Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

October 12, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

LIBERTARIANS AND LIBERALS....Should Democrats court the libertarian vote? Over at Cato Unbound, Markos Moulitsas is making the case for something he calls "Libertarian Democrats," and the Cato folks themselves have released a paper claiming that "some 10 to 20 percent of voting-age Americans are libertarian." Does that mean libertarians are a significant constituency that might turn the Democrats' way with the right kind of wooing?

Color me skeptical. Matt Yglesias argues that in order to gum up the works and reduce the chance of continued legislative idiocy from Republicans, libertarians ought to vote for Democrats in 2006, and this seems pretty much inarguable on a purely tactical level. Any libertarian who can't figure out this much needs to turn in his Hayek Fan Club badge.

But more broadly? I just don't see it. When it comes to social policies, it's true that liberals are more closely aligned than conservatives to libertarian principles. Liberals tend to be tolerant of drug use, dedicated to civil liberties, committed to separation of church and state, in favor of gay rights, and so forth. The Republican Party, having long ago sold its soul to the Christian right, can't credibly pretend to support any of this stuff.

But it doesn't matter. Libertarians may say they favor liberal social policies and they do but when push comes to shove most of them will toss the social stuff overboard in a heartbeat in favor of a dedication to economic libertarianism. What really gets their hearts pounding is big government and regulation of the free market. They're against 'em.

And let's face it: Democrats just can't credibly claim to be on their side. We like labor unions, we support environmental regulation and consumer safety laws, we think anti-poverty programs are great, we favor safety net programs like Social Security and national healthcare, and we're not allergic to imposing the taxes to pay for all this stuff. You can try all day long to find a few grains of libertarian economic doctrine in the Democratic Party platform, but why bother? You're not going to convince anyone, least of all the libertarians themselves, that we're on their side.

Now, I don't quite know why it is that libertarians care so much more about economic libertarianism than they do about social libertarianism. Maybe they believe that Republicans talk a good game about their scary social agenda but aren't really serious about imposing it. Or maybe they figure that although Democrats are theoretically more socially libertarian than Republicans, in reality they don't do much about it. And those are pretty reasonable propositions. How many Democrats are in favor of any kind of serious drug decriminalization, after all?

But whatever the reason, there's not much long-term chance of a marriage between liberals and libertarians. Economic policy is at the heart of the libertarian worldview, and on that score they're just a lot closer to Republicans than to Democrats. It's hard to see any plausible way of papering that over.

Kevin Drum 7:37 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (151)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

All that matters to "libertarians" is cutting taxes. We don't care about growing deficits, we don't care about government intrusions, we don't care about huge handouts to corporations.

Cut our taxes, babay, and we are yours forever!

Posted by: Al's Mommy on October 12, 2006 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

Well the talibornagains are convinced that all libertarians are interested in is legal dope.

I think the last six years are why libertarians will vote for democrats in greater numbers. The GOP has spent and spent like drunken sailors.

Posted by: trifecta on October 12, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

This word "Republican" you use. I do not think it means what you think it does.

Posted by: modus potus on October 12, 2006 at 7:47 PM | PERMALINK

...there's not much long-term chance of a marriage between liberals and libertarians.

That's probably true, but most Democrats aren't even really liberals anymore. Most people, inlcuding Libertarians would rather just be left alone to deal with thier own problems. It's only the Bush administration and the crazy Congress that brought all the everyday Libertarians out of their holes. Once things go back to normal, we'll probably all go away again. That's the way it should be right?

Posted by: enozinho (we torture) on October 12, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Libertarians believe in markets above all. Republicans may talk that talk, but they are no more in favor of actual market competition than Democrats -- they just differ over which way the playing field is tilted.

Posted by: modus potus on October 12, 2006 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

KD- you are such an ....-essentially: No dems are for drug use thus they are not libertarian- I am not sure what group you are insulting the most. Surely, they are other social libertarian issues. Moreover, one reason there is not a lot of traction is because we are a relatively libertaian society (that is, until the zealots get their way) -see my retort over at tapped. But the bottom line is: libertarianism is a myth. Perhaps we should call these republicans for what they really are: opportunists.

Posted by: raoul on October 12, 2006 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Liberals, Moderates, Libertarians, and Conservatives can all agree that the current president, his administration, and most of his party's representatives in Congress are idiots. Once that problem is fixed, they can go back to arguing about specific issues.

Posted by: Ralph on October 12, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

The heart of the 'libertarian worldview' is not primarly economic. The heart of it is that government power is a dangerous thing. That goes for both economics and social issues - and that's the real place where a liberal / libertarian rift is going to be.

However, I do think there's some possible middle ground. Most liberals / progressives today aren't really arguing for 'big government' - progressive often means smarter, more fair and responsive government. And many libertarians have come to realize that Big Corporations are just as dangerous as Big Government...and in fact, the two often go hand in hand.

Posted by: Stranahan on October 12, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I think you're right for the most part. But you ignore one argument that is at the center of this debate.

It's the argument that the modern multinational corporation is usurping the state as the primary organizational threat to personal liberty. Therefore, the argument goes, libertarians should support checks on this new threat to liberty, and the only entity with sufficient power to provide that check is the state.

It's basically the gridlock argument on a grander scale. Instead of gridlocking Republicans and Democrats to keep the state from running rampant and infringing liberty, you gridlock states and multinationals to limit each as a threat to liberty.

I'm not convinced, but there it is, and it is an argument that economic liberalism can benefit personal liberty in the age of the multinational corporation.

Posted by: Tbag on October 12, 2006 at 7:58 PM | PERMALINK

I have been a Democrat for all my adult life. But a Libertarian heart beats in my chest. The Ten Commandments? How about we put the Real Ten Commandments in every classroom in America? I'm sure you have heard of it. It's called The Bill of Rights. Instead of agitating for the Lords Prayer in public schools, I think the American people might go for recitation of the Preamble to the Constitution. That part about promoting the general welfare? That takes taxes. We pay those to live in a civilized society. And as far as bestowing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity (kids, grandkids, etc)? That means that the needs of the planet and assuring we have a place to live - or rather that they do - supercedes the free market. We aren't stupid, you know.

I hold the Constitution foremost and civil liberties are sacrosanct. So there is no way I could be a Republican. And the libertarians have chosen the wrong planks to make foremost. So I became a Democrat and I argue the Libertarian side of things every chance I get and have for a quarter century now. Take the best aspects of both parties and chuck the baggage. We have a hell of a lot more in common than we do differences.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah - what Tbag said, too...

Posted by: Stranahan on October 12, 2006 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

When it comes to social policies, it's true that liberals are more closer aligned than conservatives to libertarian principles.

Probably true. Although I can think of plenty of "social" issues on which Democrats are pretty darn fascist and Republicans are libertarian. Say, gun owners' rights.

Posted by: Al on October 12, 2006 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK

Don't argue guns with me, or I'll challenge your ass to a duel. Gun Control means that you can hit your flippin' target. Get rid of that Stupid. Fucking.Gun Control. Plank. and people in Holt County, Missouri and Decatur County, Iowa and Dodge County, Kansas come back to the Democratic Party. We get back what we lost in the south in 1964. Paul Hackett, Brian Schweitzer? These are the Democrats who can lead us out of the wilderness. John Edwards if he can produce his Hunter Safety Certificate from fifth grade.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

"Economic policy is at the heart of the libertarian worldview..."

I would say this is true in the case of most Libertarians. But not all. I was one of the original Libertarians from the 1970's and I gradually became disenfranchised in the 1980's from the right-wing takeover of the Libertarian movement by the greedhead Republican nutjobs who were so extreme and intellectually aggressive in their destructive selfishness, that they migrated in droves to the Libertarian Party. What was an idealistic bunch of heads, freaks, and inconsequentials became a rabid pack of radicals and cranks.

Us "left-wing" Libertarians grew weary with their focus on all things monetary and material. They're rationalisms and justifications became unreal, embarrassing, and tiresome.

And then when Colorado's Theocratic Republicans engineered and passed an amendment outlawing gays in the name of "special rights", and then the Republicans polarized all political debate with their hatred of all things Clinton, I, along with numerous "left-wing" Libertarians became small-ell libertarians and big-dee Democrats.

I was even asked to run as a Libertarian in a state congressional race. But when I told them that I was a libertarian in small-ell only, they demurred and found some other chump.

I now whole-hearted embrace the credos that "no man is an island," and "we're all in this together."

I haven't looked back. And that's why I suspect many other slower-than-me Libs are itching to become small-ell big-dee too.

--
HRlaughed

Posted by: HRlaughed on October 12, 2006 at 8:08 PM | PERMALINK

I know a libertarian who, while he has no use for the wingnuts' social agenda, votes Republican because he's confident that he can buy his way past any future legislated social restrictions he might find bothersome.

Posted by: Rand Careaga on October 12, 2006 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Also agreed with Tbag, pretty much. What's infuriating about Libertarians is that it is as if they studied a semester or two of economics, take that as gospel, and then never study it again. To a guy who spend a gazillion years in school, and studies game theory and microeconomics as a hobby, that's sort of like intentional ignorance.

Game theory? The ones I've met, hate it, because it creates a role for Government. I spent the first few months of my married life tutoring a pair of social scientists (one, my wife) in the finer points of graduate-level microeconomics. Big fun, all the real-world pathologies that interfere with the theoretical general-welfare maximization of a free market (and what, by-the-way, is the norm that you use to measure that maximum? L0? L0.5? L1? L2? Do you know the difference?)

And Robert Frank's analysis of actual humans' irrational behavior (their irrational, dependent, utility functions -- their overestimation of their luck and skill, the "Lake Wobegon Effect") and how that distorts a free market economy -- they REALLY hate that, because it leads (in a fairly rational fashion) to a justification for a progressive income tax. All the actual data (as opposed to airy-fairy-bullshit-assumptions) suggests that a serious progressive income tax would make most of us happier (the leveling effect on incomes reduces the dispersion of wealth, which is a good thing according to our dependent utility functions) , and would make the economy run a little better, too (because the Lake Wobegon Effect causes overinvestment in tournament economies, whether rock star, lawyer, CEO, sports start, what have you). The data says that's how we normally work, and if that's how your economic actors work, then a totally free (tax-free) market is not going to be the best answer. But because that answer is not part of the Libertarian Dogma, it must be rejected, along with the data and reasoning that leads to it.

It's not really all that much different from the LA-LA-LA-CAN'T-HEAR-YOU reaction to the Lancet study, only not nearly as incredibly immoral. Instead, it's just stupidly inefficient and non-happiness-maximizing.

