Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Advice to Libertarians"

Over at Liberal Logic 101 the blog owner recently posted "My advice to Libertarians..."

I appreciate that Liberal Logic 101's blogger would take the time to give advice to libertarians, but I don't know how helpful his advice is.

Here is the post:

My advice to Libertarians...

I’m not a Libertarian, but I understand the basic philosophy as well as the goals you wish to achieve. While I agree with some, as a whole I see Libertarianism as doomed to failure because…

A. Too many Libertarians seem to thrive on alienating Libertarianism’s greatest allies while flirting with its greatest enemies.
My first thought is to say that its more the standard republicans alienating and poorly treating libertarians.  But that sounds too much like sour grapes, and won't accomplish anything.

Its certainly true that republicans are closer to allies with libertarians than democrats are, but libertarians want freedom and less government.  When republicans expand government and limit our freedom, what are we supposed to do?  Shut up and follow along with the republican plan?

This point "A" is often expressed by conservative republicans to try and convince libertarians to shut up and not speak out when republicans are wrong.  If we did that, then what is the point in being something other than an establishment republican?

Over at Lew Rockwell...

"Come back(?) to the Republican party, you Ron grassroots. All is forgiven! Actually, we neocons still hate your guts, but we want you to support warmongering fascist B as versus warmongering fascist A, because we hope to be on his payroll. There's a big difference, really. So get to it, and then shut up. Be Zombies for Romney."
B. Too few Libertarians seem to care anything about realistically convincing people that they have a workable idea. Instead they seem to want to simply annoy people and whine when they don’t get attention.
When I debate liberals I often find that they ignore my ideas in favor of insulting me.  They say that I should shut up with my "republican talking points."

This point "B" seems a lot like someone who has a different political view hearing only bad things from their opponents.

I can see why this person says that libertarians whine when we don't get attention.  Don't republicans whine about liberal media bias?  Don't republicans whine when the news does not cover democrat gaffes?

I recently noted that the opening game of the NFL season was moved ahead a day so as not to interfere with Obama's DNC speech, while the RNC convention needed to be rearranged to fit with what the TV networks felt like covering.

If this is the case why not "whine" about it?
C. As with any political philosophy Libertarianism attracts kooks who want to push it to some extreme. Unfortunately Libertarians don’t seem to mind that so many of these kooks have become the face of Libertarianism, in spite of not really representing its core principles very well.
Everyone always thinks that their opponent's views are "extreme."

If "kooks" have become the face of libertarians, then who made that so?  If you see "kooks" every time you see libertarians, then is it not the media (who so many of you conservatives correctly call liberally biased) who is responsible for showing the craziest people when you see libertarians in the news?

I don't think that you can reasonably claim a "media bias" against conservatives and then, simultaneously, ignore that bias against libertarians.
D. Too many Libertarians have and are falling for the “all or nothing” scam that says that unless they get everything they want, then they’ll take their marbles and walk home pouting.
You say "all or nothing".  But with Obama versus Romney our options are: nothing or a vague hope for more than nothing. What will Romney do that is, even vaguely, supported by libertarians?  His plan is to repeal Obamacare and then put more new healthcare laws into place.  I have no doubt that his new plan will be marginally better, but only marginally. 

Its not "all or nothing" its nothing or maybe marginally more than nothing.
–Work With Your Friends, Know Your Enemies–

Liberalism has advanced because one of their strategies has always been to cooperate with “fellow travelers”. They find groups that have some goals in common, and either convince them to do the lion’s share of the work achieving that goal, or simply co-opt that group and redirect its resources toward the overall goal of Liberalism. Why do you think Feminism, Civil Rights, Environmentalism and a ton of other specific causes seem to be more concerned about advancing Liberalism as a whole, than what was originally their specific cause? They’ve been taken over and consumed by Liberals, and their resources re-allocated to the general Liberal cause. Libertarians have been and remain in Liberal’s sites to exploit this way.
If you are saying that libertarians will become part of the democratic party, then they might take that as an insult.

