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Voices of Reason
October 17, 2003 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Voices of Reason
Julian Sanchez on Attack of the Dean-Leaners makes a case for libertarians supporting a Democrat in 2004. Personally, I don't see how real libertarians can have any other position, but then I'm so ancient I can actually remember why the Republican Party started pretending to be the party of "small government". ...
Cathy Young has a fairly dishonest piece called Bipartistan Coulterism ("Who's meaner, conservatives or liberals?") that tries to pretend the left has any equivalent of Ann Coulter. Of course, she finds equivalence, which works if you really think that Michael Moore's outrage about dead kids in highschools is the same as Coulter advocating killing liberals and expressing disappointment that McVeigh failed to bomb The New York Times.


I'm interested in what metafilterians (huh, what?) think of this person's opinions.
posted by nofundy (36 comments total)

 
Cathy Young has a fairly dishonest piece

In other news, sun rises in east.
posted by soyjoy at 8:10 AM on October 17, 2003


"I'm interested in what metafilterians... think of this person's opinions.", the new "Discuss."?
posted by signal at 8:10 AM on October 17, 2003


I'm voting for Hillary, if she wins the nomination.
posted by insomnyuk at 8:13 AM on October 17, 2003


When I first saw this, I thought I'd send it to my sister, who has become something of a libertarian recently and is considering voting for Bush. But when I actually read the article, the claim that Bush seems "hell-bent on delivering a prescription drug benefit" and that this was a reason not to re-elect him, just made me entirely unmotivated to send this stuff on further.
posted by mdn at 8:18 AM on October 17, 2003


Ignoring for the moment the continued bleating about Coulter (who we all know is the devil), I'm more interested in Julian's take on the case for Dean. I'm especially heartened to hear a libertarian writing pragmatically, instead of defending the typical snowball-in-hell libertarian candidate. Also, his praise of gridlock reminds me of an anecdote:

"In my country, we have two parties. The stupid party, of which I am a member, and the evil party, which we oppose vehemently. Sometimes my party wins, in which case we get lots of stupid legislation. Sometimes the other party wins, in which case we get lots of evil legislation. Occasionally, the parties act together in what we call 'bipartisanship,' in which case we get legislation which is both evil and stupid."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:21 AM on October 17, 2003


A 2002 Wall Street Journal piece lauded Coulter as the right's answer to Lenny Bruce, Louis Farrakhan, and Angela Davis.

Oh good lord. First of all, that does a disservice to Lenny Bruce, by lumping him in with those two. Second of all, Louis Farrakhan was at least a fair to middling calypso singer, which is more than I can say for Anne Thrax.
posted by jonmc at 8:22 AM on October 17, 2003


I will most likely be supporting whoever the Libertarian candidate is. I would not feel any better about supporting a Democrat over a Republican. Neither will serve me well.

I have not heard if Harry Browne is running again. If no one suitable appears I would probably vote Green, because even tho I have deep disagreements with their goals, they still ar closer to my position than either of the big 2.
posted by thirteen at 9:02 AM on October 17, 2003


I don't know why I had to click through "The Sideshow" to get to the Reason piece. I'll only note that I hardly read anything at "The Sideshow," and what I did see I almost universally disagreed with.

That said, I agree with pretty much everything that Julian Sanchez said. I'm not sure Dean's necessarily the best fit, but the key point that this administration's economic policy is non-libertarian (heck, it's non-conservative -- in the economic sense) is well taken.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:07 AM on October 17, 2003


I'm especially heartened to hear a libertarian writing pragmatically, instead of defending the typical snowball-in-hell libertarian candidate.

The lesser of two evils is still evil.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:08 AM on October 17, 2003


The lesser of two evils is still evil.

Voting "lesser evil" does not mean "I think this person is a good person for the job," it's just a means to getting the best possible candidate elected. If someone with a gun says "Your money or your life," and you can't run or fight, do you spit at him and say "I shall not choose the lesser of two evils?"
posted by callmejay at 10:23 AM on October 17, 2003


Who are you addressing this to? MetaFiltarians? I'm a MetaFilterite, myself. All you Filterians can screw yourselves...
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:31 AM on October 17, 2003


The only people we hate more than the Filterians are the fucking Metafilterite People's Front.

And the Popular Metafilterites' Front.
posted by soyjoy at 10:44 AM on October 17, 2003


As a (small-l) llbertarian, I refuse to throw my vote to a Republicrat for any short-term political gain. The American populace tends towards libertarian ideas on the whole, and the biggest thing that is keeping us back is the fact that we're not already a "major party". The quickest way to become a major party is to get signatures on ballot drives, increase our total percentage of the vote, and qualify for public campaign funding, all while spreading the word about who we are.

