I’m all for….
….putting the NSA and the CIA back in their cages,
….taking drones out of the hands of presidents,
….spending tax revenues in wiser ways,
….legalizing marijuana (which, btw, Paul is NOT in favor of doing; see here and here) and
….shrinking our global empire.
That does NOT make me a libertarian. It shouldn’t make anyone else believe they might be one, either.
I want to encourage everyone, but especially young people, to not be fooled by Rand Paul just because he successfully delivered some none-too-surprising applause lines, “…thanks, presumably, to the first-come, first-served ticketing system used by the student-run Berkeley Forum, which sponsored the event in collaboration with the Berkeley College Republicans.”
What he didn’t have the courage to do was to address, “….Republican red-meat subjects like abortion, Obamacare and gay marriage.” To his credit, he did say, “Clapper lied in the name of security; Snowden told the truth in the name of privacy.”
As with every politician, he played to the audience before him. Sure, a little silver lining was visible.
After all, not all libertarian ideas are bad ideas, just like not all Green, Republican, Democratic, or any other political party’s ideas are all bad.
While we might all find some amount of common ground everywhere, we should not mistake that for support. Yes, I share some ideas with libertarians, but make no mistake about it. I consider hardcore libertarianism as not only bad for America, it’s bad for humanity and for civil society.
In fact, the only ones who actually benefit from libertarianism are the wealthy corporatists.
Milton Friedman would either have to agree or lie to our faces about that fact.
Why do I say that? Well, I wonder how many self-proclaimed libertarians and so-called “libertarian populists” actually know about their movement’s history?
Let me share some here.
“Libertarianism” was a project of the corporate lobby world, launched as a big business “ideology” in 1946 by The US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. The FEE’s board included the future founder of the John Birch Society, Robert Welch; the most powerful figure in the Mormon church at that time, J Reuben Clark, a frothing racist and anti-Semite after whom BYU named its law school; and United Fruit president Herb Cornuelle.
The purpose of the FEE — and libertarianism, as it was originally created — was to supplement big business lobbying with a pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-economics rationale to back up its policy and legislative attacks on labor and government regulations.
This background is important in the Milton Friedman story because Friedman is a founding father of libertarianism, and because the corrupt lobbying deal he was busted playing a part in was arranged through the Foundation for Economic Education.
- The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda, Sept. 6, 2013, Mark Ames
Seems that lobbying and corrupt lobbyists aren’t new ideas, and that even movements who profess to want smaller government aren’t above lobbying that very same government under the table.
In a recent Politico article, Ready for Rand? Americans hate Rand Paul’s libertarianism. They just don’t know it yet, Kevin D. Williamson explains succinctly why Rand Paul and his flavor of libertarianism will fail. (Note the dripping sarcasm below. It strikes me as meant mostly for conservatives.)
The problem for libertarian politicians is that Americans hate libertarianism. They like Social Security and minimum-wage hikes, they are still somewhat wary of free trade and they resent that the world is full of conniving and frequently swarthy foreigners who are scheming to provide us with goods and services in exchange for little green pieces of paper.
Smaller government. Unfettered and unregulated free trade. Ending the Fed, the IRS, the EPA, the DOE, the ED. If not eliminating, at least privatizing federal social safety net programs. Banning abortions. Putting more and more decisions like voting rights, gun laws, and marriage equality into the hands of locals.
These are libertarian ideals, and they are an anachronism. It is a way of thinking about and seeing the world, people, society, and governance that belongs more to the 18th century than it does to the 21st.
Unregulated markets have proven time and time again to be a recipe for environmental and economic disaster. It is exactly what is causing our ever-widening wealth gap, and it is precisely to blame for what looks more and more like a caste system in America.
As for the social issues, we have seen time and again what locals do the minute they are given the chance to turn their parochial thinking and ideology into legislation.
We never would have had the Voting Rights Act or the Civil Rights Act had it been left to the states. The latest and most obvious example of the abuse of power at the state level is voter suppression. Some states leapt at the first chances they’ve had since the 60s to institute the very same voter suppression laws that the feds have denied to them for years because those laws aim squarely at limiting minority voters. States are getting it wrong.
Yes, the movements for marriage equality and marijuana legalization, as well as for reforming gun laws if the majority of Americans ever find the courage to stand up to the gun manufacturers, the lobbyists, the NRA, and the minority of Americans who oppose them, are movements today at the state level. They are meant to do one thing: Make these federal issues and, eventually, federal law because each state should NOT get to decide who marries whom, what vices we choose to indulge in, or whether or not the person in line with us at the grocery checkout – or in the pew next to us on Sunday – is carrying a concealed weapon. That’s not only parochial, it’s uncivilized.
