libertarianism

Rand Paul: Endorsing a Candidate, not a Philosophy

A lot of people have asked me about Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. Does it mean I now support Mitt Romney? Does it mean that Rand has abandoned the libertarians? Are the Pauls fighting? Is it part of some two-pronged Paul-Paul strategy to get some respect from the mainstream GOP for Rand’s presidential run in 2016 or 2020?

While I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Rand endorse Mitt Romney, there are some reasons that this endorsement makes sense. Plus, in four (or eight) years when Rand runs for president, those who criticize him for the endorsement now won’t care about it then. On the other side of that coin, those delighted by the Romney endorsement won’t have the “not a team player” card to play at that time.

It’s also important to remember that endorsements these days mean almost nothing. Like a free toothbrush at the dentist’s office, anybody who really wants an endorsement can get one. If Rand Paul wants to endorse Romney as a candidate, that’s fine with me. Plus, Paul is an elected Republican with real presidential possibility. In what universe would endorsing someone other than the GOP nominee make any sense for him?

Rand’s endorsement of Romney the candidate means nothing to me. But if Rand endorses Romney’s philosophy, we’ve got issues. Playing nice within the Party is one thing; jumping on the big government bandwagon is something else entirely.

You can imagine my delight when I saw this article from Rand Paul. He is very direct in his criticism of the Obama administration, especially since Obama campaigned on a platform of ending wars and since his election, he has done the exact opposite. Obama deserves this criticism.

Can Libertarians And Social Conservatives Be Allies?

There has been an interesting back and forth over the past couple days between Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner and Walter Olson and David Boaz of the Cato Institute. Carney started the exchange by writing a piece about this weekend’s protests against the Obama HHS birth control mandate. In the piece he said:

This truth needs to get out there. The media need to figure out who is imposing morality on whom. Libertarians need to reassess their allegiances on social matters. And cultural conservatives need to understand that government is inherently their enemy.

This brought a response first by Walter Olson who said after mostly touching on a recent case from New Mexico where a photographer was forced to photograph a gay marriage against their will:

As I understand it, the libertarian position is to prize religious liberty, while also disapproving the use of government as an instrument of culture war. That’s no contradiction. It’s the American way.

David Boaz then responded by illustrating how social conservatives have been recently trying to expand the state:

But what about conservatives? Are conservatives really the defenders of freedom? Carney seems to want us to think so, and to line up with conservatives “on social matters.” But the real record of conservatives on personal and social freedom is not very good. Consider:

“Act of Valor”: A Libertarian’s Review

Jorge Gonzalez is a motion designer and political activist living and working in Midtown Atlanta. In his free time, he enjoys filming, photography, and reading. **Please note, this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to hear all about it, then stop here and read it after you’ve seen it. If you don’t care about spoilers, then by all means, read on.**

I’ve seen Act of Valor twice now. It’s a visually stunning movie, it is —unlike what the critics seem to suggest— a moving story, and has raised some important questions for me about valor, honor, war and how I should understand it given my worldview.

First, I was amazed at the realness of the movie. From the actor’s cadence to the weapons, the tactics to the sound engineering, the movie is frighteningly real. The action scenes were relentless. The sound of the M4’s (the assault rifle used by the SEALS) was spot on. I’ve never watched a movie where the M4 sounded as it actually does when fired. Not to mention, the Soviet weapons used in the movie were also very real sounding. That may seem like a minor detail but to me, I’ll never forget the sound of an AK or the sound an RPG makes when it’s passing by. Nor will I ever forget the sound an M4 makes, especially when fired repeatedly. That sound does stick with you and this movie brought back some memories.

Cato and the Future of Libertarianism

An earthquake rocked the libertarian world last week when news broke that a lawsuit had been filed over the ownership of shares in the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank founded some 30 year ago in the wake of Ed Clark’s run as the 1980 Libertarian Party Presidential nominee. It started, apparently, last year with the death of William Niskanen, who along with Ed Crane, David Boaz, and countless others, had spent three decades shaping Cato into not just the leading libertarian public policy think tank, but also an organization that has become well-respected on both sides of the political aisle.

