Politics

Conserberaltarians

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Virginia Postrel zeroes in on what has bugged me the most about the response to Brink Lindsey's "Liberaltarians" article:

…it seems much clearer to me than to many other commenters that Brink Lindsey's TNR article is proposing an intellectual and policy alliance/debate, along the lines of the fusionism on the postwar right, not a short-term partisan political coalition to win the 2008 election. The stuff about 13 percent of the vote is mostly news-peg boilerplate. That's how you get TNR and the WaPost to pay attention. It's as irrelevant today as it was in the 1950s just how many libertarian-identified voters there are. The point is to talk seriously about policy ends and means and the role of market processes in serving liberal (in all senses of the word) values.

I'll add that just as libertarians have more to offer than a pathetic voting bloc, the left has more to offer than the pathetic Democratic Party. I really don't see much hope at all for turning the Democrats in a libertarian direction (though I'll cheer on anyone who's willing to try), but I know plenty of people who reflexively vote Democratic (when they vote at all) but are easily 80% libertarian in their own attitudes. Call them Whole Earth Catalog libertarians, Santa Fe Institute libertarians, bOING bOING libertarians. They appreciate spontaneous order, entrepreneurship (many of them are entrepreneurs themselves), decentralization, free expression, and peace. The hard-core do-it-yourselfers among them (and the veterans of the New Left) also appreciate the widespread private ownership of guns. They might not agree with everything in Brink's article, but hey, neither do I. That's fine. It's a big tent.

Another pet peeve: Why does this have to be discussed as a "divorce" from the conservative movement? A divorce from the Republican Party, sure—my hat's off to Ron Paul and a few others in the GOP, but the Republican establishment is as hostile to liberty as the Democratic leadership, maybe more so. But there's plenty of 80%ers on the right, too, and I'm as happy to hang out with them as I am to hang out with friendly liberals, friendly leftists, and friendly counterculturalists. There are many lefts, and there are many rights. We don't have to marry any of them, and we don't have to divorce any of them either. Insert the free-love metaphor of your choice here.

NEXT: Why Is This Mel Smiling?

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  1. “Just as libertarians have more to offer than a voting bloc…”

    But you can’t offer them free money, and that’s all that matters.

  2. Anybody know a good libertarian magazine I can subscribe to?

    You know, one that may not be satisfied with the last couple years or the Iraq war but still understands that every Democratic victory inches us closer to social democracy and then tyranny?

  3. Anybody know a good libertarian magazine I can subscribe to?

    ‘Fraid not — all the good ones require basic reading comprehension skills.

  4. More likely, as Postrel also mentions in her post, is that libertarians will forge temporary alliances with liberals (or conservatives) depending on the issue. The Republicans had the libertarians and pissed away any goodwill they had, and the Democrats have a long way to go to get the same type of support from libertarians.

    Now, had Democrats decided to court libertarians in the last election cycle on a “get out of Iraq now” platform, we might have seen even bigger gains by the donkeys in Congress (I think libertarians in part voted so overwhelmingly for Bush in 2000 because of hsi smaller government stances during the campaign, which was a lifetime ago and a lot of people don’t remember). Its obvious, though, that neither party needs us until they need us.

  5. Oh Mr. Walker. That was a wicked burn.

    And the current print issue rocks, btw.

  6. I was about to think of a cool response, but then saw that the person who insulted me was the author.

    You guys got some balls smarting off to your readers.

    And that’s part of the reason you/we will never get more than 2% of the vote.

  7. You guys got some balls smarting off to your readers.

    There are many words for what you’re doing, Mr. Chalupa, but “reading” is not one of them.

  8. I’m agnostic about the 13% statistic, but what I do know is that libertarians are highly unlikely to ever vote in a “block” in a fashion analogous to the religious right. Organizing independent, liberty-minded folk is like herding water. Organizing church folk, on the other hand, is like “shepparding the flock.” That’s the horror of democracy: the dumb, docile collectivists will always be the most attractive voters.

  9. You guys got some balls smarting off to your readers.

    There are many words for what you’re doing, Mr. Chalupa, but “reading” is not one of them.

    Ay, what a paradox. Chalupa was wrong when he wrote that comment, but now he’s apparently right. I assume that was your goal, Mr. Walker. Otherwise, you may be too clever.

  10. -Grand Chalupa

    Fret not my friend, and don’t underestimate the hate. Give it about another six months, if that, and all the haters around here will be hate’n on the democrats again, just as bad, and possibly worse 🙂

  11. There are many words for what you’re doing, Mr. Chalupa, but “reading” is not one of them.

    You’re right, I just like looking at the pictures.

    Reason’s support for the Democrats is becoming ludicrous. Every day we get at least one or two posts wishfully thinking that any part of the Democratic party gives a damn about individual rights. Could that be why H&R threads have been DEAD lately?

    At least when Republicans expand government their base gets angry. And it easier to clean up government corruption and get rid of pork then it is to do away with well meaning government programs that become impossible to get rid of.

    Have fun with your new Wal-Mart bashing, anti-free trade, anti-gun, multicultualist, third world fetishizing, stealing from those who work to give to those who don’t, tax raising, nativist, race baiting new majority party.

    At least now we may be able to call Afghanistan and have a nice conversation with Bin Laden. Oh, and the anti gay marriage amendment will get 40 votes instead of 50. Whoop-dee-do.

  12. Oh no! Weigel has gotten to Walker too.

  13. By the way, I think “Weigel is just a cheerleader for the Dems,” should be a comment that warrants a lifetime ban, just like “for a mag called reason…”

  14. Fret not my friend, and don’t underestimate the hate. Give it about another six months, if that, and all the haters around here will be hate’n on the democrats again, just as bad, and possibly worse 🙂

    I hope that’s the case and not like someone else suggested, that they see virtues in Democrats that aren’t there in order to pick up liberal chicks in D.C.

  15. Chris S., As church folk myself I so wish I could come up with a strong rebuttal. The problem is I know so many people who prefer to be told what to do under the secure blanket of “morally right” versus actually thinking. I find that the worst offenders are church folk who don’t actually attend church, because there is no need to have the values you formed in vacation bible school challanged as an adult.