Throwing ourselves as a block to whomever might lie closer to our ideals at the time may work as a counterweight against the excesses of the Republicrats, but it will condemn those of us who have higher aspirations to a life living as a marginalized extortionist. That's not how I want to spend my life using my precious single vote.

(And no, Brown isn't in the running for the LP bid this year, thank all that is holy)
posted by jammer at 10:53 AM on October 17, 2003


Thirteen--I'm not asking this to be antagonistic, but I'm really curious. Libertarians are your first choice, and Greens are your second. I know several other people who feel similarly. Here's the thing: while I sympathize up to a point with the goals of both those parties, they seem to be very much in opposition to each other. Greens, from a lib standpoint, are very much meddlesome big-government. To my mind, it's like saying "If I don't see a Republican I like, I'm voting Communist." How do you reconcile the two?
posted by adamrice at 11:02 AM on October 17, 2003


Both Republicans and Democrats offer mainly statist solutions, though each's version is tailored to it's specific interst groups. Neither party differs on many important issues to Libertarians. Repubs want a big increase in government health care spending - dems want a bigger one. Liberatrians want to see less gov't health care spending. Neither big party wants to decriminalize drugs, or siginifgantly change gun control laws, honestly face the challenges of the looming collapse of Social Security, roll back free-trade laws or agricultural subsidies and so forth.

As for fiscal policy, no matter who's President, that will be determined more by Congress and the Fed than by who's in the Whitehouse. Sure, Bush campaigned on big tax cuts in 2000 - but so did Clinton in 1992. Main difference when in office was who was in control of congress after the election. Dems had congress in 92 - no tax cuts. Repubs in charge of congress in 2000 - big tax cuts.

As far as Libertarians are concerned, I think the main difference between the parties will be the Dems support for a more isolationist foreign policy and the Repubs support for school vouchers. And Liberarians themselves are split on which of those issues trumps.
posted by Jos Bleau at 11:08 AM on October 17, 2003


My second choice is probably not going to serve my interests, but I do consider them to be honorable. In the unlikely event that a Libertarian or Green ever became President, they would be powerless with a hostile bipartisan Congress that would not allow anything to happen (in which case I still win big). I cannot say that about either of the big 2.

I did not enjoy the Clinton years. I thought I might get a rest with Bush, but all the expensive wars and death I am paying for, and the FDR like erosion of civil liberty have me het up all the time now. I cannot shake the feeling we are all screwed for awhile to come no matter what the outcome is next time around. The Democrats might be happy if their guy gets elected, but it is going to be more of the same for me regardless of whether it is Dean or Lieberman. I take some comfort in the wrecked economy that will leave the next guy with no money to spend on policy.

The policy of the Greens is not appealing to me, but the core ideals are ones I share. Most people figure me for a Green when they see me, or learn about how I live. The difference becomes obvious when they find out why I am a vegetarian, or why I ride my bike everywhere, etc.
posted by thirteen at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2003


That reply was for the non-sudama Adam Rice BTW

^_^
posted by thirteen at 12:31 PM on October 17, 2003


Ann Coulter T-Shirt
posted by homunculus at 1:50 PM on October 17, 2003


Jos, that is a nice piece of writing sharing some of my thoughts but expressing it better than my meager talent permits.

On a previous MeFi post with an auto party greeter based on a survey I came out 100% Green and 98% Libertarain. To be honest, both options scare me just as much as attract me. It comes down to whether I value my economic or political freedom more.
posted by infowar at 2:50 PM on October 17, 2003


I thought I might get a rest with Bush, but all the expensive wars and death I am paying for, and the FDR like erosion of civil liberty have me het up all the time now. I cannot shake the feeling we are all screwed for awhile to come no matter what the outcome is next time around.

I honestly don't understand this reasoning...you're pissed at what Bush is doing, yet you won't do anything to stop him doing it, and doing more of it, for another 4 years?

and good post, nofundy
posted by amberglow at 3:03 PM on October 17, 2003


infowar: I think that economic and political freedom are linked, and you can't hold on to one without the other, at least for very long.
posted by insomnyuk at 3:24 PM on October 17, 2003


Isn't there an error in assuming that all you can do with a stated political affiliation is *vote*?

For example, Libertarians, because they belong to a small party, have a larger voice in that parties' platforms than if they belonged to either of the megabloatparties--if they choose to use their voice. Must you perpetually choose between evils because they won't even listen to you?

Can anyone honestly say that the Libertarians are beholden to anyone? You can persuade a Libertarian of a different point of view, as long as it leans towards "personal freedom." They aren't wholly owned properties of a corporation or a union.

A Libertarian can also publicly espouse the Libertarian point of view, their philosophy, and indirectly pressure the megabloatparties that way.
Yes, maybe it is a gnat on an elephant (or donkey), but at least *somebody* is doing it. Don't underestimate honest, as opposed to partisan, criticism.

A Libertarian can stand up and challenge the axioms of the megabloatparties: "What scientific basis *is* there to keep marijuana illegal? Why should personal ownership of a gun be illegal? Why shouldn't America just be isolationist and not invade other nations?, etc."

And best of all, a Libertarian *never* has to "grin and bear it" when someone in their party makes a swine of himself, and say, "Well, it's okay if he screws up some, since he's a megabloatpartian, and *most* of what he does is okay."
posted by kablam at 3:44 PM on October 17, 2003


A Libertarian can stand up and challenge the axioms of the megabloatparties...

bull. Why should either party listen to you when you don't even vote for it? To paraphrase James Baker, "Fuck the Libertarians. They don't vote for us." (he said that about Jewish people--one of many differences you refuse to see in the 2 major parties) Right now, Libertarians have absolutely no representation in Congress OR the white house...and there's absolutely no reason for either party to listen to you.
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2003


I think that economic and political freedom are linked, and you can't hold on to one without the other, at least for very long.

but what is economic freedom? This is the big misunderstanding libertarians make. Civil liberties have to be enforced - if we didn't have constitutional rights: that is, laws, government-enforced standards, "freedom" would just mean "might makes right." The government is the collective voice of the people to accept certain standards of fairness and justice. We don't "let the market sort it out" when it comes to theft, rape and murder, because we know what a fucking mess that would be - the state of perpetual war, a life nasty brutish & short, etc, as Hobbes put it.

Economic standards of fairness are just as important - it doesn't cost lives, usually, but economic injustice, economic "might (wealth) makes right" is not a good way to set up the world. Government isn't something we need to destroy; it's just something we have to keep in check, to make sure it's maintaining justice, not oppressing - but it's simple-minded to imagine that large communities can just self-police themselves, whether on a civil or an economic level, especially when there is such an incredible disparity between the degrees of power of the citizens (in terms of wealth).
posted by mdn at 4:24 PM on October 17, 2003


You assumed far too much based on what I stated in a single sentence, mdn.

I was merely stating that in order for a people to maintain their political freedom, they need to have the means to do so. This may mean being able to defend yourself with the force of arms, or through peaceful means. Either way, these efforts require material wealth of some kind. It is generally easier to do so with some modicum of economic freedom.

On the other hand, it is impossible to maintain basic economic rights (such as the right to property or the fruits of your own labor) without any sort of political influence.

economic "might (wealth) makes right" is not a good way to set up the world.

I never made any such contention, I don't think might ever makes right. Coercion is anti-thetical to my own political beliefs.

Economic standards of fairness

This seems like a disingenuous term unless by standards of fairness you mean individual property rights and freedom from government appropriation of private property.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:19 PM on October 17, 2003


amberglow: By trying to refute my point, you made it. For example, if the Democrat party doesn't care about Libertarians, or, in the last election, Greens, then *why* was it so frantically trying to get their votes?

The only missing element was a strong Green leader, who could have gone to the bargaining table with the democrats at that point and said: "If you want our votes, and we give them to you, and you win, you OWE us the following policies:..."

And either the Democrats put it in writing, propelling the Green Party to national prominence in that election EVEN if they don't win a seat; OR the democrats lose.

The Libertarians *might* be able to pull the same stunt with the Republicans, *if* they could harness an election winning swing vote bloc from them.

But in either case, the "marginal" vote is what matters. Contrary to that, for example, African-Americans to a great extent waste their votes when they collectively and repeatedly vote democrat. Hispanics, on the other hand, as a group are much more evenly divided, giving them far more clout among the two major parties.
posted by kablam at 7:53 PM on October 17, 2003


amberglow: By trying to refute my point, you made it. For example, if the Democrat party doesn't care about Libertarians

JESUS TAP-DANCING CHRIST THERE IS NO ORGANIZATION CALLED THE DEMOCRAT PARTY.

