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  • I'm sick of being a political hobo

       July 13, 2010

    Every once in a great while, I read something that says exactly what I think. This article in Reason: "Where Do Libertarians Belong" is the latest.

    We've debated libertarianism on this site for awhile now, but it's always been about economics, the so-called "right" side of libertarianism. That's bothered me, because I know that's not all it's about. As Brick (nice name!) Lindsey says:

    Declaring independence from the right would require big changes. Cooperation with the right on free-market causes would need to be supplemented by an equivalent level of cooperation with the left on personal freedom, civil liberties, and foreign policy issues. Funding for political candidates should be reserved for politicians whose commitment to individual freedom goes beyond economic issues. In the resources they deploy, the causes they support, the language they use, and the politicians they back, libertarians should be making the point that their differences with the right are every bit as important as their differences with the left.

    The first step, though, is recognizing the problem. Right now, like it or not, the libertarian movement is a part of the vast right-wing conspiracy—a distinctive and dissident part, to be sure, but a part all the same. As a result, our ideals are being tainted and undermined through guilt by association. It’s time for libertarians to break ranks and stand on our own.

    That feels right to me. Saying you're a libertarian shouldn't be something you say rather than admitting you're a Republican. There's a fundamental difference between the two. As much as I'd like it to be, the Tea Party isn't a socially liberal/fiscally conservative group - it's a bunch of people angry that the economy sucks and looking for someone to blame.

    In a rebuttal to Lindsey in this article, Matt Kibb says:

    the Tea Party movement is a beautiful chaos, or as F.A. Hayek would put it, a spontaneous order. Ours is a leaderless, decentralized grassroots movement made up of people who believe in freedom

    Would that it were. But how can you believe in freedom but oppose gay rights and liberalizing immigration? Isn't that freedom? Or do you only believe in freedom for you and your kind? How is that any different than the liberals who passionately support the 1st Amendment, but back speech codes and limiting the 2nd Amendment?

    The Tea Party doesn't stand for anything new or even anything concrete anymore. This isn't another Republican revolution of 1994. It's just more of the same dressed up in populism. But they're going to win because they're the only "viable" alternative right now. So why shouldn't libertarians go after the center and appeal to the social left? Shouldn't Americans have a choice other than "more of the same, exactly" and "more of the same, this time with religion!"?

    Lindsey says:

    The blunt truth is that people with libertarian sympathies are politically homeless. The best thing we can do is face up to that fact and act accordingly. That means taking the libertarian movement in a new direction: attempting to claim the center of American politics. If that move were successful, ideas of a distinctly libertarian cast would define the views of a critical swing constituency that politicians on the left and right would have to compete for.

    I'm sick of being a hobo. I can't even play the harmonica and don't want to live in a train (although I would kind of like a mangy dog and a red bandana knapsack). I want, for once in my life, to feel like my vote actually matters. Wait, that's not even it. For once in my life I want to feel like I'm voting for someone or something that I actually believe in.

    Posted by kris at July 13, 2010 11:49 AM

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    #  July 13th, 2010 12:26 PM      BVBigBro
    All you need do is wait. The tea parties aren't based on populism, they are based on a fact: the money's gone.

    That fact is hitting both political parties and its' chief result, from their perspective, will be an inability to buy votes with money. As that equation controls elections even more, clever politicians will discover the new math: votes that can no longer be purchased with government money might be purchased by relinquishing accumulated power. That math will become even more attractive because the chief reason for the accumulation of power was to control the distribution of the money that is now gone.

    Don't despair. In a country without money you are part of what is now the most valuable group of voters: people whose votes can be bought without money.  



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