Monday, January 30, 2006

DeWine, Republicans, and Libertarians

How interesting.... About 2 minutes ago, my phone rang with a recorded message from Scott Pullins of the Ohio Taxpayer's Association regarding Senator Mike DeWine's atrocious voting record on issues of concern. Apparently, DeWine has not been behaving well in the eyes of his arch-conservative base, and is the cause of much of the state's energy policy problems. So Pullins is speaking out against DeWine.

Now, I wish Mr. Pullins the best of luck with his campaign. Certainly, DeWine deserves all the criticism he is receiving, and then some. But I have to wonder...what good will it do? Does Mr. Pullins expect that somehow Republican voters are going to abandon one of their own?

For years, I have heard that Libertarians are foolish to try and start a party on their own, to compete with the Big Two. Instead, the argument goes, join with the Ds or Rs (usually, the Rs....), and seek to make change from within. By joining the D or R party, one actually has a chance to get the changes they want affected.

The problem with that argument is: there is no clear evidence that really works!

In fact, with Republicans controlling the White House, the Senate, and the House...and now getting two appointees to the Supreme Court, government is growing at a faster clip than ever before. In state politics, where the Rs have controlled the entire government for 20 some-odd years, we have gone from one of the lowest taxed states, to one of the highest; we are near the bottom in the rankings for economic freedom; and our friendliness to small business and entreprenuership is just downright rude.

So why should Libertarians join with Republicans?

Republicans, as evidenced by the types of people they would like to see elected to office, don't seem to have the slightest interest in small, limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility. If they did, we wouldn't see such clowns as Bob Taft being elected to the Governor's mansion TWICE.

Libertarians are often accused of being dreamers. If you ask me, its Republicans who are dreamers...when they continue to vote for big government politicians, and expect that it'll do any good. Maybe a vote for Bill Peirce won't mean much in the grand scheme of things, but at least we won't be deluding ourselves that voting Republican will do much good either.

13 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

You know LJ, all of that is absolutely true - and I speak as someone with severe Libertarian tendencies - who votes for Democrats on the whole.

I think if Libertarians did start their own party, it would make for some interesting (and effective) coalitions.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Vache Folle said...

I don't see the GOP as a friend of liberty at all. Of course, the other party is only slightly better. That said, I am so ticked off at the GOP right now that I am going to vote Democrat for the foreseeable future.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

"I think if Libertarians did start their own party..."

GW, maybe I'm misreading you, but the Libertarians have had their own party for over 30 years. It's called the Libertarian Party.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

I don't see the GOP as a friend of liberty at all.

Yeah... Me neither. But many so-called "libertarian conservatives", "neo-libertarians", "small 'l' libs", and others who like to claim they value liberty are still stuck on the naive assumption that the GOP is the best hope for the advancement of liberty.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Wilson Freeman said...

One of the things I've learned is that you can't expect to see policy shift in a libertarian direction because this isn't a libertarian country. The people of this country like their handouts and don't really mind high taxes so much when push comes to shove. It's possible, perhaps even probable, that the current major parties policy platforms actually reflect the beliefs of the American people and we (as libertarians) are living in an echo chamber when we talk about this invisible libertarian coalition that's just refusing to vote their true beliefs. IMHO, a true small government platform couldn't possibly win an election in this country right now.

I'm not sure what this means in terms of how you should vote, but I do think that right now our focus as libertarians needs to go beyond simple campaigning on the same tired old points if we hope to see any real change in our lifetimes.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Wilson...

I agree with you...to a point.

Political change comes only after more general cultural and societal shifts have occurred. Political change is the last kind of change to occur. Which is why it is important that educational organizations...like the Mises Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education exist. They are waging the war on the battlefield of ideas, which is where all change must begin.

Having said that... there are plenty of people out there who think that all we need to do is get more Republicans elected to office to change things. The problem is...we have Republicans, and we see what they are giving us. The only way to change these people's minds is to show them that there is a market for REAL small government ideas. Many people who want small government vote for Republicans who make government bigger, which only encourages them to keep making government bigger. If more people voted their conscience, the political change would come sooner, rather than later...

But too many "conservatives" are too gutless to ask for what they want.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Speedothebrief said...

>>One of the things I've learned is that you can't expect to see policy shift in a libertarian direction because this isn't a libertarian country.

NOOOOO!!!!!

I'm sorry, but your just flat out wrong. People don't want oppression! We are fundamentally... well... yearning to breathe free! Our creator designed us with free-will, and free-will is what we will all inevitably desire. People don't want taxes. People want freedom.

I think that the biggest problem our Country faces right now is the fact that most people talk just like you: Well, I want more freedom, but it'll never happen.

Not with that attitude it won't! << please excuse my participation in the overuse of this phrase. But it's true! We need people to come together in the Libertarian party. One thing I have seen in the past few months is that more and more people are turning away from their parties (both liberal and conservative) for a new face. We may not agree on much, but we all agree that the Country needs to get back to it's Constitutional foundings.

Living-Breathing Document my a**! It's a Constitution! By freaking definition it is supposed to be an end all guide to all legislation from the moment it is conceived into eternity! There are about 5 Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court who are turning founding-fathers butt faced to the sky in their graves. They can't bare to watch as we continue to put liberals (who by very definition oppose all principles that we founded this Country on) into offices and courts.

