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On libertarianism and Ron Paul

vastleft's picture

With the trendiness of the Ron Paul candidacy, I'm moved to share my thoughts about libertarianism.

"Libertarian" is an impressionistic term like "emo," for which no two people agree on a definition. It can mean:

  • I'm an independent thinker who cherry-picks the best parts of right- and left-wing politics
  • I hate any sort of government or governance (see also: "fair-weather anarchist")
  • I'm a Republican in sheep's clothing (see also: "I'm an Independent" and "Reynolds, Glenn")
  • I'm a disgruntled Democrat
  • At my high school, the cool kids read Ayn Rand
  • I'm attracted to fringe candidates

When one dons the term "libertarian," one selects the meaning that suits him or her, but conveys no clear identity to the beholder. Definitional arguments are nearly certain to ensue.

Though there are, to be sure, left-leaning libertarians, the commonality between libertarian aspirations and GOP rhetoric (grunts of "government bad, taxes ugh!") makes the "L-word" a gateway drug for support of the corrupt, valueless Republican Party.

Riding a wave of supposed populist iconoclasm, Mr. Paul may yet choose to run as a Libertarian candidate (upper-case, or as a libertarian independent).

But which party's nomination has he been seeking thus far? Which party has he been only-too-happy to help make a Congressional majority these past several mournful years? The free-spending, theocratic, rights-encroaching Republicans.

His platform is to make good on what the Republicans promise but don't deliver: to completely de-fund America’s safety net. As Shania Twain says, that don’t impress me much.

I salute him for not supporting this disastrous war. But fighting against all social programs is not, methinks, an admirable position.

In the abstract, there is much to like about a libertarian philosophy — live and let live, etc.

Some who call themselves libertarians are staunch defenders of unpopular speech, including the sort practiced on progressive and atheist blogs, and I do not dismiss such folks out of hand.

In practice, though, I'm both concerned about the danger third-party candidates pose to the goal of ousting the corrupt, valueless Republican Party and about a doctrine so focused on not looking out for the other guy.

In a period of liberal primacy like the Johnson years, a libertarian perspective can be a healthy corrective to government lethargy and bloat. But in the Reagan/Fox/Bush/Drudge era, it’s often just a welcome mat for the worst of all worlds: welfare and freedom only for the most powerful, and a monstrous deficit for our children to pay.

(Note: portions appeared previously in comments).

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Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

would smell as sweet.

Libertarians. Lying hypocrites. More than anything they remind me of the creepy sorts of people who go on and on about the vastly amoral success of their sex life but you know they spend every night at home alone with a jar of Vicks and the rewind button. Useless lying hypocrites.

I know what it means to be a progressive, and I know what it means to be a liberal. It's an imperfect world, and I can't always find candidates who are just as I would wish them to be. Never the less, I've voted a straight Democratic ticket my whole life because the Democratic Party and Democratic candidates are consistently closest to how I think the country should be run. Not spot on, mind you, but closest. I see no reason at this point to change that pattern, certainly not for the likes of Ron Paul.

Libertarian; I know what that means, too: Wanker.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Ah, if you only could be a fly on the wall of this libertarian-15 years of swingers clubs, mainly going as a couple with a dozen or so different girls; paid male (straight) porn talen; I have an occasional lover going on 14 years now who asks me to mess her face.

Sorry about ruining your image of us.

I'd write more, but its midnight, and I have to get dressed to go out. First I'm going to lighten my load with a hot hooker, then on to see Baby Anne when she starts spinning at 3.


MJS's picture
Submitted by MJS on

A libertarian is one who fantasizes as to how a nice rythmic pull from the invisible hand of the free market will satisfy their lust while keeping a respectable distance from their wallet. Once assured they have no responsibility in the cleanup, they are free to pretend they enjoyed it.


While a government full of libertarians like Ron Paul might spell the end of social programs (or America's Safety Net), where does the actual danger lie in having a Libertarian serve as President?

Our bare survival of the unmitigated disaster that is the bush presidency is evidence that shows what everyone should know when choosing a president - the president doesn't have the power to end, de-fund, reverse, or otherwise cut programs/laws/rules/amendments all by himself. Even with the unending power grab that the executive branch has attempted to force upon this country for the past 7 years, they are still unable to force through a radically conservative social or domestic agenda.

If someone like Ron Paul, who doesn't think the executive should have the amount of power the bush administration does (i.e. is far from neocon territory), is able "make good" on those republican promises that haven't been delivered, it will only be due to the fact that more than half, if not two-thirds, of your representatives agree with him.

