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Now at Reason.tv: Rep. Jeff Flake on How the GOP Can Get Its Groove Back

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At last November's gala dinner in Los Angeles celebrating 40 years of Reason, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spoke about why the Republican party was in a shambles—and what it needs to do to stage a comeback. A principled libertarian who actually votes his conscience, Flake is one of his own party's toughest critics.

In these days of runaway spending, historic deficits, and nationalization of industries, Flake's message of a return to free minds, free markets, and limited government has never been more relevant. Either for his party or the country as a whole.

Bonus Reason.tv video: Flake on ending the Cuban embargo.

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  1. Cut the “principled libertarian” nonsense – he ran for office as a *Republican*. That alone shows his lack of principles.

  2. rah62, what if his principles aren’t the same as yours but still libertarian in practice? Your idea of libertarianism may not be the end all be all. Maybe his include electability thus making the movement viable in government. Just saying.

  3. There’s roughly about two members of Congress even in the same area code as a libertarian and Flake happens to be one of them. Those tendencies have also cost him politically within his own party.

    So by all means, demonize him and cast him out before his heresies infect the populace.

  4. For the past half century when the Republicans have been out of power they come around knocking on our door with their dick in one hand and a bottle of Tequila in the other.

    FUCK THE GOP

  5. Flake might be a pretty good guy but he has the same chance of reforming the GOP as Elle had with reforming Sylar.

  6. “Either for his party or the country as a whole.”

    Don’t leave us hanging: which one is it?

  7. Episiarch: The difference there being that at least a highly cliched TV show can’t really do much harm in the long run. Congress (and both major political parties) can without thinking about it (and usually don’t think about it).

  8. A principled libertarian who actually votes his conscience, Flake is one of his own party’s toughest critics.

    He voted for the Iraq war, so I’m questioning how libertarian his conscience really is. Don’t get me wrong, Flake is a great guy — and probably the 2nd most libertarian Congressman after Ron Paul, but let’s not polish the halo overmuch.

  9. That doesn’t change the truth of my statement, mike.

  10. Jeff Flake isn’t libertarian perfect?
    Duh, who the hell is?
    Ron Paul? Nope.
    Certainly not me, and I’m pretty hard core.

    If we’re going to have purity tests we can forget about even influencing the debate, much less writing (dismantling) policy.

  11. He seems like a good egg. But when exactly was limited government a Republican principle? Or individual liberty? When have Republicans done anything to demonstrate that?

  12. “He voted for the Iraq war, so I’m questioning how libertarian his conscience really is.”

    But then he’s been substantially better on immigration than Paul is.

    I’ve got no problem throwing criticism Flake’s way when he has it coming (breaking the term limit pledge for example), but I’m not sure ideological purity tests are of much value right now. A GOP full of Jeff Flakes is light years better than the one the currently exists.

  13. There must be some bizarro libertarian world where it’s a good idea to disregard potential allies because they aren’t perfect.

    I must have missed the memo where libertarianism was so popular we had that luxury. Of course, some people revel in their status as Libertarian Acolytes; Pure Worshipers of the Faith. A blend of Lenin, Torquemada and John Locke, if you will.

    The rest of us live on planet Earth. Flake voted against:

    No Child Left Behind
    Sarbanes-Oxley
    Medicare Part D
    Homeland Security Act

    He also supports repeal of the Cuba Trade Embargo and wants a guest-worker program for immigrants.

    Even though, yes, he voted for the Iraq War and PATRIOT, he has recently opposed appropriations for both.

  14. libertarian != Libertarian

    It’s perfectly legitimate for Flake to support small government and economic freedom and still want to force those on other countries. I don’t agree with that goal but he’s certainly as libertarian as any Republican.

    He should never be allowed to take a public speaking role again, however. That was just painful to watch.

  15. I capitalized “Libertarian” not for a mention of the party, but because the Faithful demand that the Faith be capitalized, much like the capitalization of “Catholic”.

  16. As far as Republicans go, Flake is one of the better ones.

    Yes, I am aware of his zany anti-personal liberty Mormonism which means he probably opposes ESCR. But hey – he is GOP.

  17. TAO,

    Uh, Catholic and catholic have vastly different meanings that have developed in the 1800 years since the original adjective was applied to the Church. I could say that a person who excelled in many different areas of human endeavor is “catholic” without implying anything about their religious beliefs.

