We've Got Our Raincoats On

|

New at Reason: Julian Sanchez makes the case for Howard Dean. Post all wailing, gnashing of teeth, rants about how the current staff has ruined Reason, announcements of canceled subscriptions and other correspondence below.

NEXT: Screening for Vengeance

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 Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Howard Dean? An outrage. I hereby cancel my subscription to this blog and demand a full refund.

  2. If we have no effect on the election, what difference does it make?

  3. makes sense to me, dude. it sucks, but it makes sense.

  4. >>>One theory, sometimes referred to as the “starve leviathan” model, posits that high deficits now will act as a constraint on future spending. But that kind of fiscal restraint requires presidential leadership?leadership that a president in the Bush mold seems manifestly unwilling to provide.

    You have swallowed the Statist “make money from thin air” hook line and sinker. There really is a limit and it is when banks stop lending, they raise taxes or default – it has nothing to do with leadership.

    Now they can only tax so much before people start to throwing them from office (see california), so chances are they will inflate the money supply.

    In that case, I would rather have my money up front and invested than to have higher taxes now and inflated money later.

  5. >>If we have no effect on the election, what difference does it make?

    Pissing off people that at least listen to us.

  6. .. hmm, not being a “classical Libertarian” I thought there were two sides to the philosophy: fiscal conservative and social liberal… where I might agree with the Reps that we need limits on government, I’ve got to agree with the Dems on such things as gay rights and abortion rights .. I’ve always said that I vote Libertarian because I agree with 50% of each party (but then they compromise and I agree with about 25% of their decisions)..

    .. I’ve had to work up a rebuttal to my Dad who accused me of “throwing away my vote” on a third party… I figure it this way .. my single vote really doesn’t mean squat in the general election, so it doesn’t matter if I throw my vote one way or another .. but if I think of the election as the one opinion poll that counts, I’ve got to vote with my conscience and cast my vote for the candidate who most closely matches my points of view .. it doesn’t matter to me that the LP gets 0.25% of the votes cast .. it matters to me that there are something like 250,000 voters who think like me and who aren’t afraid to “throw away their vote” ..

  7. Certainly it is hard for Libertarians to consider voting for a Democrat. I will vote for Howard Dean as the only effective means of removing George W Bush from office.
    The Bush record is pretty clear – a cumulative deficit of 1.5 trillion dollars, caused by spending, not by tax cuts; an increase in government spending that has outpaced Clinton; steel tariffs which have hurt many American industries; a crackdown on civil liberties which has harmed Americans more than it has protected us from terrorists – these are all reasons to oppose President Bush.
    Getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a benefit, but the cost has included 8,000 dead Iraq civilians, destruction of Iraqi infrastructure even beyond the destruction visited on it by Hussein; hundreds of Americans dead and more than 1000 wounded, and a bill to taxpayers in the hundreds of billions.
    The principle of pre-emptive war – nowhere authorized in the Constitution – has dealt a blow to the system of international coexistance that Europeans & Americans have worked hundreds of years to develop. And it turns out that the imminent threat was exaggerated. David Kay’s team has found one vial of botulinum bacteria – not even the botulinum toxin you can by at http://www.botox.com

  8. Great article, Julian. Takes balls to take a stand, and I’m glad you got em.

  9. Seems like Kucinich would be the better anti-war choice since he actually came out against the war and now is campaigning to bring the troops home. Dean, meanwhile tried to play both sides instead of having the guts to come out one way or the other.

  10. >> nowhere authorized in the Constitution

    Sick of this meme. Have you actually read the Constitution Gene? If Congress gave Bush a blank check, it was constitutional. But anything to “get Bush” eh? Trade a devil you know for a devil you don’t.

    Julien – If voting Dem serves as a protest vote, why not just vote LP? Same result, Libertarian and libertarian ideas get press and both parties fight for libertarian votes.

  11. But Kucinich’s chance of getting nominated is little better than Sharpton’s. Dean stands the best chance at the moment.

    I can sympathize with the idea of voting Democratic as a way of giving some teeth to your leverage against the Republicans. I also sympathize with mixing metaphors. Still…Dean?? Bleeeuurrggghh…

  12. Why not register as a Democrat and vote for Dean in the primary, and then vote for the LP candidate in the general?

    I live in Maryland, so my state will go for the Dem in November, no matter who it is. So my Republican friends can’t accuse me of throwing away my vote, because I can argue that they are doing the same thing.

  13. Independent/swing voters aren’t libertarians, but they tend to have that “fiscally conservative, socially liberal” sympathy. I think the article may predict their voting patterns, rather than ours (Do any libertarians vote?)

    Secondly, Find-and-Replace Dean for Clark. If we’re going to “vote” for gridlock, at least plan on a candidate that can win.

    It’s too bad that the LP isn’t as coordinated as the Green Party. LP registered voters actually actually out-number them. A high-profile candidate designed to throw of Bush, a la Nadar to Gore would truly signify a conservative-moderate and libertarian disatisfaction with the GOP.

  14. If I may…

    Sharky:

    If we take a sufficiently long view, it could be argued that voting Libertarian “sends a message” about the electorate’s policy preferences. And that may be. But the message we send is proportioned to the threat we pose…When libertarians as a group defect from the GOP to the Democrats (or vice-versa), our threat power is effectively doubled: each of us counts both as a vote lost to one candidate and a vote gained for the other. In close elections, a willingness to coalition jump may make the libertarian swing vote enough of a prize that candidates become, at the least, afraid of alienating us too severely.

    Best argument I’ve heard yet. Great piece, Julian.

    That said, if the LP can field a candidate that has the potential to do what Joanne describes, I will probably vote for him/her. But I’m not counting on it, based on recent history.

  15. Gene gives a nice summary of the reasons to oppose Bush on domestic issues, but he goes off the rails on foreign policy.

    Getting rid of Saddam Hussein is a benefit, but the cost has included 8,000 dead Iraq civilians

    You will lose the Iraqi body count game every time, because there can be no doubt that more Iraqis will be alive as a result of Saddam being gone. Saddam killed Iraqis by the truckload every day; by the time you net out his killings, the invasion is plus, body-count wise.

    hundreds of Americans dead and more than 1000 wounded, and a bill to taxpayers in the hundreds of billions.

    War ain’t free, that’s for sure, but you have to put these costs in perspective. It is too early to say for sure that this war is a net plus for the US, but without the war we would like have suffered additional 9/11 attacks, over time. Even one more such attack would dwarf the cost of this war.

    The principle of pre-emptive war – nowhere authorized in the Constitution

    The war was Constitutional. It was approved by Congress, and that is all it takes.

    has dealt a blow to the system of international coexistance that Europeans & Americans have worked hundreds of years to develop.

    Don’t make me laugh. Would that be the same Euro-American cooperation that led to the American cemeteries scattered over Europe? Or are we here referring to the UN, that collection of dictators, mass murderers, and kleptocrats that puts Libya in charge of human rights and Saddam on the disarmament committee.

    And it turns out that the imminent threat was exaggerated. David Kay’s team has found one vial of botulinum bacteria

    What Kay found was an entire WMD industry that the UN knew nothing about, capable of delivering WMD on a “just-in-time” basis. Ample support for the WMD justification for the war. Focussing on actual barrels or vials of WMD is willfully short-sighted.

  16. Oops. forgot one – Bush never said the threat was imminent. In fact, he said it was not, and took a lot of heat for it.

  17. “Post all wailing, gnashing of teeth, rants about how the current staff has ruined Reason, announcements of canceled subscriptions and other correspondence below.”

    Wow…interesting to know that I am not the only one who thinks Reason has been headed downhill since Virginia Postrel left. The notice in the current issue that Reason will focus on culture and “free minds” over “free markets” didn’t reassure me any.

  18. “Post all wailing, gnashing of teeth, rants about how the current staff has ruined Reason, announcements of canceled subscriptions and other correspondence below.”

    Wow…interesting to know that I am not the only one who thinks Reason has been headed downhill since Virginia Postrel left. The notice in the current issue that Reason will focus on culture and “free minds” over “free markets” didn’t reassure me any.

    Thank God at least one of you bums knows how to follow directions.

  19. “the message we send is proportioned to the threat we pose”

    The message you send is dependent on the message of the candidate you vote for. Do you think if Bush loses in 2004 that the RNC will look at the Dean numbers and see anything but support for the Democrats’ platform? Do you think 1 nanosecond will be spent worrying about Howard Dean’s appeal to libertarianism?

  20. “Thank God at least one of you bums knows how to follow directions.”

