Dan Drezner, a columnist at Foreign Policy magazine, has a great blog post up explaining why he calls himself a “RINO,” or “Republican-In-Name-Only,” that epithet usually utilized by such sagacious and distinguished intellects as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Ann Coulter. While it does lean towards foreign policy (naturally), the whole thing is a good read. Here’s the snippet I want to focus on, though, his three reasons for being a RINO:
In my case, at this point in time, I believe that last appellation to be entirely fair and accurate. I’m not a Democrat, and I don’t think I’ve become more liberal over time. That said, three things have affected my political loyalties over the past few years. First, I’ve become more uncertain about various dimensions of GOP ideology over time. It’s simply impossible for me to look at the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2008 financial crisis and not ponder the myriad ways in which my party has made some categorical errors in judgment. So I’m a bigger fan of the politics of doubt during an era when doubt has been banished in political discourse.
Second, the GOP has undeniably shifted further to the right over the past few years, and while I’m sympathetic to some of these shifts, most of it looks like a mutated version of “cargo cult science” directed at either Ludwig Von Mises or the U.S. Constitution (which, of course, is sacred and inviolate, unless conservatives want to amend it). Sorry, I’m not embracing outdated concepts like the gold standard or repealing the 16th Amendment. Not happening.
For those of you who have never heard of Alfonzo Rachel, he is a conservative commentator who recently joined PJTV team after becoming a viral success on YouTube:
AlfonZo Rachel is a musican and martial arts instructor who founded Macho Sauce Productions to create right-minded entertainment. His popular rapid-fire rants, originally self-produced on YouTube, have now found a home on PJTV.
His videos are a bit unorthodox among conservative pundits, which may have much to do with its appeal to younger conservatives and even some libertarians. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw this:
‘Zo’ begins the video quite oddly by equating independents with libertarians. He then defines a libertarians as “just liberals that don’t have a love-hate relationship with capitalism.”
Then comes a key comment: “The Constitution does not say that the government can tax the fruits of our labor, or impose an income tax. Which makes total sense because the government would bleed the people dry like they’re doing now as they defy the Constitution.”
I’ve long held that, to be effective politically, conservatives and libertarians (or center-right independents) need to find common ground, and that if libertarians want to see policy and political change, it needs to be an inside job.
While this video isn’t surprising, it’s sad to me to see an outspoken conservative like Alfonzo Rachel divisively deriding libertarians as the 2012 cycle begins to pick up. It’s the kind of stuff that makes me want to stay home on Election Day.
Consider this an open thread.
Since 1993, CNN has regularly asked a pair of questions that touch on libertarian views of the economy and society:
Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?
Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?
A libertarian, someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least, would typically choose the first view in the first question and the second view in the second.
[I]n CNN’s latest version of the poll, conducted earlier this month, the libertarian response to both questions reached all-time highs. Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008. (It was the first time that answer won a plurality in CNN’s poll.)
As President Obama laid out his case for intervention in Libya (and really, almost anywhere) some remarked, on Twitter and on blogs, that his speech was the best one George W. Bush ever gave. The implication was that Obama’s justification for aggressive action paralleled Bush’s almost to the word - wherever people are “yearning to be free”, the United States must be on the side of the yearners. It is a frighteningly broad criteria for making war, because, let’s face it - most of the world is not free, in fact massively so. Can we possibly take sides everywhere some are oppressed?
Given the actions of the left during the Bush presidency and the Iraq War, it would then not be irrational to expect widespread demonstrations and protests. Surely Code Pink, MoveOn, et al would hold rallies and vigils against a truly unjustified military action that put our troops at risk for no good purpose. After all, we can’t just go about shooting missiles everywhere, right?
Yet the so-called “anti-war” left is mostly silent, with few exceptions. Surely this is a double standard, but it should not surprise anyone in the least. The left has fashioned itself as being entirely in favor of intervention in every other aspect of life, from our choice of light bulbs to whether or not we choose to buy health insurance. So for what logical reason would they have any deep opposition to intervening abroad? The fact is, the left has never been and never will be truly anti-war.
