A Libertarian Manifesto- part two
In the first manifesto, I tried to outline, in very general terms, what the Libertarian Party is all about. As with many articles written in general terms, not all of the philosophical and practical differences with other parties were outlined to any great degree. The owner of this blog, being enlightened, has invited me to elaborate more about the actual differences between the parties. That is a large topic, and so in part two I wish to talk about Republicans. For discussion purposes I will fall back on our earlier precedent of using the neo-conservative tag to distinguish them from earlier types of Republicans.
There is a tendency by the modern conservative movement to try and 'swallow' the Libertarians as being a sort of long-lost cousin to themselves, or maybe just wayward stepchildren. Indeed, the question arose as to whether the Libertarians are just impractical Republicans. In other words, would a Libertarian regime devolve into a neo-con Republican Party once the practicalities of government were fully engaged?
In one sense it is easy to sit back and be an arm-chair quarterback. Because the Libertarians have not had, as yet, anything like a presence of numbers in the legislature or executive branch, we can just sit back and criticize the powers that be and say just about anything we want to say. To have this understanding of Libertarians is to misunderstand them by and large.
To avoid a very lengthy article, I will choose a comparison of platforms based upon the principle key of reducing the Federal Government. One of the ways that neo-cons try and absorb the Libertarians is to say that they, too, also have a platform of making government smaller. Regardless of who is saying that, when Libertarians hear a statement to that effect we would approve. Indeed, smaller government is a great credo. The follow-up to that statement is usually "that sounds great, so why do the Republicans do anything BUT make smaller government?" The simple answer is that they have no intentions of making smaller government. They are in the majority in the legislative branch and hold the executive branch, and the government is growing all the time. So, are they lying, or is it the reality of government that it MUST grow regardless of what your platform is?
I maintain that neither is the case. Neo-cons believe that the average citizen is not intelligent enough to avoid using drugs on their own. Therefore growing the Federal Government to maintain the disastrous War on Drugs is logical. It is not enough that local municipalities and States can maintain their own laws on usage, for all of us poor benighted souls would begin guzzling heroin by the gallon the second that Big Brother turned away his eyes. The Libertarian stance is that the citizen has the right to imbibe whatever he/she chooses as long as others are not harmed. There were not more alcoholics after prohibition was lifted because the number of people with addictive personalities is independent of what the Federal Government wants or does not want. The result is that the understanding of the role of Federal Government by neo-cons is in conflict with their platform of reduced government.
Neo-cons tend to believe that the internet should be heavily regulated to get rid of the scourge of pornography and hate speech. The average citizen is once more accused of being too stupid to control what they are interested in reading or showing their children. Again, growth of Federal power is the result. Libertarians maintain that the demands of the marketplace and the 1st amendment have precedence and that all communication mediums should be free of government regulation and interference. The internet is a dangerous place just like the local magazine stand. Parents should be wary of what they expose their children to, and do not need the Feds to tell them what they can see or say or expose their children to. That is the responsibility of the citizenry. Once again the Republicans are in conflict with their own platform.
The neo-cons are also in the habit of wanting to tell other countries how they should govern themselves and what other countries should believe. The Federal Government tries to bribe the international community with money from American taxpayers and then threaten them with it to get what they want. When that does not work, then they will sometimes try to install a government themselves and tell the rest of the world that they are being liberated. Libertarians maintain that if we were to truly live by the principles of freedom, and trade with all comers, eventually the populaces of other countries would want to emulate us. Revolutions cannot come to a people that do not understand or appreciate the values of representative government or a free marketplace. The business end of a gun will not help their understanding of these principles either. The growth of Government to maintain this methodology of bribery and force is obvious, and the burdens on the populace of the US are equally obvious. Where is the platform of smaller government?
The neo-cons will say "wait! We are against a national health care program!" That is valid and does agree with their platform of smaller government. What that does not address is that there is no national health care program, so there is nothing to reduce, but only avoid. There is an attempt at privatizing a small part of Social Security. That is a far cry from eventually totally phasing out Social Security altogether. We have had the occasional tax cut, but that is different from eliminating the graduated income tax and moving to a national sales tax. Federal control of education is also growing, along with ever increasing federal oversight of interstate trade.
Because representative government is based on compromise between conflicting points of view, it is not realistic to assume that electing Libertarians to office would immediately make all of these changes occur at once. (Unless we were able to suddenly take everything at one time, but I do not foresee that either.) Considering the nature of the current government, that would not even be a wise move. What it does mean is that if we were to have the majority, there would be a great deal of movement towards the ends that I have described above. In what would be a fair and judicious manner, the goal of stripping the Federal Government to at least 50% of its current size would be a key element to a Libertarian government.