Friday, November 30, 2007

The Republican Dream is Over for Libertarians

The title above is derived partly from a song by John Lennon on his first solo album after the Beatles broke up and for many of us who grew up as Republicans and worked for its success for years, hoping to return the nation to its small government foundations, admitting the dream is over comes concomitantly with the turning of one's back on a party that once embodied great hope for many of us freedom-oriented Republicans.

This is not my father's GOP. The days of Goldwater, Ayn Rand, YAF and Ronald Reagan are over and in the words of the immortal Jerry Mathers, they're "not never coming back." Instead, the McCarthyites and Nixonians have won and have completely eradicated libertarian influence in the Republican Party.

Getting over being a Republican can be a bit like leaving the religion one grew up in as a child.

It is not easy to do, but at some point, freedom-oriented people who believe in free markets and not interventionism have to realize that not only is there not much left for them in terms of policy in the GOP, that in actual fact, the party goes out of its way to insult and even antagonize libertarians.

While the Democrats through Daily Kos are saying "come on over, there are things that we can work together on," the GOP essentially thumbs its nose and says, "where else ya gonna go?"

Perhaps the saddest thing is that devoted Republicans worked 60 years to once again be in a position like they had in 2002, where they had a popular president and both houses of Congress. The GOP had the chance at that point to truly change the country. They could have passed a flat tax or abolished the income tax. They could have passed agricultural reform. They could have abolished agencies, starting with the Department of Education. They could have reformed Senior Citizens programs.

What did they do instead? First, they blew their political capital on an unnecessary war.

Then, instead of abolishing the Department of Education, the GOP instead decided to strengthen it, with No Child Left Behind.

Instead of reforming the tax code, they decided to make it even more unwieldy, and thus, all the easier to extract campaign contributions from lobbyists.

Instead of cutting farm aid, they decided to increase it.

Instead of reforming Medicare, they decide to create a new prescription drug program costing trillions of dollars, all the while deriding Democrats who sought to insure poor children as "socialists in favor of socialized medicine."

It is difficult to express just how abhorrently everyone in the GOP behaved during the period between 2002 and 2006. Corruption ran rampant, while the party violated virtually every one of its stated core values, shouting "freedom, freedom," every time they passed another bloated bill. Because they have nothing to stand on, their current presidential primaries have become focused on essentially two items: 1) being pro-war and 2)being anti-immigration. It is quite a come-down from the 1980's, when the GOP was the party of ideas and measured debate. It is now the party of yelling and screaming and know-nothingness and so now it is to the Democrats as the GOP will only continue to slip into oblivion.

1 comment:

Marshall said...

I think your analysis is spot-on regarding the demise of the Republicans, certainly since Bush assumed office. I suspect many libertarian-oriented voters will either be turned off or consider the Libertarian Party option if Ron Paul goes that route. It baffles me why Bush decided not to veto anything Congress produced during the period of one-party rule nor why the Congress itself decided to abandon principled action. It seems reminiscent of the time the Old Right died off in the early-1950s with Rothbard and others turned off by the rise of the National Review crowd that took over with its interventionist ways. There are some synergies with the Democrats and, like Britain's Labour Party, they have dispensed with much of the socialist rhetoric that frightened off many voters in the past, however I don't really see them as being any more devoted to liberty than the Republicans albeit more disposed toward civil liberties.