On libertarianism and Ron Paul
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).