    Just doing my part to help. You’ll receive my cancelled subscription later this week. 🙂

  21. Hmmm… it’s one thing to say, “this is the new direction our magazine is taking, if some people don’t like it, let ’em cancel, we’ll get plenty of new readers who like it.” It’s quite another to antagonize fence-sitting readers and actively encourage them to cancel … that is what just happened, right? Oh well, it’s your show, Reason staff.

  22. While I think Julian’s case is persuasive, Dean’s platform turns my stomach. Why? Because, to me, there just isn’t enough room for him to court libertarians. If I were to vote Dean, there simply is not enough water in this world to cleanse my conscience.

    Ah well, looks like I wont be voting this election…

  23. Do you think if Bush loses in 2004 that the RNC will look at the Dean numbers and see anything but support for the Democrats’ platform? Do you think 1 nanosecond will be spent worrying about Howard Dean’s appeal to libertarianism?

    That depends on what their polls tell them, of course.

  24. We’ll see… candidates typically tack center in the general election, so I’m curious to see where he goes if he picks up the nomination.

  25. R.C. Dean:
    Saddam Hussein is responsible for many deaths – perhaps a half million, perhaps a million, depending on how you portion out responsibility for the Iran/Iraq War.
    At the time of the Iran/Iraq War, the policy of the Reagan administration was to supply military aid to Hussein. Little known at the time, it was brought to light by the Financial Times and ABC News Nightline in 1990.
    When Iraqi troops killed 5000 Kurds at Halabja in 1988, the US government continued to supply military aid to the Hussein regime.
    I hold no brief for Saddam Hussein, but he has not invaded another country since being expelled from Kuwait in 1991.
    The last time Iraqi troops invaded Kurdish territory in the mid 1990s, it was at the invitation of the Kurdish Democratic Party which sought an advantage over the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The PUK leaders were astounded, as were outside observers.
    Where does the Constitution authorize Congress to give a blank check to the President. I have Dover Thrift Editions of the Constitution for $2 if you need to look it up.
    If you look at the record, President Bush on many occasions referred to Iraq as an imminent threat. You can support his policy if you like, but the historical record is clear.

  26. Please provide one citation of the president referring to Iraq as an “imminent threat.”

  27. Sharky and R.C. Dean,

    No, simple Congressional approval is NOT enough. A general authorization of force, without defined limits, is not the same as a specific, legal declaration of war. It is an impermissible delegation of one of Congress’ enumerated powers to the executive.

  28. OK, a few things:

    1) The libertarian vote isn’t enough to swing the national popular vote. But the national popular vote doesn’t decide an election. Close contests in states like Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, etc. decide elections. I don’t recall how many votes Harry Browne got in Florida in 2000, but I’m sure it was substantially more than the few hundred to couple thousand votes separating Bush and Gore in Florida. Say what you like about the fairness or unfairness of the FL election, if the margin had been larger there would have been no recount.

    So libertarian voters do have clout!

    2) I think the best formula for limited government is divided government. It’s very unlikely that the Dems will get control of either the House or the Senate in 2004. They’re defending more Senate seats than the Republicans, so they have more to lose, and the House is so gerrymandered that it will be tough for either party to change the margin significantly. The only element of the government that the Dems have even the slightest chance at is the White House.

    3) I think Clark is more electable than Dean. My concern is not the President’s specific positions, it’s that the government be divided so the President rarely gets to act. Clark will do quite nicely for that purpose, since I’m confident that the Congressional Republicans will put him on a short leash.

    4) For those who think a Democratic President and GOP Congress are a bad idea, what would you propose instead as a formula for divided government? Does anybody here actually think that the way to go is the GOP controlling the House, Senate and Presidency?

    5) Since California isn’t a swing state I’ll still vote for the LP candidate in November of 2004. But in the winter and spring I’ll be campaigning for Clark to get the nomination, since I think he can win.

    Go ahead, call me a liberal Democrat.

  29. Where does the Constitution authorize Congress to give a blank check to the President.

    A general authorization of force, without defined limits, is not the same as a specific, legal declaration of war.

    The sum total of Constitutional language on this issue is as follows (Article 1, Section 8):

    The Congress shall have Power . . . To declare War.

    That’s it. There is no requirement for specificity.

    Keep in mind that there are actually two Congressional declarations at issue in the war on Iraq – the most recent one, and the one that authorized the 1991 war. Really, the 2003 invasion is just the long-delayed culmination of the 1991 war, and I think a very strong case can be made that the 1991 declaration was sufficient, and still in force, in 2003. After all, the 1991 hostilities never really ended (a cease-fire was brokered, but it was a hot cease-fire that saw constant military action over the no-fly zones). Between the two, I believe any reasonable demand for specificity has been met.

    There is also an argument that the “declaration of war” is not required before the President can mount an armed response to an attack on the US. The thinking is that when the US is attacked, war has been declared by the other side, and we are at war regardless. Thus, the Constitution may require only that Congress approve aggressive action by the US. I am not completely sold on the merits of this view, especially with respect to Iraq.

  30. Anon.@ 6:16PM
    In announcing the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, President Bush said:
    “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now, with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of fire fighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities.”
    The verb “threatens” is present tense, not future tense.
    This is from the White House website @
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030319-17.html

    On October 7, 2002, President Bush gave a speech on the Iraq Threat – again present, not future tense:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021007-8.html

    On March 22, 2003, the President included this in his progress report on the Iraq conflict
    “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”

    Apparently he made reference to a current threat more often than to an imminent threat. I stand corrected until I do enough research to find “imminent.”

  31. Gene says: If you look at the record, President Bush on many occasions referred to Iraq as an imminent threat. You can support his policy if you like, but the historical record is clear.

    This is false. The President was careful to say that Iraq was not an imminent threat, but nonetheless posed an intolerable risk. He was brutally criticized for going to war against a threat that he ‘admitted’ was not imminent.

    For a good discussion of the false “imminent threat” meme, check out http://www.andrewsullivan.com. Scroll down a bit, but Sullivan does a nice job of reviewing the facts on this issue.

  32. Julian’s argument seems to assume:

    1. That Dean will weild a veto pen against Republican neo big government.

    2. That as a failsafe, if Dean turns out to be a wolf in sheeps clothing, a Republican Congress will contain him.

    To take 2 first, Clinton’s mastery of all the leadership power of the exec–after the 1994-94 Congressional, er, “revolution”–demonstrated that Congress is instituitonally ill-suited to take momentum away from even a White House with staggeringly negative poll numbers. The Republican quiescence that Julian complains about can be directly traced to Clinton’s victory over Congress in the mid-90s. Electing Gingrich II is not in the cards, and it is a false hope to expect Congress to save us if a Dean-gamble goes sour.

    More fundamentally, Julian’s argument ignores the toxic confluence between (1) a Pres Dean’s power over the administrative state and (2) the fact Pres Dean will be electorally beholden to Dem special interest groups (far more powerful than inside-the-beltway libertarian activists, I should think): This confluence suggests we should expect Clintonian redux in a Dean administration: i.e. moderate/conservative talk to the public, to boost the polls in flyover country, coupled with hard-left, behind-the-scenes weilding of regulatory quasi-legislative and judicial power to eviscerate every “libertarian” legislative proposal he puts forward and passes. Exactly like Clinton. If you don’t think the administrative state is the true source of legislative power these days, take a look at how Clinton destroyed workfare through DOL regulatory interpretations concerning the applicability of the Fair Labor Standards Act, union-laws, and other federal labor laws to workfare recipients. If you think Congress can do a damn thing about the administrative state in a Dems’ hands, look what happenend to Republican efforts to ban funding NIH stem cell research during Clinton’s second term(Congress passed such a ban, it was ignored).

    Finally, I think Julian mistakes an institutional structural problem in Congress for a political problem: i.e. the real problem is not the superficial Red State/Blue State brouhaha that takes center stage in the “Vote Dean” movement, but the legislative committee system, which makes it easy, and far too tempting, for whoever is in power in Congress to pass rent-seeking legislation. Electing Dean doesn’t address that problem–it will probably exacerbate it, as Republican committee chairmen will shovel out more graft in order to counterbalance the competitive fund-raising edge Dems will get with their Pres in the WH.

    Julian’s notions, allow him to act like a value-transvaluating libertarian Zarathustra, leading the way forward in a new “movement”, and no doubt provide a narcisstic rush. But I think more mundane structural policy is where salvation lies–in initiatives like, say, Rep. Chris Cox’s (R-CA) Budget Process Reform Act, that would essentially create intra-legislative checks on spending/ legislation that the modern committee system has basically eviserated. For more on that idea–admittedly not as sexy or, um, as narcissistic as Julian’s idea–you can find an article on that proposal on LEXIS in Harvard Law’s Journal on Legislation and Public Policy (article written by Chicago Prof. Elizabeth Garrett, which is critical of the BPRA, but gives a good overview).

