Campaigns/Elections

Where the Votes Are

The party that gets serious about giving us liberty will win the future

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In the Los Angeles Times, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch that the party is over for the Democrats and Republicans, who have been leaking market share since the 1970s like a Chevy Nova leaked oil. The most important voting bloc now are libertarians who "like gays and guns, low taxes and free speech. They are pro-globalization and antiwar. They are at the center of American politics. Win them over and you'll win every national election for the next several decades. Here are some smart—and popular—policies that will appeal not only to libertarians but to other centrist voters fed up with budget-busting compassionate conservatives and nanny-state buttinsky liberals."

Gillespie and Welch offer up no fewer than seven (count 'em) policies that appeal to libertarians—
and large majorities of American voters. Read all about them here.

NEXT: Barr for President?

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  1. Wow, I’ve never before seen wishful thoughts in the process of being born. Amazing! Thanks.

  2. I’ve never before seen wishful thoughts in the process of being born.

    SOMEBODY missed the “candies, flowers and liberators’ welcome” portion of the Iraq War Show.

  3. And I’ve never before seen you actually post an argument or ever cite a source, Edward! Even though I’ve never seen a post of yours without profanity (before this momentous event), I anticipate that those to follow surely will be curse-laden.

  4. i hate to say i disagree but i do. i think most american aren’t libertarian at all and any candidate with libertarian leanings would have as much chance as ron paul did. i’m not happy about this but i think that’s the case. most americans want government in their lives. i think most people have at least one or a few libertarian positions but not enough to make a true libertarian candidate appealing to them.

  5. The never-quite-answered question of how many of us are actually libertarian. I think the answer is that too many of us are dazzled by an issue or two and have let other core issues slip out of our consciousness. War, abortion, etc. If we could get back to core principles about how much government should do, and how expressly it should be limited, then libertarian issues might really hold sway. Until then, I expect more of the same. But I agree, the libertarian bloc, such as it were, appears to be large enough to give lip service to. The GOP used to worry about that until quite recently.

  6. The most important voting bloc now are libertarians

    Odd, then, that libertarians have less of an impact on policies or elections than the Greens.

  7. I would think that a libertarian democrat would have the best chance. The so-cons aren’t going to vote for anyone who either supports eliminating the federal government’s involvement in marriage or legalizing gay marriage, and other such things that they view as immoral.
    The best chance is the appeal to the Barak Obama democrats with economic policies that are more market-based than traditional Democratic policies, and also less expensive and typically yield better results. In this way, you stroke their egos of being the “smart” party, and get a whole bunch of people on board because they can’t stomach the compassionate conservatism of the right.

  8. Danny,

    And I’ve never before seen you actually post an argument or ever cite a source, Edward! Even though I’ve never seen a post of yours without profanity (before this momentous event), I anticipate that those to follow surely will be curse-laden.

    Every time you curse and Infantryman gets his Paratrooper wings. Could be his way of trying to stop the Global War on Terror.

  9. like a Chevy Nova leaked oil.

    Obviously, you mean the post-1972 Chevy Nova…

    …..i think most american aren’t libertarian at all ….

    Americans are pretty much happy with the way things are, otherwise they’d change.

  10. The most important voting bloc now are libertarians

    Umm…did someone forget to tell the actual voters?

  11. “Americans are pretty much happy with the way things are…”

    That’s only because there isn’t enough law enforcement to book everybody that breaks the law (i.e. everyone, even law enforcement themselves).

  12. Nicely done article. I loved it. [swoons]

    BTW, I don’t see how you can de-couple health insurance from employment without government interference in the marketplace, IE, making it illegal for companies to offer health insurance, or, at least, making it non-deductible.

    Just don’t see how either of those options is very libertarian.

  13. “The most important voting bloc now are libertarians”

    “Umm…did someone forget to tell the actual voters?”

    Shhh, you guys! They are just doing the same thing that the MSM does. Asserting a false point in order to make people feel like it’s true. Dirty tactics, but not unusual.

  14. Well, I suppose you could make health insurance taxable income to the employee (like every other fargin’ perk on the planet). That might work.

    Anyone?

  15. Oh, and the only way to get more law enforcement is to tax us more, so the problem is self-regulating.

  16. I think we’re the wise men feeling up that elephant. There are times where Americans appear very libertarian, but how do we reconcile that with our continuing unlibertarian support of less-limited government and cries for more socialism?

    Before the war, there had been some reason to think that the GOP might start moving toward a somewhat more libertarian platform (though with major failings in that regard, of course). Now, neither party seems to hold out much hope.

  17. TWC,

    BTW, I don’t see how you can de-couple health insurance from employment without government interference in the marketplace, IE, making it illegal for companies to offer health insurance, or, at least, making it non-deductible.

    How about just removing any requirement on the employer to provide insurance and let them decide if they want to offer it in the employment package all by themselves?

    If your objective is choice, then that would be the way. If you are just against health insurance, then some overtly coercive method, like the ones you suggest, would be the path.

    As far as income taxes go, getting rid of them and going to a consumption tax of some kind is my vote.

