Republican Party

"This should be the easiest leap in the world for the Republican Party to make. Unfortunately, it requires them to live up to their limited-government rhetoric."

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I appeared on Sun News' Byline program, hosted by Anthony Furey, to discuss my recent Daily Beast column about how the GOP needs to get more libertarian—embrace less government spending, reform old age entitlements into a small but useful safety net, stop invading everywhere, and accept marriage equality—if it wants to have a vibrant future.

"This should be the easiest leap in the world for the Republican Party to make," I note at one point. "Unfortunately, it requires them to live up to their limited-government rhetoric."

Click above to watch.

Read that Beast column: "To Win Millennials, the GOP Needs to Embrace Its Inner Libertarian."

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  1. Yes it should be. But it is hard for two reasons. First, believing in the government and law enforcement is part of the air Republicans and conservatives have been breathing for the last 40 years. Don’t forget we are only 40 years removed from the late 60s and early 70s. For a very long time, being pro law and order in contrast to the filthy new left was very much a part of Republican identity. What has happened is the left has over time as it took over various government institutions has embraced law enforcement as the method of achieving the total state. Republicans have been slow to pick up on this. Law enforcement and national security is not what it once was. We all talk about Nixon and such, but what is going on now is so much greater in both degree and kind. Nixon and Johnson and company used the FBI and CIA to spy on a few political enemies. Nixon tried to use the IRS to go after his enemies and the IRS refused. Bush and now Obama is spying on everyone. And Obama has used the IRS to systematically harass and suppress his opposition. While they certainly get the IRS scandal, sadly, the Republican instinct is to defend law enforcement and the President on national security matters. Things have changed and they will have to realize that before they change their positions.

    1. Also: TERRORISTS!!!!!

      1. That too. The problem is that pro civil liberties people take the wrong approach. It does no good to try to refight ten year old grudges. It is not going to work. You are not going to get Republicans to admit that things went to far after 9-11. But what you could convince them of is that the threat has subsided and it is time to reconsider these measures.

        1. Eh, the irritating thing is that when this shit was first getting rammed through after 9/11, a lot of people were trying to talk to GOP voters by saying “Fine, you don’t think Bush will abuse this power, but what about Hillary? Or someone else?”

          Same thing we’re saying to lefties now: “Fine, you trust Obama. OK. But what about when a Republican gets elected again?”

        2. Or that the threat was really not all that big to begin with.

          1. The threat was pretty big. 2800 dead people is kind of a big deal. We will never know since we can’t live the counter factual. But I really wouldn’t want to have found out what might have happened had we not killed and captured the people we did after 9-11.

            The bigger issue is not the nature of the threat, something that is by definition impossible to know, it is the effectiveness of these measures. We can argue forever about the nature of the threat and get nowhere. But change the argument to whether these measures actually work and the argument gets a lot easier. They don’t. They haven’t. These people can’t point to a single instance of this sort of mass spying ever resulting in an arrest or foiled plot.

            Understand, they are not doing this stuff out of some malevolent conspiracy. They are doing it because they don’t know how to do their jobs and won’t admit it. It is very easy to collect data and story it. So that is what they do to justify their existence.

            1. Compared to the existential threat of the Soviet Union or even Japan and Germany, the threat was nothing. We just collectively shit our pants when the Middle East came to our doorstep after decades of meddling in it.

            2. They got lucky once. They’ve not managed one since.

              The best defense against terrorism is, was, and always will be a vigilant and armed citizenry. Nothing else can stop it.

              The government would be better off spending the DHS budget on free classes on terrorism and thousand dollar giftcards to your local FFLs.

              1. The best defense against terrorism is, was, and always will be a vigilant and armed citizenry. Nothing else can stop it.

                The Israel example proves otherwise. The Israelis are under a lot more threat than we are. But they seem to have done okay because they have a super competent security and police force. And note, the Israelis don’t listen to everyone’s calls. They understand that doesn’t do any good.

                Understand, that “they got lucky” is the nature of every terrorist attack. Every successful attack is always a question of luck. And no amount of armed populace is going to help if they ever manage to get anthrax loose or come up with a dirty bomb. Those would be a real problem.

                What we need to understand is that whatever the likelihood, WNDs are the “threat”. Dip shits occasionally detonating a backpack in a crowd is not the threat. This country is too big and the people willing to do that too few in number for that to be anything more than an annoyance in the larger scheme of things. And yes, we do need to worry about WMDs. But recording everyone’s phone calls is not going to help.

                1. Recording everyone’s phone calls will help those already entrenched in power though, whether they be bureaucrats or politicians.

                  The real fight is over who is going to get the scraps when the dollar falters. The only real existential threat from the terrorists is if they manage to get a hold of a biological weapon.

