Category: Libertarians

Q: Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?

Robert Draper, writing in the New York Times, asks that question.

He offers a answer, too, although the GOP likely wont take the required remedy:

Later that evening at a hotel bar, Anderson [a GOP pollster] pored over her notes. She seemed morbidly entranced, like a homicide detective gazing into a pool of freshly spilled blood. In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando.

The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”

The GOP needs a more libertarian message.

It’s that simple, and consequently, that hard.

Via New York Times Magazine.

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Libertarians and Defensive War

Over at Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Fernando Teson contends (convincingly, I think) that libertarianism is concerned with a defense of self and others, but of persons as such and not the state.

If so, the possible support for defenses of foreign persons increases:

The distinction between defensive and offensive wars is misleading because it treats the state as a “person” who can be Attacker or Victim. But states are not persons. When we (correctly) disaggregate the state, what we have is a group of human beings unjustly attacking another group of human beings. A defense of the victim here is not an offensive war: it is a defensive war, a war in defense of unjustly-attacked persons. As such, it should not be banned by the libertarian principle that condemns the offensive use of violence.

Well worth reading in full.

See, Bleeding Heart Libertarians.

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Will a Libertarian Ever Lead the GOP?

Probably not:

Given his [current RNC chair Priebus] performance and given the popular opinion that it is the social conservatism of the GOP that is having the greatest impact on its perception as a national party, it would only make sense that a libertarian Republican would be in a good position to challenge for national leadership. But just as we saw with libertarians Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, when given the choice between a libertarian Republican or an establishment or socially conservative Republican, the Republican electorate will always choose the latter.

Via Ron Paul Supporter Challenging Reince Priebus For RNC Chairmanship: Will a Libertarian Ever Lead the GOP?.

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Immigration as Voluntary Exchange

It’s not only markets in capital and goods that should be free. It’s markets in labor, too. What’s immigration, at bottom? It’s a voluntary and peaceful transaction between employer and employee. Government interference in these many transactions is presumptuous, oppressive of individuals, and stifling of economic growth.

One hears, more often since Gov. Romney’s defeat, that the GOP regrets its recent, strident anti-immigration views. (Funny, too, that Reagan and Kemp, among others, would have rejected policies even half so restrictive as the ones that Romney and Santorum advocated in 2012.)

Whatever the motivation, it’s to America’s benefit if Republicans abandon their anti-market opposition to immigration.

For it all, libertarians can say that we were right a generation ago, right last year, and that we’re right now: free immigration is both morally and productively better than restrictive alternatives. If all the world were to declare otherwise tomorrow, we’d not be disproved.

We’d just have more work to do to show otherwise.

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Libertarianism and Social Justice

Consider two brief videos on libertarianism. The first suggests that social justice and libertarianism are incompatible. The second holds that, if one considers social justice properly, there’s no contradiction at all.

Short, clear, informative, and both from Matt Zwolinski, as part of the larger Learn Liberty series.




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Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic wonders of he might be…libertarian

After running through a list of his views on major political issues, he observes that

…it struck me that I might be a libertarian. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with this feeling. I don’t even know anyone at Reason magazine.

You know, Mr. Goldberg, libertarianism not only has much to offer, it’s also great fun. Most Americans with libertarian-sympathies have probably never heard of Reason magazine, by the way.

You’ll be just fine.

Via The Atlantic.

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Just a faction? ‘Tea Party at a Crossroads’

Salena Zito writes of the libertarian leanings of the Tea Party, but omits ways in which they’re not libertarian at all (anti-immigration, pro-voting restrictions).  What do you get when you’re half-libertarian?  You’re a GOP faction, but no more:

Evidence of the Tea Party‘s waning passion is no more apparent than in the case of Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. The Republican rode in on the initial wave of Tea Party movement in a January 2010 special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy‘s seat, but he lost this year to Democrat and consumer darling Elizabeth Warren.

Only four of 16 Senate candidates backed by Tea Party organizations won in November.

Tea Party-backed House candidates fared better — among them, Republican Keith Rothfus of Sewickley, who upset Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., founder of the Tea Party Caucus, who narrowly won re-election. But her Florida counterpart, Rep. Allen West, conceded a messy race to Democrat Patrick Murphy.

“It‘s clear the Tea Party still has salience in American politics, or at least in the Republican Party,” said Sean Trende, senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. “It might be a faction — an unruly faction that‘s difficult to control — but it‘s still a faction at this point.”

Via Tea Party at a Crossroads | RealClearPolitics.

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So how many American libertarians are there, anyway?

There are lots of us: regardless of party label, about 15-18% of Americans have libertarian views. (The formal Libertarian Party may be small, but libertarians among the major parties and independents amount to about one of every six voters.)

Although other surveys put the percentage still higher, these proportions put libertarian-oriented preferences in the very thick of political and social life.

David Boaz explains how he and his colleague David Kirby calculated the number of liberty-oriented voters:

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Happy 118th, Mr. Hazlitt

Henry Hazlitt, the noted libertarian economist and journalist, was born 118 years ago yesterday. Albeit belated, these anniversary wishes are gratefully offered.