  33. Another thought:

    Imagine if the Libertarian Party nominated a Presidential candidate who got a lot of attention, attracted a lot of support, and actually polled above a million votes in the weeks leading up to the election. (I know, there’s a lot that could derail that scenario, but let’s imagine…)

    Imagine that the election was shaping up to be close, and the LP candidate said “I’ll endorse whichever candidate agrees to do the following…” And then he unfurls a list of policies that, while not the libertarian ideal, are significant steps forward. e.g.

    -10% cut on every income tax bracket (so if you pay 20% you’d pay 18% instead, or if you pay 30% you’d pay 27% instead) and every excise tax.
    -End farm subsidies.
    -Legalizing medical marijuana at the federal level.
    -Repeal of certain key gun control laws.
    -Support repeal of the Patriot Act.

    Now, maybe that entire list is too ambitious. So maybe the LP candidate promises to endorse the first person who supports at least 3 of those 5 planks. Or maybe he trims the list. Or whatever. Point is, the LP candidate promises to endorse the first candidate to support a list of significant policy improvements.

    And then the LP candidate starts reciting his numbers:

    “Florida has 25 electoral votes. I’m polling 1% right now, and the margin is razor-thin. Wisconsin has 10 electoral votes. I’m polling 1% there and the margin is much smaller. Pennsylvania has….”

    Now, I am not optimistic about the candidates actually endorsing a list of libertarian demands (let alone following through on that promise). I’m not even optimistic about an LP candidate putting aside ego and endorsing somebody else. But it would be a powerful act. If the candidates refused to support some modest but important policies, the case for abandoning the 2 parties would be significantly strengthened. If somebody endorsed those policies, won, and then broke his promises the case would once again be strengthened.

    And if, just if, a candidate endorsed those policies and then followed through, the government would be smaller.

    Of course, this is probably a pipe dream.

  34. My subscription has lapsed – I was thinking about renewing – I’ll have to give it some more tought.

  35. If the Libertarian Party weren’t full of a bunch of fuckwads, I’d vote for them. As it is, they’re incompetent and they make the libertarian political philosophy look ridiculous. So fuck ’em. I’m voting for Dean.

  36. I’m fine with voting for gridlock and/or the lesser evil in close elections (and I respect those who don’t have this nose-holding capability as well).
    But I live in California (as does, presumably, most of CA-based Reason’s staff), which is an almost certain pickup for the D’s. So although the best realistic case I can hope for is a Frist-Dean gridlock, I’m irrelevant to whether that happens and I will vote L, with the hope that party bosses will take note and remember when a close race comes around.

    P.S. Clark – feh! Pick a country France doesn’t like and get ready to go there.

  37. Garvin is right. I recently had the misfortune of witnessing a hearing by my local Air Pollution Control District (basically an EPA subsidiary), and all I could think was, “my god, these people must be stopped. I’m voting Republican from now on.”

  38. “That depends on what their polls tell them, of course.”

    I doubt the exit polls will show many “libertarians for Dean” votes. What blip they show would just be written off as voter confusion, I would think. They will however show some LP votes. There will also be signifigant membership of the GOP with libertarian leanings, which affects the party generally to one degree or another.

    The other real problem with make-your-vote-count-twice theory is that by this reasoning libertarians (who will never – NEVER – be happy with a “big 2” candidate) would always be voting for the party that was least libertarian in an attempt to get the party that is actually closer to their views to move even moreso. I just can’t make this make sense.

    (Of course the real REAL problem with making your vote count twice is ~0 x 2 ~=0.)

    The divided government argument makes more sense, but really, this is essentially just giving up. Just settling for the slowest possible erosion. It also is a self negating movement. How many will vote for a Dem president, and a GOP congress vs. a Republican president and a Democratic congress. Good luck getting organized.

    People choose Julian’s “cohort” style of voting, because that is what it is possible to do in order to actually have some (tiny) impact.

  39. OK, the “cohort” style of voting, if I understand your meaning, simply means voting as a bloc. Blocs get noticed if they are organized and make themselves heard. I know, easier said than done. I still think that an LP Presidential candidate, despite the many problems people have with various candidates, could be a great spokesperson if he/she put aside ego (yeah, right) and said “I’ll endorse whoever makes the following promises…”

    And if the list of demands included things that appeal to Democratic voters (e.g. medical marijuana, repeal Patriot Act) as well as Republican voters (taxes and guns) it would show that libertarians could be a swing bloc.

    Of course, there’s no guarantee that any libertarian voter would heed the LP candidate’s endorsement (we distrust centralized authority, after all). Still, I think that the image of Bush or the Democrat actually making nice with the LP candidate would give a thrill to a lot of libertarians. “Finally, they have to listen to us!”

    And it would give LP News 4 years worth of angry letters from both sides…

  40. So if someone has a different political analysis than you do, you’re a “narcissist”? Talk about projection…

  41. But I think more mundane structural policy is where salvation lies–in initiatives like, say, Rep. Chris Cox’s (R-CA) Budget Process Reform Act, that would essentially create intra-legislative checks on spending/ legislation that the modern committee system has basically eviserated.

    Why is that incompatible with supporting divided government?

  42. I too have noticed Reason’s decline since Virginia Postrel left. There seems to be no remaining consistent advocate of “free markets” left here. Although I still like some of Nick Gillespie and Ronald Bailey’s articles, I probably won’t be renewing my subscription (and not just because of this article, Tim).

  43. I’m saying that it makes sense for libertarians to vote for the LP (if it makes sense at all to vote,) because it increases the size of the cohort which best typifies their beliefs. If libertarians simply splinter their votes – some vote for Bush and a Dem congress because they want to divide government, some vote for Dean and a GOP congress because they want to divide government; some vote for Dean out of spite for GOP betrayal, or because the war in Iraq is the most important thing to them, while others vote for the LP for the same reasons – it simply waters down (I would think renders invisible) the message that there is a cohort interested in liberty.

    People tend to organize themselves into blocs because that’s how they feel it is possible to make a difference. And they are right. You can talk to and organize with like minded people and actually have more impact than you would with one vote. There already seems to be a natural national cohort for libertarians to glom onto. If you don’t strictly agree with the LP, you can safely vote for it and know that they aren’t going to win any important elections anyway, you will also have a reasonable chance for your message to be correctly interpreted.

    I’ll grant you (and everyone else) that 1 vote is meaningless, but in as much as it can have any meaning, it might as well have one that can be understood.

  44. Just because the magazine’s focus might have shifted more toward “free minds” doesn’t mean that it has completely abandoned “free markets.”

    This staff is superb, and from what I can tell, they are firmly dedicated to laissez-faire.

  45. That would have been a good article, if it was a tenable proposition. But the fact remains that the parties have to want the Libertarian vote in order to court it, and it doesn’t appear either do. I think the article ignores the reality of political capital.

    For example: imagine 500,000 white supremacists mobilizing to try and get the big parties to pay attention to them. That’d be twice the number of people who vote for the Libertarian Party (I’m using the figure someone else threw out above for illustration), but I don’t imagine either party would be clamoring to get the white supremacist endorsement, since there’s such a stigma attached to it that it would be political suicide.

    Similarly, I don’t think either party wants the Libertarian vote. Why? Some possible reasons:

    1) As one of the posters at National Review noted a while back in their blog, the LP tends to run bizarre candidates that almost beg for the party to be marginalized. For example, running a druid in the California recall, or that guy whose skin turned blue (the smurf candidate, as the NRO’er referred to him). You can be a party of inclusion without looking ridiculous.

    (to be continued)

  46. (continued from above)

    2) Events that do get popular media coverage beside the bizarre candidates tend to not be flattering. For example, the Free State Project, which appears to the average person to be some sort of wacko insurrection.

    3) Additionally, the laissez-faire economics side of libertarianism tends to be downplayed in favor of the ultra-liberal social agenda, which many people find offensive. This is not done only by the media, but by libertarians themselves; this magazine is one fine example of that. Rather than advocating choice in issues that a majority of people find morally troublesome as a means to affirm the liberty of people to choose the right thing (which might work with mainstream voters), libertarians (read: this magazine) often indignantly refuse to acknowledge that there is any moral issue at all and by doing so alienate themselves from the voters. Or worse, they revel in the choice that most people would find morally offensive.

