And They'll Cry If They Want To

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Quelle surprise; you whack at a few blogs in print, and those blogs decide to whack back at you. The "Lazy Gopher Pachyderm," a contributor to the Minnesota Republican blog "Kennedy vs. the Machine" (as in imploding Senate candidate Mark Kennedy), wheels out some tired "in my day, Reason was a good magazine" zingers and then attacks my methodology for studying GOP punditry.

Three paragraphs are spent roasting Hugh Hewitt for uncritically blessing very move by Bush and the GOP. Weigel's supporting arguments? Well, none really. We just have to take his word for it. Proof that Hewitt is barking up the wrong tree? Amazon's discount price for Painting the Map Red. Like that never happened before.

The lousy sales of Painting the Map Red were one data point I mustered; the others were falling Fox News ratings and bad numbers for most of the year's red-meat conservative books. Mindless, "Go Red Team Go!" Republicanism is experiencing a steep decline. If it was a stock, you'd short it.

… anyone who has heard Hewitt's show knows that the Weigel charge is fraudulent. Yes, Hugh does preach vociferously during this election season that "Republicans are better than Democrats." Yet any honest libertarian (and I have been known to vote that ticket) would grudgingly agree.

Way to prove my point. Serious conservatives (and serious boosters of the GOP) know that libertarians are leaving the GOP's electoral coalition in droves. They understand that libertarians are frustrated by the Republican party's (let's use neutral terms) policies on spending, education, health care, foreign policy and civil liberties in the Bush era. But how can the GOP change? If it wins another term in two weeks, will it understand that as a validation of Bush-style "conservatism"? Is the party interested in a debate on any of these issues? Not really; its boosters confront arguments by saying "Republicans are better than Democrats," so stop whining and enjoy Medicare Part D and Alberto Gonzales. No wondering why a Democrat who's only as bad on spending as Republicans, but better on civil liberties than they've been in years, is winning conservative hearts in Montana.

What probably really irks them about Hewitt is his assertion that to vote libertarian is to vote "losertarian" (as he said on his show this evening), and that he's launched more National Review type thinkers than Reason could ever dream of producing for their world view.

Terrific: The "there's more of us so we're right!" argument. Well, if Hewitt was so good at creating like minds, my worries about the GOP's big-government lurch would be moot; his Mule-like powers would be rocketing the party toward a landslide.

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  1. Awesome. The GOP punditry responds to the criticism that they only attack character and rarely back up their policy by……attacking your character. You don’t have a foundation for your arguments, except the one that you do have (the book sales), Weigel’s charge that Hewitt preaches that the GOPers are better than the Dems is fraudulent, except that it’s true and libertarians would agree, unless they are “losertarians” (*zing*, *yawn*). By Lazy Pachyderm’s logic, Brittany Spears is a better musician than Miles Davis. I love it when clueless posters prove the very point they set out to refute, including moi.

  2. Much as I might dislike some of the points of David’s original article, he’s right in pointing out the problems we libertarian minded folks face when voting for the GOP. I just don’t think a GOP loss right now would serve our long term interests due (primarily) to likely short term changes if the Dems take power.

    From a purely strategic view, if the GOP loses both houses they -will- be forced to rethink their stances, but we -also- then have to deal with the consequences of a Democrat congress under a nearly-never-vetoes president. If the Republicans can pull off a very very narrow victory, the soul searching on their side may not be as deep, but it will happen anyway. Republicans, by and large, -are- sick fo the current situation as well.

    I actually think that fleeing to the Democrats is less of a winning strategy than, say, pointing out over and over again where the GOP has left its own foundations. David’s been good about that, and I hope he continues, but the battle here is to win minds and hearts, not to alienate them, and I don’t think the GOP as an entity responds well to deffecting factions. They don’t seem to learn on that end. It would far better, I think, for us all to slap our estranged GOP friends across the face and say “Hey, what the hell are you doing? Is this what you want?”

    I may not like David’s conclusions, or agree with them, but he’s got the right idea when it comes to the trend, and if the GOP doesn’t shape up, I think David’s viewpoint will be vindicated, much to the chargin of practical libertarians.

    Our position should be to remind our Republican friends (and I mean our actual friends, not the faceless organization) how narrow their margin is, how they are moving away from their ideals, and how we would like them to get back on course.

    The GOP has been the natural ally of libertarians for a long time, and we’ll be worse off if we lose that. I don’t see the Dems (overall) moving libertarian. Quite the contrary, the are jerking leftward. There are a few exceptions, and good ones at that, Democrats I would vote for who have the right idea, but they don’t represent the core. I think the core of the GOP is still libertarian at heart, but that they are being largely ignored.

    Like I said, I think we should each try to have a little conversation with some GOPers we know, and let them understand how they are pushing away their own ideals and in the process pushing us away. I think the response from most will be positive.