                2. The Israel example proves otherwise. The Israelis are under a lot more threat than we are. But they seem to have done okay because they have a super competent security and police force. And note, the Israelis don’t listen to everyone’s calls. They understand that doesn’t do any good.

                  Sorry, how do you think the Israeli model disproves my opinion? Israel has an active deterrent presence of armed people. Very strong militia tradition, and a population which knows what terrorism looks like, and is willing to act without waiting for G-men. The reason the terrorists try to use suicide bombers is that when they try shooting Israeli civilians, the civilians shoot back.

                  1. The reason the terrorists try to use suicide bombers is that when they try shooting Israeli civilians, the civilians shoot back.

                    Ooooh! That’s a bingo!

                  2. But an armed populace is not all Israel has. They do have a very good law enforcement community. You need both.

                  3. Gun laws in Israel are pretty shitty and firearms ownership isn’t widespread.

                    1. Gun laws in Israel are pretty shitty and firearms ownership isn’t widespread.

                      This.

                      All those guys you see on the news in civvies, toting Uzis? They’re usually settlers who are members of the local militia. Think of them as being deputized members of L.E., they aren’t regular citizens.

                      That said, the Israelis do quite a few things that I don’t think would fly yet here (walling off the Palestinian territories), incredibly intrusive searches, etc… But then they have a bigger security threat, with plenty of actual bombings and other terrorist acts, than we do. Can you imagine what we’d do if a gang in Mexico lit off a bunch of Katyushas at, say, El Paso? Well, stuff like that occurs infrequently in Israel.

              2. I will support that initiative.

            3. I have the same tendency to pile up paper & electronic data, telling myself I’ll use it some day. Then comes time to move and you realize how much junk you have around. Of course in my case it’s junk I received voluntarily, not envelopes I scarfed up from everyone else’s mail.

            4. When the death rate from terrorism exceeds that of lightning strikes or bathtubs, you might be able to make the case that it’s a big deal.

              1. It is a bit late to worry after they finally kill a bunch of people.

                1. I think his point is that that logic can be used to ban swimming pools and guns.

    2. John’s been the most incisive commenter on H&R of late.

  2. Then of course the second reason is that a lot of elected Republicans and Republicans in the media live and work in Washington and are totally corrupted by the place. Stay there long enough and you are very likely to believe that things are fine as long as top men are doing them. And worse, you will believe that because that is what everyone you know believes.

  3. I am not a historian, but what I have read from Wikipedia is that the Whigs were destroyed when they split over slavery. I think it is time for the GOP to be destroyed by a split in true small government believers and security statist. If the LP can pick up half the GOP and some independents maybe it can effect some policy changes. It really is the branding and tribalism that hurts the republicans more than anything.

    1. What destroyed the Whigs was the Kansas Nebraska Act in 1854. It destroyed the Compromise of 1850, which was popular and kept slavery out of the West and replaced it with “popular sovereignty” which allowed Southerners to move west and terrorize anti slavery settlers. It also passed the Fugitive Slave Act which made every person in the North criminally liable if he sheltered a runaway slave and subject to be drafted into the pursuit of a runaway slave anytime. The Whigs sold out their constituency in the North to pass one of the worst and most oppressive acts ever passed by Congress and to enable the absolute most repulsive elements of the South to impose their political will on the rest of the country. Since the South was totally Democrat and the North felt completely betrayed by them, the Wigs had no constituency left.

      1. Thank you for the deeper understanding of history(no sarc), but I think the overall point that splitting a major party helped the Republican Party gain members still stands. I think if the GOP split it COULD be good for libertarians. It could also help progressives I guess but I just don’t see too many team reds going that way.

        1. A split would only be good if the new party took an equal number of voters from the Democrats. If the Republican party split and the Democratic party remained in tact, the Democrats would have a super majority very quickly. Third parties are great in parlimentary systems. But they can be a disaster in a system like ours because they can allow a united party to rule like it is a super majority because the other party is split.

          Frankly, I can’t see liberal civil libertarians ever leaving the Democratic party no matter what Obama does. They are too committed to economic liberalism to ever join libertarians in a third party. I don’t care if Obama starts murdering people, they would never do that.

          1. True but I think the number of independents are growing and they might like the message of liberty. Defector republicans + independents + libertarians + tiny % democrats, might be enough to make changes or at least a bigger resistance.

            1. One quasi-libertarian in the Senate is already making a difference. 5-6 would be huge.

              1. Wait… wait…. I thought the evil libertarians were already running DC and that’s why we have all these problems.

          2. I don’t care if Obama starts murdering people, they would never do that.

            ________

            Yeah like he’d have to order the killing of an American citizen without trial or something like that.