Posted by: dr2chase on October 12, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

HRlaughed has got it right.

What Drum's post ignores is that the GOP took over the LP a long time ago.

Posted by: Disputo on October 12, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

See Kevin. Ther's a whole lot of us.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

I am a DEM who wants legalized drugs and anything else that I want to do to MY body,

Can't we be Libertarians AFTER we make sure that everyone has decent healthcare, a subsistance retirement and the State University system be affordable again?

Why does any party have to get everything they THINK they want?

Posted by: Lilybart on October 12, 2006 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Why does any party have to get everything they THINK they want?

Really. That's impossible. Accept that and start dealin.'

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

Markos' argument is that in some cases government intervention is needed to maximize economic liberty. It's not a traditional libertarian stance, but it's a very interesting one.

A good example is Universal Health Care. The current employer based system is a major disincentive for workers to leave their job to find something different. So by limiting "economic liberty" in one area, you may increase it drastically in another.

Posted by: Karmakin on October 12, 2006 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with everything in your post except your being puzzled about why libertarians care more about social issues than economic issues. I don't know whether they do or don't, but the thing is - and you went one quarter of the way toward making this point yourself - Democrats aren't closer to libertarians on social issues than Republicans are.

"Economic issues" aside (and personally I don't know where you draw the line between the two), and I know you won't agree, but I think Democrats are more likely to want to interfere in a person's life than Republicans are. I would be curious to see where you actually think that is true besides the issue of abortion.

Your examples are very vague and contradicted by what almost every Democratic politician actually does and believes in practice (as you sort of said with the drugs thing). I agree with you that the Democrats are socially liberal. But that doesn't make them socially libertarian. There is a big difference. On social issues, Democrats would on the whole favor more government interention in the affairs of an individual than Republicans would. And I think that is pretty much true across the board, excepting only abortion (and that isn't really a libertatian v. non-libertarian issue, because as you yourself said the issue comes down to when life begins, which isn't something libertarians agree on).

Posted by: zmin on October 12, 2006 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

The libertarian perspective is a lot more consistent and easy to understand if you just assume that they don't care about anything but themselves. It isn't that they really object to other people paying taxes or other people being oppressed by the government, as long as they aren't. They expect the culture and infrastructure to be there for them to use but they don't want to be bothered with supporting it. This why they consistently vote Republican.

Posted by: k on October 12, 2006 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

The current employer based system is a major disincentive for workers to leave their job to find something different.

This doesn't only apply to the indvidual, but it can effect entire industries as well. In my industry, graphic design, we have a really hard time finding people with the skills to do the job. A lot of people stick it out at big corporations because of the benefits, but basically retard their creativity in the process. If boutique design agencies could offer quality healthcare, they would attract more talent. And their employees and clients would benefit from a more competent workforce.

mo money, mo money, etc.

Posted by: enozinho ( we torture ) on October 12, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

K - I respectfully disagree. I havevn't voted for a Republican since Nancy Kassebaum. Read the posts by the small-ell libertarians here, like HR Laughed and myself. We are not blind or stupid, and we are embarassed by the rabble who are passing themselves off as libertarians these days.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

The saddest reason why libertarians won't vote Democrat is that the Dems no longer support free speech, as they once did. The McCain-Feingold "Campaign Finance Reform" impairs the ability of groups of citizens to run media ads opposing a candidate within 3 months of an election. It's true that some Reps supported this law, but it was primarily supported by Dems. When there are conflicts over when this law should apply to restrict political speech, the Dems generally favor stricter controls,

Workplace speech rules, campus speech rules, etc. come from the left. These rules place "being nice" as of greater value than freedom of speech.

Dems generally oppose permitting the mention of religion or God in schools, even if it's voluntarily by students. The Dems are more interested in avoiding religious references than in protecting the students' freedom of speech.

About the only areas where Dems still support freedom of speech is when it's not terribly important. Dems support the right to burn flags or use the word, "fuck." I have no problem with those position. But, I wish the Dems wouldn't support a law that prevents Planned Parenthood from running an ad oppposing an anti-abortion candidate.

Posted by: ex-liberal on October 12, 2006 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with k. Every person I know who says they are "libertarian" seems to really be saying, "I don't want to pay taxes."

Curiously these same people seem to be the first to take advantage of the social programs that taxes support (unemployment, worker's comp, federal loans, etc.) and to work them to get the most possible out of them.

Therefore, when someone tells me, "I'm a Libertarian.", I automatically hear, "I am selfish."

Posted by: samba00 on October 12, 2006 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

That's because greedy fuckers coopted the Libertarians just like the religious wackos coopted the 'Publicans.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a libertarian (and proud member of the Free State Project) yet I've never voted for a Republican and vote for more Democrats than I do Libertarians (often under duress but many libertarians are total nutjobs).

I think that anyone who is willing to side with socially authoritarians to get economical liberty are authoritarian at heart. The first order of business is to give people freedom over themselves and their thoughts, then worry about freeing people from economical control.

Posted by: Matt on October 12, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Because Olberman says it oh so much better than I...

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Libertarians believe in markets above all

If that were true, it would give me all the reason I need to doubt their sanity and their intellect.

Posted by: Keith G on October 12, 2006 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Once you understand that the hero of the average lamebrain "libertarian" isn't Hayek but Ayn Rand you'll see that no alliance between these narcissists and real Dem's is possible.

Posted by: fyreflye on October 12, 2006 at 9:07 PM | PERMALINK

There are quite a few small-ell big-dee's out there, to promptly co-opt HR's most excellent description.

We aren't all crazy.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Libertarians believe in markets above all

Real Libertarians believe in the Constitution and Civil Liberties above all else. I'm downright militant about preserving the Constiturion. On Sept. 28th at 6:28 p.m. the congress executed Habeus and by 6:45 I had a Flag at Distress graphic by my screen name in forums that support it.

Civil Liberties are first and foremost.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

I've always thought libertarians are whatis left of the yellow dog Dems of the South. The old Southern Dem, strong on national defense and individual rights.

Libertarins don't like out-of control government spending and they don't like immigration. In fact as Pat Buchanan says that a Dems who understand immigation issues, as they pretain to border states could win a Democrat election. John Kerry was no libertarian, but Howard Dean comes very close to libertarian philosophy.

In fact, few Doctors are liberals and Howard Dean clearly doesn't like open borders either. John Murtha is such an individual too - whereas John Kerry snobby style will never cut it with southerns.


BUT lately, there has been talk about Murtha that was, nothing but outright lies, like over at Josh Marshall's muckraker site. Murtha must have forgot to ask Bill Clinton if it was alright to wall up to a flag line podium and say it's time to leave Iraq. Libertarians are dead set against the high spending on the Iraq war and they would left, since not WMD were found.

Clinton appears to want to stay in Iraq, same as Bush - and now NATO and UN will NEVER believe nor assist the Clintons any more they would do anything for Bush. Bush wasn't the only one that lied about WMD. Bill Clinton also lied too. NATO will no longer trust nor serve either president.

Posted by: Cheryl on October 12, 2006 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

I agree completely. 'Some of my best friends are libertarians', as we used to say. They are basically religious nuts who let themselves be used like the fundies. They understand a little economics, and as we also say, a little of that science goes a long way, usually in the wrong direction.

Posted by: Knut Wicksell on October 12, 2006 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

> Maybe they believe that Republicans talk
> a good game about their scary social agenda
> but aren't really serious about imposing it.

That would seem to be a bad bet right at the moment. And if the fundamentalists come through one more time for Rove next month you had better believe they are going to be looking for _real_ payback in 2006-2008. None of this John Ashcroft/John Roberts stuff; they are going to want real red meat on the table.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on October 12, 2006 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Would imagine that the libertarian intellectuals know Ayn Rand a hell of lot more than the average libertarian voter who knows Ross Perot far better.
Perot brought a score of new, and/or indifferent voters to the mix in 92.
Most of them flooded the ballot boxes with Anti-Brady Bill votes in 94.

Gun control should be about hitting the target and controlling one's emotions when doing so.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on October 12, 2006 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

they are going to want real red meat on the table

mmm. meat.

Posted by: Maf54 on October 12, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Paul. Spoken like a son of the plains and a denizen of the great northwest.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think that the libertarian philosophy exists only to provide a comfortable refuge for those who like to sit up in their ivory tower and pretend to be above it all. I don't see libertarians getting anything done in real terms.

Posted by: cajun on October 12, 2006 at 9:36 PM | PERMALINK

modus potus nails it in the 5th post:

Republicans may talk that talk, but they are no more in favor of actual market competition than Democrats -- they just differ over which way the playing field is tilted.

The "market fundamentalism" is just a front. See The Conservative Nanny State for a far better explanation than I can provide.

Posted by: alex on October 12, 2006 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I'd call myself a libertarian except the wackos who are calling themselves that nowadays seem to have jumped off the edge of insanity. They claim to want all sorts of things to "be provided by the market" and "if things go wrong you can sue" but somehow never notice that assumes the existence of law courts and the authority of law courts and someone to carry out the sentence, etc., etc., and so forth. In short, they assign all the good stuff to capitalism and all the bad stuff to government, but never notice that capitalism would never exist without government.

Finally, why don't they put their money where their mouths are? They claim they want a place with no government, no taxes, and no gun control. It seems to me that present-day Baghdad fits that description most well. Why don't they move there?

Posted by: tzs on October 12, 2006 at 9:43 PM | PERMALINK

dr2chase: I spent the first few months of my married life tutoring a pair of social scientists (one, my wife) in the finer points of graduate-level microeconomics. Big fun, all the real-world pathologies that interfere with the theoretical general-welfare maximization of a free market (and what, by-the-way, is the norm that you use to measure that maximum? L0? L0.5? L1? L2? Do you know the difference?)

I don't know where the hell you studied economics, but it certainly wasn't a major American university. That fancy pants stuff might be ok for the occasional academic paper, but when it comes to actual policy recommendations, ideology triumphs over all. I'd say it was a kindergarten level understanding of economics turned turned fanatical, but that woukd be needlessly offensive to kindergarteners.

