framing the issue any other way (such as by implying that only liberals support peace, and anyone who isn't a liberal is a right wing death beast)is dishonest and unhelpful.

    I'm glad to see you sticking up for gays and religious minorities

    Now if you could only figure out a way of standing up for minority "rights" that didn't involve trampling on fundamental rights like free speech and free association.

  • Terry Michael||

    I have found no inconsistency, as a former press secretary for the national committee (DNC, 1985-87) of the party created by Thomas Jefferson, in calling myself a "libertarian Democrat." I began doing that a couple of years ago, using "Jeffersonian liberal" and "libertarian Democrat" interchange-ably (I use Jeffersonian liberal when I don't want to scare those who find the Libertarian Party problematic, and who haven't quite figured out the difference between libertarian and Libertarian.) In February 2005, I published (as an op-ed in the The Examiner/Washington) what I have since labeled a "Libertarian Democratic Manifesto", written at the time Howard Dean was elected DNC chair. Available at my blog: " -- thoughts from a libertarian Democrat"

  • ||

    Pro Lib:

    I'm interested in the motivator for pulling a lever to vote. My guess is that of all Americans, the ones who could be motivated to pull the lever based on mostly libertarian decision criteria is much less than 1%.

    The failure of the world's smallest political quiz should not be overlooked. When asked, people say all sorts of things. When push comes to shove, they vote for their favorite government programs and will defend them to the grave.

  • fyodor||

    I see Jesse's post as being roughly akin to publicly announcing what you want in a consumer product, like a car that doesn't pollute or a computer network that doesn't crash. It's all fine and good to make such a pronouncement (and I don't mean that sarcastically), but then it's up to those who would make use of such information decide how much or little they want to pay attention to it based on all the myriad factors that they pay attention to as a matter of course. In this case, it's a matter of how many other libertarians are out there who might vote for a Democrat given such a platform versus how many votes they could lose. Personally, I don't think there's a whole lot of hope of swaying Democrats to Jesse's manifesto, but what the hell, can't hurt to try.

  • ||

    Jason, who are the people who don't vote? Who are the people who are undecided until the end? Remember, the LP aside, there ISN't a libertarian option on the ballot. We're all raised with a certain reverence for the Founding Fathers after all--where does all of that go? I think there's a heck of a libertarian streak in most Americans. Most of us just don't think about it in any kind of organized way, that's all. This is the real tragedy of the LP, the RLC, etc.

    I don't think voters are all that sophisticated, and I doubt most of them are specifically aware of just what types of pork a particular representative might be bringing home. The fact is, they vote on very minimal information--sound bites, name recognition, looks, verbal skills. The popularity of seeming mavericks shows that people don't want business as usual, but the failure of these "mavericks" to mount sustained campaigns or to stick to their principles when elected hasn't helped matters.

  • ||

    RC Dean,

    Love the post at 2:05.

    Replace "peace" with "racial equality, "liberals" with "affirmative action opponents" and "right wing death beast" with "Klan-loving racial separatist," and let me know what you come up with.

  • ||

    With regard to tolerance, I don't quite see the connection between religion/gays and guns/cigarettes. Someone's religion or the fact that they are gay, doesn't affect me at all. However, guns and second-hand cigarette smoke can hurt me or my family. I don't have a problem with anyone who wants to smoke, but I don't think anyone has the right to force me to inhale cigarette smoke. And coming from a family in which the only people who didn't live beyond 60 were the smokers, I tend to be rather "intolerant" of smokers' rights. The gun issue is rather more involved, but I certainly think there should be stricter registration standards, and that some weapons should be completely banned for private use. I mean, come on, assault weapons?

  • ||

    My view is that any weapon that could take out your whole household, especially if it can even take out the neighbors house, should be restricted. But a weapon large enough to take out a large attacker entering the home. I don't have a problem with that.
    Prohibitions make sense against smoking in public places. But private places, at least restaurants and bars, I don't see it. Most restaurants already are smoke free anyway, without the law. Socially, we're at the point where a law is unnecessary.

  • fyodor||

    Obviously we all know plenty of rebuttals we could offer Mum. But for the purposes of the discussion at hand, I would simply like to use his post as exhibit A for why Democrats will see more to lose than gain in supporting smokers' rights.

    FWIW, it's not smokers per se that most Democrats and/or liberals hate anyway (nor the tobacco either), it's the smoke. At least that's how they see it, and that's why liberals can easily immunize themselves from charges of intolerance. Underlying all this is liberals' weak understanding of property rights which shields them from deferring to the property owner. That's who they're really being intolerant of more than smokers.

