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?”
Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States. Americans will celebrate declaring their independence from the British Crown in 1776. Hopefully many will take time to reflect on what their country stands for and what makes it unique in the world.
I recommend reflecting on the idea of patriotism itself. What makes patriotism, a generally good thing, different from nationalism, which usually leads to many terrible things? There is definitely a fine line between the two concepts. Nationalism vs patriotism is one of the oldest arguments in history.
What is a patriotism? Lawrence Reed at the Foundation for Economic Education has an excellent definition.
I subscribe to a patriotism rooted in ideas that in turn gave birth to a country, but it’s the ideas that I think of when I’m feeling patriotic. I’m a patriotic American because I revere the ideas that motivated the Founders and compelled them, in many instances, to put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line.
What ideas? Read the Declaration of Independence again. Or, if you’re like most Americans these days, read it for the very first time. It’s all there. All men are created equal. They are endowed not by government but by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Premier among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government must be limited to protecting the peace and preserving our liberties, and doing so through the consent of the governed. It’s the right of a free people to rid themselves of a government that becomes destructive of those ends, as our Founders did in a supreme act of courage and defiance more than two hundred years ago.
Call it freedom. Call it liberty. Call it whatever you want, but it’s the bedrock on which this nation was founded and from which we stray at our peril. It’s what has defined us as Americans. It’s what almost everyone who has ever lived on this planet has yearned for. It makes life worth living, which means it’s worth fighting and dying for.
Or as Benjamin Franklin said, ““Where liberty dwells, there is my country.”
America is more than just a place, it’s an ideal. It’s a land where people are free to say what they want, believe what they want, and do what they want as long as they don’t hurt others or destroy their stuff. It’s a land where everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their life. It’s a land where people govern themselves and no government can exist without the consent of the governed.
We believe all men are created equal and are always equal in the eyes of their Creator.
A patriot believes in an ideal, not in a particular place. There is nothing exceptional about a country that has no ideals.
Nationalism on the other hand is all about flag-waving, a particular place, or even a particular ethnic group or religion. It is a mentality of “my country, right or wrong” instead of being an honest critic where necessary of one’s government. It often includes hatred of those who are different.
What worries me is that for far too many Americans this country is becoming less about ideals and more about a place on the map. The second we stray from our ideals is the second America is no longer worth celebrating.
I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The Hayride.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
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.
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.
To disaffected Republicans coming to the Libertarian party… or to libertarianism and libertarians in general…
We’re really glad to have you here, and we’re looking forward to working with you, to get through this crazy time… Oh and #NeverTrump…
Heck, most of us were frankly wondering what took y’all so long to jump ship… the way things have been getting crazier and crazier over there the last… Oooh… let’s just say… the last while, or so…
Which brings us to point two…
LIBERTARIANS ARE NOT CONSERVATIVES OR REPUBLICANS!!!
Oh and they… WE… are also NOT liberals, leftists, “progressives”, or Democrats…
We are most certainly NOT “just conservatives who like sex and weed”, nor are we “just liberals who hate taxes, poor people, and political correctness”… though I have been called both in the same day.
Shocking I know, that there are more than two political positions, and bodies of thought, and philosophies; and how everything isn’t actually a (false) dichotomy, us or them… or a two way horse race etc… etc…
Yes… there are people that agree with you… actually are likely further to the notional “right” than you are, about economics, and individual rights and liberties, and even the constitution…
… and some of them smoke weed… or are gay… or atheists… or all of the above… or don’t care if anyone else is or does whatever they want so long as nobody’s getting hurt who isn’t paying extra…
Heck, some of the folks over here probably look and sound a lot like democrats to some of you… or even socialists…
… we all have our kooks after all…
… which reminds me… if you think right and left wing conspiracy nuts are bad… trust me, libertarian conspiracy nuts are worse… don’t worry, just ignore them, and back away slowly… we all do…
… Oh, and hey, some of the folks over here even totally agree with you in principle about the gays, and the marriage, and the weird genders, and the drugs, and sex, and all that…
..They just don’t believe that it’s their job to police other peoples personal choices, and it’s especially not their job to get the state to do it for them.
We’re not crazy, we’re not immoral or unethical… in fact, in my experience, we’re a lot more conscientious, aware, and understanding of our morals and our ethics than most, because we have to be…
… We just don’t believe ALL the same things that you believe…
Most particularly, we don’t believe it is moral or ethical, nor is it generally efficient or effective; to initiate coercive force against someone… including and especially, the coercive force of the state… to make them do what we want them to…
…Even if we KNOW that we’re right, and we KNOW that what we want is better for them, for us, and for society as a whole… We just don’t have the right to do so, unless they are violating the rights of others.
This basic principle… in some form or another… is the absolute core of libertarianism. It is our most closely held principle of interaction with others…
….and while we may… in fact we quite regularly and vigorously do…argue over exactly what it means, and exactly how to follow it…
…We’re not going to give it up, or forget about it, or weaken it, or make special exceptions; just because someone else… or EVERYONE else for that matter… thinks we should, or would be more comfortable, or would like us better, if we did.
So no… Your advice… or in some cases rude, arrogant, condescending, and aggressive demands…
…that libertarians be more conservative and align more with Republican ideas about drug policy, and personal liberty, and social issues, and military spending… just as an example or three…
… It’s not going to get you anywhere.
You’re the ones who couldn’t deal with your corrupt, your ignorant, and your angry, and created the douchealoompa…
We’re absolutely happy to have you… and to welcome you, and help you understand what we believe and why, and how we can work together to help try to avert disaster… and maybe even get some good done together while we’re at it…
…But we’re not going to change our firmly held principles, in order to pander to you or court you…
If we were ever going to do that, we would have done it a long time ago…
We haven’t… and we won’t. Even if it means losing… again… just like every other time…
But… Here’s the great thing about being a libertarian…
We don’t believe in forcing our ideas on anyone else…
…So, you’re entirely free to believe that drugs and sex are bad and wrong, and anything else you like…
You just cant use the state… or the party… to try to make other people behave according to your beliefs or preferences.
Yes… it can get frustrating… incredibly infuriatingly frustrating at times… Even heartbreaking… as we watch people do bad and stupid things to themselves and we can’t stop them…
…but it’s quite satisfying… it’s worth it… when nobody else can force YOU to conform to THEIR beliefs and preferences either…
I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.
Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra