While authoritarianism may be the most feared word in politics, fear is the most authoritarian. Consider as evidence of the extent to which fear drives political realities in America today that, according to polling data, most members of the Democratic Party and most members of the Republican Party believe:
- foreign trade, completely free speech and increased legal immigration are bad for us,
- what we want are stable Social Security benefits along with higher taxes, interventionist industrial policy to create jobs, socialization of the cost of higher education, and increased minimum wage.
In a democracy, authoritarianism comes from the assumption of power by politicians granted authority by a fearful electorate craving protection. When this fear becomes high enough, citizens are willing to compromise their own democratic autonomy to be protected. Increasingly, we are segregated politically by our news sources. The vast majority of Americans with an interest in politics gets its news from media with no commitment to airing both sides of any issue. Americans no longer share a common understanding of problems or even a common set of facts. Both parties claim the other side is wed to identity politics, including racism. Neither side can any longer comprehend the other side’s ambitions as fundamentally patriotic. Consequently, our ignorance has spread to our understanding of our fellow Americans. Americans now fear other Americans of the other party coming to power.
Each party’s objective is not the advancement of the policies that it favors, but keeping the other side out of power, per se. Fewer and fewer Americans are comfortable with the democratic notion that parties must take turns ruling and being ruled. As each party has lost respect for the political process, so too has each party become unmoored to the Constitution. Consider that each party has:
- supported steps to subvert the intention of the Constitution to control the composition of the Supreme Court,
- after its most recent presidential campaign loss, openly expressed frustration with the Constitutional and labeled the winner an illegitimate president, and
- laid the groundwork for claiming its future political losses to have been the result of illegitimate elections.
Consequently, the philosophy of the Libertarian Party has never been so important.
The forces causing the Republican and Democratic parties’ drift toward authoritarian populism – if not interrupted – will continue to drive them farther from the Constitution. We must interrupt those forces by offering the American people an alternative path to the future. We must provide an alternative to the political system that is in place today, one that fosters authoritarianism as a result of Americans’ mutual fear of each other. And show America that what we have to fear is loss of our autonomy – loss of our classically liberal, pluralistically democratic, decentralized republic.
Libertarian Call of Duty
The philosophy of the Libertarian Party has never been so important. It’s up to us to provide an alternative to the political system that is in place today, one that fosters authoritarianism.
We in the Libertarian Party must get into the political game. We are simply not participants in the American political process today. We are not in presidential debates. We are not acknowledged by the media. We are not recognized by the American public. We are irrelevant.
I am sick and tired of being irrelevant. Aren’t you? We say we’re angry but I’m not so sure we’re angry enough. Are we angry enough to do whatever it takes? Angry enough to change? Doing the same things over and over again is not going to give us different results. We have to be willing to do things that we have never done before.
Are we confident enough to stop defining ourselves in terms of the other parties? Are we disciplined enough to stop trafficking in conspiracy theories? Are we principled enough to be uncompromising with our self-interests? We cannot compromise and be co-opted by anti-vaxxers. If we all liked the vaccines, would we be ok with the mandates? Of course not. We cannot allow ourselves to be viewed as anti-prohibition because we like drugs. If you hated drugs, would you be ok with the prohibition? Of course not. Are we angry enough to do what it takes to engage the American political process? Or are we going to remain comfortable with the popular perception that we’re just nerds engaged only with our Play Stations in our mothers’ basements?
Looking back on our most recent presidential candidates, I can’t help noticing that they’ve been a mix of past politicians and past entertainers. People whose job it is to make us comfortable. If anything that I have said here has made you comfortable, we have a failure to communicate.
You know what makes me uncomfortable? I was a cop in Broward County for eleven years. Worked with a lot of families in a lot of bad situations. Bad in every way that a situation can be bad. Poverty, violence, crime, drug abuse, death. What makes me uncomfortable is looking back on those families and NOT wondering how they’re doing. Because I know how they’re doing because nothing is going to change for them. Nothing is going to change about the way government works because people who believe in libertarianism are not engaged in the political process. We’re not there. The Libertarian Party is not engaged.
You know what else worries me? When members of our party fifty years from now, celebrating the LP’s 100th anniversary, look back on this half-century point in our party’s history, I worry that what they will see is a party so narcissistically consumed with its own internal affairs that we missed this libertarian moment, our libertarian opportunity. We failed to answer our call of duty.
NATO Membership Undermines America’s Interests
The Russian war in Ukraine has highlighted three different ways in which America’s membership in NATO has undermined our own national interests.
First, because our European partners are able to count on the United States, both in terms of a possible military crisis and in terms of our presence providing a n ongoing deterrent, those nations have been spending much less developing their own military strength than they would if they had to provide for their own defense. Consequently, we now find it necessary to step up to the task of deterring Russian expansionism in a much more bold way than we otherwise would, because our European partners are simply not as well prepared as they should be to shoulder this burden on their own. Not only does this cost us in terms of the economic war in which we find ourselves, but it also threatens to drag us into a hot war in the near future, and of course costs us hundreds of billions of extra dollars we must spend on our military every year.