  18. When have Republicans done anything to demonstrate that?

    I do appreciate repealing the national highway speed limit and letting states set their own, so that was something.

    Bonus Reason.tv video: Flake on ending the Cuban embargo.

    Bonus fun fact: If not for the provisions in the omnibus spending bill easing the Cuban embargo, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) would be supporting it and it would have passed, as they’re one vote short. So currently preserving the Cuban embargo is the only thing keeping us from raising domestic spending by 5-7% for the second half of FY2009 instead of the possibility of a continuing resolution holding spending steady. (We had a CR for the first half already, thanks to GWB finally opposing spending once the Democrats took Congress.)

  19. Which R’s are voting for the skinbus?

  20. you could, but for 90% of the populace, that would be confusing because “catholic”, connotatively, means “RCC”.

  21. Yes, I am aware of his zany anti-personal liberty Mormonism which means he probably opposes ESCR

    ESCR? Like the “social justice” group? Or does that mean something else?

  22. The rest of us live on planet Earth.

    One of the things about living on planet Earth is realizing that legislative horse-trading means that sticking to your principles doesn’t always advance them.

    For example, in many large important bills, like say CAFTA or a budget resolution, the vote may be close. In those cases, the leadership will do whatever they can to pass the bill. If you know that the bill will pass anyway, then it’s better to be the one getting small allowances made your way.

    In the example of CAFTA, to get the final vote, they had to agree to delay removing restrictions on textiles, specifically socks. Ron Paul voted against it for various principled reasons. But if his support had been possible, the bill could have been passed all the same but without the extra sock protectionism. Sticking to his ultra-libertarian principles (only unilateral free trade, no deals about how to lower barriers, etc.) made the result less libertarian.

    Yes, if you could get everyone to cooperate it would work, but it’s a prisoner’s dilemma in cases like this.

  23. Which R’s are voting for the skinbus?

    Moderate Olympia Snowe, of course. Appropriators Richard Shelby and Thad Cochran (who come from poor states that get lots of federal funds just when formulae are fairly applied.)

    The Dems are targeting the rest of the appropriators, who have extra earmarks thanks to their prized committee slots, and also the other two moderates (Specter and Snowe’s Maine colleague.)

  24. However, they may just choose to give up on easing the Cuban embargo in order to get the votes of Sens. Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

  25. Flake might be a pretty good guy but he has the same chance of reforming the GOP as Elle had with reforming Sylar.

    Epi, Elle was my favorite – Sylar should have hit it on the beach while she was still warm…

  26. Sticking to his ultra-libertarian principles (only unilateral free trade, no deals about how to lower barriers, etc.) made the result less libertarian.

    I actually agree with this and have said that Bob Barr’s horse-trading by putting sunset clauses in PATRIOT was actually more libertarian in result than Paul’s constant and reflexive “no votes”. One of the consequences in the legislature of being a consistent contrarian means your vote is never worth anything and no one has an interest in dealing with you.

    My criticism is more directed towards people who talk like rah62, wherein Libertarian Diktats preclude any support of any person who deviates from the Faith.

  27. Is Flake the same “principled libertarian” who voted for the PATRIOT act, the Iraq war and warrantless spying on Americans?

    If so, doesn’t that call into question his status as a “principled libertarian”?

  28. Free minds and limited government? That would mean the republican party has to dump the religious right. Not going to happen. Republicans are too attached to religion, which hates free minds and wants to you to live by it’s rules. Republicans will NEVER be about free minds or limited government.

  29. The GOP is dead until they hack off the evangelical contingent. I know so many folks who left the GOP due to the unending “Jesus Jesus Jesus!” bullshit. Sarah Palin was the absolute nadir of that anti-science crap, you betcha.

  30. charlie – do yourself a favor and read the rest of the comments.

    We can consider which is more productive and will make libertarian influence greater: ostracizing those who made past mistakes or encouraging those people to remedy them.

  31. Sarah Palin was the absolute nadir of that anti-science crap, you betcha.

    Uh, no. There is anti-science crap, but the absolute nadir would be Huckabee. Sarah Palin is insanely portrayed (by conservative and evangelical fans as well) as much more socially conservative than she’s actually governed in Alaska.

