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Free Minds & Free Markets

P.J. O'Rourke: Things Are Going to Be Fine

But there's going to be some trouble getting to the fine part.

"The politician creates a powerful, huge, heavy, and unstoppable Monster Truck of a government," P.J. O'Rourke writes in his new book, How the Hell Did This Happen? (Atlantic Monthly Press). "Then supporters of that politician become shocked and weepy when another politician, whom they detest, gets behind the wheel, turns the truck around, and runs them over."

In the book, O'Rourke's 19th, the former editor in chief of National Lampoon uses his celebrated blend of acerbity and warmth to explore the 2016 election, which he refers to as a "rebellion" against people in control. O'Rourke, a regular panelist on NPR's Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!, worries our changing economy is fueling a populist wave of fear and anger. "There's a segment of America that feels threatened by change, change of all kinds," he says. Still, he's optimistic for the future. His kids might have three or four careers over the course of their lives, but "I think they're pretty hip to that, actually. I don't think that they're particularly frightened by it."

In March, Reason's Nick Gillespie spoke with O'Rourke by phone about what he saw on the 2016 campaign trail, what it means for the country, and how libertarians should respond to this new populist moment.


Reason
: Do you consider yourself more of a libertarian or a conservative? Where do you see the border between those concepts?

O'Rourke: It really depends upon from what angle we're looking at things. Politically, I consider myself primarily to be a libertarian. I am personally conservative. I'm conservative about religion. I'm conservative about moral values. I'm probably even somewhat more conservative than many libertarians are in foreign policy.

When you look at something that happens, especially in politics, you say, "Does this increase the dignity of the individual? Does this increase the liberty of the individual? Does this increase the responsibility of the individual?" If it meets those three criteria, then it's probably an acceptable libertarian political policy.

P.J. O'Rourke. Photo by David Howells/Getty.P.J. O'Rourke. Photo by David Howells/Getty.What is good about the new populism for you, and what scares you about it?

Well, let's talk about the good, because it's more limited. I think there's a worldwide animus going on against the elites. Part of this is that the shift toward a much more high-tech economy is leaving a lot of people who have manual skills, or simply the capacity for hard labor, way behind. This is something that needs to be addressed, needs to be recognized, because it's not so much that the divide between the rich and poor has gotten greater. There's actually been tremendous strides around the world at abolishing the worst level of poverty. But [people are] feeling a sort of aspirational ceiling. The fact that a lot of it has to do with lack of rule of law in places—not only in utterly chaotic places like, say, Somalia or Sudan, but in very corrupt places like Russia and China—is making people very angry. Rule of law is something that's fundamental to a free society.

Define rule of law. Do you mean that the same rules apply to everybody?

Exactly, and you can sort of extrapolate from this that it doesn't have to be perfect law. That as long as the rules of the society apply to everybody, there is a kind of justice in the air. But when there's an exception because of wealth or power or holiness or fame, you name it—if there is a mechanism by which somebody can step outside the justice department—then that law is lousy no matter how liberally written.

What about countries like France, Hungary, Russia, the United States, England? These are also places that are experiencing real paroxysms of populism.

I would say there are a couple of things going on. One thing sets us apart from Europe: Europe is suffering from a tremendous refugee crisis that the governmental elites have completely failed to address. They've failed to address its cause. They've failed to address its effects. They've failed to address its aftereffects. They have just completely screwed things up, and I think that probably holds the key to the Brexit vote.

NPR did an exit poll where they went around to places that had voted heavily for Brexit, and pretty much across the board, [the response] wasn't racist, it wasn't violent, it wasn't xenophobic, but it was, "This isn't the Britain that I grew up in. Things are changing."

Here [in the U.S.] I think it's more directly an effect of expansion of government to the point where government just has its thumb in every conceivable pie. I mean, we are so complexly regulated that it's driving people crazy, and the people it's driving crazy are the core [Donald] Trump voters. They tend to be small-business people, often highly skilled blue-collar [folks]. Their incomes wouldn't indicate that they're blue-collar. Their education might not.