  16. What’s the entomology behind bOING bOING libeterians?

  17. An individual who is secure in his political philosophy may eschew titles, alliances, party affiliations and all the bickering back-and-forth and name-calling that accompanies such balkanization. Nothing says it better than independent.

  18. Jebus, Grand Chalupa, go back and read through some of the editor’s comments on “liberaltarians” here. They’re anything but unconditionally supportive of the idea, and are certainly not uncritically supportive of the Dems. Their thinking is, dare I say it, careful and nuanced. If you want libertarian jingoist inveighing, then I think you really are better off reading another magazine.
    Alas, even Liberty is less doctrinaire than you seem to prefer.

    Jesse Walker- I’m jealous. I wish I was allowed to lay into my (very few) readers like that.

  19. Chalupa’s the worst offender here — I’m still not sure how a post that calls the Democratic Party “pathetic,” says “I really don’t see much hope at all for turning the Democrats in a libertarian direction,” and explicitly opposes a “divorce” from the conservative movement is being read as an endorsement of the Democrats. But I have to say it’s striking to me that I can write a post that begins with this quote:

    …it seems much clearer to me than to many other commenters that Brink Lindsey’s TNR article is proposing an intellectual and policy alliance/debate, along the lines of the fusionism on the postwar right, not a short-term partisan political coalition to win the 2008 election. The stuff about 13 percent of the vote is mostly news-peg boilerplate. That’s how you get TNR and the WaPost to pay attention. It’s as irrelevant today as it was in the 1950s just how many libertarian-identified voters there are. The point is to talk seriously about policy ends and means and the role of market processes in serving liberal (in all senses of the word) values.

    …yet virtually every comment has been about what libertarians will get out of an alliance with the Democrats, how many votes libertarians have to offer, and all the other stale discussions that I was trying to get past.

  20. Number 6,

    Do your readers show such a stunning lack of comprehension?

  21. Could that be why H&R threads have been DEAD lately?

    Yeah, it’s not like there were a dozen threads in the last week that crossed the 100-post mark or anything…

  22. “I’m still not sure how a post that calls the Democratic Party “pathetic,” says “I really don’t see much hope at all for turning the Democrats in a libertarian direction,” and explicitly opposes a “divorce” from the conservative movement is being read as an endorsement of the Democrats.”

    Chalupa is a Republican-fusionist dead ender, that’s how. Like all such fusionists, the central organizing principle of his politics is the battle against the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement, the proponents of civil liberties, and the people who don’t want endless war to be our default foreign policy.

  23. “Why does this have to be discussed as a “divorce” from the conservative movement? A divorce from the Republican Party, sure — my hat’s off to Ron Paul and a few others in the GOP, but the Republican establishment is as hostile to liberty as the Democratic leadership, maybe more so.”

    To me, a big part of it has to do with taxes. While conservatives will pay some lip service to First Amendment issues and other things typically associated with liberals, my impression is that as far as those who want deep cuts in marginal tax rates are concerned, liberalism is a barren landscape.

    …I can’t make myself support anybody that doesn’t want to cut my marginal tax rate. Show me a liberal that wants to do that, and he or she has a legitimate shot at my support.

  24. “‘Fraid not — all the good ones require basic reading comprehension skills.”

    That’s just bullshit, Walker. Look; if your political standards don’t run any higher than the “friendl[iness]” of people who advocate what leftists do, then that “Chalupa” character handled you a lot more easily than you deserved. He’s absolutely right. The conservatives might be bloody idiots, but the so-called “liberals” are far, far worse, and it completely mystifies me that anyone interested in freedom would be interested in playing to them in any way.

    None of this is “nuanced” (to coin a term in trade among the thoughtless). It’s myopia deluxe on stilts.

  25. Jesse I see your point, but the comments section of a blog on a Friday morning is a pretty tough place to engage in a conversation about..oh lets say the role of well defined property rights in alleveiating third world poverty. Its easier to just call others losers.

    Losers.

  26. Jonathan,
    “What’s the entomology behind bOING bOING libeterians?”

    See here for more on the etymlogy (assuming “entomology” was a typo, not an inside joke).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cory_Doctorow

    Basically, Cory Doctorow of boing boing was on the EFF. Also, at one point Wired magazine flagged Reason as the magazine of political choice for techno-libertarians, extropians etc.

  27. Here’s another quote from the thread…

    A divorce from the Republican Party, sure — my hat’s off to Ron Paul and a few others in the GOP, but the Republican establishment is as hostile to liberty as the Democratic leadership, maybe more so.

    No, they’re simply not. The Republican leadership sucks but I have a hard time imagining a leadership of either of the major two parties that wouldn’t.

    Democrats hate free trade. While Republicans may have principles and stray from them Democrats have priniciples that are polar oppisite of ours.

    Looking back, my original post was probably just a knee jerk reaction to this “liberaltarian” meme we’ve been getting shoved down our throats for the last few weeks rather then a careful analysis of the post.

    If you’re goal was to get past this “which party sucks worse” debate then you have my support. I guess we don’t have to argue about it for another two years.

    But if Democrats do anything to shrink the size of government and increase personal liberty by then, then I’ll personally send Mr. Walker an autographed bottle of absinthe.

  28. I really don’t see much hope at all for turning the Democrats in a libertarian direction…

    How about an experiment?
    Get some libertarians to run as Democrats, but speaking libertarian. If they manage to do well, then do some more.

  29. I know it is totally college 101 to say this, but I have always thought of politics as being a struggle between those who have and appreciate a Lockian view of freedom with those who have a more Hegelian view. With that as an underlying theme, it makes perfect sense that I would have supported Goldwater in his time, yet find Bush & Co despicable. There is no “divorce” necessary as I was never married to the not necessarily meaningful names we give political parties in the first place.

  30. Jesse:

    I applaud your recognition that the world isn’t black and white. Moving beyond mindless sloganeering means recognizing shades of grey. I feel more comfortable here already.

  31. Do your readers show such a stunning lack of comprehension?

    Yes, sometimes they do. I’ve taken more than one call that went something like this:

    Reader: Why didn’t you mention X in your article?
    Me: I did.
    R: You did? Where? (in accusatory tone)
    M: Yes. Look at the third paragraph, first sentence.
    R: (Reads. Usually, I can hear their lips moving.) Oh. Well, I think….