  32. Epi, Elle was my favorite – Sylar should have hit it on the beach while she was still warm…

    They were by far the two most interesting characters on the show (with Cheerleader and HRG Man tied for a distant third). Sylar is really the only reason I still watch the show.

  33. They were by far the two most interesting characters on the show (with Cheerleader and HRG Man tied for a distant third).

    Never was a fan of Claire. I liked Peter Petrelli when he had all of his powers. And Hiro’s story line with the Ancient Japanese speaking white guy who got buried alive was awesome. By far Ali Larter is the hottest though…

  34. ESCR? Like the “social justice” group? Or does that mean something else?

    Embryonic Stem Cell Research.

  35. By far Ali Larter is the hottest though…

    Nah, Elle had her beat.

  36. Yes, I am aware of his zany anti-personal liberty Mormonism which means he probably opposes ESCR

    Yes, because it’s of course very libertarian to support government funding of research.

    Actually, I think I’m fairly open-minded on the question of whether it’s more or less libertarian to favor restrictions on the use of government funding.

  37. One of the consequences in the legislature of being a consistent contrarian means your vote is never worth anything and no one has an interest in dealing with you.

    True, but that doesn’t mean you’re ineffective. Ron Paul isn’t in Congress to make deals and get legislation passed, or even to steer it in a libertarian direction — such goals would be a lost cause in a House with 435 members, 400+ of whom aren’t remotely libertarian.

    Ron Paul is in Congress to give his ideas a national stage and to give himself a taller platform to speak from. That too seemed like a lost cause for years, but his dogged consistency in voting and in speaking his ideals, combined with advances in technology allowing his message to leak out around the official channels, as well as the prescience of many of his warnings, has turned him into a nationally prominent voice of principled opposition, sought out by cable news channels with increasing frequency.

    If he were just another libertarian-leaning Republican horse trader, most of us would have never heard of him.

  38. El,

    That Ali Larter scene where she gets it doggie style is the best ever. granted, not from Heroes, but way way up there. Elle is amazing though…

  39. If he were just another libertarian-leaning Republican horse trader, most of us would have never heard of him.

    Most of you, maybe, you people with lives, sure.

    No, I take your point, but does being “sought out by cable news channels with increasing frequency” really make you influential? Pat Buchanan is, after all.

    I also suspect that the cable news channels will ignore Rep. Ron Paul now that he’s saying “wow, Republicans were really bad, but Obama and the Democrats are even worse” instead of just criticizing Bush and the Republicans.

  40. Ron Paul is in Congress to give his ideas a national stage and to give himself a taller platform to speak from. That too seemed like a lost cause for years…

    Also, if that’s all he was after, it seems like he could have gotten a national stage faster by being a pundit, a speaker, an entertainer, a columnist, a Rush Limbaugh, etc.

    He’s in Congress; that’s his job. He has had significant opportunities to turn things in a more libertarian direction; not always, and only rarely.

    Even as I understand your point, I’m not sure that Ron Paul’s career has really benefited liberty the way that even, say, the sorely-missed Dick Armey did.

  41. Sarah Palin was the absolute nadir of that anti-science crap, you betcha.

    Sarah Palin is an excellent example of how Rs and Ds see the world. What Palin says she believes is their view of her political philosophy. Neither end of that scale understands the difference between, “I personally think this,” and, “I personally think this therefore there ought to be a law to force you to agree with me.”

    Now, if only “President Flake” didn’t sound so – well – flakey.

  42. Yes, because it’s of course very libertarian to support government funding of research.

    Who mentioned funding?

    The GOP worked hard on legislation to ban all ESRC. This ban was on the state ballot in Missouri in 2006 and helped get Claire McCaskell elected when Limbaugh called Michael J Fox out for “faking” his Parkinson’s Disease in a promo spot.

    Another blight for that fat fuck liar Limbaugh.

  43. Is Flake the same “principled libertarian” who voted for the PATRIOT act, the Iraq war and warrantless spying on Americans?

    If so, doesn’t that call into question his status as a “principled libertarian”?

    But he’s against earmarks!!!!

  44. “I could say that a person who excelled in many different areas of human endeavor is “catholic” without implying anything about their religious beliefs.”

    What a stupid joke. Or are you referring to which burnings and the like ?

  45. which = witch – sorry

  46. The GOP worked hard on legislation to ban all ESRC. This ban was on the state ballot in Missouri in 2006 and helped get Claire McCaskell elected when Limbaugh called Michael J Fox out for “faking” his Parkinson’s Disease in a promo spot.