These are craftsmen, or…?

Yeah. The plumbers and electricians, and maybe master electricians, master plumbers.

Trump was not my choice, but I was talking to a guy [at a Trump rally] and he said, "I own a gas station and a towing operation. It's just me and my wife. I don't have a human [resources] department. I don't have a legal department." He said, "Every time some jerk in Washington passes some new idea, he never seems to think that it means another pile of paperwork on my desk." He said, "I've got old gas tanks at my gas station, and I can't get the local, state, and federal permits to get them removed. I can't get the local, state, and federal permits to install new ones. I'm regulated from every conceivable direction." He had a fair number of employees, and he said, "I can afford the Obamacare. But what I can't afford is the paperwork that comes with it. That's not what I do." I really liked the guy and finally I said to him, "So electing a maniac fixes this how?" He laughed. He said, "I don't know, but the hell with the bunch of them. I'm voting for Trump."

"At the core of libertarianism—as an attitude and as a way of thinking about politics—is the idea that people are assets. The liberal idea is that people are burdens."

You endorsed Hillary Clinton and said you wouldn't vote for Trump.

No, and I did vote for Hillary.

How did that feel?

OK. It was a matter of, if I may say so, reason. You know, in the commodity market there's something called the VIX, the volatility index. They call it the fear index. You can actually buy and sell fear on the commodity index. I looked at the volatility of the two candidates, and I thought, "I know with about 98 percent, 99 percent assurance exactly what I'm getting with Hillary. I loathe and detest it, but we just survived eight years of it. I doubt it will last more than four more." It's very rare for American political cycles to last longer than 12 years, as poor George H.W. Bush proved.

I looked over at Trump, and I said, "I have no idea. I just have no idea. He might turn out to be an absolutely ordinary president. [But] I don't like this populist noise." If I had to put one finger on a thing about Trump, it was the scapegoating, the stuff about refugees, the stuff about immigrants, and so on. I'm a pro-immigrant guy. I will listen to anti-immigrant talk from a full-blooded American Indian and nobody else. They've got a beef.

Let's talk specifically about Trump. What frightens you most about him?

This is just not a small-government guy. This is a big-brushstroke person, and I don't have any use for that. I want the government to shrink in the wash. I want it both cleaner and smaller, please.

And whiter? Is that where you're going?

As a matter of fact, if anything, I want the nation to be more colorful. At the core of libertarianism—as an attitude and as a way of thinking about politics—is the idea that people are assets. The liberal idea is that people are burdens. More sick people means more government expense. More poor people means more government expense. More any kind of people means more government expense. Whereas I think it means more growth, more vitality.

But Democrats are going after Trump with everything they've got.

They sure are. But the point of the fact is, he's one of them.

Explain that a little bit.

He's one of them, but he's coming at it from a sort of populist [direction]. There's a segment of America that feels threatened by change, change of all kinds, and he's saying, "Well, I'm going to make things like they used to be." But the tools that he's going to use—huge infrastructure spending, Big Digs everywhere, the huge rise in military budget. We already spend more than, what is it, the other top 10 countries combined? We may have a foreign policy that doesn't make any sense, but you don't want to mess with our military. He's a big-government guy for small-minded people, and the liberals are so mad at him because they regard themselves as large-minded people, but of course they're equally big-government.

Something else somebody said to me on the campaign trail at a Trump rally was, "Damn it. I'm in the logging business. I am so regulated." And at the end of it he said, "I turn on the TV at night, and what's the lead news story? It's about transgender bathrooms. We don't have any bathrooms in the woods."

"I will listen to anti-immigrant talk from a full-blooded American Indian and nobody else. They've got a beef."

You talk about populism as a libertarian tragedy. How did you answer the guy who was pissed about the transgender bathrooms on the news?

I was just there as a reporter, so the way I responded to him was by writing what he said down.