It’s difficult to list everything that Cato has done in the past thirty years, because they’ve done so much. They publish numerous publicy policy analyis reports on every subject that the nation’s leaders deal with. For many years they have published a guide book for each new Congress. Since the late 1980s they have run Cato University, an opportunity for young libertarians to learn from an interact with some truly great minds. Indeed, yours truly particlpated in one of those seminars at Dartmouth College in 1989 and I still remember it as one of the most intellectually engaging weeks of my life. That’s just a short list, I’m sure I’m missing something.

In any case, the dispute that is rocking Cato now is, as I said rooted in the death of William Niskanen last year, and a shareholder agreement with Charles and David Koch:

The billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch filed a lawsuit Wednesday for control of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington.

Hanging with Gary Johnson

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to hangout for a few days with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson while he was visiting Georgia for the state Libertarian Party convention.

As you may know, Gov. Johnson left the Republican Party just after Christmas to seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president. During his run for the GOP nod, Gov. Johnson was excluded from all but two debates, and when he did get to participate, he wasn’t treated as a serious candidate.

The treatment of Johnson was certainly odd. He has more executive experience than any of the other candidates seeking the Republican nomination. Moreover, he has a solid resume, including a stellar fiscal record; as evidenced by his scores from the Cato Institute and the fact that he vetoed 750 bills — more than the other 49 governors combined.

In fact, I still don’t quite understand why the Tea Party movement couldn’t get behind Johnson, who was clearly the most fiscally conservative candidate running for the GOP nomination. He was, or should have been, their candidate. A limited government Republican that had a proven record of winning in a two-to-one Democratic state.

I had planned to vote for Gov. Johnson in the March 6th Republican primary. His fiscal record and consistant support for personal liberty made him the best candidate in my eyes. When he dropped out, I planned to vote for Rep. Ron Paul.

Back at the beginning of the month, I accepted the role of state director in Georgia for Gov. Johnson’s campaign, which included preparing for his visit — booking media and events for him to speak at, etc.

Why The Libertarian-Conservative Alliance Can’t Survive Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, after his recent wins in Minnesota, Colorado, and Missouri; appears to be the GOP frontrunner. If you look at Santorum’s record and rhetoric, he would appear to be the best fit for the Republican Party. Indeed, it is almost hard now not to imagine a scenario where Santorum is not the nominee.

However, if the GOP decides to nominates him, it will put an end to the fiction that the GOP is a limited government party. It will also put an end to what is left of the conservative-libertarian alliance.

Santorum is the only candidate running for president who is openly hostile to libertarianism. Santorum’s record is abysmal on fiscal issues. He voted for the Medicare prescription drug entitlement, No Child Left Behind, numerous earmarks and pork barrel projects, voted against NAFTA and is generally opposed to free trade. His proposals on foreign aid have won praise from Bono, the rest of the Third World poverty pimps, and their allied Tranzi NGOs. The Sweater Vest also wants to maintain a tax code that is riddled full of deductions and loopholes rewarding selected constituencies, instead of proposing a simpler system that is fairer to all. Rick Santorum, far from being the next Reagan, appears to be a compassionate conservative in the mold of George W. Bush. Finally, Rick Santorum last summer in a speech declared war on libertarians.

In a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in Harrisburg last summer, Santorum declared, “I am not a libertarian, and I fight very strongly against libertarian influence within the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

Ranking the Presidents from a libertarian perspective

I remember some time ago – maybe as far back as a couple of years ago – I saw a link pointing to a list ranking the presidents on a libertarian scale. I did some digging around tonight, and I believe that this is that list I saw.

Of course, it’s all subjective. There are several lists like this one, and they all vary a little bit depending on the views of the person who wrote the list. I say that to stress that while I’m linking to this list, I didn’t write it, so don’t assume that I endorse everything in it.