    I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure you have that a little bit backwards.

    I thought what was on the ballot in Missouri was Amendment 2, which claimed to ban human cloning but specifically stated that embryonic stem cell research was legal in the state and could not be restricted by the legislature. It passed.

    Opposing an Amendment guaranteeing that the legislature cannot ban ESRC is somewhat different from proposing an actual ban.

  47. The GOP worked hard on legislation to ban all ESRC.

    Not nationally. And in California what was opposed was a measure to provide state money directly for research. They did oppose Missouri’s Amendment Two, which prevented the legislature from banning embryonic stem cell research, but there was no “legislation to ban all ESRC” or amendment to do so.

    Apparently anything not banned, must be provided extensive government funding.

  48. Very nice find, John Thacker. I may be an asshole but I do acknowledge anothers valid positional research.

    IIRC, the term “cloning” was used to confuse the voters and muddled the water on the issue.

    But there was a nascent effort to federally ban ESCR. Since your HTML skills are better than mine I provide this Novak article that should verify a Brownback led Senate campaign.

    February 13, 2006
    GOP Cloning Rupture
    By Robert Novak

    WASHINGTON — Defection from anti-cloning ranks by Sen. Jim Talent, until now a rising star in the conservative movement, reflects deep divisions in the Republican Party created by the stem cell research issue. When Talent went on the Senate floor Friday to take his name off a bill to ban human cloning, he showed how those divisions imperil his re-election to a second term in Missouri this year.
    Talent had been a longtime co-sponsor of Sen. Sam Brownback’s anti-cloning bill. But Missouri business interests who finance the Republican Party are backing a state constitutional amendment that explicitly allows human cloning to enable scientific experiments on embryonic stem cells. Talent succumbed to pressure to step away from Brownback, basing this on the premise that there are new scientific developments. His risk is that his social conservative constituency will regard this as a betrayal and in turn abandon Talent at the polls.

    Missouri has been a passionate battleground, beginning with the Civil War and more recently as a weathervane for national elections. The stem cell struggle there reflects nationwide tension between the country club and religious conservatives that has been kept under control in the largely dormant abortion debate. But Democrats want to use stem cell research as a wedge issue in the way Republicans used gay marriage. Talent had a political choice between the country club and his old right-wing constituency, and he picked the country club.

  49. btw – “cloning” is just a scary way to say that embryos are created for the purpose of research. The distinction between existing lines research and test-tube creation is of little interest to me.

  50. Fewer favors could be done to this planet than to hang every member of the GOP. I’d deal with the moral consequences later, after we’re done cleaning up their mess.

  51. If you’re grading him on voting for the Iraq war there are MANY dems that voted for it too. Actually about 23 dem senators voted for the war and about half the house dems voted for the war.. sooooooo you better start kicking their arses out of there come 2010 righty right?

  52. 100 Years of failure – this economic conservative, Libertarian message of free markets and let business do whatever it wants – this message has been rejected by the American voting public at the national level for close to 100 years, whether it works better in theory or even in practice, only a complete head in the sands fool or a 100% 24/7/365 Libertarian cult true believer will continue to come back year after year and push this bitter pill to the voting public. Go populist, win something and then try to work in some economic policies that work, just find a way to sell it as something other than the hated anything goes economics, no government.

    We made a music video dedicated to the “crazy” folks like this speaker who go on and on, pushing this message the voters always reject.

    http://blip.tv/file/1849278

  53. We? Who the fuck are you? People so dedicated to the anti-libertarian cause (less then 1% of the vote you say) must be in whole other dimension of crazy.

  54. Tony writes, “Fewer favors could be done to this planet than to hang every member of the GOP. I’d deal with the moral consequences later, after we’re done cleaning up their mess.”

    Firstly, you have no idea what the “mess” is and have proven that you’re not intellectually thorough enough to understand the root cause of failed policy. Secondly, as a leftist you certainly must have no gun. I suspect most members of the GOP certainly do. So before you can say, “lynch,” which is what you espouse, a bullet would be lodged in your and your family’s heads.
    Careful what you wish for. Live by the sword; die by the sword.

  55. I do agree with Flake that the Republicans will come back on a platform of limited government and economic freedom.

    But that won’t happen until they start actually living up to those promises.