    4) I’d also wager that the LP is of little concern to the GOP because of the previous point; it alienates the far right (the base) by openly mocking its beliefs- even using the “choice” euphism for abortion, which already assumes the point the far right contends- and often appearing farther left than the Democrats on social issues.

    5) As for the Democrats, the laissez-faire principle of libertarianism, when people bother to argue it, is so offensive to the Democratic base of labor unions that courting the libertarian vote would be a disaster for them as well.

    So, at least by my estimate (and I think I’m right, or else I wouldn’t have said it), vote for whoever you want. No one cares, at least until libertarians get more PR-conscious.

  47. “Why is that inconsistent with divided government?”

    Its not inconsistent. My point is more that Dem Prez/Republican party meme is just so much lazy thinking. Most checks on what Congress does–appropriate money and delegate authority to the exec–is controlled best by internal intra-branch checks with-in Congress. And checks on what the exec does–manage our vast administrative state–is already beyond the control of Congress. So if your reason for voting democratic is “divided government,” in the sense that you think having branches in different parties accomplishes any thing, I would suggest rethinking.

    The only reason to vote democratic is because you like the democractic party, warts and all, and you don’t mind that with a Dem administration you get judges, exec. officials, and agency bosses that reflect a broad cross-section of the modern Dem party. Since, Julian–and frankly a lot of the Reason staff these days–remind (in law geek parlance) me more of Democratic bete noir law professor Cass Sunstein (to be honest, Sunstein is more to the right in many ways) than Richard Epstein, Richard Posner, or Eugene Volokh (libertarians and (instrumental) Republican supporters all, I believe), throwing their lot with Dean makes sense, and I think presages a growing left-right libertarian crack-up.

  48. the laissez-faire economics side of libertarianism tends to be downplayed in favor of the ultra-liberal social agenda, which many people find offensive.

    You think no one finds the economics offensive? Get out more. People hate us for all sorts of reasons.

  49. Fred sez: My point is more that Dem Prez/Republican party meme is just so much lazy thinking. Most checks on what Congress does–appropriate money and delegate authority to the exec–is controlled best by internal intra-branch checks with-in Congress. And checks on what the exec does–manage our vast administrative state–is already beyond the control of Congress. So if your reason for voting democratic is “divided government,” in the sense that you think having branches in different parties accomplishes any thing, I would suggest rethinking.

    I have no intention of voting Democratic, and I doubt that any voting bloc I might belong to is being courted by either major party. But I do expect to root for the Democratic nominee, unless they pick someone I find especially repugnant, just because I think the Dem president/GOP House combination is, all things considered, the least damaging to civil and economic liberty.

    Just as some commenters have missed the difference between rooting for the Democrat and voting for him (and, to be sure, Julian and I might end up disagreeing about that as well), others seem to have missed the difference between believing divided government helps keep the state’s worst habits in check and believing it will produce real libertarian reform. Believe me, it’s a purely defensive measure. And yeah, well-crafted structural reforms would be even better protection. There is, as you say, no inconsistency in wishing for one and working for the other.

  50. “Why not register as a Democrat and vote for Dean in the primary”

    A good idea for Republicans too (plus there are states where you don’t have to register… just ask Cynthia McKinney)…

  51. I think the real story, vis a vis Clinton budget, is what happened after Clinton’s first term, but the fallout. Its not like the 104th Congress was a resounding success. (Disclosure: I worked in the 104th Congress for a Congressman who will remain unnamed). It is true Republicans forced Clinton to accept a balanced budget, but Clinton made such political hay with Congress’s relatively tough decisions that he lept back from the ClintonCare disaster (which happened before the Republican take-over on Congress, contra Julian) to sky-high approval ratings within a year. And he got credited with all the Republicans balanced budget plan, while effectively tarring the Republicans as the bad guys for all the difficult and relatively bold decisions they made. Gingrich collapsed in disgrace two years later, with approval ratings of like 27%. The lesson? Congress is too decenttralized, too disorganized, and too reactive to adequately take on the exec in any meaningful manner. And, what happened after: Republicans got soft, and realized if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Hence prescription drug benefits and other b*llsh*t. Bottom line: 104th Congress was it statistic outlier, and the exception that proves, indeed has cemented, the rule.

    Incidentally, the great bulk of federal spending–over 2/3–is non-discretionary, and out of control of both branches under the current budget process. And the great bulk of discretionary spending is for defense. The rest–education, welfare, subsidies–are a drop in the bucket, from the standpoint of “spending.” What percentage of non-entitlement, non-defense spending is part of the bally-hooed Bush increase in spending, I wonder?

  52. Genuine question for Fred:

    What is put in the category of “non-discretionary” spending? I know what the word “non-discretionary” means, more or less (not subject to modification without changing certain laws) but I don’t know what items fall into that category.

    If you’re saying 2/3 of gov’t spending is non-discretionary, and defense falls in the remaining 1/3, then I’m going to guesstimate that only about 8% of federal spending is non-defense and non-discretionary. Am I right?

    However, I’m also going to guess that the 8% is comparable (in magnitude) to the deficit. Am I right there?

  53. I don’t remember the arcana of the federal budget so well, but, as I recall, non discretionary spending, in federal budget parlance, basically covers spending on interest on the debt, social security, medicare, and medicaid. Discretionary spending covers spending for exec agency budgets, the judiciary, transporation, the Dept. of Commerce, HHS programs (like AFDC or Head Start), foreign aid, the Export-Import Bank, things like that. Non-discretionary, or entitlement spending, is automatically budgeted in (i.e. “authorized” and “appropriated”) without any Congressional or executive action during each budget cycle, which is why it is often referred to as being on auto-pilot.

    My guess is there has been an increase in discretionary non-defense spending, but that the great bulk of any increase–probably at least 75% is due to more and more people becoming eligible for social security and medicare, and increased payments on the debt.

    The rest, as Thorley rightly points out, is not necessarily attributal to the President, even if it is “in” the political process, in the sense of being subject to the annual authorization and appropriate cycle. Sure, some, maybe most, is certainly (I am guessing) the result of executive initiatives, like the Homeland Security Department, increases in customs dept. spending,the federal takeover of airport security, etc. etc.. But much is alos attributable to Congressional pork that is hidden away in omnibus legislation passed by Congress.

    At the end of the day, I would like to see more nuts-and-bolts comparisons between Clinton’s discretionary record and Bush’s, and what is driving the increse on a line-item basis, rather than the global comparisons of the total budget that Julian uses. The former is much more useful and informative than the latter.

  54. Thorley Winston,

    Thanks for the link. It lays out the numbers quite well. Right; Clinton actually did much to try to ADD new spending programs and pad existing ones as well. Fortunately, he was stymied by a tough Republican congress. Among the Republicans in the current congress, there continue to be a number of strong advocates of limiting the size of government and the disparity on this issue, between the two party’s members in aggregate, is dramatic. Check out the National Taxpayer Union site: ntu.org for confirmation. I think our task now is to prod them to impose the same restraint on Bush’s big spending agenda as they did with Clinton’s

  55. Julian makes a strong case against Bush but a weak one for Dean. Does Julian even believe in the case for Dean? Lets look:

    Julian wrote:
    “Howard Dean, like Bill Clinton, may say he wants to dramatically increase government’s role in health care…it’s Republicans who are likely to have the final say on how and whether that happens. And while they’ve shown they’ll happily roll over for Bush…they’ll be just as happy to deny President Dean…”

    Here Julian offers the happy prospect of a repeat of the Clinton presidency where stiff opposition from a feisty Republican Congress repeatedly said NO to a big government agenda…BUT, in the very next paragraph, he writes:

    “His virtues…are more likely to be points on which bipartisan coalition building is possible.”

    Wait a minute! Now he’s talking about “bipartisan coalition building” to get Deans “virtues” turned into policy. Of course coalition means compromise and give and take. Not the sort of smash mouth politics he just told us would thwart the kind of big government agenda one sees when visiting the Dean web site. There wasn’t much “bipartisan coalition building” going on when the Republican congress was “stuffing” the Clinton Agenda. Does Julian really think that
    in a “bipartisan coalition” scenario we can enact Deans virtues with out his vices? Now lets look at the three items Julian considers to be Deans virtues:

    1. “opposition to an imperial foreign policy”

    Kucinich is the only Democrat with the good sense to bring the troops home now.
    Dean, on the other hand agrees with Condi Rice’s concept of a “generational” project to bring “democracy” to Iraq, and wonders about the depth and endurance of Bush’s commitment to the region. See Justin Raimondo’s 8/27 antiwar.com column where he gives up his Dean hopes. http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j082703.html
    The column was linked to in this thread. Raimondo maintains an anti-imperial foreign policy position, par excellance. Bush is so bad in the foreign policy area that Dean, no doubt, would be better, but anyone can clear the bar when it’s three inches off the ground. (A more productive strategy for this area would be to pressure Bush to jettison the neo-cons)

    2.”greater support for gay rights”

    This could actually work against individual liberty if gay anti-discrimination laws were passed that effected the private sector or affirmative action was broadened to include gays.

