As the election approaches, backers of both major candidates are doing their best to round up any potential uncommitted voters. For the Republicans, one of these target blocs seems to be libertarians, many of whom are planning to not vote, or to support Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson (myself being the latter). However, as Jason expressed earlier this week, these attempts are often counterproductive because conservatives, by and large, do not understand how libertarians think, and thus conversion efforts fall flat.
Now, for my purposes I don’t particularly care who wins this year, because both candidates are frankly awful. As I expressed in my post last week the GOP has in many ways become a joke, dominated by people who add nothing to the intellectual marketplace, and in fact often dumb it down and polarize the country for their own gain. When Mitt Romney expressed his now infamous “47%” theory, he was regurgitating the sort of fact-free nonsense that is rampant on the right. However, there are also those who believe the party has some hope, and offers the best chance for libertarian voices to be heard. If that is the case, though, the party as a whole needs to understand some things about us crazy libertarians, and the current tactics used to convince us are in fact going to do the opposite.
One of the biggest questions many libertarians are dealing with is who to support for president this year. The Libertarian Party has nominated a somewhat credible candidate, at least by his resume alone, in former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Some others are trying to mount a nationwide write in campaign to try and get Ron Paul elected, even though his campaign is over.
While our conservative friends are trying to persuade us to support Mitt Romney. Kurt Schlichter has written one of the more persuasive pieces over on Breitbart’s Big Government:
There is no more time for games, no room for hurt feelings. Ron Paul fans, you need to choose, because not voting for Romney is a vote for Obama. It’s that simple. And you could make the difference.
Making no choice in this election is a choice –it’s a choice for a collectivist who will get two or three Supreme Court picks over a man who picked a guy, Paul Ryan, who understands capitalism and its unbreakable link to human freedom. Now, this is a two-way street. Romney and Ryan need to reach out to libertarians over their common ground. Fortunately, there is lots of common ground.
No, the Republican Party is not a libertarian party, but it is the only party with any libertarian element. It’s the only place you have any chance of being heard. And with guys like Rand Paul and the libertarian-friendly Tea Party elements, you can be in the GOP.
Most of that is true. The Republican Party of the two major parties is the one that has a genuine libertarian element. The Democratic Party as seen in its convention is generally hostile to individual liberty.
Sometimes a single statement can say everything. Often these statements come as off-hand remarks, or in a setting where the speaker does not believe he or she will be recorded. A recent example from the 2008 campaign was Barack Obama’s infamous “bitter clingers” comment, which is still repeated today by his critics to depict him as elitist and disdainful towards many Americans. And now the 2012 race has its counterpart.
In comments recorded secretly from a private event, Mitt Romney laid out his assessment of 47% of America, and it’s a doozy:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
On Friday, Jennifer Knight published a piece entitled “A Libertarian Case for Romney.” The essence of the post is that the Romney/Ryan ticket are a move in a better direction than President Obama, and as such they should get our vote as a way to try and put the brakes on the path our nation is headed down.
Unfortunately, I can’t help but disagree.
Oh, sure, Romney and Ryan are talking a better game than Obama, but the bar isn’t really set that high. For me, at least, voting for Romney requires a few things that he frankly hasn’t provided.
First, I would have to trust him at his word to actually do what he says he would do. Honestly, I haven’t seen a lot from his record that really convinces me that he’s geniunely interested in “putting the brakes” on anything.
For months now, libertarians are being told that we simply must vote for the GOP nominee (now known to be Mitt Romney) or risk four more years of Obama. Honestly, I’ve been tickled by the arguments.
You see, if the GOP gave a damn about the libertarians out there, why didn’t they nominate someone who we might actually like? Ron Paul, for example, or even Gary Johnson when he was still in the GOP race?
The GOP and its supporters, and their relationship with libertarians, is amazingly similar to a relationship between a an abusive husband and his battered spouse. First, there are the refrains of how they’ve learned their lesson and it will never happen again (like electing someone who swole the national debt and expanded government like George W. Bush). For a while afterwards, things are fine. Then, suddenly, it starts back.
Conventions aren’t just about the present, conventions are also about the future. As the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa draws to a close, one of the most important questions for the party going forward is what role – if any – will libertarians play in the direction of the GOP in the years ahead.
Congressman Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination helped to launch the modern day liberty movement and gave voice to libertarians within the Republican Party.
The rise of the Tea Party and a second Paul Republican Presidential run gave the libertarian wing of the party hope for the future and increased visibility.
As Paul’s popularity grew in the party, so did the tension between the libertarian wing of the GOP and the party’s establishment. Many in the establishment would have you believe that the tension was more about the behavior of Ron Paul’s supporters than about policy. While there is no doubt that Ron Paul has an intensely loyal and fervent following, the truth is the tension wasn’t about behavior – it was about policy.
Libertarians want an end to foreign adventurism, they want deep cuts in spending across the board (including the military), they want government out of the boardrooms and the bedrooms, they want dramatic tax reform (starting with throwing out the current tax code), they want to privatize social security and Medicare, and they want a return to sound money.