  3. Mindless, “Go Red Team Go!” Republicanism is experiencing a steep decline.

    And a good thing, too.

    How about mindless “Go Blue Team Go!” Democratism?

  4. “The GOP has been the natural ally of libertarians for a long time, and we’ll be worse off if we lose that.”

    Natural ally? The modern Republicans spend money like, well, Democrats and they crap all over personal liberties. With allies like this, who needs France?

  5. damon – your argument was as unpersuasive to me as my dem friends’ arguments about voting for Kerry were last election.

    I’m going to vote for the candidate that mostly reflects my views, so I’ll be voting libertarian.

  6. have to deal with the consequences of a Democrat congress under a nearly-never-vetoes president

    Do you REALLY think that he will continue to “almost never veto” if the Congress goes Dem?

    I don’t. I think we will see the veto return with a vengence.

  7. But did Pachyderm’s post accomplish it’s real mission of *getting a favorable link from Hugh Hewitt? THAT’S the essential question here.

  8. What r4d20 said.

  9. Lowdog,

    Maybe it was unpersuasive because you didn’t read it. I wasn’t trying to persuade anyone to vote for either party. What I am suggesting is that we try to push the Republicans back toward libertarianism, and not think that deffecting will teach them the lesson. There are many good reasons to vote against the GOP, but teaching them a lesson isn’t one of them. It’s not likely to work.

    As for the natural ally argument, the GOP -has- been, much more so than the DNC. Yeah, you can look at the last 8 years and say “what the heck” but does anyone have any doubt that the Democrats would be worse? The GOP, largely, still believes in smaller government, even if GOP legislators apparently do not. The problem is a leadership defficiency, an unfortunate reality of almost any party that stays in power too long.

    But tell the Dems are more likely to reduce the size of government and support free-er markets? Pah. If they win, please meet me back here in four years so I can watch you eat your own hat! =)

  10. “What I am suggesting is that we try to push the Republicans back toward libertarianism, and not think that deffecting will teach them the lesson.

    The GOP does not believe in small government. It believes in winning elections and retaining political power.

    I have no desire to teach Republicans a lesson because I do not believe they can be taught. The GOP platform is dominated by religious conservatives who have positions based on personal faith. Do you think libertarians have some mystical ability to convince Republicans to go “Pro Choice”? Many libertarians cannot even convince family members to allow them to come to holiday dinners again.

    I have lost any faith that an American political party will reduce the size of government. My only hope is that we can find someone willing to defend a few personal freedoms.

  11. pointing out over and over again where the GOP has left its own foundations

    Hate to break it to you, but those fantastic 75% off coupons in your hand are only redeemable at the Creation Museum.

    No Six Flags for you.

  12. have to deal with the consequences of a Democrat congress under a nearly-never-vetoes president

    I want to see a democratic congress just so they can affix non-committee-approved stem cell riders to every bill that they pass.

  13. The GOP has been the natural ally of libertarians

    Actually, the GOP and the Dems are a natural ally of power. I think we have to make sure that they stay in check (voting gridlock). Party loyalty is so thick that the check and balances that are in the Constitution do not seem to work too well right now (at least to my satisfaction).

    The problem is a leadership defficiency, an unfortunate reality of almost any party that stays in power too long.

    The reason to vote out the GOP to let some fresh faces in the next time around.

    I think, for us all to slap our estranged GOP friends across the face and say “Hey, what the hell are you doing? Is this what you want?”

    Right now, I have a feeling that our GOP friends will say “Yes.”

  14. The way you steer a political party is not from the outside, by your vote in general elections, but from the inside, as a volunteer. If it’s the Republicans you seek to influence, then get involved with them locally.

  15. When the Democrats retake the House this year, and the Senate in 1998, it will largely be on the strength of pro-gun, fiscally-conservative, business-friendly candidates in the west, mid-west, and in Republican (1959 definition) areas of the northeast. Remind you of anybody?

    It is highly unlikely that the Democratic Party as a whole will become libertarian. But since when has the Democratic Party done anything as a whole? Say what you will about the Democrats, but they have never failed to carve out a place in their coalition for electoral minorities that can get them a few points.

    Libertarian-types can either be a Democratic faction that controls 100% of a discreet segment of the Democratic platform (like the feminists or teachers union), or you can continue to be a Republican faction that controls 0% of the unified Repubican platform that the imperialist, Christian-Right leadership sends down for you to approve.

    It’s time to draw up the Christmas list, folks. Just don’t get greedy.

  16. Dear Santa,

    1. Divided government.

    Jose

  17. For all the bitching about lost civil liberties can someone please give me one concrete example of a civil liberty that they had in 2000 that they don’t have now. Did they take away free speech? Freedom of assembly? Gun Ownership? Freedom of Religion (or lack thereof)? Anything??? Please cite civil liberty and where found in the US constitution.