    3.”a qualified federalism, evidenced by his stance on gun rights”

    Oh right. Just because Dean thinks that some aspects of gun control ought to be left to the states, were supposed to hold out hope that he’s going to do a rerun of Reagan’s “New Federalism”? Well I guess Julian did say “qualified”. Maybe, “ultra qualified”? Julian this “virtue” is almost insulting.

  56. Rick,

    I agree whole-heartedly, focusing on Congressional elections is going to be the key in order to get any sort of fiscal restraint. Something that seems to be lost in the debate over the president?s role is that there is an important difference between a president who asks for spending on X versus one who agrees to spending on X-Y such as is the case with the prescription drug benefit, steel tariffs, and agricultural subsidies. None of these were really things that President Bush set out to do so much as things he agreed to support in order to undercut the opposition in Congress and get his other priorities through. A president Dean or pretty much any other of the Nine Dwarves would make things like these priorities and they would undoubtedly be worse then they are.

    Electing more fiscal conservatives to Congress (the agricultural bill for example would have been much smaller with Richard Luger as the chair of the Senate Ag Committee then Tom Harkin who never liked Freedom to Farm ? disclaimer, I?m finishing up my second bachelor?s degree in agricultural economics) is the best way to shore up a more reluctant spender like Bush or oppose a more determined spender like Dean/Kerry/Gephardt/Lieberman/Clark/whatever.

    More importantly then just restraining discretionary spending though is entitlement reform. The difference between President Bush and any of the Nine Dwarves on issues like privatizing Social Security (to his credit Bush stayed firm on this during the mid-term elections when the conventional wisdom would be that this was a loser for Republicans) and pushing for some sort of market-oriented health care reform (Kennedy killed it temporarily when Democrats controlled the Senate) is the difference between night and day. If we have any hope of getting entitlement reform through before the baby boom generation begins retiring, our best chances are with a President like Bush who has made it a priority and as many fiscal conservatives in Congress as possible to put it through over Democratic objections.

  57. Thorley & Rick:

    One of the major obstacles to face is how the public reacted when the Newt and Company started rolling. They are still reviled, somewhat for personal shortcomings, but mostly because there was a serious danger of them actually cutting the size of government. It is very depressing to think about, but if politicians have to be altruistic to cut government spending, we are hosed.

  58. I actually read all the posts above, and now I am insane.

  59. Say what you will about “he didn’t push for it, he just agreed to it” but the President has veto power. Then again, it’s been a while since I read the Constitution and between Ashcroft on the right and liberal “penumbras” and “living Constitution” talk on the left, the thing is getting edited on a daily basis.

    Did somebody edit out the veto yet? (sarcastic)

  60. Thoreau,

    I try to be as general as possible in the application of libertarian principles, but it seems we have to choose in a winner take all system.

    In my world, the right of self protection is the Grand Pubah of all rights, and it is difficult to imagine any politician getting my vote if I view them as hostile to that principle.

    Contrary to what the left-lefties say, the Dems are every bit the drug warriors the Repubs are. To me, as much as I hate the drug war, there is no electable candidate from either party that will help me there.

    I just can’t find anything compelling that the dems represent. They openly love spending (Repubs may privately love it, too, but they make friendly noises on occasion), they love throwing people in jail, they hate guns, they love redistribution, they are Keynesians all, and so on. I can’t see the up side.

  61. I suspect most Democrats are privately anti-drug war, but consider saying such a thing to be political suicide. The 2002 elections demonstrate the cowardice of the party on issues that don’t appear to be short-term winners. The presence of a pro-business, anti-hippie, anti-Drug War faction within the party could well encourage wavering Dem. politicians to take up the fight.

  62. Jason Ligon wrote:

    Contrary to what the left-lefties say, the Dems are every bit the drug warriors the Repubs are.

    More so actually, they wish to expand it to include alchohol and tobacco via the tort system. Fast food too, given the chance.

  63. Actually, Thorley, there is little to no support for outright prohibition of alcohol, tobacco, and burgers, even among the anti- crusaders. Rather, they wish to see these things controlled, strictly licensed, and taxed. I have often wondered whether the creation of a non-criminal category of controlled recreational substances might help the legalization movement.

  64. Just when i was getting really worried that this place was a posse of von mises/hayek dianeticists who believe that existence has been completely explained, for ever and ever !!! I’m glad i subscribed. Well done, Julian.

  65. I’m so appalled by this article that I’m going to subscribe to Reason just to cancel it!

    – Josh

    ObTopic: Dean is Mondale redux.

  66. Um, I don’t recall a spontaneous grassroots movement springing up to boost Mondale.

  67. Thorley,
    “A president Dean or pretty much any other of the Nine Dwarves would make things like these priorities and they would undoubtedly be worse then they are.”

    I’m not sure that the result would not actually be better for at least some of these things as it should motivate the Republicans in congress to vote the way they should, like they did with Clinton. However, I don’t want to risk the Kyoto Treaty and other liberty killing, international governance entanglements that likley would come with a Dwarf regime. Also, it would be; bye bye tax cuts.

    “Bush…pushing for some sort of market-oriented health care reform”

    But, he’s ready and willing to sign a prescription drug bill, is he not?

    “Electing more fiscal conservatives to Congress…is the best way to shore up a more reluctant spender like Bush or oppose a more determined spender like (a Dwarf)”

    Although, I don’t think the facts warrant calling Bush a “reluctant spender” at all, I do think your remedy is perfect. Of course we have to make sure they vote like fiscal conservatives as well, especialy in the event of another Bush regime.
    Entitlement reform is an important consideration, I agree. Kudos on your Ag.Econ. degree!

  68. Jason,
    “but if politicians have to be altruistic to cut government spending, we are hosed.”

    They need to promote the positive aspects; less government meddling, making tax cuts possible, lowering costs of regulation etc.

  69. Thorley wrote:

    “Attempts to give credit to Clinton for them are simply disingenuous.”

    I agree completely. My point was not to give any credit to Clinton, but to the power of divided government.

    Listen, I don’t think there is anyway I could live with myself if I voted for Dean. But I do understand libertarians who might. There is a colorable argument that liberty would decline less quickly under a divided government.

    My take on it is this – it all boils down to what you believe GWB will do in his second term. Will he continue the trend towards empire and rolling back civil liberties or will he work on the fiscally conservative issues he’s talked about in the past, like Social Security reform?

  70. thoreau:
    “Either way, I don’t see how they deserve our unwavering, unflinching, unconditional support.”

    I agree, but some of them do deserve our support; (but, never “un” anything support) check out ntu.org to see which ones do. After 9/11 a “rally round the prez” mentality set in which made it harder to stand up against Bush’s big government agenda.

  71. Thoreau:

    I’m just saying that this idea–which I’ve heard bandied around by certain Dean-leaning libertarians–that Republicans are best as an opposition party is sheer b.s. A Dem in the Presidency will make Republicans in Congress weaker, more timid, and less politically competitive; will appoint a bunch of real statist lefties to all the administrative agencies, who will do all in their power to grab even more power than the Republican hacks in charge now; will take away fundraising power from all the Republicans you actually > like; and will screw every project you love. What to do? Ride out Bush with the comfort that at least he is providing a fundraising boost to future, better republican candidates.

  72. Herding cats…

  73. Fred-

    I agree that a Democratic President will use his office to do as many leftist things that he can (e.g. appoint statist lefties to various offices).

    But I disagree that the GOP will make Republicans in Congress “weaker, more timid, and less politically competitive”.

    The GOP spent 8 years investigating every allegation against Clinton made by anybody and everybody. Yes, some were warranted. Many, in fact. But some (e.g. allegation that Vince Foster was killed) were ridiculous. And whatever you might think of Monicagate, the Republicans were most definitely NOT “weaker, more timid…” during it.

    On the legislative record, aside from the points about declines in non-defense discretionary spending which have already been hashed out in this thread, they passed welfare reform. No, it wasn’t perfect, and yes, we should have welfare abolition instead of reform. But it was undeniable proof that the GOP fought back under Clinton. I’m sure there are other examples of the GOP fighting back under Clinton.

