Over at Popehat, Ken White makes the point that gun control advocates should have the balls to say that all firearms should be banned instead of using purposely vague or misleading language (as people on the Left tend to do). Using vague, sometimes Orwellian terms tend to creep into other areas of our private lives
I want [gun control] advocates to learn the difference [between ‘automatic’ and ‘semi-automatic’ firearms for example] so I can have some level of confidence that I know what kind of proposed government power we’re debating […]
Gun control advocates may argue that it’s pointless to define terms because gun control opponents will oppose gun control laws no matter how they are crafted. […] But it’s not a logical or moral excuse for not trying. Urging vague and unconstrained government power is not how responsible citizens of a free society ought to act. It’s a bad habit and it’s dangerous and irresponsible to promote it.
We live in a country where the government uses the power we’ve already given it as a rationale for giving it more: “how can we not ban x when we’ve already banned y?”
It seems logical that every American, regardless of political affiliation/philosophy, race, religion or creed, would be concerned about the revelations concerning domestic spying on the part of the NSA. If the Obama administration can spy on and mistreat the Tea Party and other right wing causes, the next Republican administration could spy on and mistreat Occupy Wall Street and other left wing causes.
As it turns out, this is not necessarily the case. According to an article by David A. Love, the black community has largely greeted this news with a shrug and a yawn.
Is this lack of concern because many blacks do not want to be critical of the first black* president? This might account for some of this shrugging but Love suspects that there is something much deeper at work here:
The black community has decades of experience being monitored, so this type of surveillance is nothing new. Given the long history of being spied upon, many blacks already assume they are being monitored by the government […] […] African-Americans are no strangers to surveillance, as their activities were highly regulated through the slave codes, laws which controlled both slaves and free blacks.
The mistreatment of blacks did not end when slavery was abolished, of course. Love goes on to describe several other atrocities such as the Tuskegee experiment, J. Edgar Hoover’s illegal spying on Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, and others.
As I read this, I wondered why there isn’t a similar distrust of the government as the medical establishment by blacks in general. The Tuskegee experiments were done at the behest of the U.S. Public Health Service, after all!
After finishing the article, I decided to read through the comments section (this is a blog that is dedicated primarily with concerns of the black community; the comments can sometimes be very illuminating). The very first comment by a user with the handle “Blackheywood Heywood” did not disappoint:
The US government began spying on Black folks before this government was created, yet it was no outrage.Give me a break, it seems slowly mainstream America is discovering how it feels to be thought of as suspicious or guilty before being accused, never mind arrested. Welcome to the world of the American Black male.
Heywood has a valid point. The answer to the question why the lack of outrage by the black community concerning the NSA and IRS scandals could just as easily turned against what Heywood called “mainstream America.” Indeed, where was the right (for lack of a better term) on these outrages? Where has the Tea Party been on the question of “stop and frisk,” in New York in which minorities are especially targeted to be searched, supposedly at random? Is this simply a case of “out of sight, out of mind?”
I believe there’s also another phenomenon at work: the memory hole. Near the close of the article, Love mentioned an event that took place in Philadelphia in 1985 I was completely unaware of:
On May 13, 1985, following a standoff, a Philadelphia police helicopter dropped a bomb on the house on Osage Avenue occupied by the black “radical” group known as MOVE. Police reportedly fired on MOVE members as they escaped the burning home […] […] The 1985 bombing—which killed 11 people, including 5 children and destroyed an entire neighborhood of 61 row homes in West Philadelphia—marked the first such attack on U.S. citizens by government authorities. The survivors and victims’ families received $5.5 million in compensation from the city of Philadelphia.
I try my best to be informed about historical events as well as current events. How is it that this is the first I had ever heard about the Philadelphia Police dropping a freaking bomb on a neighborhood in an American city?** I must have been sick that day in American History class (I also didn’t learn about the Tuskegee experiments until well into my twenties; maybe I was sick on that day as well).