Hazlitt’s works were many and diverse, but I don’t think he’d object to a summary of his thinking as an emphasis, consistently, on considering carefully the actual consequences of economic policies. (To this end, he introduced Bastiat to many who might not otherwise have read that great French author, through an introduction both simple and powerful.)

Far beyond advancing others’ works, Hazlitt uniquely illustrated why theorists were surprised when their programs came to nothing – or worse than nothing – through their own stubborn misconceptions.

I’ll leave with an observation of Hazlitt’s, that captures the spirit of whole work, from Economics in One Lesson:

Today is already the tomorrow which the bad economist yesterday urged us to ignore.”

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How Libertarian Party candidates provided the margin in at least nine races

Over at Daily Kos, there’s a review of election results suggesting Libertarian candidates provided the margin in nine major races.

LP candidates may have played a decisive role in other races, of course. Even more important than the role LP candidates may have played is the role that libertarian-leaning voters (of whatever party) undoubtedly played in far more races than these nine.

The candidates’ study is available at Daily Kos.

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Did Libertarians Really Win the 2012 Election?

There was certainly significant movement in a libertarisn direction:

Ballot initiatives measure  actual popularity of social movements, and the resounding victories last victories of ballot measures to approve the legalization of marijuana and to support gay marriage amount to a stunning shift in public opinion in favor of freedom.

Voters approved gay marriage in three states, Maine, Maryland and Washington, and defeated a ban on gay marriage in Minnesota. They approved legalizing the use of marijuana in two states, Washington and Colorado.

It was the first time that either issue had been approved in a state ballot referendum.

See,  The 2012 election: The Libertarians won | Sandusky Register.

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Rep. Ron Paul’s farewell speech

Libertarian convictions:

I have come to one firm conviction after these many years of trying to figure out ‘the plain truth of things,'” the Texas Republican said. “The best chance for achieving peace and prosperity, for the maximum number of people worldwide, is to pursue the cause of liberty”….

“A moral people must reject all violence in an effort to mold peoples’ beliefs and habits. A society that boos or ridicules the Golden Rule is not a moral society.

Via Washington Times.

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The Center-Libertarian Nation

A combination of left and right belies the notion that America is fundamentally still a center-right nation:

A more precise verdict would be that the majority of the country remains slightly right of center when it comes to supporting lower spending, decreased debt and smaller government. But America appears to have shifted left of center in allowing more liberal policies on drugs and the institution of marriage. So, left on social issues and right on economics. If you eliminated the desire to tax the rich, it would sound like we had a center-libertarian nation.

See, Has America gone from center-right to center libertarian? @

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Top 2012 Libertarian Campaigns for US House of Representatives

There’s more evidence, beyond the seven libertarians who each won over a million votes, of LP candidates’ success in House races.

Here’s how some top vote-getting LP candidates did in their contests:

The top Libertarian vote percentages in 2-way U.S. House races with a Democrat or Republican candidate were:

Joel Balam Kansas 3rd 31% 90,391 votes

Randall Lord Louisiana 4th 25% 61,587 votes

Ben Easton Texas 17th 20% 35,902 votes

Joe Cobb Arizona 7th 19% 19,346 votes

Chip Peterson Texas 19th 15% 28,359 votes

The top Libertarian vote percentages in 3-way U.S. House races with a Democrat and Republican candidate were:

Powell Gammell Arizona 9th 6.4% 13,307 votes

Ron Williams Mississippi 4th 6.4% 17,262 votes

Thomas Jefferson Kansas 4th 6.2% 15,587 votes

Kim Allen Arizona 1st 5.9% 13,347 votes

Rex Bell Indiana 6th 5.8% 15,946 votes

Kevin Craig  Missouri 7th 5.2% 16,656 votes

James Stanczak Texas 29th 5.2% 4,988 votes

Chris Kalla Ohio 4th 5.1% 15,487 votes

David Kaiser Montana At-large 5.0% 19,062 votes

The Libertarians who came in second place in U.S. House races with either a Democrat or Republican (but not both) and at least one independent or 3rd party candidate were:

Rufus Craig Louisiana 6th 11% 32,185 votes

John Robert Deek Texas 13th 6% 12,671 votes

Via Top 2012 Libertarian Campaigns for US House of Representatives | Libertarian Party.

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Seven Libertarian candidates won over a million votes

LP candidate Gary Johnson had some good company, as the national Libertarian Party proudly notes:

Gov. Gary Johnson for President: 1,191,420 votes

Mark W. Bennett (TX) Court of Criminal Appeals: 1,326,526 votes

William Bryan Strange (TX) Court of Criminal Appeals: 1,313,746 votes

RS Roberto Koelsch (TX) Texas Supreme Court: 1,280,886 votes

Jaime O. Perez (TX) Railroad Commissioner: 1,122,792 votes

David Staples (GA) Public Service Commission, District 5: 1,082,481 votes

Tom Oxford (TX) Texas Supreme Court: 1,030,735 votes

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