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Thread: The Passing of the Libertarian Moment?

  1. #1

    The Passing of the Libertarian Moment?

    Senator Rand Paul is a man out of time. It was only a few years ago that the editors of Reason magazine held him up as the personification of what they imagined to be a “libertarian moment,” a term that enjoyed some momentary cachet in the pages of The New York Times, The Atlantic, Politico (where I offered a skeptical assessment), and elsewhere. But rather than embodying the future of the Republican Party, Paul embodies its past, the postwar conservative era when Ronald Reagan could proclaim that “the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism,” when National Review founder William F. Buckley Jr. could publish a conspectus of his later work under the subtitle “Reflections of a Libertarian Journalist,” and young blue-blazered Republicans of the Alex P. Keaton variety wore out their copies of Milton Friedman’s Free to Choose.

    The view from 2018 is rather different. The GOP finds itself in the throes of a populist convulsion, an ironic product of the fact that the party that long banqueted on resentment of the media now is utterly dominated by the alternative media constructed by its own most dedicated partisans. It is Sean Hannity’s party now.

    The GOP’s political situation is absurd: Having rallied to the banner of an erratic and authoritarian game-show host, evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. are reduced to comparing Donald Trump to King David as they try to explain away his entanglement with pornographic performer Stormy Daniels. Those who celebrated Trump the businessman clutch their heads as his preposterous economic policies produce terror in the stock markets and chaos for the blue-collar workers in construction firms and manufacturers scrambling to stay ahead of the coming tariffs on steel and aluminum. The Chinese retaliation is sure to fall hardest on the heartland farmers who were among Trump’s most dedicated supporters.

    On the libertarian side of the Republican coalition, the situation is even more depressing: Republicans such as former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who once offered important support for criminal-justice reform, are lined up behind the atavistic drug-war policies of the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose big idea on opiate abuse is more death sentences for drug traffickers. Deficits are moving in the wrong direction. And, in spite of the best hopes of the “America First” gang, Trump’s foreign policy has not moved in the direction of Rand Paul’s mild non-interventionism or the more uncompromising non-interventionism of his father, Ron Paul. Instead, the current GOP foreign-policy position combines the self-assured assertiveness of the George W. Bush administration (and many familiar faces and mustaches from that administration) with the indiscipline and amateurism characteristic of Trump.

    Some libertarian moment.

    Postwar conservatism, under the intellectual leadership of Buckley, Frank Meyer, and their allies, was, famously, a “fusion”—an alliance between social and religious traditionalists, anti-Communists and national-security hawks, and libertarians ranging from ideologues and idealists such as Henry Hazlitt and Ludwig von Mises to Chamber of Commerce types with their more prosaic concerns about taxes and regulation. The libertarians have always been a junior partner in that alliance, but for many years they punched above their weight. Partly that is because libertarianism is an intellectual tendency rather than a cultural instinct, one that benefited from the rigor and prestige of the economists who have long been its most effective advocates. And libertarianism has benefited from the fact that American elites are notably more libertarian in their views than is the median American voter. That dynamic was explored by the economist Bryan Caplan under a typically bold title (“Why Is Democracy Tolerable?”) with a typically needling conclusion: “Democracies listen to the relatively libertarian rich far more than they listen to the absolutely statist non-rich … Democracy as we know it is bad enough. Democracy that really listened to all the people would be an authoritarian nightmare.”

    But if libertarianism benefited from its rich friends, it surely benefited even more from its impoverished rivals: the Soviet Union, Castro’s Cuba, North Korea, Mao’s China, and other practitioners of robust étatism. Despite the best hopes of the postwar conservative fusionists, libertarianism has always been more effective in opposition than in government. President Reagan may have called himself a libertarian from time to time, but he also enacted protectionist tariffs, radically expanded the military and the federal police powers, and failed to exhibit a great deal of energy in resisting the deficit-swelling spending bills sent to his desk by Tip O’Neill. The libertarian tendency mainly provided a useful ideological foil, not only to the totalitarian socialist projects of the time but also to more liberal efforts to expand the welfare states in the Western democracies. If you are not moving in the direction of Milton Friedman, the argument went, then you are moving in the direction of Leonid Brezhnev—it’s Chairman Greenspan or Chairman Mao.

    That was an effective rhetorical strategy while the Soviet Union was a going concern and while the Cold War remained fresh in the national memory. And it was enough to keep the right-wing coalition together. But as the memory of the USSR came to be replaced by the reality of NAFTA, WTO, ASEAN, etc., the fruits of globalism—everyday low prices at Walmart—turned out to be uninspiring to great masses of voters to whom those benefits are invisible for the same reason that water is invisible to fish. Ancient prejudices, including the prejudices against social relations with foreigners, began to reassert themselves, as did the expectation that government should take a paternal interest in the people rather than a merely administrative one. Libertarianism, with its emphasis on free trade, its deference to the market, and its hostility toward social-welfare programs, went quickly out of fashion. How quickly? Last week, my former National Review colleague Victor Davis Hanson published an essay calling for a stronger regulatory hand over high-tech companies, fondly recalling the “cultural revolution of muckraking and trust-busting” of the 19th century, and ending with a plea for “some sort of bipartisan national commission that might dispassionately and in disinterested fashion offer guidelines to legislators” about more tightly regulating these companies, perhaps on the public-utility model.