You need somebody who is really good at getting this stuff across, the way Ronald Reagan was. I would prefer things to be so that I could tell you, "We have to do more libertarian education. We have to do more libertarian outreach. We've got to get younger people who have libertarian inclinations more engaged in this." In fact, it requires the kind of leadership that was not provided by [2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate] Gary Johnson.

He was not inspiring?

He just ran a terrible campaign. There were so many moments, it seemed to me, over this campaign cycle that lasted for two years, when libertarian stuff could catch fire, and it didn't. I had some hope for [Kentucky Sen.] Rand Paul, but Rand is unfortunately burdened by intellect. You ask Rand a question and you get the whole answer. While that's great for an interview, it's not great on the stump. You don't get the joke that you got from Reagan. You don't get the thing boiled down.

In some of your writings, you talk about how the pace of technological change seems different over the past, say, 30 or 40 years, and that in the digital era, change is more disruptive. What's going on?

First there was an agricultural revolution in the late Middle Ages, which arguably led to the Renaissance. Adam Smith makes that argument in The Wealth of Nations. Then of course was the Industrial Revolution. The thing we have to understand about those revolutions was that they were slow. Especially the Agricultural Revolution. It was very gradual—so gradual that it wasn't until a couple of hundred years later that people really could realize that it had happened.

The Industrial Revolution was much faster, but it worked on very basic principles of mechanics [so] that your average plowman could look at this machine and see how it worked. It was linear. Once you had seen a railroad, how surprised could you be by an automobile, which is a locomotive off its track? The Industrial Revolution was comprehensible to people. It happened fairly quickly, but not nearly as quickly as the [information technology] revolution, or the electronic revolution, or the internet revolution, or whatever you want to call it. And the side effects of this very quick technological change have been exceedingly unpredictable. I mean, who at the onset of the internet would predict that it would make the anchor store at the local mall go away? It has these totally surprising effects on people's lives and their jobs, and it spreads fear, even to people who have nothing to fear.

Libertarians are often accused of being descended from Vulcans and not having any emotions. How do you put the humanity back into that disruption? Because you're explaining extremely well where the populist anger comes from, but we also don't want to deny the fact that Amazon is a great service.

Absolutely. We all use it. We're voting with our fingers. We're voting with our credit cards. We're all in favor of it, obviously. It cost us a job at one end but got us a cheap couch at the other.

I think this is one of the reasons that this was a very tough election for libertarians, because it's hard for libertarians, who are in favor of progress, who are in favor of innovation, and who are in favor of free enterprise, when disruption is caused by these fundamentally good things—macro good things. But when they're causing disruption at a micro level, maybe we sometimes have to rethink, a little bit, our position of utter non-interference in people's lives.

This certainly would be a time for libertarians to get in there and work hard on getting rid of the kind of regulations that put undue limits on any kind of free enterprise. Small businesses shouldn't be penalized for growing. They shouldn't be zoned out of existence. They shouldn't be regulated out of existence. It's time to do that. And maybe there are rational government interventions, not to prevent any of these [examples of progress] from happening, but to ease the circumstances under which they happen.

P.J. O'Rourke. Photo by David Howells/Getty.P.J. O'Rourke. Photo by David Howells/Getty.That could be a different type of social safety net than libertarians historically are comfortable with, or universal basic income, or…

Yeah, it could be something in that direction.

I don't pretend to be enough of a policy wonk to say which of these things would be best or not best. I leave that to the scholars at the Cato Institute and places like that. But I have a feeling that comfort can be given, and aid and assistance. So many kids are coming out of the educational system ill-prepared for this modern economy. Right there with school vouchers, you've got a good issue.

Are you optimistic? Most libertarians I know feel like in the long run, things will just get better and better. But what about the medium run? Are your kids going to have to learn three or four different professions over the course of their life?

I think they're pretty hip to that, actually. I don't think that they're particularly frightened by it. They of course have a capacity, that I at my age don't, to embrace change enthusiastically. When you're a 13-year-old boy, any change is good change. "Hey, the house is on fire." Everything is exciting.