  • fyodor||

    "(nor the tobacco either)" was supposed to be "(nor the tobacco industry either)"

  • Jesse Walker||

    Love the sinner, hate the discharge?

  • fyodor||


    Obviously there's no lack of ways to insulate oneself from charges of intolerance or bigotry.

    If only everyone were like me, then I wouldn't have to hate them all!!

  • ||

    Jason - you write "The basis, the very core belief of the Dem coalition, is that government is to be used to improve lives." Isn't that true of every political group? Even libertarians believe this: government improves people's lives by protecting property rights. If you were to say "...government can be used to improve lives," I'd agree with you, and then of course it becomes an empirical question.

  • ||

    The failure of the world's smallest political quiz should not be overlooked. When asked, people say all sorts of things. When push comes to shove, they vote for their favorite government programs and will defend them to the grave.

    And that, sir, is why Libertarianism is doomed to failure across a general constituency. And why basic progressivism (read increased government involvement in our lives) has won the debate.

    People, in the end, vote their self interest. Cato has done some interesting studies on who gets re-elected and why and should be looked at. Another analogy backs this up: hate congress, love my congressman. My congressman gives me stuff and money. Good. The other ones are trying to take my stuff and my money. Bad.

    I'll be a Libertarian to the bitter end, but I have no illusions about ever being a 'majority' stakeholder.

  • ||


    Your quibble leads to a distinction that is hard to put into a single sentence.

    I should rephrase. The core belief of the left coalition is that to truly advance the Public Interest, there must be an activist government presence to serve as a guarantor.

    What holds the left coalition together at its very core is the belief in activist government. There is no coalition without a sincere belief in bureaucracy.

  • ||


    Absolutely correct. I think all versions of placing broad libertarian requirements on candidates are misguided. Where we can have an impact is in issue politics. Choose a single issue or maybe two, hold your nose, and play ball with the coalition that owns your issue. Libertarianism writ large has no successes to speak of. Some libertarian policies have taken root.

    Al Gore loses his home state over guns. That is a huge moment with a huge impact to the ongoing fight for the right of self defense.

    Bill Clinton ends welfare as we know it. Absolutely astonishing, not only considering the direction from which the change occurred, but in its current broad acceptance.

    To me, that is our model. If you try to make a relevant coalition swallow libertarianism whole, they will choke on it. But you can get maybe guns out of them here or protections from domestic spying there.

  • ||

    Because I'm feeling cranky, I'll feed the troll.

    Mum: First, there is no reliable evidence that occasional exposure to secondhand smoke has negative health effects. Smoking, yes. Secondhand smoke, no. You can easily make an argument that you shouldn't be confronted with unpleasant odors in public places, and as long as you're willing to also address the issue of strong perfume (which gives me a headache), we can at least have reasonable equal footing to have a discussion.

    Second: I don't smoke near you. I don't smoke near your family. I don't smoke near other people unless they're smokers, or unless they're choosing to be near me even after I warn them I'm going to smoke (as when I'm walking my dog with my wife, who doesn't smoke). So why exactly do I need to pay exorbitant, punitive taxes on every pack of cigarettes?

    This is, unsurprisingly, a conflict of principle and 'gut feeling'. Your 'gut feeling' tells you that smoking is nasty, smells bad, and you don't like it -- and if others knew what was good for them, they'd quit. Principle tells us that it's not your business what others do with their lives, when it doesn't directly harm you. That the choices of others are not your concern, even when you disagree with those choices.

    The general failure of 'gut feeling' to produce a civil society is why we are theoretically a society ruled by law, not a society ruled by mob panic.

  • ||

    For a much more erudite discussion of the tension between collective solutions and the collected power of individual actors and their impact on society (i.e., the populist versus libertarian debate moved into the abstract).

    I would suggest the latest posting on

    They are talking technology, but the points are easily applied to the political realm

  • ||

    Replace "peace" with "racial equality, "liberals" with "affirmative action opponents" and "right wing death beast" with "Klan-loving racial separatist," and let me know what you come up with.

    would that be the right wing death beast that outlawed blacks in the white house, put all the japaneze americans on the west coast into prison camps, fought agaisnt freeing the slave in the civil war, and controlled the segragated south, and now has a former member of the KKK in the US senate?

    Opps no i am sorry i confused the right wing death beast with the democratic is so hard to keep these things clear you know.

