Take That, Bob Barr!

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Professor John Hospers, the Libertarian Party's first presidential candidate, comes forward with an endorsement in this year's election. By now it's a truism that 9/11 opened a hole in the space/time continuum, turning up into down, left into right, hawks into doves, white into black, cats into dogs, and so on. Pat Buchanan's magazine makes the case for a candidate the Republicans keep telling me stands to the left of Castro. Bob Barr is voting against the staunchest family-values conservative to occupy the White House in our time. The last Trotskyite is making the case for Bush. Now gallant Hospers, Mars in swathling clothes, says "Fie upon this quiet life! I want work." A sample:

The election of John Kerry would be, far more than is commonly realized, a catastrophe. Regardless of what he may say in current campaign speeches, his record is unmistakable: he belongs to the International Totalitarian Left in company with the Hillary and Bill Clintons, the Kofi Annans, the Ted Kennedys, and the Jesse Jacksons of the world. The Democratic Party itself has been undergoing a transformation in recent years; moderate, pro-American, and strong defense Senators such as Zell Miller, Joe Lieberman and Scoop Jackson are a dying breed…

Today's Democrats have been out of majority power for so long that they are hungry for power at any price and will do anything to achieve it, including undermining the President and our troops in time of war; for them any victory for Americans in the war against terrorism is construed as a defeat for them…

[George W. Bush's] great virtue, however, is that he has stood up—knowingly at grave risk to his political viability—to terrorism when his predecessors, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton did not… He decided that action had to be taken to protect us against future 9/11s involving weapons of mass destruction, including "suitcase" nuclear devices…

Bush cut income tax rates for the first time in fifteen years. These cuts got us moving out of the recession he inherited, and we are all economically much better off because of them… [Bush has] other projects in the wind for which libertarians have not given him credit. For example:

(l) A total revision of our tax code. We will have a debate concerning whether this is best done via a flat tax or a sales tax…

(2) A market-based reform of Social Security….

When the stakes are not high it is sometimes acceptable…. But when the stakes are high… imperative… not…philosophically ideal…best one available… forthcoming election…Republicans or the Democrats… undeniable reality… as close as it was in 2000… critical "Battle Ground" states… presidency itself… situation in which we find ourselves… And that is why I believe voting for George W. Bush is the most libertarian thing we can do.

Hospers was long before my time, but this strikes me as moderately big news. Some movement types, however, note his history with the Randoid, pay-80-percent-for-defense wing of the party, which indicates this endorsement is no more surprising than The Nation's quadrennial don't-run message to Ralph Nader.

Full text, with reader comments and an envoi calling Hospers "Dr.," right here.

NEXT: Fool Me Once

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  1. Bwahahaha! This is the best piece of satire I’ve read in ages. “A total revision of our tax code. We will have a debate concerning whether this is best done via a flat tax or a sales tax.” Too rich! Gee, I wonder which is tastier, the arsenic or the strychnine? Let’s have a debate.

  2. “Libertarians” such as Hospers make me sick. Typical state worshipping crap such as this:

    “But as Ayn Rand memorably said at a party I attended in l962, in response to complaints that “taxes are too high” (then 20%), “Pay 80% if you need it for defense.” It is not the amount but the purpose served that decides what is “too much.”

    Yeah, I mean, if the government fails to protect us when taking only 20% of our income why not just allow ’em to rob us even more. After all, it’s for a “greater purpose,” right? And I had this crazy idea that libertarians wanted less government and not a military state. Silly me.

  3. I know George Bush has plans for many things. A humble foreign policy, if I recall correctly. Fixing relations with Mexico. Bringing honor and fiscal responsibility back to the White House.

    Oops.

    I like the part where Hospers talks about George Bush addressing terrorism “at great political risk” to himself. Um, any President who failed to address terrorism POST-9/11 did so at great physical risk to himself, fuck political. The grave political risk would have been, I dunno, doing something about terrorism by 9/10/01. Nobody cared. That’s when it’s tough and risky to Do Something.

    But boy you can get a round of applause for shutting the barn door after that horse has left.

    George Bush has had ample opportunity to push for something other than some measly tax cuts in what I’m afraid was a Keynesian, rather than supply-side effort to remediate the recession. School choice? Not much. Lifting the regulatory burden? For chosen contributors, on occasion. Tax reform? Nothing so far. Non-defense spending reductions? Makes his own dad look thrifty.

    I just look at this guy’s record and wonder what Bush supporters like Virginia Postrel expect to get out of him that is measureably better than John Kerry? Back when the choice was unknown George W against known devil Al Gore, I could see it (and did indeed agree), but now, there’s really no excuse, unless you believe that Democrats are so eager to commit political suicide that they’ll start appeasing every terrorist that comes along, France-like. Yeah, 9/11 Changed Everything ™, but it changed on both sides of the fence.

    Who’s dumber, the dummy, or the dummies who still vote for the dummy after the dumb things they’ve seen him do?

  4. And that is why I believe voting for George W. Bush is the most libertarian thing we can do.

    And that is why I belive that you, Sir, are not a libertarian.

  5. “Libertarians” such as Hospers make me sick. Typical state worshipping crap such as this:

    “But as Ayn Rand memorably said at a party I attended in l962, in response to complaints that “taxes are too high” (then 20%), “Pay 80% if you need it for defense.” It is not the amount but the purpose served that decides what is “too much.”

    Yeah, I mean, if the government fails to protect us when taking only 20% of our income why not just allow ’em to rob us even more. After all, it’s for a “greater purpose,” right? And I had this crazy idea that libertarians wanted less government and not a military state. Silly me.

    Word.

    …And if that’s not fantastically odd enough for you, Peikoff is backing Kerry.

    Wha?! Peikoff? Reasonable? Great holy conster-pation!

