REASON and Politics


This month's issue gives considerable attention to the activities and ideas of the recently formed national libertarian party organization. In addition to printing Dr. Hosper's speech and Bill Susel's report on the Libertarian Party Convention, we are also reprinting in full the platform of the Libertarian Party. We have decided to give such extensive coverage to the Libertarian Party not because REASON has any intention of becoming an organ of the Libertarian Party, but because we believe that REASON has a responsibility, as the most widely read libertarian publication, to provide our readers with a full view of what the Libertarian Party consists of and stands for.

The question whether it is wise or desirable for libertarians to engage in political activity has been widely debated within libertarian intellectual circles. In our May 1972 issue, REASON carried Michael Holmes' article, "The Idea of a Libertarian Party," which argues in favor of libertarian political involvement. Other thoughtful libertarians have dissented from this view.

Today, the Libertarian Party exists and it is running candidates for various national and local offices. Not everyone will want to work for the Libertarian Party, nor support it, nor join it, nor sanction it intellectually. It is possible to argue that libertarian politics are only for some libertarians, with specific aims, goals and capabilities. Obviously, there is no obligation to either support or condemn the Libertarian Party.

The emergence of a national libertarian party raises essentially a tactical question—is the party's role likely to enhance the prospects of freedom for Americans, or will it tend to dilute other meaningful efforts, or perhaps be so ineffectual that its work will be counterproductive, bringing disrespect upon the philosophy of libertarianism. Although it may be argued that it is premature for a national libertarian party to emerge at this time, the fact is that such a party has emerged. It can prove to be a significant development in American politics, or it may amount to very little.

My own attitude to the formation of the Libertarian Party is to want to assist it to help it make a positive and meaningful contribution. I am delighted to have an option this November to cast my ballot for a presidential candidate I can be proud to vote for. I feel strongly that the alternatives of voting for either Nixon or McGovern are equally unacceptable. Clearly the two major parties and their standard bearers care nothing for the implementation of human rights—for the systematic liberation of human beings from the coercive shackles of government regulation and taxation. Human liberty is as far from the programs of today's political parties in the United States as it is from the programs of the rulers of Greece, the Soviet Union, Red China, South Africa, and North and South Vietnam.

The two major American political parties have simply ceased to offer to the electorate an alternative that is consistent with the fundamental American traditions of freedom and free enterprise. The idea that each individual should be allowed to pursue his life as he deems fit has given way in both major parties to an arbitrary statist position.

On the one hand, Richard Nixon has perverted the two-party system by stealing the bulk of the programs of the Democrats and stifling the normal Republican opposition to interventionism. It seems incredible that the election of Nixon as a Republican in 1968 on a campaign of ending the war in Vietnam, eliminating conscription, opposing the imposition of wage price controls and devotion to free market principles, has led to one of the most rapid expansions of Federal control in any single Presidential term in American history. As a spokesman for what once was the Party of free enterprise Nixon has departed from the Republican tradition by pressing for Federal support for Lockheed, for the development of the SST and space shuttle, and by such other expansionist programs as wage price controls, Federal aid to local education, and a broad and costly family assistance program. Nixon is responsible for the incurring of the largest peacetime deficit in American history and is aiming at a direction calling for higher spending, higher deficits and higher taxes.

At the same time the Republican party has devolved into a party of statism, the Democrats are equally guilty of a rejection of the individual in favor of major expansion of the Federal bureaucracy and higher taxes. The typical Democratic approach towards solving economic and social problems is to pass law upon law without regard whether such laws in fact aggravate the problems sought to be corrected.

In short, at a time when each major Party puts up candidates who take consistent stands in favor of increased Government control and higher taxes, what is a voter to do if he wishes to vote for a principled candidate who stands in favor of personal freedom and limited Government?

It is this dilemma—the modern American voter's quandary—that impels me to support the Libertarian Party.

Therefore, when the Libertarian Party recently asked me to run as a Congressional candidate on their ticket, I decided to enter the race. I take pleasure in announcing to REASON readers that I am running as a write-in candidate in California's 27th Congressional District, against Republican Barry Goldwater, Jr.

I do not run for office with the expectation of being elected. I am running in the hope that my candidacy can help operate to restructure the American political dialogue, by focusing forthrightly on basic issues—without concern for the political acceptability or vote-getting appeal of the positions I take.

I look forward to the opportunity to debate Congressman Goldwater and to challenge him to reconcile his statist positions with his avowed belief in free enterprise and limited government. I look forward to the opportunity to expose to the electorate the existence of a rational, consistent political philosophy, so that one needn't feel he must be a "liberal" if he opposes American imperialism and government granting privileges to big business, or a "conservative" if he opposes the expansion of government welfarism. I hope my candidacy will allow voters to vote for a candidate because they believe in his platform and the principles he espouses, rather than having to settle for the lesser of two evils. I am proud to be a Libertarian Party candidate, and I hope that people can take pride in supporting my candidacy.