Posted by: alex on October 12, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Face it, the Repuiblicans now in power aren't anything like what the Libertarians think they are. They're more like Liberals in terms of "spend and spend", and "create more bigger government". Both happened on Bush's watch. If that isn't contrary to what Libertarians stand for, I don't know what is. These Republicans obliterate personal liberties right and left, from the torturing to the mandating of certain types of testing in education. They also are greedy spenders, spending on everything with an abandonment that makes the old political machines look like pikers. They've driven up the deficit so high, gotten us in debt so deep, it boggles the mind. Libertarians stand for honesty, for financially responsible government, for fairness in letting contracts, for freedom to act. For all these reasons, this Republican group has to be stopped, and the only way they can be, for the short run, is to put in a Democratic majority. Once that's in, we can work to get Libertarians back in a powerful place with the real Conservatives who believe much of the same. You deceive yourself if you think the Republicans will do anything more than exactly what they've been doing.

Posted by: OCPatriot on October 12, 2006 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

I am another person who thinks that libertarians are a more natural fit for the Republican rather than the Democratic party.

I think that Catholics are a much, much better fit for the Democratic coalition and more worth the effort.

Posted by: Anthony on October 12, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Face it, the Republicans now in power aren't anything like what the Libertarians think they are. They're more like Liberals in terms of "spend and spend", and "create more bigger government". Both happened on Bush's watch. If that isn't contrary to what Libertarians stand for, I don't know what is. These Republicans obliterate personal liberties right and left, from the torturing to the mandating of certain types of testing in education. They also are greedy spenders, spending on everything with an abandonment that makes the old political machines look like pikers. They've driven up the deficit so high, gotten us in debt so deep, it boggles the mind. Libertarians stand for honesty, for financially responsible government, for fairness in letting contracts, for freedom to act. For all these reasons, this Republican group has to be stopped, and the only way they can be, for the short run, is to put in a Democratic majority. Once that's in, we can work to get Libertarians back in a powerful place with the real Conservatives who believe much of the same. You deceive yourself if you think the Republicans will do anything more than exactly what they've been doing.

Posted by: OCPatriot on October 12, 2006 at 9:48 PM | PERMALINK

Why do libertarians vote? A taxpayer-funded exercise to determine which candidate is supported by more people, and then impose that candidate on the people who didn't vote for him -- why would any libertarian agree to take part in such an anti-individualist exercise?

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 12, 2006 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

As Kevin has previously argued, liberals over time have already won many of the policy arguments about government influence in a whole host of issues that libertarians abhore, and they've already been enacted into law.

At their core, I find libertarians well meaning folks, but their choices about economic policy would bring us back to the flapper era. To them, Lasseiz-Faire (or however you spell it) was a GOOD thing. These folks want to dismantle every vestige of the New Deal, including Social Security. So we're to trust our economic policy to people that have really bad ideas? I don't see it, and not under the banner of a jackass.

And by the way, fuck them anyway; let them vote for Lamaar Whatever every year. Have a good time with all that.

Posted by: FuzzFinger on October 12, 2006 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

In short, they assign all the good stuff to capitalism and all the bad stuff to government, but never notice that capitalism would never exist without government.

Put in economic terms, Libertarians (by which I mean right-Libertarians) don't understand the concepts of externalities and public goods. They all dropped out of Econ 101 before the midterms.

Posted by: Disputo on October 12, 2006 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

Dems generally oppose permitting the mention of religion or God in schools, even if it's voluntarily by students.

That is just horse crap, unadulterated horse crap. Show me a source, a report, a cite.

Too bad you don't find it possible to engage in an honest debate.

Posted by: Keith G on October 12, 2006 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: Now, I don't quite know why it is that libertarians care so much more about economic libertarianism than they do about social libertarianism.

Well, I think that the above is true of ideologically "pure" libertarians. But I think there are so few of this particularly exotic animal, they're hardly worth talking about.

Most people who style themselves "libertarian" aren't particularly purist in their philosophy. And I think for a good number of them (I'll call them "soft libertarians") the Democrats could present an appealing program if they got a few things right.

What I'm saying is this: many a soft libertarian has no problem with the basic concept of a safety net (it's just that they want said safety net run as leanly and as efficiently as possible, and funded with a sensible, simplified, pro-growth tax code). And it goes without saying that soft libertarians want government to refrain from such activities as media censorship, say, or discrimination against gays. Where I think Democrats tend to lose them is the various "moonbatty" positions often beloved by the left: business bashing, opposition to trade agreements, confiscatory tax rates, visceral hatred of competition in public services (like education), a general disdain for free markets, etc.

Places like Sweden, say, or Ireland or Australia show that it is entirely possible to possess an ideological commitment to free markets -- and indeed insist on a rigorously competitive economic environment -- and still maintain a generous safety net.

A new Democrat, or a third way Democrat, or an American Tony Blair (minus the foreign policy ineptitude) could compete, and I suspect emerge victorious, for the votes of millions of soft libertarians.

Posted by: James Madison on October 12, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Dean comes very close to libertarian philosophy. In fact, few Doctors are liberals

Weird Cheryl: you either do not know what a libertarian is, or you do not know what Howard Dean thinks. Additionally, you have not asked many doctors about their political views.

Notably, both Howard Dean and the American Medical Association support the establishment of a national universal health insurance system.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 12, 2006 at 9:54 PM | PERMALINK

Finally, why don't they put their money where their mouths are? They claim they want a place with no government, no taxes, and no gun control. It seems to me that present-day Baghdad fits that description most well. Why don't they move there?

Actually, there is a project to get LP members to move to NH in order to create their libertopia.

Google it.

(Of course, it never occurs to libernutians that if their ideal society was so damn more efficient and stable than the current one, there would be no reason to force it -- it would simple naturally arise.)

Posted by: Disputo on October 12, 2006 at 9:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Catholics are a much, much better fit for the Democratic coalition and more worth the effort.

Agreed. If most Dems didn't get so queasy discussing religious values, they could win Catholics back in one election cycle.

Posted by: Disputo on October 12, 2006 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

Democrats and Libertarians share common ground on such issues as the support of small business and the encroaching powers of government. Unfortunately we quickly part ways when it comes to implementing these goals.

Libs insist that the only way to foster small business and grow existing businesses is to cut taxes and regulations. Libertarians are concerned with abuses of power, but they are obsessed with abuses of government power, not corporate power. They worship heads of industry as saints while railing against political leaders as Hitlers in the making. Adam Smith's Invisible Hand is The Hand Of God.

They recognize no sense of shared endeavor but are eager for communities to experiment with wacky economic theories that have no proven track record. They would privatize schools, roads, the military and Social Security. They would eliminate the USDA (good bye, meat inspections), the FDA (hello, Thalidomide), the Dept. of Transportation (tolls on Route 66 in Arlington, anyone??? haha, an inside-the-DC-beltway joke).

To Libertarians, housing discrimination serves a useful economic purpose -- all rights to the landlord, the sainted owner of capital.

Kevin is right -- there is no long-term alliance between Dems and Libs, only short-term benefits of ridding the country of the power-hungry and disgraced GOP.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on October 12, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

FuzzFinger: their choices about economic policy would bring us back to the flapper era

When women tried to make their chests look flat? Yet another reason not to be a libertarian.

To them, Lasseiz-Faire (or however you spell it) was a GOOD thing.

Laissez-faire only existed in a mythical past. Land grants for railroads, the general laws of incorporation, high tariffs, you name it. Like today's Publicans, the 19th century was only lasseiz-faire for the little guy.

Posted by: alex on October 12, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Although a good definition of a libertarian is "someone who wants to avoid paying taxes", I believe that there's more to it than that. One thing we libs often forget is that if enough people believe that something exists, then that is as good as the thing actually existing. Following from that, libertarian ideas need to be actively engaged and countered by the left.

Libertarianism is a logical ideology for an increasingly alienated society. Today people don't trust their government, don't trust other people's governments, don't trust their boss, don't trust their union, don't trust the news media, don't trust their clergy, don't trust their neighbors, don't trust their spouses, don't trust their parents, don't trust their children. "You are all you have" is the message this culture sends and the media reinforces every day, and libertarianism is the political expression of this belief.

To answer the question, libertarians I've known favor economic over social libertarianism because they see government as the obstacle to both, and that the way to get rid of government is to cut off its funding. Once the baby is drowned in the bathtub, they see individuals having unprecedented freedom to associate with whomever they choose, while not having to subsidize the activities of those they disapprove of (a common libertarian complaint). They see our nation evolving into a myriad of small, self-governing communities of those sharing similar interests, bound together only by the need to trade among one another to provide the goods and services they cannot themselves provide.

Except the most cunning among them see that for the fantasy it is. The most honest book I've seen by libertarians (saw it browsing in the bookstore; don't remember any specifics except that one of the authors was a Lord Rhys-Mogg) saw the collapse of government as the harbinger of a new cyber-feudalism. In the perfect world, the markets rule all. Those smart enough to figure out the markets will prosper wildly; those who lack the smarts aren't fit to be more than slaves in their view. Those who have wealth now will naturally be those who will be smart enough and talented enough to lead the new utopia.

For me, libertarianism is merely old wine in new bottles. The Magna Carta was signed in 1215; generations of would-be kings and lords have been fighting to reclaim divine right ever since.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on October 12, 2006 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I know a libertarian who, while he has no use for the wingnuts' social agenda, votes Republican because he's confident that he can buy his way past any future legislated social restrictions he might find bothersome.

Bingo. That's pretty much my experience, too-- libertarians figure that they're not likely to ever have to really adhere to rightwing social conventions anyway, being mostly healthy, employed white men. Every libertarian I've ever known has placed his faith primarily in his own superiority of mind and general capability (not to mention marksmanship)... from that perspective it's pretty easy to ignore the bible-thumpers and their ilk. Hell, I'm reasonably sure that I could get, say, an abortion even if Roe was overturned, because I have enough money, paid leave, support, and connections to do so, but the difference between me and a libertarian is that I will fight for others with less privilege to have that right, and even willingly pay taxes to live in a society that safeguards others' rights.

Posted by: latts on October 12, 2006 at 10:08 PM | PERMALINK
there's not much long-term chance of a marriage between liberals and libertarians
True. In addition to the reasons that you outline, there's also the fact that most libertarians... um... exit adolescence. They don't remain libertarians long.

So while there may - may - be a significant number of libertarians, the number of libertarians who remain libertarians long enough for such a "marriage" to be meaningful is limited to the complete wackjobs.

Posted by: sdafjoojjo on October 12, 2006 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

A libertarian ain't much more than an Iowa Republican thinking about taking up sodomy as a hobby.

Posted by: Gord Brown on October 12, 2006 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

Latts' comment reminded me of what a student from the Netherlands I met when I was in college told me. He said, "The reason that only Americans are libertarians is that Americans are the only people on earth who can afford to be libertarians".

