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 Post subject: Liberal-tarianism
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:18 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 6:01 pm
Posts: 1076
Due to the excesses of the Bush administration (and a few Republican excesses that date back to late Clinton) a new idea has been circulating in libertarian circles, "liberaltarianism."

It's quite similar to the "fusion" concept that was popular on the right starting with FDR and ending with Nixon. The idea was to find common ground, and expand from there trying to find ways in which different priorities are compatible. The premise is that individual liberty and traditional values are compatible, that a person can have individual liberty and still personally practice traditional values.

There was some common ground. Some argue there may be such similar common ground on the left. Unlike conservatives, who tend to lack any unifying ideological principle, liberals and libertarians both value civil liberty and economic justice – they just define them entirely differently.

Some argue that a moderate version of the two, a libertarian leaning liberal and a liberal leaning libertarian, could compromise. The problem with that idea is that the necessary compromises are different in scale. A liberal would have to compromise on quantitatively while a libertarian would have to compromise qualitatively – the liberal would have to embrace "less welfare" while the libertarian would have to embrace "the concept of welfare."

Another problem is that there are liberals whose loathing for libertarians exceeds even the loathing neoconservatives feel for libertarians. They despise libertarians so thoroughly they'd rather lose without libertarian help than win with libertarian help. Liberals generally are loathe to emphasize those parts of their own platform that concentrate on shrinking government.

The Democratic Party has made inroads to libertarians mostly by default, with only a few trying to appeal to those of a more libertarian mindset. As an example, Governor Schweitzer of Montana came out for fiscal sensibility and actually gets a positive rating from the NRA, and has steadfastly opposed REAL ID, all ideas that can attract libertarians, as well as the fact that the Democrats aren't homophobic.

But the economic Wal-Mart bashing economic populism that even the libertarian leaning liberals indulge in is bound to drive away the very same people they are trying to attract. The biggest draw that the Democratic Party has made to libertarians is that Bush was really that bad, and that the Republican Party could hardly have made a worse choice for his replacement than McCain. But on the other hand, after years of government manipulation of the economy resulted in the worst depression since the big one, the very first thing these newly elected liberals did was to blame the depression on lack of regulation, again spurning their temporary allies.

That, and the fact that Bush's record expansion of government stretch the traditional Democratic Party talking points to the point of absurdity, where his record expansions were described as laissez faire (in spite of ample contradicting evidence) and the antidote to the expansion was more expansion.

Even free trade is taking a hit. Bill Clinton, a liberal Democrat, brought us NAFTA and GATT. Libertarians describe those as being faulty because they don't free trade enough. Hillary Clinton is campaigning against her own husband by criticizing those two by saying they free up trade too much.

If the Democrats want the relationship with libertarians to be anything more than a temporary fling, if they want it to grow into a more enduring and mature relationship, perhaps it is time to rethink a few points of their anti-business populism and actually listen to the libertarians say "we want the same goal, but have a different way of getting there." That will involve telling the "libertarians are the epitome of evil" wing of their party to shut up and listen for a few minutes, something they have shown no willingness to do.

"If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
-- Samuel Adams

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