This paragraph seems more like something that the republicans, not libertarians, should hear.  Rather than ignoring people like Ron Paul, and making fun of his supporters, the republican party could try and absorb libertarians, like you described the liberals doing to various groups above.
However Conservatives (if you insist on believing that non-Libertarian Conservatives are “neo-conservatives” then simply understand that that’s what I mean when I call them Conservatives) have historically approached groups with similar interests more honestly. The GOP treats Libertarians, Evangelicals, gun-rights groups, pro-Israel groups, etc as valued advisors which each offering perspectives to consider and accommodate if possible. As much as Liberals may want to claim the GOP has taken over churches or vice-versa, Evangelical Christians and the GOP have always had a loose, working relationship, with each maintaining their specific goals, but cooperating when those goals overlap.
 "as valued advisors(sic)"

Here is the list of speakers at the RNC.  Where was the libertarian speaker?

Here is a summary of the convention from a libertarian perspective: Ron Paul Supporters Extremely Disappointed and Angry After RNC Snubs Libertarians

from the summary:
From Raw Story: "Ron Paul Declines to Endorse Romney, Spurns Convention Speaking Slot." Unsurprisingly sticking to his principles, Paul reiterated his opposition to Governor Romney's philosophy and positions. Paul was asked to speak at the Convention only if the Romney campaign and the RNC approved his speech and if Paul also endorsed Romney. Paul wasn't having any of it. "Paul claims that convention organizers told him he could deliver a speech on two conditions. First, the Romney campaign would get to vet his speech, and second, he would have to give a full-blown endorsement of the GOP nominee. Paul balked at both requirements. 'It wouldn’t be my speech,' Paul told the Times. 'That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.'"
Ron Paul Supporters Get Nose Bleed Seats
The Republican National Convention seating chart, obtained by POLITICO Sunday, shows the delegations from Nevada, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota and Oklahoma all located on the outer fringe of the convention floor. Each are states with significant Paul followings.

The delegation for the Northern Mariana Islands, on the other hand, is right in front behind the gang from Michigan, birth state of Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Other groups with pretty good seats include those from the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa. None has electoral votes that can impact the outcome of the election.
also from the summary:
Remember all that brouhaha over Ron Paul needing five states to nominate him, according to the old "Rule 40"? Well, today six states (or entities with delegations) tried to nominate him--Nevada, Iowa, Oregon, Minnesota, Alaska and the Virgin Islands.

What happened then? A rule change was adopted saying you need eight. Sorry Ron!

That's apparently why Paul's 190 or so votes, announced by various state leaders, were not announced from the podium to the convention assembled.”

And many people in the media call Ron Paul supporters “crazed” and “sore losers!”
also from the summary:
Ron Paul Tribute Video at the RNC: Daniel McAdams at the LRC blog makes some great points about the 3 minute tribute video the Republicans made for Paul. “However, as many of us expected, what is missing from this video tribute is only the main theme Dr. Paul has repeatedly, speech by speech, every time he opens his mouth, driven home to anyone who would listen (and ask his multitude of young followers whether they appreciate and listen): The antiwar theme of peace and prosperity. The principle of non-interventionism. The golden rule.

Anyone who does not understand that Ron Paul above all stands for peace and prosperity through the avoidance of an immoral, destructive, and impoverishing interventionist foreign policy honestly has no clue about the very core of this man.

He has been a voice crying in the wilderness for decades on this one precise point. And that the RNC chooses to ignore the core of this man's beliefs is but a condensation of the lies and mendacity we have seen on their part over this entire campaign, culminating in the blatant theft that would make a third world dictator blush — or flush with envy. We do not need the RNC whitewash of Ron Paul. We know and will continue to follow the REAL Ron Paul! Our hero.”
In an earlier paragraph you pointed out that liberals have absorbed people with various goals to their cause.  And yet when it comes to an opinion that is contrary to the mainstream republicans, they go out of their way to ignore that differing opinion.

Where was the "value" the republicans place on libertarians demonstrated during the RNC?

At its core, Libertarianism is about limiting government and allowing the individual to succeed on his own strength, merit and abilities. While both the DNC and the GOP increase the size of government, a larger, more powerful government is at the very core of what the DNC and Liberals want. Conservatives do enlarge the government, but do so grudgingly, because they feel it’s the only realistic option.
You admit that "Conservatives do enlarge the government".  So why would a libertarian want to support a party that does the exact opposite of that libertarian's goals?

You say that the republicans mean well, but "the road to hell was paved with good intentions."

If the only "realistic option" is the opposite of what we want, then why should we bother?