  18. You frame the question very poorly, Mark. Just because I am not detained in Gauntamano Bay (at the moment) does not mean I am not concerned about the loss of due process rights (5th and 14th Amendments). A better question: Can one cite examples where civil liberties have been diminished by the United States government over the past six years? I don’t know about your copy of the U.S. Constitution, Mark, but I think the Patriot Act tramples on the 4th Amendment. Of course, I can’t be sure if my rights have been violated since any electronic surveillance of me as a potential terrorist is protected as classified information. But hey, we are “at war” so it’s all good… right?

  19. Do you think libertarians have some mystical ability to convince Republicans to go “Pro Choice”?

    No. I would like to be able to convince them to stop attempting to exert ownership of my person.

  20. Jose,

    You’re in luck!

    Nobody, but nobody, can do infighting and division like a Democratic majority.

    Boxer and Tester sittin’ in a tree…

  21. >Please cite civil liberty and where
    >found in the US constitution.

    The constitution doesn’t grant civil liberties, it grants government powers. So the question isn’t where the constitution grants us a right to this or that liberty–it’s where the constution grants the government the power to infringe on this or that liberty.

    As to things I had the liberty to do in 2000 that I no longer have, how about:
    1. My liberty to relax after work with a nice game of internet poker.
    2. My liberty to purchase TV time to call McCain a skeezy doo-doo head.
    3. My liberty to educate my child according to what I think they ought to learn instead of what a federal beuracrat thinks they ought to be taught.
    4. My liberty not to contribute to religious groups I disagree with (aka Faith Based Initiatives)
    5. My liberty not to buy medicine, highway bridges, levees, indoor rainforests, etc. for complete strangers that I could care less about.

  22. There are a lot of Americans who think they are libertarians because they are pro-gun ownership and don’t like paying taxes. And that’s about the extent of their libertarianism – I call these the “Glenn Reynolds Libertarians.” A lot of Republicans assume that most of the rest of libertarian philosophy is simply window dressing and as long as the GOP is not trampling on gun owners’ rights nor raising taxes it is every libertarians’ duty to continue to vote for the GOP. And these same Republicans are completely shocked when libertarians start complaining about our actual liberty being infringed upon.

  23. David,

    For the record, “Lazy Gopher Pachyderm” is not a contributor to Kennedy vs. The Machine. In fact, we have sparred quite a little bit — like when I demanded that Speaker Hastert not run again for Speaker in the less-than-likely event the GOP retains the House.

    While I acknowledge some of your arguments in “I Just Blogged”, I should point out that Kennedy vs. The Machine has been highly critical on Rep. Kennedy’s position on, among other things, ANWR. We have also been repeatedly critical of Governor Pawlenty and the same day your article appeared online I encouraged 5th CD readers to support a left leaning independent candidate for Congress over the endorsed GOP candidate.

    We also sparred both on the blog and personally with Hugh Hewitt over his support of Harriet Miers last fall. We are not a “my party, right or wrong” blog.

    FWIW.

  24. What Gary said.

    This would be fun if David and Lamar understood what I wrote. For one, I never made the “more = right” argument. Never have, never will.

  25. – You could also download music for free technically then but that was illegal too. You can still play internet poker just not for cash. It was illegal then and is still illegal.
    -2. My liberty to purchase TV time to call McCain a skeezy doo-doo head. – Agreed, this violates the 1’st ammendment.
    -3. My liberty to educate my child according to what I think they ought to learn instead of what a federal beuracrat thinks they ought to be taught. – Ever hear of home schooling. This is no different than 2000, the federal govenment always dictated a national curriculum.
    -4. My liberty not to contribute to religious groups I disagree with (aka Faith Based Initiatives) – Others have been forced to contribute to causes they don’t agree with, see Union dues where the money goes to the Democratic candidate though many members don’t support this.
    -5. My liberty not to buy medicine, highway bridges, levees, indoor rainforests, etc. for complete strangers that I could care less about. – Sorry the government spent money on projects people haven’t liked since it’s inception, this is not a new occurance.

    One out of five. Aside from the campaign finance restrictions there is nothing new that has occured in the past five years. To Jose and his electronic wire tapping worries, this is no different than organized crime wire taps.

  26. >It was illegal then and is still illegal

    Only in certain states. Now it’s illegal everywhere.

    >Ever hear of home schooling. This is no
    >different than 2000, the federal govenment
    >always dictated a national curriculum.

    Suppose the government passed a law making it illegal to buy guns. Would someone saying ‘well, you can still make your own’ seem an acceptable alternative to you? And contrary to your assertion, there was not a dictated national cirriculum prior to 2000.

    >Others have been forced to contribute to causes
    >they don’t agree with, see Union dues where the
    >money goes to the Democratic candidate though
    >many members don’t support this.

    So if someone stole $100 from you last week, it’s okay for you to steal $1000 from me today?

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