Duh . . . Winning!

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I became a Republican so I could vote, in the 2012 primary, for the most libertarian-congenial candidate. Already I am wondering whether this will do any good.

Do I want to be lectured on morality by serial adulterer Newt Gingrich? Can I trust America will be safeguarded from creeping Sharia law by some moralist like Rick Santorum? May I hope the federal takeover of our healthcare system will be rolled back by Mitt Romney, whose plan in Massachusetts so inspired Obamacare? And behind the wild rhetoric and Bride-of-Chucky eyes of Michele Bachmann, can I be certain rationality reigns?

Both the Republican and the Democratic “teams” are in the same league. The overriding concern of both parties is the league’s survival. Each will win a few, each lose a few. But they are both deeply invested in the league — and in the big show it gives the fans.

When Team Red is in ascendancy, libertarians should probably reach as many as possible of those fans in blue jerseys with the bags over their heads. When Team Blue is back on top, we should peel off as many as possible of their disgruntled opponents.

It’s tempting to think there must be a shortcut — that one entire franchise can be purchased by reason and principle. Some will follow reason and principle, but many will not. In every era, many in the citizenry are simply fanboys and fangirls in red or blue jerseys, rah-rahing for their side.

Libertarians tend to want to change the game. We don’t usually think of politics as a game, which may be why we fare so poorly in it. We view the public square as a place for debate, for the engagement of thinking minds. If we sign up to play on one team or another, perhaps we lose something greater than a game. We may lose the chance to make politics something more than the silly, childish bloodsport it has always been inclined to be.

To win maximum public support, libertarians need players on both teams. I’m becoming less optimistic about the prospect of simply capturing the Republican flag and giving up on the Democrats. When I speak with left-leaning friends and relatives, I find them more willing to listen than many libertarians realize. The term “libertarian” has been tainted for them, freighted with all sorts of nonsense that has nothing to do with who we are or what we believe. But they understand government force, because it has been used against them and they live under the constant cloud of its return.

We have been seduced into hoping the GOP has finally gotten it, because it’s become fashionable for people in that party to call themselves libertarians. Some really do understand what that means, but for a frightful number of others, this is only the latest ploy for winning back power. Once they can take the bags off their heads, they’ll return to calling us dope-smoking hippie peaceniks and accusing us of opposing all that’s holy. They’ve done it too many times for us not to suspect they might do it again.

If we want a clearer picture of where these newly-minted Republican “libertarians” want to take this country, we need to pay closer attention to their presidential popularity polls. If polls can be believed as to the general direction of the party, any one of the players currently enjoying big numbers in the GOP will end this exercise in vanity with a second Obama term. Yet polling also shows that no more than half the population wants that. What do they really want instead?

All the leading contenders peddle the notion that more power will win the game, that if they’re nominated, their team can be champ again. If most Republican voters were not still stuck in this fantasy, they would be supporting very different people. But those who will really decide the contest are in the swelling mass of independents who are disaffected with the very idea of league play.

These people give every indication of being more open to libertarian ideas than they have been in years — perhaps ever. They lean libertarian, but describe themselves — in increasing numbers — simply as independents. They are no longer content merely to root for a team. If we don’t want to lose them, perhaps we shouldn’t join one.




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Comments

Jim Henshaw

If someone wants to vote for a small-l libertarian for president from the major parties, the only choices I can see are Gary Johnson and to a lesser extent, Ron Paul. Anyone else on Team Red is thoroughly flawed, and I can't recall the last time Team Blue ran anyone for president who wasn't just clueless about economics, but authoritarian about the social issues Democratic politicians claim to be good at despite strong evidence to the contrary.

Personally, I always vote for a Libertarian Party candidate if there is one in any given race, which is certainly going to be the case for the presidential race. Why settle for the watery lite beer of liberty when you can get a really good microbrew?