Some basic libertarian principles are catching flak over a house burning down. It seems that in Obion County, Tennessee, you’re required to either pay a $75 subscription fee for fire service or else risk your house burning down. Homeowner Gene Cranick didn’t, and when his house caught fire, firefighters watched it burn.
Some on the left are using this as evidence that libertarianism fails and is morally bankrupt. They also don’t know what they’re talking about.
First, many libertarians have no problem with municipal fire services. They don’t. Only a small handful want that in the private sector’s hands completely with subscriptions and such. However, what happened in Obion County wasn’t even what these people envision.
You see, Obion County does let residents opt in to paying for fire service. That is all fine and good. However, they also have a monopoly on fire services. I can subscribe to their service, or get nothing. That’s not the free market at work, that’s a tax they’re calling a fee but making optional. Gene Cranick should have had the choice of several operations if you’re going to make it optional. If the answer is still no, then oh well.
Cranick has stated that he would have paid anything once the fire broke out, and a free market operation would have responded to such. You see, the $75 subscription fee, in a free market, would have been part of a list of fees. Putting out a fire without the subscription fee would have cost more, but a free market operation would have been willing to do it for the extra income. Greed ain’t always a bad thing after all. Greed, the progressive boogie-man, would have put out the fire at Gene Cranick’s house. Adhering to regulations - you know, like all the regulations progressives seem to love? - caused Cranick’s house to burn down.
Note: Here’s something that I wrote for Lew Rockwell a little while ago. It’s an oldie-but-a-goody, and one of my favorites. Seeing so much propaganda and hype for the “Glee” television program got me thinking about it again… most of the philosophy behind my critique of High School Musical can be applied to Glee. -sjm.
Pom-Poms and Prisons: The Powerful Statism of Disney’s High School Musical
From both the left and the right, you can always count on some level of support for television and movie censorship. Both groups seek to protect their collectivist interest and pet opinions through the use of government enforced broadcasting laws. Whether it is the latest school shooting or gruesome rural murder, TV is often blamed. But we rarely hear of any group protesting the even more destructive programming of glorifying our statist Prussian education. Even our churches and libertarian communities are usually silent on the issue. From Happy Days to Saved By The Bell, Hollywood has long been the public relations wing of our federalized educational system. Today’s juggernaut of public school idolatry is the Disney’s High School Musical series. There is no more pro-state entertainment program as deft and dangerous as the Disney High School Musical franchise. Indeed, it promotes more immoral attitudes and beliefs than any sexy slasher film that I can think of.
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.
Free Market Justice by Gaslight.
It is axiomatic that whatever the state can do the private sector can do better, and this lesson is rarely illustrated better in literature than in the stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As it was said by Doyle’s brother-in-law E.W. Hornung, there is no police like Holmes. With the new Sherlock Holmes movie set to be released on Christmas day, we will no doubt see a resurgence of interest in the original Sherlock Holmes stories, movies and television programs. Viewers and fans would do well to note the prevalent anti-state themes that course through these stories like the famous cocaine through the veins of Holmes himself.
The relationship between Holmes and the official London police force showed the marked contrast between a skilled master and a team of public investigators usually barely maintaining the status quo at least a few steps behind the criminals. Scotland Yard reeked of a smug incompetence that amused Holmes, even as he gave them the credit in most cases. They were frequently on the wrong path, lecturing Holmes about him wasting time chasing his fancy theories which ended up being correct. While Inspector Lestrade and the rest were so easily duped by the scheming criminals, Holmes did what the police should have done, what they were getting paid tax payer money to do. In “The Case of the Red Circle” we even see that a constable on duty at a murder scene is easily manipulated by a housewife. Like so many other instances in real life, the private market yielded results where the public option brought errors, gridlock and confusion.
- Sarah Palin’s speech in Hong Kong and her “libertarianism”
- Continued misuse of “Sneak & Peak” warrants authorized by the PATRIOT Act
- The “progressive” attempt to lump states’ 10th Amendment rights supporters in with “birthers” and “truthers” by labeling them “tenthers”
- The FDA’s ban on flavored cigarettes, where the government is choosing Altria (Philip Morris) and their oligopolistic partners as marketplace winners over smaller boutique producers.