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.
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.
We’re winding down on another year. Much like recent years, 2011 represented challenges for liberty and the Constitution. These hurdles came from all sides, including the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress, and we are ending the year a little less free than in 2010.
Below is a recap of some of bigger stories of the year that were covered here at United Liberty (though a couple are thrown in for fun). Thanks for reading in what was a record breaking year for this blog. We appreciate the readership and hope you’ll keep coming back in 2012
Happy New Year!
— The Death of Osama bin Laden (Jason Pye): On Sunday, May 1st, word broke that the White House had called notified the press of a major announcement. You could tell that it was a significant event since the president was making such a statement late on a Sunday evening.As you probably remember, wild speculation started almost immediately as many people said that it could have only meant a couple of things, either we were going to war or Osama bin Laden had finally been captured.
Around 11pm, President Barack Obama told Americans that, after nearly 10 years after murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people, Osama bin Laden was dead. Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group, al-Qaeda, was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by a group of Navy SEALS at a compound that he had lived in for five years.
The choices for libertarian oriented Republicans in this year’s Republican field are, admittedly, better than they have in the past. Not only is Ron Paul doing much better than he did four years ago, getting more press attention, and seemingly surging into second place in Iowa, but we’ve also got Gary Johnson, former two-term Governor of New Mexico.
There’s been much to lament about Johnson’s campaign, of course, not the least being the near disaster caused due to a campaign miscommunication that almost kept Johnson off the New Hampshire ballot, as well as staff problems inside the campaign. At the same time, though, Johnson has largely been ignored by the media, and kept out of nearly all the debates due to low poll numbers (although, as Johnson has noted himself, it’s hard to do well in the polls when they don’t even include your name on the list of prospective candidates).
The possibility that Johnson could run for the Libertarian Party nomination for President next year is also encouraging. It’s not perfect, of course, and libertarian Republicans have had to sit back and watch a bunch of incompetents like Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain rise in the polls and get far more media attention than either their qualifications or their accomplishments would seem to warrant while a two-term Governor is ignored. Nonetheless, it’s better than we’ve had it in the past, and hopefully a sign that libertarian-leaning candidates are gaining wider acceptance in the Republican Party as a whole.
If you were able to sit through the entire debate, I think you deserve an award. Seriously, that was rough. There wasn’t much in the way of substantive answers. And outside of Rep. Ron Paul, who is focusing his message on monetary policy and non-interventionist foreign policy, no one really seemed to want to separate themselves from the pack last night. There was a lot of agreement and no fireworks.
CNN’s John King, who served as the debate’s moderator, did a terrible job. He spent most of the evening utting “uh huh” behind the answers given by each question. Just before commercial breaks he asked candidates if they preferred “Conan or Leno,” “Elvis or Johnny Cash” and “Coke or Pepsi.” CNN will be hosting a Tea Party debate on September 12th, let’s hope they workout the kinks between now and then.
Michele Bachmann: Even though she contradicted herself on a couple of occasions - for example, saying that she wouldn’t interfere with state marriage laws, but yet supports a Federal Marriage Amendment; Bachmann, who used the debate as an opportunity to announce her candidacy, actually came across fairly well as far as communicating her message. I’d say she was in top three debate “winners.” By the way, Bachmann’s House seat seems to be up in the air. If she’s actively running for president, she can’t run for re-election. However, she has until June 2012 to make a decision.
On Thursday, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Texas Congressman Ron Paul is expected to announce his candidacy at some point in the future. That would put two libertarians campaigning for the limited libertarian vote in the GOP. Some argue that this would be a good thing, that the two could shred the likes of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin in the primary debates. Unfortunately, let’s face facts. Paul didn’t perform well last time in the debates, so the only reason to expect different this time is the pathetic line up we’re looking at from the GOP this time around.
However, as things stand at the moment, I’m putting my weight behind Gary Johnson. This isn’t a lack of respect or admiration for Ron Paul, those are as strong as ever. However, Johnson has a few things going for him that Paul doesn’t necessarily.
It’s true that both have a record to stand on. However, Paul as repeatedly used earmarks to send money to his home district. Granted, he always votes against the budget after adding those earmarks, but some can easily argue that Paul knows it will pass anyways so he’s just voting against the budget on form. He’s bringing home the pork just like so many he criticizes, at least in their eyes. Johnson, on the other hand, vetoed over 750 pieces of legislation during his time as governor of New Mexico.