    That from a magazine whose founders once dreamed of overturning the New Deal.

    Libertarian attitudes enjoy some political support: Nick Gillespie, a true-believing libertarian, insists even in the teeth of the current authoritarian ascendancy that we still are experiencing a national—yes!—“libertarian moment,” based on Gallup polling data finding more support for broadly libertarian political sensibilities (27 percent) than for any other single group: conservative, liberal, or populist. But “libertarian” often means little more than “a person with right-leaning sensibilities who is embarrassed to be associated with the Republican Party.” (Hardly, these days, an indefensible position.) Libertarian sensibilities are popular because they enable the posture of above-it-all nonpartisanship, but libertarian policies, as Caplan and others have noted at length, are not very popular at all. Americans broadly and strongly support a rising minimum wage and oppose entitlement reform with at least equal commitment, and they are far from reliable supporters of free speech and free association or enforcing limits on police powers. Hence the peculiar fact that 2016 polling of Republican primary voters found self-identified libertarians backing the authoritarian Trump in remarkable numbers—59 percent in South Carolina—over more libertarian-leaning candidates such as Ted Cruz (17 percent in the same poll) or Marco Rubio (0 percent—ouch). By way of comparison, only 39 percent of self-identified independents backed Trump in that same South Carolina poll, 37 percent of self-identified Tea Party adherents, and 40 percent of voters in the oldest bracket (56-61). Self-described libertarians were not less likely to line up behind the authoritarian demagogue, but half-again as likely to do so. Self-professed libertarian voices such as Larry Elder have become abject Trumpists.

    The Christian right was able to make its peace with Trump with relative ease, because it is moved almost exclusively by reactionary kulturkampf considerations. “But Hillary!” is all that Falwell and company need to hear, and they won’t even hold out for 30 pieces of silver. The Chamber of Commerce made peace, being as it is one of the conservative constituencies getting what it wants out of the Trump administration: tax cuts and regulatory reform. The hawks are getting what they want, too, lately: John Bolton in the White House and an extra $61 billion in military spending in the latest budget bill.

    What are the libertarians getting? A man with Richard Nixon’s character but not his patriotism, an advocate of Reagan’s drug war and Mussolini’s economics who dreams of using the FCC to shut down media critics—and possibly a global trade war to boot. The Democrats are, incredibly enough, for a moment the relatively free-trade party and the party more closely aligned with the interests of the country’s most dynamic business concerns and cultural institutions. If the Democrats were more clever, they might offer the libertarians a better deal on trade, criminal justice, and civil liberties. Instead, they are dreaming up excuses to sue or jail people for their views on climate change, and the United States is for the moment left with two authoritarian populist parties and no political home for classical liberalism at all.
    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics...efused/556934/
    “Maybe I forgot to mention something to you: I don’t believe in queens. You think freedom is something you can give and take on a whim. But to your people, freedom is as essential as air. And without it, there is no life. There is only darkness.” -Zaheer

    "A man chooses. A slave obeys."-Andrew Ryan

    "There are three things the parasite hates: free markets, free will, and free men."-Andrew Ryan



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  3. #2

  4. #3
    and the United States is for the moment left with two authoritarian populist parties and no political home for classical liberalism at all.
    Sad and true

    ....not that the GOP was ever a very good home, mind you, but it's gotten dramatically less hospitable in the last two years.
    Last edited by r3volution 3.0; 04-05-2018 at 04:17 PM.

  5. #4
    ...over more libertarian-leaning candidates such as Ted Cruz (17 percent in the same poll) or Marco Rubio (0 percent—ouch).
    absolute trash author, please ridicule him and never speak of him again.
    I just want objectivity on this forum and will point out flawed sources or points of view at my leisure.

    Quote Originally Posted by spudea on 04/20/16
    There won't be a contested convention
    Quote Originally Posted by spudea on 05/30/17
    The shooting of Gabrielle Gifford was blamed on putting a crosshair on a political map. I wonder what event we'll see justified with pictures like this.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by timosman View Post
    TDS
    That must be it.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by spudea View Post
    absolute trash author, please ridicule him and never speak of him again.
    Who, Kevin D. Williamson?

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Raginfridus View Post
    Who, Kevin D. Williamson?
    Who?
    I just want objectivity on this forum and will point out flawed sources or points of view at my leisure.

