More Thoughts On Liberaltarianism

From Matt Welch. And just feel the Jonah love in comments:

Go f**k yourself. Seriously. Shut the f**k up you fascist f**k. Eat s**t and die. You go to hell, you go to hell and you die.

Ah, the urbane and enlightened civility of Internet discourse…

It’s fascinating to look at the two parties through the distorted prisms of many of the commenters.

I continue to think that aligning with Democrats is utterly hopeless for anyone who favors limited government. The party is simply too far gone, too enamored of state power, and too duplicitous and/or delusional about the fact that it is. The real deal killer for me is their leftist tendency to tendentiously appropriate inappropriate words for themselves, from “Bolshevik” (when they weren’t really a majority) to “progressive,” when much of what they propose is a regression to the oldest idea in the world — a government ruling the individual, with little freedom of trade, and the ongoing lie that they are “liberal,” when no true child of the Enlightenment would recognize them. Not to mention their Orwellian concepts like “Fairness” for censorship and “Freedom of Choice” for union intimidation.

At least Republicans, for their multitude of flaws, occasionally pay lip service to true liberal values.

[Afternoon update]

John Hood weighs in again:

While there are plenty of libertarian-leaning politicians and activists within the GOP, albeit with varying levels of consistency and success, their ranks within the Democratic Party are scant, at best. This should be an unsurprising state of affairs. I understand there have been some serious efforts by libertarians in Washington to engage liberals intellectually and Democrats politically. I can’t comment on what I haven’t seen personally, but I can talk about my two decades of experience engaging liberals and Democrats in a state capital (Raleigh) where Dems have been in power virtually the whole time.

There are thoughtful, open-minded Democratic politicians who will listen to new ideas and are flexible enough to endorse market-oriented policies in certain favorable circumstances. You can get a Democratic mayor to try an asset sale, a Democratic governor to try toll roads, or a Democratic lawmaker to endorse a particular regulatory or tax reform. Sometimes you can even get Dems to challenge a powerful constituency in their base, as has happened in many states on issues such as charter schools. But on fundamental principle, there’s just not much overlap. They can’t get past their conflation of government with society, their vision of government as parent, and their belief that only big government has the knowledge and resources to fix social problems, keep selfish businessmen in line, and “run” the economy.

Yes, I think that Democrats are much too unlibertarian in their basic DNA to ever provide any kind of home for libertarians, particularly if the Republicans can get back to their free-market small-government roots in a post-Bush-McCain era.

12 thoughts on “More Thoughts On Liberaltarianism”

  1. The thing I don’t get is how the liberals convince their followers that they’ve got the best interests of those followers in hand. It’s completely unproven, but they get the same votes, cycle after cycle.

    I’m stymied.

  2. No they don’t, Steve. College students vote Democratic, but when they graduate, get a real job, move up the ladder a bit, start being a producer more than a consumer, start trying to hire good people instead of worry about being hired themselves, they turn Republican.

    Same thing with immigrants. They often arrive penniless, dependent, and with atrophied awareness of liberty, coming as they do from the Dark parts of the world, and vote Democratic. Over time, as they understand the true importance and meaning of liberty, as they start businesses, see their children become professionals, et cetera, they leave the donks behind.

    And so on. Voting Democratic is kind of a newbie thing, in many ways. Something that seemed like a good idea at the time. It appeals to your first, inexperienced, unrealistic notions of what voting should accomplish, of how the world should be run. It’s kind of a Harlequin romance version of political activity. Most people grow out of it, although there is a certain hard core of dependents who never do, simply because the Democrats service their needs.

    SInce there are always newbies around, there is a steady flow of them into, and then out of, the Democratic Party. It’s true there are always many people who will vote Democratic, but they aren’t the same people. I, for example, voted for Walter Mondale in my young and starry-eyed youth. My sister listened to Barry Manilow. We’ve all been young, once.

  3. Rand, politics aside; when people talk about dialing the phone, it isn’t an “ongoing lie”, it just the way language works. I don’t walk into Crate and Barrel and ask for either of their namesake items. I suppose it would be reasonable to hold political parties to a higher standard, but there is something to be said for a name brand.
    Consider the names of political parties in Israel: Likud’s name means consolidation, but they are expansionist and build wide coalitions, while Kadima means “progress” but they can’t seem to make any, and Meretz means “vitality”, but they are just about dead. Of course, the real answer is that political parties pick aspirational names, and that nicely sets you up to retort that the parties are lying about their aspirations! I aim to please.