Posted by: dr sardonicus on October 12, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

Why do so-called libertarians toss social and civil libertarianism overboard for the sake of economic libertarianism? Because a great many self-identified libertarians are racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-semites, religious nuts, etc who resent the government telling them that they can't practice discrimination at least in the public sphere. The face of modern libertarianism is the Angry White Male who equates "big liberal government" with being forced to take orders at work from a gay African-American Jewish woman who, in the AWM's mind, can't possibly be more qualified for the job than a WM. It's a perverted view of classic libertarianism, but the AWMs that make up much of modern libertarianism really do believe that they're the ones being discriminated against, and that it will all stop if they can just get government "off their backs."

We don't need to court these voters, and we certainly don't want the nuttier right-wing types tarnishing the Democratic Party brand. We just need to get them to stop voting Republican and go back to wasting their vote on Libertarian or Conservative Party candidates.

Posted by: greylocks on October 12, 2006 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

gee, if libertarians are fiscally conservative, maybe they can explain how republican borrow and spend policy fits in. Then, if they can make sense out of supporting republican deficit spending they can explain how democratic pay as you go policy resulting in paying odwn the national debt doesn't.

Idiots fly where eagles fear to go.
.

Posted by: Pegasis on October 12, 2006 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Those of us with libertarian leanings are not happy about those idiots coopting the ideals of libertarianism as a tax dodge. I'll say it again. Civil liberties are paramount and the biz-pig, pollution is grand and technology and free-markets will save us, Ayn Randian types are not, I repeat not real Libertarians. They are posers and they are an embarassment.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 10:34 PM | PERMALINK

I pretty much agree with your post, Kevin.

Sure, Dems are in line with libertarians one things like drugs, separation of church and state, and civil rights. But, those are all philosophical issues. They are matters of ideals, not concrete reality that noticibly burden the average citizen.

Tax-cuts, and gun rights though. That is something completely different. Those are real, tangible things. That's something libertarians can touch, and roll around in their Ayn Rand reading hands. When it comes time to vote, which thing do you think they will remember more?

I personally have never met a libertarian that wasn't a conceited, selfish, faux-intellectual. They've had one or two economic, or philosophy classes and as a result have developed a malformed, immature world view free of real insight. They love the security that society provides them but hate it when that same society calls for them to be socially responsible. That is why they are such a neat fit with Republicans, they have the same motto: "I've got mine, fuck you."

Posted by: Ryan on October 12, 2006 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

If the above commenters are typical of Democratic partisans, it's obvious that Markos is wasting his time but for the wrong reasons. I consider myself a "soft libertarian" according to "James Madison's" post, and when I'm forced to vote for a major-party candidate it's usually a Democrat, but I don't care much for either party. I'm not even going to bother addressing all of the ignorant prejudices and misattributions in this thread, because I don't have time, and I'm pretty certain most readers won't care.

Instead, let me explain why I think as I do, and see if this resonates. I'm in my late 20s and have lived in Seattle, southern Connecticut, and the Bay Area. I no longer hold any illusions about Republican competence, but these areas are all solid Democratic and have been for years, except for the occasional moderate Republican governor. In each case, at every level of government I have observed spectacular incompetence, corruption, and waste. The Seattle school district lost at least $25 million dollars for reasons still unexplained. The regional transit system turned into a multi-billion-dollar embarassment before anything even got built. Southern CT is a mess, although the New Haven mayor managed to survive by firing all of the people involved in corruption. The Bay Area is beyond parody sometimes, especially when Gavin Newsome gets denounced as "Republican-lite" for trying to actually feed the homeless rather than handing them money. Some of our Democratic state legislators were caught on tape discussing how to drag out the budget crisis in order to justify raising taxes.

On the national level, the government pours billions into wasteful agricultural subsidies, the War on Drugs, unnecessary defense projects, and stupidity like "No Child Left Behind" (which was Ted Kennedy's idea, remember). Congressmen and unelected bureaucrats at the FCC openly discuss censoring cable TV, while others agitate for the government to reign in Hollywood and the media. (My favorite so far: Juan Cole saying the FCC should shut down Fox News.) Don't even get me started on the legalized corruption known as "earmarks". These problems transcend party affiliation; the only thing that changes is where the money is wasted, and whose freedoms get taken away.

I realize government provides many necessary services, and it's bad for impoverished old people to die in the streets, and inexpensive quality education is vital to a strong economy. To that extent, I agree with Markos completely. And I don't even mind taxes that much, although I think they're high enough already. I'm also aware that many of you share some of my concerns. But if you want me to stop being anti-government and suspicious of every new regulation or bleeding-heart program or bold new initative, you have to try much harder to convince me that it won't be more of the same shit.

Posted by: Nat on October 12, 2006 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, perhaps I painted with too broad a brush. I don't mean to say that everyone who considers themselves a libertarian is just selfish. However, I think there is a distinction to be made between libertarians and civil libertarians. A civil libertarian believes that the society as a whole is obligated to protect the rights and sovereignty of every individual. Those who prefer to drop the civil part of the appellation tend to think that it is enough that the government be prevented from violating those rights and generally feel no civic obligation to prevent private entities from violating the rights of others. This is hard to square this attitude with the idea of individual inalienable rights as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and detailed in the Bill of Rights. If you feel obliged to protect other people's rights, then it seems to me you create less confusion if you call yourself a civil libertarian rather than a libertarian.

Posted by: k on October 12, 2006 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why do so-called libertarians toss social and civil libertarianism overboard for the sake of economic libertarianism? Because a great many self-identified libertarians are racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-semites, religious nuts, etc who resent the government telling them that they can't practice discrimination at least in the public sphere.

I think this is only partly true. Often, it's because for the upper-class suburban kids who dominate that ideological category, social and civil libertarianism in America is already a fact of life. If they're getting repressed on cultural or social issues, it's probably by their parents or their church, not by the government.

But on other counts, you're right: the anti-PC reaction in the 90s consisted largely of assertions of the right to use offensive stereotypes and make bigoted or sexist statements. It's South Park/Farrely Brothers libertarianism -- the right to use bathroom humor. Which, you gotta admit, was often pretty frakking funny.

Posted by: brooksfoe on October 12, 2006 at 10:55 PM | PERMALINK

Where I think Democrats tend to lose them is the various "moonbatty" positions often beloved by the left: business bashing, opposition to trade agreements, confiscatory tax rates, visceral hatred of competition in public services (like education), a general disdain for free markets, etc.

Thank you. I'd add the continued defense of failed policies, and the inability or unwillingness to reform dysfunctional governance, both of which cost money and generally result in less freedom. (In other words: get rid of the stuff that doesn't work and fire a lot of people, and *then* I'll listen to your proposals for new social programs.)

an American Tony Blair

No. Fucking. Way. Blair is a "soft authoritarian." He's way worse than Bush in some regards, if you remove Bush's swollen ego and messianic leanings. His relative economic liberalism does not make up for his complete disregard for civil liberties and his apparent conviction that the government should meddle in every facet of its citizens' lives for their own sake. It's so bad that the Tories have emerged as defenders of restrained government and civil liberties. No libertarian I can think of would ever vote for someone like Blair under any circumstances.

Posted by: Nat on October 12, 2006 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

I will give that ground K. The thing is, before the fuckheads invaded and coopted, there was no need to distinguish between "libertarian" and "civil libertarian." I resent the hard-right libertarians the way the common-sense Republicans like my grandfather resented the co-opting of that party by the religious wackos. My grandfather was a died-in-the-wool old-school Republican. But the last ballot he cast (Nov. 94) before he died, he called to tell me was a straight Democratic ticket. I will forever be convinced that seeing the Power Rangers in the well of the House killed him. He had a heart attack three days later.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

Jeez Louise. Where to start?

First of all, are we talking about what Republicans say or do? The current jokers are not even remotely close to small government. And who just threw Habeus Corpus in the dumpster? Any Libertarian who sides with these thugs is really an authoritarian or worse at heart.

Most self espoused Libertarians that I have met are either nut jobs or poorly informed. One couple I know are into blood sports and think child welfare laws are an abomination. Property rights rule: if my kid enters their property they should have the right to blow them away.

Several other self identified Libertarians I know seem to be afflicted with the Bush cult of personality. I think one of the under discussed aspect of Libertarianim is an embrace of social Darwinism. Asskickers rule, deservedly. W behaves like an asskicker and some Libertarians believe his bullshit. Every Libertarian I know thinks that system would unshackle them and allow them to be asskickers, too. Not gonna happen.

Ron Paul is a Libertarian. He occasionally makes sense. But fill Congress with guys like him and it would be a truly ugly world.

Posted by: Nat on October 12, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, there sure are a lot of different variations of libertarianism. Kind of like Democrats.

Posted by: modus potus on October 12, 2006 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a libertarian Marxist, but Mr. Moulitsas is not talking about people like me. I think he is talking about people like himself, libertarian moderates.

Posted by: Hostile on October 12, 2006 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Nat, do you really think the government is more wasteful and corrupt than the private sector? If so, then you haven't had much direct experience with either one of them, I suspect. People are people whether they are in a government agency or a corporation. The problem is when some group has too much power and too little accountability. This happens at least as often in the private sector as it does in government.

Posted by: k on October 12, 2006 at 11:08 PM | PERMALINK

modus potus: Wow, there sure are a lot of different variations of libertarianism.

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from A Non-Libertarian FAQ

It's hard to clearly define libertarianism. "It's a dessert topping!" "No, it's a floor wax!" "Wait-- it's both!" It's a mixture of social philosophy, economic philosophy, a political party, and more.

Nothing like a term so broad that it can mean almost anything, and hence means almost nothing.

Posted by: alex on October 12, 2006 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, what a bunch of really great comments; philosophical threads like this are easily my favorite. Kind of intimidating to follow a discussion that's been so good so far. Shanahan, Tbag, dr. sardonicus -- you're only the ones who come instantly to mind as having made great contributions. Many others have as well.

I think there's an answer to Kevin's concern. I do think it's possible for Democrats to capture "soft libertarian" support without morphing into the DLC or some other variant on the so-called Third Way. Couple preliminary comments, though:

Modern social liberalism is extraordinarily inconsistent. There's a communitarian strain (exemplified by, say, public health regulation) that's every bit as strong as the libertarian strain. Many of us like to worship our founding documents as the scripture of a civic religion -- but the fabric of our society is so much more complex than it was in the Framers' day that you really have to wonder whether these supposed universal truths weren't every bit as socially constructed and contingent as what we liberal historicists read in the Bible.