  18. The GOP made noises about reducing government to get votes. But as soon as something came along that increased government (war on terror) that they could point to and say “MORE IMPORTANT!”, they did. It is impossible for a major party to want to reduce government, as it would be asking them to reduce their own power. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

  19. I wish t.j. were wrong, but it does seem that
    Americans just keep voting away their liberty
    and gains. Every president since Coolidge has
    left the government larger than he found it.
    Can’t be coincidence. Why haven’t Americans
    revolted against the war? Why do they tolearte
    epic deficits and a runaway police state? Maybe
    you should build apart, not within.

  20. I think the critics of this piece might be losing sight of how elections in this country go. The thirty percent of the electorate that would vote for Chuck Manson if he had a (D) after his name cancel out the thirty percent who would do the same for the (R). So elections are going to be decided by the remaining forty percent of the electorate. In this scope, a voting block of fifteen percent is huge.

  21. “Maybe you should build apart, not within.”

    A compelling argument, bagehot. That’s what the founders did. Sometimes force is necessary, but I’d hate to think that we’re too far gone.

  22. The resulting discussion on the fine article is giving me the impression that I need to buy more ammo.

  23. Episiarch,

    Indeed. The GOP didn’t have any noble motives, as demonstrated (1) when the Contract of America turned to so much vapor and (2) by what it did when in total control of the government.

    What irks me about the Democrats is that they consistently think of themselves as freedom-loving, etc., but they simply cannot be made to understand that generally expanding government power for reasons they think are good will result in government actions that they think are evil. At least there are some people lurking around the GOP who seem to understand that, though they are by no means calling the shots.

  24. It is impossible for a major party to want to reduce government, as it would be asking them to reduce their own power. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

    A friend of mine made this argument to me last night. It was the first time I’d heard it, but it certainly rings true with my experience (particularly with my soon-to-be mother-in-law, [ICK!]).

    Perhaps I am too idealistic, but I think that if the right person is put in charge, they can put more of the right people in charge and start things moving in the right direction.

  25. That must explain the runaway freight trains there were the Paul and Richardson campaigns.

  26. BTW, I don’t see how you can de-couple health insurance from employment without government interference in the marketplace, IE, making it illegal for companies to offer health insurance, or, at least, making it non-deductible.

    Just don’t see how either of those options is very libertarian.

    One libertarian-ish way to start the ball rolling would be to allow private individuals to deduct health insurance premiums. And I don’t think removing a tax deduction from a corporation is necessarily that un-libertarian. It’s more a simple acknowledgment that health care is a property of the individual, not a property of a corporation.

  27. The so-cons aren’t going to vote for anyone who either supports eliminating the federal government’s involvement in marriage or legalizing gay marriage

    So-cons are dead set against legalizing gay marriage (which BTW is quite unlibertarian, since it increases the government’s power to regulate who is or isn’t allowed special governmental handouts), but most so-cons would be willing to support completely eliminating federal government involvement in marriage if it was sold as:

    1) a way to permanently ban the feds from legalizing gay marriage;

    and

    2) a tax cut for working spouses of high-earners

  28. joe,

    Richardson?? Doesn’t ring a bell. You must be speaking facetiously. 🙂

  29. Richardson??

    Of course, the guy who is supporting Mr. Obama rather than Mrs. Clinton. What could be more Libertarian than that? LOL

  30. Although I found Richardson less objectionable than Edwards, Obama, or Clinton, he’s hardly a libertarian.

    Still can’t figure how he managed to blow the primary. He should’ve been a truly viable candidate, unlike the neophytes the Democrats are foisting upon us.

  31. Politcal parties are simply a collection of interest groups. They coalesce into a party by finding interest groups that don’t have contradictory goals to each other’s goals (or at least try to).

    Very few people have an overarching ideaology that goes beyond one or two interests. As such everyone has some libertarian tendencies or issues. Anyone can find some aspect of government they want out of their lives. I believe this is what accounts for the “15%” are libertarians.

  32. Guy, I was under the impression that offering health insurance to employees was still voluntary. Maybe I’m not paying attention.

    I’m not against health insurance at all, but libertarians in general seem to be. Some advocate legislating a change to eliminate health insurance as a deduction.

    My point is that health insurance isn’t any different than office supplies. It is a cost of doing business and employers should be free to offer it (or not) as a condition of employment.

    I understand the argument as to how and why health insurance came to be viewed as a necessary perk originating as a way to bump compensation during the wage and price controls of the Big War.

    Consumption tax in theory is okay. But in practice in this era in this country you are asking for trouble and I guarantee you that within a short time you’ll have a consumption tax and an income tax. Be careful what you wish for.

  33. Gimme Back, you’re right up until you leave out a decimal, which kinda negates your conclusion. I think that should read:

    In this scope, a voting block of fifteen 1.5% percent is, huge pretty much irrelevant.

  34. And I don’t think removing a tax deduction from a corporation is necessarily that un-libertarian. It’s more a simple acknowledgment that health care is a property of the individual, not a property of a corporation.

    Health care, in general, isn’t deductible although legally it appears that it is. Individuals CAN deduct health insurance premiums, it’s just that in practice the net effect is there is no deduction. Or, individuals can accomplish the same through an HSA.

