Impractical Libertarians

Libertarian Jane Galt quotes Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik at length, on his theory that paying federal income taxes is not legally required, as proof that Badnarik is a fringe nut. If you vote for Badnarik, you are doing nothing to advance the cause of liberty.
If further proof were needed of the impracticality of doctrinaire libertarians, check out this revealing Reason Magazine symposium. Even Glenn Reynolds wasted his ballot in 2000 on Harry Browne. And Richard Epstein is voting for Badnarik!
The GOP has, in fact, committed sins against small-government libertarianism, some by wrongly buying in to big government and some by taking pro-law-enforcement and pro-life stances that I, as a conservative, approve of. But libertarian ideas are taken seriously in Republican circles, while they are scorned at every turn by the Democrats. And in the real world, if there is ever to be progress away from Big Government, it will require that the public accept fewer guaranteed entitlements and more individual decisionmaking. With his plans for private accounts in Social Security and Health Savings Accounts, Bush is far further out on the limb in favor of such progress than any presidential candidate since Goldwater. And whether Bush wins or loses, the GOP will be under pressure to nominate a spending hawk in the next campaign; that candidate’s job will be much easier if Bush has laid the groundwork for changing an entitlement system that dwarfs the size of any discretionary spending. And yes, Bush wants conservative judges; but conservative judges will do no more on social issues than leave them to the people’s elected representatives.
If libertarians can’t support Bush, faults and all, they are simply not interested in testing their ideas outside a laboratory.
UPDATE: The Mad Hibernian points me to Dale Franks’ endorsement of Bush as a counter-example of a libertarian (actually a neolibertarian, as the QandO guys call themselves) who understands the stakes:

It is utterly pointless and shortsighted to calculate about the future of the GOP when our primary concern right now is the threat of radical Islam. A retreat in the War on Terror that results in a decade of threats to American security like those that appeared in the 1970s could very well make domestic political calculations about the relative libertarian-ness of the GOP moot.


. . . [I]n an election like this one, facing the Islamist threat, I simply don�t believe that any victory in this election can be taken as a referendum on domestic policy. It might say volumes about how the American people wish the War on Terror to be fought, but I doubt any case can be made that it would constitute a general expression of approval about, or predicts the future of, the L[ibertarian]/C[sonservative] idea in American politics.
In any event, I�m far more concerned with keeping the USS America from slipping beneath the waves than I am about watching the GOP sink. Maybe, once the last terrorist�s head is stuck on pike, I�ll be more concerned with the fate of the GOP�s L/C direction.
Until then, I want a president that I�m sure will pull the trigger, when it needs to be pulled. That president is George W. Bush.

2 thoughts on “Impractical Libertarians”

  1. “conservative judges will do no more on social issues than leave them to the people’s elected representatives.”
    If Bush wins, I sure hope these are the type of conservative judges he’ll pick. But, I doubt it.

  2. Well, other than on affirmative action, nearly all of the left/right spilts on social issues have seen Scalia, Thomas and Rehnquist line up against imposing constitutional restrictions to strike down state laws, which leaves those laws to be continues or repealed as the voters’ elected representatives see fit. Bush will only go wrong by those lights if he appoints wishy-washy O’Connor types.

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