    The GOP would have laughed at the notion of a prescription drug plan if Clinton had proposed it. But it looks like a GOP Congress will enact such a benefit, in some form, at the behest of Bush. When a Republican President says “I need big government initiatives to be popular so I can have the clout to enact our platform”, the GOP complies. They destory the platform in order to save it… But if Gore were President and he said “I want to enact a prescription drug plan”, I guarantee you there would be more opposition in the GOP.

    Yes, I know, some Congressional Republicans will surely vote against a prescription drug bill. But in the end enough will do as Bush asks. And most of those who betray their ideals would refuse to do it if Gore asked.

  74. correction, when I said:

    But I disagree that the GOP will make Republicans in Congress…

    I should have said:

    But I disagree that a Democratic President will make Republicans in Congress…

    I started typing one thing, then revised, and was flaky and butchered the whole thing.

  75. Nice work, Julian. You really stirred it up this time. It’s all very interesting, but I’ll still be voting in the (L) column next year. I do think that divided government and gridlock are preferable to one party rule, but I think that things generally tend to that direction anyway. As everyone knows, the president’s party generally loses congressional seats in the midterm elections. We just had a bizarre series of events this time around. I’m confident things will be trending back into more predictable patterns for 2004, although I think the economy will have improved by then anyway, which could lock things in for four more years of Bush. Perhaps the best we can hope for is a big loss of (R) seats in 2006. *sigh*

  76. thoreau, see my posts way upstream. short version: the fight-back was short-lived and ended in failure with collapse of republican spine. in fact, republican wishy-washiness, in the policy realm, predated Bush II, and lasted throughout Clinton’s second term. impeachment, i’ll grant you, is a point in your favor, but that was not substantive or a matter of policy. just a fit of spite–Republican policy in “Clinton, The Second Term,” was dormant.

    clinton’s demolition of the only aggressive republican congress since the 1940s suggests substantive fight-back is not likely to be resurrected in a Dean administration. one more reason to think that once you let Dean in the door, we have given away the fort.

  77. Fred-

    It’s also possible that the GOP simply went too far, and opposition could have been sustained if they had stuck to opposing policies rather than trying to remove him altogether.

    I don’t want to refight all the impeachment arguments. So no matter what you think about the impeachment, there’s no denying that public opinion wasn’t exactly solidly in favor of Ken Starr and the impeachment managers. Maybe the public was brainwashed, maybe the public was savvy, maybe the public was amoral, whatever. Point is, the impeachment backfired, rightly or wrongly.

    But I can’t help but think that if the same amount of energy and time had been put into opposing Clinton’s policies and advancing other policies, maybe some good would have been accomplished. But they put it into a personal attack on a charismatic person, rather than “Look, we’re going to make America a great place by doing such-and-such…”

    In other words, I think the Republicans destroyed themselves. I don’t think Clinton did it. And I think that smarter leadership could lead to effective opposition and all the joys of divided government.

  78. For non-believers in divided governemnt:

    Since Reagan, the only Presidential term with a decline in real non-defense discretionary outlays was President Clinton’s first term – with Newt and the gang restraining the kooky spending proposals.

    http://www.cato.org/dailys/02-04-03-2.html

  79. SM,

    Wasn’t an important part of Hayek’s arguments the idea that Baconian-style logical deterministic dogma is insufficient to explain human activity?

  80. Julian’s excellent point could be restated this way: libertarians act as the “honest brokers” in American politics, and try to restrain the party that is inflicting the most damage on our tradition of liberty and limited government at the given moment. It made sense to support Republicans for Congress in ’94, to restrain Clinton’s excesses in domestic policy. It makes sense to support a viable alternative to Bush for President now, to curtail his excesses in foreign policy. It is no option to hope that Congress will change hands in 2006. The Executive will still control foreign policy.

  81. “the laissez-faire economics side of libertarianism tends to be downplayed in favor of the ultra-liberal social agenda, which many people find offensive.”

    You think no one finds the economics offensive? Get out more. People hate us for all sorts of reasons. (@ 11:37 PM)

    My response: I didn’t say people don’t find laissez-faire economics offensive. I claimed, and still do, that people are far more likely to be offended by the social policies. I think maybe you need to broaden your circles a bit; the average voter knows far more about how he feels on gay marriage than economics.

  82. “I’ll be honest. I dislike statist Republicans, but I am terrified of Democrats. Unlike Julian, I have always believed that the issues on which I disagree with Rs are much less likely to be converted to law. Abortion isn’t going anywhere. The excesses of church in public life have consistently lost in the courts.”

    really?????

    and we would have said that US PATRIOT was impossible, too. too much of this is dependent on rule of men, not rule of law.

    with the current administration’s fiscal policy and stance towards civil liberties, how could one not be worried about the trend now? where are all of those anti government militia types now?

    or is it because the target of the government is worse than godless kommies???

    good article. we’ve just renewed our subscription.

    ppptttffffff.

    with dignitude,
    drf

  83. Julian writes well, but the case *for* Howard Dean is pretty weak. The case *against* Bush for enlarging rather than curtailing entitlements is reasonable.

    Where I have a problem with Dean is that I see Dean and his supporters as wanting to have the U.S. comply more with the wishes of foreign elites. That is about as anti-libertarian as you can get, IMO.

  84. And here I thought that the Dems would cross the finish line first, in the race to political self-destruction and complete marginalization. Oh well, as long as we have lotsa porno and pot, and get rid of the Patriot Act and John Ashcroft, who cares.

    Social libertarianism… the opiate of the
    (m)asses.

  85. hey arnold,

    agreed. nice call.

    and apologies to Jason for the snarky “really”. (coffee is just setting in!!!)

    When it comes to collectivist thinking, both sides really worry the hell out of me. whether it’s being forced to do multikulti things (where the organizers like it, just because it’s “african” or some other fettishized “culture”) or when christians get all bent out of shape because non christians don’t wanna get their krap shoved in our faces.

    with the libertarian alternative “don’t take my money, don’t tell me how to live” being the best choice, i do not see in any way, shape, or form, how we get turned either into a cumbayah (leftie) or Kristliche Standestaat (conservative) nation, how one can fear one side more than the other…

    out of the un, out of the olympics… etc. etc. and “doot doot”

    cheers,
    drf

  86. BTW, I like the German allusion David F. It’s so clever, that I don’t know how you thought of it. Whether it’s Herr Ashcroft at the Staatliches Justizministerium, or the Heimats Sicherheitsdienst, the Patriotischer K?mpferor Held, or simply Bush=Hitler. Your reference was particularly clever, in that it invokes Bismarkian ideals… hmmm… as long as we are advertising our postmodernist ahistoricism, perhaps we could slam the administration for the 9/11 attacks and the war, and the steel tariffs, by saying it’s a revival of the Blood & Steel doctrine?

    Why, this all is nearly as original as calling Ted Kennedy a commie. I can’t wait for the next election season…

  87. DRF:

    No problem on the snark, it is part of the appeal of the forum.

    I don’t think you escape some version of PATRIOT with dems at the helm because it is a response to the always terrifying DO SOMETHING of public opinion. This is similar to arguments about drugs. The dems just aren’t any better.

  88. i think it is wrong we are locking up terrorists.

    i miss the days when cuban 5-year olds had submachineguns shoved in their face, when pregnate women were shot in the skull with high-powered rifles and we we could burn compounds of children to the ground.

    you know, the pre-ashcroft days of social liberty utopia.

  89. I like Clark but I’d vote for Dean. It’s probably easier for me to go Democratic than Republican because I was a Democrat before I became libertarian. The best thing about a Democrat in office right now is no more Ashcroft. 🙂 To me, social policy is more important than fiscal policy.

  90. See Dean run.
    Run Dean run.
    See Bush laugh.
    Laugh Bush Laugh.
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

  91. See Dean run.
    Run Dean run.
    See Bush laugh.
    Laugh Bush Laugh.
    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.

  92. Fiscal policy IS social policy.

  93. From Julian Sanchez’s article

    The mono-party regime of George W. Bush, who delivered a touching encomium to Milton Friedman mere weeks before signing new steel tariffs and a bloated farm bill into law, has increased domestic spending faster than conservative bete noire Bill Clinton.