Ten commandments? Sorry, but the Second Amendment has outlived its usefulness in an age where the standing army has tactical nukes. I have two words for 2A partisans: School shootings. Where did these kids get the guns? In nearly all cases -- their parents. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm personally sick to death of living in a society with gun violence second only to Brazil's.

But that's just my opinion -- and thank goodness I'm not in a position to advocate Democratic Party policy, right -- because clearly Howard Dean was correct in political terms to take national gun control off the table as an issue and let it be decided by the states.

So I'm clearly a communitarian when it comes to gun *privileges* (I wouldn't even call them rights anymore than I'd call a drivers license a right). But I'd also argue that my good friend Global Citizen, who is completely opposed to me on gun issues, isn't any more purely libertarian than I am. Her bugaboo is the impending diabetes epidemic, which may well require the state to start intervening into the diets of poor people. And this is a noble concern that I share -- but it's about the furthest thing from a libertarian approach to the issue.

"Soft libertarianism," left-libertarianism (as distinguished from the its more hardcore ideological cousin, anarchism), the sort of small-l libertarianism that came out of the 60s counterculture, is fundamentally concerned about the dehumanizing effects of the growth of interlocking systems of domination (economic, soccial, political) in modern (now postmodern) life. Small Is Beautiful is its credo. And while this sort of worldview would always be inadequate to address the social problems of a complex and interlocking American society (and that's why many of these types of libs have always advocated communalism) like, say, addressing the coming diabetes epidemic, they are making up a larger share of the voting public as they're coming unmoored from the major parties. As much as they don't like the social policies of the GOP, they dislike the corporatism of the Dems equally.

What can we do?

Teddy Roosevelt is instructive. He crusaded for "free enterprise" against economic agglomeration in an era where Big Government was unknown. If the Dems develop a strong platform with an *analysis* of why large multinational corporations are harming the health of America that resists simple-minded business-bashing, we might be able to make some headway. We need to talk to small business owners and get them to see how their interests do not equate to the interests of gigantic corporations with no allegiance to anything -- including this country -- greater than their quarterly bottom lines.

And that will connect their distrust of agglomerated power with an economic vision that we can share as Democrats. These sorts of libertarian-leaning folks will probably always remain distrustful of some of our communitarian instincts and policies -- but we can certainly make the GOP look less attractive to them by having an economic analysis that shares their critique of agglomerated power.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 12, 2006 at 11:22 PM | PERMALINK

Socially Liberal, Fiscally Conservative?

Hm. Ross Perot shook the tree up with that platform back in 1992.

Now Libertarians? I think that most self-proclaimed Libertarians have no idea what their party's philosophy really stands for (ie. Anarcho-capitalism) they're just folks who are frustrated and confused.

The question isn't "will Libertarians side with Liberals?" - the question is: "will Libertarians side with Progressives?"

The core value that defines a Progressive is a belief in Progressive Taxation; the philosophy of a social contract, and paying your fair share (and the public investment that benefits us all, that goes along with that). I can't think of a principle that is more diametrically opposed to what Libertarians stand for.

I think Libertarians might side with Progressives - if for no other reason, that because they're pissed off at being lied to by the current crop of republicans. So it would be a one-election-deal, basically, a "kill the lying incumbents" movement. At best. Next election, they'll turn around and vote against Progressives.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on October 12, 2006 at 11:24 PM | PERMALINK

rmck1: Modern social liberalism is extraordinarily inconsistent.

Pragmatism often is, and pragmatism is the only "ism" I really like. Teddy was a pragmatist.

Posted by: alex on October 12, 2006 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Where I think Democrats tend to lose them is the various "moonbatty" positions often beloved by the left: business bashing, opposition to trade agreements, confiscatory tax rates, visceral hatred of competition in public services (like education), a general disdain for free markets, etc.

business bashing - I don't know what that is, but I assume that union bashing, by contrast, is a-ok.

opposition to trade agreements - tell that to Clinton. Say, how is NAFTA doing anyway? Are we rich yet?

confiscatory tax rates - give me a fucking break. I have yet to hear anyone articulate a tax rate that they didn't consider "confiscatory," apart from "less than now." Meanwhile, compare marginal tax rates in the good old days of the 50s, with now. Is there anyone in the Democratic party advocating for a return to 90% tax rates? I didn't think so.

hatred of competition...in public education - I would like to have an open mind on this, since there is no inherent reason why the government should employ the people who teach my kids, but in practice, the private sector, coupled with the the Right's version of "education," means that I'll stick with the status quo, thank you. And while we're at it, what burns me is the fetish for "competition" in all spheres of life. Perhaps I should tell my kids that if they don't shape up, I'll get better ones.

disdain for free markets - do you live on earth? All these people who vote Democratic, they have jobs, and most of those jobs are in businesses. Many of them buy and sell shares, and even start and run companies. We get it. We're all capitalists here. What I don't get, like I said, is this fetishization of free markets as the solution to all of mankind's problems. Markets work in places where markets work - in other areas, they make the problem worse. Get over it.

Posted by: craigie on October 12, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

Pragmatism is why I lean toward regulating food stamp purchases, much like the WIC program now limits what can be purchased. It is practical and pragmatic to curtail the purchase of garbage calories when the purchaser is using taxpayer dollars. Besides, we already have a program to model it on.

And I'll incur the wrath of feminists for this, but srart teaching what we used to call home-ec again.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

And I'll incur the wrath of feminists for this, but srart teaching what we used to call home-ec again.

Actually, that ought to be a feminist proposition. If boys can cook and clean, then they'll expect less of that from the women they end up with.

Posted by: craigie on October 12, 2006 at 11:33 PM | PERMALINK

If back in my Paramedic and life flight days I had bought the farm, the Major would have been able to raise the kids without resorting to a diet of Hot Pockets and fish sticks. And it was understood early on that I didn't come home from a 24-hour call shift and wash his socks. I would not have married a man who couldn't operate a washing machine or a vacuum cleaner.

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 12, 2006 at 11:39 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps libertarians should be to the democrats what evangelicals are, according to Kuo's new book, to the republicans:

National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ridiculous, out of control, and just plain goofy.

I don't think so, but I can understand why Markos might.

Posted by: Carl Manaster on October 12, 2006 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Carl;
The pseudo-Libertarians (crypto-Tax-Anarchists) have been suckered by the Republican lie-machine just as badly as the Christian Evangelicals have. Their Faithfulness at the Altar of Mammon has rewarded them with a party that's effectively taxing them by borrowing so much money, that the value they saved is diminished through inflation. Let me know when they actually abolish Social Security and the IRS!

Gullible Suckers.

Fell for another Republican Con-Job.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on October 12, 2006 at 11:47 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen:

I'm completely with you on your public health positions. Home Ec for sure. And as long as we're wishing -- don't forget Music Appreciation, too :)

OBF:

A lot of folks *thought* ol' Ross the Boss had libertarian instincts -- but that's more a testament to the Roarschact inkblot quality of his candidacy. (Some of us weren't fooled for a split-second: How can a guy whose entire raison d'etre as a candidate was to oppose NAFTA be anything remotely like a Libertarian?)

But when Ross, flummoxed by a bunch of reporter's questions, "thought out loud" about solving the inner city crime and drug problem by recommending Baghdad-like apartment-to-apartment sweeps by SWAT teams looking for drugs and weapons -- that's when his candidacy went into full meltdown.

It was only icing on the cake when he came out later with his truly lunatic rant about "Republican dirty tricks" infiltration of his daughter's wedding ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 12, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps I should tell my kids that if they don't shape up, I'll get better ones.

LOL. I heard that from my dad all the time.

Posted by: Disputo on October 12, 2006 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Markets work in places where markets work - in other areas, they make the problem worse.

Damn right, craigie.

This is the reason we send representatives to Congress and the state and local legislatures - to represent the interests of the public relative to capital, and to help strike the proper balance between social and economic interests. Over the last 25 years, our elected representatives have largely abdicated this role, and the result is an economy where the rich get richer and everybody else eventually gets left behind.

That's a big reason I don't understand the complaints of economic libertarians - they already have over half of what they want already. And they could have had more, except for the war debt this Administration has saddled the economy with, led by a President whom the libertarian's votes helped put into office.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on October 12, 2006 at 11:51 PM | PERMALINK

OBF:

I absolutely agree with you that the "greedhead Republicans" that HRLaughed mentioned upthread infiltrated the early Libertarian Party and destroyed it are every bit as much dupes of GOP bait-and-switch as evangelical Christians.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 12, 2006 at 11:56 PM | PERMALINK

I still don't get how someone can be libertarian and authoritarian at the same time.

Is that like a fur-wearing vegetarian?

Posted by: Kenji on October 12, 2006 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum writes: Liberals tend to be tolerant of drug use, dedicated to civil liberties, committed to separation of church and state, in favor of gay rights, and so forth.

Much of that "dedication" is actually born out of Gramscism, and not out of anything related to libertarian principles.

BTAIM, it's a match made in heaven: many of the leaders of both groups support massive illegal immigration and have few or no principles beyond making money. And, Reason-style libertarians don't support traditional U.S. sovereignty; if they had their way the U.S. would end up as a stronger country's territory and they would have no problem with that considering it a "market" solution. For that reason I question their patriotism, something I find myself frequently doing when reading about Democratic leaders such as Harry Reid.

That said, the two of you have my blessing, just as long as you get spayed and/or neutered as the case may be.

== Vote who should leave the U.S. ==

Posted by: TLB on October 13, 2006 at 12:00 AM | PERMALINK

Hey can we start voting trolls off the island, er, thread? That's an idea whose time has come. Kevin?

Posted by: Global Citizen on October 13, 2006 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

I actually was declared Republican because of libertarian beliefs until around 2002. It's something you could say for nearly all the men (in particular) in my family. Within my family, several of us have all been cured of that by this administration and the current congressional leadership.

I won't say I'm a libertarian anymore, as I think I've gone harder left as time has gone by, but from a strictly economic point of view, the out-of-control spending on the part of Republican leadership is worse than any amount of corporate regulation Democrats could impose. And, I don't think I'm alone in having that opinion.

Having been in Democracy for America for the past two and a half years, many of those (again, men in particular) who were there, who had switched parties, claimed to have been libertarian Republicans, who felt the Republican party had lost credibility on economic matters.

I also held a house party for the DNC kickoff shortly after last year's elections and of the men there under 35 it was striking. During formal introductions, more than half said they were RECENT Democrats, ALL of whom said to have been libertarian Republicans but for either a lack of credibility on issues of spending or national defense, left the Republican party.