    From that point forward, the conversation repeats itself until one of us gets tired of arguing. So I understand Walker’s frustration.

  32. I don’t know how any of the Reason writers do it… write for a libertarian magazine when so many libertarians are pedantic pains in the ass. If you are too badly-damaged from the wicked ripostes, Jesse, let me know. A slab of pie from Cafe Hon cures all.

    A few years ago, there was this “crunchy con” concept bobbing around. My guess is that the Dems and Independents do have a counterpart, the Whole Earth libs. Some of these folks may have wandered to the Republicans because of values and pro-business issues. Between the war, the corruption and the attack on personal freedoms, I’d wager some of these WHLs have left the Republicans.

    I’m not sure this group of crunchy cons/Whole Earth libs has ever been big… but it has been influential disproportionate to its size.

  33. Why does this have to be discussed as a “divorce” from the conservative movement?

    Because it’s an abusive relationship. Libertarians have been instrumental in helping conservatives get their hands on power. Once they do, they get drunk on it and smack us around.

    Fuck the conservatives, and fuck the liberals. Both are our enemies. As for your 80%ers, they are the real problem. Sheeple that fall in line behind, shameless power-lusting elitists, in the galacticly stupid belief that their brand of statism is less statist.

  34. I think some of you are missing the point.

    Walker’s right about the current batch of “conservatives”, for want of a better term, being hostile to liberty, generally speaking. To me, it’s just that on my favorite issue, the issue that’s most important to me, the liberals don’t seem to have anything to offer.

    I can find conservative critics of torture and the Patriot Act and racism and all the rest of the issues liberals are typically associated with… I just can’t find a liberal that has anything to say about cutting marginal tax rates.

    P.S. …and judging by some of these visceral reactions, I think part of the answer to Walker’s question about why so many libertarians instinctively support conservatives answers itself. For many people, political affiliation is constructed like a cultural identity–some people are as likely to change their religion or favorite football team as their political affiliation.

    The performance of the players on their football team won’t make ’em root for somebody else, and the behavior of their clergy won’t make ’em convert to something else. …likewise, they’re not going to change the party they support just ’cause their old party doesn’t represent them anymore.

    …and they get offended if you ask ’em why.

  35. “The conservatives might be bloody idiots, but the so-called “liberals” are far, far worse, and it completely mystifies me that anyone interested in freedom would be interested in playing to them in any way.”

    Exactly. I don’t see why it’s worth discussing a “Liberaltarian” alliance for anything but such short-view empirical matters as the 2008 elections or whatever, which Walker doesn’t want us to talk about. Trying to make libertarianism mesh philosophically with leftism is like trying to make the mouse live with the snake, and it’s goofy to spend a bunch of time talking about it.

  36. I think it’s noteworthy that this idea (of a liberal-libertarian alliance) is even being floated. Another example of George Bush’s ability as a “uniter”?

  37. Chalupa,

    I assure you, there are many people (like me) who hold libertarian positions on most issues but reflexively vote Democratic because we find the authoritarian-christian right far more frightening than the anti-free-trade left. To the extent that we can turn the discussion towards what elements of each party’s platform are worthy of support and away from which party sucks more, we will be able to focus more attention on our ideas and less on our politics.

  38. But if Democrats do anything to shrink the size of government and increase personal liberty by then, then I’ll personally send Mr. Walker an autographed bottle of absinthe.

    I’m far from convinced that they will. But don’t worry, I’ll take your absinthe all the same.

    Hatchet buried. Insert friendly emoticon here.

  39. Get some libertarians to run as Democrats, but speaking libertarian. If they manage to do well, then do some more.
    Down here Frank_J._Gonzalez was a liberterian who ran in a heavily Republican district with only about I think $4,000 in his war chest and managed to grab between 41-49% of the vote, depending who you ask. I worked on his campaign and got a lot of mixed reactions; people up in power really resented the fact that he was liberterian and where either apathetic about his campaign or tried to sabatoage it in some way. The people in the street, on the other hand liked that he had some fresh ideas (especially when he bashed the unions at a labor day picnic) compared to the democrats and welcomed him, although I got the idea that it was only a shakey alliance based on a anti-bush ideowhatevers.

  40. Well, Ken, I’d rather live in a relatively free, secular society with high tax rates than a fundamentalist Christian theocracy with low tax rates. I may bitch about tax rates, but I can always make more money. Make how I want to spend my money illegal… now that’s a much tougher problem.

  41. I always forget to add stuff; he ran as a democrat and by “people in power” I mean the top brass of democrats.

  42. Insert the free-love metaphor of your choice here.

    Friends with tax-exempt benefits?

  43. After inning one, the score is tied

    Chalupa: 1

    Walker: 1

    Inning two: 10th grade at the lunch table

  44. I always forget to add stuff; he ran as a democrat and by “people in power” I mean the top brass of democrats.

    I’m sure, but manage to actually win a few elections this way, and there might be some shifting.

    Remember that politicians are experts in hopping in front of movements and pretend that they are actaully leading.

  45. And that my friends is why Virginia gets paid the big bucks………

    Ken Schultz: JFK will cut your taxes. Wait, he’s fertilizing pine trees at Forest Lawn, same as AuH20.

    Seriously, Ken makes a valid point.

    JFK was the last significant Democrat to advocate tax cuts.

  46. Remember that politicians are experts in hopping in front of movements and pretend that they are actaully leading.
    Yeah, but I think the concern is that they won’t be hopping in front of OUR movement if they don’t think its the right horse to bet on.

  47. Libertarians who want to be politically active should do so via whatever organiz’n will give them the most influence — on the world, not just on the organiz’n itself. I’ve been an enrolled Democrat, Conservative, and briefly in the Freedom Party, as well as a dues-paying Libertarian, and of those the most influential I’ve felt has been via the Conservative Party. I do think I had some influence on the world when I got Howard A. Stern involved in LP, but that was exceptional and otherwise I think a libertarian’s involvement in LP will, on average, turn out to be either 0 or the opposite of what that activist wanted.