So, young people, please do not be fooled or seduced by Rand Paul. Just because he went to Berkley and just because he’s talking the talk on domestic spying, drones, and military interventions does not make him your friend, your ally, or your advocate. (And remember, he’s NOT for legalizing weed. He just thinks you should spend *less* time in jail if you’re busted.)
Conservatives of all ages need to know that Rand is not your friend, either, at least not according to those ostensibly speaking for that ideology like Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post.
In fact, Paul might have created what has become a rarer and rarer occurrence. He’s created agreement between extremist tea partiers and their intra-party nemeses, the so-called “mainstream” Republicans, that he’s not a conservative.
(Editorial note: The 2012 presidential election results prove that the GOP is anything but mainstream. All one has to do is look at the demographics. Data does not lie.)
Rubin excoriated Paul for how he insulted the intelligence of Berkley students and young people everywhere, first by wearing “baggy jeans” to Berkley (btw, what is it with conservatives and jeans?) and then for, “…pretending to be an undergrad who’d just rolled out of bed,” something Rubin says Jack Kemp wouldn’t have dreamed of doing.
On the more serious issues, Rubin exposes Paul’s, “…lack of forthrightness about conservative policies and solutions when it might prove uncomfortable – the desire to be something very different than what he’ll be in Iowa or New Hampshire.”
But what about CPAC and Paul’s straw poll victory, you ask?
Well, in this Bloomberg video (by way of The Christian Science Monitor) Dr. Larry Sabato tells us what Paul’s 31% straw poll win at CPAC means: Nothing.
First, there’s the math. Sabato reminds us that 7 in 10 at CPAC voted for someone else.
Next, he reminds us that CPAC is not the GOP. It is, he says, where, “…one goes to show a little leg – the right leg.”
Finally, he leaves us with this, and it’s something that everyone must understand about Rand Paul and libertarianism in general: Paul is very conservative on social issues like abortion, and he ran a very conservative campaign when he ran for Senate, but he is anything but conservative on homeland security issues like defense spending, the Patriot Act, and trials for Gitmo detainees.
What this all means – and what Sabato is pointing out to us – is the obvious about what Rand Paul is trying to do now. Rand Paul is simply trying to meld libertarianism with conservatism to appeal to younger voters.
Do not fall for it, younger voters.
The only kind of governance that would be worse for you than straight-up libertarianism would be libertarianism melded with conservatism.
Don’t believe it? Don’t think that’s what he’s doing, and don’t think it would necessarily be a bad thing if it were true?
Then understand this about what merging libertarianism and conservatism might mean. It comes from Paul’s own words from page 78 in his book, The Tea Party Goes to Washington:
In talking to Palin, one of the primary things I wanted to do was allay her fears about social issues, telling her, “My opponents call me a libertarian but I want to assure you that I am pro-life.” Palin responded, “Oh, we all have a little libertarian in us.”
Palin and Paul. Try that on. Take it for a little walk.
Now, is that even an idea with any appeal at all, and to whom?
Again, my advice is don’t be fooled by Rand Paul or any hard-core libertarians, for that matter. They are not your friends, they are not our friends, and they are no friend to young people. They are, in fact, no one’s friend or champion except for those who believe the corporatist ideology and propaganda that comes out of places like The Cato Institute.
It’s way too early to be prognosticating 2016. Between then and now, I encourage everyone to put a little time and effort into keeping yourselves informed.
If you’re curious and want a more in-depth analysis of the GOP’s 2016 contenders – and you may be surprised at what you find! – then check out Dr. Sabato and the UVA Center for Politics. Start with this March 20th report, 2016 Republican Presidential Update: A New, Familiar Name at the Top
For more details on Rand Paul – or any politician, for that matter – my advice is to avoid their web sites. You simply won’t find deeper and faster spinning pits of political bull chips anywhere in the universe.
Stay away from cable news and most corporate media, too. They are corporatists with a single goal: To attract and retain your attention in service to advertisers and their shareholders.
Instead, look for independent and non-partisan sources. Here’s a site I came upon recently. It’s called OnTheIssues, and I’m already finding it to be pretty helpful.
You should also join the conversation with your fellow citizens of all stripes and ages. Below are a few organizations I like and recommend.
The future is yours, young people, and, like it or not, someday you’ll be in charge. It’s up to you.
For what it’s worth and speaking on behalf of the Baby Boomers willing to tell you the truth, we effed things up royally, and we’re very, very sorry. We were the generation that bought the lies of trickle-down economics, worshiped the “greed is good” ethos, and have been governing and running businesses with sadistic selfishness and unbridled narcissism born of Ayn Rand’s perverse Objectivism.
For your own sake and for the sake of the planet and humanity, please don’t miss the opportunity to learn from our mistakes, and please don’t make the same ones we did.