[/irritated]
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:03 PM on October 17, 2003


We weren't frantically trying to get green votes--we were frantically telling greens not to elect bush by voting green in districts that were razor-thin. (We were proven right, by the way.) The Democrats were frantically trying to get swing voters (which are not green or libertarian) to vote for Gore, especially Soccer Moms if my memory serves me. We got the majority of the popular vote in 2000, and will get it again. Libertarians don't constitute a swing vote, nor do Greens. (and Republicans are not listening to libertarians--Greens have a more receptive audience with us dems)
posted by amberglow at 8:57 PM on October 17, 2003


Everything was nice and cool until Chomsky just sucker-punched William F. Buckley Jr. in the parking lot.
posted by skallas at 12:09 AM on October 18, 2003


You assumed far too much based on what I stated in a single sentence, mdn.

sorry, I actually wasn't trying to argue with you particularly so much as make a point regarding libertarianism in general.

I never made any such contention, I don't think might ever makes right. Coercion is anti-thetical to my own political beliefs.

well no, no one ever says they support such a thing, but that's what having no laws entails. If economics aren't regulated, then bigger players naturally have an advantage, and what you end up with is "might makes right". That's why we have laws and regulations to start with. Otherwise, we're expecting self-policing, and people are naturally wary and unsure about what "the other guy" is going to do, and will often choose a more offensive position than they'd like as a defense (with no police force, eg, we'd be much more likley to attack others to ensure they don't attack us, etc).

This seems like a disingenuous term unless by standards of fairness you mean individual property rights and freedom from government appropriation of private property.

I mean basic labor laws, minimum wage, anti-monopoly laws, FDA regulations, etc. Someone with a lot of money shouldn't be able to control anything he or she wants simply because of that money. Society should be able to regulate that power so that the citizenry isn't taken advantage of.
posted by mdn at 12:19 AM on October 18, 2003


I agree with you mdn, one only needs to look back at the effects the Liberal labor market had on the working class in the XIX century. Sure, with zero intervention from the government, everyone was "freely" agreeing to take part in the work contract both on the owner's side and the worker's side, but the power to set the terms of that contract was completely in the hands of the owner as the supply of labor in the new factories far exceeded the demand. This led to a wonderful world of 7 day work weeks, 16 hour days, slave wages, child labor, reduced wages for women and a total lack of worker safety, workplace higiene and job stability. Not to mention the widespread salary fraud by the owners via the truck system. Basically you worked and worked for almost no mone and in horrible conditions until you inevitable got too sick to continue and then you were discarded without much fanfare. The reason Labor Law was (slowly) introduced at the end of the XIX century beginning of the XX century was not because of a moral awakening on part of the liberal owners, but rather the real fear of armed revolution by the working classes, which of course was realized in 1917 in Russia.

Without Labor law, that is, without government intervention in defense of the weaker party in the social contract, this is the world that is created.

It isn't pretty.
posted by sic at 8:10 AM on October 18, 2003


amberglow: "...we were frantically telling greens not to elect bush by voting green in districts that were razor-thin..."

That is exactly what "Swing Voters" do! The Greens could have *demanded* any amount of concessions from the Democrats. Beg and plead all you want, but Democrat leaders would have been *forced* to comply--and *that* is power.

You assume that "Swing Voters" *have* to "swing" between one side or the other. No. Even by NOT voting, they cause the election to "swing."

They CAN vote Republican, OR Democrat, OR Green (for example), OR for nobody. But EVERY way, their Swing Vote, their "marginal" vote, matters.
posted by kablam at 11:26 AM on October 18, 2003


but the Greens weren't swinging between the two men who had a chance to win; they were swinging between Nader, who actually wanted things to get bad in this country (and they have), or not voting. My party didn't actively court them, just like no one actively courts the Libertarians.

Basically, swing voters are up for grabs only by Democrats or Republicans because they don't already have their own parties to go to, or issues or platforms already existing. They have concerns, but will respond (or swing) to the person who best articulates responses to those concerns. Libertarians and Greens both have their own parties, and so have natural places to "reside." Swing voters don't, so they swung to Reagan in the 80s and to Clinton in the 90s. They're the ones that are up for grabs, not Libertarians or Greens. You guys would have to dissolve any party and prove to Dems or Repubs that you're really up for grabs.
posted by amberglow at 2:07 PM on October 18, 2003


I remember when the democratic party was invented, because the whigs and republicans were in argument regarding slavery.


In case you didn't know, democrats were formed in favor of anti-slavery. But what do I know? I learned that in GED class at Portland Community College.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:43 PM on October 18, 2003


I didn't know that Keyser, and i've been a dem since i was old enough to vote. : >
posted by amberglow at 9:48 PM on October 18, 2003


Keyser, you got Dems and Repubs confused, the Repubs were created as a reaction to the Kansas Nebraska Act of 1854.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:41 AM on October 19, 2003


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