Robert K. Stock

I am a libertarian Republican, but never refer to myself as libertarian. Every time I have called myself libertarian I find that neo-con nit wits and social conservative neanderthals cannot be persuaded that I am not a member of the Libertarian Party. So I gave up the label libertarian and now refer to myself as "Free Market Liberal". I would rather my fellow Republicans think of me as a liberal Republican than a third party sabotuer.

I think that pitching free market liberalism will allow Democrats and Independents to take a look at libertarian ideas without having conservative Republican baggage closing minds. With abortion, same-sex marriage, or even belief in God off the table it will be earier to persuade Democrats and Independents of the blessings of a free market economy. Jobs are created, poverty decreases, the formerly oppressed stand up for themselves with dignity, and everyones health improves.

Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are doing good jobs of increasing the visibility and numbers of libertarian Republicans. Someone needs to do the same inside the Democratic Party. Third party politics are a dead end. There will only be signifcant libertarian policy implemented in the U.S. when both major parties have active libertarian, free market liberal factions.

Rodney C.

Liked the article, nicely written and witty; however, and this is just my opinion, it too makes the common optimistic error of overestimating the number of "independents" who are actually ready to give up their precious programs or religious leanings and ACTUALLY VOTE FOR people who would take to the state with a machete. Being pissed off at the two major teams doesn't make a philosophy. The vast majority of so called "independents" are only willing to bounce between the Dems and Reps, or else just stay home. Most are in no way ready to give up the existing game. They see no reason why they should. They are stupid, intellectually lazy, dishonest. They like their programs too.

It's probably too late already, but by the time enough voters do see the light it will REALLY be too late. Myself, I think we are dead meat.

Fred Mora

Good article. I don't know much about Rick Santorum. However, I can tell you that if you actually want to fight the cancer of islamization in the US, then you cannot appeal to purely libertarian principles. Hey, once everybody's childen are forcibly raised in Koranic school, they will _want_ to live in a purely Muslim society. Historically, it's getting there that hurts the non-believer, but the mechanism is well oiled. It's a one-way trip, too.

Can you then muster the help of good old Capitalism? Nope. Repressing rational inquiry, forbidding free speech, treating women worse than furniture but better than pets, and stoning the occasional Jew or gay, nothing in all of this is strictly incompatible with a purely economical program. To wit, the Gulf countries, which have a Capitalist system of sorts while enforcing various brands of Shariah, from relatively bearable in Bahrain to weapon-grade vicious in Saudi Arabia.

No, if you want to keep the Mollahs at bay, you need to appeal to principles that transcend plain politics or materialism: the value of individualism, rationalism, free speech, gender equality, and acceptance of differences. This means defending moral axioms that are antinomic with Islam. That would be a moralist policy (the horror!)

Now, if you want liberty on top of that, you have to pick a Libertarian moralist. But the moralist requirement is fundamental. Get a vapid numbskull libtard, and you'll get policies that will encourage mass immigration from Muslim countries, or allow the Saudi to build mosques by the thousands in every town. Because, after all, that would be a mark of freedom, right? Besides, our children will agree.

So pick your moralist already, or get ready to get stoned, you uncouth infidel. Most moralists with a spine will do, just don't get a Koran-licker.

Capitalistic Pig

I concede the fact I am not a writer, I am a man of limited intellect. I find myself compelled however to reply to your rebuttal of an article on party politics with some strange diatribe on muslims. You sarcasticaly state how "good old capitalism" has failed to fix how muslim cultures view women, gay or religious minority rights is precipitous and misguided. It is a far stretch indeed to imply that the middle east is a capitalist system. America has only known capitalism since its origin and it still took decades to acknowledge minority rights in this country. Capitalism is not a system that you inject into a society and it immediately inoculates the pathogen of intolerance. It is a system that eventually builds immunity over time to resist supression of individual rights. I don't think I need to address your poetic ending of "Koran-lickers", it speaks volumes of its original author.

Fred Mora

CP, that's NOT what I am saying. You constructed a strawman of my reply and demolished it. Nice, but wrong target.

