Call Him a Cranky Libertarian Conservative…

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The Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby on the, you know, debate last night:

Call me a cranky libertarian conservative, but just once I would like to hear a candidate for president answer a question by saying, "Sorry, the Constitution limits the role of the federal government—the issue you're asking about is one for the states or the private sector, not Washington."…

Perhaps the most interesting thing about last night's debate was the open and unabashed talk, especially by Bush, of religion and prayer. It was interesting not because it was unusual but precisely because it isn't. Unlike their counterparts in Europe, political leaders in American speak often of God and the influence of their faith. It is one of the things that most distinguishes American culture and politics—and I use "distinguishes" in both of its senses.

Still, I do wish Kerry would explain sometime why it is OK for his faith to shape his stands on social welfare programs and the environment when he vows never to let his stands on abortion and embryonic stem cells be shaped by that same faith. Just another Kerry contradiction, I suppose.

Whole thing here.

[Tip o' the hat to Ruthless]

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  1. Oh Jeff, we can dream, can’t we?

    I didn’t watch but 2 minutes of the debate, but what I did see was Bush getting extremely pissed-off after Kerry rattled off some list of things he was going to do or that Bush didn’t do, I don’t recall. The whole time Kerry was speaking, you could tell Bush was just dying to get his 2 cents in, and once it was his turn, he was visibly angry and even slapped the podium with some force. I thought it was funny.

    Needless to say, I’m not voting for either one of them. Not because of anything in the debates (I haven’t watched them), but because I’m going to vote libertarian like I do every election (except, I think, the first one I voted in back in the early 90’s, when I probably voted Dem because I didn’t know any better).

  2. The debate was between the candidates for president for the Republican and Democratic parties, and he wanted to hear someone stand up for limited, constitutional gubmint? Has he been living on a desert island somewhere for the past two decades?? He tuned in to the wrong debate if that’s what he was hoping to hear.

    Me, at this point I’m just hoping for someone who can keep a leash on the beast, and party affiliation doesn’t seem to help much in that regards.

  3. Why would he want the canidate to be sorry that the constitution limits the role of the federal government?

  4. I’m going to be voting Libertarian for the first time. It’s too late now, but after the election I’m also going to change to the Libertarian Party. I’ve done a great deal of soul searching recently and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m no Democrat, and the Republicans are not what they were a decade ago.

  5. Good for you, Jon! I’ll admit I’m more libertarian than Libertarian since the party does have it’s warts, but it’s so much better than the “two parties” we have now that I really don’t feel I have any other choice aside from, perhaps, simply being independant.

    But then, being a tin-foil hat kinda guy, I’ve always thought the 2 parties are really the same on about 90+% of the issues, and the illuminati who run the news organisations just like to focus on that 10% or less that makes them different so that they seem like they’re in some sort of competition. 🙂

  6. Ruthless,

    You big atheist you!

  7. The most recent presidential candidate who agreed with the Constitution’s limitted definition of government, Barry Goldwater, got his ass kicked 40 years ago.

    Maybe the best protest vote that could be made is to write his name in on the 2004 ballot. Doing so would be similar to the “none of the above” choice recommended here before, but more specific and meaningful. And I don’t see the harm in electing a dead man as President.

  8. The Libertarian Party doesn’t have to become very large before it would begin to influence the rhetoric, and eventually, the governance, of the major parties. I wonder how large it would have to become to gain any reasonable slice of media attention? Would 5% mean anything? Maybe if that 5% was sustained beyond a single election cycle, and some actual Libertarians were voted into the House.

  9. Jeff Jacoby writes:
    Still, I do wish Kerry would explain sometime why it is OK for his faith to shape his stands on social welfare programs and the environment when he vows never to let his stands on abortion and embryonic stem cells be shaped by that same faith.

    The obvious answer is that to agree with his church on abortion and embryonic stem cells, Kerry would have to advocate making abortion and embryonic stem cell research illegal. In the first two instances he can just advocate offering services. Summa summarum, I think Kerry’s explanation would have a lot to do with the whole “not legislating your faith on others” thing he has going (and Bush doesn’t).

  10. Of course, Fodderstompf, Kerry is legislating his faith on others when he directs the state to force me to tithe several times over to support the good works of others.

  11. “Of course, Fodderstompf, Kerry is legislating his faith on others when he directs the state to force me to tithe several times over to support the good works of others.”

    Indeed.

    It always cracks me up when I hear some liberal waxing indignant about “you can’t legislate morality”, when all the social welfare programs they support do exactly that. It’s mandating charity. That’s absoloutely legislating morality.

  12. “Of course, Fodderstompf, Kerry is legislating his faith on others when he directs the state to force me to tithe several times over to support the good works of others.”

    Indeed.

    It always cracks me up when I hear some liberal waxing indignant about “you can’t legislate morality”, when all the social welfare programs they support do exactly that. It’s mandating charity. That’s absoloutely legislating morality.

  13. R.C.,
    I get your point about gov’t tithing, and principle is a totally valid complaint on paying for publically-determined chrity. But I envy the high taxes that you pay, because you must be earning lots more than me. My wife and I make about $110k and only pay $6000 in fed taxes. We also pay $8000 or so in Soc. Sec. and Medicare taxes, but no one is talking about cutting those.