That’s the question that entered my head this morning. Conservatives often accuse libertarians of “supporting” Obama by being critical of Republicans and conservatives. Obviously, this is nonsense, as no one is obligated to withhold criticism simply because of a person’s party. Libertarians are by no means required to even support Republicans, much less ignore their glaring deficiencies and attempts to abridge liberty.
What I’m asking is, is there any situation that could arise to cause a libertarian to actually vote for Obama in 2012? The current crop of GOP hopefuls, with the possible exception of Gary Johnson and perhaps a couple others, looks less than thrilling for libertarians (or really anyone). It is entirely possible that we will end up with a Huckabee, Romney, or other nominee that one could find impossible, or at least difficult, to support. Is anyone’s vote then going to Obama?
Personally, I’d argue that any libertarian who would consider this is, well, nuts. I realize there are some who supported Obama in 2008, most likely because of his supposed anti-war stance. But as the his actions have shown, especially his amplification of the Afghanistan war and his actions in Libya, Obama is most certainly not anti-war. Further, his behavior on the domestic front has been, in a word, horrendous. From ObamaCare to spending levels that would make George Bush blush, he has been anathema to libertarians in nearly every way.
So my question is, are any libertarians even considering voting for him in 2012? If so, what conditions would need to exist? And more importantly, why? I’m honestly curious to see if he retains any support in this segment. I highly doubt if it is significant after the above-mentioned. I just want to know if it still exists at all.
Herman Cain visited the Bloggers’ Lounge yesterday for a few moments. He gave us a quick introduction and took a few questions, including a couple from me on his support of the bailouts (he gave a woefully inadequate answer).
After making the rounds, Cain came by for a quick chat with me on campaign finance, free trade and spending. You can download the podcast here (3.3MB/3:39).
Stand by, I hope to have a couple more of these tomorrow.
“…some Tea Party-backed candidates and other Republicans have taken positions that many voters consider extreme, like shutting down the government to get their way, privatizing Social Security and Medicare and ending unemployment insurance.” - NY Times
Extremism is probably the buzzword today in politics. By arguing against extremism from your opponent, you paint yourself as the defender of what is just and right. However, the thing to keep in mind is that extremism today is mainstream thought tomorrow.
For example, the idea of “medical marijuana” was extreme for many, many years. Today it’s becoming more and more common. Even more people are coming out in favor of legalization where as a decade ago it was an “extremist” view. The idea of legalizing any drug was a sign of being soft on crime and criminals. Today, it’s soccer moms and even police officers who are taking that stance, not just libertarian whack jobs.
Ideas like privatizing social security sound extreme because the propaganda machine has done a good job of painting it that way. However, as more and more people enter into social security with fewer and fewer people contributing to it, the Ponzi scheme will inevitably fail. What happens then? Well, for one, the system will need serious revision at least. That could mean privatization, or it could mean scrapping the system. Either way, something is going to have to happen and whatever it is will be something that the New York Times says is “extreme”.
Extremism is in the eye of the beholder, at least when it comes to American politics. The idea of government getting out of people’s daily lives doesn’t sound extreme, since that’s kind of what the United States is all about. However, when you argue against seat belt laws, or against the Department of Homeland Security, you get labeled as “extremist”. People forget that we lived just fine without this stuff.
Over the last few days, many Americans, including myself, have lost sight of what really matters overall. We have liberal bloggers pounding away at keyboards trying to show the Tea Party as evil. We have conservative bloggers pounding away at keyboards trying to show the NAACP as racist. We have libertarian bloggers pounding away at keyboards arguing against bloggers from either of the two primary affiliations.
It gets a little much and like I said, I’ve been as guilty (if not more so) than anyone. However, there are still real problems in this country that need to be addressed that shouldn’t get lost in the shuffle of who said what when.
We still have an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico to clean up, and there is need for a valid debate on whether more regulation would prevent another disaster like that one, or whether there were already plenty of regulations on the books that just weren’t enforced. There’s still room for a valid debate on how hard BP should get hit financially on this.
We still have sky high unemployment, and there is still a need for valid debate on how best to combat that. Folks like me see the best way is for government to get out of the way and let the private sector do it’s thing. There are others who think that government is the solution. Let’s have that debate in the blogs and the newspaper columns.
We have new financial regulations coming down the pipe. Let’s debate the merits and flaws of those, rather than what someone said in a speech. Let’s talk about whether the government had a hand in creating this mess or not. Let’s discuss the idea of “to big to fail” for a little while.