A Libertarian welcomes the Democrats into Opposition

The Libertarian Party is the penultimate opposition party. By its nature, it will always work to keep itself from becoming the dominant party in government. I know this is not even a possibility right now, but consider how it could play out eventually. Regardless of the flavor libertarianism to which one adheres, success can be finitely achieved politically. Success would also shift the social focus from government to culture hopefully permanently. Social conservatives and social liberals would then be battling it out in the cultural arena. (Think Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.) The death of coercive politics would mean the death of political parties. This would include the Libertarian Party. This describes the best case Libertarian dream scenario.

It is very hard for a person to voluntarily fire oneself from a job they were proud of accomplishing. So ?mission-creep? would set in. Then the Libertarian Party would fracture among the new political faultlines. (Probably radical vs. reformist vs. conservative.) This is the more likely scenario that fosters my belief in the penultimateness of the Libertarian Party.

In A Call for Libertarians to Reform the Democratic Party the Democratic Freedom Blog attempts to persuade libertarians over to the Democratic Party. I think he?s jumped the gun.

The Libertarian Party has spent more than thirty years in opposition. We're comfortable here. (I'm a card-carryin' member.)

For most of that time, we have been watching our government do a lot of things we find shameful. During that whole time, it has been dominated by the Democratic Party. Occasionally, there has been a Republican President that was the electoral equivalent of voters saying "hey stop that" to congress. Congress seldom stopped it. They usually just scaled it back or did it more quietly, or more piecemeal, or more slowly. Nixon even aided and abetted them. That encouraged the Libertarian Party to organize in the first place.

A socially liberal friend of mine once told me that she had wondered why so many libertarians made common cause with conservatives. The answer is the old enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend principle. Also, since they were the underdogs, they needed us. And when you have spent as much time out in the political wilderness as we have, it is nice to feel needed once in a while. That said, now the Republican Party is the ruling party. Give us time and we'll be more comfortable making common cause with Democrats.

At the rate that things our going, the Republicans will be ruling for the next twenty years. That is half as long as the Democrats recently ruled, but it is still plenty of time for those of us in Opposition (Democrats and Libertarians) to get to know each other again. Once we know each other?s concerns, values, and principles, we can start working on mapping a path to a world that we all can feel secure in and for which we can work together. (I do not accept the belief that those who don't understand economics must necessarily oppose sound economics.)

For now, I'll keep my current voting strategy. Where possible, I vote third-party (preferably Libertarian). Otherwise, I simply vote against the incumbent. If it is an uncontested election, I write-in 'None of the Above'. (If I am particularly well-informed on individual candidates and I know one of them is a principled libertarian, then I vote for that one. I don't let party-affiliation trump the possibility of a principled statesman.) I am well aware that in elections that aren't contested by a third party, my opposition vote has a greater probability of going to a Democrat.

We all know about the libertarian Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Depending on how the upcoming elections go, he might be joined by a libertarian Democratic Congressman in the next session. If we could ease ballot access restrictions, I bet we would actually have a libertarian Libertarian Congressman elected from one of the many districts in this country that are currently uncontested.

Life in opposition can be fun. Just remember it's only politics. This is a big country. If things become too bad, it is not hard to disappear into the swamp / desert / tundra / forest / mountains / international waters etc. within 300 miles of where you live. Welcome to the Opposition! I hope you enjoy your stay. :-D

(Updated from a post at Somewhere over the Rainbough)

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Just remember it?s only

Just remember it?s only politics.
Yep, it's only violence. ;-)

Welcome aboard.

And so is boxing. ;-) Thanks

And so is boxing. ;-)

Thanks for the welcome.

bq. _And so is

bq. _And so is boxing._

Boxers fight voluntarily with another person who has chosen the same. I never consented to the violence the State brings down on me.

A while back, Kos wrote a

A while back, Kos wrote a post that was essentially an open-arms request for libertarians to join the Democrats to defeat Bush. He believed libs made more sense aligning with the dems than with the repubs.

To which I replied, B.S. Not because I think the GOP is a better place, but because so much of the central dogma of Democratic philosophy is wrapped around using the state to help people.

If you are really serious about changing the country's political direction to a more libertarian result, then I say vote for, support, and run as libertarians and not direct votes towards other parties unless the GOP/Dem candidate is a principled libertarian-ish person.

