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That About Sums It Up

Eric Raymond and I are on the same wavelength:

Gun owners who are (like me) libertarians and swing voters are in the same fix as SayUncle. Many of us have good reasons to loathe McCain; mine, as I've previously mentioned, is that I think BCRA (the McCain-Feingold campaign finance "reform" act) was an atrocious assault on First Amendment liberties. Others can't stand McCain's position on immigration, or the idiotic blather he tends to spew on economics-related subjects. But for those of us who think Second Amendment rights are fundamentally important, voting for anyone who would appoint more anti-firearms judges (a certainty from Obama given his past views) is just not an option.


That translates into votes for McCain. Probably including (though I shudder and retch at the thought) my vote. It's not like there's any chance Obama's going to push for the repeal of BCRA. So I'm left with a choice between a candidate hostile to both my First and Second Amendment rights and one that supports the Second Amendment. (Normally I'd vote Libertarian, but the LP's isolationist foreign-policy stance seems so batty after 9/11 that I can't stomach that option in this cycle.)

Yup. One of the arguments that McCain will make with the bitter gun clingers is that he will be able to provide a Supreme Court that strongly, not narrowly supports gun rights. That's going to be very important now as the various cases work their way through the courts to define the limits of the "newly found" (that is, one that has been there since the Founding, but which many have attempted to pretend didn't exist for the past several decades) right.

 
 

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24 Comments

Robert wrote:

Abortion is another supreme-court-related domestic issue that comes up in presidential campaigns. I gather libertarians tend to be split on the issue of abortion. I wonder if many libertarians who don't want to vote for Barr will vote for Obama over McCain because they are pro-choice?

More interestingly, I wonder if they should, from a principled position? Since Obama has indicated that he doesn't want to take guns from the cold dead hands of gun owners, and instead wants to find compromises that preserve the rights of individuals to own guns, while in contrast, McCain is unequivocally against abortion, on these two issues, presuming the fetus is not a human with rights, Obama is the more libertarian candidate.

I wonder if there are other issues or sets of issues where Obama can be shown to be more libertarian than McCain?

Robert wrote:

Obama also has stronger first amendment credentials, and free speech is obviously extremely important to libertarians.

McCain has consistently supported an amendment to the Constitution banning the right to descrate an American flag. I would think that libertarians would oppose him almost unnanimously on that. (Not that libertarians want to burn flags, just that they support the rights of people to make symbolic gestures, and do what they want with their own property.)

Regarding campaign finance laws:

McCain: I would rather have a clean government than one where quote 'First Amendment rights' are being respected that has become corrupt, McCain said. If I had my choice, Id rather have the clean government.

(from http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/analysis.aspx?id=18997)

Rand Simberg wrote:

Abortion is not a defining issue for most libertarians Robert. As for free speech, has Obama come out against McCain-Feingold? If not, there's not much useful difference between the two. In any event, it's the individual right to bear arms that ultimately defends freedom of speech.

Robert wrote:

>Abortion is not a defining issue for most libertarians Robert.

Why is that? The abortion issue creates passionate arguments on both sides, and both sides can argue on behalf of liberty! It seems tailor-made for libertarians.

> As for free speech, has Obama come out against McCain-Feingold? If not, there's not much useful difference between the two.

There is much more to free speech than McCain-Feingold. The flag amendment, for example. Obama's background as a constitutional scholar should give advocates of 1st and 2nd Amendment comfort, while McCain puts air quotes around the Constitution (see the link I cited).

>In any event, it's the individual right to bear arms that ultimately defends freedom of speech.

Carl Pham noted here recently that the individual's right to bear arms (and presumably to free speech) ultimately rests with the majority. A handgun might protect you from an intruder, but notion that a handgun will protect your free speech is apocalyptic at best and silly at worst. You wouldn't be worried about the Supreme Court and the presidential election if you could rely on your gun to defend your rights. In the end, in the United States, with its traditions of liberty and lawful democracy, you are much better off protecting your 2nd Amendment rights by skillfully using your 1st Amendment rights than than the other way around.

--

From a libertarian point of view, I bet Obama is also preferable to McCain for protecting the people from their government with regard to "homeland security" measures.

Rand Simberg wrote:

The abortion issue creates passionate arguments on both sides, and both sides can argue on behalf of liberty! It seems tailor-made for libertarians.