I am actually very optimistic. But of course I've had the good fortune—and this had to do with making a decent income and also with the person I married—to ensure that my kids are getting a good education. They're going to be prepared, both specifically with certain skills, but also intellectually, generally, to cope with the change.

One model we can look to is Europe, which we might be 20 years behind in terms of the populist uprising. But then there's Japan, which has fewer people now than it had at the turn of the century.

I don't think either of those are appropriate models for us. I mean, Europe is so ingrained with its factionalism and its proximity to all sorts of ugly customers. You can practically walk to war from anywhere in Europe.

Japan is such an isolated, insular society. For all the talk to the contrary, we're immigrant-friendly and we're an immigrant nation. And while we do have plenty of factions, they do all speak more or less the same language and are not divided up the way that Europeans are. Nor do we have this sort of royalist attitude that all good things rain down upon us from the government, which still obtains in these ex-royal countries. Even in France, where you'd think they would know better.

I think things are going to be fine, but there's going to be some trouble getting to the fine part, and libertarians, we may be fighting some old battles.

You mean that we're fighting over entitlement spending and things like that?

Yeah. I mean, these things absolutely have to be addressed, and libertarians are in a very good position to address them. But when it comes to changes in the nature of the relationship of the individual to the state, many of us—and I include myself—we're still fighting the fights that Milton Friedman, [Friedrich] Hayek, and so on fought. I'm not saying that those fights don't still need to be fought, but I'm saying there are also other battles that we better get ourselves involved in.

What is the first among those other battles?

The first at this moment is economic transition. How do we enable this economy to benefit most from the changes that are going to happen anyway?

That's where you're talking about getting past a lot of accreted regulations. In a way, I guess Trump is speaking your language when he says, "For every regulation we pass, we're getting rid of two."

Yeah. Not a bad idea. The man is not without some insights. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call them ideas, but he perceives some things.

Your last big book was about the baby boom generation, your generation. Is there any part of you that's sad over Bill and Hillary Clinton exiting the stage of national and world politics?

Not one iota. It's "Goodbye, and don't let the door hit you on the butt on the way out," you know? "What's your hurry? Here's your hat."

This interview has been edited for length, clarity, and style. For an audio version, subscribe to Reason's podcast.

Photo Credit: David Howells/Getty

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  • BestUsedCarSales||

    PJ was one of the first authors to get me moving in the direction I am politically. It was 2003 and I was 14, and it really have me a lot of insight into ideas I had had, but not developed.

    Always glad to see stuff from him. I think I'm more radical and less conservative than him at this point. But he is still one of the most elegant political writers of our day.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I keep coming back to one thought regarding Trumo and the 2016 election;

    Trump has already, halfway into the first year of his first term, been more entertaining than Obumbles managed to be in eight years, or Shrillary has been in her entire life.

  • aajax||

    Yeah, it's good fun. Except when he is hurting people. Then he's just ugly. And his economic thinking is baffling.

  • ||

    I thought most libertarians started out as statists and gradually grew into voluntarists. P.J. seems stuck at the "limited govt." phase. I stopped voting in 1980 and quit working for the LP. It took me 5 years to learn (for the second time) that voting was not libertarian, nor was the LP. But if one is a quasi-statist, quasi-libertarian, how could he vote for anyone except an LP candidate? Citing lack of charisma is puzzling. Charisma elects, if one is not intellectual. But P.J.? I expected a better reason.

  • Qsl||

    I don't think that's fair.

    While it would be grand if the gestalt of libertarianism where to take hold, it would be a complete failure without the institutions to support it. We're seeing that with the misguided attempts to export democracy- it's shock with little to support it.

    I see even modestly libertarian leaning folks more as a check valve that the rest of society adjusts in time, giving institutions time to establish themselves to life without (or minimal) government.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    If that were true, libertarians would be working like crazy to defend endangered institutions of civil society (churches, sports leagues, mens clubs, independent orgs like Boy Scouts) as an independent bulwark against the power of the state.