    Carl, your theory doesn’t really explain solid blue states, nor does it explain large nationwide Democratic victories. But I’m sure you have additional theories.

  4. Sure it does, Bob. You are forgetting about the mobility of modern Americans. Where do most new immigrants go? California and New York. What states have the highest number of out of state college students? Massachusetts and Illinois.

    Anyway, this is not a theory, it’s a measurement. Go look up the division between Republican and Democrat as a function of age, or recent immigrant status. These are not debatable propositions.

    The hope ‘n’ change Democratic position has always been to assume that young people and immigrants will keep their political affiliation as they age. But this makes as much sense as their similarly naive notion that people who are young and working in minimum-wage jobs will stay in those minimum-wage jobs as they get older and more experienced. (Which is why we need to make it a living wage! Can’t pay the mortgage on a McDonald’s burger flipper salary, you know. Of course, very few McDonald’s burger flippers have a mortgage, being largely between the ages of 16 and 20, but whatever.)

    As for your language point, I think you are indulging in special pleading. The cases you cite are, except for politics, not cases where the name implies the exact opposite of reality. “Crate and Barrel” implies plain work-a-day furnishings, and indeed that’s their trademark style. If they called themselves “Really Cheap Dishware” and then sold only Rosenthal, you’d have a case.

  5. I would contend that population density contains a correlation, although I couldn’t say without doubt which direction causation might flow.

  6. I’d like to see some numbers. Illinois, for example, doesn’t strike me as having a high number of out of state students at all — the University of Illinois is enormous (and often excellent!), but 90% of its students are from in-state. Other Illinois state schools (also enormous) have even lower out-of-state numbers. And I’d like to see numbers on your overall thesis == look at voting patterns by age, and I bet you’ll find that Democrats don’t win almost anywhere without the 40-and-ups. I can also look for the numbers myself, but it will have to wait. Anyway, I’m very skeptical. In passing I’ll mention that the last time I was in a Crate and Barrel, I had boards and cinderblocks for bookshelves (and a crate or two), and it struck me as a rather snooty place, but maybe my perspective has changed as I slouch forward on the long decline toward conservatism.

  7. Liberals are more likely to align with libertarians on very few issues. Those issues are important or even overriding to some people, creating a coalition around sexual and drug issues (abortion, gay marriage, medical marijuana). But I think coalition is as far as it can go. Assisted suicide and euthanasia may increasingly become part of that discussion, creating a grand “what I do with my body” alliance. Even that is weak, however, as not all liberals or libertarians are on the same page on those issues even with each other.

    There just aren’t other points of connection that occur to me. Property rights, right to dissent, small government, right of contract, self-defense – you will find no common ground.

    Republicans can best be viewed as true children of Moses (Mises), who keep wandering off to worship the golden calf. They do not self-operate on good principles and have to be watched constantly. Libertarians resent that because they basically want to be left alone to live their lives, not babysit.

  8. Dear Mr. Idiot, I respectfully disagree with your position (which might, by definition, be considered idiotic) regarding the right to dissent. I think I understand Rand’s criticism regarding the fairness doctrine, but on the other other hand, doesn’t the ACLU fight the good fight, from a libertarian point of view?

  9. I have to agree with Hood’s comments quoted at the end. Most of my college friends are democrats. Holding a discussion with them over the government is often difficult and frustrating, because they enter it with completely different assumptions. When you attack their assumptions, you must take them to their ends… but then they go glassy eyed and say if you look at the extremes of anything, it will look bad.

    Perhaps they have a point: libertarianism rarely pays; it’s like fighting entropy. I can see the point in just climbing to the top floors as the building comes down on the assumption it will take long enough for you to be long gone when it matters. But that’s not even the argument they give. Almost to the person, they focus on the promises and rhetoric as if it’s gospel, as if just because a politician says so socialized medicine must be better than self-payed. All I can think is that they grew up with too much trust in their lives. It’s like yelling at a deaf person.

  10. > the ACLU fight the good fight, from a libertarian point of view?

    Apart from porn and maybe drug legalization, no. (I was going to write “free speech” but I forget how the ACLU comes down on political speech such as McCain-Feingold.)

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