His top five U.S. Presidents:

  1. Martin Van Buren
  2. Grover Cleveland
  3. John Tyler
  4. Calvin Coolidge
  5. Zachary Taylor

And, of course, no “best of” list is any good without an accompanying “worst of” list. Here are his list of the worst 5 presidents:

  1. George W. Bush
  2. Abraham Lincoln
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
  4. Ronald Reagan
  5. Harry S. Truman

A few of my thoughts on the list:

Are SOPA/PIPA protests a tipping point in history?

While some of my colleagues here at United Liberty may feel that the protests yesterday may be heralding a new age of libertarianism, I’m afraid I have a darker feeling.  You see, yesterday, while the masses were arguing against a law that will create intense burdens on small websites, stifle the creative flow that makesup the internet, and ultimately throw us back about 20 years digitally, I saw only a handful of politicians leave the embrace of SOPA and PIPA.

Both of my senators have remained as co-sponsors of PIPA.  Senator Saxby Chambliss tried to argue that he was best positioned to change PIPA because, as a co-sponsor, he would have more influence.  Whatever.

After the NDAA sailed through Congress with remarkably little opposition, and I see little evidence that Congress has the testicular fortitude to say “screw the entertainment industiry’s money”, I’m forced to ponder as to whether we are at a tipping point in history.

Every society eventually falls.  Freedom is and always has been an endangered species.  It requires a great deal of vigilence for it to thrive.  This nation is obviously incapable of providing that vigilence.  Does this mean we are at a tipping point in history?  A downward slide towards all out totalitarianism?  Honestly, I don’t know.  However, I do see some things that make me very concerned.

For example, there are people who honestly believe that getting a court order counts as “due process”.  They thing that because a judge says something is acceptable, that is sufficient to meet the standards set forth in the constitution.  They don’t understand that a law like SOPA or PIPA will have a negative effect on websites that have nothing to do with piracy.

Libertarian Purity and the Presidential Race

In March of last year, I wrote a post on “Libertarian purity”.  It was one of the most read posts of 2011, and probably the most read post I’ve personally ever written.  As we look onto the 2012 primary season and eventual general election, I figured it might be a good time to revisit that post and how it could apply to this election.

First, we have a unique year this year.  An actual libertarian - by most people’s definition anyways - has a legitimate shot and making some headway.  Ron Paul’s slow but steady rise in the polls has been something that fills me with a level of joy that is hard to describe.  “But Tom,” you might say, “didn’t you come out in support of Gary Johnson?”  I would answer yes.  I like Johnson more than Paul, but frankly a President Ron Paul wouldn’t exactly be anything close to bad in my book.

Further, Gary Johnson is challenging for the Libertarian Party nomination, so there’s still a good chance that I’ll get to vote for him in the general election.

It’s entirely possible that we’ll have two libertarians on the ticket, but it’s also possible that we won’t have but one.  So what do we do about that?

In that post from last year, I said that it was vital that we start winning elections, rather than just debating politics from the outside.  So let’s take a look at some of the options and how it relates to that post.

United Liberty’s Top 20 Most Read Posts from 2011

Yesterday, we went over the top 10 news stories from 2011, which were mainly about news and issues that made headlines this past year. This morning, we’re recapping our most read stories from 2011.

Being a libertarian-leaning blog, we touch on a variety of issues. From those of you that aren’t familiar with libertarianism, it is a philosophy grounded in individual liberty. We believe the individual is sovereign and has a right to pursue whatever lifestyle he chooses, provided that he doesn’t harm or disparage the rights of other sovereigns in the process. The belief in individual sovereign also extends to economic liberty and a belief in free markets.

With that said, our top posts from 2011 range from civil liberties issues, including the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Fourth Amendment, to defending free markets and fighting cronyism and corporatism in Washington and on Wall Street to covering Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and having an open discussing the libertarian philosophy.

We offer no additional commentary on these posts. If you would like to read them, just click on the title. Again, have a safe and happy new year.

 
 


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