    Health insurance deducts affect more than just corporations, they affect every business with employees. While it is true that eliminating the deduction for employer-paid medical insurance would cut down on that kind of expenditure, it isn’t very libertarian. (drink)

  35. “The most important voting bloc now are libertarians who “like gays and guns, low taxes and free speech.They are pro-globalization and antiwar. They are at the center of American politics. Win them over and you’ll win every national election for the next several decades.”

    Is it April 1st already?

  36. “In the Los Angeles Times, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch argue that the party is over for the Democrats and Republicans, who have been leaking market share since the 1970s like a Chevy Nova leaked oil.”

    I owned a 1970 Nova (made by Chevy) and a 1990 Nova (made by Toyota). Neither leaked oil. You kids really need to work on your similes.

  37. Guy, I was under the impression that offering health insurance to employees was still voluntary. Maybe I’m not paying attention.

    I might be giving too much weight to the way some States and some federal policies coerce encourage firms to provide health insurance. Also, I was thinking there was some tax effect on the employer side, even though most of it is seen on the employee side.

    I’m not against health insurance at all, but libertarians in general seem to be. Some advocate legislating a change to eliminate health insurance as a deduction.

    I have not noticed Libertarians being against health insurance, I have noticed them being against efforts to make it a requirement on the part of the employer, employee or citizen. Perhaps I am not paying enough attention on that item?

    One of your points, the one about taxing the benefit as if it were income, I can almost agree to in one respect, but I stop at the point that unless the employee can get the same amount that they are being taxed on as income to be taxed then it should not be taxed. Sort of the same way I am against property taxes on property where zoning prohibits the property from generating income on an ongoing basis.

  38. Batgirl,

    Perhaps they should just learn a bit more about engine maintenance? You know, some “guys” might as well have the hoods welded shut on their cars since they are never going to open them anyway 😉

    BTW, Yvonne Craig is one of my favorite hotties!

  39. I consider myself to be fairly libertarian (although I’m sure there will be some to argue against that). And I would probably support at least 4 or of 7, but some of the positions don’t seem to be libertarian at all in nature. For example, I’m not sure what being a libertarian and support for amnesty have to do with each other. Can’t I want to end the war on drugs, and get less government regulation, without wanting a totally broken border policy?

    Also while the war in Iraq was almost certainly a mistake (I can think of a lot of other uses for $500b). That doesn’t mean we can just walk away from it either. Sometimes if you make your bed you have to lie in it. And I’m not convinced that pulling out precipitously would accomplish much of anything.

    But on the whole yes, we could use a bit more liberty and a less government in our lives.

  40. Guy,

    She played a green woman on Star Trek once, too, as I recall.

  41. PL,

    Yes, I enjoyed her work there muchly. Commented on that in a thread from earlier in the week, something about eating extraterrestrials being moral or something.

  42. I suppose you could make health insurance taxable income to the employee (like every other fargin’ perk on the planet).

    Only as a temporary measure, until we get the flat tax in place.

    God, I amuse myself, sometimes.
    Actually, I would rather see health benefits taxed as income than create a health insurance deduction, and the “gaming” it would provoke.

  43. The most important bloc is now libertarians. That doesn’t even pass the laugh test. Not that the world wouldn’t be better in some ways if that were true, but I don’t buy for a moment that it is.

    Libertarians would be best served staying out of the really contensious issues like immigration and the foreign policy and go for the low hanging fruit of economic regulation, blue laws, police power and the drug war. I think you could get a pretty good consensus in this country that the government shouldn’t be wasting time worrying about things like porn and internet gambling. You could also go a long way with a Reagan like message on the greatness of the American people and the need to get the government out of the way. As far as drugs go, the country is not ready to support full scale legalization. But it is ready to effectively legalize marijuana and to greatly scale back the federal drug war. On this front, Libertarians need to make friends with the war on terror. If a politician had the balls to say “I am not going to waste federal effort that we need to spend protecting the country from our enemies on the excess of the drug war”, he would put the prohibitionists in one hell of a bind and you could garner some real public support to cut back on federal drug enforcement.

    Yeah, that is half a loaf and probably not good enough for the fanatics. But to everyone else, wouldn’t it be a nice start?

  44. Let patients smoke dope.

    And let people in pain have effective medication. I’d personally say, “Declare victory and go home” for the whole drug war, but that might be scary.

    At least since the mid-1970s, betting has been something Americans love to do.

    You could as easily say, “At least since the mid-1790s?”

    Make the Internet tax moratorium permanent.

    How about being the first party that figures out it’s a World Wide Web?

    Grant amnesty — er, citizenship — to illegal immigrants.

    Also set up guest worker programs for those who don’t want to stay.

    Decouple health insurance from employment.

    Ditto retirement.

    Oh, and you missed give up on the gun and gay control already.

    BTW, I don’t see how you can de-couple health insurance from employment without government interference in the marketplace, IE, making it illegal for companies to offer health insurance, or, at least, making it non-deductible.

    How about letting financial institutions offer health care/retirement services with the same deductions an employer gets. You know, competition and all that.