            1. Yes Virginian. If anyone in the Democratic Party cared about civil liberties there would have been either a primary challenge or a third party run in 2012 to send a message to Obama. Instead, they all fell in line. In 2008 Obama was a blank slate. You can excuse the lefties who voted for him then to some degree. But in 2012? They couldn’t even vote in significant numbers for a Green Party protest candidate?

              Anyone who voted for Obama in 2012 forfeits all credibility on civil liberties. Clearly those issues are not that important or they wouldn’t have voted for Obama.

              1. Anyone who voted for Obama in 2012 forfeits all credibility on civil liberties.

                Completely agreed. I ram this down lefty throats every chance I get. They re-elected their monster because they were afraid the other monster would come in and make women pay for their own contraception.

                1. RMA,

                  And the thing is, if Romney had one, yes, this stuff would still be going on. But guess what, the Democrats would at least understand that their supporters won’t tolerate it. As it is, neither party thinks there is a political downside to this.

              2. They had an issue that was more important to them: assuring that a black president did not lose re-election, which would’ve meant that 100% of black presidents of the US were deemed failures, and hence that blacks generally were fuckups. It was more important to them that he be re-elected than it was he be elected the 1st time, because re-election meant he was judged to have been good, therefore he was good, even if he were caught with blood on his hands in a cookie jar. To some degree, the worse he was, the more important it was to vote for him.

                The next Democratic president this won’t be so important a factor for, unless it’s a she or a Hispanic or homosexual.

      2. the ways things are going, the Republicans may have no constituency left… in a couple of years, mind you.

        1. or more realistically – like the Tories in England -the ‘pubs will become even more indistinguishable from the Dems.

          1. They seem to believe Romney lost because he wasn’t enough of a RINO moderate, so yeah….that’s the more likely scenario.

            1. it will become the battle of “who can run this bloated decrepit bureaucracy better?” Example: NHS

              1. “Smarter government, not smaller government”-GOP slogan 2024

                1. Wasn’t that pretty much Romney’s slogan? Can’t remember anything he thought should be smaller.

  4. Nobody runs for office so they can leave me the fuck alone.

    Doom.

    Deep fried on a stick.

    1. it appears you got here a couple of minutes ahead of me –

    2. Nobody runs for office so they can leave me the fuck alone.

      I would!

      I’m surprised that there isn’t more sloth in Washington!

  5. the GOP conundrum Nick sees also highlights the single greatest shortcoming of libertarianism as a political philosophy: it requires an elected official to willingly put limits on his/her own power. Who is willing to do that?

    1. I think most people who post here are willing to give up power, but none of them would get elected because they are part of a crazy fringe movement. Also they probably don’t want the job.

      1. Dude, I’d love the job. Big house, big airplane, private country retreat. Just wake up at 10 AM, spend a couple hours signing pardons, eat, fire bureaucrats, sign some more pardons, take a nap.

        1. I didn’t read anything about whiskey in there.
          (Shakes fist) Addddd it!

          1. The whiskey is implied. I’d try to spend the whole eight years with a gentleman’s buzz.

        2. I would likely spend the bulk of the l0b0t administration’s time in office out at White Sands or China Lake playing with all the shiny, shooty toys.

    2. Somebody writing in The Voluntaryist pointed out that the last E. German legislature did exactly that: run promising to abolish their own jobs. So it can be done if there’s overwhelming sentiment in favor of it.

  6. I would love to think young people are looking for a libertarian GOP as savior. I doubt it. Young people don’t have the intellectual wherewithal to reason what a problem huge “safety nets” are to the health of the country. Social issues? Sure. But small, less invasive regulatory and statutory environments? They don’t see it.

    1. I am heartened a bit to see people angry over the phone tapping thing. I was half expected people not to care. And they really seem to.

    2. young people are hampered by 12 years+ of a drumbeat that govt is good and magical and can solve everything. They haven’t had the chance to experience govt as force long enough to wonder about a better way.

    3. I was a flaming socialist/commie when I was young. It was getting a job, having a family, and paying taxes that swung my political needle to the right.

      1. I thought it was free wheeling in the desert with a huge revolver that did it.

      2. Too bad young people can’t get a job and don’t want to start families until they’re 40.

  7. Living up to the limited-government rhetoric would mean fundamentally changing the way the Republican mystery cult operates. Once you get anywhere in the GOP, the head honchos will readily admit that the limited-government rhetoric is just that — rhetoric.

  8. the head honchos will readily admit that the limited-government rhetoric is just that — rhetoric.

    “Pay no attention to that statist behind the curtain.”

    1. If they limited government, some of their friends would lose their jobs. And no one in Washington would like them. Come on Brooks, they have to live in that town.

