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Confessions Of A Former “Big-L” Libertarian

by @ 5:51 pm on October 25, 2007. Filed under Libertarians, Politics

Vodkapundit’s Stephen Green explains why he divorced himself from the party that once captivated him so much:

[W]e all woke up one morning to learn that airliners had crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and into the wooded hills of Pennsylvania. “Well, here’s a war even a good Libertarian like me can support.” We’d been attacked, directly, and we knew who the culprits were and where their protectors and sponsors were. We would go after them with such righteous fury that no one would dare strike New York City ever again.

Boy, was I wrong.

The angry folks at Liberty were mad at most everybody but Islamic terrorists. One even went so far as to denounce the Afghan War as “racist.” It was all imperialism this, and blowback that, and without a care in the world for protecting American lives, commerce, or, well, liberty. Then Postrel turned over Reason to Nick Gillespie, who seemed more interested in presenting libertarianism as something hip, arch, fun — and ultimately unserious. Such should have been no surprise, coming from the former editor of a magazine called Suck.

I felt abandoned, betrayed, by my comrades. By my former comrades.

If Libertarians couldn’t agree about the clear-cut case for war in Afghanistan, you can imagine how Iraq must have divided us. I had to stop reading Liberty months before my subscription finally, mercifully, ran out. Blogger friends of mine stopped emailing me. Ron Paul, whose name once graced the back of my first car, started sounding to me, less like a principled defender of American liberty, and more like a suited-up reject from the Summer of Love.

I stopped voting Libertarian for local candidates, leaving lots of blanks on my ballot. Next year, I’m not sure which party I’ll support for President, much less which candidate. From here, it looks as if the Republicans have become wrong and corrupt, the Democrats are stupid and corrupt, and the Libertarians have gone plain crazy.

Unlike Stephen, I was never a card-carrying member of the Libertarian Party and pretty much gave up on them as anything other than a protest vote after the 1992 elections. Locally, the candidates they were fielding here in Virginia were often rank amateurs who could not be taken seriously to fill the positions they were running for.

And, well, then there were just the crazy ones.

They existed before 9/11, of course, they were the one who talked about the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations, and seemed to be able to spin an elaborate conspiracy theory to explain everything from the Kennedy Assassination to the eye above the pyramid on the back of a $ 1 Dollar Bill. There seemed to be a lot of them in the Libertarian Party circles that I did float around in early `90’s and, frankly, I wanted nothing to do with them even then.

Much like Stephen September 11th was a turning point for me as well. Leaving aside for the moment the issue of the Iraq War which I opposed from the beginning, it seemed axiomatic to me from the start that the War in Afghanistan was completely justified given the fact that it was directed against a foreign government that was harboring a terrorist group that had killed 3,000 Americans in one day and had made clear it’s intention to kill more of us.

But that’s not how many hard-core libertarians saw it. In their eyes, the war was unjust from the start, and some of them found it easier to believe that the United States Government had conspired in mass murder than that a ruthless terrorist who believed he had the blessing of Allah to murder infidels had in fact done just that, especially considering the fact that the evidence clearly supported the idea that it was the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11, not George Bush.

So the question is where does someone who believes in individual liberty, but also believes that the War on Terror is a war not only worth fighting, but a war that has to be fought go ? The Democrats aren’t an option because they’re mired in socialist economic nostrums. The Republicans, despite some individuals who still believe in individual liberty, have been nothing but a disappointment. And, well, the LP is just not worth thinking about anymore.

If anyone has the answer, let me know.

6 Responses to “Confessions Of A Former “Big-L” Libertarian”

  1. jummy says:

    i’m convinced that the road to recovery begins when the theocons are jettisoned.

    i know that’s not much, but think of how detrimental it is for both republican party and conservative movement in general to be so thinned out with people who are intellectually satisfied by unqualified proclaimations and axioms.

  2. [...] a few caveats, provisos, codicils, and asterisks; your mileage may vary) as myself. (And he’s not alone.) I can’t remember if I voted LPUS for President in ‘96, but I certainly [...]

  3. Graphictruth says:

    Hm. For myself, I found the very idea that “9/11 changed everything” to be repugnant. Times like 9/11 are exactly what common sense, constitution and the rule of law are for.

    If you have to abandon your ‘civilized values’ in order to deal with uncivilized, criminal behavior, it’s pretty much an admission that whatever civilization you had was merely an accretion of pretense. And for those in charge of us at the moment, I believe that reality is more than adequately illustrated. And since it IS pretense, it matters little what values they pretend to have in order to influence those who actually have them.

    Now, I oppose and still oppose a “war” in Afganastan. But I never thought of it as a war. I viewed it as a “punitive expedition” and in that light, I only wish we had done the job properly, leaving a smallish, smoking crater where those responsible had conveniently assembled, rather than allowing them to exfiltrate into Pakistan. Calling it a “war” brings in all kinds of cultural baggage indicating that it’s a matter between gentlemen. But Al-Quaeda and the Taliban deserve no such recognition – as they do not extend them to others or even their own.

    Calling it a “war” dignifies it, indicating, among other things that the justice of the outcome is in the hands of God, human justice having failed. Well, in all justice, harboring terrorists and terrorizing an entire populace for whatever pretext is not beyond the scope of human justice, and the resolution is simple. You simply kill every single human being that persists in acting as if that were justifiable, while establishing a simple means of establishing that you do not support that idea. Designate the Taliban-enforced dress code as a uniform, for instance, and shoot everyone still complying. Give everyone a week to process that concept, then start acting on it.

    Meanwhile, create an unfiltered cellular/wi-fi infrastructure outside of the control of what government exists or remains, so that the people themselves have both the access and information to make rational choices about what to do next.

    I proposed exactly that a couple days after 9/11.

    In other words, destroy the culture that harbored and encouraged such atrocities, with education, information, alcohol, access to contraception, inspirational pornography and, most importantly, access to the economic benefits of the Web. The Taliban kept the people ignorant, desperate and poor.

    I’d have dropped one hundred carrots for every single precision-guided stick.

    Of course, this did not occur. Nothing even acceptably sufficient occurred, though it was in our power.

    It was at that point that it became clear to me that the Bush Administration viewed this crime as a useful pretext, one they had no intention of resolving, preferring a perpetual state of panic and war.

    And of course that removed any ability for us to claim the right to create beautiful resolutions and commit acts of common law, because we abandoned law and justice.

  4. Doug – don’t give up on the Democrats yet. There is room in the big tent for differing points of view – and you would certainly be welcome.

  5. Vivian,

    The last time I had a conversation with a group of regular Democrats about issues like free trade, lower government spending, school choice, or almost anything related to the economy, they told me quite the opposite.

  6. Greg says:

    Register as a Republican, and vote in the primary for the best of the candidates. Then, assuming the winning Republican i not utterly hideous, vote R in the general election.

    The US is at war with people who hate pretty much everything you hold valuable. The Republicans are the only Party that wants teh US to win that war.

    Which means that a vote for ANY Democrat is a vote for defeat. Because even if that particular Democrat wants the US to win, his / her Party leadership does NOT.

    It’s impossible for you to clean up the Democrat Party. It’s not impossible for you to affect the outcome of a Republican Primary. So the Reps are the place to be.

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