Can This Marriage Be Saved?
March 17, 2005
From time to time articles appear on the Internet urging Republicans and Libertarians to come together, put aside their differences, recognize their common interests, and form a coalition to fight those awful big-government liberals who are destroying America.
Have you noticed that such suggestions always seem to come from Republicans, and not from Libertarians? And that the solution is always that Libertarians should join the Republican Party, not that Republicans should join the Libertarian Party?
Yesterday, one such article — "Saving the Marriage: Conservatism and Libertarianism" by Pejman Yousefzadeh — appeared on the Tech Central Station website. Mr. Yousefzadeh recognizes that some real differences in philosophy divide conservatives and libertarians, but he believes we should unite in order to fight big government, our common enemy.
He says that "via the creation of a Libertarian Party, libertarians have prevented themselves from gaining influence in either the Democratic or Republican parties." And he says that "if libertarians wish to enhance their political strength, they should find a natural home in the Republican Party."
Finding Common Ground
Of course, if we're to put aside our differences to save the marriage, it means that we Libertarians must give up our foolish notions and adopt Republican positions. The Republican Party isn't about to let its scrawny little spouse dictate policy.
So what does that mean? There are three major differences between Republicans and Libertarians:
1. Republicans attempt to prohibit personal choice and responsibility — using government to prohibit drugs, considering black-market violence, drive-by shootings, and law-enforcement corruption as worthwhile prices to pay for a failed attempt to stamp out drugs; using government to "defend" marriage by prohibiting marriages between the wrong kinds of consenting adults; using government to bring religion into the court room; using government to stamp out smut; and making government the proper means by which to stamp out abortions — although no one can seem to remember offhand a single government program that actually achieved its mission.
2. Republicans wage aggressive wars to get what they want — considering, for example, that it's okay to snuff out 100,000 Iraqi lives (men, women, and children) and to increase the size of the federal government dramatically as worthwhile prices to pay to pursue a dream of Middle East peace and Arab democracy that has one chance in a hundred of coming true in our lifetimes.
3. Republicans spend taxpayer money like drunken sailors — considering it to be okay so long as the money goes into Republican projects, rather than those "socialistic" Democratic projects.
So let's tote up the score: Libertarians are expected to drop their opposition to big government prohibiting personal responsibility, big government waging expensive and insensitive wars, and big government wasting taxpayer money. And we're expected to do this so that we can unite with Republicans to fight our common enemy — which is big government!!!
My head hurts.
"Libertarian" Republicans might counter by saying that, with more libertarians in the Republican Party, eventually we can have enough influence to change the Republican Party — so that it will no longer be the party of big government stamping out personal responsibility, big government fighting aggressive wars, and big government spending our money without limits.
Yes, that's possible. But you might use the same pitch to recruit libertarians to the Democratic Party. There, at least, libertarians might find a few folks who agreed with libertarians that beating other countries with a club isn't the best way to make America safe.
Anything is possible. But so what? When you talk about such dreams as taking over the Republican or Democratic Parties, you're talking once again about the sweet bye and bye — that wonderful point in the future when Republicans will actually live up to the "small government" promises they occasionally make, or when Democrats will actually do something to stop these senseless wars our government has been waging.
The Crooked Path
Yousefzadeh winds up his plea for political marital bliss by quoting Ronald Reagan, who said "libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path." However, Yousefzadeh fails to mention that Reagan's path was to increase the size of the federal government by 68%. I don't seem to remember traveling that path.
Come to think of it, just what common interests are there between Republicans and Libertarians?
We Libertarians are continually reminded by Republicans that Libertarians have little to show for their efforts — that we have very few electoral victories and none that are significant. So why are we wasting our time in a party that obviously can't win?
Well, one reason we don't win much is because Republicans have sided with Democrats (rather than siding with Libertarians) to quash third-party campaigns via ballot-access laws, campaign finance laws, reporting laws, creation of a two-party debate system, and the use of taxpayer money to finance Republican and Democratic campaigns.
So if we can't lick them, should we join them?
If libertarians want to change the country, it's obvious that they won't do it by giving support to George Bush, Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, or Trent Lott — or by supporting Condoleezza Rice, Jeb Bush, Rudolf Giuliani, or John McCain for President in 2008.
Our only hope is to let Americans know that there's a better life available — a much better life — than what the Republicans and Democrats are offering us. We need to show Americans that a non-aggressive foreign policy is the best defense against wars and terrorism, that getting government out of health care is the best way to reduce medical costs and make health care user-friendly again, that ending the Insane War on Drugs is the best way to reduce crime and make our children safe from drug dealers. And we wouldn't get that chance on any mass basis if we were crowded into the Republican Party.
But with a Libertarian running for president every four years, at least a good number of people see someone actually explaining how getting government out of their lives will make those lives much happier and more prosperous. And with Libertarians running in local races, there are people in those races actually speaking out forcefully against big government.
Maybe Libertarians don't win electoral races. But those races often provide the only opportunities for Libertarians to appear on radio and TV to inform Americans that we don't have to have a country in which government continually gets bigger, nosier, and more oppressive — and that we don't have to have a government that is continually waging war against someone.
It would seem that Libertarians have a lot more "political strength" fighting their lonely battles for what they believe in, rather than by abandoning their principles and supporting Republicans like George Bush and the drunken sailors in Congress.
We Libertarians don't have Battered Wife Syndrome. We believe it's better to be single and free to be ourselves, rather than trying to save a marriage in which the spouse is continually unfaithful.