The Unrepentant Individual

...just hanging around until Dec 21, 2012


February 24, 2005


Where do Libertarians Belong?

There’s been a few discussions recently in the ‘crazy’ libertarian circles I run in over whether libertarians are served by having an organized political party, and if not, whether we would have an easier time dragging the Republicans or the Democrats towards our side. Loyal opposition dadahead recently has posted his scorching response, suggesting Libertarians are closer to the Democrats:

If one’s libertarianism is genuinely motivated by a belief that the exercise of state power is an inherently bad thing, the GOP is the last place you should call home. The Republicans are truly becoming the party of quasi-fascism, promoting an ideology of unquestioning obedience to the state. The Patriot Act alone should be enough to convince any genuine libertarian to run screaming from the party of George W. Bush.

Not to mention the GOP’s committment to ending women’s reproductive rights, using the American military machine in the service of corporate interests no matter how many lives it costs, prosecuting the war on drugs, and generally eroding any freedoms that the American people have managed to claim over the last 200 or so years.

I, of course, was forced to respond:

I’m a firm believer in the Political Compass. Specifically, if you look at their analysis of the 2004 US Presidential Election, you see that Kerry and Bush really aren’t that far away from each other. And I personally believe that most of modern American politics is firmly in that upper-right quadrant. Should libertarians identify with Republicans or Democrats? In theory, there’s not that much separating the two. But frankly, I voted for the guy I think was most likely to lower taxes, stave off the nationalization of our health care system, revamp social security, and who I think was the better choice regarding the war. Bush hasn’t lived up to everything I wanted to see, but I also don’t think he has a chance in hell of enacting his anti-same sex marriage amendment, so the downsize isn’t as bad as Kerry, who I think would be actively promoting nationalized health care.

I also worry that you are heavily demonizing the Republican party. Yes, we have a religious right that has more power than I would like to see. However, I think the left’s characterization of the Republicans as racist or fascist is unfounded. Granted, racists will prefer the non-Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson party if given a choice, but the racist idiots who vote Republican are hangers-on, not policy makers.

I personally believe that most politicians in general are interested in nothing more than increasing their own power. But I think that most average Republicans and Democrats honestly believe that their policies will help people. They only differ on methods.

Judging by the Political Compass results for the 2004 Election, I highly doubt that either the Republicans or Democrats are close enough to libertarians to truly be “fellow travelers.” I’ve always thought that when looking at the parties, I think of a CD player. Following the left’s definition of “progressivism” as being forward, I see the Democrats as pressing “play”, and the Republicans only looking for “slow motion” or “pause”. The greens, of course, are frantically looking for the “fast forward” button, and only the libertarians actually want to hit “rewind”. Granted, I’ve left out the anarchists. They want to pull out the CD, toss it in the fire, and cackle maniacally while laying the concertina wire around their fortress.

My only possible answer can be that having a Libertarian Party is necessary. As both the Republican and Democrat parties push farther left and continue to erode any differentiation between them, people will be looking for a viable third party. Being the only party that truly values both economic and social liberty, we can slowly snipe people from both major parties.

Posted By: Brad Warbiany @ 8:35 pm || Permalink || Comments (5) || Trackback URL || Categories: Uncategorized

5 Comments

  1. But on the compass, Kerry is further toward the libertarian direction than Bush is. So while there’s not a lot of space between them, the compass would seem to reinforce my point that the Dems are closer to libertarians than the Republicans are.

    And, is national healthcare really so awful that it’s worth risking Roe v. Wade, or another war?

    Comment by dadahead — February 25, 2005 @ 12:03 am
  2. I really see the new political compass as being pro- or anti-government, rather than the current right-left orientation. Over the last 40 years or so, conservative and liberal, and consequently right and left, have lost almost all their meaning. The political parties seem to adopt piecemeal platforms rather than views guided by an overarching ideology.

    It’s really only a matter of time before some politician or pundit or the blogosphere starts taking the debate away from right-left and to some other orientation. It would serve libertarians (and old-guard conservatives) to make this pro- or anti-government as opposed to something like popular v. elitist.

    Of course, I really see the political compass as a many-faceted thing, but considering how most discourse nowadays always seems to end up debating a dichotomy, I’d say we should start pushing ours soon.

    Comment by Quincy — February 25, 2005 @ 12:48 am
  3. dada,
    That would be the case if libertarian was lower-left quadrant. I’m way into the lower-right quadrant, and Bush would have been closer economically to me, while not being much farther “up” the authoritarian ladder. And as I previously mentioned, I don’t think he can enact his social agenda, so I’m not all that worried about it.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — February 25, 2005 @ 8:37 pm
  4. Brad, you ask whether we would have an easier time dragging the Republicans or the Democrats towards our side. Let’s admit the real issue in this question. Dragging the Democrats over would be like herding cats. But the GOP is too organized to be moved easily, and they are too beholden to the Christian Right for libertarians to usurp the party platform easily.

    I think from a practical point of view, libertarians would be better served by supporting fiscally conservative Democrats, or better yet infiltrating them. Bush is proving that the GOP is no longer even pretending to be about smaller government – it may actually be the more progressive of our two major parties.

    Comment by Wulf — September 17, 2005 @ 3:39 pm
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