And even Ron Paul recognizes the need to change the way we think about the role of government before those radical changes can be made. He also recognizes that his mere election as president would not be a virtual mandate to carry out those promises unilaterally. He knows the role that we all play in where this country is going, and wants to be an influence, not an autocratic executive.

So what is the danger in having someone serve as president who understands and recognizes the sole duty and solemn promise that EVERY president makes when they take office - to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

On general principles:

1. Pulling "protest votes" away from the Democratic nominee, enabling a "Bush's third term" president to win

2. More Minnesota bridges

On specific principles:

3. Several of his comments on race are most distressing.

4. He disturbingly defies his libertarian principles on issues like the separation of church and state and abortion rights.

I'll assume 1 and 2 are facetious since #1 is a danger of his campaign, not his election, and #2 has nothing to do with a president.

I agree with #3 and wish he were taken more seriously as a candidate so people would think it worthwhile to ask him about those comments and worthwhile to listen and follow up when he answers. Sorry, but I don't consider Daily Kos to be the bastion of accountability on the subject. I would like him to answer in a forum/debate in front of everyone.

As for #4, again things that are not part of the president's job as far as he is concerned. And even if he wanted to affect change (or continue in the wrong direction) on such issues he would need what bush had for 6 years: A congress that was more loyal to the president's party than to their country, and I don't think Ron Paul even wish for that kind of dogged loyalty from a branch of government that he believes should be what the Constitution says they are supposed to be, a check on the powers of the executive. Nor do I think he would get it if he wanted it.

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

About Libertarians. They espouse less government, more freedom, then turn around and say women should not have the liberty to have abortions. It seems to mostly be about MEN having more freedom, but not WOMEN.

In fact, I have gotten the distinct impression many times they want women to be servile, playing mothers and whores but not much else to their liberated men.

Sarah's picture
Submitted by Sarah on

in the mold of Kinky Friedman and Ralph Nader, and is no more a real Texan than Phil Gramm or George W. Bush.
Need more be said?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Our country has been absolutely raped by Ron Paul's party of the last several years, a party which has used the libertarian "anti-tax, anti-government" mantra like roofies to lull us into somnolence.

Look, it's adorable when Ron Paul does his contrarian antiwar thing. I'll buy the Ron Paul Vermont Teddy Bear and give it a squeeze.

It's not adorable when he says he wants to demolish every social program, and it's not adorable to pretend that the president doesn't play a huge role in setting the national agenda.

That agenda -- for most of the time since Reagan traded "Death Valley Days" for "Death to Social Services and Infrastructure Years" -- has been called to that libertarian tune, even if the Repubs have never been very good about keeping the beat when it comes time to actually keeping government small. Just small-hearted and short on ethics and sound accounting.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Ron Paul happens to walk the talk. Now, how many of our leaders live by that? None! What do you suppose Americans do about our hijacked government? Should we just keep sitting back and voting between bad and worse and pretend things change? People like you love to bitch/complain so much that even when some sort of hope comes along you turn your negativity towards them, just like the "liberals" did against Nader in 00/04. Never happy, never content, glasses 1/2 empty just like every prick in Washington. You are what's wrong with our country--people like you are why nothing ever really changes. Grow a spine would ya?!?!?

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Thank you for the recommendation on growing a spine.

Unfortunately, due to Ron Paul's votes on stem-cell research, I'm unable to do that.

Being correct on one issue makes Paul half as good as a broken clock. Not impressed.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

measured from the bottom of the balls.

Sorry to disappoint you.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

... that this topic could lead to such enlightened discourse!

Submitted by lambert on

Nice boy, that Dirk, but he's still thinking in terms of inches...

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

If we're going to be lefties comparing genitals, can't we at least use the metric system?

Submitted by lambert on

A WASP, and all...

We. Are. Going. To. Die. We must restore hope in the world. We must bring forth a new way of living that can sustain the world. Or else it is not just us who will die but everyone. What have we got to lose? Go forth and Fight!—Xan

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

millimeters is the length of a taser dart. Just a coincidence, to be sure.

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

I think that's because men generally get better perks than women and children do, and are less often in need of help because they are not as often physically weakened by life. Things like pregnancy and having to care for others that need help (children, the elderly, the sick) really make a person understand that one needs help now and then and that it's to everyone's benefit to spread the wealth around.

Those that don't as often need help tend to want to keep for themselves, or expect others to enslave themselves for survival.