In recent days, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), an outspoken fiscal conservative, has defended Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), noting that Republicans should embrace some libertarian ideas. DeMint also sees the risk many Republican take in their public criticism of Paul, who has an incredibly dedicated group of followers, many of whom are young.
This led to rumors of an endorsement yesterday on Twitter and Facebook before the all important South Carolina primary. But DeMint, keeping with a statement he made a couple of months ago, has said he will not endorse:
One of the most sought-after South Carolina politicians said Monday he would not endorse a candidate ahead of the Palmetto State’s primary.
Sen. Jim DeMint, who has offered praise to all of the candidates in the field, said in a statement, “I do not have a favorite in this race and I will not endorse a candidate.”
DeMint said his stance reflected the view of many voters in South Carolina.
“I’ve gotten to know each of the candidates over the past year and they are all far superior to Obama,” DeMint said. “My view reflects what I’ve heard from Republican voters across South Carolina who remain divided in this race.”
DeMint would have been a big get for any candidate in the GOP field, given his high regard among conservative voters. Many of the contenders have met with the senator in person, looking to gain his backing.
As we head into the South Carolina primary where former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum may still have a shot at the GOP nomination, it’s worth recalling what Sen. Santorum had to say about libertarians and others who favor limited government during an interview with NPR in August 2005:
One of the criticisms I make is to what I refer to as more of a Libertarianish right. They have this idea that people should be left alone, be able to do whatever they want to do, government should keep our taxes down and keep our regulations low, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, we shouldn’t get involved in cultural issues. That is not how traditional conservatives view the world. There is no such society that I am aware of, where we’ve had radical individualism and that it succeeds as a culture.
This has rightly riled many libertarians, who insist that the “radical individualism” derided by Santorum was the basis for the American experiment. But libertarians should really be thanking Rick Santorum. He’s provided us with a valuable reminder that far from being a limited government ally of libertarianism, traditional conservatism is actually inimical to libertarian principles. Traditional conservatism was America’s first statist, big government ideology.
Like many in both the conservative and libertarian camps, I count myself a fan of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. His no-nonsense style and willingness to take on entrenched interests have won him many admirers. Yet one area where Christie and I diverge quite starkly is on the issues of gay marriage and drugs. On these issues, Christie veers to the social conservative side whereas myself and other libertarians are more moderate.
Christie, however, will soon have a chance to let us all know whether he will continue to express opposition towards equal recognition of gay marriage, or if he will let New Jersey join the small but growing number of states that have allowed gays the same rights and privileges as straights. In the upcoming session of the Garden State’s legislature Democratic leaders will once again introduce a gay marriage bill. As of yet, it is uncertain what Christie will do. He previously promised to veto such a law, but that was two years ago and prior to New York’s historic actions last year.
As a native of New Jersey and a current resident of neighboring Pennsylvania, I’ll be watching this process closely. In my mind, it will signal whether, in just a matter of years, the political winds have changed enough that Christie will choose to support gay marriage equality. It is certainly my hope that Christie will come to the realization that allowing gays the freedom to marry will harm no one and enrich the lives of LGBT New Jerseyans and their friends.
Over the last few weeks, Rick Santorum has made it increasingly clear that he is not a libertarian. We already knew this. Last summer, Santorum expressed concern about libertarian influence inside the Republican Party, not just in terms of our views on social issues, but he seems to have rejected economic views in the Tea Party movement:
Without question, Santorum’s record is one of supporting big government. As noted last week, he likes to knock others on entitlements, but never seems to own up to his own support for expanding them. Others in the conservative movement are noting Santorum’s backing for increased government power in the economy.
Much has been made in recent days about the newsletters that were written in Ron Paul’s name some 20 years ago. A few of us here have weighed in on the controversy, and you’ve no doubt seen it on other blogs; some believing Paul’s explantion of the events, others using it as yet another opportunity to criticize him.
As I recently noted, I plan on voting for Ron Paul in the March 6th primary in my home state of Georgia. However, I also made mention of some issues I have with him, though I only mentioned his love of earmarks. Another point that was in the back of my mind when I wrote that post was the newsletters.
Personally, I don’t believe Paul wrote the newsletters. Did he know about their content? I think that is debatable. Do I believe that Paul is a racist or anti-gay? Absolutely not. As he has so frequently said, though he is borrowing from Ayn Rand, to be a racist is to view people as groups, not individuals; and that is anathema to the libertarian viewpoint. Paul also voted to get rid of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prevented gays from serving openly in the military.
Nevertheless, this controversy has again caused somewhat of a headache for libertarians since the man who is largely carrying our mantle is being cast as a racist — or, at the very least, someone who associates with them. Steve Horwitz explains the dilemma:
It has been no secret that I was backing Gary Johnson, who comes closest to what I believe on both personal and economic liberty, for the Republican nomination. As a businessman and former two-term Governor of New Mexico, Johnson has the experience necessary to govern effectively with libertarian and free market principles.
It has been no secret that Johnson has been considering running for the Libertarian Party’s nomination. On Friday, his campaign sent out an editorial from the Santa Fe New Mexican noting this and piece from Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ written by my friend Andrew Davis, who works for Johnson’s campaign, making the “conservative case” for Johnson to pursue a third party bid.