  45. While I always appreciate arguments based around the 10-15% of people who lean fiscally conservative and socially liberal, the real problem is that libertarians in general are individualists. They simply have little interest in banding together for political purposes. They’d rather spend their time and resources on the 80-90% of their lives that are under their control and not the control of today’s government.

    Efforts to get libertarian leaning folks to vote for a person or party who holds the same views will necessarily be distributed. But if one of the major parties — already having the media’s ear — makes a big deal of a few of these seven points, I suspect they could swing elections.

  46. Grant amnesty — er, citizenship — to illegal immigrants.

    Also set up guest worker programs for those who don’t want to stay.

    Let me agree with LarryA here.

    Grant amnesty — er, residence with an optional path to citizenship — to illegal immigrants.

  47. I missed the part in the article where we can be free to let chickens and dogs fight in the privacy of our own homes.

  48. Guest worker programs are a terrible idea. It sets up a group of second class citizens who have no ties to the country or any reason to assimilate. Further, it creates a completely one sided relationship between employer and worker. When a foreighn worker is here on a guest worker or H1 Visa program, he has no barganing power with his employer. Normally if your employer underpays you or refuses to promote you or provide you with any kind of opportunity for advancement, you can leave. If you are a guest worker or here on an H1 Visa, you can’t do that because your entry into the country is tied to your employment. If you quit your job or are fired, you have a very short time, I beleive 10 days, to find a new job or you are deported. That is why tech companies love the H1 program so much and are always trying to raise the number of people admitted under them. Why hire an American programer who you might have to treat like a human being when you can hire a program under H1 and if he doesn’t like the way you do things you can tell him to go fuck himself and go back to Bombay and you will hire any one of the 100s of thousands of people just like him waiting to get in the country? It is some real nasty crap if you ask me. The media does a terrible job of reporting the actual conditions of the H1 Visa program when they are shilling for the poor tech companies who need to import workers, allegedly.

    If you are going to have immigration, that is fine. But you need to let people in as residence with a path to citizenship and not condition their residence on their employment. Otherwise, you are creating an underclass of second class slaves and also putting native workers at an unfair disadvantage.

  49. If you are going to have immigration, that is fine. But you need to let people in as residence with a path to citizenship and not condition their residence on their employment.

    What about the middle ground? Let people in as residents who have no intent to become citizens, but make no requirements on their employment with specific employers.

  50. Well, I suppose you could make health insurance taxable income to the employee (like every other fargin’ perk on the planet). That might work.

    Anyone?

    Eliminate the “group” plans, and force insurance to offer it to individuals. The problem isn’t that people want to get it from their empoloyers, it’s that they have no option. If you have to hav govt into it, which you already do, might as well be constructive.

  51. It doesn’t take much to fix the employer provided health insurance problem.

    The government need only allow pre-tax employee HSAs and allow the individual employee to buy his insurance with funds from the HSA plus whatever else he might choose to spend. The employer pays into each employee’s HSAs pre-tax just as it now pays into group insurance pre-tax. The employer can still provide group coverage that the employee buys through the HSA. But the employee can also go elsewhere for something cheaper or more expensive or more portable or for nothing at all, retaining the HSA itself as his “insurance”.

  52. It might help if those policies weren’t habitually called “libertarian”.

    Seriously, a little rebranding might not hurt. After all, say “libertarian” to most people and you’re liable to get one of three reactions:

    1. Don’t you mean “liberal”?

    2. Oh, you mean like that whacko Ayn Rand?

    3. You mean those people who want to sleep with everyone?

    …None of which really help the cause. Around the turn of the century many socialist ideas were repackaged as “progressive” and sold effectively, without the red baggage. Maybe repackaging “libertarian” as some less threatening or confusing term would help to get people to listen beyond the title to some of the actual ideas, many of which do have broad support and/or sympathy.

  53. The GOP is completely tied to religion and war, which both deface the individual in favor of its reactionary roots. The Dems own the root of Libertarianism (liberalism) but suffer mightily from the vast scope creep of the New Deal. Child labor laws are a good example of pure liberalism rejected where public opinion is overwhelmingly supportive.

    The real question going forward will be the role of the corporation. Why have domestic food and drug safety laws when products from China are immune to them? Ask an American that question and you will quickly find out how “libertarian” they really are.

  54. TWC:

    Consumption tax in theory is okay. But in practice in this era in this country you are asking for trouble and I guarantee you that within a short time you’ll have a consumption tax and an income tax. Be careful what you wish for.

    Quoted for truth.

    joe:

    That must explain the runaway freight trains there were the Paul and Richardson campaigns.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that Paul was the most libertarian Republican candidate (almost certainly true) and the Richardson was the most libertarian Democratic candidate (at least possible), their poor performance in the primaries still doesn’t exactly dispute Gillespie and Welch’s ideas. The portion of the population in which Gillespie and Welch are arguing that libertarian ideas are a big draw are precisely those who are unaffiliated and so most often won’t vote in either primary. However, those voters do generally play a big role in deciding the outcome of general elections. On top of this we also have to deal with the fact that both of these candidates had what the French call “serious problems”. Paul’s signature issue was a loser with his party (though not with the electorate at large) and Richardson is still hibernating, the big sleepy teddy bear that he is.