    But instead they either waste time tilting at political windmills a la the LP, or aid the leftists in destroying these civil institutions, as in the case of the Boy Scouts, in a vain attempt to enhance equality (which is absolutely NOT a libertarian value) or simply curry favor with the left.

  • aajax||

    The libertarians tilting art political windmills are the ones we hear about. There may be a lot of apolitical libertarians we don't hear about. Or not.

  • damikesc||

    I, legitimately, don't get how anybody can say "Well, I hate everything this person does, but since I know what it will be, I will vote for it".

    There are things bad enough where "I don't know what this will be, but it won't be worse than that" is sufficient.

    Had his candidate won, we'd have a far left wing idealogue in the SCOTUS. Correction, ANOTHER one.

  • CooterBrown||

    Not that I trusted Trump to actually make a good SCOTUS pick, but that was the tiebreaker for me. He surprised me though.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    I voted for Gary despite his obvious flaws. PJ voted for a known evil specifically to stop Trump and maintain the status quo. He describes Trump voters who are being bled to death by regulation, a situation that would worsen under the rule of his preferred president. When Nick points out that Trump might actually be helping these people, PJ waves it off with a stupid quip, "he's got thoughts but no ideas". He will not confront the fact that he supported the same corrupt statist system that he's pretended to oppose for decades because Trump said mean things about illegal Mexican immigrants. The reality is that he fears "populism" because he sees it as the great unwashed threatening the elite of which he is a member. I've read a lot of PJ over the years and always found him amusing and occasionally insightful. I'll still read PJ and find him amusing. But I've lost all respect for this man.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He lost any credibility he ever had when he endorsed and voted for Hillary.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    Well said. And I feel the same exact way about Penn Jilette too.

  • some guy||

    Why do you feel that way about Jillette? He didn't endorse Hillary and he only voted for her as part of trade that netted Gary Johnson about a dozen popular votes.

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    Sounds like the Art of the Deal.

  • ||

    Love PJ.

    But I'm afraid I have to agree.

    You can't vote for such a heinous status-quo careerist with excessive baggage and affinity for sleaze.

    He should not have endorsed Clinton Inc.

  • Robert||

    Hilarious when you consider the mean (& very funny) things O'Rourke said about foreigners in just 1 National Lampoon piece. Trump was never as outrageous as O'Rourke about anything back then.

  • BSL1||

    While I disagree completely with voting for the known evil of Mrs. Clinton, you seem to disregard a significant part of his reasoning. He said that he believed another 4 years of tragic authoritarian progressivism would bring about its demise, and the election of a more libertarian minded POTUS in 2020. OK, he didn't say exactly that, but this is what I inferred from his actual quote: "I loathe and detest it, but we just survived eight years of it. I doubt it will last more than four more. It's very rare for American political cycles to last longer than 12 years, as poor George H.W. Bush proved."

  • Johnimo||

    Yes, poor old PJ's apologies for supporting Democrats is growing a little long in the tooth. He says he real conservative and libertarian, but can't bring himself to not vote for Hillary Clinton??? Is there something (some business interest, perhaps) he's not telling us about? He "was uncertain" about what he'd get with Trump, so -- instead -- he votes for a known criminal??? Something doesn't make sense about his reasoning.

  • Longtobefree||

    "I will listen to anti-immigrant talk from a full-blooded American Indian and nobody else. They've got a beef."

    How so? The peoples we CALL full blooded American Indians came from somewhere else, and ran off the people who came before.
    The only differences between them and "the evil white man" is the time, and the weapons.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It's just another one of his libertarian/conservative beliefs.

    Seriously though, the guy is just another left leaning celebrity anymore. Gotta virtue signal to make sure those cocktail party invites keep coming.

  • DenverJ||

    Actually, DNA evidence suggests that pre Columbian Americans were all related.
    Here is a link. I just skimmed the article to make sure it was talking about the same thing. I watched a documentary on it, and they said that something like 80 percent of all American people were related to a child whose grave was found in Montana.
    So, it doesn't look like there were successive waves of people immigrating to the America's, but rather one small group who colonized both continents.