    Refresh my memory, which party controlled the Senate when the farm bill was passed? And the education spending? Also when did Howard Dean come out against steel tarrifs?
    Julian Sanchez’s screed is a lesson in rationalization in which the Republican candidate will be condemned for every deviation from libertarian principles in order to justify voting for a Democratic candidate with not only the same deviations but worse ones at that. Bush has pushed for and gotten a tax cut, eliminated two despotic regimes which sponsored and harbored terrorists who attacked our nation (one of whom was trying to develop WMD), refused to bail out Enron (over the objections of Julian’s beloved Clinton administration’s Robert Rubin) or California for problems of their own making, nominated at least several strict constructionists to the federal bench, and pushed for some pretty decent regulatory reforms. He has also pushed for market-based health care reform (including in Medicare which he tied to a new prescription drug benefit), school vouchers (which keep coming back), tort reform, and when other Republicans were running away from it remained firm in his support for letting workers invest a portion of their FICA dollars to partially privatize Social Security. The latter initiatives have all been stalled by a Democratic-controlled Senate (first half – who passed most of the things Julian Says he does not like but somehow thinks makes the case for divided government) and a nearly evenly-divided Senate and are on the agenda for the second term when Republicans are expected to increase their majority and decrease the likelihood of a fillibuster.

    Question for the peanut gallery – WFB Jr always said that he voted for the most conservative (libertarian) candidate likely to get elected. What possible sense does it make to vote for Howard Dean or any other Democratic candidate who will (a) do most of the same things you criticize George Bush for doing and worse, (b) undo the good things you have to admit the George Bush has done, and (c) pretty much kill any chance we have of enacting market reforms in health care, education, and Social Security?

  94. Jefferson wrote:

    Since Reagan, the only Presidential term with a decline in real non-defense discretionary outlays was President Clinton’s first term – with Newt and the gang restraining the kooky spending proposals.

    I think if you go back and actually look at what made up the declien in “real non-defense discretionary outlaws” during Clinton’s first term, you’ll find that most of it was actually from the S&L bailout which occured during Bush 41’s term. It was a one-time increase in federal outlays and naturally it did not have to be paid a second time when Clinton took office so naturally federal outlays would decrease the following budget cycle.

  95. This may be the best Snachez article I have ever seen here.

  96. Arnold Kling wrote:
    “I see Dean and his supporters as wanting to have the U.S. comply more with the wishes of foreign elites. That is about as anti-libertarian as you can get”

    Good point!

    In view of Bush’s growing the government at the expansive rate he has and his hyper-interventionist foreign policy, and the Patriot act, where are we better off, since Bush made it, instead of Gore? The Tax cuts? Ok, but they were small and piecemeal. But… Gore would have surely committed us to the disastrous
    Kyoto Treaty. (Dean will too,will he not?) There are other UN entanglement threats that Dean would likely look upon with favor as well.

    So, what do we do about Bush then? How about mounting a principled Republican primary challenge? It would fail of course, but it could serve to move Bush in the right direction. Also, we should definitely prod the Republicans in congress (much more anti-big government then their Dem. counter parts) to resist Bush’s expansive agenda, in the same way they did with Clinton’s.

  97. Julian Sanchez wrote:

    In short Dean (or another Democratic nominee) has vices which are unlikely to translate into real policy. His virtues?opposition to an imperial foreign policy,

    You mean such as sending troops into Liberia? Or do you mean a foreign policy controlled by the United Nations (and thereby at the whims of the libertarian utopias of France, Germany, and Russia)?

    BTW there are quite a few libertarians who supported the War on Terrorism including the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, in which case Dean?s dovishness – except when the UN says ?jump? or there is no possible US interest in military action ? is hardly a virtue.

    greater support for gay rights,

    Not a libertarian issue outside of opposition to sodomy laws which were (wrongly) struck down by the SCOTUS. What we have left are attempts to infringe on freedom of association via ?anti-discrimination? and bias crime statutes ? both of which are advocated by non-libertarian homosexuals and opposed by libertarians.

    and even a qualified federalism, evidenced by his stance on gun rights

    Dean?s idea of a ?qualified federalism? seems to be that States ought to have the prerogative to enact gun control legislation above and beyond that of the federal government but the federal government should expand in other areas including controlling health care. What?s the libertarian upside again?

    ?are more likely to be points on which bipartisan coalition building is possible.

    Only if you believe in building a coalition with someone who has pretty much all of your former alley?s vices and none of his virtues.

    Let?s not kid ourselves, the manufactured ?libertarians for Dean? is little more than a political hissey-fit no more complicated then blaming Bush for everything he did which (some) libertarians do not like while trying to ignore or minimize the positive aspects of what he?s done and been trying to do in order to reward Democrats who would do and have supported all of the bad stuff Bush has done (agricultural subsidies, steel tariffs, increasing federal control of education), undermine the good things he?s done (tax cuts, regulatory reform), and kill any chance for some of the better things he?s been trying to do (market-oriented health care reform, school choice, Social Security privatization, tort reform, constructionist judicial nominees).

    It makes absolutely no sense to any rational and principled person which is why it is so obviously a put-up job.

  98. ” what made up the declien in “real non-defense discretionary outlaws” during Clinton’s first term, you’ll find that most of it was actually from the S&L bailout which occured during Bush 41’s term.”

    Not true. The S&L bailout was not counted as a discretionary outlay and not big enough anyway. The credit for decline in real non-defense discretionary outlays during Clinton’s first term
    goes to the Republican congress and Alan Greenspan’s admonitions.

  99. Does anybody here actually think it’s worthwhile to reach out to swing voters and people who think Democrats are the lesser evil? Or is the goal simply to either permeate or replace the GOP?

    Personally, I’d like to see a strong third option that is fiscally conservative and socially liberal, not “fiscally sort of conservative but mostly just better than the other guys and socially, well, um, social stuff doesn’t matter and the other guys aren’t too good anyway.”

  100. “Post all wailing, gnashing of teeth, rants about how the current staff has ruined Reason, announcements of canceled subscriptions and other correspondence below.”

    Wait, I’m supposed to be paying for this crap? But wouldn’t that be supporting the evil concept of intellectual property? After all, I’m just downloading data copies of formless thoughts onto my hard drive. No different from MP3s. If the Reason staff had the balls to live by their own philosophy, they wouldn’t dare charge for subscriptions.

  101. It’s often said that left-leaning libertarians don’t really care what the gov’t does as long as we have pot and porn. Not entirely true, but we could just as easily say that right-leaning libertarians don’t care about privacy or social engineering projects like bans on victimless crimes as long as they have guns and lower taxes.

    My problem with the drug war isn’t a burning desire to smoke pot (I’ve never used illegal drugs, I don’t even drink alcohol). It’s that this insane policy has reached its tentacles into so many other areas of policy: Finanical privacy (gone), foreign policy (Plan Colombia, plus the millions of dollars given to the Taliban in 2001 for allegedly cracking down on opium production), our vanishing Bill of Rights (the right to search and seizure was expanded long before the Patriot Act), public education (which admittedly should be privatized, but let’s not make a bad program worse by spending time and money on DARE programs that don’t work), health care (many doctors are afraid to prescribe appropriate pain relief for fear that they’ll be accused of aiding a junkie, when they’re just trying to aid a cancer patient), and it diverts law enforcement away from real crimes (rape, murder, robbery, theft, vandalism, etc.).

    I’m sure I’ve left things out. I think the point is that we left-leaning libertarians aren’t simply worried that a hippie won’t have the right to keep and bear bongs. We’re worried that this drug war is yet another excuse for the leviathin state to extend its tentacles everywhere. And to do so it will need to raise the taxes that “real” libertarians care about, and to fight the drug dealers it might pass more gun laws (something that “real” libertarians care about).

  102. Maybe the die-hard libertarian vote isn’t big enough or mainstream enough to make a tempting prize for either party. But there’s a much larger cohort of swing voters who are fiscally conservative and socially liberal. They might not want the full libertarian agenda (zero taxes, fully open borders, no gun laws, complete drug legalization, almost zero military engagements abroad, zero regulation, etc.) but they wouldn’t mind lower taxes, a little more immigration, looser gun laws, more liberal drug laws, a more cautious foreign policy, less regulation, etc.

    And if that cohort could make itself known I think the 2 parties would court them. In some sense they already do, each party offering that cohort half of what it’s looking for.

    If the LP found a way to reach out to that cohort without losing its virginity…um, I mean, absolute purity, a sizable swing bloc of voters could then be made visible to the two parties. That bloc would be heavily courted, and shrewd LP candidates might act as power brokers: Get 5% in the pre-election polling in a close race, then offer to endorse whichever candidate accepts a list of modest but meaningful demands.

