Last week, I read a very interesting op-ed by Thomas Mullen that went by the title of “Gary Johnson is not a libertarian”:
Throughout this election cycle, Gary Johnson’s name has been omnipresent as a libertarian alternative. There’s only one problem. Gary Johnson is not a libertarian.
This just seems to be occurring to some of the faithful after his disastrous interview with the Daily Caller. In it, Johnson proposes to cut the military budget by 43 percent. However, when pressed on one hypothetical military intervention after another, Johnson refuses to rule any out. He’d consider military intervention for humanitarian reasons. He believes that the United States should maintain a military presence in the Middle East. He would continue drone attacks in Pakistan. By the end of the interview, libertarians were likely waiting for Johnson to rip off a mask Scooby Doo villain-style, revealing he was really Dick Cheney in disguise.
This gets back to the point I made in my last blog post about problems with the libertarian movement, specifically foreign policy. We, as a movement, have gotten way too puritanical about what makes libertarians libertarians. Many insist on an absolutionist view of the non-aggression principle, when really, the entire goal of libertarianism is simply maximizing individual liberty.
What all the GOP candidates are after, are so-called ‘delegates.’Elected officials that will broker the convention of either party this fall. Officials are parcelled by the amount of votes, the candidates receive in the primary.
During Michigan’s primary recently, for instance, there were 30 official delegates, state-wide. Two were ‘at-large’ candidates, which meant they could be assigned individually to any winning candidate. The other 28 were ‘proportional’ ones, alotted through 14 congressional districts. During the push for the nominations in Michigan last night, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum spent millions of dollars to influence the voting population; with TV ads, pamphlets, media, interviews, rallies, stickers, and much more. Michigan’s grand sum of politcal expenditure was near six million bucks.
Delegates are what really counts at the GOP convention. What looks to be happening, is that no clear winner will come out victorious. There’s a righteous number: 1444 delegates will win any nominee the victory-nod of the Republican National Committee. Nationwide, 2169 delegates are extended for contestation, until the RNC celebration in Tampa, Florida. From the RN Committee, an additional 117 delegates are added into the mix, ostensibly to keep debate lively and clear-up dead locks. So what appears, on first looks, to be a rather hot-headed and fast paced Republican rocket-launch to the RNC, is more like a jammed or misfired pistol in a duel.
Momentarily, Mitt Romney is in the lead, with 167 total delegates. Rick Santorum is second with roughly half, at 87. Newt Gingrich won only one state and has 32, while Ron Paul has 19 carefully collected delegations. The count may reshuffle at any moment, since constitutionalism and populism together, ring alarm-bells in states such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
I remember about a month ago there was a lot of bruhaha about Pennsylvanian Republicans trying to change their contribution to the Electoral College by divvying up the votes based on Congressional districts, like Maine and Nebraska. Naturally, a lot of people got upset with that, with some (like Doug Mataconis and George Will) saying we should keep the Electoral College just like it is now, and many others saying that we should instead move to a National Popular Vote system. Now with Occupy Wall Street taking over our media senses, some of that talk has been pushed aside, with people instead focusing on Wall Street rather than Pennsylvania Avenue.
I would like to go back to the Avenue, however, for multiple reasons. First off, I actually think that a lack of serious political reforms is the reason for much of the discontent we’re seeing in Zucotti Park. Second, we have Congressional deadlock, as always—but in recent years, the vitriol and polarization we have seen has increased dramatically. Third, even with the 2010 GOP landslide in the House, we still have a very high incumbent reelection rate—although it was lower in previous elections, it still stood at 87%. Fourth, we have not seen any new ideas with regards to the major issues of the day: our debt crisis, our flagging economy, our eroding civil liberties, or our overburdening government.
Clearly, the emphasis is on the egg and not the noggin in the egg nog, here.
Very little can be done to change or institute major reform, even though we need it, badly. Part of that is by design. The Founders wanted a system where it would be difficult to radically change it, in order to preserve the liberty they had fought so hard for. In the modern era, that backfired. Instead of preserving liberty, the system is preserving the corrupt bog from which liberty is being drowned in.
I must admit that this is a subject I wanted to stay away from but the continuing “uproar” saddens me. I want to like Sarah Palin but she makes it hard sometimes . At some point she is going to have to stop playing the victim card and act like a big girl.
I heard the Rahm Emanuel “retard” comment before Palin responded to it (I actually agreed with him). But something told me somebody would say something. Somebody would be offended. Somebody would act like a speech Nazi. Somebody would express an opinion that would attack the natural right of free speech.
As a former member of the GOP I can remember getting into debate after debate with “lefty” Statists on the subject of language. I guess because of who I am and how I was brought up I feel like I have a right to speak my mind and if you’re the “political correct” type you can get over it (Being raised in NYC probably contributed a ‘lil as well). I am not offended by anything that comes out of somebody’s pie- hole. Many people say things that alarm me, but being offended is somehow being “hurt” by what is said. Ms. Palin kept referring to her “thick skin” on the campaign trail. Did it somehow disappear?
