libertarians

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.

Sarvis and the Role of a Third Party in Tight Races

Robert Sarvis

The close race that was the Virginia governor’s race, where Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lost by a smaller than predicted margin to Clinton campaigner-in-chief Terry McAuliffe, has led to some very interesting — although not altogether new — discussions about the role of a third party candidate in a tight election. And, while it’s becoming fairly clear that the, as Allahpundit at HotAir puts it, “fake libertarian didn’t cost Cuccinelli the election” in terms of vote count, that doesn’t mean that Sarvis being in the race and the support he was given by some influential power-brokers didn’t actually help to harm Cuccinelli in the end.

First, the argument that Sarvis had nothing to do with Cuccinelli’s loss. The numbers look right to make that argument. From new and compelling blog The Federalist:

Remember that the total difference between your average Cuccinelli county (R+25) and your average McAuliffe county (D+22) was a swing of nearly 47 percent, yet the difference in Sarvis support between those two massively different electorates was less than 1 percent.

Those numbers — namely the fact that there is so little difference in Sarvis support in counties with wildly different candidate preferences — strongly suggest that Sarvis was a “none of the above” candidate, not a Cuccinelli siphon or a traditional spoiler in the mold of Ralph Nader.

Poll: Republican voters have embraced libertarian values

Don't Tread on Me

The libertarian philosophy is taking the Republican Party by storm, according to a poll conducted by FreedomWorks, a DC-based grassroots service center with over 6 million members.

With Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and many other liberty-minded politicians gaining influence, libertarianism has generated new interest inside the Republican Party, much to the chagrin of the GOP’s political establishment.

Though still not a dominate view inside the party, there is no denying that the narrative inside the Republican Party has significantly changed. Moreover, libertarians have an opportunity upon which they can seize, if they’re willing to work within the system.

“FreedomWorks’ poll shows that 41 percent of Republican voters hold libertarian views. Conventional wisdom is that many voters who are libertarian don’t know the word. But this may well be changing,” noted David Kirby, Kellyanne Conway, and Stephen Spiker in the report on the data.

“FreedomWorks’ poll shows that 42 percent of Republicans have a favorable view of the word ‘libertarian,’ and only 10 percent don’t know the word, compared to 27 percent who don’t know nationally,” they added.

And the term “libertarian” may still turn off some Republican voters, the basic message of the philosophy earns significant favor. The poll found that 68% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree with the statement that “individuals should be free to do as they like as long as they don’t hurt others, and that the government should keep out of people’s day-to-day lives.”

Libertarians are the new what?

Don’t you just love it when people who don’t really understand your ideology decide to pontificate on just what is wrong with it?  Well, that’s what happened over at Bloomberg when Nick Hanauer and Eric Liu took to the bandwidth to announce that libertarians are the new communists.

Oh yes, you read that right:

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways. Where communism was adopted, the result was misery, poverty and tyranny. If extremist libertarians ever translated their beliefs into policy, it would lead to the same kinds of catastrophe.

This just tickles me because it comes from two progressives.  You know, progressives: the guys who have given us the non-recovery from the worst financial crisis since the great depression?  But catastrophe will follow if our policies were implemented?

Funny, if complete BS:

Let’s start with some definitions. By radical libertarianism, we mean the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values. By communism, we mean the ideology of extreme state domination of private and economic life.

Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.

Way to completely miss the point on Ayn Rand’s works.

George Will: Chris Christie is “dangerous”

What’s more dangerous — a government that respects its limitations and the rights of its citizens or a government that can do virtually anything it wants under the guise of protecting the homeland? That’s the question that summed up the public debate between Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) that went down late last month.

George Will, an iconic conservative columnist, answered the question yesterday on ABC’s This Week, explaining libertarianism’s respect for individual liberty and noting that its Christie’s view of government that is truly dangerous.

“[T]here is a rising libertarian stream that Chris Christie has said is ‘a very dangerous thought.’ So let’s be clear about what libertarianism is and what it isn’t. It is not anarchism. It has a role in government,” noted Will during a panel on the Sunday talk show. “What libertarianism says — it comes in many flavors and many degrees of severity, and it basically says before the government abridges the freedom of an individual or the freedom of several individuals contracting together, that government ought to have, a) a compelling reason and b) a constitutional warrant for doing so.”

“Now, if Mr. Christie thinks that’s a dangerous thought, a number of people are going to say that Mr. Christie himself may be dangerous,” said Will in his usually clear and pointed tone.

Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul talk liberty at YAL conference

Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee

How awesome would it have been to be in the room for this? So much liberty and energy in one place. In case you missed it or haven’t heard, Young Americans for Liberty hosted an excellent roundtable discussion with Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul before a group of enthusiastic, young conservative and libertarian activists:

Sen. Ted Cruz gave a nod to the “wacko birds in the house.” Sen. Mike Lee, to cheers, said, “We’re not accustomed to that kind of welcome in Washington.” And Sen. Rand Paul could barely get a word in edgewise before “Stand with Rand” cheers drowned out everything else.

Paul, Cruz and Lee — three of the senate’s most vocal champions of a libertarian-leaning approach — appeared onstage together Wednesday night at a conference sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty, a Ron Paul-linked organization. There, to resounding cheers and catcalls, they made no secret of their issues with their GOP colleagues in the Senate as they made overtures to the youthful audience.
[…]
In a wide-ranging panel discussion at a hotel in Arlington, Va. that touched on issues including foreign aid (which received boos), the debt, Social Security and national security, the three senators were often as critical of their own party as they were of the Obama administration.

Here’s the video of the event:

Karl Rove continues his war on fiscal conservatives

Earlier this year, Karl Rove created some controversy when American Crossroads, his super PAC, announced plans to launch a new organization — the Conservative Victory Project — to help so-called “electable conservatives” get elected in Republican primary races.

The move was clearly aimed a the Tea Party and other grassroots conservatives, which have played a significant role in primary races across the country as they backed fiscal conservatives over establishment-leaning incumbents and candidates. To put it differently, if Rove had his way, candidates like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee would have never been elected.

Well, Karl Rove has done it again.

During a discussion about libertarian Republicans, Rove told fellow panelists that Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) is the “most liberal Republican” in Congress.

“There’s this tension between the kind of libertarianism we’re seeing here today — in the last six, eight, nine months — and a healthy future for the party. The question is gonna be — I welcome the libertarian influence in the party,” Rove told the panel, which included Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson. “I grew up in the west…every western Republican has a healthy does of libertarian in them. But the question is whether it’s gonna be the prudential, to use one of my favorite terms, a prudent leadership of the libertarian movement.”

 


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