  14. R.C., Gilbert,

    You took the words right out of my mouth! I thought the same thing during the debate, why the pretense about “not legislating morality”? Perhaps because Kerry just substitutes God with “the greater good” or “society” or some other ambiguous modern diety.

  15. Good for Jacoby.

    Same thing applies to all those presidential polls out there, with their infuriating questions about “Who do you trust more to handle the economy?” or “Who will better handle health care?” and so on. Handle??? IT’S NOT A PRESIDENT’S JOB TO “HANDLE” THAT STUFF.

    Ugh.

  16. Isn’t a difference between “Eastern” and “Western” religions that Eastern religions don’t assume government is an agent of God?

    Just asking.
    Big atheist here.

  17. “Same thing applies to all those presidential polls out there, with their infuriating questions about “Who do you trust more to handle the economy?” or “Who will better handle health care?” and so on. Handle??? IT’S NOT A PRESIDENT’S JOB TO “HANDLE” THAT STUFF.”

    Yes and not a one of them has ever proven that they CAN “handle” that stuff.

    The economy is created by the private sector – not government. It is the private sector that enables government to exist at all in the first place – not the other way around.

    There has never been one single instance in the entire history of the world where any government on earth has ever successfully engineered a good economy.

  18. Instead there was talk of.. the need for more grade-school math and science…

    No hope for more grade-school ECONOMICS I suppose.

  19. “Still, I do wish Kerry would explain sometime why it is OK for his faith to shape his stands on social welfare programs and the environment when he vows never to let his stands on abortion and embryonic stem cells be shaped by that same faith.”

    Nick:
    Hopefully abortion and stem cells are over the line for Kerry to let his faith actively influence his policy decisions.
    Seems to me we have come to expect that politicians’ every opinion will lead them to push for laws shoving their views down the poeple’s throats. Isn’t a true democratic policy-maker one who refrains from this, recognising that others’ opinions also have merit?
    Expecting all-or-nothing stands from candidates for office logically leads them to avoid too much clarification, especially when the topic is dominated by highly polarised activists.
    I submit that few of the resulting absolutist approaches (zero-tolerance of any kind like harrassment, underage drinking, the war on drugs and so on) have done more good than harm.
    Except providing jobs and power to whole industries (social work, law-enforcement, psychologists).

  20. Isn’t a difference between “Eastern” and “Western” religions that Eastern religions don’t assume government is an agent of God?

    Not really. I’d say that it tends more towards the opposite, in fact. Hinduism explicitly endorses the idea that those born on top do so because they deserve to be. That’s not exactly endorsing government, but it is pretty hard to rebel against the social order when you don’t deserve any better than you already have. Confucianism is entirely about good government; it doesn’t really talk about “God” per se, but a good Confucian necessarily lets his religious beliefs affect his governance. Shintoism is effectively the established religion of Japan (might be legally so too; I can’t remember). It’s not a very onerous religion, but the emperor has religious duties under Shinto. Buddhism and Daoism aren’t as concerned with government as the others are. Buddhism has been established several places, though, notably under Asoka.

    Now, granted, the Eastern religions are less concerned with being exclusive; one could be a good Buddhist and a good Shintoist at the same time (and people often are in Japan). Christianity could have been a major force in China, had the pope in the 16th century just ratified the Jesuit formula that ancestor veneration wasn’t religious in nature but rather a state duty. But very often Eastern religions have viewed government as an agent of God just as much as Western religions have historically. True separation of church and state is a modern Western idea; even most radical fundamentalist Christian groups have basically accepted their role in modern Western society. Only the most fringe groups really want to restore a theocracy; most would be content with laws that would bring back the 1950s, which while repressive enough would not be exactly a “theocracy.”

    Just my $0.02, from a pretty moderate Christian position. 🙂

  21. Thanks grylliade,

    So I’m back to my contention that ALL religion is the “good cop” to government’s “bad cop”–in cahoots to subjugate the hoi polloi.

  22. I wonder if humans can live without religion. Whether the government becomes the religion or the religion is a seperate coexisting authority that shapes government.

    I don’t think humans can live without religion. I think you can only be an atheist in the shadow of a large religion.

    Just as satan worshipping is a form of christianiy, atheism is an ofshoot of Abrahamic religions.

    I hope I didn’t offend everyone with my outloud thought.

  23. Dammit, kwais, we’re evolving as fast as we can!

  24. “…atheism is an ofshoot of Abrahamic religions.”

    Kwais, the cheese has slid off your cracker. An atheist is someone who rejects of the arbitrary assertion that God exists.

  25. I think he means, if there was nobody around to make the assertion, there would be no one around to reject it.

    Hmm. Before Judaism, were there people who went around calling themselves atheists?

  26. Ruthless,

    Denying yourself a spiritual life because you’re pissed of one or more churches makes about as much sense as jamming ice picks in your ears because you’re pissed off at one or more music teachers.

    Yeah, I’m never going to listen to any music! Now who’s laughing?

  27. joe,
    Yeah, I hate it when I do this to myself.

    JDOG, I love you, man.

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