  • DenverJ||

  • Sidd Finch v2.01||

    There's a new paper out on the people of the Americas, by Pontus Skoglund and David Reich. The main picture is solidifying:

    The main Amerindian migration consists of a population that is approximately 40% ancient Siberian and 60% Han-like...

    The paleo-Eskimos (Dorset culture) come from a later, separate migration (~4500 years ago), similar to Koryak and Chukchi, but were completely replaced by the Thule culture (current Eskimos) ~1000 years ago.

    The Na-Dene (Navajo for example) also came late: they might be from the same stream that led to the Dorset, but they might stem from another migration. Better samples from more populations should soon resolve this. Since Na-Dene languages can be related to Ket using standard methods, it can't have been all that long ago – more like 4 or 5 thousand, rather than 8 or 9.

  • DaveSs||

    PreColumbian American ancestors may have call came over at the same time and be related...but thousands of years later that they were many distinct Peoples, and when it comes to conquering their neighbors and taking their lands if those lands contained things they wanted, most of them were no different than the Europeans who came later.

  • Curt2004||

    So given that logic I guess most of Africa is still up for grabs...

  • Longtobefree||

    If you really, really, want a piece of it, head on over with a few mercenaries and join the fun. Most important decision; jungle or desert?

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    He voted for Hillary. So in no way is he libertarian or conservative anymore.

    Period.

  • ||

    Know what? This is the usual smug left-wing retort I hear all the time.

    If you can't rebut with an actual argument (I know hard for Lamebrain progs) shut up you pain in the ass dink.

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    Don't be too hard on DanO. That's probably the wittiest thing he's ever said. Maybe we should just let him have that one. Just this once.

  • Johnimo||

    You have a valid point, Last of.

  • IHeartDagney||

    More "elitist speak". Mr. O'Rourke can't credit Trump for his successes because he doesn't like his "crudeness", like every other Never Trumper. Trump was too crude to be part of the elite pack, so he was beneath notice or credit for the things he proposed. He voted for the evilest witch to ever grace our political stage because he deemed Trump below his notice and, supposedly an "unknown" quantity. Yet, Trump stated in EVERY speech what he planned to do. There's BIG government spending that wastes. Then there's SMART government spending that helps the country. The evil witch was GUARANTEED to WASTE and destroy sovereignty of this country and INDIVIDUALS. The Trumpster, a BILLIONAIRE businessman was MORE THAN LIKELY to look at the waste in government and NIX it. But, did that matter to this elitist? NO. Trump was beneath his raised nose due to, I don't know.....maybe because he was actual "working" class and got his hands dirty, and deigned to speak with his construction personnel in friendly tones?

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Looks like his main beef with Trump is that he's not a small govt guy. (though the alternative was even less so)

  • Johnimo||

    Amen, IHeartDagney! Either PJ's lying to us, or he is terribly confused. I suspect the former.

  • Johnimo||

    No, upon further reflection, I recant. PJ's not lying to us, he's lying to himself.

  • Maynerd||

    Very disappointed with PJ. Little more than vapid nostrums dusted off the 1980's. Immigration and globalization are tectonic issues that are synergistically crushing the working class and even segments of the middle class. PJ doesn't seem to have a clue.

    I guess he voted for Hilary to maintain his Georgetown cocktail party privileges.

  • Sevo||

    "...Immigration and globalization are tectonic issues that are synergistically crushing the working class and even segments of the middle class...."

    Yeah, free trade is really a bummer isn't it?

  • Maynerd||

    It's great for the cognitive elite. At best mixed for the rest. My formerly sanguine free trade views have been tempered by reality.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Free trade is amazing--and, when we get it, I'll celebrate.

    Managed trade isn't free. No matter how many 'free trade agreements' the governmental managers sign.

    And no species survives with 'open borders'--not one. So you can take that canard of leftist creep and shove it.

