Recent Posts From Christopher Barron
There has been a lively debate on the UL list serve and on twitter about fusionism and the modern liberty movement. Let me be clear from the very beginning that I am a proponent of fusionism. I want to see libertarian ideas become libertarian policies. I think that libertarianism, for far too long, has been content to rule college classroom debates and think tank discussions and has not done enough to focus on how we actually implement libertarian theory.
I don’t think the real debate is about whether or not libertarians should engage in fusionism, the real debate – exposed clearly in the back and forth with some of my fellow writers at UL over the last few days – is over what that fusionism looks like.
I believe that if the point behind fusionism is to see libertarian ideas become policy, than any fusionism should be based around the achievable. The common ground we seek should be on those issues where our work with others will actually end up in changing policy in this country.
Right now the American people, and young people in particular, are becoming more and more libertarian when it comes to social issues. A recent Washington Post poll showed that voters aged 18-29 support same-sex marriage by a staggering 81%-15%. The same opinion polls show young voters overwhelmingly support ending the failed drug wars and as the recent Rand Paul filibuster showed – there is growing support from every segment of the country to safeguard our civil liberties.
Given that the American people are on our side on these issues, and that winning on these issues is achievable, one would think that libertarian fusion efforts would be centered around these issues. Alas, there are plenty clamoring for a fusionism that not only ignores these issues, but proposes a fusionism with forces openly hostile for these positions.
Reason has a piece out ostensibly using Austrian economics to explain the NHL lockout. I love Reason, I really do, but this article is garbage. First, the fact that it quotes super-douche hockey agent cum wanna-be-twitter celebrity Alan Walsh almost immediately makes the rest of the article lack any real credibility. Quoting Alan Walsh on what Gary Bettman thinks makes less sense than quoting Paris Hilton on what Barack Obama thinks.
I am not a poll truther, indeed when Romney was trailing in the polls and the trendline for him was bad in September, I warned conservatives to take those polls seriously and stop trying to claim that every poll was part of some secret plot to undermine Romney. That having been said, someone needs to explain to me how — according to the new NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac poll — Romney leads among independents in Virginia by 21 points but is somehow losing the state to Obama by 1 point. Is there a single sober person who has a turnout model for Virginia that would allow Obama to overcome a 21-point deficit among independents? I don’t think so. If Romney wins indies by 21 points on election night, he carries VA by 5 points.
In 2008, independents made up 27% of the Virginia electorate and Obama won them by 1 point en route to a 6 point win. NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac says Romney leads by 21 points among independents in Virginia today. Yet, somehow their poll shows Obama actually ahead in Virginia by 1 point. For the sake of argument, lets just pretend 2008 turnout turnout model, a model most analysts believe overstates Obama’s numbers, is the turnout model for Virginia in 2012. Even by the 2008 turnout model Obama simply can not lose independents by 21 points and win the state.
Its not just Virginia, in Ohio the Quinnipiac poll shows Romney ahead among indies by 6 but losing the state by 5 points. Again, if you assume the 2008 turnout model - the most advantageous to Obama as humanly possible - this simply defies logic. Obama won independents in Ohio in 2008 by 8 points, independents made up 30% of the Ohio electorate in 2008. If Romney leads independents in Ohio by 6 points, and even assuming the 2008 Obama super turnout model, how in God’s name is Romney losing by 5 points? Simply put, it is not possible.
I know that I am in the minority among the contributors to UL in that I will cast my vote on Election Day for Mitt Romney. I laid out my reasons for switching my vote from Gary Johnson to Mitt Romney in The Blaze a couple of weeks ago.
I was no fan of attempts to bully or shame libertarians into voting for Romney before I made my endorsement and I am no fan of those tactics now. I tried in my piece in The Blaze to lay out reasons why a libertarian should consider a vote for Romney – reasons that are obviously compelling enough for me personally to cast that vote.