Maybe MOVE was a radical organization maybe it wasn’t*** but nothing could justify the police dropping a bomb on a neighborhood. Perhaps this atrocity is well known by people in the black community, both young and old but not so much outside the black community (or maybe I’m one of the few Americans who never heard about this but I doubt it).
MOVE probably wasn’t the first group the government described as “extreme” to a point where government officials ordered and used military force against its members; it certainly wasn’t the last. How many people out of a hundred know about what happened at Ruby Ridge? The Weaver family, why they were “extremists” after all and therefore, why should anyone care about their rights? How many people out of a hundred know about the conflicting accounts of what really happened at assault on the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas? (Here’s a hint: a great deal more than what the MSM reported at the time). I suppose because these people were part of some sort of cult, their rights didn’t matter either!
This is where the real problem of indifference lies. I’ve heard far too many people with the attitude “it’s not my problem” or “it doesn’t affect me”. Even more disturbing is the attitude some people have that they are happy when someone of an opposing view has his or her rights of life, liberty, and/or property trampled on (i.e. “Screw them, they are ‘extremists’”). Far too often, concerns about civil liberties depend on whose ox is being gored at that particular time.
I would like to humbly suggest that if you are not as upset when its someone else’s ox, even if it’s the ox of your opponent’s, one day it will be your ox that will be gored. Perhaps Martin Niemoller said it best in his very short work “First they Came” describing how the Nazis took freedom away from the whole population, one group at a time. By the time the Nazis got around to taking freedom from what remained of the population, Niemoller concluded “there was no one left to speak for me.”
To be clear, I am not comparing the U.S. government to the Nazis. Such hyperbolic comparisons are not constructive and minimize the very crimes against humanity the Nazis committed. I am making a comparison about how populations respond to encroachments on liberty, however. As demonstrated in Love’s article, there are plenty of examples of injustice from American history.
Here are just a handful more:
The Indian Removal Act
The internment of Japanese Americans
And many, many more.
Each of these policies were permitted to happen because the majority apparently felt that curtailing freedoms of these minorities would somehow not affect their own freedoms. We should acknowledge that these injustices occurred and try to learn the right lessons (rather than pretend the U.S. government or the American people have committed no wrongs ever) and move on.
Every injustice and every violation of rights of life, liberty, and property must be answered by all of us as if it’s our own liberty that is at stake.
*Yes, I’m aware that Obama is actually half black. However, if a man of his description was accused of committing a crime and at large, he would be described as a black man.
**In light of this, Rand Paul’s questions about government using drones to attack Americans on American soil no longer seem so far fetched, unfortunately.
***All I know is what I read in the cited article.
I just received the news that Libertarian Party activist Dr. Marc Feldman died earlier today. The LP posted the following press release:
2016 candidate for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president and newly re-elected at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee passed away on Tuesday. The cause of death is not known at the time of this writing.
Nicholas Sarwark, LP Chair, released the following statement:
“Members of the Libertarian Party are deeply saddened to learn of Dr. Feldman’s passing. He grew up cynical about politics and politicians, but found in the Libertarian Party a politics of empowering individuals that he could believe in. We will miss his dedication as? a member of the national committee and candidate for public office,? but most of all, I will miss a good friend. He was a delightful,? spirited, and dedicated Libertarian who inspired and won the hearts of? many. Our deepest condolences to his family on their loss.”
Fellow presidential candidates, with whom he shared the debate stage at numerous Libertarian conventions, expressed their condolences.
Libertarian presidential nominee Gov. Gary Johnson said, “I am saddened to hear of the loss of Marc Feldman. He was a true champion of liberty and a friend to many of us. His humor and wit will be missed.”
“God speed, Dr. Feldman,” said software entrepreneur John McAfee. “You were a gentleman and a scholar. Rest easy now. We’ll take it from here.”
“I got to know Marc over the last seven months in the campaign trail,” said radio host Darryl Perry. “We became friends and I respected his opinions. I send my condolences to his family and other friends. Shalom.”