I know this is all anecdotal, and in my experience pretty exclusive to men, but even if in reality it's only a small percentage of libertarians who can be peeled off the Republican vote, many libertarians do not just believe in fiscal conservatism, but fiscal responsibility, and first and foremost, strong national defense. Neither of which is something Republicans can boast strengths in at this point.

Posted by: Rob on October 13, 2006 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kenji:

Libertarians (especially capital-L, Ayn Rand-inspired Libs as opposed to more reasonable civil libertarians, who as k suggested believe in the power of society as a whole to ensure rights for all) are absolutely closet authoritarians. Think about it for a minute; it's counterintuitive at first, but it actually makes complete sense psychologically.

They don't want *external* authority imposed on them, because they believe they're already blessed with the requisite self-control. But if that were merely the case, then they'd just go about their business instead of devoting their energies to advocating an ideology that would attempt to *impose* its vision on everybody else. Thus all their fears of Nanny State Big Government are really projected images of what *they'd* like to do to all those nasty government bureaucrats. Since Libertarians tend to be Social Darwinists and believe in the survival of the strong -- obviously that entails an enjoyment of being the (supposed) dominant lording it over the weak.

So of *course* on a deep structual level, they're flaming hypocrites lacking in a reasonable degree of self-insight.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 13, 2006 at 12:17 AM | PERMALINK

samba00 writes:

Every person I know who says they're "libertarian" seems to really be saying, "I don't want to pay taxes."

Um, no, you're thinking of Republicans.

GC writes:

Civil Liberties are first and foremost.

Absolutely. That's what drew me to seriously look at the LP platform in the first place. I think I was a member of their party for about 8 months, and then switched back to being independent.

Posted by: Andy on October 13, 2006 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

Nat, do you really think the government is more wasteful and corrupt than the private sector?

No, not necessarily. The big difference is that the government has all of the guns, and you don't get to choose which government programs you support with your tax dollars, and when the price gets too outrageous, you can't simply stop paying. There's no free market, and there's the constant threat of force or other coercion. (Note: I don't by any means think taxation is theft, and I certainly don't think we should privatize everything.)

Apart from this, companies that are too wasteful and corrupt tend to go out of business, or at least radically restructure themselves. Governments have much more inertia, and their only incentive to behave is the prospect of being voted out of office. Given the disgustingly high retention rate by incumbents and the depressingly poor voter turnouts, this is not much of an incentive. QED, our current mess.

Posted by: Nat on October 13, 2006 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

I have one of those wacky libertarian friends. He is adamant about cutting taxes, yet he also likes his cushy government job because of the benefits. I just cannot get hime to add 2 and 2.....

Posted by: eb on October 13, 2006 at 1:50 AM | PERMALINK

That self-knowledge thing is a bitch, ain't it?

Posted by: Kenji on October 13, 2006 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

I think you're assuming it's an all or nothing proposition. Not all of this block will vote Republican, some are persuadeable. So let's peel off the 20-50 percent who are, and we'll have something like a majority.

Posted by: KathyF on October 13, 2006 at 3:03 AM | PERMALINK

I think his numbers are right, Kevin.

Take a handful of my friends, then two - once you get to that second handful there's someone who doesn't understand what public dollars have bought them, and speaks with a silver foot in their mouth.

It's annoying, as they've basically gummed up the works to the point wher eyou can't talk about any event of the day, because they will insist that their bloviating is fine, but any comment contrrary to their opines is an attack, and whatnot.

It's distasteful, and I am constantly educating these guys that there's a world out there, and we're in it together, whether they think so or not.

Posted by: Crissa on October 13, 2006 at 3:58 AM | PERMALINK

I consider myself a libertarian with liberal leanings. I want the government to keep their damn hands off me, including no standing army. However, some things have to involve shared sacrifice - roads, schools, police, etc.

It's called civilization. Otherwise, go live in Rwanda.

Posted by: Joe Bob Briggs on October 13, 2006 at 6:54 AM | PERMALINK

Why are we calling these people Libertarians? They aren't Libertarians. They are free market conservatives too ashamed to admit that they're republicans.

Libertarians couldn't really support either party, and that they ALL seem to support Repubnlicans indicate that they are simply searching for a philosophical justification for wanting no taxes at all. They don't care about freedom, or liberty, or government non-intervention. They only care about things which will lower the tax rates. So why do we call them Libertarians, playing into their game and enhancing their credibility. When I argue with wingnuts, and they call themselves libertarians I ask them who they've voted for in the last few elections, they stammer and either admit the yare republicans or get indignant, and say you don't have the right to ask. But the way they do so makes it clear to other people that the yare being dishonest and dodgy.

Posted by: Soullite on October 13, 2006 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

I'm having one of those "is there a chip inside my head moments" where what you thought was a completely original thought turns out to be a raging public debate. My point is that in the last couple of months I'd taken to calling myself a "progressive libertarian". I think that in that phrase lies the future success of the Democratic Party. Remember "liberal" and "libertarian" have the same root and have much more in common than "conservative" and "libertarian". Conservativism is really "reactionary".

Posted by: dave on October 13, 2006 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Libertarians may say they favor liberal social policies and they do but when push comes to shove most of them will toss the social stuff overboard in a heartbeat in favor of a dedication to economic libertarianism.

Hardly. If libertarians were really interested in economic libertarians, they certainly wouldn't be voting Republican, since the Republican party clearly has no interest in economic libertarianism. What libertarians are interested in primarily is absence of gun control--which the Republican party is quite happy to agree with.

Posted by: raj on October 13, 2006 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

I'm having one of those "is there a chip inside my head moments" where what you thought was a completely original thought turns out to be a raging public debate. My point is that in the last couple of months I'd taken to calling myself a "progressive libertarian". I think that in that phrase lies the future success of the Democratic Party. Remember "liberal" and "libertarian" have the same root and have much more in common than "conservative" and "libertarian". Conservativism is really "reactionary".

Posted by: dave on October 13, 2006 at 8:53 AM | PERMALINK

dr. sardonicus at 10:03 (and after): Yes, excellent.

craigie, a bit later: We get it. We're all capitalists here. What I don't get, like I said, is this fetishization of free markets as the solution to all of mankind's problems. Markets work in places where markets work - in other areas, they make the problem worse. Get over it.

Indeed. Just another case of the "if we don't have 100% of what we want, we have nothing" line of thinking...and of the incredible persistence of the perception that affirming a legitimate role for government beyond the armed forces and road-building is akin to crying out for a socialist revolution. This belief has staying power even among voters who call themselves Republicans but favor many more Democratic positions than Republican ones.

And speaking of pesky false perceptions with staying power, I'm mystified as to why Kevin would (correctly) acknowledge the Democratic belief in the positive potential of government while completely omitting to mention that Republicans no longer even remotely stand for economic libertarianism. Way to give credence to the old "tax and spend liberal" label while giving a free pass to the outrageous borrow-and-spend policies of the GOP.

Posted by: shortstop on October 13, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

people who care more about social libertarianism than economic libertarianism, dont call themselves (ourselves) libertarians - we call ourselves liberals (and proud of it).

Posted by: firefall on October 13, 2006 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

"while giving a free pass"

Ah, what a little on-deck shuffleboard, a few buffets and salt air can do for the mind.

Well said.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on October 13, 2006 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, what a little on-deck shuffleboard, a few buffets and salt air can do for the mind.

Heh. I'm not on a ship--I'm on solid Spanish ground at the moment. Stupid of me to leave the country during playoffs AND just before an election (I'm having withdrawals), but those visits from the FBI were becoming a concern and so I felt a change of venue was in order. Good luck to the As tonight. I'm pulling for you.

Posted by: shortstop on October 13, 2006 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK


trifecta (way up thread): The GOP has spent and spent like drunken sailors.

Bush "is spending money like a pimp with a week to live." - Jonah Goldberg 2/12/06

Posted by: mr. irony on October 13, 2006 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK


craigie: What I don't get, like I said, is this fetishization of free markets as the solution to all of mankind's problems. Markets work in places where markets work - in other areas, they make the problem worse. Get over it.


tell us about it....

Posted by: SCLM on October 13, 2006 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Then there is the idea, for which I saw a lot of evidence in college, that libertarians are often just conservatives who want to use drugs. (One of my "libertarian" acquiantances 20 years ago is now a happy member of the Federalist Society.)

Posted by: Tim Francis-Wright on October 13, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

supporting labor unions is not, strictly speaking, being anti-libertarian. or at least it need not be. collective bargaining is a human right, and democrats are for it. i think the difference is that libertarians, if they were really true to themselves, would see unions as a function of private civil society - if workers want to organize themselves, they should have the right to do so.

liberals believe the government should ensure the right to collective bargaining, just as the government ensures that corporate owners can avoid liability due to incorporation law (i.e., liberals largely support the NLRA compromise.)

Posted by: shai on October 13, 2006 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Poor Air America radio - just filed Chapter 11.

So much for diversity on the airwaves...

Posted by: Pale Rider on October 13, 2006 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Shame about Air America - But, it will give the O'Arrogantone plenty of bloviating time tonight.

Loved the other night when he told Laura Ingrahem that the solution to the NK problem was for the US to tell China to take action or we would impose economic sanctions on China. She almost fell off her stool laughing. Rupert will probably send Bill to Bentonville for some Re-Education therapy.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on October 13, 2006 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Indulge me a quote:

O Companies, Companies! ye bane of honesty, and ruin of trade; the market of [stock-] jobbers, the harvest of managers, and the tools of knaves, and of traitors!

Michael Moore? Karl Marx? Nope. Try "Cato." Modern libertarians revel in Hayek and Rand, but they never seem to have bothered reading Cato's Letters by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon. Those guys bear little resemblance to the libertarian movement that has taken their name. They were left-wing radicals driven to write by their outrage over CORPORATE corruption and its subversion of good government (specifically, the South Sea Bubble of 1720, which was Enron and Halliburton rolled in one). Cato consistely puts the freedoms of conscience above the rights of property. Hell, Cato loves what were called "agrarian laws": massive inheritance taxes on the wealthy designed to prevent inequality. And Cato, borrowing more from Machiavelli's populist "republicanism" than from John Locke's market "liberalism" says over and over that "the people" are far more trustworhty than are economic elites.

Posted by: RMcD on October 13, 2006 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

"Now, I don't quite know why it is that libertarians care so much more about economic libertarianism than they do about social libertarianism."

Because they're pretty stupid, for lack of a better word. Anyone who thinks free markets can cure all ills is either an idiot or just lying.

Posted by: The Tim on October 13, 2006 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

Apart from this, companies that are too wasteful and corrupt tend to go out of business, or at least radically restructure themselves.