Johnson is rightfully bothered with how he has been treated by the Republican establishment and the media during the course of his campaign. But now that he is considering a third party bid, I will not continue to support him in the Republican primary.
I had no illusions about Johnson when I decided to back him months ago. I knew that casting my vote for him was more about making a point, rather than determining the outcome of the race. But with Ron Paul rising and Johnson seemingly moving on — and understandably so, I’d rather cast my ballot where it can be effective and still support someone that is largely in line with what I believe.
To be clear, I have absolutely no problem with Johnson leaving the Republican field to run as a Libertarian and am I certainly not a Republican partisan — I consider myself a strongly libertarian-minded independent voter when it comes to national elections these days.
Admittedly, I don’t listen to much talk radio anymore. Even the talk show hosts that I generally agree with drive me up a wall. But I happened to catch part of Neal Boortz’s interview with Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who has seen his support rise in his second bid as a Republican, during my lunch hour yesterday. This is significant because Boortz, a self-proclaimed libertarian who supports a very hawkish foreign policy, has been critical of Paul whenever possible.
Maybe I’ve been too hard on Boortz because, to my surprise, he hosted a very well-rounded, fair interview with Paul, discussing everything from foreign policy to the Fed to the media and Barack Obama to the European financial crisis. Perhaps even one of the best that I’ve heard with any candidate. Check it out below:
Gary Johnson’s campaign is in complete disarray. An initial report stated that all five of Johnson’s New Hampshire staff members had quit, but that story has been amended, claiming that one remained though he has apparently been “let go”:
Matt Simon, who joined the Johnson campaign early on, said he was the first to leave, but he was followed by the four other paid New Hampshire staffers, including State Coordinator Brinck Slattery.
Grant Huihui, Johnson’s campaign scheduler, said in an interview this morning that all of Johnson’s New Hampshire staffers were “let go” in late October, but Simon said that is inaccurate.
“It’s more accurate to say everybody quit,” Simon said. “We don’t want a big public thing like the (Michele) Bachmann campaign had, but definitely the New Hampshire staff quit out of frustration with the national campaign.”
Simon said he personally was frustrated with the lack of organization and the lack of money that was being put into the campaign in New Hampshire.
“They just weren’t giving us the resources needed to execute the plan,” said Simon. “We drew up a plan back in April or May to do well in the New Hampshire Primary. But there was just a lack of resources – not being able to hire people, not being able to get things like yard signs until September when we needed them in May. A lot of people meet Gary Johnson and like him, but they see he doesn’t have a campaign so they’re not going to go out of their way to support him. It’s too bad.”
This may come off as a shameless plug, but my friend Aaron Powell over at the Cato Institute has just launched a new project, Libertarianism.org. This takes a different tack than Cato and most other places, even including United Liberty. What this new website is doing is talking about the philosophy of libertarianism, the intellectual foundation for this new idea that is gradually sweeping the globe. That’s something that isn’t touched on so much in the media and elsewhere, but is the real answer when hippies get in your face and scream “Think of the Children!”
The website has videos dating back to the 80s, biographies of famous libertarians, lists and samples of books and important texts, and of course, more essays than you can shake a Kindle at. It also has a list of those who are critical of libertarianism, which is something one must consider; it is not enough to merely know the libertarian canon, because if you’re going to get into a debate, you have to know your opponent’s silliness in order to get them with it.
On top of all this, it has a really slick design.
I encourage everyone who reads United Liberty to go over there and read the essays, maybe even buy some of the books. They are not only a good start to learning about liberty, but for those of us who have been libertarians for some time already, they deepen and enrich our points, and give us a better background and context to work from.
When I first heard that Gary Johnson was going to be included in last night’s debate, my first thought was, “That’s awesome!” My second thought was how long was it going to take before Ron Paul fanatics started spewing conspiracy stuff about it….well, it took less than a day.
Now, before we get started, let it be known that I am a Ron Paul supporter. I made several donations to the good doctor’s run last time, and as soon as I get some extra cash money, I’ll be doing the same this go-around. However, I am also a Gary Johnson fan. I think he’s a good man and a good candidate. And I plan to donate to his campaign also. In the spirit of full disclosure, if both make it to the Georgia primary, I’m actually leaning Ron Paul. But I greatly admire and support Johnson. His absence from the previous couple of debates has been unfair and unjust. That’s the biggest thing for me.
So, back to the main point, what do I see on the “Ron Paul 2012″ Facebook page today? A posting that reads as follows:
Word is that Rick Perry put pressure on Fox to break their own rules and include Gary Johnson in the next debate because Perry thinks it will hurt Ron.
Yeah…so we won’t even get into the fact that Johnson was in the first FOX debate and that his participation in this one was based on already existing criteria regarding poll numbers.
Now please let it be known that the aforementioned Facebook page is in no way affiliated with the actual campaign of Ron Paul. This is a grassroots thing, the type of stuff that I usually think is great. It has about 18,000 fans and most of it is pretty good, level-headed stuff. But then they threw this one out…you know, you’ve got to get a kick out of the whole, “Word is” thing, like he’s tied into the heart and soul of the American political scene or something.