libertarianism

National Journal, Politico Profile Justin Amash

Last week, the National Journal profiled Rep. Justin Amash, the libertarian-leaning Michigan politican, noting how his potential entry into the race for the Republican primary for United States Senate could further shake-up the establishment in both parties:

Amash is a unique politician with the potential to transcend traditional party appeal. He preaches transparency and accountability, having never missed a vote in Congress. (He also writes lengthy notes on his Facebook page explaining every vote.) His isolationist streak has earned him a following among young people. His Arab-American heritage makes him appealing to minorities. He’s the rare politician with fans at both the American Civil Liberties Union and Right to Life.

Amash also has the ability to attract serious money. Already, one libertarian super PAC has pledged to spend upward of $1 million to help him get elected, and others would likely follow (Club for Growth would surely spend big on his behalf). The ability to attract such substantial outside assistance makes Amash an intimidating contender, and could send other Republicans running from a primary challenge. “If that money comes through, that’s a big benefit,” said former Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis, another potential candidate. “Look, this is going to cost $2 million to $3 million in the primary, and another $10 million to $15 million in a general election. So if there are people who are willing to put that kind of money behind him, that makes a big difference.”

A Recipe for Fusionism Failure: Perestroika Without Glasnost

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.

Incrementally Advancing Freedom

With relative success in the 2012 Presidential elections – considering Ron Paul in the Republican primary and Gary Johnson as the Libertarian candidate in the general – libertarians maintain our strongest position in modern history.  With opportunity in front of us, hopes abound to create a “broader freedom movement” – a term which rankles top libertarians.

With this opportunity comes risk – specifically, the risk of being co-opted again, a la Tea Party 2010 – therein diluting an otherwise powerful message.  With CPAC 2013 in the near term, the 2014 midterm elections in the – ahem – mid-term, and the 2016 Presidential election in the far-term, we should expect more posturing from establishmentarians, mostly on the Right, for their votes.

It might be tempting to reject all policy ideas that don’t immediately get us to the Promised Land, or to support policy ideas when we disagree with their proposed end states. I don’t think we have to do either/or.  I believe we can work incrementally within the existing framework to build bridges and, as the minority, work our ideas upward within a broader movement, strengthening both the broader movement and ourselves.

Messaging Strategy

When presented with new opportunities, the typical impulse for political movements on the Left and Right is to look for new policy positions to woo more voters.  But libertarians don’t have a policy problem; we have a messaging problem.

Justin Amash: Young Libertarians Should Work Inside the GOP

Justin Amash

There is quite the debate going on in the liberty movement as to whether or not libertarians should partner with conservatives and/or Republicans to advance their beliefs. This was part of a discussion that I had with David Boaz, who explained that libertarians could work with conservatives on fiscal issues, but was “uncomfortable” with defining the movement to include conservatives.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), who generally votes in a manner consistent with libertarian principles, weighed in on the debate last week, telling a crowd of college students that young libertarians should work within in the Republican Party to advance their views:

Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., called for greater youth involvement to unify the libertarian movement and the Republican Party on Feb. 26 at an event hosted by AU College Republicans and AU Young Americans for Liberty in the in the Mary Graydon Center.

Amash emphasized that legislators cannot please everybody, including their own party when voting on issues that cross party lines.

“You’re never going to find people who agree with you on every single issue,” Amash said. “It doesn’t mean that they are sellouts just because they disagree with you on one or two issues. It matters that they have a reason, that they have a principled logic to it.”
[…]
Amash also urged today’s youth to get involved with the Republican Party.

Chatting with David Boaz of the Cato Institute

David Boaz

“I don’t think libertarians should subsume themselves in a conservative movement or even just in a fiscally conservative movement. [A]bsolutely libertarians can work with conservatives on fiscal issues.” — David Boaz

Editor’s note: The audio came out a little weird. We tried to work out the kinks, but didn’t have much success. Apologies.

On Friday, I sat down with David Boaz, Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer and The Politics of Freedom: Taking on the Left, the Right, and Threats to Our Liberties, to discuss the sequester, CPAC, and fusionism between libertarians and conservatives.

Since we did the interview on “Sequester Day,” I asked Boaz about some of the silliness and scare tactics that have been used in recent weeks as we counted down the days until the spending cuts took effect.

“A lot of the silliness, of course, is a dedicated campaign by the Obama Administration. They want people to believe that if you cut anything out of the federal budget the country will fall apart,” Boaz explained. “And we know that if they actually do the things they’re talking about — you know, we’re gonna lift the border patrol and let illegals flood into America and we’re gonna take TSA officers off and slow down all the airplanes — it’s a deliberate strategy.”

Glenn Beck Hosts Discussion on Libertarianism

Beck and libertarians

The liberty movement is in the midst of a much needed conversation over its future. While not a new conversation, it is one that has been recently reignited thanks to Alexander McCobin of Students for Liberty and Glenn Beck.

Over the past few years, the liberty movement has seen tremendous growth, thanks largely to Ron Paul, who has been able to lure a number of conservatives into the liberty movement. As a result, libertarianism has grown in popularity as more people begin to understand the basic tenets of the philosophy — including free markets and individual liberty. However, there are some in our movement who don’t seem to want the message to spread to those who may not fully share all of our ideas.

