The Libertarian Party sent out a press release today targeting ‘small L’ libertarians and Tea Party members at CPAC:
Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict commented, “Our goal at CPAC is to reach out to libertarians who have been misled into thinking of conservatism as a small-government ideology. In fact, conservatives just want their own version of big government, as we pointed out last year.”
Benedict continued, “We’ve already heard some talk about the Republican ‘three-legged stool.’ My view is, Republicans are wrong on foreign policy, they’re wrong on social policy, and they’re lying hypocrites on economic policy. Their stool has no legs.”
[V]arious New Mexico Tea Partyers booed one of the movement’s superstars [Former New Mexico Governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson] for daring to suggest that a wasteful and — let’s just say it –tyrannical government campaign [the war on drugs] be ended.
If ending the disastrous, expensive, immoral and racist drug war gets booed at a Tea Party rally in liberty-loving New Mexico, there is absolutely nothing remotely libertarian about the movement besides a visceral hatred of taxes and the conviction that undeserving Others are benefiting from them.
When people ask me what I think about the Tea Party generally, my response is that I’m glad it’s out there shaking things up and challenging the establishment, but I keep them at arm’s length (where were these people during the Bush years?). This article not only deals about Tea Partier attitudes about the war on (some) drugs but also other liberty issues such as gay marriage and free trade (among many other issues not mentioned in the article).
I have been skeptical about the Tea Party’s commitment to liberty all along but the 2012 presidential primary will provide an opportunity to prove me wrong. If the Tea Party overall supports Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, then I would be happy to admit I was wrong. If, however; the Tea Party backs someone like “Tax Hike” Mike Huckabee, Sarah “the Quitter” Palin, or “Mandate” Mitt Romney I can safely say my skepticism was validated.
I so hope to be proven wrong but if the response from the New Mexico Tea Party is any indication…
Was 2010 a good year or bad year for liberty and why? Like most of you will likely respond, 2010 was very much a mixed bag IMHO.
On the positive side, the mandate section of ObamaCare was found unconstitutional, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, Wikileaks exposed the federal government for the corrupt organization it is, the Democrats took a beating on election day, and the Bush era tax cuts were extended (though with the return of the death tax, extension of unemployment benefits, and other compromises in the bill, I’m not yet sure if this was a good or bad thing).
On the other hand, Republicans gained ground on election day (I’m not optimistic that they have changed much since the last time they ran things), the vast majority of incumbents in both parties were easily reelected, government spending is way out of control, the Fed wants to pump some $600 billion into the economy by printing more counterfeit money, unconstitutional invasive searches continue to take place at airports in the name of safety, both Democrat and Republican politicians consider Wikileaks to be a “terrorist” organization, and President Obama believes he can assassinate American citizens where they stand with no due process whatsoever.
“That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian. You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.”– Gary Johnson
Former two-term Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico has been hitting the news a lot lately. This makes sense, as he’s not ruled out a possible presidential bid. Wikipedia provides this brief overview of Johnson’s history:
Founder of one of New Mexico’s largest construction companies, Johnson entered politics for the first term by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994. He beat incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget by using his gubernatorial veto on a record 48% of bills.
He sought re-election in 1998, winning by a ten-point margin. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms, as well as campaigning for marijuanadecriminalization. During his tenure as governor, he adhered strictly to an anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy program, and set state and national records for his use of veto powers: more than the other 49 contemporary governors put together.Term-limited, Johnson retired from politics at the end of his second term.
“For eight years,” former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said with a wide grin on his face, “I was a libertarian governor disguised as a Republican!” Often dubbed the “next Ron Paul,” Johnson wears the libertarian (small “L”) label proudly, though in an interview with The Daily Caller he swore he was still a Republican.
Over at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison describes a potential problem with a Johnson candidacy, which is electability in a Republican primary:
The possibility of a Gary Johnsonpresidential bid is an exciting one, and I say that as a New Mexican who didn’t like some of the major projects he undertook as governor. I can say that I would happily support his candidacy were he to pursue the Republican nomination. That’s part of the problem Gary Johnson faces in a GOP nominating contest: he appeals to people like me and Matt Welch, who are not remotely representative of the Republican primary electorate. For one thing, I’m not a Republican. Not even Ron Paul’s 2008 bid could make me change my registration to vote in the state primary, and I doubt I would change it for the next election.
While a lot of Republicans liked Ron Paul’s fiscal policy issues during the 2008 elections, his foreign policy views certainly hampered his ability to win a GOP presidential nomination. Johnson has been very outspoken regarding marijuana policy, which has the possibility of making it tough for him to win a GOP nomination, as well.
“Marijuana legalization, arguably Johnson’s hallmark political platform, was advertised as being a main point of the lecture, and Johnson subsequently devoted a substantial portion of his address to it,” writes Patrick Derocher after a recent Johnson lecture at Fordham University.
Over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, long-time Republican political consultant Roger Stone is a bit more optimistic than I am:
A 2012 Presidential candidacy by Johnson would lead to a needed public dialog on the failed war on drugs. Prop 19 failed only because of the gross lies told about marijuana use by police groups, Senator Diane Feinstein and, get this, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyone who has seen “Pumping Iron” remembers Arnold puffing on a joint between heavy sets. Do as I say, not as I do, Ahhnold ?
This is not to say Johnson is a one dimensional candidate and their will be plenty of opposition to ending the prohibition of Marijuana in the Republican Party, but a Johnson candidacy would find a constituency in the early primary states, particularly “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire and would spark a national discussion that must be had.
Sarah Palin won’t run ( you heard it here first!). The race is wide open. Run, Gary Run.
