What have we learned in the last week? First, the President of the United States is a man who has embraced progressive tactics and sees little restraint on his own power. Second, there is not much will in the Republican Congress to push back against a Republican president, even if he more resembles Barack Obama than Ronald Reagan. That leaves the Supreme Court as the last line of defense for the American people.
In this light, avoiding the confirmation of Merrick Garland to the court must be viewed as a tremendous win for the American people. Despite being a centrist on the politics, Garland’s key qualification in the eyes of the left was his deference to the other branches of government. He would have been the fifth vote for deferring to the competence and good will of the executive and the legislature.
For the left, and especially progressives, I can see the attraction so long as their president was in the White House. No pesky Supreme Court opposing progress! What could be better?
Whoops, the wrong guy got voted in by a regressive white minority! That’s what my left-wing friends tell me, anyway. Arguments about the electoral college aside, the left is now going to be fighting the agenda in Washington rather than driving it—and they’ll need the Supreme Court’s help.
So far, the left-wing reaction on Gorsuch is focusing on two things aside from straight up partisanship: abortion (naturally) and the Hobby Lobby case. It is, as usual, a case of tunnel vision. To his credit, Ian Millhiser at Think Progress goes deeper than most, and focuses on two additional topics: Gorsuch’s views on Chevron v. NRDC and his libertarian leanings on crime.
Even still, Millhiser and the rest of the left manage to miss the big picture on Gorsuch: He has an internally consistent judicial philosophy that embodies the same skepticism of power that our system of checks and balances is predicated on. His positions on Hobby Lobby, Chevron, and criminal law enforcement are all outgrowths of the same core belief. They all look at government exercises of power and ask if they are allowed by the Constitution.
Let me say it again: They all look at government exercises of power and ask if they are allowed by the Constitution. Who is exercising government power nowadays? Donald Trump. Looking at government exercises of power and asking if they are allowed by the Constitution seems like a pretty good idea now, doesn’t it?
This is where we need to split the left into two groups: liberals and progressives. Progressives will never support Neil Gorsuch for the court. He opposes, more than anything, their belief that the progressive agenda should be implemented with whatever power is needed.
Liberals, on the other hand, still care about things like individual rights and due process despite sharing some goals with progressives. It is liberals who need to take a fresh look at Neil Gorsuch. There are issues far more important in this Supreme Court appointment than abortion and birth control. The very concept of limiting executive power is at stake.
In nominating Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump has put forward a justice who will be an impediment to his agenda. He is doing this now because he has not yet felt the yoke of the court come down upon him. In a year or two, once Trump has really figured out the way Washington works, we will not see a nominee like this. We will see another John Roberts or Merrick Garland, who put judicial deference first. Remember, in 2017 judicial deference will be deference to Donald Trump.
Liberal friends, support Neil Gorsuch while you have the chance.
As much as I despise Donald Trump, on some level I understand why he has die hard supporters. The most popular reason for this phenomenon is he seems to be the answer to the political correctness of our time. Trump may be many, many, horrible things, but being politically correct isn’t one of them.
Indeed, political correctness is a significant problem in our culture. Participation trophies, zero tolerance, and the very Orwellian PC language in which the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) insist we use in our public discourse are doing great harm to the Millennials. The concept of ‘safe spaces’ on college campuses wraps all of the above (and more) in one tidy bow which infantilizes young adults. Not too long ago, college campuses were once considered the place to debate and explore controversial ideas, now have spaces to protect the precious Millennial snowflakes from debate and controversial ideas.
Yes, the SJWs certainly do suck. I’m sure that SJWs who read the above two paragraphs are angry I didn’t include a trigger warning before challenging their world view but here’s the thing: it’s not just SJWs who retreat into safe spaces nor just the generation raised in this very PC culture. As it turns out, some of the very people who are most critical of political correctness, Millennials, and safe spaces don’t want their worldviews challenged either!
I can’t speak for anyone else’s social media feed other than my own but I have seen people leave controversial comments followed by something to the effect of ‘I’m not going to debate this, if you post something that disagrees with me on my wall it will be deleted.’ Or s/he will simply delete the post without explanation (I’ve seen this behavior from conservatives and progressives alike).