If the republicans were serious about, say, cutting spending, then why don't they ever do more than restrict, maybe, future spending?
Look at it this way. If shooting a stray dog where enlarging government, Liberals are the neighbor that shoots a stray dog because he thinks it’s fun. Conservatives are the neighbor whose had his yard pooped in, his garden dug up and his children frightened by a stray dog, that really wishes there was some solution other than shooting it, but can’t think of one.
I do not understand your analogy.

Let me try an imaginary conversation from the way I see it:

Democrat: "I go from town to town killing babies." (true story)

Republican: "I don't like killing babies, but I help because its the only 'realistic option'."

Libertarian: "Stop killing babies!"

Democrat and Republican: "What a kook."
Liberals are the enemy of Libertarianism, while Conservatives are a potential and strong ally. Pretending they are both evil shuts off opportunities to push goals in common with Conservatives and leaves you open to being exploited by those who hold a completely opposite philosophy of government.
Its true that the republicans mean well, but when was the last time they did something like reduce federal spending, or even sign a balanced budget into law?

Libertarians want the republicans to meet the standards that they set for them selves.  They point out where republicans deviate from their own goals.  And in return the libertarians get snubbed, insulted, and ignored.

–Market Your Cause–

A whole lot of Conservatives have been turned off of Libertarianism because it’s not been presented in a very favorable way. There are some simply ways of resolving this.
Presented by whom?  That biased media you republicans complain about so often?

Ron Paul had the most fired up and inspired followers during the nomination process.  His speeches, even on things like economic policy, get hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. 
First, present it in smaller, easier to digest portions. Screaming for the legalization of marijuana makes you look like pot-heads. However, lucidly presenting your opposition to “net neutrality” by explaining what it is and what it will do, will make people take note. Shouting that Israel is a terrorist nation, makes you look like an anti-Semitic morons. However, condemning foreign aid with realistic stats and plausible alternatives, brings the issue to people in a way they’ll understand and could be persuaded. Claiming the government has no right defining marriage, while ignoring the government’s actions in forcing businesses to endorse same-sex marriage, makes you look hypocritical at best.
"First, present it in smaller, easier to digest portions."

Like this?

How about this?

Maybe this?

How about two books in which each chapter could not be simpler or easier to understand?

(Dear author of the letter that I am responding to: I'll buy either/ both of those two books for you if you'll promise to read them.  They are also available for free here.)

Is this blog post of mine simple and easy to understand?

When you hear libertarians "shouting" and "screaming" do you suppose that you only hear libertarians that way from the media you conservatives claim is biased to the left?  If were are being ignored should we just shut up?

What do you mean by "forcing businesses to endorse same-sex marriage"?  If a libertarian forces anyone to to anything, then he is a pretty awful libertarian.

The libertarian position on same-sex marriage is: the government should not be involved in any marriages. 

I run a web site for people with a specific rare congenital condition. One of the many topics that comes up is the need for newborn screening. Many people have sought solutions to the problem by getting politicians to enact laws forcing hospitals to perform newborn screenings. I tried, in vain, to argue that a much better approach would be to instead, approach insurance companies with a well documented plan for offering and promoting newborn screening as a way for them to lower overall healthcare costs, that they would otherwise have to pay for. The problem I ran in to was the “let the government do it” mentality is deeply ingrained in so many people that they couldn’t comprehend any other method.
In Arthur C. Brooks' new book, "The Road to Freedom," he makes the case that if the government is supposed to take care of  poor people, then private citizens figure that they are helping the poor by paying taxes and donate and volunteer less than they would if the government were not "helping."  (I endorse the first half of the book where he writes about how conservatives should debate the left, but disagree with the places that he thinks the government should intervene.)
Before you will be able to convince people that Libertarianism is even remotely feasible, you need to educate them in some basic philosophical concepts. Marketing the idea of self-sufficiency, accomplishing great things without ever involving the government, even the idea of the trade off in freedoms a more powerful government costs, is where to start. Now you are trying to sell ice to people who’ve been convinced they are Eskimos. They won’t listen, until you first re-educate them, and convince them they aren’t Eskimos.
I agree that libertarians need to educate people about freedom.  Many libertarians try to do so.  The Ludwig von Mises Institute is designed to do just that.