  103. thoreau,

    The voting cohorts you’re talking about sound an awful lot like the Non-Partisan league that came to power in the upper Midwest around the WWI era. It was most successful in Minnesota, but controlled large voting blocs in several neighboring state legislatures. The idea was the league would select the candidate in every election who was friendliest to farmer interests, and all the membership (which included most of the farm population) would vote en masse for those candidates.

    The League’s downfall was the war hysteria and red scare, and their tarring as sympathetic to the Central Powers or the Bolsheviks.

  104. I read with amazement over the last few weeks the mini-trend of “libertarians for Dean” websites. I examined the official Dean website and decided Dean is NOT the answer to anyone I’d consider a libertarian. He’s for too many wrong things that in my mind greatly outweigh the few good things he wants.

    Aaron @ 06:01 PM, I agree with you.

    I won’t vote for a Democrat statist to get rid of a Republican statist. I’ll vote on principle, whomever that leads me to. As the only major say I have in government, it’s the only right thing I feel I should do. I’ve given up on the Republicans as a whole; the only way one of them gets my vote is if he or she can earn it, just like everyone else.

  105. On the shifting focus toward “free minds” over “free markets”:

    I like the cultural articles in the print edition. The article this month on the 1950’s film sensation “Mom and Dad” was interesting. I don’t Reason so that this choir singer can hear the preacher a little more. I read it for interesting articles, some of them directly pertinent to current events and others simply interesting stuff that a person can read and think “Hey, that’s pretty neat.”

  106. Rick Barton,

    Looks like we both might be right, from the February 1997 article of Reason (click on my name for the link to the article):

    Former Congressman Tim Penny and Stephen Moore of the Cato Institute state that between 1996 and 2002 “the federal government will borrow about $1.1 trillion less under the congressional budget than it would have otherwise” had not the GOP taken control of Congress in 1994. Indeed, the 104th Congress, not Bill Clinton, produced a real cut–not just reduced growth but a real cut–in discretionary spending of $53 billion. Christopher Frenze, chief economist to the Joint Economic Committee, notes further: “Of the $126 billion decline in the deficit between 1992 and 1995, $71 billion is accounted for by a continuation of the business cycle, $21 billion by swings in deposit insurance outlays related to the S&L problem, and $8 billion by spectrum auctions.” (emphasis added)

    The point with which I think we both agree, is that the reductions in discretionary outlays had little if anything to do with who was President. Attempts to give credit to Clinton for them are simply disingenuous.

  107. I haven’t even received my first issue of Reason yet (my Aunt and Uncle are getting me a subscription as a Christmas gift). I should have told them to stick with Reader’s Digest. 😉

    It amazes me how irrational most people are, in analyzing how to vote. I submit Julian Sanchez as Exhibit 1. He writes:

    “Of course, it might be objected that the natural candidate for a libertarian to support is, well, the Libertarian.”

    Yes. Obviously. But does this END Mr. Sanchez’s piece? No!

    “Yet people’s actual voting behavior indicates that our actual motives in the ballot box are more complex.”

    Beg pardon? I thought this was “Reason” magazine…not, “Amateur Psychoanalysis!”

    People, here are the FACTS:

    1) Your one vote will NEVER change the outcome of a Presidential election. In fact, I will be happy to bet anyone here $1, and give 100 to 1 odds, that your vote will not change the outcome of the Presidential election in 2004.

    2) It’s crazy to vote for someone who espouses some of your views, but not others, in preference to someone who espouses nearly all your views. It’s not like the ballot has checkboxes for WHY you voted for someone.

    If you’re REALLY a libertarian, it is completely irrational not to vote Libertarian.

    One would expect a magazine called “Reason” to point that out…rather than discuss why people do the irrational things they do.

    P.S. Julian Sanchez points out that perhaps the best thing would be to vote for someone who isn’t even on the ballot. That’s at least somewhat rational. But the problem is, if I write in “Joe Schmoe, Peoria, IL”…virtually no one will have any idea what “Joe Schmoe” stands for. (If, on the other hand, I write in “Larry Elder, Los Angeles, CA”…at least some people would have a clue where he stands for on the issues…)

    P.P.S. Summary: Again, vote Libertarian, people. At least at the federal level. It’s the only rational vote, if you truly are a libertarian.

  108. “The answer, of course, is that since we only get two flavors to choose from in a winner take all format,…”

    You do NOT have “two flavors to choose from.” In every state, a Libertarian was on the Presidential ballot in 2000.

    If you are a libertarian, you should have voted for the Libertarian. (It was Harry Browne in 49 states.)

  109. “Ron Paul clones, maybe?”

    Well, I guess I wrote to soon! 😉

    If you didn’t like Harry Browne, it WOULD be rational to write in “Ron Paul,” if your ballot allowed write-ins for President.

    But my main point stands: It was NOT rational for a libertarian to vote for G.W. Bush or Al Gore in 2000. And it will NOT be rational for a libertarian to vote for G.W. Bush or Howard Dean in 2004.

    Every true libertarian should vote Libertarian.

  110. Thoreau:

    “In other words, I think the Republicans destroyed themselves. I don’t think Clinton did it. And I think that smarter leadership could lead to effective opposition and all the joys of divided government.”

    I agree completely, and also with the sentiment that if weak Repubs act like Dems, why keep them around? The answer, of course, is that since we only get two flavors to choose from in a winner take all format, it is better to have someone who acts stupidly when they feel they have to than to have someone who is dedicated to stupid policies as a matter of ideology.

    Ron Paul clones, maybe?

  111. mr fetchit,

    i guess you’re content just blasting the one side.
    that’s fine.

    the kristliche standestaat was the term used by the conservative and religious elements in the austrian government in the late 20s. pre anschluss. they were anti nazi. they didn’t really like dollfuss, either.

    it was an obscure reference, but read your Z?llner’s Geschichte Oesterreichs to see how and why there are similarties between the austrian religious conservatives and some of the us rhetoric today.

    oh — from your comments, i’d guess you don’t know where austria is. it’s a little country in the center of europe, it’s west and south are mountainous, it’s eastern side is a plain that stretches out into the balkans. there are, mr. fetchit, no kangaroos there. the variety of german is analogous to irish: british english.

    und du kannst mich mal.

    hope that helps.
    drf

  112. As pointed out elsewhere in these comments, Dean’s ‘antiwar’ stance is a complete fraud.

    Perhaps libertarians should out their efforts toward taking the day off next election and volunteering as a poll worker — then REFUSING to certify fraudlent Diebold et al touchscreens, demanding recounts on scantrons, calling people voting for corpses, etc.

    Drawing more attention to the criminal activities of both the RNC and DNC would be an excellent way to build support for LP candidates in the future.

  113. apologies to Stephen Fetchit for my rudeness. uncalled for. sorry.

    drf

  114. I’m amazed at some of the vitriol against Julian’s article. Are you people really gullible enough to think that the Republicans have your interests at heart? And are you too blinded by partisanship to see that the Democrats do have some positions on which they are far more libertarian than the Republicans? Dean has had the guts to support a liberal/libertarian social agenda (gay civil unions, freer immigration etc.) and also takes positions that distinguish him from more establishment Dems (like supporting states’ rights positions in gun control and education). Bush has a reactionary social agenda, is committed to expanding the War on Drugs, fighting elective wars in the Middle East (Syria or Iran is probably next), has increased spending way more than Clinton did (not even looking at 9/11), and has made a mockery of the free trade advancements that Clinton made by raising steel tariffs 30% so he can get the steel states’ votes in ’04. Nolan (the probable LP candidate) is a very nice man who has NO CHANCE of being the next president. So why exactly is an article that claims Dean might not be so bad for libertarians worthy of cancelling your subscriptions? Whether Dean would live up to expectations is unknown; what is known is that Bush sure as hell has not. A libertarian continuing to support Bush makes a whole lot less sense.

    I’m involved with a group dedicated to the obviously uphill battle of making the Democratic Party more libertarian. Not surprisingly, the consensus in the group favors Dean. The address for the Democratic Freedom Caucus is and the listserve is .

  115. Lemme try that again. The address for the Democratic Freedom Caucus is http://www.progress.org/dfc and the listserve is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dfc_talk

  116. Hindsight is 20/20, so proceed with that in mind.

    But… if any “libertarian” (big L or small) voted for Dean NOW, wouldn’t it just exacerbate the perception that libertarians are nuts?

  117. EMAIL: pamela_woodlake@yahoo.com
    IP: 62.213.67.122
    URL: http://hosting.1st-host.org
    DATE: 01/20/2004 04:05:37
    That which does not kill us makes us stranger.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.