  55. MikeP writes: Let people in as residents who have no intent to become citizens, but make no requirements on their employment with specific employers.

    As a test of intellectual honesty, and also to show how much you know about this topic, list some of the downsides of that that weren’t covered above. Then, list how you’d overcome those downsides.

  56. The question of how many Americans are libertarian has been asked and answered.

    About 2-3 years ago, the LP News did a national survey. While almost all Americans agreed with some of the LP’s platform, only 1-2% of those polled agreed with all of the planks. In other words, only 1-2% of Americans can be considered Libertarians.

  57. That must explain the runaway freight trains there were the Paul and Richardson campaigns.

    That’s what I was thinking, but I think what Gillespie and Welch are suggesting is the candidate wouldn’t reveal his/her libertarian leanings till they’d won the party nomination. To me, it’s the only way the premise of the article makes any sense.

  58. Paul Green, I’d suppose we could use “adheres strictly to LP party platforms” as our libertarian test, but it seems like with tests like that, almost any political point of view wouldn’t be held by many. Let’s see how many agree with all Conservative positions or all Liberal positions (or Republican or Democratic if we want to look by party) before we say that perfect party affiliation is the measure for whether someone might be called libertarian. Agreeing with “all of the planks” is kind of a high bar to set for so vague a position as being generally libertarian.

  59. John,

    Please explain to me how expanding H1B work visas is somehow less desirable and more cruel than the current employer/illegal immigrant worker relationship?

  60. most americans want government in their lives.

    And capital letters at the start of their sentences.

  61. Here is the issue with health insurance. It is not so much that it is deductible for income tax purposes but that it is deductible for social security tax purposes. Both the employer and the employee do not pay social security taxes on the health insurance that they get. Self-employed as well as people who do not get health insurance through their employer still have to pay social security taxes on their premiums even if they have a HSA. On premiums of $10,000 for a family this will total roughly $1,500. This also make employees want low deductible policies rather than high deductible policies as any thing they pay for on actual health expenses will be paid with after tax income.

    What this has done is that it has made it cheaper for both the employer and the employee if they receive health insurance rather than wages, which will have social security taxes on them.

    If you want to do anything with health insurance you have to deal with the social security issue first. Second, you also have to deal with the problem of individuals not actually having to pay for much of anything. Once it is an individuals money they will be far more likely to look at costs. HSA’s and high deductible polices can deal with the second part. For the first part all premiums and health expenses need to be treated the same in regards to income taxes as well as social security taxes no matter if you get your health insurance through your employer or individually.

  62. Speaking to the comments here not to the article.

    When did all of you become a bunch of weepy defeatists?

    Jesus reading RC Dean and Warren and Wine common Sewer and John I swear I am looking at a pack of crying babies who need their diapers changed.

  63. Oh wait Warren did not comment…sorry Warren my bad.

  64. On rebranding —

    “1. Don’t you mean “liberal”?

    2. Oh, you mean like that whacko Ayn Rand?

    3. You mean those people who want to sleep with everyone?”

    YES! I admit it! I am a liberal, AynRandish whore!

    I measure my life in Hedons! I am pinned and wriggling on a lab mat!

    Yes, the Christian Authoritarians do hate me! I favor euthanasia, drug legalization, prostitution, gay marriage, unfettered stem cell research, biology in public schools, abortion rights, condoms for anyone, etc etc etc.

    I also favor currency trading, FOREX, free markets/exchanges, and democracy – as hampered by idealism as each is.

    I am a secular humanist liberal – the bain of the Republican Party.

  65. I have to agree with t.j. too. I think that the only way libertarians could actually override the vast majority of people who are happy to get benefits at someone else’s expense is through a violent revolution. And generally libertarians do not do that kind of thing that much. I predict a future similar to “liberal fascist” vision that Jonah Goldberg explains in his eponymous book.

  66. most americans want government in their lives.

    And capital letters at the start of their sentences.

    I imagine that most Americans don’t give a damn whether or not one’s sentences begin with a capital letter, but I’m pretty sure almost all grade school teachers care when you try to pass off a fragment as a full sentence.

  67. joshua corning,
    We’re being realistic. Unless you plan on shooting the IRS agents when they come to seize your property and fighting the entire government and the majority of the people on your own, I don’t see how libertarian ideas are ever going to influence the government. Too many people are invested in getting their subsidies, welfare, Medicare, Medicare, social security, protective tariffs, student loans, and other goodies at someone else’s expense to relinquish them. If you’re wondering why I’m in such a pessimistic mood today, it’s probably because I forgot my coffee in the morning.

  68. I have to disagree Elemenope. Many of the icons of Western culture (Eastwood, Willis et. al) speak in fragment sentences. But you can be damn sure they capitalize their leading letters. Damn sure.

  69. Jonah Goldberg is a true fascist trying to project his homegrown Authoritarianism on the innocent. He is a religionist – shackled by his “faith” – into a self-exile of smug faggotry, ala Ted Haggard. How he hates freedom in this society I will never understand.

