“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
As the presidential inauguration comes upon us today, I can’t help but think that we’re seeing Bush’s fourth term. Barack Obama, while talking up a good liberal game on international peace and social issues, is really quite similar to his Republican predecessor. He has widely broadened the use of drones pioneered with Bush 43. His signing of the NDAA act authorizing indefinite detention is merely a sequel to the PATRIOT Act Bush signed in 2001. And his recent executive orders on guns have elicited much the same outrage from conservatives that liberals had over Bush’s signing statements.
Combined with staying the course on military spending, staying the course on not making any significant reforms to entitlements, staying the course on the War on Drugs, and staying the course on corporate bailouts…
…and I’m wondering if George W. Bush ever left.
Certainly, there are differences. George W. Bush championed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, while the Obama Administration has just given up on defending the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama is also far more supportive of a woman’s right to choose, while George W. Bush was pro-life (mostly). But on nearly all other issues, ranging from torture, to war, to government spending, our 44th president is little more than an “expansion pack” to our 43rd — doing the same things, only worse.
Last week, Julie Borowski posted a video posing a question about why there aren’t more female libertarians. It’s an interesting thought, for sure. Her point in the video was that women have pressure to be more socially accepted, and since libertarianism isn’t exactly mainstream, women shy away from it.
There were a few responses – and a lot of chatter on Facebook – about Julie’s video. I saw a few times it was called sexist and over the top, and I suppose those descriptions aren’t entirely incorrect. Julie’s got her own unique style in her videos, and I think more than anything, her style was a little more pronounced in that video than it usually is.
Maybe that’s being nice. Either way, her video got me thinking about her topic, which I’m sure was one of her goals. I know that when I write, my primary goal is for the audience to give real thought to my content.
As I’ve been thinking about Julie’s post, I’ve come to the conclusion that she asked the wrong question. Sure, we want more libertarian women among us, but I think the real question to ask is why aren’t there more libertarians in general, not just women.
The answer, I’ve decided, is that libertarians are an obnoxious bunch of people who are difficult to deal with on a regular basis. (And I say this knowing quite well that I’m among that group.)
There is no doubt that the Republican Party is at a crossroad with many questioning the direction that should be taken to bring them back to electoral success. The biggest obstacle to moving the GOP back to its limited government roots is the political establishment — the dealers and the consultant class — who want to the party to take the road to victory by selling out limited government principles.
This creats a problem for conservatives, many of whom are still trying to make sense of the 2012 election. Many realize the dangers that lie ahead by kowtowing to the party’s political establishment, but they’re weary of trying to stand in their way. They’ve actually bought into the line that the freedom movement is to blame for the problems that have plagued the GOP. Yes, there were some bad candidates that ran in 2012, but the Republican Party’s brand was damaged long before voters ever headed to the polls.
In a recent piece at Commentary, Matt Welch, editor of Reason, explained that conservatives need to start actually practicing what they preach when it comes to limiting the size and scope of government:
Via Reason, Kennedy gives a rundown of the best and worst Christmas films from a libertarian perspective.
Here’s the latest video from Julie Borowski:
Libertarianism seems like an idea that the vast majority of people can get behind. More and more people are approaching me, describing themselves as mostly libertarian. The problem, as they describe it, is a matter of libertarians not really grasping the reality of the world we live in.
I’m going to concede that they make a fair point. It’s not that libertarian ideals can’t be applicable to the real world. Instead it’s that so many libertarians don’t bother to look at things in the real world before opening their trap.
A case in point is Reason.com’s J.D. Tuccille. Yesterday, he arguing that right to work laws were actually not libertarian because they violated the power of the contract, telling employers and unions what they can’t do in a contract.
Needless to say, he was met with a great deal of resistance. Later yesterday evening, he posted this at Reason:
However, there is a group that benefits from responding to laws with more laws, and that group consists of politicians and government officials. Note that the long-standing positions of the major political parties are represented both in the federal legislation mentioned above and the current battle over right-to-work laws. With the NLRA, Democrats positioned themselves as advocates for labor, while Republicans responded to business concerns with Taft-Hartley. Republicans now champion right-to-work on behalf of beleaguered businesses, while Democrats tout their opposition to such laws to their union-member constituents. By intruding the state into labor-business relations, politicians elevated their own importance and power in a way that simply staying out of the matter, or repealing laws, never could,