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

“It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government." This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”     Ronald Reagan

April 5, 2012

Quote of the Day: In Response to Van Jones’ Remarks About “so-called libertarians”

by Stephen Littau

Over at Reason, Mike Riggs responded to President Obama’s former Green Jobs czar Van Jones’ tirade about “so-called libertarians” at an Occupy rally in L.A. In case you missed it, Van Jones said that libertarians “say they love America but they hate the people, the brown folk, the gays, the lesbians, the people with piercings.” Clearly, he has never been to a Libertarian Party convention; I have. These people are more welcome in the LP than either of the big two political parties, I assure you.

Riggs responds:

I’m going to have to mic check you there, Mr. Jones. You’re not talking about so-called libertarians, but your former boss and current president. See, it’s Barack Obama who supports “traditional marriage”; Barack Obama who supports a drug war that sends an alarming number of black men to prison and destroys their employment prospects; Barack Obama who supports a foreign policy that kills children; Barack Obama who supports regulatory barriers that require the poorest of the poor to borrow their way into the workforce; Barack Obama who supports an immigration strategy that rips apart families and sees the children of undocumented workers put up for adoption.

Whether Obama’s support for those policies means he hates gays or brown folk is not for me to say. As the scriptures tell us, “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”

Libertarians, on the other hand, love brown folk, the gays, the lesbians, the people with piercings, and immigrants. Many of us, after all, fit rather neatly into those categories, and we show our affection for ourselves and our neighbors by supporting the right of all peoples to live free of state-sponsored violence, discrimination, undue imprisonment, and theft; as well as the entirely predictable consequences of both left-wing and right-wing social engineering.

In fairness to Van Jones, there are a fair number of social conservatives,* NeoCons, and yes, certain unwelcome elements who do advocate these things who try to call themselves libertarians, but damn man. Would it be too much trouble for Jones to go on the series of tubes that is the interweb and do a search on the Libertarian Party Platform before shooting off his mouth about “so-called libertarians”? If so, he would find that true libertarians are the polar opposite of what he described.


*To Rick Santorum’s credit, he has repeatedly said that he is not a libertarian. While I oppose much of what he stands for, at least he’s honest about this.

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3 Comments

  1. Not that the Libertarian party in any way defines what it means to be a libertarian; or that it is even representative of a majority of libertarians.

    Kinda the whole point of libertarianism, is that there ISN”T any organization that COULD be representative or a majority of us.

    Regardless of what organization one might belong to, the rules” of being a libertarian are pretty simple and basic.

    It’s like being a christian. The basic rules are pretty clear. If you believe that christ died for the sins of man, that man was redeemed through this death, and that the path to heaven is through acceptance of this, you are a christian. Any other weird, wild, or whacko stuff you pile on top of that doesn’t make you not christian… it just makes you weird christian.

    Well, being a libertarian is the same.

    There is one simple core belief; that maximizing liberty and minimizing the coercive restraint of it, except where necessary to prevent trespass on the liberty of others, is generally the best way to go about anything political.

    If you believe that, you are a libertarian.

    Everything else is all about variants.

    Comment by Chris — April 5, 2012 @ 3:35 pm
  2. True. I suppose you could argue the LP platform is what a majority of LP members who participated in drafting the platform at the last convention believe what it means to be a libertarian. The end product that became the 2008 platform was quite controversial as the ‘radical’ libertarians thought it was too moderate (What do I mean by radical? The previous platform stated that individuals had the right to possess WMD including nuclear weapons as everyone has the right to bear arms). The radicals wanted to write a minority report but was ultimately rejected by the majority of the delegates.

    There are certainly areas of disagreement among those who call themselves libertarian, but I think all authentic libertarians would agree with your statement (i.e. what is sometimes referred to as the harm principle). Perhaps a better reference point for Van Jones would be Cato’s new website libertarianism.org where a variety of ideas of the basics of liberty are debated.

    All I know is the people Van Jones describe certainly don’t describe libertarianism as I understand it.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — April 6, 2012 @ 10:33 am
  3. I think a lot of the myth of libertarians not liking blacks comes from the support of states rights. There is a contingent out there on the left that likes to perpetuate the myth that states rights is only about slavery. Libertarians know it is not but there are plenty of times where I’ve brought up states rights in arguments that had nothing to do with slavery or Jim Crow and I’ve been labeled as a racist simply for uttering the term.

    Comment by tkc — April 6, 2012 @ 11:27 am

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