No, not at all. It's for exactly that reasons that it's not a voting issue for libertarians--because they themselves are split on it. What is a good issue for libertarians, regardless of what one thinks of abortion, is Roe. That was an abominable decision regardless of what one thinks about abortion. Which candidate is better in that regard, Robert? Libertarians care a lot more about the Constitution than they do about abortion.

There is much more to free speech than McCain-Feingold. The flag amendment, for example.

You're joking, right? While I think that the flag amendment is stupid, the notion that I would vote for Obama over McCain over it is laughable. That's purely a symbolic idiocy, and has very little to do with true free speech.

A handgun might protect you from an intruder, but notion that a handgun will protect your free speech is apocalyptic at best and silly at worst.

First they came for the hand guns...

In the end, in the United States, with its traditions of liberty and lawful democracy, you are much better off protecting your 2nd Amendment rights by skillfully using your 1st Amendment rights than than the other way around.

That reveals a very sad naivety about history, including American history.

By the way, Robert, have you changed your middle name to Hussein yet? ;-)

Robert wrote:

What is a good issue for libertarians, regardless of what one thinks of abortion, is Roe.

I would expect libertarians to be quite split over Roe. I do understand why libertarians might be against Roe, but ultimately, Roe limited government power and government intrusiveness (perhaps by creating a new individual right), and of course, libertarians value individual rights and limiting government power much more than they might value a conservative interpretation of the constitution.

You're joking, right? While I think that the flag amendment is stupid, the notion that I would vote for Obama over McCain over it is laughable. That's purely a symbolic idiocy, and has very little to do with true free speech.

I don't think very many people will vote for one candidate over the other on any of these issues. I think people who use gun rights as a litmus test but would otherwise vote for Obama will find comfort in Obama's comments on the 2nd amendment, and vote for him. I think this thread is an intellectual exercise to help illuminate the libertarian stance on American politics. Maybe someday soon, a truly libertarian candidate will be viable, and in the meantime, it is worth considering the current candidates from a libertarian perspective.

On the other hand, I just googled "libertarians for Obama", and there were over 42,000 hits.

As for the flag amendment, I find it very serious. In fact, I find it MORE important the the gun issue, because it cuts to the heart whether we are free to protest peacefully against the government. Given your concern over McCain-Feingold, I'm surprised that you don't take the flag amendment issue seriously as well.

First they came for our burning flags...

In response to my comment about using our first amendment rights to safeguard our second, you said That reveals a very sad naivety about history, including American history. I would say the same to you, with regard to burning the American flag. But moreover, I don't even understand your point. The meaning of the 2nd Amendment was just decided by the supreme court, not by an armed revolution. Lawsuits will now follow. We the people can petition our elected leaders for new laws, we can elect new leaders (which will effect who becomes a judge), and we can even push for a new constitutional amendment. In the end, the free speech and the democratic process will be critical to the future of the 2nd amendment. I do not foresee an armed uprising over this (and certainly not a successful one!) - there will just a lot of legal battles and contested elections. That's par for the course in American history - the civil war is the only exception worth mentioning, and even that exceptional rebellion wasn't successful. Lawful democratic change is the way to get things done in the US, and I think you know that.

> the way, Robert, have you changed your middle name to Hussein yet? ;-)

Heh. Barack (which means blessed, or maybe spelled "Barak", which means "Lightning" in Hebrew) is a better name for a Jewish guy like me.

memomachine wrote:

Hmmmmm.

"First they came for the hand guns..."

You're not kidding.

I live, for now, in New Jersey and they're trying to ban **muzzleloaders**. Like the Brown Bess.

That's right. Muzzleloaders like the Brown Bess.

memomachine wrote:

Hmmmmm.

@ Robert

"In the end, in the United States, with its traditions of liberty and lawful democracy, you are much better off protecting your 2nd Amendment rights by skillfully using your 1st Amendment rights than than the other way around."

Really?

Then explain NOLA & Katrina.

Even though many people spoke out against it, using their First Amendment rights, and even though it was completely *illegal*, the NOPD began a program of firearms confiscation.

So let's hear your explanation of this.

Robert wrote:

Memomachine,

What are you saying, that gun owners in New Orleans should have shot at the NOPD? Do you think that would have somehow helped? Gun owners in New Orleans who have a grievance should use their 1st amendment rights to advocate for the candidate and laws that they prefer. Dead cops wouldn't have strengthened their case, and they would be very lucky if it didn't weaken it.

Did I misunderstand you?

narciso wrote:

Did anybody forget than those NOPD officers that didn't loot, abandoned the people to the thugs,
than they disarmed the people.