Following the same vein, CNN entitled a recent article “Forget Palin, here’s Gary Johnson.” Here’s the pertinent excerpt:
Skeptics of the Tea Party note that the right never organized in opposition to the profligate spending of the Bush administration. They wonder why a movement so vocal about liberty focuses exclusively on the economic variety, and suspect that if the GOP is returned to power, government won’t grow smaller or less intrusive so much as serve different masters.
Come 2012, however, there is one Republican who’ll be uniquely positioned to win over these skeptics: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a long-shot candidate whose success in the presidential primary would signal, as nothing else could, that the principles espoused by the Tea Party really changed the GOP.
Certainly Johnson would provide a bridge between fiscal conservatives and the left, as E. D. Kain notes at The Washington Examiner:
That being said, Johnson’s positions on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the war on drugs dovetail nicely with my own, and are quite a lot better and more coherent than anything we’ve seen out of either traditional Democratic or Republican candidates. I’m not nearly the sort of fiscal hawk that Johnson is, preferring to keep reasonable spending levels on public education, transportation, and health, but at least he’s consistent in his approach to both civil liberties and fiscal affairs. Indeed, if the Tea Party was as coherent as Johnson, I might even join up – though my participation would be more a protest of our egregious drug policies and our failed security policies than anything. Limiting government must mean more than simply limiting taxes and spending if it is ever to become a truly coherent political force.
Johnson isn’t afraid to take on his likely competition. This clip from a recent profile piece from The New Republic is telling:
What does Johnson make of Palin? On a drive through the foothills of New Hampshire, I ask him. Riding shotgun, he turns the question around on me. “Um, I guess some people think she’s folksy,” I say from the backseat. “Well, at first she strikes you as folksy,” he shoots back. “And then you realize: She might be running for president of the United States! And then, don’t we have the obligation to tell her what a terrible idea that is?” Cupping his hands to his mouth, he brays, “Sarah! We love you! Don’t run!” He also performs a rendition of the “deer-in-the-headlights” interview she did on “The O’Reilly Factor,” about the BP oil spill.
He’s also happy to take on the Republican establishment, as The New Mexico Independentnotes:
The free-speaking Johnson also penned a critical statement on the Republican takeover of the House, on Facebook:
“After yesterday’s election I think it would be wrong for the Republicans to take the results as some sort of mandate for Republican leadership. I believe that the Republicans have an opportunity to redeem themselves for when we owned the White House and when we ran up record deficits and when we gave America a prescription health care benefit that added trillions to the entitlement liability and ran up record deficits.”
If Johnson runs, and all signs seem to indicate that he will, the Republican primary process will certainly be interesting.
“As an unabashed Johnson supporter (which is an extremely unusual place to find myself vis-a-vis a politician), my main hope has been that at least one libertarian-minded candidate make it to the GOP’s final round in 2012,” writes Matt Welch at Reason. “Though as one wag suggested to me on Election Night, why not two?”
Over at Slate, Dave Weigel noted that the process could be a lot of fun, too. Here’s the excerpt he pulled from the TNR profile, which was immediately followed by the quote at the top of this post:
“Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!”
One doesn’t expect excessive amounts of wisdom from Sen. Jim Demint (R-SC), the troglodyte who recently told an audience, according to the Spartanburg Herald, that “if someone is openly homosexual or if an unmarried woman sleeps with her boyfriend, then that person shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom,” but this is a new level of stupid. When asked to comment on Gov. Mitch Daniels’ suggestion that it’s time for détente in the culture war, Demint tells Fox News that one “can’t be a fiscal conservative and not be a social conservative.”
Originally, I thought this message was just something DeMint was pitching at Christian conservatives to convince them that the tea party’s libertarianism is overblown, that they’re still a cherished constituency despite the reordering of conservative priorities to favor spending over “values.” But now I think he means it, which makes me wonder. For instance, last I checked, Glenn Beck’s a fiscal conservative (and notably a fan of the idea of Americans turning back to God) but also … fine with gay marriage. DeMint himself, however, is not: He told Al Hunt last year that neither the feds nor state governments should have the power to legalize same-sex unions. Per his God/government dynamic, I would think he’d support getting government out of the marriage business altogether and trusting in Judeo-Christian morals to handle this problem, but he still supports state recognition of traditional marriage as far as I can tell. Likewise with his comments about how gays and unwed mothers don’t belong in the classroom. Said GOProud’s founder Chris Barron of that, “The idea that someone who says they believe in limited government would support the government weeding out gay teachers and unmarried sexually active female teachers simply defies logic.” So maybe our error here is in assuming that when DeMint says “fiscal conservatism,” he means it as a byword for “less government” universally.
And Jim DeMint has made no secret of his desire to use the state to enforce his social goals. Just a few years ago, for example, he said that that gay men and unmarried women shouldn’t be allowed to teach in public schools, so it’s fairly clear that when it comes to the shrinking the size, scope, and power of government Jim DeMint is not onboard. Libertarian-minded Republicans should take note of that fact.
To the extent Jim DeMint was ever on my 2012 “short-list,” he’s off it now.
Republicans were able to regain control of the House of Representatives because the economy is tanking. Social issues were of little concern to voters. Even at CPAC, the annual conference for conservatives, attendees were much more concerned about the economy than social issues.
I believe very much in free markets, but I’m not a social conservative. Why? Because I believe liberty applies to more than just economics. We are sovereign individuals, and we are entitled to live our lives free of government intervention, provided we are not infringing on the rights of others. It’s what John Stuart Mill called the “harm principle” in his book, On Liberty.
if the GOP takes the mid-term election as a mandate to pass a Federal Marriage Amendment or to find some other social boogeyman to go after, they’re going to wind right back up in the minority