Of course, this ignores the problems of voting. :)

Abolishing the state would

Abolishing the state would be just the beginning. In a panarchy (or Nozick's "utopia"), just about every conceivable form of social and economic organization would be established by voluntary association. The end of politics would just mean the beginning of peaceful persuasion. Society would be a wide-open frontier for social and economic experimentation.

The lack of consent is the

The lack of consent is the problem, not violence. I'm pacifist. I have no problem with violence. I oppose war, i.e. injustice. State coercion is low-grade war of a country upon itself. I seek to stop that.

Coming from a Society (the capital "S" is important") heritage on my mother's side, I learned that there are some things that are almost never appropiate to discuss in almost any setting. These include politics, religion, and sex. I care alot about politics and will not close off the primary arena open to me to air my views where my mother and people like her permit themselves to consider such a "divisive" matter.

I respect the strong "neither bullets nor ballots" sentiment of much of the libertarian movement. But as long as I'm paying taxes, i.e. not a voluntaryist, tax-resister, etc., I find a moral imperative in choosing either bullets or ballots. Since I think the bullets option is a bad idea, I choose ballots.

(I also try to vote my shares in the stocks I own. It was always fun to vote against Eisner before I sold my Disney stock.)

I also think that strong principled minarchism will naturally evolve into something indistinguable from what we all call anarchism even if they have a knee-jerk reaction to the term.

Charles, the reason the Democrats political dogma became wrapped around the state is because they were in power for so long. Power corrupts. Theirs was originally the party of Jefferson who gave is the Declaration of Indepence and Andrew Jackson who helped strengthen real estate property rights in such a way that the people on the frontier came to be called pioneers and not just "squatters on government land" as many of the founding fathers considered.

The Republicans have already begun tying their political agenda to government power and the Democrats have begun to decry the Republican abuses. In a decade, they'll likely have stopped proposing their own and begun to consider alternatives. That is when we will become most capable of swaying them. Although, in the immediate term (the next few elections), you are right in your diagnosis. Also, if Kerry is elected, the Republicans would strengthen their grip on Congress in the midterm elections further weakening the Democratic Party. I personally think Kerry winning is a highly improbable scenario, but I have occasionally been proved wrong before.

I also agree with Kevin about the necessary diversity of a free society.

"Give us time and we?ll be

"Give us time and we?ll be more comfortable making common cause with Democrats."

That would be the Andres Nin Project.


Note how well it worked out the first time.

"Nin's followers were also removed from the government. In June 1937 Nin and most of the leadership of POUM were arrested and sent to a Soviet camp at Acala de Henares near Madrid. Andr?s Nin was executed on 20th June 1937."

Have any of you people ever been around real liberal Democrat party activists for any length of time? I have. The notion that any sort of political relationship is possible between libertarians and Democrats is simply a delusion.

It really doesn't matter anyway; libertarian support, such as it is, is useless to Democrats and they don't really care about whether they get it or not.

But there is a slight question of intellectual honesty and honor to be considered.

The other day I had a friend

The other day I had a friend ask me if I was a conservative based on some market-oriented stuff I had said in our Property class. I responded "no" and that I was a libertarian. He smiled and responded he was a civil libertarian and launched into a tirade. Apparently he didn't understand libertarian thought that well because he kept bringing up ADM (I can almost hear Kev Carson vomiting). But whatever his conception of free markets was, he was solely against it. I suggested he read Gabriel Kolko.

Another social democrat friend of mine, somewhat overhearing the conversation asked me, and I'm not making this up, "What's the difference between libertarian and unitarian?" Yikes.

- Josh

John S. I don't consider

John S.

I don't consider leftists to be liberal by any meaningful definition of the term. A real "liberal" democrat would be akin to a social libertarian, and I so no reason why we would have trouble working alongside them at least on certain issues. Beyond that I think it defies reason to compare the current democratic party to soviets. Though I'm not certain if that was your intent.

John S. I'm surprised at

John S.

I'm surprised at you. Most Democrats aren't marxists. Just as most Republicans aren't theocrats and most Libertarians aren't survivalists. (Although, I was formerly a survivalist, this shouldn't diminish my point.)

You make reference to the events of the Spanish Civil War. That was a third-world battle-field in the Nazi/Fascist vs. Soviet Communist cold war that existed between the two world wars. The anarchists involved in that were anarcho-syndicalists. We aren't anarcho-syndicalists. The Nin that you made reference to advocated nationalization. Anarcho-syndicalism could never have succeeded.