If Romney wants to win over libertarians he doesn’t need his supporters trying to bully or shame libertarians who plan on voting for Gary Johnson. Instead, to win the votes of libertarians, Romney needs to actually take positions advocated by libertarians. I know this isn’t rocket science, but considering some of the pieces I have seen written by Romney supporters with the supposed objective of winning over Johnson voters, this actually needs to be said.
Tonight, Governor Romney has an opportunity to win over libertarians in the foreign policy debate.
First, let me say that I am realistic about what Romney could do to win over libertarians tonight. I know, unfortunately, that he will not repudiate the failed nation-building and interventionism that has been the hallmark of the Bush and Obama foreign policies.
That having been said, here is what Romney could say that would set his approach apart from the disastrous Obama foreign policy and win over libertarians:
Conventions aren’t just about the present, conventions are also about the future. As the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa draws to a close, one of the most important questions for the party going forward is what role – if any – will libertarians play in the direction of the GOP in the years ahead.
Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination helped to launch the modern day liberty movement and gave voice to libertarians within the Republican Party.
The rise of the Tea Party and a second Paul Republican Presidential run gave the libertarian wing of the party hope for the future and increased visibility.
As Paul’s popularity grew in the party, so did the tension between the libertarian wing of the GOP and the party’s establishment. Many in the establishment would have you believe that the tension was more about the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters than about policy. While there is no doubt that Ron Paul has an intensely loyal and fervent following, the truth is the tension wasn’t about behavior – it was about policy.
Libertarians want an end to foreign adventurism, they want deep cuts in spending across the board (including the military), they want government out of the boardrooms and the bedrooms, they want dramatic tax reform (starting with throwing out the current tax code), they want to privatize social security and Medicare, and they want a return to sound money.
The policy differences between libertarians and the current GOP are real and they are significant. The question going forward is whether this marriage can be saved?
There was a great deal of excitement among conservatives and libertarians about the pick of Rep. Paul Ryan, particularly among those who were rightfully leery about Governor Romney’s credibility when it comes to cutting spending and reforming our entitlement programs.
They say no one votes based on the Vice President, and now we are seeing why. The GOP establishment is already urging Paul Ryan to drop his support for his own Pathway to Prosperity budget plan – and it appears Ryan himself is already backing away from certain components.
It feels like Sarah Palin all over again. In 2008, McCain chose the maverick, buck the system Alaska Governor and then promptly tried to shove the square peg in the circle hole. The results were predictably disastrous. What is the point in picking Sarah Palin if you don’t let Sarah be Sarah.
One has to wonder whether the Romney campaign is about to make the same mistake. The reason conservatives and libertarians love Paul Ryan is BECAUSE of his budget plan not IN SPITE of it. Take away Paul Ryan’s ideas and you have a very nice, telegenic, young Congressman from a swing-state, but you don’t have a game-changing VP pick. What is the point in picking Paul Ryan if you don’t let Paul Ryan be Paul Ryan?
Mitt Romney should adopt the Ryan Plan, not the other way around. It would certainly be easier for Romney, a man who has been on almost every side of every issue, to move to the Ryan position than it would be for the principled Congressman to abandon his signature proposals.
If Mitt wanted a yes man, there were plenty of them. He didn’t pick a Rob Portman or Tim Pawlenty, he picked Paul Ryan. He should let Paul Ryan be Paul Ryan.
Over the last few weeks, the Obama campaign and their friends in the main stream media have had a field day. First, going after Romney for having a Swiss bank account and several offshore accounts. This line of attack, has been followed by a relentless series of attacks over exactly when Mitt Romney left Bain Capital.
Both of these attacks were opportunities for Romney and his campaign team to turn the tables aggressively on Obama and on the media. At a time when unemployment remains over 8% and with our nation teetering on the verge of fiscal collapse, the Obama/media fascination with the minutiae of Mitt Romney’s background is an example of grotesque political slight of hand. It is the ultimate distraction from the issues that matter most.