Rand Simberg wrote:

...libertarians value individual rights and limiting government power much more than they might value a conservative interpretation of the constitution.

This assumes, bizarrely, that Roe represents limiting government power. In fact, it was a huge unconstitutional power grab by the court over the states, with absolutely no Constitutional basis. Libertarians tend to be federalists, and originalists.

Sorry.

I think people who use gun rights as a litmus test but would otherwise vote for Obama will find comfort in Obama's comments on the 2nd amendment, and vote for him.

No, most people who use gun rights as a litmus test will look at Obama's actual voting record and past statements on the subject, and conclude that he's lying. We realize that many Obama supporters hope that he's lying, but we're not in that mode.

Mike Puckett wrote:

Pretty talk does not magically undo an "F-" rating from the NRA. It took him years to earn it and it will take him years to redeem himself with actual deeds and not pretty flip-flops.

Robert wrote:

I'm ignoring your position, but Roe limits government power in one way! Without Roe, the states could outlaw abortion!

But I was referring more broadly to the "right to privacy", which also limits government power.

I don't understand Roe so I'm not passing judgement. I don't understand why "the right to privacy" was found in section 1 of the 14th amendment, but, in general, I'm glad the 14th amendment protects us from state governments. I would expect that libertarians would be in favor of limiting the power of the states as well as the power of the federal government, and I would expect them to promote the rights of the individual. I would also expect libertarians to be in favor of "the right to privacy", and given that constitutional scholars reasonably differ in good faith over the Roe decision, I would expect that some libertarians would be pleased with Roe.

Orville wrote:

I don't buy into the scare argument about SCOTUS appointments. Rebpublicans have appointed a number of justices over the years who turned out to liberal living document types.

We need leaders with a vision and passion for the constitution and limited government, which at this point is not the Republican party. For the first time in my 30 years of voting I will not pull the lever for "R".

Rand Simberg wrote:

I would expect that some libertarians would be pleased with Roe.

There is no doubt that there are some libertarians who are pleased with Roe. But that notion is in conflict with the notion that the Supreme Court should rule on what is Constitutional, rather than what libertarians like.

As much as we might like there to be a "right to privacy" in it, it doesn't exist, which is why the court had to resort to a shadow of a penumbra of an emanation. If people want there to be one, then they should amend the Constitution. To allow the court to conjure one up out of whole cloth raises the issue--what other "rights" can they find in the document in a similar manner? Given the abused nature to which the word "right" (right to health care, right to a living wage, right to all manner of things that are "positive" rights that require depriving someone else of theirs) has descended, libertarians are rightly concerned with such a philosophy.

Robert wrote:

I do understand your point Rand, and I think it is a respectable position. I think it is worth noting that the 14th amendment FORBIDS depriving people of their rights, which should address your concern that an activist court will find "`positive' rights that require depriving someone else of theirs". But it probably won't! :-)

Just for everyone's reference, the relevant text is: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Robert wrote:

I'm having a lot of fun reading various "Libertarians for Obama" websites. Some libertarians support Obama's position on the war. I ignore those - I just don't understand why that has anything to do with libertarianism. Many websites point out that Obama's health care plan allows people to choose to opt-out, and he took a lot of heat in the primaries for that. Others point out that Obama is stronger than McCain on the separation of church and state, which is important to libertarians, while finding the right balance so that government does not become anti-religious. Many talk, at length, about Obama's pledge to review executive orders and recind the unconstitutional ones, and finally, of course, they believe Obama is more likely to curtail the odious aspects of the Patriot Act. But what really stands out for pro-Obama libertarians is that Obama's book agonized over how to safeguard constitution's protections while McCain tends to gloss over the specifics of the constitution.

Jonathan wrote:

No matter how bad a candidate is, some voters ignore the evidence and project their wishes onto him. Obama is obviously a socialist and charlatan, but lots of people are determined to overlook the klaxons and flashing red lights and see him as representing whatever it is that they value. "Libertarians for Obama" sounds like Jews for Hamas. I'm sure such people exist but I don't think their enthusiasm strengthens the case for Obama.

On the larger point, who cares what Obama's or McCain's "position" is on this or that "issue." I disagree with many of McCain's positions anyway, and Obama's positions change with the political wind (his ostensible positions, that is - many of his real positions, to the extent he has them, seem to be too extreme for public consumption). What really matters is character. McCain has suffered and handled himself with great distinction. Obama, as far as I can tell, has never so much as been fired from a job, knows and cares little about history, hasn't accomplished much and has chronically poor judgment. The choice between these two candidates should not be difficult for anyone who has his eyes open. Most of the details about "policy positions" are so much chaff, designed to distract voters from the personal facts that define this election.

