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Domestic American politics

One casts far and wide for any ray of hope in current domestic American politics. The Bush campaign is depressingly, although perhaps wisely, silent on any of the quasi-libertarian Republican issues – gun control, deregulation, privatization of Social Security, tax cuts. As for the Bush record, well, if the rhetoric is depressing (he stated he would sign an extension of the moronic assault weapon ban), the reality is even worse, in the form of a spending binge beyond all precedent or belief. I note the sole exception of Bush’s rather anemic and backloaded tax cut, much of which is self-repealing.

The Democrats, predictably, are even worse. Their only real complaints concerning current domestic policy are fiscal – that spending wasn’t increased even more, and that taxes weren’t raised to pay for all that spending. Sure, you can catch the occasional Dem kvetching about such issues as tort reform or environmental deregulation, but those are dogs that are notable because they are not barking. There is no tort reform, there is no lightening of the regulatory burden. Democratic joke candidate Kerry floats the occasional trial balloon concerning a targeted corporate tax cut or Social Security privatization, but you know that is only so Senator Flippy can say he was for them before he was against them.

There is, in short, no evidence to be found in either major party that limited government and individual freedom (aside from the freedom to have an abortion, of course) have any place in the modern US of A. If it wasn’t for the fact that the best thing that could happen to the libertarian movement in the US would be to launch the entire current Libertarian Party into the sun, I would vote Libertarian. As it is, one simply despairs of advancing the libertarian agenda in current US politics.

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19 comments to Domestic American politics

  • Sandy P

    But the Health Care accounts will be coming online around 2006, companies are giving a hard, long look at them.

    Good and bad in every administration.

  • toolkien

    Can’t wait to punch my chad this November.

    I think the easiest way to sum up the issue for me is the fallaciousness of pulling a lever or filling in a black circle in the gymnasium of the local high school impacts the actions of an extreme select few a half a continent away, overseeing an annual $2,400,000,000,000 budget. No matter what they profess, they are about simple reductions, sound bites, and easy answers to gain control over the corridors of power and nudge the boulder a quarter of an inch as it rolls over us.

  • Amelia

    I think Bush is for privatizing SS a bit, small changes albeit, but would be nose of camel under the tent. Need filibuster proof Senate and maybe will get that at least. Only two big government mistakes that I see, one prescription drugs and his education bill without vouchers.

  • Harry Browne said it best long ago: we can only liberate ourselves. And we can’t wait to do that until everything else in the world is perfect and just and everyone else is free. I found “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” a very liberating book.

  • Cobden Bright

    At this late stage, I’m surprised that anyone thinks politics offers any hope whatsoever. There hasn’t been a remotely libertarian credible US political candidate since the founding of the country. The rest of the world is the same. Democracy is inherently anti-libertarian and pro-statism.

    The only way you get freedom is to get it yourself – don’t expect the government to do anything other than make it extremely difficult to be free.

  • Michael Stone

    The fact is, a country gets the government it deserves. Until the people of this country stop seeing sacrifice as moral, poor people as paragons of virtue, and producers as evil the government will continue to sacrifice the able for the benefit of the unable. A philosophical revolution is required long before a political revolution can take place. That’s why the libertarians are useless. They are approaching the problem backwards. For further details see Atlas Shrugged.

  • Shawn

    “There hasn’t been a remotely libertarian credible US political candidate since the founding of the country.”

    Anyone remember Barry Goldwater?

  • R C Dean

    There hasn’t been a remotely libertarian credible US political candidate since the founding of the country.

    Actually, the early politics of this country, right up to the Great Depression, showed that the basic libertarian meme was quite strong and often dominant. The federal government was kept quite small and confined to its proper functions, government as a whole was microscopic compared to what we have now, the level of government involvement in day to day life that is now the norm was literally unthinkable.

    Ferocious battles were fought over decades before such losses as the income tax and Prohibition were incurred, battles that would never occur now. Major rollbacks of government, such as the repeal of Prohibition, also occurred from time to time. Of course, nothing of the sort could possibly occur now.

  • WJ Phillips

    Shawn: I hope you’re not suggesting that Goldwater, with his mania for high defence spending, nuclear brinkmanship and pre-emptive crusading against “godless communism” was a libertarian.

    More like a cross between a modern-day neocon warfare/welfare merchant and a proto-fascist such as John McCain.

    The libertarian strain in mainstream Republicanism died when it was infiltrated by spook-financed statist warmongers such as William Buckley.

  • RCD does indeed raise a valid question about the sorry state of libertarian values (which I dearly embrace, make no mistake, please) being advanced on the current American political scene by either the Repubs (I’m a registered Republican, disclaimer made) or the Dems (the American Democratic party just being a coven of socialists, really). But he ignores the larger reality that we are in the midst of fighting World War III, for crying out loud.

    The more ugent demands of 1.) defending ourselves by 2.) killing the enemy must hold the highest priority.

  • Shawn

    “Shawn: I hope you’re not suggesting that Goldwater, with his mania for high defence spending, nuclear brinkmanship and pre-emptive crusading against “godless communism” was a libertarian.”

    Yes I am. And I would argue that all of those policies were and are consistent with a genuine libertarianism.

    “More like a cross between a modern-day neocon warfare/welfare merchant ”

    Neo-conservatism is a myth. And there is no connection between the welfare state and a strong national defense. A strong n/d and support for freedom globally can be maintained without a welfare state. Isolationists confuse these two issues to justify their “freedom for us but to hell with the world” stand. This is both morally and logically wrong.

    “The libertarian strain in mainstream Republicanism died when it was infiltrated by spook-financed statist warmongers such as William Buckley. ”

    Ah yes, the standard tactic of the isolationists when bereft of an intelligent argument (which is often) is to resort to conspiracy theories. The Jew hater Raimondo has made an art form of basing arguments on baseless conspiracy theories.