  • elizabeth_jp||

    Whilst I have great and deep respect for Native Americans and what they endured, the argument that they are the only real non-immigrants in this country is old and tired. They too came to North America from somewhere else at some point in the past, and the entire history of the world is based on the movement of people from one place to another. However, it is silly to compare the world of 300 or 400 years ago -
    when most land was wide open - to the world today where ALL countries have borders and society is much more complex with a modern day set of dangers. If you want to make the argument of who lived on the land first, let's revisit the notion of the British giving Northern Ireland back to the Irish - and we know that is not going to happen.

  • Chip Your Pets||

    Not only that, the claim that people whose ancestors came to this country 80 generations ago have less right to be here than those whose ancestors came here thousands of generations ago is bupkus.

    If anything, the Native American example should be a caution against allowing immigration, not the reverse.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Sounds like St. Brendan was here before some of the "Indigenous" ...

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    I wonder what court Indian tribe A appealed to when Indian tribe B attacked them?

  • Brian Reilly||

    PJ O'Rourke is your funny, drunk Irish uncle. Amusing, often insightful, but not to be followed closely or taken at all seriously. He is an entertainer. I am sorry to say that the same is true for Nick Gillespie, and most of the Reason staff. Entertaining, but not meant to be take seriously, or followed closely.

    Libertarianism is like an open marriage; It sounds great, but does not really work out well, often, as a dedicated path of progress. Freedom and reason are great once a faithful base is established. Absent that base, there is no Libertarian foundation at all. Having moved off base, Libertarianism will not help us back.

  • Sevo||

    "Having moved off base, Libertarianism will not help us back.

    Brian Reilly has spoken.
    Brian Reilly's mom is impressed. Me? Not so much.

  • Liberty =>|<= Equality||

    At this point, what do Gillespie and most of the Reason staff have to do with libertarianism?

  • Robert||

    O'Rourke's slide from outre to "respectable" is now complete, unfortunately.

  • mpercy||

    I went down the same path during the election that P.J did, but I arrived at the other end.

    Here's some email I sent to a family member at the time, she was concerned that Trump would be a dictator.

    re: dictator...we have one now and GOP in Congress will do nothing simply because of the color of his skin. If HRC wins, they will do nothing because of her sex, and she will continue in the same vein as Obama, and by her own admission will appoint SC Justices who will gut 2nd Amendment.

    The GOP Congress, who for the most part hate him, will have no qualms about cutting Trump off at the knees--he's a rich white man. At least we can be pretty sure abut his SC appointments and secure in the knowledge that the rest of the government is not about to let him go off the deep end. If he gives them a real reason, he'll get impeached.

    You know I've been a straight L voter for 30 years, but Johnson sounds more and more like Bernie, and Weld agrees with Hillary on gun control; and the L party plank on illegal immigrants is pissing me off.

    Of course I won't vote for Hillary or Stein. So I can vote L again, for two people I have strong misgivings about and whose party-line I *strongly* disagree with, or I can vote for Trump, someone I have strong misgivings about. Or I can stay home.

    I'm struggling, I gotta tell you. I KNOW Hillary will be a disaster and will screw up SCOTUS for a generation. Under Hillary I fear a 2nd amendment solution will be required. Compared to Trump...

  • Azathoth!!||

    Y'know, if you fuckers like open borders so much, why do you always act as if Europeans were evil for taking advantage of "freedom of movement" and moving into the Americas?

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Well, many libertarians are for open immigration, without open borders. They are not the same thing. As PJ notes, change is the real issue; rapid change tends to destabilize society.

  • Johnimo||

    Very good point, Asathoth! Thank you, for your big, healthy, dose of rational thought!

  • ThomasD||

    " I will listen to anti-immigrant talk from a full-blooded American Indian and nobody else."

    Racist and nativist. It's a two-fer.

  • Empress Trudy||

    He's neither a libertarian not a conservative he's a media whore

  • Johnimo||

    You've nailed it perfectly!

  • SpiderMike||

    "I will listen to anti-immigrant talk from a full-blooded American Indian and nobody else. They've got a beef."

