Monday, October 09, 2006

The Libertarian Democrat

The great and mighty kos himself explains that libertarian democrats don't want to destroy private enterprise; they just want to make private enterprise better(author's italics):
The problem with this form of libertarianism [i.e. "traditional" libertarianism] is that it assumes that only two forces can infringe on liberty -- the government and other individuals.

The Libertarian Democrat understands that there is a third danger to personal liberty -- the corporation. The Libertarian Dem understands that corporations, left unchecked, can be huge dangers to our personal liberties.

Libertarian Dems are not hostile to government like traditional libertarians. But unlike the liberal Democrats of old times (now all but extinct), the Libertarian Dem doesn't believe government is the solution for everything. But it sure as heck is effective in checking the power of corporations.

In other words, government can protect our liberties from those who would infringe upon them -- corporations and other individuals.
Generally speaking, internet commentary on the Kossian Libertarian Democrats seems to be viewing the concept purely as a trial balloon for some kind of "traditional" Libertarian/Democratic political alliance. The idea is that Libertarians are so fed up with conservatism that they'll gladly accept Democratic support on Libertarian social issues in exchange for Libertarian support for the welfare state. Given that a large faction of Libertarian voters only joined the party for the legalization of pot in the party platform, this isn't such a bad idea for an alliance. For the other faction of Libertarian voters who rank other considerations above sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the possibility of an alliance with the Democrats seems like a non-starter; although you never know if the Randian Libertarians might decide to start voting for the less irrational of two evils.

The other issue with the Libertarian Democrat idea is that it isn't a particularly clever or original one at all. In fact, it is nothing more than the classical New Dealer Democratic position of FDR/Truman style liberals (i.e. the "old time" liberals mentioned in the quote above). The old time liberals never saw themselves as welfare statists per se; they all saw themselves as good, old-fashioned, freedom-loving liberal Americans who just felt a bit more deeply about social justice than those pesky "economic royalists". And if elementary social justice meant nationalizing private-sector industries, the old time liberals would consider it.

Notice also that kos doesn't mention that one terrible phenomenon that good liberals have been crusading against since the days of Madison and Jefferson: inequality of wealth. Libertarians are generally stuck accepting large inequalities of wealth since even if all agents in an economy are purely fairly interacting with each other, some people are just a heck of a lot better at accumulating wealth than others. Liberal Democrats, on the other hand, think that inequalities of wealth are the one sure sign of the proverbial "going to hell in a handbasket". For kos to ignore inequalities of wealth in making his pitch is a sign that he is trying to "finesse" the issue.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this talk of "libertarian Democrats."

Democrats may want to link up with us libertarians, but we libertarians have little if any interest whatsoever of linking up with Democrats.

Put aside for a moment our huge disagreements on economic issues.

Democrats are even bad these days on civil liberties. Who is pushing all the smoking bans all over the US? Democrats. Who is it that's calling for a return to the Military Draft? Democrats. Who was it that blocked our brave libertarian petitioners for property rights and got our libertarian petitions kicked off the ballots all over the US like MT, MO, and NV in 2006? Democrats. Who is it that protests and disrupts speeches by libertarians on college campuses all over the US? Democrats. Who is it that wants to take our guns away? Democrats.

Who is it that supports anti-libertarian affirmative action laws? Who is it that supports seat belt laws? Who is it that wants to force little kids riding bicycles to weat helmets? Answer to all the above: Democrats

When was the last time you even heard a Democrat supporting legalization of marijuana?

There are virtually no areas of agreement between Democrats and libertarians. Maybe Pro-Choice on abortion and Gay Rights. But even there Dems want government funding and "special rights for Gays"(which we libertarians oppose).

Further, how many libertarians ever win election as Democrats? Virtually none. How many libertarians win as Republicans? Hundreds like former Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Ron Paul now a Republican Congressman from Texas.

"libertarian Democrat"? A stupid idea if there ever was one.

Eric Dondero at

8:24 AM  

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