    The reason they lost isn’t because people didn’t like that message. Most Americans still want smaller government. It’s because they justly perceived as not living up to it.

  56. John Ellis: 100 years of failure? Are you sure your not refrring to the 90 years of unmitigated and repetitive disaster of the ‘noble experiment’ called socialism? The Great Leap Forward alone is evident.

  57. Cut the “principled libertarian” nonsense – he ran for office as a *Republican*. That alone shows his lack of principles.

    I simply don’t understand this attitude.
    Right now I’d settle for anyone who is legitimately and consistently fiscally conservative (as Flake and Paul seem to be). I don’t care what they call themselves party-wise.

  58. The problem with libertarianism is that many people have too simplistic a view of it. Free markets are a generalization from Free Markets are the best way to allocate goods, services and capital under conditions of approximate perfect competition. If those conditions do not exist then the question is whether or not the problem caused by the market failure is greater than the problems that could stem from a government solution. We don’t have a free market for the services of military protection, rule of law, and domestic security because of the free rider problems associated with them and thus the government steps in because there would be anarchy otherwise. Used cars also represents a possible market failure of adverse selection but the cost and potential problems of having a big government used car program are much greater than the risk of buying a lemon. The enemies of liberty have portrayed “laissez faire” as a simplistic hands off approach and then point out the worst market failures to convince people that free markets don’t work and thus give themselves the power to regulate anything they see fit.

    As for war, there is nothing per say “unlibertarian” to advocate a war to promote freedom abroad if freedom is the real goal and there is a reasonable chance that it can actually be accomplished; we can help people secure freedom themselves but can’t force it upon them. If I saw a biker gang attacking a woman I’ll call the cops and not likely personally intervene, but if it was just one guy alone and I felt I could take him I’m not just going to walk away. Libertarians need to be humble but need not be isolationist.

    As for abortion and embryonic stem cells it is also not “unlibertarian” per say to oppose their usage. Abortion and stem cells aren’t personal morality issue but issues of what constitutes a human life. A conception of life is prior to the harm principle. Where ever life begins from that point on it ought to be protected from harm caused by other people, though obviously some exceptions can be made for the health of the mother or use of already dead stem cells. It’s hard to say exactly when life begins but there can certainly be restrictions on abortions of viable fetuses.

    The GOP’s real problem was legislating personal morality on things like gay marriage and drugs, abandoning all fiscal responsibility, violating constitutional and human rights to fight the war on terror, and its immigration policies.

    Ultimately there is a lot more variance in libertarian policies than many think. Libertarians can agree on general principles but there is plenty of room for disagreement on their applications.

    To quote Hayek “The fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society, and resort to as little as possible coercion, is capable of infinite… applications.” (Road to serfdom)

  59. Perhaps next, Jeff Flake will go out to sea off the coast of Israel and comment on how Adolf Eichmann’s ashes can “get their groove back”. After that, perhaps he can help the ebola zaire virus “get its groove back”.

    If he can do those two things, then I have faith in him being able to breath life into the bloated carcass of the Repuglican Party.

    But seriously, I think it would be a good idea to kill the Republican Party as dead as a doornail. Kill it, chop off its head, drive a stake through its heart, burn it to ashes, and then scatter those ashes at sea. (And then do the same thing to every State prosecutor that has ever filed a “motion in limine” / gag order.)

    Libertarians’ dire enemy is the credible remnant of the RP. Once the Republican Party is a complete vampiric husk, and no sane or respectable person wants to join its open fascism, due to the social ostracism they will suffer if they do, then we can be the 10-20% Republican-fascist, 35-45% Libertarian, and 45% Democrat-fascist. Depending on how the breakdown occurs, the worst damage we can do to ourselves is not to be a distinct brand, apaert from the hated, compromising, socially-toxic Republicans.

    The Democrats can be educated about economics, and reminded that their mascot comes from the man who was called a “Jackass” (Andrew Jackson) for opposing the Second Bank of the United States (a precursor to the “Federal Reserve”). They can be told about the locofoco Democrats, and educated, (unless they’re part of the small minority that is simply too damned stupid). Since they are not lock-step Roman soldier conformists (like the Republicans are), some of the Democrats will defect when the Libertarians run a decent candidate (assuming that ever happens).