Of course, having different opinions and refusing to debate opinions is one thing; being upset that someone shares an inconvenient fact completely destroying the basis of an opinion is another. Around Memorial Day Weekend, someone posted on my FaceBook wall about how awful it was that President Obama went to Hiroshima, Japan on Memorial Day instead of the traditional laying the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There was just one problem with this person’s complaint: it wasn’t true. All it took to see if this person had a legitimate beef with Obama was a five second Google search (in the age of information, ignorance is a choice). In fact Obama visited Hiroshima on Friday, May 27, 2016 and visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Monday, May 30, 2016 (AKA Memorial Day).
In response to my posting readily available news articles reporting that Obama attended both of these ceremonies, I received a private message asking me: ‘Why are you always defending Obama?’ I don’t remember my exact response but it would have went something like ‘I’m not always defending Obama but the truth matters.’
These were just two examples off the top of my head; there are certainly other examples I could have used. As we are getting mercifully closer to the end of the 2016 campaign, conservatives, progressives, and yes, even some libertarians are retreating to their safe spaces refusing to be challenged at all.
The worst offenders IMO are the Trump supporters who are oh so critical of safe spaces on college campuses and Trump himself. The Trumpster divers tell us that all of Bill Clinton’s sexual assault accusers are to be believed while Trump’s accusers are all liars. Why did they all wait to come forward until a month before election day? Surely, they are all either opportunists and/or working directly for Hillary!
This is entirely possible. It’s possible that some if not all of them are lying. It’s also possible that because the world has now been exposed to Trump being Trump, these women now feel like the public will listen when prior to the leak the public otherwise would not.
Of course in terms of the election itself, it’s the electoral college map that matters not the popular vote. How are the candidates fairing on the electoral map? The Real Clear Politics Map is showing 262 electoral votes for Clinton, 164 for Trump, and another 112 are considered toss ups. The candidate who receives a minimum of 270 electoral votes becomes the next POTUS. By my math, that means that HRC is within 8 electoral votes of the magic number in this projection. This doesn’t provide much room for error for Mr. Trump. In order for Trump to win based on the above, he would have to win just about every one of the toss up states and not lose a single state projected to be in his column. If he wins all of the toss up states except for Florida, Trump still loses.
It’s not too difficult to see how damaging the safe space phenomenon will be to our culture. Verifiable facts are ignored while rumors and provable falsehoods are considered truth when it aligns with an agenda.
As a people, we need to realize that being skeptical isn’t a bad thing. We must be careful of confirmation bias. We should read articles we disagree with and have friends we can argue important issues with (and remain friends at the end of the day).
And if you want to take a short break in your safe space (we all do, don’t kid yourself), then do so. Just don’t make it your permanent address. One can deny reality but cannot escape its consequences.
Some right-leaning libertarians have expressed annoyance that I reserve so much scorn for Donald Trump as opposed to the Democratic candidate. It’s not that I think Hillary Clinton is optimal or even better in any significant sense. It’s just that Clinton’s particular form of evil is banal and boring and old news. Trump is new and freakish and unprecedented – hence more interesting.
That being said, the following are among the reasons I am not #WithHer:
Clinton is a war hawk. She supported the invasion of Iraq, which spilled blood, deposed a secular dictator, destabilized the region and created a vacuum for groups like ISIS. See also, Libya. Since she first entered national politics, there has never been a U.S. war not for self-defense that Clinton did not support.
Clinton is a drug warrior whose tough-on-crime policies have included mandatory minimums, three-strikes laws, more drug enforcers, more prisons, more funding, and violent intervention in foreign countries. The policies she has supported have resulted in lost lives. They have also resulted in mass incarceration of people separated from their families and left rotting in prisons. She claims to support reform but rarely moves beyond platitudes to identify specific policy proposals, such as by supporting Rand Paul’s criminal justice reform bills. During the ’08 campaign, she criticized Barack Obama for being soft on crime for opposing mandatory minimums.
Clinton is not committed to the rights enshrined in the First Amendment. She has repeatedly supported government interference with Constitutionally protected speech. She has blamed artistic media for violent crimes, tried to ban the sale of violent video games to minors, supported mandatory content-filters on electronics, and supported bans on expressive acts like flag burning. She thinks the government should forcefully limit spending on political speech, wants to deny space to extremist speech on the Internet, wants to overturn Citizens United, and demands back-doors for encryption.