    Quote Originally Posted by spudea on 04/20/16
    There won't be a contested convention
    Quote Originally Posted by spudea on 05/30/17
    The shooting of Gabrielle Gifford was blamed on putting a crosshair on a political map. I wonder what event we'll see justified with pictures like this.

  9. #8
    Cry me a river. More Americans than ever believe in a Deep State (former crack pottery), have lost faith in Interventionism (even as it’s imposed against their will) and despise the MSM (the same one we watched slander a living Thomas Jefferson - Dr. Paul). Face facts, the Liberty Movement was never going to take over Mordor and run it “properly”. The ring must be destroyed. One step at a time Samwise.
    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds" - Sam Adams



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  11. #9
    Beltway libertarianism is on life support.
    “Force the normies into taking sides. At the moment they are just like "meh, I am minding my own business" retreating culturally into their private bubbles and "safe-spaces" since they don't understand what is going on. When the actual "us vs them" starts, they will be forced to fight or they'll die.” - Anonymous Poster

  12. #10
    We are here because we believe that Libertarian Principles are better than what we have today. Is it not on us to make being a Libertarian popular?
    1776 > 1984

    The FAILURE of the United States Government to operate and maintain an
    Honest Money System , which frees the ordinary man from the clutches of the money manipulators, is the single largest contributing factor to the World's current Economic Crisis.

    The Elimination of Privacy is the Architecture of Genocide

    Belief, Money, and Violence are the three ways all people are controlled

    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Our central bank is not privately owned.

  13. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by DamianTV View Post
    We are here because we believe that Libertarian Principles are better than what we have today. Is it not on us to make being a Libertarian popular?
    Some of us are, just not on their terms: https://www.sonsoflibertyso.com/
    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds" - Sam Adams

  14. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Gumba of Liberty View Post
    Cry me a river. More Americans than ever believe in a Deep State
    That people use that slogan to excuse Trump's bad behavior isn't a sign of anything good, or new.

    have lost faith in Interventionism
    To the contrary, people who had been increasingly skeptical of interventionism are now Trump-cucked (see above).

    and despise the MSM
    Unfortunately, the Alternative Media™ to which people have increasingly turned generally promotes the same bull$#@! anyway.

    I really don't see any silver lining to the recent political trends in this country.

  15. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    ...silver lining...
    If there is one, it's that extremism has been known to cause backlash. Time will tell if this is the darkness before the dawn.
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Ron is wrong...
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    Amash is wrong...

  16. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    That people use that slogan to excuse Trump's bad behavior isn't a sign of anything good, or new.



    To the contrary, people who had been increasingly skeptical of interventionism are now Trump-cucked (see above).



    Unfortunately, the Alternative Media™ to which people have increasingly turned generally promotes the same bull$#@! anyway.

    I really don't see any silver lining to the recent political trends in this country.
    I don’t think you know what slogans are.

    https://amp.washingtontimes.com/news...y-the-deep-st/

    https://www.thenation.com/article/ne...interventions/

    http://wbgo.org/post/poll-majority-a...-news#stream/0
    "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." - Thomas Jefferson

    "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds" - Sam Adams

  17. #15
    Concerned troll is concerned.

  18. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by acptulsa View Post
    If there is one, it's that extremism has been known to cause backlash. Time will tell if this is the darkness before the dawn.
    I expected a bigger conservative/libertarian reaction in the first term, but now it's pretty clear that it's going to take losing an election.



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  20. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    I expected a bigger conservative/libertarian reaction in the first term, but now it's pretty clear that it's going to take losing an election.
    Maybe if we lose enough elections, we can get a libertarian President?
    It's all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it's fitness or whatever. It's about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it.
    - Kim Kardashian

    Donald Trump / Rand Paul (Vice Pres) 2016!!!!

  21. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by TheTexan View Post
    Maybe if we lose enough elections, we can get a libertarian President?
    If GOPers lose a few battles under the kulturkampf banner, they might rethink that line and return to something vaguely small government-ish.

    If so, that would be helpful for libertarians trying to use the GOP as a vehicle.

    If not, there's no reason to care about the fate of the GOP.

  22. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    and return to something vaguely small government-ish.
    Yes, it would be great to return to the small-government philospophies of the Bush or Reagan years.
    It's all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it's fitness or whatever. It's about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it.
    - Kim Kardashian

    Donald Trump / Rand Paul (Vice Pres) 2016!!!!

  23. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by TheTexan View Post
    Yes, it would be great to return to the small-government philospophies of the Bush or Reagan years.
    That's why I said "vaguely small government-ish."

    The bulk of the GOP was always as statist as it is now, at least since sometime in the Roosevelt administration, but there has been a recent change in talking points, which makes it harder for libertarians to win GOP primaries. Mind you, the odds of a libertarian winning a GOP primary were terrible before Trump, but now they're even worse.