    Anyone who has read ‘Consience of a Conservative’ by Goldwater would know that, despie calling himself a conservative, Goldwater was true to libertarian principles consistently.

  • Marty Busse

    In the litany of Bush wrongs, let us not forget that he signed the McCain-Feingold “reform” bill, despite having earlier expressed his opinion that it was unconstitutional.

    Of course, defending the Constitution isn’t as important to Bush as his staying in office, and he did not want to be painted as an opponent of “reform.” And anyway, the Supremes will junk it….

    Whoops, they didn’t! But hey, George is still President, and that’s what matters to him.

  • Shawn,

    Justin Raimondo may be critical of Israel but he is scarcely a ‘jew hater’. His entire life has been devoted to idolising Murray Rothbard, who was a jew. Goldwater also was ethnically jewish and Raimondo supported his campaign for the presidency at the time.

  • Michael Stone has a point: “A philosophical revolution is required long before a political revolution can take place.”

    I used the word libertarian in a conversation recently, and a perfectly well educated colleage asked, “what’s a libertarian?”. This seems perfectly representative of most people’s thinking on the subject. It seems to me analagous to someone asking, “what’s an atheist?” before the Enlightenment, when atheism was unthinkable.

    Most people just don’t think about things too much and accept the median of the viewpoints they’re presented with. So quite how a philosophical revolution occurs I don’t know, but these things probably all start with small groups of individuals getting together and talking about it…

  • Most people just don’t think about things too much and accept the median of the viewpoints they’re presented with. So quite how a philosophical revolution occurs I don’t know

    It is a common fallacy to assume that for an idea to gain ground you need a huge number of people to be convinced of it. As you say yourself, most people just don’t think about things too much so they are of absolutely no concern to us whatsoever. What we need to do is to concentrate our efforts on the few who do think and convince them that libertarian ideas are the best solution to the social problems that they see. The docile masses will go wherever the intellectual elite leads. That is how we get our philosophical revolution.

  • Richard Cook

    I think libertarianism in the US has been rejected by the electorate as a whole. Unless there is some kind of earth shaking political or social change don’t get your hopes up.

  • DSpears

    “”Shawn: I hope you’re not suggesting that Goldwater, with his mania for high defence spending, nuclear brinkmanship and pre-emptive crusading against “godless communism” was a libertarian.”

    Yes I am. And I would argue that all of those policies were and are consistent with a genuine libertarianism.”

    Nail, head.

    National Defense is the one completely legitimate function of the Federal Government. The articles of Confederation were scrapped and the Constitution was written based on this single principle.

    The problem here is that the word “Libertarian” is a sort of catch-all category for almost anybody who doesn’t feel that the major parties in their country represent their views. This can include anybody from Anarcho-capitalists to free-love-druggie-moral-relativist-lifestyle socialist-libertarians (i.e., hippies) to miltant pacifists and everything in between.

    When I say “Libertarian” I mean “Minarchist”. Small government, Laissez Fair Capitalism in the framework of a Democratic Constitutional Republic where the rule of law, not men, govern the inevitable interactions between free citizens.

    People in this group don’t start sentences with declaratives like “….when the government is abolished…”.

    The is a strong undercurrent of Minarchist thought that runs through most Americans that don’t live in the Northeast or California, but most of them don’t even really know it. The real problem (as De Touqueville pointed out 175 years ago) is that when you pay taxes you expect something in return. When you don’t get what you think is an adequate return you complain to the elected officials, at which time they try to get you more, becasue that’s how they get re-elected. But this “more” will cost more money. The more you pay the more you expect….it’s a spiral that can suck in even the most Libertarian of thinkers because you would be a fool not to try to get back everything you can if it’s available.

    BTW, the same spiral engulfs corporations as well, just on a much larger scale. In addition, they would be derelict in their duties to their stockholders if they didn’t participate. They have to, it’s not a choice really.

    The real mindchange that needs to happen is for people to realize that the spiral begins and ends with each indivudual citizen trying to play the government redistribution game for all they can get out of it.

    Don’t count on that changing, it isn’t rational to stop playing the game for all it’s worth. Try it sometime.

    And just so we are clear, the only place in the world where the “Libertarian” imulse exists in any form in any but a microscopic number of citizens is in America. As bad as it may be here, I send nowhere close to 50% of my income to the government.

  • Kit Taylor

    Llibbos often argue that if useful government services such healthcare, social security and pollution barriers are cut back, the course of human action (call it society or “the free market”) will provide superior alternatives.

    Unfortunately, when these alternatives do not already exist the libbo seems reduced to pleading that they will nevertheless materialise only after the government has abandoned its current responsibilities, an argument unappealing in its scorched earth logic.

    The only way forward is, I think, to build the new society in the shell of the old. Look for a government service that people greatly value and provide a superior alternative. If liberty really is better the government service will naturally wither away or become unobtrusive to those who don’t use it.

    Home schooling might be an example of such evolutionary minarchy in action. Its crucial virtue is that it is a very personal and localised service. Liberty needs to advance by appealing to people’s sense of sentimentality as well as practicality.

    People might like the actual service a good supermarket provides, but on an idealistic level tend to be suspicious of and romantically and aesthetically displeased by such monoliths as Wal Mart.

    I think many people potentially sympathetic towards lilibbo-ism are put off by its presentation, unwitting or otherwise, as a bleakly utilitarian “Don’t you morons realise that corporate rule is for your own good!” ideology.

  • DSpears

    “If liberty really is better the government service will naturally wither away or become unobtrusive to those who don’t use it.”

    Obviously you’ re not familiar with too many real life governments. I’ve never seen one yet that will voluntarily step aside if something better comes along. Quite the opposite in fact.