    True markets, Darwinism, Open Society, Transhumanism – where we are going. The clasp of Big Brother/Authority must be fought – just like Jefferson fought the remnants of the Dark Ages.

  70. Many of the icons of Western culture (Eastwood, Willis et. al) speak in fragment sentences.

    That’s why grade school grammarians hate them.

  71. There’s libertarian-leaning, and then there’s libertarian. Most Americans are libertarian-leaning. Most Americans are most certainly not libertarians. Most Americans support most of the proposals listed in the editorial. Most Americans are also in favor of things like the government paying for roads and schools, and for the Social Security system to remain as is, and for the government to set pollution standards on vehicles and factories, all of which an actual libertarian would be opposed to.

  72. And certainly pushing the proposals in the article on which we’d likely have support from strong majorities wouldn’t do any damage to libertarianism, regardless of how severely we want to adhere to the doctrine ourselves.

  73. It is impossible for a major party to want to reduce government, as it would be asking them to reduce their own power. Ain’t. Gonna. Happen.

    As pointed out in The Pragmatist, that’s exactly what happened, to the extreme, in E. Germany. They abolished their positions. But to the article:

    Let patients smoke dope.

    A winning position as an isolated ballot question, but a losing position for political parties or candidates. Extremely few voters would make this a priority on which they’d vote in favor of a candidate, but a larger segment would take it as sufficient reason to vote against.

    Ban the use of eminent domain for private gain.

    A party could win with that in a large enough jurisdiction. Unfortunately in small enough jurisdictions, candidates might lose campaign contributors by taking that position.

    Legalize online gambling.

    Not sure whether you’d win or lose more votest that way. Right now it looks like the pendulum in the USA is swinging more against than pro gambling.

    Make the Internet tax moratorium permanent.

    Being for tax cuts is always a winning position.

    Grant amnesty — er, citizenship — to illegal immigrants.

    Holy shit, skipping right over the green card to citizenship?! The poll said they should be allowed to qualify for it, not that citizenship should be granted.

    Bring the troops home, already.

    Yes, a winner’s position.

    Decouple health insurance from employment.

    Much too broad a statement. Not even clearly a pro-liberty position. One measure to do so, making insurance benefits part of wage income, would simply be an increase in the income tax.

    Robert

  74. There’s libertarian-leaning, and then there’s libertarian.

    And thus, a lot of the wrangling on this subject. Sometimes the term “libertarian” is used to mean only radical libertarians, and other times to mean those who favor liberty more than the avg. person does. Fortunately you usually don’t many radicals to move policy; maybe a sprinking of radicals and a great mass who slightly prefer a policy over its opposite.

  75. Good article.

  76. I thought libertarians were basically optimistic about the future, or at least in some limited way are supposed to be.
    Reading this and other threads has me convinced that libertarianism may have no future, if for no other reason than that most of it’s adherents are a gaggle of pretentious, sniveling whiners that do not seem to believe that it has a future.

  77. “a gaggle of pretentious, sniveling whiners that do not seem to believe that it has a future.”

    Precisely right! (inclusive of all the LP)

    The “anti-IRS” LP might be Christ-Nuts, bent on a Christian sharia’ for the entire USA.

    The “civil liberty/personal freedom” crowd may accept a low marginal rate in recognition that self-rule is a primary human right!

    The two shall never meet….

  78. In other words, only 1-2% of Americans can be considered Libertarians.

    Which is answer to an entirely different question than how many Americans can be considered libertarians.

  79. I agree with kroneborge. Advocating personal liberty shouldn’t mean letting people break the law, even if you disagree with the law. The rule of law is SUPPOSED to be what separates libertarians from anarchists.

  80. and honestly I find it hard to believe someone’s a true libertarian if they won’t even mention minimum wage laws in a discussion of illegal immigration. Black market labor, anyone?

  81. Advocating personal liberty shouldn’t mean letting people break the law, even if you disagree with the law.

    Must… resist… Godwin…

    The rule of law is SUPPOSED to be what separates libertarians from anarchists.

    First, libertarian anarchists are a subset of libertarians. Second, even anarchists believe in the rule of law: They simply believe that the private sector will provide it better than a monopoly state.

  82. and honestly I find it hard to believe someone’s a true libertarian if they won’t even mention minimum wage laws in a discussion of illegal immigration. Black market labor, anyone?

    Okay.

    Minimum wage laws should not exist.

    Laws restricting migration of people who simply want to work should not exist.

    Black market labor? What room is there in such a libertarian society for black market labor?

  83. Gillespie and Welch seem to have me pegged 7 of 7. Good attempt to appeal to the masses. But, the hyperbolic statement about libertarians being the most important group for the candidates sounds defensive against a widespread perception of capital L’s as kooks. In any case, if the US had more of a parliamentary system where six or eight squabbling little parties had to form coalitions to govern, a minority party could form around these kinds of ideas and might align with the remnant of either of the major parties. Not advocating a constitutional amendment or three here, but in multiparty democracies the fringe parties do have more skin in the game.

  84. Fuck you Danny.

  85. The most important voting bloc now are libertarians……Win them over and you’ll win every national election for the next several decades.