WAKE UP AMERICA!

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Speedo...

Wilson does have a point. While some of us are yearning to breathe free (nice plug, BTW), many Americans are not... or at least, not too desirous of REAL freedom. I think it is to that point which Wilson is complaining.

After all, how many people do you know that think Republicans stand for teh advancement of liberty? How many think the PATRIOT Act, "No Child Left Behind", and Social Security Reform will advance liberty, restore the Constitution, and return Federalism?

Let's face it...Rs and Ds don't stand for freedom...yet the overwhelming majority of people vote for them. And, as the only way you can truly ascertain what people want is by the actions they actually take, Wilson is not completely unjustified in his observation.

Now...that's not to say that the LP doesn't have its work cut out. Afterall, the LP needs to EARN the votes it needs to win. Yes, many people are turning to the LP, but many more need to do that, and the LP needs to convince them that it's ready for Primetime....

8:34 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

"Most people fear liberty because it means personal responsibility..."- Ben Franklin

9:51 AM  
Blogger Wilson Freeman said...

You're right that those people exist, that is, the republicans who want small government and aren't going to get it through the Republican party. My experience by and large in conversation with them is the same tired old 'it's better than the alternative' (the democrats). That's probably true, unfortunetely.

Ignoring that one vote doesn't really count (a dead end lies down that road), strategically, how does a republican vote NOT make sense given that they are actually probably better for the policies I believe in than the Dems (free trade, low taxes et. all)?

PS: I have answers in mind, but I want to hear what you think about this. Strategically, how does voting libertarian help us if the bottom line for me is to see the least offensive policies enacted?

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Libertarian Jason said...

Well, in my view, voting is a communication tool. It expresses consent for the policies and plans laid out by politicians and their parties. When you vote for a party that grows government, you tell them, "good job...keep going".

You're right: one vote means nothing, so any argument that indicates that voting is important because it helps you get what you want, is flawed. Which is why, if one decides to even vote at all, the real value of voting lies elsewhere.

As I said...people who vote libertarian are establishing the presence of a market for libertarian poltical solutions. Even if libertarians don't win, they can still get change implemented ...just as we still get Democratic agenda items pushed through, even when there is a Republican control of Congress, the Senate, and the White House. Republicans, still seeking to maintain and expand their power base, have an incentive to pre-empt their opponents, by adopting some - even if small bits - of their competitor's agenda, and they can justify it because they know there is a sizeable market for those ideas.

Case in point... Gore made the push for prescription drug socialism, at a time when Bush didn't have such an item in his bag of tricks. Gore lost the election, but he still roused enough political support for the idea that it went through, with Bush even signing it.

If Libertarians started getting 5%, 10%, 15% or 20% of the vote total...they still would not win elections, but it would be sending a message that there exists a sizeable market for libertarian ideas. The Big 2 would need to adapt or die in the face of such growth.

But...as long as "libertarians" vote for the parties who have worked, and are continuing to work, for bigger, more expensive, more expansive, and more intrusive government...libertarian political change has little chance of happening anytime soon.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Brian Duffy said...

There are distinctions between republicans and certainly Pullins demonstrates that there are some going against the main stream. I might add that the Miami Valley Conservative Alliance is decidedly against DeWine and will work to defeat him.

Too often one finds that most people are sheep. Look at Move-On.Org. Is there anything consistent with this group other than hating Bush? No, certainly you and I would agree Bush and Congress’s spending is out of control, something appealing to Dems, but they hate this guy. Likewise most of the registered Republicans have not spoken out against either Bush or DeWine because most voters stand blindly by their party without thinking. I would say the same about Libertairns when it comes to the war. Do they really think we can defend this nation from within our borders?

I could go on, but I hope you get the point. Pullins is doing something about the problem, maybe you should support the guy and help defeat DeWine.

7:32 PM  
Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Brian -

As I stated in my post, I certainly wish Pullins, and you, luck in attempting to bring down DeWine. However, you'll forgive my skepticism that it'll actually work.

I certainly agree with your assessment of people uncritically supporting their party. But the difference between those over at MoveOn.org and your average Republican-on-the-street, is that those left wingers aren't trying to be anything other than what they are. They are open about their anti-market, pro-government ideology. There is no problem a little government can't cure.

Republicans, on the other hand, pretend to be in favor of free markets and limited government, yet, when you question any of them up closely, one finds the most staunchly Statist, barely distinguishable from their left wing counterparts.

What's worse though, is that because they actually think they are pro-market, they actually give those on the left the completely wrong idea about what the free market actually is.

Without turning this into a debate over the libertarian stance on the war, let it suffice to say that I realize that many "conservatives" have problems with individual planks of the LP's platform. Ok, fine. But why is it, that conservatives refuse to abandon the Republican party...NO MATTER HOW BAD THEY GET? I mean...sure, one may disagree with one or two libertarian positions...but how far away are Republicans...with their loose spending, socialism advancing ways?

I hold to my point. For the most part, "Conservatives" are out-of-touch, irrational dreamers.

6:30 AM  

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