Looking for a New Party: The Libertarian Party.

I’m a Kucinich supporter, and I am fed up with the corporatized Democratic Party (c’mon now…who isn’t really?). As such, I’m looking at other parties other than the big two (Repugs? The party of Reagan, Bush, Bush, Cheney, etc.? No way.). In the first of three postings of this series, I’ve asked if Leftists and Progressives need a new party. I then looked at the Green Party and found them not too far from where I stand. The third posting was a look at the Contstitution Party, which has some interesting ideas but had at least one deal breaker.

In this fourth posting, I am going to take a look at the Libertarian Party. Libertarians are somewhat the rage right now due to the candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul for the Republican presidential nomination. Dr. Paul, in fact, was at one-time, the Libertarian nominee for President. It’s worth the time to take a look at what the Libertarians stand for and how it fits with my world view.

As I did with the other two parties, I’ll look at the Libertarians from the perspective of what they say they believe. I’ll do this via their Introduction to the LP section of their website:

What Is The Libertarian Party?

The Libertarian Party is your representative in American politics. It is the only political organization which respects you as a unique and competent individual.

A bold statement right off the bat! I wonder if I’ll agree with them by the time I’m finished with this posting.

America’s Heritage

Libertarians believe in the American heritage of liberty, enterprise, and personal responsibility. Libertarians recognize the responsibility we all share to preserve this precious heritage for our children and grandchildren.

Nothing specific here, and for those who don’t view US history as being one shining moment after another….

Free and Independent

Libertarians believe that being free and independent is a great way to live. We want a system which encourages all people to choose what they want from life; that lets them live, love, work, play, and dream their own way.

I can find nothing wrong with this statement. I do believe, however, that pretty much any other political party would say much the same. I’m also one of those who differentiate freedom (collective) v liberty (individual). Rousseau scared me enough to understand the differences.

Caring For People

The Libertarian way is a caring, people-centered approach to politics. We believe each individual is unique. We want a system which respects the individual and encourages us to discover the best within ourselves and develop our full potential.

In a unfettered free-market economy, do they actually think this is what happens? Hmmmm….

Principled; Consistent

The Libertarian way is a logically consistent approach to politics based on the moral principle of self-ownership. Each individual has the right to control his or her own body, action, speech, and property. Government’s only role is to help individuals defend themselves from force and fraud.

Once again, a good statement. However, once again, in a market oriented economy, does there have to be fraud to keep others down? Are there to be any limits on the accumulation of wealth by corporations, etc.? Are we to trust that the ‘hidden hand’ of the market will somehow make things right?

Tolerant

The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves. Live and let live is the Libertarian way.

No complaints here.

More from the LP’s The Libertarian Option page:

Consider the Libertarian option:

Substantially reduce the size and intrusiveness of government and cut all taxes.

A good selling point. The question is what is government there for? Defense? Big Projects like the interstate system? There are plenty of others.

Let peaceful, honest people offer their goods and services to willing consumers without a hassle from government.

Willing consumers? What is the Libertarian position on a willing consumer being turned away from a salesperson/business, etc. because the willing consumer doesn’t fit into the prefered group of the salesperson/business? This is a deal breaker for me if I think the answer is wrong.

Let peaceful, honest people decide for themselves what to eat, drink, read, or smoke and how to dress, medicate themselves, or make love, without fear of criminal penalties.

Once again, no problems with this statement. I’ll explain a possible caveat at the end of this post.

The U.S. government should defend Americans and their property in America and let the U.S. taxpayer off the hook for the defense bill of wealthy countries like Germany and Japan.

A very strong statement which I don’t think anybody would disagree with (well, except the internationalists of both the major parties).

More from the LP’s What Americans Want page:

Americans want, and deserve, a political system which respects them as unique individuals; as people who can make their own plans, who can take responsibility for themselves, who are compassionate, and who can and will solve their own problems if allowed to do so.

Most Americans, after some thought, prefer the Libertarian option in politics. Most people in their private, non-governmental, affairs deal with each other on the libertarian premise of mutual respect. You don’t threaten your neighbors with fines or jail just because they choose careers or lifestyles different than yours.

Let’s hold government to the same standard. Protect us and our rights, and give us the respect we deserve.

I’m always leary of an organization who thinks that they speak for what anybody who’s not a member of said organization wants.  I don’t think the LP speaks for Americans any more than the D, R, G, C or any other party.

As for the caveat I mentioned earlier, it has to do with the interaction of the public and private spheres.  Once a business opens its doors, do public or private morals/ethics dominate?  Would a business owner be allowed to turn away a willing consumer because they were black? Gay?  A woman?  An athiest? And so on?  I’ve never heard the Libertarians address this issue beyond saying something along the lines of the market will take care of itself.  It would be great if I/we (if you agree) could get a firm explanation of this.

So, thus ends this look at the Libertarian Party.  I find some of their ideas inviting, but have enough questions as to say I probably won’t be giving them my support.

Originally posted here: http://rjones2818.blogspot.com…

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2 comments

  1. Let those ponies roam free!!!

    • banger on February 2, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    The problem with Libertarians is that they don’t address the problem of power very well. As long as corporations are considered “individuals” under our system they would become basically mini-states as they practically are anyway. If you take the top 100 economies in the world half are corporations. In the corporate world there is no liberty at all. If Libertarians come out with something to deal with those mini-states then I would be impressed.

    Then there is the problem collective issues like the environmental crisis that Libertarians don’t deal with very well. Some have said that could be dealt with through the courts–well, fine but then you’d have to have a court-appointed commission and it would have to have a bureaucracy and so on.

    The fact is that the majority of the American people are sheep and want to be led. The Libertarian ideal is a good one and resonates with old anarchists like me but, at best, it can only work in small units and in a very limited way.  

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