    I’ve considered changing enrollment to Republican, but because of local circumstances I think I have more influence on the world via the Conservatives. The Conservative Party doesn’t even exist in most states, and even in most of the rest of NY it’s not really worthwhile. My sense is that in many parts of the country the GOP is sufficiently powerful to be worthwhile and is poised on many issues and personalities between the authoritarian and the libertarian, which is exactly where you need it to be if you want the most influence as a libertarian active in it.

    Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have more influence on the world in an organiz’n where most people agree with you; you have no leverage that way. Nor do you have much influence via an organiz’n where most people are antipodal to your ideas, because the static friction makes them practically immovable.

    Oh, and JOyG: with enough money you can bribe your way out of a death camp.

  48. Brian 24, yes the authoritarian Christian right is a pain in the ass, but they have no power. It’s like the 1950’s except this time you guys are worried about finding a Bible-thumper under your bed instead of a commie.

    I will give Clinton and the Democrats one thing. They did end welfare as we knew it. However, it didn’t matter a bit because they shifted the got dam money to something else instead. And the roads still suck.

  49. with enough money you can bribe your way out of a death camp.

    That’s a comforting thought! As long as I can still get to my money, I’m ok!

    They don’t empty your pockets on the way to the camp, do they?

  50. I haven’t heard Bill Richardson weigh in on national income tax rates, but his first major act as governor of NM was a massive state income tax cut (as part of his very successful economic stimulus plan). He’s a free trader with a solid NRA record as well, so he’s certainly a Democrat for libertarians to be watching in 2008.

  51. “Brian 24, yes the authoritarian Christian right is a pain in the ass, but they have no power. It’s like the 1950’s except this time you guys are worried about finding a Bible-thumper under your bed instead of a commie.”

    The Christian right has a lot more influence in the GOP than the loony left does in the Democratic Party. Hell, the Dems are practically a subsidiary of Goldman-Sachs and every other Wall Street investment firm these days; when the most abhorrent proposal that the Democrats can make is a small minimum wage increase, you know socialism is truly dead in this country. Come on, where are the price controls? Full-on nationalization of industries? Huge punitive tarriffs? Massive equalizations through transfer payments? Throw me a bone, here, Democrats, you’re acting like a bunch of liberal capitalists!

  52. The tax cut thing is a dead issue with either party. Tax cuts are of absolutely no use when spending is through the roof.

  53. Postmodern, good point, there is one Democrat that supports tax reform and New Mexico needs it.

  54. Shecky…..Get the jet.

    I disagree, tax cuts are important regardless.

    Even if the tax savings is only a measly fifty bucks, I’d rather see a family take the kids to Mickie Dees and a matinee than allow those pig fuckers in DC to piss it down a rat hole.

    They spend more money on waste in 30 seconds than you will send them in tax revenue in your entire life. Better you keep it and spend it yourself.

    Aside from that, the libertarian premise is that it’s your money to start with and it is taken from you without your permission by force.

  55. Post, what exactly has the religious right been able to accomplish? Aside from Pat mouthing off I mean.

    Lesse, prayer back in school? Abortion outlawed? Vouchers for private education approved? Couples living together without marriage illegal again? Divorce without cause illegal again? Liquor banned? Stores all closed on Sunday?

    Oh wait. School kids still are forced to say One Nation, Under God every got dam morning. Pretty scary.

    Disclaimer: Not a fan of religion

  56. Come on, where are the price controls? Full-on nationalization of industries? Huge punitive tarriffs? Massive equalizations through transfer payments? Throw me a bone, here, Democrats, you’re acting like a bunch of liberal capitalists!
    On the flip side, the Republicans have been in power for over 12 years and where is the full-on privatisation of goverment programs?

  57. The Christian right has a lot more influence in the GOP than the loony left does in the Democratic Party.”

    You’ll learn differently once Field Marshal Rodham is elected and steps out of the closet.

  58. I’d through myself in with the boing boing Libertarian 80%er description although I’m more a 92.3%er but I have a lot of 80%er culturally leftist libertarians — of course, I live in Oakland — I don’t know what our numbers are but we do exist.

    The topic really brings out the best in libertarians eh?

    Right leaning Libertarians: “Your telling me there is a group of lefty leaning libertarians out there who agree with libertarians 80% of the time? Goddammit — they must be purged!!!”

    Just like libertarians — I’ve seen so many libertarians talk to people, find widespread agreement with them and then get in a name calling argument about the one issue they disagree on instead of trying to have a proper dialogue. Of course there are a lot of sensible libertarians but they tend not to post on HnR on topics like this…

  59. Tom: “Trying to make libertarianism mesh philosophically with leftism is like trying to make the mouse live with the snake, and it’s goofy to spend a bunch of time talking about it.”

    You’re goddamned right. See my first comment here in a post on the matter at QandO. The discussion takes a loop through my ten-year running fight with a lying commie shit-bag professor, and then bloody nonsense from a couple of beanie-headed dolts, but that first comment should nut-shell the thing.

    The left has nothing to compromise over that isn’t already mine.


  60. Aside from that, the libertarian premise is that it’s your money to start with and it is taken from you without your permission by force.

    And this sentiment has what in common with the Republicans?

    All any Republican has offered, as far as tax cuts, in my lifetime, has been talk. Because tax cuts without spending cuts are not tax cuts.

  61. Of course there are a lot of sensible libertarians but they tend not to post on HnR on topics like this…

    Spur wins the thread.

    BTW, Mr Spur, I know a guy who lives in Oakland. He’s a tail gunner on a Bud truck. 🙂

  62. Sheck, I’m as pissed as anyone at the astronomical spending levels presided over by the GOP but that does not negate the issue of the GWB tax cuts.

    Those tax cuts have saved millions of people real money and as I continue to insist, better that money in our pockets than the government’s.

    Although you don’t elaborate, I assume that you are worried about the long term effect of out of control spending. Having lived through the 1970’s with it’s out of control spending & two digit inflation, I can assure you that would have been just as bad off had I paid half the taxes I paid.

  63. And this sentiment has what in common with the Republicans?

    Doesn’t matter if the Repubs repudiate it entirely. Tax cuts are a significant way to reclaim some of what belongs to you in the first place.