  • ||

    My view is that any weapon that could take out your whole household, especially if it can even take out the neighbors house,

    hmm you mean a can of karoseen and a book of matches....or a cardboard box of grease rags.

  • ||

    Not Jerry Brown!

  • ||

    I mean, come on, assault weapons?

    Someone hold back mediageek...

  • ||


    While a leftist does tend to use the words "corporation" and "corporate" about as kindly and as often as rightists use the word "liberal", the quotes you make are not altogether incorrect. A corporation (in the sense it is usually used) generally implies a limited liability business with the legal ability to act as a virtual "person". Both properties are special government privileges granted to a subset of businesses. The state, also legally behaving as a virtual "person" and generally granting similar (but more extensive) legal immuninity to its "owners", not to mention its members, in some sense is the corporation from which all other corporations are spawned.

    Besides, true economic freedom would be harmful to several corporations, who are thoroughly institutionalized and rely on government intervention to prevent competition in their field.

    Being in favor of "free enterprise" doesn't mean being in favor of any particular enterprise, any more than being in favor of "free religion" prevents you from decrying misbehavior on the part of particular religions and lamenting their ties to the government. Besides, generally only minority religions are that keen on freedom of religion anyway. The rest are more than happy to put the laws of God beside the laws of Men in our courtrooms when they can get away with it (and put the symbols of Uncle Sam beside the symbols of God in their church if keeps them tax-exempt).

    And it's true that economic power exists, even in a libertarian system with no economic intervention and strong protection of property. Capitalism tends toward inequality, as the poor are more likely to spend their income on consumption and the wealthy can afford to spend larger portions of their income on capital goods. Every person, in the form of his body, is born with some small amount of capital, but that becomes less and less valuable than machines with each passing year.

    I don't consider dystopian libertarian a very likely outcome, but utopian libertarianism (or libertarian of any sort) is pretty unlikely too.

  • ||

    I'm trying to help a libertarian-leaning Democratic attorney get elected to the bench.

    BAI, you're in Ohio, right? Do you mind if I ask who your candidate is? I might like to help too.

  • ||

    As a moderate small-l libertarian, I don't exactly consider myself a Republican, but I'm definitely not a Democrat. Lately I've been describing my party allegiance with a line adapted from Churchill's quote about democracy (the system of government, not the party) vs. other forms of government; "The Republicans are the worst major political party in America, except for the Democrats."

    If some Democrat took Jesse Walker's advice, I might seriously consider voting Democratic, though.

    Come to think of it, there is one very limited hypothetical circumstance in which I would vote Democratic in the next election. If I lived in Pennsylvania, and if there were no Libertarian Party senatorial candidate in that state (I don't know if there will be or not) I would vote for the Democratic candiate against GOP Sen. Rick Santorum. Why him in particular? He's hardly the only GOP politician who has voted against libertarian principles. However, he's the only one I know of who has come out explicitly and publicly *against* libertarianism, even in the broadest sense, rejecting the idea that government ought to remain limited in scope and function and not try to run people's lives for them "for their own good".

  • ||

    If America reached the point where the choice was between the current crop of Republicans (their deeds, not their rhetoric) and some new Democrats in the mold that Jesse suggests, I would start canvassing for the Dems.

    Sadly, I doubt that we'll have anything close to that to vote for.

  • ||

    Gah, stop saying the democratic party is the party of Thomas Jefferson. This is like the third time I've had to correct that on hit and run. Thomas Jefferson's party was called Republican. (It's where the new republican party got it's name). The first Democratic presidential candidate was Andrew Jackson, and both the democrats and whigs claimed to be the true successors to the Republican party...virtually all of the members of both parties were Republicans back when the Republican/Federalist system was the two party system of the day.

  • ||

    "hmm you mean a can of karoseen and a book of matches....or a cardboard box of grease rags."

    No, but maybe a bazooka, grenade, or small nuclear weapon.

    As for prohibitions against smoking, surely it's too cynical to suggest that concerns about the affect of smoke on non-smokers originated merely from intolerance to other people's habits. If that were so, then you'd see a great deal of other habits being pushed to being prohibited. At the very least, these concerns originated from published reports of the effects of second-hand smoke. Personally, I'm with you guys that the law, at least for privately owned businesses, has no place. And it's become an intolerant stance but I don't think it originated that way.

  • Wintermute||

    Hey, decent post, dude-l-e-bop. I have always thought the occupational licensing thing was more sensible applied to hairdressers than lawyers though. I mean, unless you want to substitute admission to practice in front of each individual judge or to tolerate way more mistrials.