    A (non-incumbent) Rand Paul could not win a Senate primary in this environment, for instance.

    P.S. Note the difference between Rand's performance in 2016 and Ron's in 2012. That wasn't about Rand, but rather Trump.
    Last edited by r3volution 3.0; 04-05-2018 at 09:41 PM.

  24. #21
    Translation: Resistance is futile. Conform to global democratic socialism (aka global crony totalitarian oligarchy) and all will be well. In the end, it's always the same.

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother”
    Twitter: B4Liberty@USAB4L
    "Foreign aid is taking money from the poor people of a rich country, and giving it to the rich people of a poor country." - Ron Paul
    "Beware the Military-Industrial-Financial-Corporate-Internet-Media-Government Complex." - B4L update of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
    "Debt is the drug, Wall St. Banksters are the dealers, and politicians are the addicts." - B4L
    "Totally free immigration? I've never taken that position. I believe in national sovereignty." - Ron Paul


    The views and opinions expressed here are solely my own, and do not represent this forum or any other entities or persons.

  25. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian4Liberty View Post
    Translation: Resistance is futile. Conform to global democratic socialism (aka global crony totalitarian oligarchy) and all will be well. In the end, it's always the same.

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother”
    Which part of the article do you think is promoting socialism?

    The part lamenting the GOP's abandonment of free trade, the part lamenting their endorsement of increased regulation of tech companies...?

  26. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    Which part of the article do you think is promoting socialism?

    The part lamenting the GOP's abandonment of free trade, the part lamenting their endorsement of increased regulation of tech companies...?
    The part promoting defeatism.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  27. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Swordsmyth View Post
    The part promoting defeatism.
    If acknowledging that the liberty movement has been defeated in the GOP is a problem, what is cheering on the people who defeated it?



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  29. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    If acknowledging that the liberty movement has been defeated in the GOP is a problem,
    It hasn't been.

    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    what is cheering on the people who defeated it?
    That isn't happening.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  30. #26
    I just finally got around to reading this.

    First off the author, Kevin Williamson, is an idiotic self-important, arrogant, giant gaping, ivory tower, neocon $#@!.

    He is openly hostile to the cause of liberty and looks for any chance to put it down.

    That being said, he is incorrect on a number of fronts. People who are pro-liberty are not Trump supporters as the two concepts are irreconcilable.

    As he babbles on with his drivel he fails to see the hundreds of pro-liberty individuals being elected on the state and local level across the country. And the fact that there are now 3 nearly 99% solid pro-liberty members of Congress up from just 1 in 2008 when Ron launched his Presidential bid.

    Kevin's nonsense continues when he discusses the idea that there isn't widespread adoption of libertarianism among the population. Anyone who has studied the political process one iota understands that a majority or even widespread support is not necessary to change (stop/support) governmental policy. Nevermind the fact the most people don't even vote in the primary elections.

    To be fair though (ha) he is correct that libertarian ideas are getting practically no advancement under the current political climate among Trump and Republicans.

    Regardless, Kevin Williamson is still a giant prick
    __________________________________________________ ________________
    "A politician will do almost anything to keep their job, even become a patriot" - Hearst

  31. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Collins View Post
    And the fact that there are now 3 nearly 99% solid pro-liberty members of Congress up from just 1 in 2008 when Ron launched his Presidential bid.
    In 10 years we might even have 5!
    It's all about taking action and not being lazy. So you do the work, whether it's fitness or whatever. It's about getting up, motivating yourself and just doing it.
    - Kim Kardashian

    Donald Trump / Rand Paul (Vice Pres) 2016!!!!

  32. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by TheTexan View Post
    In 10 years we might even have 5!

    Always the optimist, that's what I like about you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Zippyjuan View Post
    Ron Paul know some weird people too.



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  33. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by r3volution 3.0 View Post
    If GOPers lose a few battles under the kulturkampf banner, they might rethink that line and return to something vaguely small government-ish.

    If so, that would be helpful for libertarians trying to use the GOP as a vehicle.

    If not, there's no reason to care about the fate of the GOP.
    As far as I'm concerned there is no reason to care for either the GOP or Dems. IMO the Libertarian Party needs to separate completely from each of those parties and maybe would have a better shot of standing out on its own.
    - SUPPORT FREE TRADE, SMUGGLE -

    2 + 2 = 5.

  34. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Pauls' Revere View Post
    As far as I'm concerned there is no reason to care for either the GOP or Dems. IMO the Libertarian Party needs to separate completely from each of those parties and maybe would have a better shot of standing out on its own.
    The LP is controlled opposition, there is the Constitution party but the leftarians wouldn't like it.
    Our options are 1: to reform either the Reps or the LP or 2: go with the Constitution Party and ditch the leftarians or 3: start a new party.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

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