If only this were true. In fact, what happens is that these companies lobby the government for special treatment to allow themselves to continue to be wasteful and corrupt.

Posted by: craigie on October 13, 2006 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK
Libertarians may say they favor liberal social policies and they do but when push comes to shove most of them will toss the social stuff overboard in a heartbeat in favor of a dedication to economic libertarianism. What really gets their hearts pounding is big government and regulation of the free market. They're against 'em.

So, what? Unless you believe that the Republicans do a better job of actually keeping the government out of the economy in most cases, and only interfering where there is a real market failure, you ought to believe that Democrats are at least as good at economic libertarianism as Republicans, too.

Sure, Republicans adopt the rhetoric of economic libertarianism more frequently than Democrats, but that's correctable. The substance of economic libertarianism is, I would argue, no better embodied in Republican policy, which often cloaks active intervention in favor of particular favored firms and industries in libertarian rhetoric, than Democratic policy.

Sure, most people, regardless of party, who'd use "libertarian" as the first word to describe their own political ideology have a narrower view of where market failure really occurs than Democrats who approach economic issues from a libertarian framework. And, so, even Democratic policies that are crafted around a basically libertarian conception of economic priorities won't always appeal to self-described "libertarians". But, still, there is no reason to leave Republicans as the only party even trying to appeal to that group, or to leave the representation of their policies used in such appeals unchallenged.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK
Poor Air America radio - just filed Chapter 11.

So much for diversity on the airwaves...

I dunno that I'd go that far. Even if Air America disappeared, it wouldn't mean liberal talk radio would. There is, I believe, a lot more liberal talk radio now, available in many more markets, even outside of Air America, than there was before Air America, and Air America was a major catalyst for that. I think that's, in many ways, more important than whether Air America succeeds as a business or institution.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

craigie,

Check out the recent comments of Jim Hightower regarding the CATO Institute and their cohorts believing that America is being harmed by CEO's having to abide by any regulations imposed by the SEC. One of the right wing talk show blabbers remarked that prisoners at Gitmo had more rights than the CEOs.

I believe his comments were in the NYT - Sorry, I don't have the cite available.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on October 13, 2006 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK
And I'll incur the wrath of feminists for this, but srart teaching what we used to call home-ec again.

Did we stop? I mean, its hard to keep track of it because the euphemisms keep changing, and vary from place to place, but most high schools I've ever had enough contact with to have an idea seem to have one or more courses that fit that umbrella.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK
Maybe they believe that Republicans talk a good game about their scary social agenda but aren't really serious about imposing it. Or maybe they figure that although Democrats are theoretically more socially libertarian than Republicans, in reality they don't do much about it.

I have a third possibility (sorry if someone already mentioned it--couldn't read all comments):

Libertarians might view questions of society as outside the purview of government. That is, libertarians might believe that the real place to battle the culture wars is not in Congress, but on TV, radio, etc. And, they might take the (probably correct) view that long-term, the country is only going to get more socially liberal. Fighting legislative battles over social issues is moot, because eventually society is going to weigh in on it, and those barriers will come down one way or another.

On the other hand, you can probably make a good case that economic issues are well in the range of government, and inaction on this front could well lead to a future where libertarians live in their own economic hell. Try as you might, it still seems hard to imagine any course of action (or inaction) where libertarians live in their own social hell.

Just a thought.

Posted by: Ken on October 13, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know any libertarians who believe corporations are dangerous. They usually think they';re these great things incapable of having an evil outcome because there's no evil intent in them...

Also, as a Liberal, no, I'm not for drug use; but on the other hand, I'm not for criminalizing it, either.

Posted by: Crissa on October 13, 2006 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK
I don't know any libertarians who believe corporations are dangerous.

I've heard some libertarians argue against various aspects of corporations as contrary to libertarian ideals, occasionally corporate personhood itself, but most frequently the liability protections. Since many libertarians tend to view accountability through liability for specific unlicensed harm to others property as the answer to most things for which others argue for general regulations, its not really hard to see why some of them really don't like liability shields, and see them as a suspicious government intervention in the marketplace.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Libertarians care intensely about the two different types of liberties you wrote of. The problem for Democrats is that they really don't support repeal of the drug laws, for example, and things like gay rights and church/state separation really are not issues of major contention in this country- we are not throwing gays into prisons or forcing people to go to specific churches- the differences between the two main parties is not as great you seem to believe since both give mostly lip service to these issues.

The main problem you appear to be having is that libertarians view liberties to be indivisible between civil and economic. It doesn't make sense to have one without the other.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on October 13, 2006 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

And I agree with a lot of the comments I have read so far- Republicans don't really much support economic liberties better than Democrats. Republicans are going to lose such voters to apathy if they don't start practicing what they preach.

It would appear to me that the only issue Democrats and Libertarians agree on strongly and Republicans and Libertarians don't is the war in Iraq.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on October 13, 2006 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

From Crissa: I don't know any libertarians who believe corporations are dangerous. They usually think they';re these great things incapable of having an evil outcome because there's no evil intent in them

You clearly have not read much from Libertarian writers. Many, many, libertarians think of corporations as government constructs, which, of course, they are. Many libertarians, as a result, view corporations with great distrust and loathing and would quite willingly remove the the laws that create them.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on October 13, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK
The problem for Democrats is that they really don't support repeal of the drug laws, for example, and things like gay rights and church/state separation really are not issues of major contention in this country- we are not throwing gays into prisons

Well, not since Lawrence v. Texas was handed down in 2003, though that wasn't particularly uncontroversial, which kind of undermines your argument that its not an issue in serious contention in this country.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

It wasn't much of an issue in 2002 either. I don't deny that there were instances where gays were being locked up for being caught having sex, but such instances were very rare. What cases like Lawrence v Texas really did is remove laws that were largely unenforced for decades. In other words, I have never seen a Republican candidate win office running on the issue of locking up homosexuals for having sex in private. The only issue of contention at the moment is gay-marriage, and Libertarians think marriage between heterosexuals shouldn't be a state matter either.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on October 13, 2006 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK
I don't deny that there were instances where gays were being locked up for being caught having sex, but such instances were very rare.

Yes, its was rare for people to get locked up for homosexuality; usually, that's kind of the extreme of treatment, the controversy has been and is more about other things like marriage and family rights, adoption, job discrimination (including by public agencies), etc. To say, as you did, that gay rights are not a major area of contention in this country is either stunningly ignorant, or breathtakingly dishonest. And, really, you don't seem, on other topics, isolated enough from American political discourse that ignorance is all that plausible of an excuse.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

I guess you just have a different definition of what contentious than I do. Those are not life and death issues- if they were, libertarians would support the Democrat positions to a great extent. I don't see increasing dicrimination against homosexuals, or the chance of it ever increasing in the future, rather I see it decreasing all the time, and mostly for the reason that Americans are becoming naturally more tolerant, and not because of governmental action to stop it. In other words, I see the main battles have already been won on the issues, and what we are seeing are just the last skirmishes. Libertarians might find common cause with Democrats on such issues if Democrats advocated getting government out of the process of adoption, for example, or out of the process of marriage, but that is not what Democrats advocate, which makes them fundamentally no different than Republicans.

Posted by: Yancey Ward on October 13, 2006 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

To address some of the comments upthread about the differences between economic and civil libertarians. I used to break it down, at least for myself, as a distinction between the public and the private sphere. If you can hold a distinction between the two, then it's entirely possible to be an ardent civil libertarian while also supporting the government regulation of business (not to mention progressive taxation). But I think there's a finer distinction which cuts even closer to the philosophical bones of the differences.

I won't speak of "positive liberty" vs "negative liberty" because I know certain political thinkers have used these terms quite specifically -- but I think it might boil down to a distinction between "freedom from" libertarians vs "freedom to" libertarians.

Basically, an economic libertarian prefers "freedom to." These sorts of libs are methodological individualists who value liberty. Thus any action to limit the scope of what an individual can do is odious, simply on that ground alone. Viewed this way, the distinction between public and private collapses, because economic behavior is only private behavior writ large. These are the sorts of folks who would become very exercised at the SCOTUS decision two terms ago that allowed eminent domain to be used to take people's homes in the interest of private downtown redevelopment. To them, there is no "greater public good" argument that would justify this violation of an individual's right to own property.

A civil libertarian, conversely, prefers "freedom from." This is a person who values liberty but has a social or communitarian analysis. Thus, it's not a matter of simply standing out of the way of individuals, because one recognizes that powers within society are not evenly distributed, and there is no "level playing field" in nature. Thus, government has an affirmative obligation to secure the rights of individuals whose power is structurally (and unfairly) diminished. Thus (e.g.) you'd get civil libertarians supporting the decidedly un-Libertarian compensatory mechanism of Affirmative Action. The public vs private distinction parses here, because economic behavior has a disproportionate effect on the rights of many others besides the actor (just as does the institutional or cultural racism, no matter how subtle or covert, which necessitates Affirmative Action).

Liberals have a communitarian analysis of social problems. From the many discussions of the different approaches the Democrats should take, a nearly universal refrain is "we're all in this together." This is why we've always welcomed civil libertarians into our ranks while looking askance at the sort of libertarians who see a world full of atomized individuals valuing an illusory independence.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 13, 2006 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

In Maryland, Kevin Zeese is running as the Green Party candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes. The Green Party has permanent ballot access in Maryland.

Zeese has also been nominated for the same Senate seat by both the Libertarian Party and the Populist Party.

The national Green Party and the national Libertarian Party previously cooperated to demand recounts and expose the corruption and fraud that occurred in the 2004 presidential election in Ohio.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 13, 2006 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yancey Ward wrote: "Libertarians care intensely about the two different types of liberties you wrote of."

The several self-proclaimed libertarians that I know personally -- people with bookshelves full of libertarian literature -- seem to really care about only one thing: their monomaniacal hatred of paying taxes. Second to that, they hate any form of "government regulation" of business, of any kind, to any degree, for any reason.

Most of them are staunch supporters of the Bush administration, including the Bush administration's most blatant and egregious assaults on Constitutionally-protected civil and political liberties.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 13, 2006 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, "libertarians" are using "Democrat" as an adjective now, too. How about that.

I'm off with my lantern, searching for an honest libertarian...

Posted by: shortstop on October 13, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

glibertarians are idiots

Posted by: TheFool on October 13, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK
I guess you just have a different definition of what contentious than I do.

If you want to hide behind the excuse of using a bizarre definition of "contentious" which excludes the issues which are central, major areas of disagreement that draw some of the most emotional responses from both sides in actual political debates, well, fine.