  64. Trying to make libertarianism mesh philosophically with leftism is like trying to make the mouse live with the snake, and it’s goofy to spend a bunch of time talking about it.
    Oh, really?

  65. I take it back, Billy Beck wins the thread.

    The left has nothing to compromise over that isn’t already mine.

  66. Trying to make libertarianism mesh philosophically with leftism is like trying to make the mouse live with the snake, and it’s goofy to spend a bunch of time talking about it.
    Oh really?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X78ohOCv78

  67. “Post, what exactly has the religious right been able to accomplish? Aside from Pat mouthing off I mean.”

    Aye, not much. The thing is, there’s a lot that they *would* do, given power. If the power grid that the Freedom Dems put together several months back, the reason they haven’t is that the modern GOP is pretty firmly divided between real conservatives and nasty authoritarians; the former have been holding the latter in check.

    On the other hand, I look at liberal proposals- and it doesn’t look like there’s much that they would actually do that doesn’t amount to a lot of subtle tweaks and changes to the current system. I’ve looked at their lists of national proposals, and found myself going… “that’s it?” It looks like something that would have been proposed by a moderately conservative Republican circa 1975. Which is about where I stand.

    I agree with David Brin here; we need to distinguish between Liberals and Leftists, and realize that the first have a lot in common with Libertarians, while the latter do not. (For the record, like Brin, I’m more or less somewhere between a Libertarian and a Liberal.) I hang out with a lot of real Leftists- they think I’m a right wing lunatic. They don’t think the Democratic party is much better.

    But I’m simply not scared of the American left, because, compared to the fundies, there just aren’t enough of them to constitute a real threat. There are probably ten fundamentalist Christians in this country for every real socialist. I don’t find them terribly worrysome these days; just really, really silly.

    Then again, I’ve lived in South Dakota and New Mexico all my life. I’d probably look at things differently if I’d grown up in San Francisco or Santa Monica.

  68. That’s the thing. There’s no incentive to shrink government when there’s no pain in making it bigger. Government will not shrink as long as taxes are cut.

    This is just a side line to the main point. The bigger picture is that libertarian-ish voters need top seize opportunities when they present themselves. At the moment, some of these opportunities may be forming on the Democratic side of the aisle.

  69. what exactly has the religious right been able to accomplish? Aside from Pat mouthing off I mean.

    But what have they kept people from accomplishing?

  70. Libertarian pundits proposing that libertarian voters jump into an “alliance” with resurgent Democrats are like stock-market gurus recommending that the small investor buy a “hot” stock at the Peak…because of the “momentum”, or something.

    Such gurus would be fools, or self-intersted, right? Or maybe both.

    If a lot of libertarian pundits a sweating a (either desperate, or premature) mid-life crisis, and imagining that Slate, Salon or the LA Times is the “golden parachute”…they are probably wrong.

    Those venues were the epiphenomenen of the years when Democrats were out of power, and instantly became irrelevant in Nov. 2006.

    The NEXT Big Story – the one you’ll be reading in Harper’s, Atlantic, and Vanity Fair – will be about Big-Tent Conservatism…when tensions between religious conservatives, and others are resolved.

    The war is over, and it would require an invasion from Space to get America into another foreign policy adventure. Republicans won’t be spending any big money for the next decade or so…even if they hang on to the White House.

  71. Post

    I agree with David Brin here; we need to distinguish between Liberals and Leftists

    Interesting point.

    I’m not really afraid of the American left either because most of the damage has already been done. For instance, we already have mostly socialized medicine and the system will be fully implemented eventually by a coalition of moderate Dems and moderate Repubs just doing what makes sense.

  72. Government will not shrink as long as taxes are cut.

    Government has never shrunk. At least not for the last hundred years. Through thick and thin, tax cuts to tax increases, JFK & Reagan, Johnson & FDR, Carter & Nixon, The Bush family, the Clinton spending that was so huge only to be dwarfed by our friend GWB, the one constant has been the ongoing growth of government spending, power, and regulation.

    And it will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked clean. I advocate slowing the bone picking process.

  73. High, we can’t confuse religion with government. I have a personal hatred of the Jehovah Witnesses that borders on psychotic (ditto Tom Cruise’s religion) and I feel badly about all the things the adherents could have accomplished if JW’s didn’t exist. But it’s not my life and not my business. I speak my piece here and there but that’s it.

  74. The proof is in the pudding. How many libertarians were elected this year as Democrats? Answer: 1 (Joel Winter to the NH House).

    How many libertarians were elected this year as Republicans? Hundreds, perhaps low thousands. (And btw, in NH at least 40 libertrarian Republicans were elected to the NH House, yet Winters gets all the attention).

    Virginia makes it sound Ron Paul is a “fluke” the only elected libertarian Republican in the country.

    What about Jeff Flake of Arizona?

    How about Governors Palin, Otter, Crist and Sanford?

    The Republican Liberty Caucus arguable just had its most successful year ever, and is more organized and has more members than ever before. And ironically, there are some libertarians out there now calling that we throw in the towell and go with the Dems.

    Do you all know how long it has taken to build a viable libertarian wing of the GOP?

    The RLC is now 15 years old. 15 friggin’s years. The group is finally getting accepted by the Republican Party.

    How long would it take for a libertarian group to become viable in the Democrat Party?

    You all want to wait another 15 years?

    Why should we, when we have the RLC???


  75. Government has never shrunk….

    And it will not stop until the last bone of the last taxpayer is picked clean. I advocate slowing the bone picking process.

    This is why tax cuts are a dead issue. They have no basis in the reality of a growing government. And in fact, enable government to grow at an even higher rate, since there is no pain involved in doing so.

  76. Shecky, We’re going to have to agree to disagree.

    Meantime, I’m taking my kids on a short vacation over Christmas break with the tax savings I got this year from the George Bush tax cuts.

    You, OTOH, are free to send them a check for your share of the tax cuts.

    That should be pretty painful. See if it helps the government spending problem and let me know.

  77. Eric, I think the movement needs contributions from all sides. I appreciate the RLC and the LP, but I am a member of neither. I do agree with your point about the Democratic Liberty Caucus however. You’ll likely be waiting longer than 15 years.

