Tales from the 109th Congress


I only got around to reading this entertaining and prescient pre-election column by Ron Hart today. But it's worth a look. A snippet:

The untold reality of this election is not the soccer moms or Reagan Democrats who are supposedly the "swing vote." Libertarians, who are a growing force in this country (by some accounts 13 percent) are the ones who will decide the election.

Like many libertarians, I am disappointed in the Republican Party as portrayed by the neocons. Of late, I have shed one belief of the GOP for another. It is no longer the party of limited government, reduced spending and individual freedom. After their deft touch on Iraq, Katrina relief, immigration and the bloated Transportation Safety Administration, I think we should demand less from government; not more.

The GOP has become the party of big government, driven by the narrow social agenda of the religious right. The Democrats are big government, too, and driven by the social agenda of the left. Sadly, our choice is the lesser of two evils. Perhaps the Whig party will have a candidate this year?

Whole thing here.

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  1. My home state, Colorado, is so damned libertarian that just yesterday they voted to enshrine the “traditional” definition of marriage and a permanent, inflation-adjusted rise in the minimum wage in the constitution, against the decriminalization of the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana, and against domestic partnerships. Ugh.

  2. …Katrina relief…

    Nick, the repubs earned abuse on the other issues, but why Katrina? I’ve never understood why libertarians criticize the federal government for not solving an individual/local problem. Yes, the federal government should never have helped protect NO from hurricanes in the first place, but why should the feds be responsible for bailing them out? The only government solution to this is to spend more money. At every level the government has been incompetent, but do libertarians really expect better?

  3. Stuart,

    Perhaps you don’t realise that the govt actually hindered relief efforts?

    I am of the opinion that if government officials had done nothing, the people living in the affected areas would have been better off than they were as a result of the government’s actions.

  4. …Katrina relief…

    There is no shortage of Katrina relief from the Feds. It’s 15 months later and there are people down there with their rents and bills STILL being paid by FEMA.

    ACCESS TO Katrina Relief is a different story.

    And this guy may not have been right about all races, but the LP beat the spread in at least four races that I’ve seen so far. THAT is deciding elections.

  5. I have shed one belief of the GOP for another. It is no longer the party of limited government, reduced spending and individual freedom.

    See, this always confuses me. When has the GOP ever been for limited government and reduced spending? I’ve said it before and I must say it again. You can’t subsidize agriculture and industry, ignore insane amounts of waste in the military, and continue to support the failed, destructive, ridiculously expensive war on drugs and claim to be for small government and individual freedom. No one, except Republicans, will take you seriously.

  6. When has the GOP ever been for limited government and reduced spending?


  7. When was Goldwater ever the GOP?

  8. Les hits the nail on the head. Using the credit card to give the Pentagon whatever it wants while prosecuting the drug war isn’t much better than taxin gto support social programs while prosecuting the drug war.

    And if you also use that credit card to buy free pills for old folks? Just downright shameful.

  9. When was Goldwater ever the GOP?


    and really, in 1974 too, as the guy who finally tipped the scale for nixon’s departure.

  10. When was Goldwater ever the GOP?

    From about 1972 through about 1982

  11. Les:

    See, this always confuses me. When has the GOP ever been for limited government and reduced spending?

    Reagan oversaw an actual decrease in discretionary spending. The rate of growth in total spending fell off drastically from Carter. And the Federal register, a monitor of all federal regulations actually shrank! BTW, The rates of job growth and personal wealth increase responded by setting new records.

    Also, the GOP Contract with America congress pushed for some cuts and got them in gridlock with Clinton.

    Of course, Bush is a Big Government advocate.

  12. GOP congress members tend to vote in a more fiscaly frugal manner than both their Dem counter-parts and what the Bush administration advocates for spending

    But with Bush leading the way, the result has been record levels of spending.

  13. Rick,

    I’m always reading contradictory accounts of Reagan’s time in office. Sometimes he cuts spending, sometimes he increases it and raises taxes. I honestly don’t know what to think of his economic record. If you can recommend a non-partisan source, I’d appreciate it.

    Regardless, he did treat the military as if it could never have a big enough budget and he strongly supported the war on drugs (not to mention terrorists trying to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nicaragua). I just can’t make that jibe with the notion of the GOP working for “limited government and individual freedom.”

  14. Right Les,

    There are plenty of contradictory information on his fiscal record, but one thing stands above. You can’t build a 800 ship Navy without spending an incredible amount of money. If a President has to raise taxes in his first term is probably because of the spending of the prior President. I’m speaking of Bush “Read my Lips” Sr.

  15. Between the abysmal Libertarian record o both parties, and the futility of a single vote, as pointed out by many Reason staffers: I have started actually voting Libertarian. There are no lesser of the evils in either major party currently. Since my vote is mainly symbolic, I am hoping that enough will do this to at least send a message to both parties.

    BTW: In my local races, if only one major party praticipated in a race, the Libertarian candidate got a healthy 20-30%. Don’t know if that was just general protest against the all but unopposed candidate, or Libertarians freed of their feelings of needing to vote for a major party so their vote would not be “thrown away”. Makes you think though, that sort of percentage in a race where both parties participated would gather some notice.

  16. Great column. I have heard of this Hart guy, he is really good. I think he was a Republican appointee to the Board of Regents.
    The libertarians amoung us will determine future elections…he is right.

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