      1. Friends: One to three is sufficient.

        1. Buy a fucking dog. And everyone in the Washington media sucks anyway. What I will never understand is why anyone would want to be accepted by those douchebags anyway. Hollywood, I can understand. Hollywood is full of drugs, parties, excess and beautiful people. But Washington? Really? If your idea of ultimate success is rubbing elbows with Tom Friedman and Ezra Klein, you are a real loser.

  9. I think a big part of the problem is that a majority of people who write them checks are scared as fuck about Mexicans, gays and other foreigners.

    1. Fear motivates well.

      1. Fear of losing donations.

    2. This. I’ve noted the same phenomenon when it comes to GMOs and nuclear power. I can’t imagine Greenpeace giving up the cash-cow that GMOs are when it comes to donations. It actively prevents “green” groups from rationally considering the scientific arguments about genetic engineering.

  10. Well, no. The problem is that three of those items, reforming old age security, stop invading everywhere, and marriage equality all require them to renounce some core constituencies: the elderly (who vote heavily), the military and the defense industry, and christian conservatives.

    Pissing off any ONE of those constituencies will spell doom at the polls.

    If you were paying ANY attention last election, you might have noticed that even Paul Ryan didn’t have the balls to preach entitlement reform on it’s own terms. He had to describe it as “saving” Social Security and Medicare. Why? Because if you touch SS or Medicare, you lose Florida. The electoral college strikes again.

    Second, the defense industry needs there to be sporadic wars every few years to justify the level of spending congress allocates to them. Stop invading places, and there will be pressure to cut. It’s the same justify-your-existence problem that exists in bureaucracies everywhere. I’m not saying anyone consciously starts a way to justify military spending, but they do tend to be more supportive of wars when they are surrounded by people who make their living off of them. People can rationalize just about anything if it is in their interest.

    Third, Christian conservatives are (much more than libertarians), the core Republican base. They are probably the biggest liability, but they are also the heart and soul of the party.

    1. If they are such a “liability” Hazel, maybe we should just take the franchise away from them? How about we just round them up and put them on reservations like we did the Indians. That way liberals and libertarians can get down to the serious business of governing.

      Or maybe instead, we should stop talking about dumb ass social issues that have no business even being discussed at the federal level? What did happen in 2012? It wasn’t Romney who was talking about social issues. It was the Democrats. Why? Because the strategy is to get people to vote on stupid issues for stupid reasons. Odd how we have “culture wars” in this society but only one side is ever accused of fighting them. Wasn’t aware you could have a war without two parties.

      1. “f they are such a “liability” Hazel, maybe we should just take the franchise away from them? How about we just round them up and put them on reservations like we did the Indians. That way liberals and libertarians can get down to the serious business of governing.”

        Don’t be such a drama queen. She just means, correct or not, that getting the christfag vote is costly in terms of appeal to other demographics, and yet the GOP has become very dependent on their votes, which leaves the GOP in a very difficult position as the Christian base slowly goes the way of the private sector union base.

        1. But of course it is not. Christians are having kids in large numbers. IN 50 years there will be more SOCON Christians than white liberals. White liberals just don’t breed and the political and cultural values of the parents are the best predictor of the child’s cultural and political views.

          If demographics are the issue, then I would say the Dems need to start figuring out how to live without the white liberal vote.

          Stop being a typical libertarian and thinking everyone in the world is just like you. They are not.

    2. You do realize Hazel, you are arguing that Christian conservatives do not deserve any representation in the political system. If the Republicans turn on them, where do they go? Do you really think it is a good idea to tell 30% of the population that their views are no longer allowed to be heard? You think that will turn out well?

      And after that when the SOCONS drop out and form their own party, what then? Do you think they will get more or less reasonable? More or less alienate and angry? And when that happens, who benefits? Are there all of these Democrats just dying to be Republicans after the SOCONs are gone or will the Democrats be able to turn the country into a one party state because their opposition is divided?

      I don’t see that turning out well Hazel. But hey, you will have stuck it to the evil SOCONs, so there is that. You will get your free abortions, birth control and porn, assuming the feminists don’t ban that. But I am not sure you will get much else.

  11. But, but, but… Biden said the libertarians run the Republican Party!

  12. …the GOP needs to get more libertarian – embrace less government spending, reform old age entitlements into a small but useful safety net, stop invading everywhere, and accept marriage equality…

    Embrace less government spending: check, libertarian, and sensible.

    Reform old age entitlements into a small but useful safety net: wrong, there’s already a safety net, called welfare and Medicaid, based on income. Why give rich people money just because they’re old and they were robbed to support previous oldsters’ lifestyles?

    Stop invading everywhere: check, libertarian, and sensible.

    Accept marriage equality: good idea, but not really libertarian since it expands the scope of government marriage licensing.

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