    The most important thing I learned from this article is that there are at least two libertarians who like to use drugs. Must have been some good shit.

  86. MikeP,

    Let people in as residents who have no intent to become citizens, but make no requirements on their employment with specific employers.

    That’s a great idea if you’re an anarcho-capitalist. Most of us aren’t.

    Tbone,

    The difference is that Mexicans (who make up the majority of the issue) are low skill laborers. H1B’s include middle class white collar. And if you don’t understand the implications, you apparently have not worked in a company where it’s going on (I have). But at the rate things are going, someday you likely will.

    When corporations can import their skilled labor from anywhere on the planet, they end up treating everybody like so much dog doo doo. They can treat Indians (India type) like dirt because, there’s a thousand more waiting in line if you don’t like how you’re getting treated. They treat American employees like crap because, there’s a thousand Indians waiting in line and you can pay them half as much or maybe less.

    [btw, this really is going on more and more in recent times]

    Before you know it, corporations aren’t treating anyone decently. They don’t have to, and if you let this scenerio come to be, they never will have to. Because there will always be some third world hell hole that they can dredge the starving bodies out of.

    What true-blue libertarians don’t always remember is that corporations are not people. They do not have a conscience. And they will not behave unless you absolutely force them to do so.

    You want to see a massive backlash again any and all immigration in this country? Open the flood gates up and put every middle class American job on the block, forcing American labor (with American living costs) to compete with temporary imported labor from India or where ever. I predict you’ll see Americans not just ready to pay for that wall along the Mexican border, they’ll be volunteering to help build it.

  87. Lisa,

    Advocating personal liberty shouldn’t mean letting people break the law, even if you disagree with the law. The rule of law is SUPPOSED to be what separates libertarians from anarchists.

    Unfortunately anarcho-capitalists call themselves libertarians too. And for reasons I have never grokked, a large part of the rest of the libertarians let them get away with it.

  88. That’s a great idea if you’re an anarcho-capitalist.

    Actually that’s the standard libertarian open borders position. It does not demand in any way that one be an anarcho-capitalist.

    Unfortunately anarcho-capitalists call themselves libertarians too.

    “Libertarian” is a fundamental description of a society that maximizes individual liberty. It requires no derivative claim on what form the government or other rights enforcement takes.

    People can and do differ on whether they believe a state is required for a libertarian society or whether they believe a state causes more problems with liberty than it solves.

    Furthermore, most anarcho-capitalists are libertarians first and anarchists a distant second. They realize that long-lasting libertarianism requires an evolutionary, not revolutionary, course. They further realize that — should at some point in that evolution it becomes clear that a step towards anarchism will be a step away from libertarianism — they would not want to take that step. Their goal is a libertarian society, not an anarchist one — just like any other libertarian.

    Now, about that belief that where one happened to be born circumscribes his individual rights… Are you sure you should be passing judgment on who is or is not a libertarian?

  89. It doesn’t take much to fix the employer provided health insurance problem.

    I like your employer pays into HSA plan, but I wonder which political interest groups would have reason to back such a plan or oppose it. Seems like a boon to employers because it simplifies their role. Some unions leaders might oppose it because its gives their members more power over their own destiny. Some liberals would oppose it because they’re fixated on universal health care.

  90. They can treat Indians (India type) like dirt because, there’s a thousand more waiting in line if you don’t like how you’re getting treated.

    So, your solution to this situation is to not let any Indians find a job with an American company at all?

    You do realize, don’t you, that the money these Indian workers are making is helping pull their country out of shit-poor poverty — for the first time, they have things like decent cross-country highways and shopping malls in every city. Have you ever considered how much the globalization of the economy is helping to promote world peace and prosperity?

  91. Black market labor? What room is there in such a libertarian society for black market labor?

    A “black market” exists only as a response to government trying (vainly) to outlaw certain classes of economic transactions. The “black market” can easily be eliminated by allowing people to freely trade amongst themselves, either for goods or services.

    *[insert standard “non-coercion” disclaimer]

  92. That was me agreeing with Mike P.

  93. Actually that’s the standard libertarian open borders position.

    Yeah, I know that. And you, being a standard libertarian, are one of those who checked your brain in with your coat when you came in the front door.

  94. P Brooks,

    You do realize, don’t you, that the money these Indian workers are making is helping pull their country out of shit-poor poverty

    I could give a shit about their country or their self imposed poverty. The fact that they cannot figure out how to rule themselves in a way that lets them live above poverty, does not place a burden on me to sacrifice what I have.

    Try again.

  95. Oops, that was supposed to be for Mike Laursen not P Brooks.

    P Brooks,

    When it’s trade between actual people that’s one thing. When it’s corporations (international scale), I contend that in some ways the situation changes.

    Standard libertarian thinking has not evolved far enough yet to deal with the realities of the corporate mentality. Corporations are not individuals and they really, really should not be treated as if they were.

  96. You do realize, don’t you, that the money these Indian workers are making is helping pull their country out of shit-poor poverty

    This has a lot in common with a collectivist’s argument for welfare. The open borders position of libertarianism is the one thing that keeps me from telling people I’m a libertarian.