Leland wrote:

It is simply amazing that someone could consider "Roe v Wade" a limitation of government. Sure, States can no longer ban abortion, but that's because the right of the people in those States was usurped by the Federal courts without legislation.

For a thought process, I wonder how many people, who support a woman's right to choose an abortion, support taxes on carbon emissions?

What unifies these two concepts is a desire to turn to the government to resolve the situation.

Robert wrote:

Leland, I bet you don't understand the "due process" clauses in the constitution. Frankly, I don't understand them either -- every time I read an article on "due process", I get very confused -- the words definitely don't mean what an ordinary non-lawyer would think they would mean.

To the best of my limited understanding, due process means that you can't take rights away from people. The 14th amendment says, among many other things, that if the citizens of the US have rights, the states can't take them away. You can argue about whether the "right to privacy" was ever a right US citizens ever had, but Roe v Wade merely affirmed that this right can't be taken away. It is NOT a desire to turn to the goverment to resolve a situation, except in the sense that a branch of the Federal government slapped the states when they tried to remove the rights of their citizens. It more similar to desegregating the schools than to carbon taxes.

If someone knowledgeable wants to correct me/educate me, please go ahead, but that's my understanding.

Josh Reiter wrote:

Robert wrote:

"The abortion issue creates passionate arguments on both sides, and both sides can argue on behalf of liberty!"

Classical libertarianism would most likely be pro-choice in terms of abortion rights. After all it is the one that is most aligned with total free will. With free will someone has the ability to make a un-coerced choice between what is perceived to be right or wrong. A choice is deemed right when the intended outcome is in the best interest of all those involved. A wrong choice would be once that would ultimately harm the people affected by the outcome. Some Libertarians would probably say, well abortion is wrong then because it harms the fetus. I have a feeling the ones that would be saying that would probably be true conservatives that have found their way into Libertarianism because they no longer identify with Republicanism.


"There is much more to free speech than McCain-Feingold. The flag amendment, for example."

In regards to flag burning libertarians would most likely say that is unequivocally wrong. Because again, allowing flag burning to exist is ultimately harmful to the well being of the nation. Libertarians support the idea that a limited government is a better government. But what little government they do acknowledge they will defend with unending patriotism. So, don't confuse Libertarianism with Anarchism. If something were to happen that got the Libertarians up in arms to revolt, it would be they who would be carrying the American flag as a symbol of true free will. There intent would be to try and restore its glory and remove the tarnish left by any corrupt regime that illegitimately adopted our symbol of freedom.

"liberty and lawful democracy, you are much better off protecting your 2nd Amendment rights by skillfully using your 1st Amendment rights than than the other way around."

I see that your are needlessly compounding your arguments here to serve some conclusion that you already have in mind. The logical fallacy is that we don't need to make a choice between defending either one or the other amendment. Both amendments stand equally well on their own merits. One right doesn't require so much energy to defend that the other right would be left unattended.

"I just googled "libertarians for Obama", and there were over 42,000 hits."

This would be called an appeal to authority. The fact that you typed something into Google and it responded with a number of hits doesn't prove anything. To show that Libertarians are for Obama in anyway one would have to systematically poll a population of respondents and interpret the outcome of those results.

Andy Freeman wrote:

> Since Obama has indicated that he doesn't want to take guns from the cold dead hands of gun owners

That explains why Obama was on the board of directors of the Joyce Foundation.

Or, is the JF's advocacy of gun bans while he was on its board "not the JF that Obama knew"?

If you're going to argue that Obama is a "constitutional scholar", it would be nice to see a cite to some of his scholarly writings. (Teaching a class from someone else's course notes isn't "scholarly".)

Habitat Hermit wrote:

I'll just add that it's 41100 hits and that's a very low number for such a topic.

For comparison "Chuck Norris for president" has 9770 hits ^_^

Lets try it this way: Obama may recognize that the Constitution says there is a right but if he were given the chance to put judges on the bench that were willing to reverse that would he refuse to nominate them?

Assuming the Senate stays under Democratic control and Obama is president, any retirement is going to end up with a liberal judge being appointed. Is Obama going to refuse to appoint a liberal judge just because he/she is willing to reverse this court's ruling?

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