    I mean, seriously, I had to make up/mangle a word just to describe my feelings on the subject. Imagine if this were in some kind of non-internet setting!

  6. Tim,

    Thank you, thank you, for the Hotspur/Hospers pun. I needed that.

  7. “International Totalitarian Left…like Bill Clinton?” Aye, Comrade.

    I had no idea the contemporary Libertarian Party had become MORE mainstream, centrist, and sane.

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  9. Sandy:

    “that they’ll start appeasing every terrorist that comes along, France-like.”

    When did France appease terrorists? You don’t think that refusing to give Bush and his cronies a blank check appeasment, do you?

    From the article:

    “moderate, pro-American, and strong defense Senators such as Zell Miller..”

    moderate: any one who agrees with me regardless of what they and I believe in.

  10. I take offense…

    Most certainly, Rand would nothave said to surrender 80% for defense if the government could do the job in 20…hence why she said “if you NEED it”…and I agree, because that is the lone purpose of the state and the only way to defend society.

    Maybe some should think before they write and reflect what NEED means.

  11. This thread has made me laugh out loud.

    Thank you, Mr. Hospers, for a good laugh.

  12. I was wondering why a Libertarian would appear on EnterStageRight… until I read the article. Zell Miller is moderate? The Democratic party is a haven for anti-Semites and racists?? I guess up really is down, and left is right. Yikes.

  13. Christ, I bought this guy’s book (used, but still – ewwww…)

  14. Pedro,

    Hospers used to make sense. This letter reads like the ramblings of a madman.

    Personally I think his brain has gone soft.

    Murray Rothbard endorsed Bush I in ’92. I attributed that to senility too, and he was only in his 60s. Hospers is 86 years old.

  15. Tim Cavanaugh: you don’t have it exactly right.

    9/11 didn’t really “turn” people’s basic premises around.

    It merely revealed them.

  16. Ayn Randian:

    Oh okay I forgot…the state is funded not on aggression against its citizens but on voluntary payments only when needed, right? Yeah I didn’t think so. “Pay 80%” is not a polite suggestion based on “need,” it’s a direct order when issued by the state.

  17. Did it? I wonder whether how much of the “great divide” is really about fundamental value differences and how much about rather more pedestrian instrumental disagreements. The idea that Bush supporters have glommed on to the rare insight that we’re at war with medieval fanatics while everyone else is wondering how to most effectively placate Osama doesn’t map terribly well onto the actual debates I’m seeing. Most of the actual disagreements seem to be about empirical consequences, about which strategy will most effectively dismantle existing terror networks and stanch the spread of Islamist ideology. Less intellectually thrilling, granted, than a deep chasm between conflicting metaphysical first principles, but probably more productive.

  18. “The idea that Bush supporters have glommed on to the rare insight that we’re at war with medieval fanatics while everyone else is wondering how to most effectively placate Osama…”

    That doesn’t map terribly well with what many people seem to be saying either, but who am I to criticize?

  19. Julian, it seems to me that most of the post-9/11 arguments I’ve been following, including those at libertarian sites and journals, have to do with a lot more than just prudential disputes over strategy or policy.

    From clashing “metaphysical first principles” that you seem to dismiss emerge entirely opposing views of and answers to such “empirical” issues as:

    the nature and motives of our adversaries;

    the proper role and scope of government (if any), both generally, and specifically in addressing the threat of Islamic terrorists;

    the validity and justification of competing foreign/defense policies, including military pre-emption, containment, isolationism, the “law enforcement” model, unilateralism, international consensus-building, etc.;

    if and when to engage in (or permit) international trade, and with whom;

    what to do about immigration and privacy in the context of a terrorist threat;

    and a whole lot more.

    It makes a big “empirical” difference, after all, if Islamic fundamentalists merely want to force an “imperialistic” U. S. out of the Middle East, or want to annihilate the U. S. because we represent hated Enlightenment values.

    All of us operate on such basic assumptions, whether explicit or tacit; they filter our interpretations of events and of the “empirical” world; and those interpretations necessarily affect our actions and responses.

    Better that we acknowledge these differences on “first principles” and hash them out, than pretend that we’re simply wrestling over the relative practical merits of various policies.

  20. I voted to nominate Dr Hospers at the 1972 convention, because he was the only person with any credentials who would agree to run. I opposed in principle running a candidate for President when the Party had so little organization, but I voted for Hospers because it was clear the convention would nominate someone.

    Had he not been nominated for President, his remarkably insane screed against John Kerry would not get any attention at all. It is another argument in favor of the Libertarian Party concentrating on lower level races.

  21. Matt

    Sorry, national defense should not be voluntary, even the LP states that the only legitimate function of the state is national defense and the protection of rights, unless you are an anarcho-libertarian, in which case you just support any group that becomes more powerful crushing others, rather than constitutionally limited, objective government.

    Next time, try to be a little less reflexive…that popping sound will be the extraction of your cranium from your seat cushion.

  22. First of all, this makes no sense at all:

    “…unless you are an anarcho-libertarian, in which case you just support any group that becomes more powerful crushing others, rather than constitutionally limited, objective government.”

    Secondly, I find it quite humorous that you think taking my money by force “protects my rights.” I call it a violation of my rights. Unless of course I have no inherent right to keep what I earn.

  23. I think Hospers may well be right on the tax issue. I keep seeing indications that a second Bush term might see some genuinely radical tax reform, with flat tax or even the abolition of income tax, replaced with a sales tax, as genuine possibilities. And that many libertarians are too anti-Bush at this point to see it, or even care.

    Many no doubt think what we need at this point is real spending cuts, and that without that further tax reform doesn’t actually do us any good. Still, it’s worth noting: there may be something truly radical brewing. Or it may just be silly pre-election hype.

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