Clinton is not committed to the rights enshrined in the Second Amendment. She thinks District of Columbia v. Heller was wrongly decided. She repeatedly dodges questions about whether she thinks the Second Amendment guarantees any individual right. She (like Trump) wants to deny the fundamental right to bear arms to people, never charged with any crime, who have been placed on government “lists.”
Clinton’s economic policies would further strain our economy and place unprecedented burdens on taxpayers. Overregulation and excess government spending stunt the economy and make it harder for the poorest of people to get ahead. Minimum wage hikes and corporate tax hikes kill jobs. Punishing corporate inversions makes consumer prices artificially high. Government handouts as reparations are not sufficient to put people in the positions they could achieve if they were simply provided a free market in which to participate.
Clinton is delusional on government healthcare and education. Government subsidies cause the price of things to go up – not down. Increased costs necessitate rationing, which is what you see in virtually all of the nations that have attempted to find a way around this simple economic truism.
The ACA is imploding. There is no way to use insurance to increase access while simultaneously bringing down costs. If we want increased access at lower costs, then we have to address the root causes of high costs. Democrats don’t want to accept that those root causes are universally government interventions in the marketplace.
Government subsidies have also caused the cost of higher education to skyrocket, indebting students for decades with loans for an education they didn’t need and that took years to obtain. “Free education” shifts the pain to taxpayers, but does nothing to address the unnecessarily high cost.
Forget the economic absurdities, though. Where does the Constitute allocate to the federal executive or the federal legislature the power to provide people with education and healthcare? It doesn’t.
Clinton is a big-government statist whose instincts are always either authoritarian or evasive. She doesn’t like being specific about policies because she doesn’t have good ones and doesn’t care to develop them. Her interest in government is mainly self-interested: trading access for gratuity.
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 almost inevitable nominations of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to lead their respective parties, there is a heavy push for an option for the Presidency that gives voters a more palatable option. This kind of push is hardly unprecedented – it seems to come up every election cycle, and started in earnest in 2012 when the “Anyone But (Mitt) Romney” movement failed – but with this year’s nominees being disliked on an unprecedented level, the push is stronger than ever. Partly due to their standing as the stronger of the alternative parties, and due to Trump’s toxicity and statist policies in general, the Libertarian Party (“big L”) stands to make the greatest gains, with many predicting the party could break the 5% threshold that legitimizes a party and gets it ballot and debate access, bringing the libertarian message – “small l” – to the general population.
That would be great, if the Libertarian Party itself could be taken seriously. Nothing I’ve seen, in my time following politics or in this election in general – indicates a real change. Part of that is due to the nature of third party pushes, but a lot of that has to do with the party itself.
First, the nature of Presidential elections, and most importantly their coverage, shows that everyone’s focus will narrow as November looms. This is ubiquitous; media coverage will focus on polls and potential “November Surprises”. Non-partisan voters will realize they have to make a choice ASAP, and historically that’s been a binary choice. Party insiders on both sides will swing their weight around – it’s already happening, particularly on the Republican side as they stamp out #NeverTrump, but the Democrats are doing their level best to stamp out Bernie Sanders’ “revolution” as well – and voters who were upset with their preferred primary candidate losing will inevitably fall in line. Much as in life, when it comes to elections, people stop playing around the closer reality gets; in life, we focus less on a flighty partner who inspires us creatively but is riskier to our future, and settle down with a safe, stable mate. Most people will not seriously consider a third party candidate of any stripe, especially in swing states that will be barraged by advertising and appearances.
It’s hard to remember even just four years later, but much of the vitriol people are throwing Clinton’s and Trump’s way is similar to that thrown Mitt Romney’s way then. “We’ll never vote for him!”, said so-called “true” conservatives. “We’ll go third party!” “Mitt is evil!” Today, he’d be called a “cuckservative” and Jesus Christ I can’t believe I had to type that out. Much the same happened after Barack Obama upset Hillary in 2008; Hillary’s partisans – mostly activist women – swore they would go third party. The two liberal alternatives for voters – independent Ralph Nader, and Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party – combined for less than a million votes, .74% of the total vote. They didn’t even get 1% *combined*.
Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party did do better in 2012, amidst all that Romney hate… getting all the way to just over 1.2m votes, around 1% of the total vote, which is the second highest percentage the Libertarian Party has ever had1. This, despite all the “could Johnson make an impact on the race!?” think piecesof the day. It’s sad, because he had some good libertarian credentials, and had a successful record as the Republican governor or New Mex– wait, did I say Republican? That’s right, he was Republican. As was both parts of the 2008 Libertarian ticket.
This leads to my main issue with the big-L party: They’re not really libertarian. They’re almost all just failed Republicans.
I’m 36 years old, and the 2000 election was my first that I could participate in. Here is a run-down of every candidate for President in my adult life:
2000: Harry Browne, ran his second straight campaign. Ran a principled campaign, but it would go downhill from here.
2004: Michael Badnarik, member of the Free State Project and 9/11 Truther.
2008: Bob Barr, a former Republican who came into Congress in the 1994 Gingrich revolution, and who had an authoritarian voting record while there. Voted for the Patriot Act. His running mate, Wayne Allyn Root, is an Obama “birther” who our colleague Doug Mataconis rightly called out for being a scam. Both Barr and Root have since left the LP and gone back to the Republicans.
2012: Gary Johnson, who in this same election ran for President as a Republican but had a moment of clarity when his candidacy crashed and burned. His running mate, Jim Gray, was also a Republican that decided to join the LP after losing a Republican candidacy.
In 2016, the Libertarian Party has no fewer than 18 people listed as Presidential candidates, though only three are considered legitimate:
* The favourite, Gary Johnson, who since losing in 2012, has taken over as the CEO of Cannabis Sativa, a medical marijuana company. This has led to many viewing him as a one-issue candidate regarding marijuana legalization.
* Austin Petersen, a 35 year old whose main claims to fame are his campaign of “I’m not those guys!” despite emulating much of Trump’s tactics, and his somewhat less than libertarian positions. Internally, his focus has been on Johnson being a “drug dealer”.
* John McAfee, the founder of McAfee Associates and antivirus pioneer who is batshit fucking crazy.
When the best shot you have is the guy that got around 1% the last time he ran, a mid-level internet troll, and whatever John McAfee is, you can’t be taken seriously in any election.
In the end, furthering your ideals only gets you so far; you have to win elections to make real progress. Even with a system fundamentally set up to discourage third party candidacies, one would think they’d have at least a few small victories under their belt, but nationally, they’ve completely failed: Libertarian Party candidates have never once won a national or statewide race. In fact, they’ve never been close; the only times they’ve gotten a decent share of the vote in a national or state election was when they were running in races without a contender from one of the two major parties, usually a Democrat. Congratulations, Joel Balam, for winning 32% of the vote against a Republican for the US House, but there is no participation medal here.
This is before I get into the legitimate kooks, dingbats and wingnuts that associate themselves with the Libertarian Party for want of attention, if nothing else. Truthers, birthers, and alt-right personalities who couldn’t even find a home in the Republican party have a home in a party that is desperate for numbers.
In the end, the Libertarian Party is little more than the AAA farm club of the Republicans. If someone can’t play in the big leagues, they can simply go down to the minors, work on their swing-state pitch, and eventually be promoted back up to the real show. Even Ron Paul, the patron saint of libertarian thought to many, had to become a Republican in order to actually accomplish something. Not only does this hurt the legitimacy of the party, it turns off people like me, former Democrats who care about social rights and liberties every bit as much as conservatives care about economic freedom and who can see common ground on the overlap. When Stephen points out the issues with the Party taking on refugees, this is the main concern brought up. He indicated his confidence that libertarians would expose the frauds, but again: a Patriot Act supporter and a Birther were the Libertarian Party nominees in 2008.
Until the big-L Libertarian Party fixes these issues – an admittedly tall goal, even in this election – they will forever remain a fringe party, the land of the 1%, little more than an impotent protest vote.
1 – Ed Clark and David Koch did slightly better in 1980, but that’s more or less a rounding error
Christopher Bowen covered the video games industry for eight years before moving onto politics and general interest. He is the Editor in Chief of Gaming Bus, and has worked for Diehard GameFan, Daily Games News, TalkingAboutGames.com and has freelanced elsewhere. He is a “liberaltarian” – a liberal libertarian. A network engineer by trade, he lives in Derby CT.