Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.”     P. J O'Rourke

May 19, 2007

Kicking Libertarians Out Of The GOP

by Doug Mataconis

Over at Real Clear Politics, Jay Cost argues that Ron Paul should be excluded from the Republican Presidential Debates not because of what he said about foreign policy, but because he’s a libertarian:

I think Paul should be excluded because he is only a nominal Republican. He remains in the Republican Party because he caucuses with the GOP in the House and runs as its nominee in Texas’ Fourteenth District. If Republican leaders were not so risk averse, I assure you they would do everything they could to remove him in the next election (the last time they tried that was 1998). Paul’s seat is a safe seat for the GOP right now. A primary challenge would be messy in that (a) it might induce an internecine war among Republicans in the district (imagine allies of Paul abstaining in the general, or worse working for the Democrats, or even worse Paul winning the fight and then cutting a deal with the Democrats in the 111th Congress), and (b) it might induce a quality Democratic challenger to enter the race. Paul caucuses with the Republican Party, and that first vote every term is worth enough to GOP leaders to tolerate his presence.

But Paul is not really a “libertarian-leaning Republican.” He is a libertarian. It is hard to pick up this distinction in these debates. Libertarians and Republicans have seeming similarities in their desires to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. But it would be a mistake to think that the differences are only quantitative. They are also qualitative. It is not simply that Paul would cut more excess than, say, Jeff Flake. It is that Paul, as a libertarian, has a very different view of what excess is

Different than who ? Different than a Senator from Arizona who thinks that it’s appropriate to stifle political speech ? Different than a House Leadership that presided over increased spending at a pace that rivaled LBJ’s great society ? Different than a President who ignores the Constitutions limits on the Executive Branch on a regular basis ?

Apparently, and apparently this is the new Republican Party. No longer the party of the man who warned that the government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have. Heck, no longer even the party of Barry Goldwater. And, it would seem, a place where it is increasingly difficult for those of us who believe in limited government and individual liberty — but who find the Libertarian Party a waste of time — to find a home.

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18 Comments

  1. Great post, Doug.

    Comment by Jason Pye — May 19, 2007 @ 10:29 am
  2. I think the Republican leadership is afraid of the sort of thing that happenned to the Democrats in 1972 happenning to them.

    Comment by tarran — May 19, 2007 @ 10:40 am
  3. DEBATE IS DEBATE,,,,WE NEED TO HEAR THE REAL HISTORY BEHIND THE CAUSES OF WAR BECAUSE OUR POLITICAL FOLKS JUST POINT BLAME TO SOME FOREIGNERS….THE TREATIES AND POLICIES FOLLOWING THE WORLD WARS AND OTHER CORPORATE
    MINGLINGS HAVE CREATED THE PROBLEMS OF DEMOCRACY
    WE SEE TODAY…EITHER WAY…. WE DON`T NEED THE LIKES OF THE MAYOR,THE OLD MAN,THE MORMON,THE WIFE OF A FORMER PREZ,THE ILL-EXPERIENCED SENATOR,THE LEIBERMAN SOUND-ALIKE FROM THE SAME STATE,,,,,WHO WILL ONLY FOLLOW THE STATUS-QUO

    Comment by william poirier md — May 19, 2007 @ 11:04 am
  4. What the Republican Party should be interested with is that they have become the Democrats of the 50′s and left behind conservatism as if it were an albatross. While Ron Paul may not be the ideal poster boy for the “new” Republican Party, he does hold fast and true to his principles which are most definitely conservative. He is a staunch supporter of Constitutional values as opposed to those who foist the “living document” smoke and mirrors rationalization each time somebody wants to by pass and erode that documents intentions of upholding individual God given rights.

    Comment by T F Stern — May 19, 2007 @ 11:48 am
  5. Nice concise response. Take a look at those poll numbers on the site. Now click on ‘all poll data’. Actually don’t, it’s not even worth it; you’ll just get mad.

    A pragmatic republican reason to not kick him out of the party would be to avoid splitting the vote between libertarian/republican supporters come the election. If the neocons truly have so much support, then they should put the money where their mouth is now, to avoid completely losing out come 2008. However, kicking him out of the debates would certainly get him a lot less media coverage at this time, and it’s always in the big parties interest to control the media coverage.

    It’s too bad that our founding fathers didn’t realize what a mess a two-party system would become with mass media, and opt for a voting system more conducive to multiple parties (i.e. a yes/no vote for each candidate running (think about what the candidates’ strategies would have to become).

    Comment by mind — May 19, 2007 @ 12:42 pm
  6. The American constitution was written a few decades before the rise of organized political parties, and so the founding fathers did not anticipate the headaches that these groups would case.

    Comment by sickmind fraud — May 19, 2007 @ 12:59 pm
  7. Isn’t “liberty” only attainable in open politics? Politics can be very bad or very good; power grabs may be good for some people, but not for the country.

    http://www.allthingsreform.org/2007/05/our-nation-is-better-served-with-open.html

    Comment by David Weller — May 19, 2007 @ 1:45 pm
  8. “The American constitution was written a few decades before the rise of organized political parties, and so the founding fathers did not anticipate the headaches that these groups would case.”

    George Washington was appalled by party politics, and spent much of his Farewell Address upon leaving the Presidency warning the American people against what he saw as a very great threat: “I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.”

