Friday, January 13, 2012

Political Conversion: I think I'm a Libertarian

A good friend of mine posts comments here occasionally (the anon that calls me Jackie).  He and I have known each other for about 12-ish years now, and we've had plenty of conversations about politics over the years.  For as long as I've known him, he's always been a staunch Libertarian.  When I was younger, I didn't understand it.

Admittedly, I thought that Libertarians were kooks bent on anarchy and apathy towards societies unfortunate and disenfranchised.  After reading a lot of what Ted over at Country Thinker has written, I've come to the realization that I'm probably a Libertarian, too.

He wrote a piece about Gary Johnson, governor of New Mexico who may run for president as the Libertarian candidate.  He listed his official platforms, and I agreed with all of them save one.  In a nutshell, I'm a fiscal conservative and a social liberal. 

I think the government needs to let free market principles take their course rather than try to steer the economy (as the steering has been about as bad as an 80 year old blind alzhiemer's patient behind the wheel of a mack truck).  We've created a huge welfare state which I believe seeks to perpetuate itself for the purpose of keeping the poor on the dole forever.

I also think the government needs to keep its nose out of our personal lives.  That means the government shouldn't tell women whether or not they should have abortions, the government shouldn't concern itself with what kind of food we eat or how much salt we ingest, and it sure as shit shouldn't be the judge of what groups of consenting adults are allowed to get married.

Although I am a strong advocate of a powerful military and impenetrable national defense, I don't think that we should be involving ourselves in so many world affairs.  I'm not advocating isolationism, but rather a smaller geopolitical footprint.

And if people want to come to this country to have a better life, let them.  As long as they go through the proper legal channels and either get a visa or some sort of work permit, or if they work to obtain citizenship, then no one should stop them from pursuing a better life (afterall, many of us owe our very existence to immigrants).

I can't really consider myself to be a Republican anymore, because I think the party is completely broken.  It's broken because there's no sense of ideological or theoretical consistency.  You seriously cannot believe in freedom of religion and at the same moment call this a "Christian Nation," and say that we need to get back to our "Christian Roots."  You can't believe in freedom of choice and the right to privacy while simultaneously trying to bar women from getting abortions, using birth control, and banning gay marriage.

Also, you can't tell me that there's such things as natural rights and human rights, but think that such concepts only apply to American citizens.  You can't say that we were right to stop the human rights violations in Iraq, but we're also somehow justified in violating the rights of people that we deem to be "combatants."  You can't honestly tell me that every human is created equal, and say that it's okay to protect the right to a speedy and fair trial for some but not others.

I just can't do it anymore.  The mainstream parties are no longer concerned with anything that even closely resembles an intellectual approach to politics, and all they do is play on the fears and passions of the people to get votes.  I can't be a part of a movement in which its adherents are totally okay with contradicting themselves, and worse convinced that there is no contradiction in their beliefs.

So, if Ron Paul doesn't get the GOP nomination, I likely won't be voting for a Republican this November.  I'll probably "throw my vote away," to Gary Johnson should he be the Libertarian nominee.


Country Thinker said...

There are a lot of variations on libertarian. It sound like you're a moderate libertarian, which probably describes more people than we realize!

Joe Markowitz said...

The part of your post I would take issue with is this statement:

"We've created a huge welfare state which I believe seeks to perpetuate itself for the purpose of keeping the poor on the dole forever."

By far the biggest parts of our modern welfare state are Social Security and Medicare. The purpose of those programs is to reduce poverty, and every study of those programs shows that they have succeeded in reducing the amount of poverty. It might be disheartening to realize the number of people who are dependent on those programs, and how much they cost, but those programs did not make people poor. They make people less poor. Before we had Social Security and Medicare, we had much larger numbers of elderly in poverty, the elderly had nothing like the medical care that is available to them today, and many more of them could not afford to live on their own. So in the libertarian utopia, where we would abolish these programs, people can look forward to having their mother-in-laws all move back in with them, and paying their very large medical bills. That might be Ron Paul's idea of freedom, but it probably wouldn't appeal to a lot of other people.

And seriously, would you really want to put up with the rest of the scary racist baggage that comes with Ron Paul? For what, so you can keep a few more bucks out of your paycheck and then be left to your own devices in your old age?

Jack Camwell said...

Thanks for stopping by Joe =)

Well, you're right about a lot of what you said. When I said welfare state, I think I was more referring to people who receive assistance other than social security and medicaid.

These programs don't need to be abolished, and Ron Paul has never once suggested that they be completely done away with.

What he wants to do, and what I think is right to do, is to make the programs temporary.

