CPAC 2011: Podcast with Herman Cain

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.

Extremism in American politics is a temporary position

“…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.

Losing sight of what matters

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.

Republicans Have A More Negative View Of Libertarians Than Democrats Or Independents

Interesting results from a Pew Research survey:

More than four-in-ten independents (44%) react positively to the word “libertarian,” while 32% have a negative reaction. Democrats are nearly evenly divided (39% positive, 37% negative). However, Republicans on balance have a negative impression of this term (44% negative, 31% positive).

Bruce McQuain doesn’t find the apparent Republican disdain for libertarians surprising:

In many ways we’re actually competition for Republicans and try to hold them to their principles and slam them when they don’t live up to them. But Republicans don’t like us on the social side of things

Commentators, from the left, of course, draw other conclusions:

The notion that Republicans are libertarian is ludicrous. They stick their noses into our bedrooms, into our doctors’ offices, into churches. They demand the roundup of people who don’t look like them. They whine about Miranda rights and due process. They are more concerned about the rights of big energy conglomerates, than they are about the rights of people to enjoy long walks on pristine beaches. They whine about true independent and free media that doesn’t validate their ideology. They freak out about anyone who doesn’t believe in their god, or worse, in any god at all.

For the American Taliban, “liberty” means their ability to impose their beliefs and lifestyle on the rest of society.

Libertarians Waiting for an Invitation to the Tea Party Will Be Left Out

Mike Hassinger is a political consultant with Landmark Communications in Atlanta, Georgia. These views are his own.

The Tea Party movement has been ignored, mocked, dismissed, and cast as a collection of conspiracy kooks and racists. To become a genuine political force, this fledgling movement must face internal challenges of direction and leadership while under full assault from the statists on the left and their enabling lapdogs in the mainstream media. In one sense the Tea Party’s journey has been a compressed version of libertarianism -it took libertarians decades to become misunderstood and marginalized, whereas the Tea Partiers have done so in less than a year.

The Tea Party, as force in American electoral politics, stands at a crossroads –several crossroads, actually. Do they form their own political party, or back candidates from existing parties who support their views? Will they start small, with state and local races, or swing for the fences and jump into contested races in the house and Senate? The biggest question is going unasked: Will they co-opt, or be co-opted, and if they’re co-opted, who’s going to get them?

Why Libertarianism Must Change or Die

When I was sixteen years old — only one year after my conversion to Catholicism — I began looking into religion more seriously as a result of a persistent twinge of reason which plagues me to this day. Determined to avoid Atheists and Theists on principle, I instead looked to Thomas Henry Huxley and John Shelby Spong, an Agnostic biologist and a dissenting Episcopalian Bishop respectively.  In conference with these two minds, I discovered myself for an Atheist, but also stumbled upon the first truly intellectual concept of my life: it is possible that each and everyone one of us is “right” in every way, shape and form.

From those early days of intellectual curiosity, thumbing through Spong’s “Why Christianity Must Change Or Die” and growing my understanding of the individual, I’ve sought autonomy in all aspects of my life. In short, it was no surprise to the few people who know me that I was attracted to the Libertarian Party. I’m a spiritual Atheist. I’m an intelligent idiot. I’m an optimistic cynic. Where else could I go?

I’ve loved the Party. It was a tent big enough to house possibilities, a place that wasn’t crowded with rhetoric and closed-mindedness and half-truths.

And then it happened: my partner informed me that Bill Maher is not — no way, no how — a libertarian.

Imagine my surprise. After all, Maher’s been something of a personal hero to me since my relative youth. If I knew and loved anyone, it was Lewis Black.. But Bill Maher … he was, like, second runner-up. To George Carlin. But I digress.

Libertarianism: Is It Happening?

There’s an idea in mainstream American politics that the two-party system, the elephants and donkeys, the red and the blue, the GOP and the Dems, are — and will always be — the most voters in this country will ever have to choose from. Third parties tend to pop up and then die a quick death in the history of American political preferences.

But something — as young libertarians are fond of saying — is happening to the older conservatism of the GOP. It’s getting a streak of, well, libertarian purple in its gray hair. And this new conservatism may better resemble the original founders ideas about government and leadership better than the conservatism of the last 30 years. And it’s making both young and old excited. So much so that cynical, inside-the-beltway publications as self-assured as Politico are, if they want to stay relevant, forced to address and explain just what is happening on the right — and increasingly the left — side of the aisle.

In a piece entitled, “The Libertarian Surge,” David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, writes a primer on just what it is libertarians think and believe — presumably because the demand to know exists:

Libertarianism — the political philosophy that says limited government is the best kind of government — is having its moment. Unfortunately, that’s mostly because government has been expanding in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and the financial crisis. Somehow government failures lead to even more government.

Today in Liberty: Boehner’s future still up in the air, libertarianism rises

“My thing is personal freedoms, freedoms for the individual to love whom they want, do with what they want. In fact, I want the government out of almost everything.”Rob Lowe

— Boaz on the “libertarian surge”: At Politico Magazine, David Boaz, executive vice president at the Cato Institute, explains why libertarianism is growing in popularity. “Lots of libertarians were involved in the tea party and the opposition to the bailouts, the car company takeovers, the 2009 stimulus bill and the quasi-nationalization of health care. But libertarians were also involved in the movement for gay marriage,” Boaz writes. “Indeed, John Podesta, a top adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and founder of the Center for American Progress, noted in 2011 that you probably had to have been a libertarian to have supported gay marriage 15 years earlier. Or take marijuana legalization, which is just now becoming a majority position: Libertarians have been leaders in the opposition to the drug war for many years.” He points out that libertarians “have played a key role in the defense of the right to keep and bear arms over the years.” He also notes that Ron Paul and, more recently, his son, Rand Paul, have sparked interest in the libertarian philosophy.

Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC presidential straw poll, libertarians dominate on issues

For the second year in a row, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) presidential straw poll. The poll also found that libertarians are increasingly growing in influence.

Paul took 31% of the 2,459 votes cast, up from the 25% he earned in the 2013 iteration of the straw poll. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished in a distant second place, with 11%. Dr. Ben Carson finished third, taking 9%.

“I am grateful to all the attendees who stood with me. The fight for liberty continues, and we must continue to stand up and say: We’re free and no one, no matter how well-intentioned, will take our freedoms from us. Together we will stand up for the Constitution. Together we will fight for what is right,” said Paul in a statement from RandPAC. “Thank you and onwards to victory.”

CPAC 2014 Presidential Straw Poll

Tony Frabrizio, who announced the results to CPAC attendees, explained that 46% of straw poll voters were between the ages of 18 and 25 and 18% were between 26 and 40.

Eric Cantor swings and misses in foreign policy speech

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) took aim at President Barack Obama’s foreign policy yesterday in a speech at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), leveling criticism at the administration over its handling of the situation in Syria.

“Months into Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s brutal suppression of a nation-wide protest movement, momentum appeared to be with the protesters. President Obama – sensing perhaps that Assad’s fall was inevitable – called for the dictator to go,” Cantor told cadets on Presidents Day, adding that the White House’s inability to follow through on the threats to intervene in the bloody conflict have “weakened our credibility.”

Along with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Cantor backed President Obama’s push for military intervention in Syria. Most members of Congress, however, were poised to vote against an authorization for the use of force against Assad’s regime and polls found that a majority of Americans opposed the prospect of another war.

President Obama eventually backed down from his threat against Assad, though hawkish Republicans heavily criticized him.


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