  78. How about Governors Palin, Otter, Crist and Sanford?

    None of those strikes me as being any more libertarian than Jeb Bush.

    In other words not libertarian but better than most.

  79. Just where do the Socdemocroneotroteralcons stand on banning smoking in the Speakers Lobby ?

  80. And what do the Socdemocroneotroteralcontrarians propose to do about it ?

  81. There are many lefts, and there are many rights. We don’t have to marry any of them, and we don’t have to divorce any of them either. Insert the free-love metaphor of your choice here.

    I fail to see how this is inconsitant with being a 13% swing voter bloc…both parties need us to win and if we are in play then they have to cow tow to our demands…period.

    And that strange remark about the libertarians being as irrelevant a voting bloc as they were in the 50’s…um i think you forget that free trade has transformed into a stronger force then labor…free markets are now the go word for environmentalism, and school choice has just been endorsed by the NYT…since the 1950 libertarianism has had a far greater influence on American politics then our numbers would imply…no the FDR state is not completely dismantled and we can’t yet buy pot from a vending machine…that does not change the fact that democrats now control the senate and the house because of the libertarian vote…and if they want to stay in power or the republicans want to retake it they need to know that they need to talk to us to get it.

  82. Eric and TWC,

    The Democratic Freedom Caucus exists, but it’s really been a non-starter from what I can tell. More information available at the dKosopedia. My favorite sentence from the dKosopedia entry was

    While kneejerk reactions to the word “libertarian” still abound, there has been a marked warming to the idea that “Democrat” and “libertarian” are not incompatible. See Libertarian Dem for more.

  83. The most sensible leftists I’ve met have come to the realization that capitalism is here to stay and learn to work within it with their own set of ethics to make a buck and try to make a difference from their pov.

    And sensible libertarians should learn to live with the welfare state and learn to work within it for positive change around the edges.

    It seems the people yelling and screaming about how bad liberals are at taking our money so libertarians should never work with them at all because then the welfare state will never end and they’ll still be taking our money — hello!? That ain’t changing for a long time to come, the only question becomes how benevolent or marginal can we make the welfare state and that just might mean working, on occasion with liberals…

  84. TWC,

    I was thinking specifically of gay marriage.

  85. TWC,

    Unless you’re retiring soon, I don’t see your point about the tax breaks. Tax breaks + deficit spending = loans to paid with interest later under future tax increases (have you forgotten the 90s?). There was a time when certain drunken economists made outrageous predictions about dynamic tax returns, but unless you’re an Austrian (irredeemably detached from reality) or a Chicagoan who has been asleep for the last two decades, empirical data should have scrubbed such wild optimism out of your head.

    If you’re retiring, good for you: your pleasure is the next generation’s pain. Otherwise, I have to wonder if you’re operating with an idiosyncratic TWC discount rate. If so, perhaps you ought to take out more personal loans (hey kids, daddy just took out a third mortgage on the house, but don’t worry, it’s funny money! What liabilities?). If not, why do want the government to take out loans on your behalf via reducing taxes and massively increasing discretionary spending — or haven’t you noticed the GOP’s modus operandi?

    Both parties are basically identical as far as historically spending is concerned. Period. Pay now (DNC), or pay later with interest (GOP).

  86. “And sensible libertarians should learn to live with the welfare state …”

    “Lie still and think of England.”

    Fuck that noise, right out loud. No freedom? No peace.

  87. Joshua: The point isn’t that libertarians are irrelevent as voters (though I have my doubts about that 13% figure). It’s that the number of voters who are libertarians isn’t relevant to the kind of engagement that Brink is writing about.

    Eric: If you must keep posting the same comment under every post that includes both the word “libertarian” and the word “Democrat,” couldn’t you at least fill in a few details? What makes these pols libertarian? Tell us the stances that impress you. Flake and Otter have been covered in Reason, but the others haven’t. Make a case for them. Don’t just announce that they’re libertarians. I’m not going to take your word for it.

  88. What has the religious right accomplished? How about a plethora of federal judges who care little for individual liberties? Most of these are at the District Court or Court of Appeals levels and are accordingly bound by Supreme Court precedent, but the Supreme Court is itself on the brink of rolling back civil liberties. Does anyone think that certiorari was granted to Ken Starr’s clients (and oral argument scheduled for the current term) in the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case in order affirm the Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of the student?

    The occurrence of one more Supreme Court vacancy during the George W. Doofus administration would be a tragedy. The election of another Rethuglican president would be a catastrophe. (Justice Stevens can defy the actuarial tables for only so long.)

    Should the SCOTUS begin overruling prior pro-liberty decisions on even a moderate scale, the ripple effect through the lower federal courts, whose judges have been primed for such a rollback, will be a tsunami which will drown individual rights.

  89. I just did a quick search on Crist, and even here the claim that he is a libertarian has been questioned. His transition site is somewhat schizophrenic.

    I will work with leaders from both political parties to fight for less taxes, less government and more freedom. Together, we will tackle soaring insurance premiums and rising property taxes. We will create a world-class education system. We will protect our children from predators and reduce Florida’s murder rate. We will lower drug costs and fight to provide health insurance for uninsured in Florida. We will provide opportunities for our seniors to live with dignity and independence, and we will protect Florida’s incredible natural resources.

    We’re going to shrink government, but make your lives better by using the power of government!

    I’m not sure how that works.

  90. John in Nashville, we already have a plethora of federal judges that care little for individual liberty.

    As for the Supers? well, there’s a long list of usurpations the most recent of which is the Kelo case. But that couldn’t have happened if the Repubs hadn’t appointed all those conservative judges.

    It’s like the old man said, Cheer up, things could be worse. So he cheered up, and sure enough……..

  91. Chris,

    Back to my example of the Nixon-Ford-Carter years. Double digit inflation. High Taxes. Massive increases in government spending. We all got screwed over and we all paid a lot of taxes. Now you’re suggesting that had we just paid more taxes, the Reagan years would have been better for the next generation.