Unfortunately, Mitt the timid and his camaign have - so far - failed miserably at fighting back.
On the issue of the offshore accounts, why didn’t Romney come forward and say “yes, I had accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, but guess what? There is absolutely nothing illegal about these accounts and, indeed, these accounts are the product of an overly complex and uncompetetive tax code that Obama and Democrats are hell bent on defending!”
On the issue of when he left Bain, why hasn’t Mitt and his campaign said “who cares!?” What if Romney was still at Bain after 1999? Does that suddenly change Obama’s failed record as President? Does that suddenly balance our budgets? Does it suddenly create jobs? Of course not. Why in God’s name is the Romney campaign taking the bait on these distractions?
If Mitt the timid thinks he can just run out the clock and win this election, he is sorely mistaken. The Obama campaign has shown how ruthlessly it will distort and distract, and Obama has the giant megaphone of the main stream media as his willing accomplice.
Today, I launched a new politics/sports politics called The Sport of Politics. Episode 1 talks a great deal about a battle in the Arizona desert between the Phoenix Coyotes and the libertarian think tank Goldwater Institute. Joining me to talk about this fight, as well as the future of hockey in non-traditional hockey towns and the prospects for the Nashville Predators in the post-Ryan Suter era is UL contributor George Scoville!
There has been an interesting an important back and forth on this site over the issue of fusionism. Jeremy Kolassa made the case that little, if anything, has been accomplished by fusionism. In response, Jason Pye defended fusionism, citing a litany of conservative leaders and organizations that have been welcoming of libertarians and advanced libertarian policy.
I think both authors make well thought out cases and I think this debate is a healthy one. My post isn’t intended to weigh in on the general question of fusionism, clearly I am a believe in fusionism - though I recognize that there are times when fusionism is a loser for libertarians. Instead, I wanted to specifically speak to an individual that my friend Jason Pye pointed to as an example of a conservative leader who has offered an “olive branch” to libertarians: South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint.
I respect and like Jason a ton (which you know always is going to preface a disagreement), but in this case Jason is simply wrong. Jim DeMint is no friend of libertarians - unless, of course, you toss out gay people or anyone else who cares about gay people from the libertarian movement.
Jason cited the Mike Huckabees and Rick Santorums of the world as responsible for trying to keep libertarians out of CPAC. Well the ugly truth is that Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have been down right welcoming compared to Jim DeMint - as it regards CPAC. Indeed, Jim DeMint officially joined a boycott of CPAC because of the inclusion of a gay group - GOProud - that I helped co-found.
As soon as the dismal jobs numbers were announced last week, I started asking what issue would the Obama campaign roll out this week to distract voters from the President’s disastrous record on jobs and the economy.
Over the past few months, the Obama White House has rolled out the President’s half-assed support for same-sex marriage (hey lets let the states vote on it! How Dick Cheney circa 2004), followed by his half-step on immigration (I wonder if Latinos like the taste of crumbs?), and then followed by a trial balloon on marijuana decrim (“Sure my Justice Department has been cracking down on medical marijuana but hey, I need some good buzz”).
Apparently, off shore accounts are the new gay marriage. The Obama campaign team has been all over the tv blasting Mitt Romney for “secretive offshore accounts.” Forget the fact that these “secretive” accounts were discovered because they were listed on Romney’s tax returns and disclosure forms! Never mind the fact that there is nothing illegal about having an offshore account. Apparently, the Obama campaign hopes that by appealing to the worst in people, by appealing to their petty jealousies and by stoking the embers of class warfare, average Americans will forget that the reason they are so jealous of Mitt is because this President has been a disaster at facilitating an environment in which jobs can be created.
The irony of this debate - apparently lost on the average liberal - is that the offshore accounts they vilify are a product of an overly complex and uncompetetive tax code that liberals are hell bent on DEFENDING.
Hope and Change 2008, has been replaced by Smoke and Mirrors 2012. So much for Obama the transformational President.