One does not need to look any further than the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee to see the sad state of the libertarian movement and the tragic inconsistencies that plague the beltway libertarians of the left.
Yesterday as I was scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled upon a screenshot of a picture that the Libertarian Party itself shared. It read “No more Bushes, Clintons, or Pauls”, with a picture of Rand Paul in the middle. This post was made back in 2015.
But this year, after Gary Johnson had won the possible support of neocons like Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, they were more than happy to announce this news publicly, and welcomed them and the rest of the establishment heads of the #NeverTrump movement “into the fold”.
This becomes even more ridiculous when you look at the reasons why the Libertarian Party so willingly slandered the Paul family. According to some of their dedicated activists, voters and followers, the reason for this was because Rand was too “socially conservative” on the issues of gay marriage, drug legalization and immigration. When one looks at the history of the libertarian movement and takes a more consistent approach to policy, they discover that the libertarian movement, for most of its lifetime, favored decentralized government (even in the area of marriage and drugs), and some of the most legendary libertarian thinkers (Hoppe, Rothbard, Rockwell etc.) were for stronger border controls as a necessary prerequisite for defending a culture of liberty.
It is believed that by keeping the power over these matters more locally controlled, it would more accurately represent the state of society under private property rule, and would be easier for citizens to manipulate than under the powerful thumb of a highly centralized government. All of this being said, Rand Paul was certainly not above criticism from the perspective of a libertarian purist….however, this was not why he was called out, and this becomes evident when you look at the record of the party’s presidential and vice presidential nominees.
Although Gary Johnson claims to be “fiscally conservative”, the budget and debt in the state of New Mexico went up under his watch. When Gary Johnson left office, he increased the budget from roughly $4 billion to nearly $8 billion, and took the debt from close to $2 billion all the way up to about $5 billion. While Gary Johnson talks a good game about cutting back spending, his record is rather unimpressive.
He has also advocated for continued funding of Planned Parenthood, has pushed for a 30% consumption tax, and has even entertained the idea of basic individual income. Gary Johnson has also called Hillary Clinton a “wonderful public servant”, stated that he thinks we need to stay in the United Nations, called religious liberty and the freedom of association a “black hole”, and advocated for humanitarian wars.
His running mate, Bill Weld, is a lifelong friend of Hillary Clinton, pushed for strict gun control legislation while he was governor, was for Obamacare, was for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, was for eminent domain, was a co-chair of the CFR, and just recently said that their administration would seek to nominate progressive leftist judges to the Supreme Court. Needless to say, he doesn’t challenge the concept of legislation through the federal courts either. But as long as these candidates want to legalize pot and gay marriage (even if it means further centralizing the government), you won’t here any complaints from the Libertarian Party leadership or your typical beltway leftist libertarian.
When one looks at the most common reasons for attacking Rand Paul and the records of the two governors who are representing the Libertarian Party, it becomes evident that the moral priorities of this class of so called “libertarians” is, to say the least, bizarre. It is more important that you are for legalizing pot using whatever means necessary to appease leftists and get them to join the movement than it is to talk about the difficult questions and positions. As long as you believe in these things, supporting mass murder (Iraq war) and believing in progressive economics is just a minor policy difference.
How did the movement get to this point? The most clear explanation to this is that beltway libertarians have adapted policy to attract undesirables to the movement without challenging their thinking. They have also thrown the old guard of libertarianism under the bus, some of them being permanently black-marked and slandered with ridiculous terms and accusations, such as being neo-fascistic.
Some blame can be put on the right-libertarian intellectuals as well, for not working hard enough to contradict these fallacies and refute them publicly by working to educate the people of the liberty movement about consistent policy and the history of the movement. If anyone wishes to be a good advocate for liberty, or for anything really, they must educate themselves to the utmost about whatever it is they are an advocate for. It takes a little bit of work.
Plato once said that “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber,” and this is equally applicable to activism within the libertarian movement as well. This is especially true today, considering that the Libertarian Party is getting recognition like never before and is giving many new people the wrong first impression of what our ideology is all about, and will bring swaths of new leftists into the movement, which will result in….more beltway libertarianism!