I am (obviously) debating Heine's question: "Can I trust America will be safeguarded from creeping Sharia law by some moralist like Rick Santorum?" and I argue that you WILL need a moralist to that effect.

I think you overestimate the degree of freedom that a purely materialist policy can afford. Hong Kong under the Brits had little political freedom, for instance. I agree about the rest of your remarks about Capitalism, though.

Finally, a Koran-licker is a politician that caters to Muslim voters. See the Labour policies in the UK for examples. Your strawman view seems to have construed this term as an attack on Muslims, which would be illogical: The point here is not to attack Muslims but to discuss how to defend against their ideology. Are metaphors wasted on politically correct readers or what?

But your haste to defend Muslims indicates you consider them as an oppressed minority. Islam is a totalitarian ideology, just like Communism or Nazism. Would you defend a Communism or a Brown Shirt? If not, why the difference in treatment?

CP

Mr. Mora, I do not doubt from your writing that you are concerned about the growing influence of Islam in American culture. In fact, I share many of your same concerns in this area. I do however question the consistency in your applications for the call of a "moralist" leader to thwart the spreading of religious ideaology. You make no mention of the ever growing influence and intrusive evangelical right wing of the Republican Party. In fact, your described "Koran Licker" (I will let others decide if this title is a harmless metaphor like you state)leaders comment would hold more weight if you showed such concern for Christian and Jewish influence in science and culture. I do not consider Muslims an oppressed minority, but I fear a few more of your ideaological co-horts gain political power they just might become one. I must defend the rights of even my adversary to secure my own liberties.
You mention Hong Kong's rule under the British empire. I only rebuttal that China is a communist country that embraces capitalism. There middle class is exploding and soon will demand freedom and participation in their government.
The "straw man argument" comments might be true. I have no experience in writing or debating in any public forum. I do find it amazing however that as articulate as your are that you could not help going to the NAZI comment. It surely must be intellectually lazy for you to phrase your last question in an attempt to place me in a position to argue for the rights of NAZI's. I will not bite on it and leave it to people who read our statements to decide who sounds more like they wrote there replies while wearing a brown shirt.

Fred Mora

CP,

You are right about the Nazis comparison being a cheap rhetorical device. But I am disappointed that you didn't take notice of the Communist comparison, which is just as bad, if not worse: Nobody dares calling themselves Nazis anymore, while proud Communists are plentiful, especially in academia. You should have protested vigorously against both, and doubly shamed me for it.

As for the "Christian and Jewish influence in science and culture", I consider it to be a boon. This is a matter of axioms: I hold scientific and technical progress as a good thing, because it leads to material progress, which in turns is necessary (but not sufficient) for more freedom. Other civilization either despise or discourage intellectual advances, individual freedom, or both.

So, considering my axioms, the Judeo-Christian bases of Western civilization are a Good Thing. Allow me to explain.

Historically, even the most bigot, most oppressive forms of Christianity-inspired ideology (such as Puritanism) didn't refrain progress. To the contrary, many Christian ecclesiastics broke new scientific ground: the monk Mendel discovered genetics. Another monk, Dobson, invented revolutionary telescopes. Abbey Lemaitre is the father of the Big Bang theory. Etc.

Yes, in any religious-inspired ideology, there are excesses. But the excesses of Christianity and Judaism pale in front of what passes for normal in most other cultures. Islam, in particular, doesn't consider the suppression of progress and liberty as an excess, but as a duty.

Man is a religious animal. Before Christianity, Celts worshiped trees, springs, large stone, the sky. The new European generations, kept away from churches and temples, flock to dubious sects or to the simple absolutes of a radical Islam. You cannot balance the attraction of a religious ideology except by opposing another religious ideology.

So we have to ask ourselves this: Since we have to pick our poison, should we support an ideology that, historically, made mankind safer and more free, or should we do nothing and let the world embrace the eternal night of radical obscurantism?

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