February 24, 2005
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.
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