If you are interested in reading a book to understand it, at only 205 pages, Henry Hazlitt's "Economics in One Lesson" could be your book.

I am currently reading Murry Rothbard's "Man, Economy, and State" which illustrates economics from the most basic of economic ideas (starting with one man on a deserted island).  I don't recommend this book for people new to economics, however.

If you are interested in learning about economics from a libertarian blog, you might try reading The Free Northerner, his list of "Political/ Economic Blogs," posts from Dr. Tim's Moment of Clarity, or even my blog.
–Marginalize the Kooks–

I haven’t paid much attention to what Ron Paul has said or what he even stands for. The main reason is that before I had a chance to do so I was confronted by an army of people supporting him, but who were also certifiable nut cases. I know some Ron Paul supporters personally, and know they aren’t like this, but meanwhile the nation has been deluged with the insane antics of what is now known a PaulBots. Seriously, the biggest hindrance to Ron Paul’s political aspirations are his own followers. You guys really need to corral them, and get them to shut up. They’ve become a joke. And they bear the bulk of the responsibility for so few people ever taking Ron Paul seriously. (I’m giving Ron Paul the benefit of the doubt in regards to whether he endorses or encourages the lunacy that goes on in his name).
 "the nation has been deluged with the insane antics of what is now known a PaulBots"

And who "deluges" us but that very media that you claim is biased against republicans.  (FYI, the media is biased against libertarians too.)

"You guys really need to corral them, and get them to shut up."

Now I know that you don't mean to suggest that the people who value freedom more than any other people should get people who support them to "shut up," but that sure seems like what you are saying.

This is one of those times when a republican is wrong. Buy seeming to support or encourage a restriction of speech you are on the wrong side and libertarians are correct to let people say what they want without being forced to do anything by anyone.
Conservatives have their kooks, but we don’t let them speak for us, or attempt to pretend they are mainstream. Even Liberals understand that concept, while they battle with silencing their kooks as they pretend to be “tolerant” and “accepting”.
The problem is that libertarians are often the people conservatives silence, and then wonder why we don't support the republican candidate for president. (Who are you voting for in November; one of the only two guys to sign socialized healthcare into law in the history of this country, or the other one.).
–Be Willing to Run the Race One Step at a Time–
Prioritize your goals. It’s unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to get everything you want all at once. Which goals are most important, and which are the most realistic? Work on things one goal at a time, and don’t ignore the need to change the way people think about things. Don’t ignore recruitment/marketing as a major step in accomplishing your overall goals.
My personal goal for congress is a balanced budget.  Do you suppose that we'll ever get that? Even if we elect Romney and have a majority of republicans in congress? When was the last time that happened?
Dick Armey once said [I'm paraphrasing], “There are those that love freedom, and those that lust for power. Those that lust for power work constantly to accomplish their goals, so those of us who love freedom need to be willing to work just as hard to keep them from taking it away.”

That’s the biggest weakness among Libertarians. Their motivation is the love of freedom (albeit, they define freedom a bit differently than I would). But the motivation to preserve your freedom is much lower than the motivation in others to lust for power at the expense of your freedom. It’s not enough to whine all over the internet about having your freedoms taken away. That accomplishes nothing more than annoying people. You need to be smart, think long term, and understand that it’s a whole lot easier to preserve freedom than to try to get it back once it’s been taken away, especially when almost everyone else has been deluded into believing that they never really needed that freedom anyway.
How do you define freedom?

Definition of Freedom: "the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action"

In this paragraph you claim that we should "preserve freedom" and you complain that we whine too much when we do just that.  What is it, specifically, that you want from libertarians?


I appreciate that you have taken the time to try and help libertarians, but you seem to be missing the point.

Libertarians want more freedom and less government.  The republican party says that's what it wants but it never delivers.

You claim that we should "you need to educate them in some basic philosophical concepts."  And yet when someone tries to do just that, "I haven’t paid much attention to what Ron Paul has said or what he even stands for."

You complain about "kooks" being what you see when you see libertarians, and yet you'll continue to claim that the sources who bring those "kooks" to your attention are biased.

Is there some way that the libertarian case could be presented to that you would prefer?

Do you want to see books, video clips, or blog posts?

Please let me know what sort of thing you would like to see from the libertarian perspective and I will try to find it for you.

Thanks for the advice,

eltim164 at gmail.com

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