I don’t follow Indianapolis city politics very much; in fact, I make something of an effort to tune them out given how much they are covered on the blogs I happen to frequent. But, here is an item worth looking at. Mike Kole discusses Ed Coleman’s run for re-election to City-County council; this time as a Libertarian and not at-large. Since he has only his district to contend with and since the Libertarians gave him $50k, he has good prospects. Ed had apparently won as a Republican in an at-large race previously.
Mike discusses the feeling out there that the way for libertarians to win is to run as Republicans and not Libertarians. That’s a bad message for actual libertarians. There is a certain strain “I’ve got mine” economic libertarianism out there that might be a good fit; but the GOP has plenty of uses for government that more devoted libertarians might find disagreeable. (See, e.g., the War on (Some) Drugs.)
I don’t know where on the spectrum of libertarianism Ed might fit, but in this context it probably doesn’t matter. Mike is correct – the Libertarian Party ought to be focused on winning elections (particularly local ones) and not dwelling too much on minutia that ends up being a purity test. In that regard, the Libertarians (and, to be fair, other political parties too) start looking like the People’s Front of Judea. (“The only people we hate more than the Roman’s are the Judean People’s Front!”)
I disagree as much as I could possibly disagree with a person.
If the libertarians are going to take winning elections seriously, they will need to make compromises in order to get elected. Those compromises will make the party look a lot like the Republican Party (where stands such as the drug war help them get elected).
Libertarian leaning folks do much better to work to take over the Republican party, which in my experience is wide open. Organized folks like Libertarians and Paulistas do well when they put their mind to taking over party politics (Exhibit A: how the Paulistas manipulated the 2008 Indiana Republican Convention to get Zoeller nominated over RINO Costas).
Libertarians will never have the money to compete with a certain type of Republican (the kind that backed Mitch, the Phoenix Group), but they can quite easily take over all the volunteer positions within the party that have plenty of power. Costas had the money, Zoeller had the Paulistas, look who won that battle.
I just don’t see how libertarians can reconcile themselves with Republican orthodoxy that’s not likely to change. On the low taxes and anti-regulatory positions, it’s a very good fit. But, on issues like abortion, gay equality, the drug war, and military interventionism, I would argue that libertarianism is sharply at odds with social conservatives and neocons. I know you have to compromise and build coalitions, but at some point the baby is getting thrown out with the bathwater.
First of all, libertarians are agnostic on abortion. They can go either way, intellectually, and I would argue that far more are anti-abortion than pro-abortion.
On the other issues, none of them are written in stone. Activism in the Republican party itself could change the party’s stance.
Once again, I would look no further than Ron Paul. I myself have been persuaded by Paul and, while far from a Paulista myself, I am much more sympathetic to his stance on, say, military adventurism, than I was 3 or 4 years ago.
Not sure how libertarianism can be squared with government forcing a person to use their body in a particular way, even if it’s to host another person. They find repugnant using government force to require a person to use his or her resources for the well-being of another.
I understand there are some strong arguments for opposing abortion – but they are grounded in government concern for the sanctity of human life and one’s duty to preserve the life of another. But those aren’t arguments you typically find in a libertarian’s toolbox.
But those aren’t arguments you typically find in a libertarian’s toolbox.
You don’t know what you are talking about.
I think this is the second time in the last 24 hours you’ve accused me of this. A simple, “I disagree, here’s why” is sufficient. You don’t need to repeatedly challenge my mental competence.
In any event, the linked material does not provide an explanation on the pro-life perspective as to how they justify forcing a woman to use her body to support the life of another. Libertarianism opposes using government force to require one person to use what is theirs for the benefit of another. If you make an exception for mother and in utero child, do you then make an exception for mother and child, post birth? Father and child? Extended family and child? Community and child? Community and other incompetents? Where do you draw the line and why?
Doug, I had a very constructive debate with “Lady Phoenix” at proprietarianism.com about this. While her views don’t seem to be 100% Libertarian, I can certainly see from her comments where you could find Libertarian support for government restriction of abortion under very narrow circumstances.
In fact, her blog is very insightful on other issues. I disagree with her on many things, mainly because I don’t think people will choose to live that kind of life on the whole. However, the way she explains her views is enlightening.
Sorry, I must be in a mood this morning.
Where do you draw the line and why?
I do believe the link was instructive in that matter. If life begins at conception, then the baby gets every right that any born person would get. Thus, the “non-aggression” thing in that link.
It seems to me that you are conflating libertarianism with anarchism. Libertarians want government for specific things, specifically protecting the enumerated rights of people, the right to life being one of the principal.
As to the point about L’s running as R’s, how is that working out for Ron Paul? He’s being dismissed as a fruitcake by the media. Even when he is running 2nd or 3rd in polls, the media is talking about people running 4th and 5th or not even running at all. The best explanation I’ve heard (other than a conspiracy) is that Ron Paul is so unique that if any of the others drop out, everyone will gain followers except Ron Paul. So, unless he is running with 50% support, he won’t gain anymore followers.
Put another way, I *can’t* vote for Ron Paul even if I wanted to. The Republican nomination will be sealed long before it gets to Indiana. If he was the lead on a Libertarian, he would at least be an option to vote for in 2012 in Indiana.
BTW, once again, I think Ron Paul’s position on abortion is the most right. He says that the problem is the Supreme Court ramming an extra-constitutional, made up right down everyone’s throat, instead of respecting the 10th amendment and allowing the states to chart their own, individual courses. Evolution of thought on the issue of abortion might have brought us to exactly the same point we are at now, but with a small fraction of the rancor.
This is probably a good philosophy to follow on gay marriage as well.
Jason, on the other hand, Paul has run for President as a Libertarian before. He had a fraction of the influence there as he is having now running as a Republican. While Paul the man cannot win, his ideas ARE WINNING. Of course, the Federal Reserve has a lot to do with that. If only we all had such incompetent enemies.
Mike Kole says
Buzzcut makes a good point about the difference in impact Ron Paul makes as a Republican presidential candidate, versus what he did as a Libertarian candidate for the same office 20+ years ago. I think that’s going to be true for the ‘highest level’ offices (POTUS, US Senate, US Rep) for some time to come, our gains from 1% in 2006 to 4-9% in 2010 in those races notwithstanding. But at the local level, where it is easier to make an impact by going door-to-door, or by not needing to invest $100 million, Libertarian (and other 3rd party) candidates can and do make an impact, and win.
The biggest takeaway for me is that the national Libertarian Party is at last making a break from being the People’s Judean Front (or is it the People’s Front of Judea?) and are now a more pragmatic political party. The principles are still intact, but instead of being so top-down focused, it is more bottom-up focused now. And, instead of worrying about the absolutely perfect candidate (which doesn’t exist anyhow), we can get on with the business of agreeing big picture, and working with those who want us to work together with them.
Just spitballing here, but I’d suggest that Libertarians should identify those local government bodies where there is a pretty even split between Dems and Republicans. If you could get your candidates elected there; seems like you should be able to be a swing-vote in exchange for more Libertarian friendly policies.
Mike Kole says
That’s sound thinking. That’s exactly the case with the City-County Council, where the Republican majority is very narrow. He isn’t the swing vote the way Justice Kennedy is on the Supreme Court, but he has voted in either direction and is a vote that has to be courted.