Now of course it's not going to be temporary for everyone. Now I realize that not everyone is going to be able to improve their economic lot, but if the system is stuck on the notion that it exists to bolster rather than improve someone's ability to be self-sustainable, then that's where I think it's flawed.

There are plenty of people in this country who do not have to work because the government pays for nearly everything. You might not believe me, but trust me Joe, I've seen it. I've worked with these families. The heads of the housholds make no attempt to get employment, and if they do it's only half-hearted, just enough to satisfy the requirements to stay on the dole.

Ron Paul does not think that people should be left to fend for themselves. I don't think that either.

Rather, I see that there's a serious problem here. The sense of entitlement has seeped into the current generation of youngsters. When I worked with at-risk youth here in Columbus, I could always tell which ones had parents that were on the welfare dole, and which ones had parents who worked 2 jobs to provide for their family.

The kids on the dole acted like it was my DUTY to pay them, even if they didn't show up for work, and even if they showed up but did nothing. The kids whose parents worked hard never asked me for anything. They showed up on time, every day, and always ready to work. They never complained, and were always grateful for the opportunity to work.

It's a problem that Ron Paul sees, but I think many are ignoring. I think it's immoral that we allow it to happen.

Silverfiddle said...

Except for the complete progressive statist, there's at least a little libertarian in all of us.

Jersey McJones said...

Most all Americans are libertarian to one extent or another. Few people are pure big-L Libertarians. For example, you can't demand a massive military estate and be considered libertarian in that way. The libertarian attitude toward militarism is that it is dangerous and wasteful big government.

They have a fair point.


Anonymous said...

Hiya Jackie,

First, let me comment on something Joe brought up that is often misunderstood. The reason that our "libertarian utopia" would work better than the current system is that you take out what you put in. Believe it or not there is no real danger of these programs going away even under Paul, they would simply be tweaked to something more realistic and sustainable. Welfare was originally designed to keep poor people poor, several books have been published to this effect which I could hardly rehash in a simple comment box. A rough summary is to say it was a means to make sure that people who were not productive in society could not improve their lot in life.

As far as Social Security is concerned, when the New Deal was written up it was rare that people would live long enough to draw more than 5-8 years. Compare that to now where it is common for people to live well into their 80s and 90's in some cases. Combined with rapid inflation clearly the program should be altered to take this into account.

Take for instance people that worked for most of their life and have saved up... due to devaluation of the dollar they have lost the majority of their savings simply through the passage of time. The enemy here is the out of control spending that is eroding the value of money, not the lack of entitlements.

Also, Ron Paul is not racist =)

OK, so Jackie... I have always taken the logical approach to politics and social issues. When our country started to lose the means of production in the mid 70's we more or less opted to rely on policy to make up the difference. As you can guess, this worked to a degree, but it was nothing more than a band-aid on a broken bone. You cannot dictate the terms of economics through policy alone, there needs to be more than pieces of paper and goodwill to back up our currency. The Japanese figured out in the early 90's just how fast the tide can change once you start shortselling your own market. China will be hitting that wall the moment their growth stops. We have so far been spared the wall, but are instead subjecting ourselves to a slower more prolonged death by undermining the efforts and value associated to being a productive individual.

manapp99 said...

One of favorite radio hosts from Denver, Mike Rosen, describes himself as a little l libertarian which means he believes in less but not no government. As Jack said, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I too fall into this category. I am pulling for Ron Paul in the primary however I do not believe the GOP establishment will allow it. If/when he loses the nomination he has indicated that he MAY embrace a third party run. This was analyzed recently and the thought was he probably will not due to not wanting to sabotage his son Rand's chances in the future with the GOP. Not sure if that is true or not but a possible option may be to try for the libertarian party nomination which comes up this spring. If he is going to make that move he will have to make it soon. This would push Gary Johnson out as the presumptive nominee or perhaps down to VP spot. Conventional wisdom is that a third party run from Paul would give the election to Obama but I am not so sure. Paul has big appeal from the youth and independents and the recent debacles played out in theater DC by the major parties may be enough for many to look seriously his way. I agree with Anon that even if Paul won there would not be wholesale changes in the federal government however that is what the anti-Paul forces would try to have us believe. Ron Paul's message of getting the federal government out of our lives has a very common sense appeal to many on both the left and right. I believe he may steal as many votes from Obama as he would from Romney. He could use the old Monty Python bit for his campaign spots. You know..."And now for something completely different".

Ron da man.

Jack Camwell said...

Well-stated comments from everyone.

manapp, I agree that Ron Paul would likely steal a lot of votes from Obama. He's doing well in the polls with young people, and I think that he's actually articulating mainstream America's sentiments.