Rudy Giuliani: Bad For Libertarians

In today’s New York Daily News, the Cato Institute’s David Boaz points out the many reasons those who value liberty should be wary of Rudy Giuliani:

Throughout his career, Giuliani has displayed an authoritarian streak that would be all the more problematic in a man who would assume executive powers vastly expanded by President Bush.

As a U.S. attorney in the 1980s, Giuliani conducted what University of Chicago Law Prof. Daniel Fischel called a “reign of terror” against Wall Street. He pioneered the use of the midday, televised “perp walk” for white-collar defendants who posed no threat to the community – precisely the sort of power play for which conservatives reviled former state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. And Giuliani’s use of federal racketeering statutes was so disturbing that the Justice Department changed its guidelines on the law.

As mayor, Giuliani had many successes. Crime came down. He cut taxes and held down spending. But his prosecutorial personality sometimes threatened personal freedoms. He cracked down on jaywalkers and street vendors. His street crime unit used aggressive tactics to confiscate guns from city residents, resulting in wholesale searches and detentions of citizens, especially young minority males, and occasional tragedies like the shooting of the unarmed Amadou Diallo.

When a police officer fatally shot another unarmed black man, Patrick Dorismond, Giuliani had police release Dorismond’s sealed juvenile arrest record. The city later settled with Dorismond’s family for $2.25 million.

And just in case you think he’s changed in the years since he’s been out of office, Boaz points out that he’s just as authoritarian as ever:

As a presidential hopeful, Giuliani’s authoritarian streak is as strong as ever. He defends the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program. He endorses the President’s power to arrest American citizens, declare them enemy combatants and hold them without access to a lawyer or a judge. He thinks the President has “the inherent authority to support the troops” even if Congress were to cut off war funding, a claim of presidential authority so sweeping that even Bush and his supporters have not tried to make it.

Giuliani’s view of power would be dangerous at any time, but especially after two terms of relentless Bush efforts to weaken the constitutional checks and balances that safeguard our liberty.

In 1964, Barry Goldwater declared it “the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power.” George W. Bush has forgotten that; Rudy Giuliani rejects it.

And so, I would submit, does anyone who claims to believe in freedom while supporting someone like Giuliani.

  • Jim Robinson

    Rudy will make a great POTUS! We need more like him in this country!!

  • AT QB

    Are there any electable libertarian friendly candidates, IYO?

    Bill Richardson? Fred Thompson?

    Who do you see as a libertarian-lite candidates out there?

  • Jim D

    Jim, AT QB

    Ron Paul is the sensible libertarian candidate.


    Ron has never voted to raise taxes.
    Ron has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
    Ron has never voted for the Iraq War.
    Ron has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
    Ron has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.
    Ron has never voted to raise congressional pay.
    Ron has never taken a government-paid junket.

    Ron voted against the Patriot Act.
    Ron votes against regulating the Internet.
    Ron voted against NAFTA and CAFTA.
    Ron votes against the United Nations.
    Ron votes against the welfare state.
    Ron votes against reinstating a military draft.

    Ron votes to preserve the constitution.
    Ron votes to cut government spending.
    Ron votes to lower healthcare costs.
    Ron votes to end the war on drugs.
    Ron votes to protect civil liberties.
    Ron votes to secure our borders with real immigration reform.
    Ron votes to eliminate tax funded abortions.
    Ron votes to protect religious freedom.

  • Ted

    Jim D,

    AT QB asked for *electable.*

    Despite a few *really* vocal supporters, I do not see Ron Paul as highly electable. Do not get me wrong, I like him… but, as I have said earlier, he is on the fringe.

    It would be easier, and possibly smarter, to move to a candidate with libertarian leanings, but who still resonates with the GOP core.

    Either way, we will see soon enough

    And Doug, I am interested in your response to ATs question, especially if you qualify why, what you like and dislike about each of the *electable* candidates.

  • Doug Mataconis

    AT and Ted,

    First of all, since you’re asking about electable libertarian friendly candidates I will leave Ron Paul out of the equation. I like most of what he has to say but he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Texas of winning the Republican nomination, or winning a single primary.

    I also won’t discuss people like Duncan Hunter, Tancredo, or Jim Glimore. Not only don’t I consider any of them libertarian in any sense, they also don’t have any chance at getting the nomination.

    Unfortunately, the fact of the matter is that the current crop of candidates is not very libertarian friendly. In addition to Rudy, I’ve written here before about McCain who should be tossed off the list just for sponsoring McCain-Feingold. Romney campaigns like a conservative but anyone who looks at his record as Governor of Massachusetts would know that it’s all empty rhetoric. And I’ve already tossed Giuliani off the list.

