The "Unambiguously Libertarian Duo" on War, Ron Paul, Libertarian Optimism, and More

YAR, the magazine of Young Americans For Liberty, has put Nick Gillespie and myself in their most recent issue, to talk about The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America. (That's a photograph to your right, in case you were wondering.) Excerpts from Bonnie Kristian's interview:

YAR:  A lot of the subjects that you mentioned in the book and even that you're mentioning now are domestic issues and social issues, which of course are things that we're interacting with on a daily basis. Do you see this change happening as much for foreign policy, which is so much more removed and more difficult for us to influence?

WELCH:  For the purposes of the book we wanted to use examples of how things that you don't think of in political terms have changed in our lives. So things like beer—we now can drink good beer. When I was your age, this was not a possibility. [...] So we wanted to walk back the processes that allowed for this revolution to happen; and it turns out to be from removing a lot of restrictions and engaging in libertarian or liberatory practices. So most of the examples tended to be domestically oriented. That said, we've always drawn a parallel between the Howard Dean antiwar movement of 2003 and 2004 and the Tea Party movement, which had at least one election where they affected things much more than the antiwar movement did. But what the Howard Dean movement showed was that in times of super stress, both parties will eventually be in favor of war—always. They have different flavors of it:  Basically, the Republicans go to war with a "F-ck France" t-shirt on, and the Democrats go to war with a "We prefer the UN most of the time" t-shirt on. But it's really a matter of gradation. But suddenly Howard Dean, who was not particularly a pacifist—he was in favor of several American interventions before Iraq—he shows up at a time when major politicians were not saying "This is wrong," he stood up and said "This is wrong." Suddenly there was a "WHAAH"—I mean, there was this huge untapped feeling out there. [...]

Ron Paul's political obituary was written in May of 2007 at the South Carolina debate when Rudolf Giuliani had an aneurism saying "I can't believe I'm listening to this guy talking about blowback. He must apologize to the American people." And Ron Paul said, "No, you're wrong. I'm right." And everyone who was smart knew that that was the end of Ron Paul—but in fact that was the beginning of Ron Paul in many respects. He's been around for decades, but he was the only one talking antiwar like that. So there's this great untapped antiwar sentiment in this country. It's very difficult to enact because war is about the easiest thing for a President to do, and it's really difficult to roll that back. However, we face right now something that you might describe as imperial decline or a make-or-break moment. When you really, absolutely, positively have to spend a hell of a lot less money tomorrow because there are external factors hunting you down, that ultimately will become the easiest thing to cut. Defense hawks are aware of this and they're freaking out about it. [...]

YAR:  [S]omething that I really appreciated looking into your book [was] this mindset that we don't need to fix everything at once. We don't need to make everyone as hardcore libertarian as we are overnight; but that we can engage in politics, and we can make good changes in the short term that will eventually show the larger audience of voters and people who are not already libertarian that you can have more choices and it can be better.

GILLESPIE:  We have our fever dreams of the perfect world we would like, but we're not utopians in the typical sense of the word. Part of it is that—and this is always the case, that people who write these kind of books go back to their childhood for a Garden of Eden—what's fascinating for us is that for us that moment is really the 1970s, which in many ways is one of the most reviled decades. People say it was economically disastrous. Conservatives think it was disastrous for the family. Liberals disliked it because government started going broke, and going haywire, and people lost faith in a huge way because of Vietnam and Watergate and all sorts of exposes. But the one thing that the 70s proved was that even if the economy was kind of sh-tty, other things were getting better. And so there's no idea that everything is going to be moving in a perfectly straight line, in a linear way. Economic policy was pretty dodgy for the most part of the 70s, but not completely, because that's when deregulation happened. Lifestyle changes and lifestyle liberation became huge, and that's not a small thing. I think we draw from that partly the idea that you—and this is a Marxist concept—that you can change history, but not under circumstances of your own choosing. We're living in this moment, and how do we make the next moment better?

Whole thing here. Some video below:

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • plu1959||

    I think you both got gypped in the package area.

  • Killazontherun||

    Completely screwed in that first pic. Worse that even that, they look like technocrats.

  • Pip||

    They're actually women now.

  • db||

    Seriously, You guys are editors. How did you let that through?

  • Metazoan||

    At least they have nice cleavage.

  • R C Dean||

    Package? Pish. Where's the Jacket?

  • fried wylie||

    concealed in a pocket of the utility belt. duh.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He's wearing it, silly--it's inside out.

  • The Other Kevin||

    The Jacket is actually behind them. Those blue rays radiating from it are an indication of its power. But to look upon The Jacket in its natural state can be fatal to mere mortals. So they are shielding us from its glory.

  • wareagle||

    looks like some sideburn deprivation going on, too. Can't be libertarian Elvis with an FBI coif.

  • WWNGD||

    The Jacket™ would give his true identity away. I am more worried about Nick's evil twin with the handlebar mustache.

  • db||

    alt-alt-text: Libertarian Man-date.

  • Tim||

    They wrote a book?

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Shh. It's a secret.

  • Pip||

    No way?!

  • Soc Indv Sparky||

    That magazine cover totally fails to capture Matt's ability to completely mismatch his shirt and tie. Did you at least wear the pink shirt/green tie outfit to the interview Matt?

  • ||

    Unambiguous libertarians don't support a social safety net.

    You thought I forgot your auditory appearance on Milt Rosenberg, didn't you? The Tulpa[2] never forgets.

  • ||

    Tulpa Two - This Time, It's Not Tulpa One!

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    I think you're thinking of Dangeresque.

  • Fluffy||

    You forgot to say, No Homo.

  • Fluffy||

    What's up with the Tulpa2 thing, anyway?

  • ||

    The Tulpa name was apparently reserved for my rocketmail email from years ago. I changed to the current email at least two years ago.

  • R C Dean||

    I'm just lucky the long-abandoned R C Dean email account is still auto-forwarding to the new, top-secret account in my volcano lair.

    Its odd, though, some of the spam that I get forwarded. That account has had zero commercial activity, ever, and has had zero outgoing action for at least 5 years, if not more.

    But its still circulating, apparently as the email account of a black man with voracious sexual appetites.

  • T||


  • Scarecrow Repair||

    I run my own domain, with just a very few real user accounts, yet up until a couple of years ago, it was receiving on the order of 400K messages a day to completely bogus accounts, like kjsdfy24. I think spammers were trying every account name they had ever seen anywhere.

  • Hill People||

    Aw, they censored it. Cute.

  • @AgoristDon||

    It's been a while since I read "Declaration," and I don't remember if this was covered, but I wonder how "System D" or the underground economy, figures into the escape from politics as usual?


  • sloopyinca||

    If YAR stands for "Young Americans for Liberty, then I'm gonna have to call RAAAAAAAAAAAAACIST!!!!!!!!1!1!!111!!ONE for my Chinese fliends.

  • juris imprudent||

    When I was your age, this was not a possibility.

    Oh no - you played the old fogey card in the first paragraph? Way to tune out your audience before you even got warmed up.

  • Ray||

    Dear Matt and Nick. You are ambiguously libertarian at best.* That said, even if you were unambiguously libertarian, it still wouldn't be funny.

    *HOW DARE THOSE EVIL RETHUGLICANS DENY IN-STATE TUITION TO *ahem* IMMIGRANTS! Let's get rid of all those TAX EXPENDITURES! Public schools and Social Security need REFORM!

  • Anarcho Cosmo||

    Imagine Lew Rockwell and Thomas Woods dressed like that.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.