“I’m very sorry to hear that Dr. Marc Feldman passed away,” said Libertarian Republic founder Austin Petersen. “He was a good man. He was very entertaining. He could have been a fantastic host of a Libertarian television show.”
To be honest, I don’t know who many of the players are within the Libertarian Party. Marc Feldman is not really a name that rings a bell. But then I saw his picture and I wondered: “Wait, is he that libertarian?” (Dr. Feldman has ‘one of those faces’ you remember).
The libertarian that gave that speech at the 2016 National Libertarian Party Convention before the delegates began voting for their party’s nominee?
I’m sad to report that yes, that libertarian is no longer with us.
Here is that speech:
That speech puts a smile on my face whenever I hear it. There’s something about that speech that makes me want to do a fist pump because we’ve all been that libertarian at one time or another (it seems Austin Petersen felt the same way).
Thank you Dr. Feldman for your efforts to make the world a freer place. Rest in Peace.
With the primary phase of the 2016 campaign coming to an end, there’s little doubt that many rank and file Republicans and Democrats are not very pleased with their party’s presumptive nominee. For Republicans who actually care about principle, Donald Trump is a non-starter. Many if not most will ultimately decide to vote for him anyway because of the idea that Donald Trump is the lesser evil when compared to Hillary Clinton. Other primary voters who were serious when they said #NeverTrump meant it before May 3rd and mean it now after May 3rd. They have reached the conclusion that Hillary is actually the lesser evil when compared to Trump or at best see them as equally evil.
What are the anti-Trump Republicans to do? Join a third party? Register as independent?
Die hard supporters of Bernie Sanders find themselves in a similar situation. While I haven’t followed the Democrat race for the White House as closely, there does seem to be some angst about Hillary Clinton. Will they decide that from their point-of-view that Hillary is the lesser evil compared to Trump? I’m thinking most will but at least a fraction of the Bernie Sanders voters will make a different choice.
What are pro-Sanders, anti-Hillary Democrats to do? Join a third party? Register as independent?
Here in the Libertarian Party, we are friends of refugees…those fleeing war torn countries, those fleeing desperate poverty, and also those fleeing despotic candidates such as Mr. Trump and Sec. Clinton.
We welcome former Republicans and Democrats who value “liberty and justice for all” to find a new home in the Libertarian Party.
Libertarianism is the idea that you should be free to make your own decisions in all aspects of your life as long as you don’t infringe upon the rights of others.
I find the idea of a flood of political asylum seekers coming to the LP both exciting and terrifying.
If the LP were a nation, it would be a small nation of immigrants. Sure, there are indigenous Libertarians but they are surely the minority. Most Americans grew up in Republican and Democrat households – to the extent Americans are politically active at all. Most Libertarians came to either the party or the philosophy over time and after realizing the party they thought represented them didn’t. I too am a political refugee. The leading candidate for the LP presidential nomination and 2012 nominee, Gary Johnson was a refugee and he’s hardly the first.
The real question is, what do these refugees want?
If they simply want a temporary visa and support the LP nominee for president, even if simply as a “protest vote” most native Libertarians would welcome and encourage that. For those who want citizenship, more would be expected.
What specifically am I talking about? Allow me to address any would-be asylum seekers:
Some of these groups don’t even like each other. Its also quite possible that some of my fellow Liberty Papers contributors might object to listing some of these groups and/or failing to mention another. The point is there is a great deal of philosophical diversity within the broader libertarian movement and, therefore; cannot be pigeonholed into the caricature of libertarians Salon wants you to believe. One thing libertarians of all stripes believe (whether its called the Non Aggression Principle or something else is a debate in and of itself) are the individual rights of life, liberty, and property. Explained another way: Don’t hurt people and don’t take their stuff.
As Tom Petty likes to say, you don’t have to live like a refugee.