Though I have no idea what your definition is, or even what kind of attributes of the issues evaluated are relevant to it, only that, it seems you are claiming, its not what the word normally means.

Those are not life and death issues- if they were, libertarians would support the Democrat positions to a great extent.

"Democrat" is a noun. "Democratic" is an adjective. Using the former for the latter in this specific case is a well-worn trick of Republican partisan hacks, so if you don't want your language to give you away as such a hack, you might want to use the right word.

That being said, I think your perspective that libertarians only support liberty on life-and-death issues is rather bizarre. As is your implicit, though not entirely clearly stated, position that whether a political issue is "contentious" is determined not by whether there is widespread, harsh disagreement about it between political factions, but whether it is a "life-or-death" issue.

I don't see increasing dicrimination against homosexuals, or the chance of it ever increasing in the future, rather I see it decreasing all the time, and mostly for the reason that Americans are becoming naturally more tolerant, and not because of governmental action to stop it.

Even if discrimination against homosexuals was decreasing on some kind of national average (which may be the case), that's hardly an excuse for serious small-l libertarians not opposing particular efforts to directly advance it through government policy, and not to support the particular organized factions that support those efforts.

In other words, I see the main battles have already been won on the issues, and what we are seeing are just the last skirmishes. Libertarians might find common cause with Democrats on such issues if Democrats advocated getting government out of the process of adoption, for example, or out of the process of marriage, but that is not what Democrats advocate, which makes them fundamentally no different than Republicans.

Libertarians might find common cause with Democrats on such issues if Democrats advocated getting government out of the process of adoption, for example,

I'm not sure that is even a coherent concept: adoption is the process of assigning legal responsibility for a child, something which only exists because society has determined that there is a public interest for guaranteeing that every child will have adults legally responsible for them.

One could, of course, change the way government is involved with adoption, but I don't see how its coherent to suggest that government could be outside of it entirely.


or out of the process of marriage,

The same kind of problem exists here. Now, if you mean, the entire legal state of marriage should be abolished, that would be a coherent idea, I suppose (there are pragmatic reasons that, IMO, make it an incredibly stupid idea, but that's another debate.)

If you mean that marriage should continue to exist as a legal state with legal incidences but that government should not regulate it, that's not a particularly coherent or sensible (or even really libertarian.)

but that is not what Democrats advocate, which makes them fundamentally no different than Republicans.

The fact that there is a pair of logically incoherent positions that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans generally embrace does not make the two parties fundamentally no different.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Libertarians emphasize the economic side because if you can shrink the state's interference on the economic side, the social side will generally follow. The converse approach doesn't work as well.

Posted by: VRWC on October 13, 2006 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

Also: it's easier to hide your behaviour in the privacy of your home from government observation than it is to hide your income and assets.

Posted by: VRWC on October 13, 2006 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

>To a guy who spend a gazillion years in school, and studies game theory and microeconomics as a hobby, that's sort of like intentional ignorance.

To most educated libertarians - and there are many who understand perfectly that of which you are so proud - your interesting hobby is sort of irrelevant. Whether or not the optimum society results is unimportant because to a libertarian, it is not the purpose of a person or some people to be molded by other people. The practical is superceded by the moral.

Posted by: VRWC on October 13, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK
Libertarians emphasize the economic side because if you can shrink the state's interference on the economic side, the social side will generally follow.

Really? Where's the evidence that supports this generality?

Posted by: cmdicely on October 13, 2006 at 7:40 PM | PERMALINK

Money is means, cmdicely. Haven't you figured that part out? No money, no power to enforce.

Posted by: VRWC on October 13, 2006 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Even though I'm late on this, I'm going to register my disagreement Kevin. Libertarians are generally civil libertarians first, economic second, and social third. When push comes to shove, as is currently the case with the alarming power grabs by the Bush Administration, libertarians will side with modern liberals over civil liberties. Without civil liberties, economic liberties are just an illusion, and social liberties a fantasy.

Posted by: Jimm on October 13, 2006 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Hayek eventually came to believe some form of social insurance or minimum income would be needed, and entirely consistent with his championing of free market principles, which he achieves very convincingly.

Posted by: Jimm on October 13, 2006 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

I'll add that we've added quite a lot of libertarians to "alarmed and wanting to throw the bums out" crowd since we first started talking about recruiting them, and splitting off the GOP base, a few years ago in these threads. I don't have the link at the moment, but I remember confidently stating that the libertarians could and would be coopted the longer Bush and the GOP had no resistance in government.

Posted by: Jimm on October 13, 2006 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

The anti-state ' outsider' meme is a potent election winning one for the Repugnant lunar Right and needs to be fought hard. There are a lot of ways to do that and a good place to start is with libertarian socialism.
Ideally we need to criminalize the lunar right (pretty much like we already have with the Marxist Leninists who are unacceptable almost everywhere) and then you have a basically democratic-socialist state with a libertarian-socialist opposition. A productive dielectic for a change. Enough GOP crime waves with fraudulant labels already! Truth in advertising.
For more see ' critiques of libertarianism' site.
Left anarchist criticism's.

Posted by: professor rat on October 13, 2006 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

professor rat:

While i think I understand what you're advocating: a liberty/equality dialectic within a generally socialist framework (somewhat like Western European political systems), "libertarian socialism," in itself, is one of two things: It's either a pipe dream, or it's an oxymoron.

Let's consider the pipe dream first. Really intelligent Libs, who are not merely blindsided by radical individualist dogma, have to answer a rankling question: If your highest ideal is individual liberty -- how do you form stable communities? Inevitably this leads this strain of Libertarian into a kind of right-wing anarcho-syndicalism: giving up on attempting to fix the society in which we live to retreat into dreams of small communities of like-minded individuals.

The most intelligent and interesing Libs I've had discussions with have not been the garden variety tax-hating, Republican-on-steroids type that so many people have spoken of in this thread. Thoughtful Libertarians, like their leftist anarchist cousins, are idealists desperately attempting to keep their sanity in a chaotic world. So they posit alternative communties, whether it be Ayn Rand's prototypical Galt's Gultch, the Free State Project or a fiercely anti-FedGov Mormon cultural dissident's idea of the perfect religious community where "No King But Jesus" is the central postulate.

Notice something: The ideals of these groups aren't necessarily socially avant-garde, the way so many anarcho-leftist communes have tended to be. Radical egalitarian assumptions have led to some very strange (and ultimately authoritarian) coupling and sexual arrangements in some of the utopian communes of the 19th century (the "complex marriage" of the Onieda community is doubtless the most notorious). Free love is not the point. In fact, a Free State Project-type small community of the self-selected is the only place where the twin poles of the modern GOP -- strongly conservative social values coupled with absolute freedom of association and individual action -- can meld together into something less than a philosophical train wreck. It would work (at least on paper) if everybone is already strongly socialized into a common set of behavioral codes.

With that established, the need for an explicit and enforced set of external rules (and all the potential for the exercise of arbitrary authority and petty despotisms that entails) withers away. This is the only way to meld the ideals of strongly conservative social values with a full respect for the free will of the individual.

And it's a pipe dream, because people in large and complex societies rarely (if ever) share the prescisely the same socialization. But it *does* help to explain how the solidly bourgeois (and, until recently, ethnically homogenous) Scandanavian and Nordic countries can be so comfortable with cradle-to-grave socialism -- and why current immigration patterns of people with vastly different cultural assumptions are so threatening to the foundations of their societies.

It's also oxymoronic, because individual liberty and social equality have a dialectical relationship. To the extent that we ensure equality, we challenge somebody's liberty and vice-versa.

The only way around that is to give everyone the identical set of internalized beliefs, norms and values.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on October 14, 2006 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Libertarianism is based on a logical fallacy: the idea that the economy and existing property claims are natural; a priori defaults that the government interferes in. That is rubbish. The G. has imposed property claims and rules to begin with, fiddles with the money supply (the way that impacts employment would deserve compensatory damages in any other case), etc.

Posted by: Delver on October 14, 2006 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

One of the right wing talk show blabbers remarked that prisoners at Gitmo had more rights than the CEOs.

So true! I think they should be forced to trade places immediately!

Posted by: craigie on October 14, 2006 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

迅雷5 web迅雷|acdsee9.0|Tom skype ppstream 新浪uc photoshop8.0 pplive qd铃声 来电铃声 经典铃声 性爱贴图 性生活图片 作爱图片 艳情小说 性交姿势 做爱电影 人体摄影 明星裸照 裸女图片 黄色小说 成人小说 乱伦小说 强暴电影 轮奸视频 性虐待电影 迷奸图片 写真集 全裸美女 淫荡小说 淫乱小说 淫书金瓶梅 舒淇写真 美女脱衣图片 裸体女人 人体写真 手淫图片 波霸美女 淫水美女鲍鱼 阴户阴道臀部阴毛 美女图库 口交肛交图片 联通铃声下载 联通手机铃声 中国联通铃声 联通免费铃声 联通用户铃声 联通cdma铃声 联通和弦铃声 联通mp3铃声 联通特效铃声 联通炫铃 中国联通炫铃 联通炫铃下载 联通炫铃网站 联通炫铃业务 联通cdma炫铃 联通手机图片 联通手机炫铃联通彩铃 联通彩铃下载 中国联通彩铃 联通手机彩铃下载 联通彩铃业务 联通彩铃网站 联通免费彩铃 联通cdma彩铃 A片下载 毛片 偷窥图片 裸体视频聊天室 成人网站 成人论坛 性变态图片 淫女图片 日本女学生 美女下阴图 女性生殖器 操逼图片 美女激情免费电影下载 免费在线电影 看免费电影 免费电影网站 韩国电影 免费黄色电影 最新电影 成人性爱电影 免费小电影 免费性电影 免费成人电影 免费电影在线观看 宽带电影 经典电影 恐怖电影 免费影片 免费影院 最新大片 十八电影网 美女写真 两性生活 性教育片 两性知识 性爱图片 激情电影 人体艺术 美女图片 美女走光 美腿图片 三级片 美少女图片 日本av女优 情色电影 同志电影 激情视频下载 明星露点图片 写真电影 阴部图片 乳房图片 明星裸照 性爱视频 偷拍图片 美眉图片 泳装美女 美女内衣内裤 强奸电影 美女祼体图片 美女自拍 黄色电影下载 免费色情电影 激情图片 激情小电影 性感美女图片 漂亮妹妹图片 做爱图片

Posted by: ppstream on October 15, 2006 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly