Thursday, October 9, 2008

For Waldo, and others who have been waiting for this: Planetary Jim on what constitutes a Libertarian

I think this is why I've finally decided to join the Boston Tea Party and work through that organization as the national vehicle for Libertarian politics.

Planetary Jim put this up at the BTP site, and because I can't figure out where I'd cut it, I'm going to steal the whole damn thing.

I don't think [and this is addressed both to Waldo and my friends in the Delaware blogosphere] that I have ever read a piece of why my particular brand of Libertarianism is not conservative or Republican lite:

I think libertarians must come out directly, staunchly, entirely, and frequently against racism, sexism, gay bashing, immigrant bashing, and all the other tawdry aspects of the so-called conservative movement. I think we have to stand up and say that if you are a racist, you are not a libertarian, if you are a sexist, you are not a libertarian, if you are against equal freedom for gays, the transgendered, the polyamorous, you are not a libertarian, if you discriminate against people because of their choice of religion, you are not a libertarian, if you think people from other countries should be rejected because of their choices in clothing, culture, religion, or behavior, you are not a libertarian.

I don't mind saying that I can work with conservatives on common causes. I don't mind saying that I have met, gotten to know, and worked with some racists. I am exceedingly uncomfortable with people who are racist, sexist, religious bigots, anti-immigrant, xenophobic, or homophobic. But I can work while uncomfortable, whether it is sawing a tree branch while forty feet in the air, eating goat eyeball stew because I was in Yemen and it was "what's for dinner," or finishing a writing project on time with a 54-hour "all nighter." I can be uncomfortable and get the job done. And if finding extremely bizarre people and working with them is the only way to obtain smaller government and more freedom, now, I'm willing to do it.

But I won't ever make the mistake of considering conservatives to be libertarians. They are not. They can talk a game about freedom for white people, they can make a pretense about constitutional government for the Christians, and they can mount a patrol against swarthy-complected persons coming across the border and claim it is all about property rights for ranchers along the border, but I don't have to choose to believe it.

Yes, sure, get their help against an income tax. Work with weird skinhead neo-Nazis against mandatory helmet laws. Make common cause against the government where it is essential, but don't pretend it is okay that they are racist, don't call them libertarians if they are former government prosecutors and former CIA agents, and don't lose sight of your principles.

I like some of the things that Pat Buchanan says and writes, but he's not a libertarian and he never will be. I don't think he would agree to the non-aggression oath if he were asked. And I don't mind. Pat can be Pat and still fight against corporate welfare.

There is a difference between working with people on some issue and claiming them as your own. Like Bob Barr's eulogy for Jesse Helms, one might choose to recognise some singular legislative achievement without, as Barr chose to do, extolling the virtue of his entire segregationist, racist career. An arm's length political deal is probably a crappy deal, and if it violates any principles it ought to be avoided. But dealing with someone in a principled way at arm's length does not make them bosom buddies.

If someone claims to be a libertarian, as Sonny Landham did, and calls for genocide against the Arab peoples of the world, he needs to be called a racist, as Todd Barnett called him, and set aside. Landham cannot be a libertarian. You can put pig on a lipstick but that doesn't make it attractive. (And the pig is going to eat the lipstick. Seriously.)

If someone is ready to sell the Wiccans down the river, as Bob Barr did in his pogrom against Wiccan chaplains, we have to stand up and say, "you aren't a libertarian, Bob Barr."

If someone sells the non-Christians, or the gays, or the immigrants, down the river and refuses to acknowledge their freedoms under the Constitution, if that's the quality of liberty under the Constitution Party, we have to say, "You are not a libertarian, Chuck."

For exactly the same reason we cannot compromise on the war on drugs, we cannot compromise on the wars overseas, we cannot compromise on the corrupt allocation of defense contracts, we cannot compromise on any of our principles. We have to stand for freedom for everyone, all the time.

We cannot be a part of loading people on the box cars to the death camps. Ever.