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November 18th, 2002:

More on Libertarians and the GOP

Walter in Denver, a Libertarian Party member, has some thoughts on the recent election:

So, why do I, a partisan Libertarian, see a positive in Republican victory? After all, gridlock is the next best thing to libertarian government. It’s because the minarchists in the Republican Party have nowhere to hide. They’ll have to put up or shut up.

I’ll make a few easy predictions; under Republican rule, the federal government will continue to grow, probably at a faster pace than ever. Government intrusions on a personal level will become more egregious. Small government advocates will have no place in the Republican Party.

Coming elections will provide fertile ground for libertarians of both the large and small ‘L’ varieties.

Like I said, this is an opportunity for the Democrats. The stars are perfectly aligned: the Christian Coalition will be presenting a bill for its services to the GOP any day now, John Ashcroft is making waste paper out of the Constitution, a movement to regain civil rights is surely in our near future, and the Dems can blame the Republicans for everything that goes wrong.

Walter also disputes the notion that Libertarian voters siphon votes from the GOP (a notion Mac agrees with, at least as far as Alabama goes). Apparently, his wife is Miss December in the Ladies of Liberty pinup calendar, which makes him all right in my book.

Link via Talk Left.

Dept. of Anecdotal Evidence

Kevin offers his opinion of Heather Hurlburt’s article about the Democrats’ lack of strength on foreign policy as well as his personal experience:

When I was working on a masters degree in defense and strategic studies, I can’t recall any students who were open Democrats in the program. There was one Spanish foreign exchange student who was a bit of a liberal, and plenty of professed conservatives or Republicans. But not one Dem that I can recall. It’s kind of odd, too, since the head of the program had been influenced heavily by Senator Scoop Jackson, who was a true Dem expert on national security (and also influenced people like Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, who didn’t find later Dems all that hospitable to their thinking either). That’s anecdotal evidence, of course, but then again, my blog is anecdotal as well. So there ya go.

Out of curiosity, I asked Tiffany about the political split in her classes when she was an undergrad at Georgetown in the School of Foreign Service. According to her, the split was roughly 50-50. She was in the class of 1992, so you figure some of these people must be coming of age in DC, though of course whether or not their bosses are is another matter entirely. Anyway, Kevin’s post inspired me to ask, so there you have it.

Naughty words

I’m in a class this week, learning Visual Basic for Microsoft’s .NET platform. Unlike some other classrooms I’ve been in, the computers in this one are connected to the outside world. Usually, training facilities leave classroom computers on an isolated network, as the temptation to surf the web during a lecture that one finds a tad dry is pretty overwhelming. They provide some common-area PCs for folks who need a quick fix or access to their web mail.

Anyway, these PCs are connected. During the intro to the class, the instructor asked that we refrain our surfing to breaks and lunchtime. He then noted that we can surf where we want during those times, though we should “use our judgment” as to places we visit.

Turns out they don’t fully trust our judgment. During the first break I clicked on The People’s Republic of Seabrook and got the following message:

Access Denied

The requested document,, will not be shown.

Reason: DDR score = 396. This page will not be displayed because it contains prohibited words or it has exceeded its tolerance of questionable words.

You’re a naughty boy, Jack. Amazingly, even Larry didn’t set off the bad word filter. What are the odds of that happening?

Looking forward: Libertarians

Jim Henley has some sharp words for libertarians regarding the Homeland Security Act and the Information Awareness Office.

If you imagine yourselves as part of some coalition, ask yourself what you’re getting for your trouble. You lost HSD. You lost USA-PATRIOT. You get IAO. An independent 9/11 commission? Gone. A lot of you favor liberal rules on therapeutic cloning. Think you’ll get that from this Congress? Is there anything whatsoever that neolibertarians favor that the rest of the Republican coalition does not where you have gotten or expect to get your way? Any case where the Administration said “We’ve got to give the libertarians this?” Or where you can imagine them saying it? Remember, the war doesn’t count. The neocons want it and the Christian Coalition wants it. They matter. Ditto for the tax cut. I’m talking about something that neolibertarians hold dear that neocons and/or the Christian Right oppose, where the will of the neolibertarians prevails.

I’m here every day. You can get back to me.

A proposition: Neolibertarians are to the Republican Party what African-Americans are to the Democratic Party – taken for granted because they have nowhere else to go.

I’d argue that African-Americans get a lot more out of the Democrats than neolibs get out of the GOP – if nothing else, there’s a lot more black Democratic officeholders than there are neolib Republican officeholders (my personal count of the latter starts and ends with Ron Paul) – but that’s a quibble. My purpose here is to suggest that it’s high time the Democrats offered a legitimate alternative to the Republicans for people like Jim.

We can start right here with Homeland Security and the IAO. I believe there’s going to eventually be a backlash against the curtailment of civil rights that has gone part and parcel with the War of Terror. Sooner or later, people are going to start to ask if the security they’ve supposedly gained in trade for their freedoms is really worth it. If there’s one thing I want the Democrats to learn from Election 2002, it’s that if you want credibility on an issue you have to get out in front of that issue. You know, lead. Let’s start by calling HSD and the IAO the abominations that they are.

(What’s that you say? The Democrats originally proposed HSD over Team Bush’s objections? So what? The hallmark of George W. Bush’s political career has been to initially oppose something, then take credit for it when it happens anyway. He got the credit for HSD. Go ahead and hand him the bill for it. He’s earned it.)

Once the Dems have started bashing HSD, there are other issues on which they can not only be on the side of the angels but also on the side of the libertarians. Take stem-cell research, which can easily be cast in terms of heroic doctors battling deadly diseases. Or take digital rights management and the CBDTPA. Surely a party that claims to represent “the people” should be able to oppose a law that would allow large corporations to rummage around your personal computer.

The beauty of this approach is that it gives the Dems some appeal to a group that has all but abandoned them – white males – without lurching towards the right. Combine this with an increased focus on the looming budget deficit, and I think you just might have a winner.