    The people that get burned the worst by government spending policies are those who retire on so-called fixed incomes. Even with nominal inflation, their purchasing power is reduced every year and then further eroded by whatever taxes are extracted from them (at all levels). So, in that respect I don’t see how retirement amounts to dodging the bullet and shifting the problem forward to the next generation.

    We seem to disagree on the connection between taxes and spending. Government will spend more money whether it has tax revenue or not. For example, California government spends 100 times as much money as it did the year I was born. That has happened irrespective of tax cuts or tax increases.

    Further, I would argue that the government is more likely to spend if it has more to spend. You can see that phenomena every day by taking a look at local budgets at any level you like. You’ll find almost without exception that spending is greater when tax revenue is greater, giving rise to that old policy of each department squandering every last cent in the budget on the last day of the fiscal year.

    I don’t disagree that fiscal restraint is important. It just isn’t likely to happen.

  92. And Chris, if the federal government was your child, you would have cut them off long ago.

  93. High, okay, Gay Marriage. Historically it isn’t just the church that has opposed the concept it is the vast middle class, which is exactly why there has been no gay marriage.

    More progress has been made on that front in the last 6-8 years than in the last 200 years, so to my way of thinking, the influence of the religious right has eroded even further under GWB. That doesn’t mean they aren’t screaming, it just means it isn’t doing much good.

  94. Living in Flordia, Crist’s campaigning seemed to just blend in with whoever he was talking to. He was ambigously pro-anti-gay-abortion-gun-whatever rights, although I think (ok, hope) it was all a smoke screen to hide his more liberterian leanings from the more conservitive voters.

    I remember though, during the debate while Crist and Davis where having a pissing fight over insurance regulation, the Reform canident swooped in and pointed out that if you live in Hurricane ally, and your house is on the beach, than your insurance rates SHOULD be high, and its not fair for tax payers to pay for people being idiots. That put my opinion of Crist away from being small goverment to a more beige kind-of-sort-of-but-if-it-costs-me-votes-not-really small goverment category.

  95. Oh, and his stance on education seems to be exactly like Jebs; he opposes all the right things, but he supports all the wrong things.

  96. The people that get burned the worst by government spending policies are those who retire on so-called fixed incomes. Even with nominal inflation, their purchasing power is reduced every year and then further eroded by whatever taxes are extracted from them (at all levels). So, in that respect I don’t see how retirement amounts to dodging the bullet and shifting the problem forward to the next generation.

    I mostly agree with both of your statements, but I’m not arguing that retirees in general aren’t hurt by high taxes and government spending. I’m simply making the point that most people would prefer lower taxes during the years in which they have their highest taxable income (career adults in their prime before retiring), even if that means higher taxes later when they have a lower income (most retirees). Yes, everyone would prefer lower taxes during both phases of their life, but I’m assuming a certain level of government spending that makes the low tax/low tax scenario impossible. Given recent history, I assume that the government spends as much under either a high or a low tax regime. You apparently disagree on the basis of municipal tax trends, but I would wager that high municipal spending only correlates with high municipal taxation because (1) municipalities don’t have as good credit as the feds (notwithstanding the outrageous tax incentives for municipal bonds); and (2) high taxation and high spending are both correlated with high population, which I think is actually the driving force behind the trend you’re observing.

    Anyway, I’m more concerned with federal income tax, and recent history is on my side concerning the relationship between spending and taxing. Why were the Reagan years better than the Carter years? Was it Reagan’s deficit spending? Or was it reduced discretionary spending plus the emergence of the modern Fed under Volker? And yes, we paid for Reagan’s deficits in the early 90s. We would have probably done just as well had Reagan’s tax cuts been proportional with his budget cuts, and the modern GOP does us absolutely no favors by cutting taxes while raising discretionary spending as a percentage of GDP.

    And Chris, if the federal government was your child, you would have cut them off long ago.

    No doubt. I would also spank that child all the way to the hospital 🙂

  97. Given recent history, I assume that the government spends as much under either a high or a low tax regime. You apparently disagree on the basis of municipal tax trends…

    I don’t disagree. I also believe that government spends as much under high or low regime of tax.

    So, we must be arguing in our spare time about something else. 🙂 And I dang sure ain’t earning much for the US Treasury today.

  98. And I dang sure ain’t earning much for the US Treasury today.

    More leisure, less work — it’s a brilliant way to avoid taxes. I’d like to see them try to tax my webforum commenting. Wait… I didn’t say that…

  99. …so to my way of thinking, the influence of the religious right has eroded even further under GWB. That doesn’t mean they aren’t screaming, it just means it isn’t doing much good.

    They’ve never done any “good”. That they’re having less of an effect on public policy is a glorious thing,

  100. I’d argue that in practical terms, the effect of the religious right has been zero. I’d also argue that most people around here are smart enough to know that, but don’t care.

    I’m probably missing something real obvious, but the only real legislation I can come up with is the Terry Schiavo Life-Extension Act. FCC regulation doesn’t count, unless you think that Clinton was a tool of the religious right as well.

  101. …talk seriously about policy ends and means and the role of market processes in serving liberal (in all senses of the word) values…yet virtually every comment has been about what libertarians will get out of an alliance with the Democrats, how many votes libertarians have to offer, and all the other stale discussions that I was trying to get past

    Well, to be blunt, a lot of people don’t see any conversation to have. I’m not sure whether I do – whatever purported groups of “80%ers” exist, I don’t believe they’re remotely significant, vote-wise or debate-wise, in their parties. The vast bulk of either party isn’t remotely interested, as we see in this case from the overwhelmingly hostile reaction from Democrats to a few bloggers suggesting this “liberltarian” stuff.

  102. “I’d argue that in practical terms, the effect of the religious right has been zero. I’d also argue that most people around here are smart enough to know that, but don’t care…”

    I think that’s about right…although I would go further, and argue that the “taste” religious conseratives exercise in Federal justices is IMPECCABLE, from the POV of any sensible libertarian.

    This is the really huge downside of the Democratic ascendency.

    All religious, or any kind of conservatives wished for on the Bench was Federalism and Original Intent…which is the best libertarians can hope for, absent a two thirds consensus for a night-watchman state. In a culture premised on a welfare state, an activist judiciary is an engine of malevolence.