    Fred Thompson interests me, but he’s a conservative, not a libertarian. He supports the War on Drugs, he supported McCain-Feingold. At the same time, he’s good on taxes and most economic issues and “not Christian enough” for the religious right. (I’d also add that his wife is easily more attractive than any of the other GOP candidates wives, but that isn’t political analysis now is it ?)

    To make a long story longer, 2008 isn’t shaping up to be a good year for people who lean in a libertarian direction. Which perhaps explains why some of them are forgetting about their principles and supporting a particular candidate because somebody, somewhere called him a libertarian.

  • Doug Mataconis


    You may be right about all of that, but there is just one problem:

    Ron Paul cannot win the Republican nomination.

  • Chris R.

    @ All who consider Ron Paul “Un-electable”

    If your a registered Republican, YOU decide who is or is not “electable”

    Stop settling for 2nd best, if you agree with a candidate and feel they are best qualified for the job then give them the chance and give them your vote in the primary. All it would take is a good show in NH for the rest of the country to take RP seriously.

    It’s a shame that today’s primary’s/election’s are not about the best candidate but instead about the candidate that compromises the best.

    Ron Paul can not only win the primary, but the election as well given the support of all those people who say “I like what he does/says, but he’s just not electable”

  • Doug Mataconis


    Ron Paul is barely registering 1% in the polls right now. For him to even be considered a contender for the nomination would require a political miracle the likes of which American politics has never seen.

    He’s behind in the polls. He’s behind in fundraising. And, as much as you or I may agree with him, he is outside the mainstream of the Republican Party.

    He’s not going to get the nomination. It’s just that simple.

  • C Bowen

    Fred is a Council on Foreign Relations insider. Good on taxes, Doug, again I have to ask, why even site Pat Henry? He supports the income tax and fiat money, he’s just another phony.

  • Chris R.


    I understand your points. But at the same time, the supporters of TRUE conservatism didn’t evaporate into the thin air.

    I have faith that the people of this country won’t remain blind forever, and that with some luck they’ll realize that so called conservatives like Rudy Giuliani are looking to trade OUR freedoms away.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but this year for the first time in my life I’m no longer registered as an independent. I’m putting my money where my mouth is and stepping up. Because, from the current field, Ron Paul is the man I feel most confident about, both in action and in word, to lead this country in the right direction.

  • mind

    The whole GOP has gone to crap, save Ron Paul. Vote for Paul in the primary. If he doesn’t win, you’re better off voting for a democrat in the election – slow down the machine, take it in a different direction, maybe get rid of twenty percent of the crap bush has created. To me, that’s a better than electing more thugs who will affirm everything bush has cocked up over the past eight years, and who want to ‘double the size of guantanamo’, etc.

  • Doug Mataconis


    Whether Ron Paul wins or loses, there is no way in hell I will vote for any of the Democratic front runners. And I can’t think of any reason why anyone who believes in free minds and free markets would either.

  • Doug Mataconis


    I think it’s great that Ron Paul’s candidacy is reaching out to people like you.

    I just don’t think that, realistically, he has a real chance at getting nominated.

    Even though I disagree with some of his positions on immigration and foreign policy, I still support his candidacy because I’d like to think that it will bring people like you into the Republican Party and into the political process.

  • AT QB

    Thanks Doug. In other words, we’re screwed. It’s depressing to vote for a Michael Badnarik come election time, but maybe I’ll be in that boat again.

    To Chris: I’m not a registered Republican, and have little hope of changing the minds of the 99.9% of people who don’t plan on voting for Paul and/or have never heard of him.

  • Seer

    If Ron Paul doesn’t get the GOP nomination I’m going to have to pick between a Democrat or a Libertarian. I might vote Democrat to make sure that a Republican doesn’t win, because the GOP needs a hard kick in the pants.

  • Ron Holland

    Will Ron Paul & Rudy Giuliani Debate Foreign Policy at Freedomfest?
    The annual FreedomFest conference, has issued a debate invitation to GOP Presidential candidates Rudy Giuliani and Ron Paul to use FreedomFest ‘07 as a debate venue to further explore their fundamental differences in foreign policy and the war in Iraq that were highlighted in the Columbia, SC debate. To review the debate invitation –
    For more information on the July 2007 FreedomFest Conference in Las Vegas, go to

  • Ron Holland

    Ron Paul Supporters: Where’s Giuliani? From

    Carrie Stroup with Gambling911 has requested the folks at – presently offering political betting odds on the 2008 US Presidential election – to offer odds on Giuliani attending and debating Ron Paul at FreedomFest.

    Breaking News at 9:34 AM on 6/4/2007

    Dr. Paul accepts the invitation to debate Mr. Giuliani. .

    Lew Moore
    Campaign Manager
    Ron Paul 2008 PCC
    850 North Randolph Street, Suite 122
    Arlington, VA 22203

    For more information contact:
    Ron Holland,
    FreedomFest Marketing Coordinator
    828 689 2148 Paul/Giuliani debate invitation