    In a few years –assuming we’ve seen the last of the Libertarian Party’s scummy compromising and running drug warrior prosecutors– the Libertarian Party will be the majority party.

    Why and how, you ask, when they are currently flailing around in Sean Haugh’s excrement?

    Easy: As people realize that they have dug themselves and their children into a grave, the voice that points out that they are now in a grave becomes more obviously correct.

    If that voice then politely offers a helping hand, that poor befuddled voter just might take it.

    Americans aren’t evil. They’re just stupid and unprincipled.

    …The same traits that caused the nazis to follow Hitler, and the Russians to follow Stalin.

    At some point, the swindle becomes transparent. Hopefully, it’s before the public notices the cement truck pulling back to the handsome grave they’ve dug for their families.

    Once the slurry starts flowing, it becomes less and less advantageous for counter-economics-practicing libertarians and anarchists to save the conformist carcasses of Joe sixpack and his family. (Opting instead to flee the country, as typically has happened during human capital flight –the flight of those saving their own lives and the lives of their families.)

    Democrats are often less conformist than Republicans. As such, they are more willing to change, more morally principled, and less religiously brainwashed. They simply need to be taught a bit more about emergent order, and they are on their way to being libertarian.

    Or, perhaps some of them need to be taken on a tour of a prison, to see what their tax dollars have been buying. Here it is, in full color:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPOy1ipOdak&eurl=http://www.nevergetbusted.com/node/178

    The beauty of this plan, is that it is going to happen whether anyone here likes it or not.

    And then, purely evil Rahm Emanuel types will be exposed as being more Republican fascists than a humanist Democrats. It will bring their social intolerance to the forefront of the debate, since the issue of sound currency will have been decided in favor of the fledgeling LP.

    This is just human psychology at work. It has nothing to do with logic, and everything to do with social patterns.

    Liberty and Justice For All,

    The Freedom Jury

  60. Take undergrad courses much? How affordable is your dining hall meal pass plan?

    Your precious Democrats can be “educated” until the cows come home, you nitwit, but I have observed nothing but lockstep behaviour from those scumbags since the first bailout effort last year.

    You’d be served well to get off the ridiculous high horse and call a spade a spade.

  61. My comment regarding 100 years of failure for libertarian/Conservative Economic politic candidates at the National level was simply a commentary of fact that this program – whatever its merits doesn’t sell well in American national elections.

    American voters are scared of it, think their grandparents will be kicked out on to the streets without social security, with no government that cares about them.

    Also, military towns like San Diego CA, Colorado Springs CO, Annapolis MD – the political candidates who win here promise and deliver big funding for the military.

    Now there are Libertarian oriented political candidates who win elections, who do better than 1% like Ron Paul did in the Presidential race. Ron Paul actually won Congressional races in Texas, Jesse Ventura won the governorship in Minnesota – but study these campaigns, they don’t just get up and speak economics. This turns off the voting public, especially poor and working class voters.

    Instead voters go for personalities – people that inspire and excite, people they identify with is he “like me” will he stick it to “them” the people I don’t like?

    It is no good to take the holier than thou view that you/we know better than the regular masses of voters, we have read and understand Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman etc. You/we have to find ways to recruit better, young candidates who are good communicators, who can contest elections and play to win.

    And please everyone understand – if you have fallen in to a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year obsession with this libertarian cult, other Americans are going to look at you as a nut case, loser, loner, drop out.

    Let’s get back in to society.

    Check out or video – it’s a bit rough, but it is the truth.

    http://blip.tv/file/1849278

  62. There are three 100% libertarians serving in the United States Congress. All three as Republicans:

    Jeff Flake
    Tom McClintock
    Dana Rohrabacher

  63. The Freedom Jury!

  64. The problem is that there is a broad level of economic ignorance across the country about what kinds of policies actually work supplemented with a good dose of class envy. These things combine to create a systemic bias against free markets even though they generate the most wealth for everyone.

    Libertarians have a tough fight to convince people that the president isn’t some kind of God-Emperor capable of solving all the worlds ills, that free markets are the best without using the advanced math and language usage many people can’t follow, and that people should act because they have something to do and not because they have to do something; all within a standard media soundbite.