    The Founding Fathers were certainly alive and still influential during the rise of party politics. George Washington’s address may have helped hold party strength down for a while, but as can be seen from the current party system, only for so long…

    Comment by Just another guy — May 19, 2007 @ 3:15 pm
  9. If the Republican Party tries anything fishy in Brazoria, we would support a conservative Democrat.

    Love,
    His District

    Comment by Brazoria Proud — May 19, 2007 @ 7:28 pm
  10. What would the Founding Fathers have to say about the role of money in current US politics? (the now famous “military/industrial complex” is simply a subset of this phenomena). . The old saying “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” should be rephrased “Money corrupts, and the uncontrolled injection of money into politics corrupts universally and absolutely”.

    For example, why is a natural and very effective sweetner from Brazil rejected by the FDA in favor of dangerous and otherwise unhealthy sweetners–is it eimply that these are more politically correct (i.e. much more profitable to industry)? Of course, that is the answer!

    I don’t think Ron Paul is corrupt–he does not have any money.

    Comment by G Anton — May 19, 2007 @ 7:47 pm
  11. The problem I see with the Libertarian Party is that the focus is on the Presidency. Rather than go for the top spot, they need to start getting Congressmen that are libertarian and will put the “L” after their name, rather than an “R” like Ron Paul. They need to show that they are different from the other two parties, rather than a subset of one or the other.

    This ties in with the problems with third-party candidates. All too often, they represent a split in one party and end up giving the election to the other party. Because of that fear, best shown in the 1912 election, many Republicans and Democrats will not vote third-party, even if they don’t agree with the party platform.

    Also, remember that until the 12th Amendment in 1804, everybody ran against each other leading to a tie between Jefferson and Burr in 1800, even though Burr was “supposed” to be Vice President. This led to having a ticket of two candidates, one for Pres. and one for Vice, helping bring in party politics. Then again, perhaps the greatest impediments to a third-party are the different ballot requirements. Having to obtain signatures just to get on the general ballot forces third-parties to jump through a hoop the Democrats and Republicans don’t have to face.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — May 19, 2007 @ 7:54 pm
  12. The best part of the Saul Anuzis 30 hour cut & run surrender to Ron Paul was that you know, you just know, that the decision to lose the battle went a lot higher than Anuzis. Does anyone think GOPAC chair Michael Steele who said, “Paul is finished” wasn’t consulted? How high did it go up the neo-con chain to cut & run? Wouldn’t we love to find out if it went all the way to Rove? If anyone has an email they want to leak…

    I think the neo Republican party, like Fred Sanford, has its hands up around its heart right now. Ron Paul is like one of those kids toys that just exploded worms all the neo-cons’ faces.

    Comment by Tim — May 19, 2007 @ 8:59 pm
  13. G Anton,

    The problem isn’t the money, it’s the power. Take away the power, and nobody will be willing to spend money to gain influence, because that influence won’t get them anything useful.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — May 19, 2007 @ 9:36 pm
  14. Ron Paul is a real Republican.

    The national republican party leadership has been infiltrated by religious fascists and they are the ones that should be kicked out. They are parasites with a stated goal of undermining the US Constitution and creating a theocracy. (Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others in front of witnesses and on tape).

    The reason they needed to take over the Republican party instead of starting their own is because 80% of American’s don’t want their crazy self-fulfilling apocalypse. So they lie, cheat and steal all the while claiming it’s for the ‘greater good’ but I must have missed the 11th commandment that said the ends justifies the means.

    Comment by Ugly American — May 19, 2007 @ 11:55 pm
  15. Brad,

    Just as with anger, it’s the personalization of power that’s the problem. Yes, a Congressman may have power, but personally abusing it is wrong. Some Republicans are abusing power to exclude Paul from future debates.

    Comment by David Weller — May 20, 2007 @ 12:18 am
  16. trumpetbob,

    that’s not really the 3rd party’s fault. It’s an inhernet problem in our voting system. Without proportional representation 3rd parties are doomed only to play spoiler. In such a political system, two parties isn’t really much better than one party.

    Comment by js290 — May 21, 2007 @ 4:41 pm
  17. Tim,

    Another thing that Fred G. Sanford has in common with the neo-cons is I think he once said, “Do unto others before they can do it unto you.”

    Comment by js290 — May 21, 2007 @ 4:46 pm
  18. js29,

    While an inherent problem for third parties, there are ways around it. However, look at many third parties and you see a party for the extreme of one side or the other that end up splitting the vote (such as the 1912 election did for Republicans). I still stand by saying that one way to try to circumvent the inherent problem for the Libertarian Party is to work on getting Congressmen that are proud to be Libertarian, rather than the way Paul is Republican. Is it fully the third party’s fault? No, but they aren’t totally innocent by blaming the system. While I know many of the ideas of the Libertarian Party, that is only because I actively sought them out. They didn’t have a high profile Senator or Representative that people could point to and say, “See, Rep. X is Libertarian. See how he votes?”

    By the way, I think I was mistaken a little. From what I have read on the Libertarian Party website, there are state officials winning as Libertarian. In this way, the Libertarians are starting to get name recognition. I still think the emphasis is too much on national rather than on the local or district level.

    Comment by trumpetbob15 — May 21, 2007 @ 8:38 pm

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