Monday, January 6, 2014

Comment assassination: the relevance of Libertarians (with "Libertarian" vaguely defined)

I run into this about once per year, with self-appointed "purist" Libertarians, and it bears repeating here, with updates.

Recently I wrote a post critical of the Delaware General Assembly for wasting tens of millions in corporate welfare while blanching at the cost of transporting homeless children to school.

This was the response from one JDL:
I kept looking for Mr. Newton to clarify with something like "As a libertarian, I of course oppose any government involvement in any of these activities, including busing children to school." But I looked in vain (or did I miss it somewhere?). 
Conclusion: Steve Newton, you're no libertarian. You're just another socialist, but with different priorities from some other socialists. 
As a libertarian, I oppose government involvement in such mis-labeling. But I have to ask: Mr. Newton, have you no shame?
Shorter JDL:  I am the keeper of the faith and the decider of all things Libertarian.

There is, and long has been, a split in the Libertarian Party between "purists" and "pragmatists," and--truth in advertising--I have always identified myself as a pragmatic Libertarian.

I want to expand freedom one step at a time, taking what I can get in increments, and stopping those who would stamp it out, one step at a time.

This requires actual political engagement.  It requires becoming aware of the issues.  And it involves a recognition that every self-proclaimed Libertarian needs to have tolerance for other Libertarians who think differently.

That said, I think the pragmatists are gaining, because the rest of the country seems to be listening more closely than usual.

Take the post by the guy who wonders if he is the only Libertarian Democrat in America:

On the other hand, I could be a rare cross between Libertarian and Democrat because I'm convinced that self government flourishes when fewer laws restrict personal choices, from the right to ingest any inebriating substance, to a woman's right to an abortion, and the rights of gay people to marry. Logically, private citizens must become politically active to achieve these freedoms and it won't happen by talking about it over a beer at the local hang out. 
As I think about it a little more, I'm probably a Libertarian Democrat because I oppose any governmental body that interferes with my life in any way. I am particularly offended when my property rights are challenged under the guise of protecting them, from nosey neighborhood associations to any agency of the State or federal government.
I must be a Libertarian Democrat because I oppose oppressive police, elective wars and puppet dictators.
I must be a Libertarian Democrat because I oppose mandatory seat belts, Interstate Highway speed limits in rural areas, speed traps, and their hidden cameras.
I must be a Libertarian Democrat because I welcome everyone to America who is willing to work and does not want to bomb the hell out of our cities or turn America into the same type of failed theocracy they fled.
I must be a Libertarian Democrat because I believe in legalized industrial hemp, legalized gambling. legalized drugs, and legalized prostitution. I say, let's tax all of it enough to eliminate payroll withholdings. 
I must be a Libertarian Democrat because I demand the right to ignore your religion or even make fun of it while I demand your right to worship as you please.
When I look into my philosophical grab bag, I'm not sure if I see a Libertarian Democrat or just a typical red-blooded American.
Or consider the writer who (like former LPD Convention keynote speaker Dr. Michael Munger and former LPD VP Candidate Judge Jim Gray) actually talks about a libertarian case for government involvement in health care. 

Or even the columnist who warns the GOP (for about the 10,000th time they've been warned) that rejecting the Libertarians in its ranks won't work as a longterm strategy, and who implicitly reminds the rest of us why conservatives are not only not Libertarians, but not really very good allies for Libertarians.

Standing in the way of a relevant political party actually doing something to roll back the State and function as actual American citizens, are idiots like JDL who cannot accept any argument more nuanced than "Anybody who doesn't agree with me is a socialist."

That's OK--he's probably such a "pure" Libertarian that he doesn't even vote.

And with profound apologies to many of my true friends who happen to be "purists" and put up with me by not judging me:  thanks.

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