    There is nothing in libertarianism that means that the state has no role in helping the poor, Hayek himself supported some forms of social aid. The problem is that liberals don’t tie aid to work unless forced to by fiscal conservatives and they don’t want to just help the poor but bring about “social justice” or fight “income inequality” effectively achieving equal outcomes not equal opportunity. Aid to the poor promotes freedom if structured properly and can also be conceived of as a public good by keeping future Einsteins from falling through the cracks. Aid to anyone else not justified by an economically defined market failure is just income redistribution from the politically powerful to those who are not.

    As for Democrats and Republicans; Republicans need education of the applications of their principles whereas Democrats need largely to replace their big government worldview.

    There might have been hope with Clinton and the New Democrats of some kind of fiscal conservative socially tolerant party but then the far left came to control the party. The Democrats now are just a collection of special interests united in using big government to deliver public funds to their constituencies. Where are the Ron Pauls of the Democrat party speaking out against their far left radicals like he has spoken out against the neo conservatives? Anyone who thought Obama would be a moderate did not follow the primary campaign or watch news programs that weren’t just extensions of the Obama campaign office.

  65. Thanks Tim | March 7, 2009, 4:35pm for acknowledging the real world and the specific real American political world.

    Too many Ivory Tower Libertarians seem to think their principled free market theories can be implemented the same way anywhere in any country in any society as if all people, all countries all societies are the same.

    The reality is there a different types of people in America, in the world – these people have different loyalties, different hatreds, different fears and I know as fact that humans, with the exception of 100% true beliver libertarians are tribal, they have loyalties to groups, look to be in groups, look to find leaders that promote the interest of their group at the expense of other groups, other people that they don’t like.

    Obama’s election was based upon organizing various groups – not promoting the freedom of individuals to do whatever they want.

    I think Libertarians here might consider looking at some groups that they might feel OK with joining.

    Individuals alone are going to be devoured in the future.

  66. There certainly is an ideal form of government to reach that is best for all peoples however the best approach to get there is not going to be same for all societies. The movement needs both Ron Pauls and Republican horse traders. Someone needs to advance libertarian principles while others have to get them enacted. Its almost inevitable that some principles may be bent or broken to get the broad policies enacted.

    What is more important a vice tax on cigarettes or sound monetary policy? There needs to be priorities. Libertarians need to convince groups how their principles are good for both that group and others but not abandon their advocacy of principles. School choice vouchers are wonderful for poor African Americans in inner cities because it helps their kids escape failing schools. Its not a problem though of not joining groups on its own but of having a very simplistic view of libertarianism and dividing up on wedge issues or philosophical disputes.

    I feel that the right mixture of government is a nightwatchman state with a limited social safety net, provision of economically defined public goods and regulation of economically defined market failures, and coercion only to fund the above legitimate functions of government and only to prevent direct harm to others (offensiveness and failure to help do not count as harm). These policies best enable the individual to be most free without infringing upon the freedoms of others.

    The problem is that some people generalize the above principles into simply “hands off” the economy which is a good rule for 99% of economic activity but not always. This allows opponents of liberty to say libertarians don’t want to help this and that group, and it causes some libertarians to get purged from the movement because although they support libertarian principles when they are seen to violate those rules of thumb they are dubbed ideologically impure.

    I reject the idea that libertarianism is a cult though as the kinds of things described here happen to liberals and conservatives too. Environmentalists have fought over windmills that on the one hand provide “green energy” and on the other hand kill birds that fly into them. Global warming is practically a religion where questioning it is heresy and some Republicans cherry pick a few sentences in Leviticus to justify existing sexual morality despite the fact that many good people in the old testament had multiple wives. Palin was picked because the far right would go nuts if he picked anyone who was pro choice.

  67. I just don’t see it happening…

    I don’t see a candidate with the following platform winning national election:

    – Flat tax.
    – Balanced budget amendment.
    – Privatize Social Security.
    – Promise to veto any non-balanced budget/ any earmark.
    – Promise to veto any expansion of entitlements.
    – Disband Federal Reserve.
    – Promise to veto any new gun regulation.
    – Disbanding ATF & DEA.
    – National decriminalization of pot.
    – Neo-isolationist.
    – Re-deploy from Iraq and Afganistan.
    – Pro-choice.
    – Not an evangelical.

    Not. Gonna. Happen.

    So for “libertarians”, you get to pick your poison. You can pick from the bottom of the list or from the top of the list, an then vote accordingly. Have fun!

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