    But you’re right, the adolescents who post here are more interested in giving the finger to religious weinies.

  103. How about going for ideas and ideals and stop worrying about what party hooked up with the candidate?

    Ronald Reagan did not stop being Ronald Reagan when he skipped from the Ds to the Rs, but he sure did grag a bunch of folks with him.

    Okay, Richard J. Dailey jumped the other direction and he was a big National Socialist, so the example is not always perfect, but the point is, well, not Chicago politics.

    Anyway, as long as we get freedom loving candidates elected then we get what we want. As much as I would love a Libertarian party I must settle for libertarian ideas (the ones I like) and put up with the static.

  104. Billy Beck,

    HRC is firmly in the corporate liberal tradition. She’s a good managerialist soccer mom. If she’s elected, she’ll be a credit to all the other Democratic presidents with a cabinet full of corporation lawyers and investment bankers. Shit, I’ll bet she’s already got a Treasury Secretary picked out from Goldman-Sachs.

  105. It’s “Daley,” not “Dailey.”

    Sorry to nitpick.

  106. highnumber (Lifelong Chicagoan),

    I have a long history of spelling that wrong. On occasion I get it correct.

  107. Response to Jesse Walker:

    I’m assuming that was a typo in your post and you meant to say “libertarian” and “Republican” not “Democrat.”

    Gladly, I’ll give you proof on the newly elected libertarian Governors.

    Reason Magazine, a publication which I adore, gave newly elected Idaho Governor a 6-page article in the November issue talking about how libertarian he was. The word “libertarian” was dropped in the article in relation to Otter about 20 times.

    Crist? He’s stridently opposed to a state income tax. He’s a self-professed “Fiscal Conservative, yet Socially Tolerant.” His running mate Rep. Jeff Kottkamp has strong ties to the libertarian James Madison Institute in Tally, and was called a “libertarian free marketeer” by the Palm Beach Post.

    Let’s see now, Mark Sanford of SC, he’s next right?

    Well, if you had been reading http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com on a daily basis you would have known that Sanford was severely attacked in the last few days of his campaign by both the liberal media and the Democrats, who had accused him of being… Horrors… “not really a Republican but a Libertarian” who wanted to severely cut back government. Sanford never denied the charges.

    Sarah Palin? Now this is where you really stepped in a big pile of Alaska Carribou shit.

    Sarah has been Mayor of Wasila for 8 years, during which time she cut property taxes no less than 4 times!!! Sarah is friends with Vic Kohring of Wasila, who is the longest serving libertarian state legislator in the United States. Sarah attended the May meeting of the Libertarian Party in Anchorage last year seeking LP support. During the final days of the campaign she received it. She plastered the endorsement all over her web site. For two days IT WAS THE NUMBER ONE ENDORSEMENT LISTED OUT OF 10 ON THE SARAH PALIN WEB SITE, even topping groups like the Chamber of Commerce and NRA. Sarah bragged about LPers backing her to everyone she could find the last day of the race. On election night she bearhugged State LP Chairman Jason Dowell and publicly thanked LP Gubernatorial candidate Billy Toien.

    Sarah is the youngest Governor elected in Alaska history. She just was innaugurated and her special guest speaker was none other than former Governor Wally Hickel. You many remember him as the elected Governor of the Alaska Independence Party.

    The Anchorage press talked about how all Gov. Palin talked about was “relying less on monies from Washington” and “Constitutional principles.”

    Eric at http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

  108. I think some bloggers-back here have forgotten which judges were on the good side of the Kelo case, and which the bad.

  109. At least when Republicans expand government their base gets angry. And it easier to clean up government corruption and get rid of pork then it is to do away with well meaning government programs that become impossible to get rid of.

    Oh yeah, like those craaaaazy Democrats and their prescription drug bene… or the No Child Left Beh… or the massive increases in military spend…gee, I guess maybe the Dems aren’t the only ones who enjoy intrusive government programs.

    And, if you think pork is easy to get rid of, you’re on some awful, awful drug. Representatives would never willingly cut pork, and they’d fight tooth and nail against anyone who suggested it. It’s the quickest way out there to lose an election.

  110. The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

    Then in 1988, when we won with the Bush senior campaign and carried the highest total of evangelical votes ever in American history, we lost as we always do — the Republicans — we lost the Jewish vote and the Hispanic vote and all those votes. We lost the Catholic vote. We were the first modern presidency to win an election and it was a landslide and not win the Catholic vote. It was barely, but we lost the Catholic vote.

    How did we do it? We carried 82 percent or 83 percent of the evangelical vote. I remember when it was all over– this was one of the reasons I got a job in the White House — but I remember when it was all over, there was great shock from me and others saying, “Whoa, this is unhealthy.” We immediately began going after the Catholic vote.

    While at the same time, we were frightened by the fact that we lost all these votes and still won the White House. The message did come home. My God, you can win the White House with nothing but evangelicals if you can get enough of them, if you get them all, and they’re a huge number. …

    from:
    The Jesus Factor

    Social Democrats, USA
    Copyright: 1996, SD, USA

    Kristol described the current Republican coalition as consisting primarily of two main strains: economic and social conservatives. The economic conservatives are anti-state and the social conservatives are anti-liberal who view liberalism “as corroding and subverting the virtues that they believe must be the bedrock of decent society.” He believes that the differences between the economic conservatives and the social conservatives produce “tensions” between the two groups. Kristol’s long range view is that the social conservatives represent “an authentic mass movement that gathers strength with every passing year.”

    from:
    Splitting the Republican Coalition

    —————————————————————–

    This leads to the issue of the role of the state. Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on “the road to serfdom.” Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable. Because they tend to be more interested in history than economics or sociology, they know that the 19th-century idea, so neatly propounded by Herbert Spencer in his “The Man Versus the State,” was a historical eccentricity. People have always preferred strong government to weak government, although they certainly have no liking for anything that smacks of overly intrusive government. Neocons feel at home in today’s America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not. Though they find much to be critical about, they tend to seek intellectual guidance in the democratic wisdom of Tocqueville, rather than in the Tory nostalgia of, say, Russell Kirk.

    from:
    The Neoconservative Persuasion

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