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TLP Roundtable – Contributors React to Trump as the GOP Presumptive Nominee

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.

Albert Northrup:

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.

Brad Warbiany:

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:

  1. “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.
  2. 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.

Christopher Bowen:

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.

Chris Byrne:

So… Trump:
… 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.

Kevin Boyd:

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.

Sarah Baker:

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.

Trump mocking reporter
Stephen Littau:

Five years ago, I warned Liberty Papers’ readers that Trump was in no way a conservative, much less a libertarian. I will not rehash that argument now other than to say that someone who has that much disregard for private property rights should not be the Republican Party nominee for president.

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.

But Trump wasn’t done.

Then came the misogynistic comments Trump directed at any woman who he thought didn’t sufficiently think he was great. And comments about the hair styles, makeup, or general appearance of other candidates. And making fun of a journalist with disabilities (then he lied about it).

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.

TLP Round Table — The Abortion Issue


Here at The Liberty Papers, we don’t like to shy away from controversial issues. So we’re going to talk about abortion this week.

As you can expect, there are a wide variety of stances on this issue, just like the country at large. Some contributors refused to participate because they were personally uncomfortable with the topic.

Abortion related legislation is always in the news and it seems as if it’s on the ballot every year and this year was no exception. Colorado rejected an initiative to add “unborn human beings” to the criminal code. North Dakota rejected a “right to life” amendment that would’ve protected unborn children. However, Tennessee passed an amendment to the constitution that explicitly rejects the right to an abortion.

Chris Byrne:

I can write my position in five lines not three paragraphs… the problem is that to understand it in anything but the most simplistic way (which is to say, to have any meaningful understanding of it at all) you need to have a lot of background in morals and ethics.

There is a fairly sophisticated… unfortunately too sophisticated for most people… moral and ethical concept, of non-relativist conditional morality and ethics.

There’s actually a few thousand pages worth or moral and ethical philosophy that goes into understanding these concepts fully of course, but essentially it can be grossly oversimplified by the idea of “least bad” decision making.

Some problems or questions have no good answers or solutions, only more or less bad, more or less wrong, more or less optimal etc…

Or, there may be such answers, but the person making the decision does not have the ability, the information, the tools, or the time, to do so; or the circumstances are such that a “good” or “right” or optimal answer cannot be made in the time required.

When a person cannot make a good, or right decision; the only moral, or ethical choice, or the optimal choice; is to make the LEAST bad, or wrong, or suboptimal choice.

Most people are with you up to this point.

The problem spot, where you lose a lot of people, is this…

Making the least bad decision for the circumstances, STILL DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT.

You can “do the best you can”, or “do the best thing for everyone”, and still have committed a moral or ethical wrong.

This is where a lot of peoples brains short circuit. The concept that they “did the right thing given the circumstances”, but were still morally or ethically wrong. Many folks really cannot understand or accept this. Their hardwired moral and ethical understandings don’t allow for anything other than “right”, “wrong” or “somewhere in between”. The notion of being both wrong, and right-ish, doesn’t work.

So, given that, here is my very simple and easy to understand position on abortion

1. Abortion is always morally wrong, usually ethically wrong, and frequently of suboptimal utility

2. Sometimes, having an abortion is LESS wrong than not having an abortion

3. I do not have enough information, intelligence, knowledge, or wisdom to make such a decision for anyone else. Neither does anyone else.

4. I do not have the moral or ethical right to do so. Neither does anyone else.

5. Any person, group, or government attempting to make such decisions for anyone else, or make any laws regarding such decisions, will only and always make everything worse for everyone.

Matthew Souders:

This government was founded on the belief that all people were created equally – that they were endowed by their creator with inalienable right, and that among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The central question of Roe vs. Wade was not whether the right to life applied to all people, but whether an unborn child was considered human under the law. The science is settled on this question. The latest, according to all credible scientists, that life can possibly be said to begin is at implantation. I am not as far to the right o this issue as some, in that I don’t believe that the morning after pill is an “abortion causing” drug. But I am a scientist who believes in the core founding principles of both the scientific method and the American Founding.

The first job – and the most crucial – of any government is to defend lives (the national defense, the maintenance of civil law and order, and the prohibition of the taking of lives). Both my particular spiritual belief and the science agree that abortion ends a human life and denies that life of due process on top of its’ inalienable right to that life. As such, I do not believe government is taking a moral stand any more controversial than laws against murder – which no one finds controversial in the slightest.

But here’s a libertarian addition to that basic position: not only does abortion take away a person’s right to life, but it is a part of a larger cultural movement toward treating all lives as commodities – as entries on a balance sheet. The fundamental arguments in favor of abortion tend to center around the financial burdens of unwanted children both on the state and on the mother. Here’s the problem – the minute we allow government to take an active (and controversial, scientifically) moral stand on abortion by making it legal, and in so doing sanctify the government’s role in deciding which lives are worth protecting, we empower politicians to argue in favor of all other manner of life-ending government interventions, from “end of life” healthcare rationing to forced sterilization of the poor and the prison population (already happening in California for prisoners!) to outright eugenics (nearly happened during FDR’s presidency and abortion’s biggest advocates are mainly people who argue in favor of eugenics). The risks of government deciding which specific types of murder are OK are far, far too great to let them enter this arena. Which leaves us with the opening question. Is a pre-born child a human life? That’s not even a question to anyone who is remotely objective on the issue.