I’ve already heard other people make the point that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck use the word “retard” on their shows and Sarah hasn’t criticized them. Blah, blah, that isn’t nearly the issue here. The fact that the “Right” is now acting like the language police leads me to believe I left the GOP at the right time.
Let me create a scenario for dear Sarah and see how she would handle it.
Recently I was prompted by an anthropology student at the University of Washington to answer several questions about libertarianism. The exchange was great, and provided a means to clarify several things that have been otherwise muddled.
1. How do you define a libertarian?
To me a libertarian is someone who believes in a limited government, which provides basic needs that most people believe to be necessary but does not try to stuff ideology down the citizens’ throats, the freedom of the individual to become whatever it is they want to be and a free market that allows great deals of mobility and ingenuity.
2. What influenced you to become and/or remain libertarian?
I love this country (for the ideals it was founded on, not because of nationalism, regionalism or nativism), and when I entered college, it became very clear that other students and professors didn’t. A bit of a blanket statement, I know, but it’s relatively true. I found myself defending slanderous left-wing statements about this country’s history, and in that process I realized I was libertarian. Liberty is the foundation of American society and government, and even if they don’t call themselves such, I think most Americans who love their country and find it exceptional are libertarians to a certain extent.
When I was sixteen years old — only one year after my conversion to Catholicism — I began looking into religion more seriously as a result of a persistent twinge of reason which plagues me to this day. Determined to avoid Atheists and Theists on principle, I instead looked to Thomas Henry Huxley and John Shelby Spong, an Agnostic biologist and a dissenting Episcopalian Bishop respectively. In conference with these two minds, I discovered myself for an Atheist, but also stumbled upon the first truly intellectual concept of my life: it is possible that each and everyone one of us is “right” in every way, shape and form.
From those early days of intellectual curiosity, thumbing through Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change Or Die” and growing my understanding of the individual, I’ve sought autonomy in all aspects of my life. In short, it was no surprise to the few people who know me that I was attracted to the Libertarian Party. I’m a spiritual Atheist. I’m an intelligent idiot. I’m an optimistic cynic. Where else could I go?
I’ve loved the Party. It was a tent big enough to house possibilities, a place that wasn’t crowded with rhetoric and closed-mindedness and half-truths.
And then it happened: my partner informed me that Bill Maher is not — no way, no how — a libertarian.
Imagine my surprise. After all, Maher’s been something of a personal hero to me since my relative youth. If I knew and loved anyone, it was Lewis Black.. But Bill Maher … he was, like, second runner-up. To George Carlin. But I digress.
The general rule for me is if Alex Jones says it, don’t take it seriously. And that’s what I said on Thursday to several friends that e-mailed me a link to a story about how the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) basically correlates libertarians and more specifically supporters of Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin, with potentially being a domestic terrorist or member of a militia.
Though news of this sort cannot be considered unusual any longer, I still find it insufferable and mildly shocking. The likelihood of a British citizen having their personal home computer hacked by government authorities, secretly and without a warrant, has increased. Even more infuriating, this intrusion may be at the behest of a foreign nation, thanks to a recent plan adopted by the EU.
Since the hacking may proceed if an officer believes there is sufficient reason to believe it would help prevent or detect a serious crime, the obvious question is, who decides what is considered “sufficient reason” and what is to prevent abuse of these over-reaching powers? If there is truly sufficient evidence, why wouldn’t a judge simply grant a warrant? This would at least grant some oversight.
As a gun-owner and someone who has escaped injury due to private gun ownership at least three times, I pay attention to the voting records of candidates regarding the 2nd Amendment.
I recently wrote about the NRA’s disappointing endorsement of Senator John McCain, in spite of his clear record of being an enemy of the right’s of gun-owners. A much more logical choice would have been 3rd party candidates Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin, as an endorsement of Barack Obama would have been equally unthinkable.
Obama has claimed to be a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but his voting record indicates otherwise.
Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director, Richard Pearson, has this to say about Senator Obama-
“I’m not sure how active I can be in the liberty movement while I’m building my business.”
That is pretty close to what I recall from a conversation over dinner last week, where I was having my brain picked by someone who is “dipping their toe” in the world of politics after previously being fairly apathetic.
The response to my guest was probably not what he expected, but it led us into a great conversation. I told him, “Lead by example, not with a label.”
While that may sound simplistic, I know many in the liberty movement who may as well wear a sign around their neck that says “I’M A LIBERTARIAN. HOW CAN I PISS YOU OFF TODAY?” Typically, these are the same people who cannot stop talking about the evils they perceive in government, pausing only to breathe and possibly to find their original point after they take the conversation off course. Unfortunately, these are the first and only conversations some hold with a libertarian.
Often, these libertarians are so consumed with “spreading the message” that they forgot conversations involve both talking AND, the more important aspect, listening. They have an agenda to push that will not be deterred by their conversation partner’s interests (or lack thereof), concerns, or beliefs. In my experience, this results in a very few follow-up conversations and even fewer converts.
I am guilty of doing this myself, but I sought a better way to build my own team for liberty. What I found was an easier path that is also a better way. By “walking the walk” conveyed in the talking points prepared for conversations, I found by being a positive example of libertarianism, people sought out to talk to me, instead of my constant searching for the next potential target/victim.