The Trump Loss and the Role of Libertarians
As the after-action reports filter in for the most recent Presidential election, for those who lost (which at this writing is still undetermined), high on the list must be the treachery of the mainstream media, the big tech companies and voter fraud.
Not getting sufficient attention yet is the role played by the Libertarian Party and its associated think tanks and publications.
Although final numbers are not yet available in all key swing states, it would appear that the Libertarians have delivered to the nation, the most pro-socialist, big government group of Democrats, ever to walk the earth. It would appear that Trump lost PA, GA, WI, and perhaps AZ because of the Libertarian vote.
Critically, it also likely forced the run-off race for the Senate in Georgia (the Purdue race.) It is the U.S. Senate that must prevent the loudly declared leftist agenda of the Democrats with a Biden Presidency.
It stretches the word irony that a small party that proclaims its dedication to liberty and limited government would willingly deliver such a result. It should cause these merry mischief makers to reflect carefully on what they have done.
And who was the Libertarian candidate? Can you name her? Did you know it was a her? Was she even on your political radar?
Libertarians are supposedly socially liberal and fiscal conservatives. They are supposed to believe in liberty and advance its prospects. But they have been drifting to the left for some time. Libertarians of recent vintage believe in open borders, drug legalization, personal sexual liberty and generally are agnostic or atheists as it relates to the function and role of religion. We say “recent vintage” because many earlier Libertarians endorsed more traditional, religious based morality. If not, they tended to be followers of Ayn Rand, who developed a fairly strong morality based on reason. Neither type of earlier Libertarian endorsed situational ethics.
To have a limited government, people must largely control themselves via some internalized moral system. They must be responsible for their own lives and their own support, except in the gravest failures. And even then, private charity and local support should come before federal intervention and largess. Thus, the attack on morality and the family must necessarily make big government more likely. Do Libertarians understand that?
In theory, open borders promoting the free flow of capital and people, would be ideal. However, when you have that coupled with the welfare state and identity politics which destroys the functioning of the “melting pot”, it falls dangerously short of ideal in terms of sustaining and protecting liberty.
But most Libertarians oppose constant foreign wars, excessive paper money creation, judges that legislate from the bench and the Administrative State. They favor school choice, believe in religious liberty, oppose national healthcare, believe in capitalism usually to an extreme and oppose identity politics because they believe in treating people as individuals as opposed to racial categories. The also strongly support the Second Amendment and federalism with its dispersion of power so important to the American founding. In most ways, they share common ground with Conservatives.
Personally, I like Libertarians. They often produce stimulating arguments and challenging views that make one think and reflect on first principles, like non-aggression, peaceful commerce and social harmony. But when if comes to practical politics, Libertarians are unrealistic and naïve to the point of foolishness. Also, they tend to see little connection between cultural trends and those of politics (it is often said that “politics is downstream from culture”.)
It is hard to see why a Libertarian could vote for a Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
You might say, they did not and they might believe that. But in a close election, not voting for the Republican means Democrat victory. Get it?
Some might argue it is a sophisticated way of creating divided government. We doubt such careful calculation is in the equation. More likely, it is their own sense of self-importance and their joy in teasing the major parties that pay insufficient attention to them. But the record of Libertarians often electing Democrats is pretty clear. Besides divided government is paralyzed government, which does not work well in crisis. If you want the government to shrink, would you not want to elect or influence the party mostly likely to shrink it?
Likewise, dealing with the Chinese threat to liberty requires greater unification of the parties.
It would seem electing Libertarian leaning candidates within an existing party would be time better spent than sabotaging the party pushing for a smaller, less intrusive government. The Republican party is often a leaking vessel carrying the ideas of liberty. Isn’t that good enough reason for Libertarians to be within the Republican party, fighting to hold the party of less government accountable for failing the cause rather than helping elect the party of massive government and decreased liberty?
Instead, Libertarians may be responsible for costing Trump the election and put the forces of limited government in a position where recovery could be difficult if not impossible. Trump after all, was NOT an establishment Republican.
While Trump no doubt rankled them for his positions on immigration, abortion, his personality quirks and lack of fiscal conservatism, he was the candidate that started to deregulate, nominated strict constructionist judges, defended the Second Amendment, the First Amendment, promoted school choice, opposed national healthcare, attempted to scale down our endless foreign wars and protected religious liberty. He also endorsed prison reform, enterprise zones, cut tremendous amounts of regulation and cut taxes. He even attempted to appoint Judy Shelton, a pro-gold standard economist to the Federal Reserve.
He was moving his party in a more limited government direction, not perfectly, but substantially.
Whatever his failings, he clearly was better than the weak and confused Biden who already is being besieged by left-wing elements demanding payback for their loyalty.
Trump himself, is the victim of “deep state” machinations that should be opposed by all friends of limited government. Do Libertarians really like the CIA and FBI interfering in elections?
Do Libertarians think the Democrats will deliver fiscal conservatism and sound money?
On some key Libertarian social issues, Trump was largely silent on pot. He largely respected federalism through the Covid pandemic and let the states do their thing, giving us at least a range of public policy choices valuable to future research for what works.
But is pot legalization really more important than the Bill of Rights? Even if one supports legalization, the priorities are all wrong.
In terms of sexual issues, Trump moved to decriminalize homosexual behavior in foreign countries.
On abortion, Trump is pro-life. Libertarians themselves differ on abortion but all would agree it should not be subsidized by the state. If Roe is overturned, the states will determine abortion policy which should not be offensive to Libertarians.
Neither candidate ran on fiscal conservatism, but the Democrats have openly embraced socialism, free college education, the Green New Deal, racial reparations, Modern Monetary Theory, climate change regulation, harsh Covid lockdown – all of which would make Trump the relative fiscal conservative.
So, if our calculations are right, Trump supported due process for males on college campus, opposed the violence of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, opposed the teaching of critical race theory, reduced foreign wars, reduced our dependence on international organizations, reduced the regulatory state, defended the Bill of Rights. And Libertarians voted against him because of WHAT? Immigration policy? Marijuana legalization? Failure to balance the budget? His tweets?
With a huge expensive state, how can you balance the budget? Smaller government means smaller budgets. By defeating Trump, now what are the chances of balancing the budget?
If our analysis of Libertarians is correct, they will rightfully go down as one of the most foolish political movements ever to pretend they support liberty.
In politics, you never get all that you want. The choices are basically who on balance moves the country in the direction you seek. Perfection is not part of the political equation and, frankly, is not part of the human condition. This advice is applicable to Conservatives as well, who often find the Republican Party just as frustrating.
If Libertarians felt their “independence” of either major party signals their moral purity on key issues, they have succeeded in putting in power the least likely party to advance liberty.
That, my friends, is a poor calculation. It is virtue signaling of the worst kind. It is making a moral statement that not just has little meaning. Rather, it actually succeeds in getting the opposite of what your supposed virtue supports.
It goes beyond being childish and ventures into the self-destructive. Pay attention to me, it seems to say, or I will burn down the house.
What is the solution?
Perhaps serious self-examination by Libertarians is in order. As far as Republicans are concerned, the GOP needs to reach out to fellow liberty lovers and make them feel more welcome within the party.
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.