Brad Warbany:

“This is a hard topic. I’m personally uncomfortable with abortion. Had anyone I had “relations” with in my life fallen pregnant unexpectedly, I can’t even fathom the idea of doing anything other than raising the child. Luckily, it’s not a position I’ve ever had to be in. The one woman in my life who I know has had an abortion is a woman who I am terrified will one day reproduce. My wife and I have cut her out of our lives after we had kids because we think she’s a toxic personality and don’t want her around us or our children. So as uncomfortable as I am with abortion, I’m not upset that that woman had one.

I’ve already touched this third rail here. In short, there is some point at which a zygote progresses to become a fetus and eventually a baby, and I am conflicted at to which point in the chain that entity becomes a human deserving of rights. I don’t think I’d support legal punishments for anyone aborting a pregnancy in the first trimester. At that point I don’t think there’s a viable consciousness yet. I think I would support punishment in the third trimester, because at that point you’re talking about a baby that would be viable outside the womb. If you can’t make a decision to terminate a pregnancy by the third trimester, at the very least continue it and put the child up for adoption. The second trimester is a grey area, and I hate the idea of throwing people in jail for a grey area.

I say this as someone who experienced two early-term miscarriages with my wife before we successfully had kids. When you lose a baby at 10 weeks, although it’s very sad, it’s mentally the loss of a potential baby. Someone I know who miscarried at 7 months was a completely different situation. That was tragic. This difference informs me that there truly is a qualitative difference between a first-trimester fetus and a third-trimester baby.

I realize my answer is a highly unsatisfying middle ground that will probably make the pro-life and the pro-choice people both hate me. So be it.”

Stephen Littau:

The abortion issue seems to be an issue one is either 100% in favor or 100% opposed. The reality is though, that most people can probably come to some common ground on the issue. For most people, it comes down to where the line should be drawn for when a pregnancy ought to be terminated.

The politics of this issue, however; is being driven by the extremists on both sides (for a very cynical reason: politics). Anti-choice extremists wish to take certain forms of birth control off the market based primarily on religious and/or philosophical ideas (rather than medical science) about ‘when life begins’ (some go even further arguing that ‘every sperm is sacred;’ ejaculation should only occur if procreation is at least theoretically possible). Pro-choice extremists on the other hand believe that women should have the right to have an abortion up to the time the baby exits the birth canal (some even think it should be legal to kill a baby right after delivery).

There does seem to be at least some wiggle room among those on the anti-choice side as some will argue that abortion should be legal in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in peril. The very idea that a woman should be forced to carry a baby to term that was a result of a rape is repugnant. That said, I don’t know how this would work as a practical matter. What is the burden of proof for a woman seeking an abortion who claims she was raped? The honor system? A criminal conviction for a crime that is very difficult to prove? (Men are already victims of being falsely accused of rape as much as 45% of the time; imagine if this incentive was added?)

I just want to caution my anti-choice friends that as with all legislation, there will be unintended consequences and women will still have abortions. If you really want fewer abortions (as all decent people should), you should be more tolerant of the use of birth control (this includes the morning after pill) and try to persuade women to keep their children or put them up for adoption instead of using the force of government against women in a difficult situation.

Sarah Baker:

The legal and philosophical framework of Roe v. Wade was sound. The woman’s right to autonomy must be balanced against the state’s legitimate interest in protecting life. Up until a certain point, the woman’s interests are overriding. Past a certain point, the state’s interests become overriding.

The difficulty is determining at what point that shift occurs.

As technology and scientific knowledge advance, we know more about the attributes of developing life. But only philosophy can answer what attributes entitle it to protection. A heartbeat? A brainstem? The capacity to feel pain? A preference for continued existence? The ability to fight for survival?

A decade ago, a colleague came back from her obstetrician’s appointment with a series of still shots of her 14-week old “fetus.” I believed then and continue to believe with my whole heart that what I saw that day had a soul. I therefore draw the line no later than, and possibly before, the end of the first trimester.

Kevin Boyd:

I’ve written on this topic before elsewhere and I generally stand by my latest previous writing on it. I’ve changed my views on this topic over the past few years based on experience.

While I oppose legalized second and third trimester abortions, I do believe that the best way to reduce the number of abortions (which should be the ultimate goal here) is to work through the culture. Christians and others who are pro-life need to support things such as crisis pregnancy centers, promoting adoption, and yes charities to help the families who are afraid they cannot afford to raise the children. We should also support increased access to birth control and more comprehensive sex education.

As for the first trimester, while I do believe that abortion for the sake of convenience is immoral and is murder, I have serious concerns about whether or not it is actually enforceable. Most natural miscarriages take place in this period and sometimes take place without the woman knowing she’s pregnant. So put me down as an undecided on this one.

What do you think? Please tell us in the comments below!


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.