  • ||

    Jason --

    I'd ask you to say more about what makes an "activist government," but I don't want to quibble further.

  • ||

    Perilisk =

    thanks for your clarifying comments. they were well taken. What you said pretty eloquently actually played out in an uglier fashion on the Hammer threads between me and others.

    What i think is important here though is that a currently loosely-defined libertarian movement not get too caught up in using the rhetoric of the opposition in using terms like 'corporations' as some monolitic entity that is universally worthy of censure, when i dont think things are nearly at all that simple, and i reject completely any of those types of blanket characterizations.

    fair disclosure = i'm an equity analyst by trade.


  • ||

    fair disclosure = i'm an equity analyst by trade.

    I can't find you in Bloomberg, unless you work for SunTrust or you are an Aussie.

  • Brad Nickel||

    Ummm.... Excuse my butting in here (just drifted over from DailyKos), but if those of you that say you would vote for a Democrat that covers the three attributes in this excellent essay, but it will never happen, took the time to actually get involved in your local Democratic party, you could likely take the damn thing over at some point. It's a Democracy! get involved and change what you don't like. Right now, a movement of people are getting involved in local politics for the first time in their lives and a large number of them, consider themselves libertarian Democrats. Why don't you get off your ass and show these youngsters the way? An entire country is waiting for you.

  • Dave W.||

    In the spirit of reaching across party lines and giving guidance, I found an entry at FreeReepublic this morning with some guidance for us libertarians:

    I notice that the critics you link to aren't "liberals" per se but self-proclaimed "libertarians". The Reason writers often complain that the Republican Party needs to go back to being more libertarian. The truth is, the libertarians, especially the Libertarians, need to get their heads out of their asses and become more Republican-- or at least more conservative.

    Instead of fighting for the Constitution, smaller government or laws that respect individual intuitive, they've become snarky leftists who prize their libertine social revolution first, and preening as if they're above mere partisan mortals like Ann Coulter (who's done more for shrinking govenment than most of them ever will combined) second. Forget libertarians fixing conservatism. Conservatives need to fix libertarianism.

    77 posted on 06/09/2006 5:07:18 AM PDT by mjolnir ("All great change in America begins at the dinner table.")

    I always thought Reasonwriters was one word.

  • Jesse Walker||

    As for prohibitions against smoking, surely it's too cynical to suggest that concerns about the affect of smoke on non-smokers originated merely from intolerance to other people's habits. If that were so, then you'd see a great deal of other habits being pushed to being prohibited.

    Dunno about prohibition, but they're certainly being curtailed. Case in point:

    And then there's the "environmentalist" yuppies who move into some "charming" rural area and then start passing laws that say you can't keep a chicken coop in a residential area or park your old cars on your lawn...

  • ||

    Second-hand smoke kills. I have no idea why anyone would argue against this.

    However, lots of other things kill, too. This boils down to a public vs private issue, and the nanny-staters are winning. They have no business regulating what I do at home, what I do at work, etc, but they sure think they do.

    Also, at least in my opinion, the vast majority of nanny-staters who are trying to remove tobacco from the world are doing so because they don't like the smell of smoke. Health issues are just their excuse. It is fun to confound them by pointing out that they are probably taking just as big a risk driving TO the smokey bar as they are sucking down the filthy air. Shouldn't we ban them from leaving home?

  • ||

    Excuse my butting in here (just drifted over from DailyKos), but if those of you that say you would vote for a Democrat that covers the three attributes in this excellent essay, but it will never happen, took the time to actually get involved in your local Democratic party, you could likely take the damn thing over at some point.

    So, in exchange for working for a party that isn't doing any of this now and won't any time soon, I get to be be part of a tiny minority with no power in that party?

    Well, sure, maybe there really are swarms of young "libertarian democrats" working for your party. Maybe their ideas might be compatible with ours. Cool. But then, I'm reminded how pro-gay rights all the young Democrats are, and yet how hard it is to find any Democrat in a position of real power in the party - or in office - who doesn't oppose gay marriage as much as the Republicans of consequence. You guys won't have power in your party for decades.

    I'm not going to stuff envelopes and get out the votes for parties that act like the Republicans or the Democrats are acting right now. Try meeting people like us half-way by showing that you guys would support an agenda like this, not asking that we come and support you in exchange for vague hopes of change in the future.

  • ||

    I'm surprised that none of you has mentioned the best reason to support and vote for Democrats: to split the Republican's current rule over both Houses and the Executive office.