Refugees who actually value the individual rights as described above – having them join the LP would be a great help. For those who want to come in yet hold on to the customs of the party they just left, they need to find asylum elsewhere.
Pivoting back to the original question, should libertarians worry about a bunch of posers coming in and transforming the LP into another Republican Party?*
I believe this would only be a problem if the LP actually started achieving significant electoral success. The reason the LP has been able to stay true (for the most part) to its founding principles since 1971 is because LP candidates haven’t been elected and, therefore; haven’t had to govern. For 45 years, voting/running for the LP has meant never having to say you’re sorry. “Don’t blame me, I voted Libertarian!” Once Libertarians are elected, then we find out how principled they really are.
Until that time comes, I’m very confident that libertarians will expose the frauds. In the LP and/or the greater liberty movement there’s no such thing as “The 11th Commandment.” If you have called yourself a libertarian and another person who calls himself/herself libertarian hasn’t questioned your street cred, you haven’t been a libertarian very long. The intramural battles between Team Cruz and Team Trump or Team Sanders and Team Hillary are mere child’s play by comparison.
In the final analysis, its my belief that the LP will continue to be the LP as we know it only larger. The refugees who want to bring Sharia Law** to the party platform will lose patience dealing with people who actually have principles and self deport.
Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. Needless to say, the TLP contributors have a great deal written on this development. Go ahead and take a study break from your Trump University homework or your Trump Magazine and pour yourself a glass of Trump Vodka to go with your Trump Steak. Or maybe you are reading this while flying on Trump Airlines. Either way, settle in for our thoughts on a Trump candidacy that will meet the same fate of all of the aforementioned Trump business ventures.
At the beginning of this election cycle, the Republican Party had a broad field of candidates, which was arguably the best field of candidates the GOP has had in decades. They had successful governors, passionate senators, and the momentum heading into the election cycle. At the same time, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee was arguably the worst candidate they have run since Dukakis. She has been embroiled in scandal, has high unfavorable ratings, and is highly unliked by members of both parties. Enter Donald Trump. If there is anyone with higher unfavorable ratings, it is Donald Trump. While some Republicans showed they could defeat Hillary in a head to head race, Trump consistently loses to her in the polls. Barring anything drastic happening, Donald Trump is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. But make no mistake about this. Despite claims that “the people have spoken,” this is no sort of mandate of the people. Through the Indiana primary, Trump garnered 40.2% of the vote. This is not a mandate yet.
Principles matter more than any political party. Donald Trump has ran on a platform that is riddled with empty rhetoric and the same narcissism that his supporters found unacceptable in Obama. His speeches are filled with foul language and he insults his opponents and detractors by calling them losers, idiots, and even p***ies. His followers are no better by calling people the same names and even making death threats. They’re angry at the current political structure. We get it. A lot of us are angry. Electing Donald Trump will not solve our problems. In many cases, it will make things worse.
After becoming the presumptive nominee, Trump announced that he loves debt and threatened to raise our national debt, which currently trying stands at $19 trillion. He claims that an option would be to default on the debt then renegotiate the terms. This may work in the business world but national economies work much differently. A default on this level could cause a global economic collapse, which makes a Trump presidency very dangerous. This alone should be enough to never vote for Trump.
Okay, so it’s not like I consider myself even a libertarian Republican any longer… And in CA, you won’t exactly see me holding my nose and voting R just to spite Hillary, because she’s going to win this state easily. So I’m not particularly interested in Trump, except as his rise portends much more interesting changes to politics in general.
So why do we have a #nevertrump movement? Why do we see what appears to be a wholesale fracturing of the Republican Party coalition, where we will honestly see many voters refuse to line up behind their party’s nominee? Why is the same thing happening on the Democrat side, where Bernie supporters will likely stay home on Election Day instead of voting for Hillary? How did each lunatic fringe become emboldened to blow up their party coalition instead of falling in line behind the establishment?