Yesterday, Glenn Beck helped further along this conversation, inviting Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation, Zachary Slayback of Students for Liberty, and Jack Hunter to discuss libertarianism and the future of the movement.

Beck asked the trio how to get people interested in libertarianism when the perception is that those who follow the philosophy want so much change so quickly.

“Politically, you can’t get from ‘Point A’ to ‘Point B’ without there being an in-between,” said Hunter in response. “‘B’ being the ideal political world we would like and ‘A’ where we are now. There’s going to be some messiness in between. That’s just human nature — that’s the way it’s got to be.

“You have to start where people are and work towards liberty in a practical sense,” he added.

The Liberty Movement Will Keep Growing — But Only If We Let It

During the recent International Students for Liberty Conference (ISFLC), Alexander McCobin, Executive Director of Students for Liberty, weighed in on Glenn Beck’s recent shift toward libertarianism.

“I admit, it is difficult to counter this when staunch conservatives like Glenn Beck decide to start calling themselves libertarian,” McCobin said during his opening remarks. “But, if Glenn wants to call himself a libertarian, I am happy to accept him as one… on the condition…that he comes here, to our community, and proclaim ‘mea culpa’ for his past defenses of social and neo-conservatism in public policy and then take serious, public measures to undo the damage done by his offenses to liberty.”

Uniting the liberty movement is our namesake so we’re very much inclined to accept anyone who wishes to join us — and are ready to call them out on issues when they are wrong.

Beck recently responded to McCobin on air. “Whatever sins I have, do you not want someone who is honestly saying ‘I’m trying to learn?’” Beck asked, noting that Penn Jillette, for example, is teaching him about libertarianism.

Drew Martin gave his thoughts on this discussion today over at IVN, highlighting a very profound point that Beck made.

Beck said, “Libertarians, I’m begging you please, see the opportunity you have with about thirty percent of this nation; maybe sixty percent of this nation.”

Hey Ann, the War on (Some) Drugs IS a Welfare Program

Ann Coulter

According to Ann Coulter, libertarians are “pussies” for wanting to end the war on (some) drugs and for agreeing with the Left on certain social issues such as gay marriage. Coulter was a guest on Stossel at the Students for Liberty Conference.

Coulter elaborated:

We’re living in a country that is 70-percent socailist, the government takes 60 percent of your money. They are taking care of your health care, of your pensions. They’re telling you who you can hire, what the regulations will be. And you want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, ‘Oh, but we want to legalize pot.’ You know, if you were a little more manly you would tell the liberals what your position on employment discrimination is. How about that? But it’s always ‘We want to legalize pot.’

[..]

Liberals want to destroy the family so that you will have one loyalty and that is to the government.

Rand Paul: The country is ready for the libertarian Republican narrative

Rand Paul

Given the recent buzz surrounding him after a great foreign policy speech at the Heritage Foundation and giving the Tea Party response to the State of the Union, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was directly asked about presidential bid in 2016 during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

“How serious are about running for president — and would it be to make a point as your father did during his presidential runs or would it be to win?” Chris Wallace asked Sen. Paul.

“I would absolutely not run unless it were to win,” Sen. Paul replied. “Points have been made, and we we will continue to make points. But I think the country is really ready for the narrative coming — the libertarian Republican narrative.”

Sen. Paul also noted some of the problems facing the GOP, noting that they’re no longer a national party. “I think people want a party that’s a little less aggressive on foreign policy — still believe in a strong national defense, but less aggressive,” Sen. Paul explained. “The young people want politicians who don’t want to put them in jail for 20 years for a non-violent drug possession charge.”

Sen. Paul says Americans want a “different face,” noting also the issue of immigration. On that hot issue, Sen. Paul said, “They don’t want somebody who wants to round them up, put them in camps and send them back to Mexico.”

While Wallace noted that his guest sounded like a candidate, Sen. Paul said that he wouldn’t make a decision until 2014.

You can watch this particular part of Sen. Paul’s appearance on Fox News Sunday in the video below:

Opposition to Senator Mitch McConnell Makes Strange Bedfellows

Mitch McConnell

With Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s reelection coming up in 2014, numerous individuals have been looking at taking a whack at the Kentucky senator. He’s annoyed grassroots conservatives, libertarian Republicans, and Tea Party types for awhile now, both for his deals with Senate Democrats to keep things moving (such as the recent deal on filibusters) and just because he really hasn’t done anything to cut spending.

Recently, though, this irritation has built a bridge between Kentucky conservatives and Kentucky liberals, and an unlikely grouping of very strange bedfellows indeed are exploring the possibilities of an alliance against him. Seth Mandel at Commentary magazine doesn’t like this at all:

The sometimes contradictory nature of the grassroots conservative criticism of GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was apparent a few weeks ago when one conservative group began to advertise against McConnell from the right. It turned out this same group, which rates members of Congress on their dedication to conservative principles and freedom, gives McConnell a 95 percent rating.


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