I have been around both real liberal Democatic Party activists and left-liberal Democratic Party activists. I have been around civil libertarian activists who are usually Democrat, Green, or independent. Being from Louisiana, I have even been around wobblies (IWW) and anarcho-syndicalists.

With the exception of the wobblies, I was able to find at least one of each group that was willing to really listen to what I had to say to the extent that I was able to change their mind on some issue. (Gun rights, open immigration, free trade, and drug legalization were the easiest positions to help them accept. Whereas, abolishing the minimum wage is the one issue that they seem to have most difficulty accepting.)

Given my experience, I presume that your stereotyping of real liberal Democrats and left-liberal Democrats comes from hearing some of the marxists statements they make sometimes. A year or so back, a survey of high school graduates showed that disturbingly high percentage of them actually thought that the phrase "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" was in the U.S. Constition. If those particular high school graduates decided to get active in politics, which party do you think they'll join? I carry a copy of the constitution on me. It is a really liberal document. (I know it has a lot of problems, but it is a good reference point politically.) I'm libertarian. I've cooperated with Democrats to protest the USA Patriot Act. In that context, as we were waving our signs in the air, I was often asked about my Vote Libertarian button and they were very open to what I had to say. I consider that dynamic a political relationship.

At least from the Republican Party's rhetoric, they don't consider libertarian support useless. Why do you presume that the Democrats find alienating a constituency that (based on some surveys) represent twenty percent of the population useful. (The surveys were based on positions on issues not self-identification.)

It is true that the Democratic Party currently doesn't care whether they get libertarian support. I don't expect the Democratic Party to care until they really start thinking about themselves as the opposition party. Until they realize that we should regard them as warily as the Republican Party. Yet equating Democrats with the Democratic Party is like equating libertarians with the Libertarian Party. The political subcultures exist independently of the parties.

I consider Ron Paul to be a very honorable and intellectually honest man in spite of the fact that he happened to run as a Republican.

The Republicans run theocraticly-inclined pols for office at many levels. In Louisiana, they ran David Duke, a former grand wizard of the KKK, for Governor. David Duke ran on a platform of sterilization for welfare recipients. That was disgusting. I'm glad to say he lost to a Democrat that was a known crook.

I'm sure that the Democratic Party has got monsters of their own, but I don't believe in guilt by association. I do not hold David Duke against Ron Paul and I won't hold Huey P. Long (or Ted Kennnedy for that matter) against Maad abu-Ghazalah.

I may be misunderstanding your point about honor if it has to do with something unique to you that I don't know.

Most people are unfamiliar with the term libertarian. As far as the ADM reference, they do get a lot of corporate welfare and work to maintain agricultural tariffs that impoverish the third world. I'm not familiar with Kolko, but it is my experience that in political discussions one should not initiate the reference to a book. Wait for them to ask about possible followup reading, some do.

Both were first coined as theological terms. Libertarian originally meant simply "advocate of free-will". It is still often used that way in philosophy. The opposite of a libertarian was a necessitarian.

A unitarian originally meant one that advocates the oneness of god. They believed that the concept of the trinity was incompatible with that and were thus opposed by the trinitarians.

Ignorance provides the opportunity for learning and education. Ignorance is not contagious.

Your post regarding

Your post regarding libertarians to embrace the Democrats is compelling. I know a hard-core Libertarian who voted for Clinton in 1996 because he felt that with divided government would lead to gridlock and as a result would result in getting us back to freedom. It would seem that this logic had some merit since Clinton took budget balancing away from the Republicans and the GOP-controlled Congress' spine turned to jelly. However, I do see some 'bright spots' on the left and it would seem that my like-mindedness with your reasoning may have been in haste. For example, self-proclaimed liberal Democrat and newly proclaimed "gun nut" Ted Rall has called for Democrats to come out in favor of the right to bear arms (link below).
Nation commentator William Greider has written a book (titled: "The Soul of Capitalism") doing a role reversal singing the praises of capitalism and free markets after years of bashing it.
Tony Blair and the Labour party (despite having gone to war in Iraq and raised taxes) have privatized many aspects of Britain's health and education systems where more personal choice options for people are now available than they were under Thatcher.
Time will tell if the Democrats revert back to freedom after having been hijacked by the socialists during the Presidencies of Woodrow Wilson and FDR. While I have no plans to switch from Libertarian to the Democrat any time soon, I will watch and wait with great anticipation.