Our two-party system makes it almost impossible for libertarians to get elected to office, especially on the national level. In order for libertarians to get elected to Congress, their best bet is to run as a Republican. Ron Paul is a perfect example of this. But libertarians should have no illusions about the Republican Party. And they shouldn’t make the Republican Party out to be something it is not.
A former member of the Libertarian Party who is now running for office as a Republican recently said about the Republican Party:
At its core, the Republican Party is supposed to be a liberty party—that’s why it was the party of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. For a Republican, so long as you are not violating the lives and liberties of other human beings—and that includes the lives of human beings in the womb—the government should give you the freedom to do as you see fit. The party strives to put the trust and the power back in the hands of the people instead of handing it over to unelected bureaucrats.
This almost makes Republicans sound like libertarians. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s first look at some principles of libertarianism followed by an analysis of the above statement.
Libertarianism is the philosophy that says that people should be free from individual, societal, or government interference to live their lives any way they desire, pursue their own happiness, accumulate as much wealth as they can, assess their own risks, make their own choices, engage in commerce with anyone who is willing to reciprocate, participate in any economic activity for their profit, and spend the fruits of their labor as they see fit as long as their actions are peaceful, their associations are voluntary, their interactions are consensual, and they don’t violate the personal or property rights of others.
Libertarianism is the philosophy of nonaggression, whether that aggression be theft, fraud, the initiation of non-consensual violence against person or property, or the threat of non-consensual violence. The initiation or threat of aggression against the person or property of others is always wrong, even when done by government. Aggression is justified only in defense of one’s person or property or in retaliation in response to aggression against them, but is neither essential nor required.
Libertarianism respects personal privacy, financial privacy, free thought, individual responsibility, freedom of conscience, free exchange, free markets, and private property.
Libertarianism celebrates individual liberty, personal freedom, peaceful activity, voluntary interaction, laissez faire, free enterprise, free assembly, free association, free speech, and free expression.
Libertarianism opposes the welfare state, the warfare state, the national security state, the deep state, the nanny state, the regulatory state, the administrative state, and the police state because they are inimical to human flourishing and the free society.
Libertarianism seeks to limit the intervention of government in the economy and society, the government regulation of business and commerce, and the control of government over private, consensual peaceful activity.
Are Republicans libertarians? Don’t make me laugh.
I have five things to say about the aforementioned statement.
- The Republican Party is only a liberty party in the mind of those who are suckered by the conservative mantra of the Constitution, limited government, individual freedom, private property, traditional values, free enterprise, and a strong national defense. Republicans, even the “conservative” ones, don’t follow the Constitution in many areas. They prefer a government limited to one controlled by Republicans. They don’t accept the freedom of individuals to do anything that’s peaceful. They don’t believe in the inviolability of private property. They think traditional values should be legislated by government. They don’t yearn for free enterprise in everything. And they confound the idea of national defense with national offense.
- The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln. But that is a terrible thing. Lincoln was one of the worst U.S. presidents. His legacy is one of mercantilism, income taxation, crony capitalism, protectionism, militarism, authoritarianism, and centralized government. Just spend a few minutes in Tom DiLorenzo’s LRC article archive.
- The Republican Party is the party of Ronald Reagan. But even this is a bad thing. Sure, Reagan was a tax cutter, but he was also a tax raiser. He increased Social Security taxes, corporate income taxes, Medicare taxes, and capital gains taxes. He instituted taxation of Social Security benefits, required the self-employed to pay the full payroll tax rate, and broadened the tax base. But that’s not all. Reagan was an incorrigible drug warrior, signing legislation reinstating civil asset-forfeiture laws and mandatory minimum sentences for drug-related crimes. He also signed legislation forcing states to raise their drinking age to 21. During his tenure as president, federal expenditures increased by more than 60 percent, spending on education increased by 68 percent, and health-care spending increased by 71 percent. He added over $1 trillion to the national debt by the end of his presidency. He increased import barriers and quotas and expanded the agricultural subsidies. And as Reagan’s budget director David Stockman tells us: “Reagan tripled the size of the U.S. defense budget based on a totally phony neocon claim that the Soviet Union was on the verge of military superiority and nuclear first-strike capacity.”
- The Republican Party certainly does not believe that the government should give you the freedom to do as you see fit as long as you are not violating the lives and liberties of other human beings. Republicans want to lock people in cages for possessing too much of a plant that the government doesn’t approve of. Need I say anything more?
- The Republican Party certainly does not strive to put the trust and the power back in the hands of the people instead of handing it over to unelected bureaucrats. The federal government is full of hundreds of thousands of unelected bureaucrats in the EPA, FDA, SBA, TVA, DEA, ATF, NEA, NEH, GSA, NSF, SSA, USAID, SEC, FCC, EEOC, FEC, FTC, CFTC, CPSC; the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Homeland Security, Energy, the Interior, Commerce, State, Justice, Labor, Transportation, Veterans Affairs, Treasury, Defense, and Agriculture; and the National Council on Disability. What have Republicans ever done about eliminating the federal government’s agencies, bureaus, commissions, departments, administrations, corporations, authorities, foundations, and services? The silence is deafening.
Republicans represent everything that libertarians are opposed to. How could a Republican ever be mistaken for a libertarian?
Laurence M. Vance