    I find it impossible to believe that the majority of Americans want open borders, however I do acknowledge that there are special interests in both the major political parties that want it.

  97. Libertarians pro-gun, pro-‘mo, pro-open borders?

    Methinks not, unless by that you mean open season on wetbacks, fruits, and dope dealers.

  98. MikeP, thanks for resisting that Godwin, it’s good to know you’re not blatantly equivocating the morality of Nazi Germany with the morality of border control. Too bad you still implied it.

  99. so there seems to be a consensus that libertarians tend to have an extremely pacifist approach towards foreign policy, without even wanting to get to the root of the problem as in illegal immigration. What a load of crap, maybe I’m not a libertarian after all.

  100. oops. Ebeneezer, thanks for clarifying that.

  101. They can treat Indians (India type) like dirt because, there’s a thousand more waiting in line if you don’t like how you’re getting treated.

    If you don’t give a shit about your fellow human beings who happen to live in India, then it was disingenous of you to use the quoted argument about how corporations are mistreating this hypothetical Indian guy whom you don’t give a crap about.

  102. Lisa,

    Apparently in resisting Godwin I left the impression that I was equating the morality of Nazi Germany with the morality of border control. I had no such intention.

    My intention was simply to point out that the utterly unequivocal statement…

    Advocating personal liberty shouldn’t mean letting people break the law, even if you disagree with the law.

    …is clearly wrong.

  103. I find it impossible to believe that the majority of Americans want open borders

    Ebeneezer Scrooge made a similar point up above. I generally agree with the sentiment.

    The debate about immigration lives entirely on the ends of the population distribution. The questions are over whether the US allows immigrants to do the jobs Americans won’t do on the low end and whether the US allows immigrants to do the jobs that Americans won’t train to do on the high end.

    If the majority in the big fat middle of the US thought that their jobs might go to immigrants, the borders would be shut in a flash. At its root, immigration law is pure protectionism.

    So even though I think that immigration law is the US government’s single greatest rights abrogation today, I doubt that a radically freer immigration policy makes a great plank for a moderate libertarian mainstream position.

  104. Individually, many of these policies are popular, but not as a complete platform. Liberals don’t care if you let cancer patients smoke pot, but they’re okay with eminent domain and they’ll never vote for you if you’re for privatized health care instead of a government solution. Conservatives are okay with private health care solutions or no taxes, but don’t you dare pull those troops out of Iraq.

    The policies each side mildly agrees with are less important to voters than the ones they loathe with a blinding hot passion and would never support. This is why libertarians get no overall traction.

    Everyone wants liberty, by which they mean the ability to do what they personally want, as well as being free to force everybody else to do what they think they should be doing. There simply aren’t that many people willing to grant others the right to do things they disapprove of — as in real liberty for all.

    Limited government is a good idea in that then no one has the power to force their neighbor into doing anything. And this is exactly the power people demand. They just disagree on who gets forced into what.

  105. Limited government is a good idea in that then no one has the power to force their neighbor into doing anything. And this is exactly the power people demand. They just disagree on who gets forced into what.

    Then why isn’t the whole democratic world democratic totalitarian? There must be some point at which the desire for their own freedom balances out the desire to oppress the other guy. And where that point lies is probably going to depend in large part on the degree to which they see themselves confronted with attractive and good options, and the degree to which they see everyone else confronted with attractive but bad options. And that will depend in large part on how good things really are.

  106. I’m a pro-globalization, open borders libertarian, but I don’t think either position is anything but an electoral kiss of death.

    Sure, some of the more hardcore, left-leaning libertarians understand the benefit, but the right-wing anti-immigrant reactionaries will get a lot more worked up about it and organized. And globalization is pretty much opposed on BOTH the right and the left.

  107. And I’m not convinced that pulling out precipitously would accomplish much of anything.

    I can think of a few not insignificant things withdrawing from Iraq as quickly as possible would accomplish:

    1. An end to American casualties. Let’s stop the death toll at 4,000, and the wounded toll at 25,000 or whatever the number that no one wants to talk about is.

    2. A savings of oh, about 150 billion a year to the taxpayers, conservatively. Let’s stop pouring good money after bad.

    3. Restoring sovereignty to Iraqis. It’s hard to rule your own country when there’s a 150,000 man occupying army there, no matter how well intentioned they claim to be.

  108. Ebeneezer Scrooge,
    Allowing people to do jobs that they are willing and able to do, employed by people who are willing and able to pay them from their own funds is not “forcing you to make a sacrifice”. Asking a worker to forgo a job opportunity or an employer to higher someone who costs more but doesn’t do a subsantively better job is asking those people to make a sacrifice for you.

  109. Craig,
    While I agree with your overall argument that we should get out of Iraq, I must take issue with your last point. “Restoring sovereignty” to the “Iraqis” does little good when “Iraq” is an artificial political unit encompassing groups that hate and fear each other, and where both sides are out for blood. I am, however, all in favor of letting them fight and kill each other without the cost in blood and treasure that we are currently incurring.

  110. dear reason writers:

    get out of adams morgan in DC….there are no great throngs of “cultural libertarians” out there….oh yeah…”reproductive rights” real cute…and this is libertarian why?

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