    Even if the current storm of Republican corruption and incompetence isn't enough to hold your nose and vote Dem, think about this: right now, the Republicans get pretty much whatever they want. Give the Dems either the House or Senate, and things would slow down considerably in Washington. It would be much harder, and take longer, for bills to pass into law.

  • ||

    Do you review posts just for malicious postings or also for subject matter you dont like?

    If the alleged reason to keep some not others is the email address, many of those posted are clearly fake.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Posts with more than one embedded link tend to get caught in the spam filter.

  • ||

    Some liberarls are intolerant. No secret there. Mixed in with a desire to create a better world is sometimes some of the other deadly sins that plague us all - envy, greed,pride, resentment, tc. And the anti-smoking campaign has become grossly intolerant and expansive, into areas it doesn't belong. But throwing all of these together - a few pushy environmental yuppies, the intolerance of some liberals, with liberals who had and continue to have concern over the dangers of second-hand smoke or to liberals in general, at least some of whom have a genuine interest in protecting others, especially their children, from harm, is another example of why there is so little dialog across party lines or ideologies. Both sides think the worst of each other, imagining each other with the most cartoonishly sinister motives, while casting themselves in the most favorable light possible.

  • b-psycho||

    "Ann Coulter (who's done more for shrinking govenment than most of them ever will combined)"

    ...whatever the fuck that guy is smoking, pass that shit!

  • krose||

    There is zero chance that I will ever vote for politicians who are in favor of restrictions on the 1st or 2nd amendments: that means, any politician in favor of incumbent protection/campaign finance "reform" or any laws restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens to bear small arms in public for personal defense. Where I live (the northeast), that means I can't ever vote for a Democrat.

    Maybe this is something fly-over Democrats can accomplish, but in the land of Teddy, Democrats will always lose to Republicans in the libertarianism scale.

  • ||

    I mean, come on, assault weapons?

    I'll tell you what Mum -- when you can define an "assault weapon" by some meaningful criteria, and not just that it looks real scary or that ol' standby "who needs one anyway" -- I'll help you put a ban on them.

  • mw||

    I am on board iconoclast.

    How about a reason for Libertarians to vote Democratic in 2006?

    Not because there is any liklihood that the Democratic Party is likely to turn to Libertarian principles, but simply because voting Democratic in 2006 is a way to tactically achieve Libertation objectives.

    I outline such a voting strategy in this blog post:

    Hand wringing Libertarians.

  • ||

    I still say we should stick with the GOP, which, an unmitigated disaster and a big government monstrosity that it is, is at least paying lip service to libertarian philosophy.

    Western and northern Republicans, whose values are often more libertarian than conservative, should start a grass roots campaign to shake off that poisonous affiliation with the South that keeps the GOP captive by the evangelicals.

    Barry Goldwater initiated a seismic shift in American "geopolitics" back in 1964: his campaign marked the first time Southern whites voted in significant numbers for a Republican. The change didn't occur overnight (Carter won the South in 1976), but today, it seems unimaginable the South may vote for a Democrat again.

    Well, we need a new Barry Goldwater, who, on a staunchly libertarian campaign, will probably bomb in the national elections, like Goldwater, but will mark the start of the movement of the Republican party away from the poor, backwater South and into prosperous northern states, like Washington and Connecticut.

    Who we need, in short, is someone like Giuliani. If he, on his libertarian, pro-abortion and pro-gay rights platform manages to win the presidential nomination.. he will most certainly alienate the evangelical base of the Republican party, yet his message will attract the masses of solidly middle class voters, those at least who believe the government takes away more from them than it gives back. They perhaps will not vote for him right away, but the message will stick.. and a dozen years down the road we may see a solidly Republican (read: libertarian) West and much of the North.

    I'm talking about national elections, of course. Locally, many of these states are already Republican (and more libertarian rather than populist conservative). Massachusetts, for heaven's sake, has a Republican governor, Romney (who, however, for all the stereotypes about Massachusetts, is pro-life and is opposed to gay marriage and civil unions). New York City has had a Republican mayor since 1993. California has a Republican governor.

    Middle class voters CRAVE libertarian Republican candidates. What they don't want is scary Bible thumpers. So here's my advice to all Republicans: dump the South and take back what is rightfully yours: the bourgeois, prosperous, tolerant North. Don't believe the nonsense about "bleeding heart liberals". They elect libertarian Republicans any time they're offered one.


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