Simple: the internet and the explosion of alternative media has forced the Balkanization of the constituent groups in the political party coalition. The various constituent groups used to be party-first, and group second. Thus libertarian Republicans considered themselves Republican first and libertarian second. I don’t remember the words “I’m a Conservative, not a Republican” 20 years ago. But today libertarians confer with other libertarians online. Conservatives read conservative media. Donald Trump’s core constituency can read Stormfront. And as we’ve found more “people like us”, we’ve realized that the rest of our coalition isn’t really on our side.
Where might this go? I think this is the end of the Republican Party as we know it. I see the likelihood that the parties will re-form around two new coalitions:
“Conservatives” and mainstream Democrats will fuse. This will include law & order conservatives, military hawks, union backers, etc. The sort of people who value the predictability and stability of strong institutions like government and religion will coalesce into a single group. This may seem like a bold prediction, but I think mainstream conservatives and mainstream Democrats have a lot in common.
Libertarians and the far left will fuse. They’ll fuse around individual freedom and liberty, distrust of a strong surveillance state, overactive policing, and interventionist foreign policy. They’ll find that they have more in common on social issues than they are opposed to each other on economic issues. Because anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-socialism aren’t really incompatible–both require breaking off the yolk of government.
Trump is the beginning of the end. #nevertrump is a sign that the political coalition we call “Republican” is broken, never to return in its current form.
I can come up with no rational reason – at least one that makes sense – for why a plurality of primary voters – into the >50% territory in the final few primaries – decided that Donald Trump was the best standard bearer for the Republican party. How does this happen? Anger at the system? Betrayal by politicians? A desire to watch the world burn? A population that, despite the ubiquity of information that the internet provides, will believe just about anything they’re told by a walking hairpiece? A moral quandry that lying, cheating and abusing systems, and bullying the weak are OK so long as the victims are Other People™, whoever they may be? Or are Americans just swayed by celebrity? Hell, that’s not even an America-only problem; Italy was led by Silvio Berlusconi for nine years.
If anything, the actions of the Republican Party over the past week have exemplified why we’re getting Trump as the Republican nominee. Person after person in political leadership has been against Trump, but when it came time for a put up or shut up moment… they folded. “The will of the voters”, they say. “We’ll support the nominee”, many others whimper. Donald Trump is the Presidential nominee because many politicians – especially on the right – will tolerate totalitarian scumbags so long as they think they can get something out of it. They have, once again, put their political futures in front of the needs of the country. They should be treated accordingly.
In fact, I find it interesting just how many people had to suppress their gag reflexes on this front. Trump won the evangelical vote, despite being a serial philander that makes Bill Clinton look like Mister Rogers. He won a section of people that celebrate the business acumen of a man who’s been bankrupt four times. They highlight frankness of a man who hasn’t actually put forth a serious proposal for just about anything that didn’t involve either building walls or locking out an entire religion. “At least he’s not Hillary!”, say others about a man who donated to her and her husband. For every argument that is meant to make Donald Trump look good, there are five that prove it fallacy, and that’s before I get to the racists, sexists, and “alt-right” scumbags that his careless words have allowed to crawl out of the recesses of 4chan and Reddit.
There is no good reason to vote for Donald Trump, no matter your political persuasion. This isn’t a political wind that’s changing and should be heeded. It’s an insurrection, and it should be responded to in kind.
… Admits there isn’t going to be a wall “it was just a negotiation point”
… Renounces his own tax plan “it was just a negotiation point”
… Affirms that he’s totally gung ho for single payer health care
… Admits that he would raise the minimum wage
… Admits he isn’t self financing his campaign, and hires a hollywood democrat who worked for George Soros and Goldman Sachs as his finance chair…
…Oh and he says that he’s considering a democrat for his vice presidential pick… Or not… or Ted Cruz… who he calls “lyin Ted”… or not…
… Oh and he’s going to default on the national debt… Or maybe he’s not…
… did I miss anything?