The policy differences between libertarians and the current GOP are real and they are significant. The question going forward is whether this marriage can be saved?
Last week, I went to Tampa for the Republican National Convention in Tampa. This was sort of an odd experience for me, being a libertarian and all. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect. I’ve been to conventions and conferences before. The oddest experience was BlogCon in Denver last November, when the local Occupiers showed up to protest us. But the RNC was a much, much larger scale event.
Tropical Storm Isaac: While I understand why Republicans saw fit to scale back events for Monday, the storm really didn’t do much to the Tampa area. It rained some, but it wasn’t near what everyone was expecting. Truth is Republicans could have gotten away with more than gaveling the convention to order. By the time the storm actually hit, everyone was more concerned with what could happen to New Orleans and the rest of Gulf Coast than Tampa.
Grassroots v. the Establishment: Over at FreedomWorks, Dean Clancy has put together a great synopsis of the fight over the new rules implemented, which won’t start until the 2016 process. We went over some of this earlier last week, but at this point many grassroots activists are disenfranchised. Many Ron Paul supporters who attended the RNC as delegates may now be looking for an alternative come November because of the rules changes.
Rule 12 would allow the Republican National Committee to change the rules if 3/4 approve. As Clancy explains, “The new Rule 16 requires that a delegate who attempts to violate his binding pledge to a candidate under state law or state party rules shall be deemed to have resigned and the Secretary of the Convention must record the improper vote as it should have been cast based on state law or party rule.”
A lot of the readers of United Liberty probably have a pretty good idea of what transpired at the GOP convention on Tuesday, or at least have heard about it. For those who haven’t, it all started Friday when the Rules Committee, led by one of my least favorite people, John Sununu, decided to radically change the power structure of the party, in essence, neutering the grassroots. Specifically, it would make the RNC very much a top-heavy organization and give the national party establishment, as well as the party’s nominee, ultimate authority over the delegate process.
So fast-forward to Tuesday when the convention convened to start handling party business. The matter concerning the rule changes was brought before the assembled body and while, according to multiple reports, the nays had it, it was passed. Before we go any further, I’d have to recommend a write-up by Dean Clancy of FreedomWorks. This pretty much gives all the info you need about this power grab. The main points being Rules 12 and 15, respectively, which if changed, would create the aforementioned shift of power.
As Clancy notes, there was a lot of misinformation flying around that helped cause this mess. The main one being that this was just a Ron Paul thing:
I’m sick and tired of this “War on Women” meme. It portrays women as nothing more than helpless vaginas that need subsidized abortion, free birth control, subsidized daycare, special loans in order to start a business, special laws to negotiate a decent wage, and all sorts of things only sugar daddy government can provide. It is dehumanizing and insulting to the millions of strong, independent women everywhere and the millions of men who love them. If you want to see what a real “War on Women” looks like, here it is. Finally, just because someone opposes abortion and wants to cut government spending does not make them a misogynist. In fact, many feminists believe that women can and should stand on their own without the help of the government.
Unlike many on the political right (arguably) in America, I’m not going to argue for Todd Akin to drop out. In fact, I am going to argue that he should stay in his Missouri Senate race, as a sort of painful yet absolutely necessary medication for the Republican Party.
Akin, as I’m sure you are aware, is the bozo who went on the radio and said that in cases of “legitimate” rape, a woman’s body would shut down the pregnancy, thus abortion should be illegal. It has got to be the dumbest thing said in politics over the past ten years, if not the past fifty. Nevermind that there is no way for a woman’s body to know that it is being raped, and then determine it must abort on its own (I don’t even think a woman’s body can abort pregnancies like that), you just don’t put “legitimate” and “rape” in the same sentence, period, unless there is a “not” between them.
In any case, despite the national party disavowing the fool, and numerous calls from conservative leaders and conservative media outlets, Akin has decided to remain in the race. (He’s even attacked Mitt Romney for calling for him to step down.) Despite this monumental tomfoolery, I believe it would be good for the GOP to have Akin remain in the race…
…and then lose disastrously in November.
On Saturday, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney picked Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that the enthusiasm has definitely increased among conservative voters for the Romney campaign. The crowds have gotten larger at Romney-Ryan events. However, similar anecdotal evidence seems to show that the left is just as fired up and more motivated to defend Obama. Meanwhile, reading the Tweets and Facebook posts from my libertarian friends show that the Ryan pick has not made them more willing to consider the Romney ticket. Personally, I have mixed feelings about the Ryan selection.
The biggest positive about the Ryan selection is that this campaign may actually wind up being a debate on the future of our country. The Obama campaign is already seizing on the Ryan budget plan and is attacking it as destroying Medicare, Social Security, and just about every other government program under the sun. Now is an opportunity for the Romney-Ryan campaign to articulate an argument for limiting the size and scope of government as a means of reviving the economy. The American people would be well served by a debate over the size and scope of government. Also, ultimately, given the other choices that Romney was considering, Ryan was probably the best pick. Romney needed to pick someone who would fire up the ticket.