    A full-blooded American Indian is the last person I would listen to on immigration. There is hardly a country on the face of this earth that did not take their country or a portion of it from somebody else. The Indian did not invent the wheel, they did not learn to work with metal, they were stone age subsistence hunter/gatherers when the white man came here. The Indians lived on a resource rich continent and did nothing with it, they were in the way of progress and had to be moved. And don't try to tell me they were great stewards of the earth. They would set fire to the prairie to stampede buffalo over a cliff and then leave unused buffalo to rot. Real paragons of environmentalism, huh? The white men who came here were people of their times and should not be judged by 21st century standards.

  • SteveC||

    So Atlas did finally shrug. We were just wrong about his identity.

  • Johnimo||

    Expound on your thought, please. It's interesting to me. I always thought that Ayn Rand was very close to describing the reality of our time. However, she chose a symbol (the railroads) that was off the mark, but not by much. It's the fossil fuel industry that's on the real focus of hate by the anti-industrial worshipers of a colder(?) world.

    I see the coal trains everyday when I ride my bicycle back and forth between Bozeman and Deadrock. I think of Ayn, at some level, frequently. By the way, the coal shipments to the orient are spiking upward noticeably these days.

  • Chuck in CR||

    She was even closer than you think, it's the internet, not fossil fuels, that is the transport of her future.

  • Jr12||

    Geez, when did O'Rourke lose his mind. Hillary spent her entire campaign scapegoating whites and males for every problem on earth and this idiot votes for her, knowing that the bigoted bitch was planning to continue imposing discrimination against him and his family. (Not that Trump is doing anything about D.C's perpetual attachment to the profits of hate. )

  • Bruce 6225||

    It's easy in spite of the differences. Neither stand for the constitution or against it's twisting. Democrats are locked into the whole welfare-stateism thing, from the Wilson- FDR (creepy) times on. Thus, ending the FED spending or ending affirmative action, the only way to find a future of hope and advancement, becomes impossible.

  • Budbug||

    I never agreed with everything PJ said in his Lampoon days, and I don't agree with everything he says these days. But the guy has a way of distilling things that makes me laugh. He's an entertainer, a very good one, and he never professes to be anything more than just another guy with an opinion. That's good enough for me.
    He was wrong to vote for HRC and KNOWN corruption, and he's wrong about about Native Americans' "beef". Central Africans are the only group of people on the planet who are truly indigenous. All the rest are squatters fighting over water rights.

  • Johnimo||

    Squatters? "Fighting over water rights"? That is really good. Thanks for very good humor. Why are the "comments" significantly more entertaining than the articles themselves? Reason needs to come to the party.

  • seahorsedan||

    I believe before you judge anyone to be a "maniac" you should "walk a mile in his shoes". When anyone who makes a living in the least regulated, protected business in America judges anyone who has been highly successful in one the most overwhelmingly regulated businesses in America has not exactly done his due diligence. It appears to me those who makes a living in the least regulated, protected business in America are largely responsible for the labels assigned to every conceivable thought or ideology anyone may endorse or condemn on any given day brand them accordingly. For me I guess I am now considered a sort of populist because I don't subscribe to the Globalist philosophy of; From the horses mouth. Clinton told Banco Itau, a Brazilian bank, on May 16, 2013. "My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere".
    I for one am not ready or willing to surrender. God bless America from sea to shining sea. Forever. I don't think "maniac" is appropriate terminology for our President. I like his headline though.

  • seahorsedan||

    I oppose those who would render America subject to the control and mercy of the OAS, EU, NATO or Nuremberg or The Hague. It is that simple. We were raised to take off our hat for our national anthem and pledge allegiance to Old Glory and this republic. Patriotism is our heritage. I can not accept the notion that self determination needs to be augmented by international consensus imposed on America by globalist international courts or the OAS or the UN.

  • CZmacure||

    PreColumbian American ancestors may have call came over at the same time and be related...but thousands of years later that they were many distinct Peoples, and when it comes to conquering their neighbors and taking their lands if those lands contained things they wanted, most of them were no different than the Europeans who came later.

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