… Oh yeah… except the next day, he says exactly the opposite…
… And then the next day, he says both… at the same time…
So… yeah… Trump supporters… It’s gonna be fun seeing how you rationalize all this.
What a disgrace for starters. The Republican Party has nominated a man who is likely the most anti-libertarian presidential nominee for a major political party in recent American history. It compounded that error by picking in the same man a thin-skinned, amoral lunatic who peddles conspiracy theories from The National Enquirer as if they’re facts.
Now let’s get to how terrible Trump would be. Trump’s economic policies would cause a worldwide economic depression, his foreign policies (I’ll let others go more in depth) would cause trade wars with nearly everyone and make the world a much more dangerous place, and his domestic policies would result in the largest assault on the Rule of Law and civil liberties in recent American history. Trump is a vulgar demagogue who pits Americans against each other based on race and religion. He’s a campus Social Justice Warrior except for old white guys.
One of the biggest mistakes that’s being made is giving Trump supporters a pass, morally. “Being angry at the establishment” is no excuse for supporting a neo-fascist who clearly does not grasp the basic responsibilities of the job. Nor does a nihilistic desire to “burn the system down” give the right to install to power a tempermental demagogue to threaten the liberties of all. This is not a serious choice. This was a temper tantrum.
Finally, a thought about libertarians and Trump. I’m proud to say many of the most hardcore #NeverTrump members are libertarian Republicans and Millennial libertarians. Hopefully, this is the future of libertarianism. Unfortunately, many Trump supporters though call themselves libertarians and got into politics to support Ron Paul. The truth is, they’ve outed themselves as reactionary populists, regardless of what they call themselves. This has been a very clarifying exercise.
I am one of the #NeverTrump. His economic policies and broad view of executive power (among other things) are antithetical to my principles. I don’t have the same vitriol for him as others, however, as I don’t grant him sufficient agency to merit it. He puts me in mind of the clueless nerd being elected prom queen just so the cool kids can point and make fun—not the jokester, but the butt of the joke.
The sources of Trump’s popularity have been analyzed ad nauseam. Tribalism and xenophobia. Social order authoritarianism. Anger at the establishment. Anti-PC backlash. A yen for creative destruction. I even have some sympathy for that last one. Over and over and over again, the GOP has failed to deliver on its promise of limited government. I can see why a significant faction of betrayed voters have decided to light a Trump-match, let it all burn down, and see what rises from the ashes.
But the more interesting—and in my view, under-analyzed—faction of Trump supporters are those among the 47% of U.S. citizens who could not come up with $400 to pay for an emergency. These voters understand on a certain gut level that they are getting screwed by big government—that over-regulation, barriers to entry, excessive government spending, crony capitalism, and welfare for the rich are conspiring to keep working class people poorer than they need to be.
At least Trump pays lip service to their struggles. I know he won’t deliver. He has nothing to deliver. But voters have given other Republicans a chance—and they keep telling us to wait while they focus on getting reelected.
Beyond the property rights issue, in this very campaign Trump trotted out several positions that are progressive rather than conservative. Anti-free trade, a single payer healthcare plan to the left of Obamacare, raising taxes and spending…
Then he made a disparaging comment about John McCain being a POW. A man who never served, who could have served himself was being critical of the service record of a POW? I thought for sure his goose was cooked right there. He was done.
None of that mattered. Many Republican candidates have lost primaries for doing far less.
What I learned from this campaign, more than anything is that I completely misunderstood what is most important to Republicans (at least 50% when he gets the nomination). I actually believed that when grass roots Republicans stood against Obama and formed the Tea Party, they were opposing him on principle. Now I see some of the very same people supporting Trump who could not be further from these principles (other than the illegal immigration issue).
I defended these people against charges that they were xenophobes, racists, and misogynists. Now I have come to realize that at least for a significant percentage of the GOP, maybe the people who made these charges were right and I was wrong. This is what pisses me off the most.