Second, because we are in a mutual defense alliance, NATO’s Article V, we have found it necessary to stop Poland from offering their own aircraft to the Ukrainians because we’re afraid it would drag us into a conflict with Russia. In other words, we have to stop Poland from doing something that they believe is in their interest, that they believe is in alignment with their values, and by the way something that would otherwise be in our own interest by deterring Russian expansionism, because if the Russians get offended by it, it might start a conflict with a NATO nation and thereby trigger an obligation for the US to become involved.
Third, the encroachment of NATO into formerly Soviet territory – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as well as the soviet sphere of influence in Romania – wreaks of an offensive forward push as opposed to merely a defensive posture, especially if you look at it through the lens of a paranoid imperialist like Putin. And it also wreaks of an American Trojan horse, the horse in this case being NATO membership, which NATO made it a point to leave as an open possibility for Ukraine. No, NATO encroachment is not most of the reason for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but, yes, if you’re a Soviet-era politician determined to leave a legacy of greatness, you can see why the threat of a NATO flag flying in Kiev might be a problem, especially if the republic for which it stands is the United States of America.
A Ban on Russian Oil
There is probably nothing anyone could do to punish Vladimir Putin that would strike me as too much. He’s a war criminal who insults the morals and sensibilities of both eastern and western peoples.
However, to be true to our own values, it’s important that our reactions be consistent with the rule of law and the spirit of the Constitution. I applaud the decisions of American companies who have stopped doing business in Russia or with Russians, and I would have preferred the Biden Administration allow US oil companies to make these same types of decisions on their own, without the White House imposing a government ban on Russian oil imports.
For starters, such a ban should be illegal in a nation that professes to allow its citizens to make decisions for themselves. This is especially true when claiming that the reason we are doing it, is at least in part because we want to push back against the spread authoritarianism. By the way, didn’t we just go through a period in which we all agree, looking back, that our government was too heavy-handed in terms of stopping people from conducting business the way they see fit?
Secondly, the law and ethics aside, who is in the best position to determine whether it’s a good idea to stop importing oil from Russia? Are you comfortable with that decision being made by a politician whose job it is to make you feel good about his efforts to punish an enemy? This is a politician who has been quite comfortable with his decisions to shut down an oil pipeline from Canada and the drilling for more oil in Alaska, despite these decisions having inflationary effects on the American economy. Maybe, we should be more comfortable with these decisions being made by companies who, by their nature, have to balance public sentiment against the cost consequences of finding new sources for our oil.
Poverty is a political construct; it is the result of bad public policy. There is nothing inherent in free markets that would naturally produce what we call poverty.
The number one bad policy we have in America is requiring our children to go to terrible public schools that we protect from competition. Politicians refuse to make the money they collect for education available to anything but public schools – dollar for dollar the worst educational investment in the modern world.
In fact, our schools are so bad, that many teenagers decide to drop out altogether, either for a low paying job with no future, or to work in the illicit drug trade, itself an enticing opportunity created entirely by bad public policy.
Poverty can persist as an inter-generational condition, when fed by continued bad policy made by politicians who mean well but who are utterly ill-equipped to make decisions about economics, much less about peoples’ lives.
If you are no longer satisfied with Democratic politicians protecting bad schools and hanging to the tried-and-failed 1960s welfare programs that discourage work, if you are no longer satisfied with Republican politicians acting like it’s all your own fault, you might be a Libertarian. If you’re looking for a fresh new approach to protecting your liberty, an equal shot in a growing economy, and an equal shot at justice, you’re not just a Libertarian, you’re a part of this campaign.
Three-Point-Plan to End the Fed
The objective of our party to end the Fed is bold, it’s important to America’s economic future and, notwithstanding what your friends in the duopoly would have you believe, doable. But only if we have the right plan to end the Fed, a private-sector organization owned by its member banks and defined by its two basic functions: Monetary policy and bank regulation.
- Remove monetary policy from the Fed in favor of what Milton Friedman long ago proposed, a fixed constant growth rate in the money supply. And the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which conducts market operations on behalf of the Fed today would be contracted by the Treasury Department to continue to do so in order to hit the targeted growth rate in money supply. This would remove the bias in our current system toward inflation, curtail the ability to provide funding for the expansion of federal spending, and stop the boom-bust cycles exacerbated by unpredictable loosening and tightening of money supply.
- Transfer the Fed’s balance sheet to the Treasury Department – the Fed’s income is already annually transferred to Treasury. Then liquidate that balance sheet. This would eliminate the ability to bailout member banks without some accountability through the budget process.
- The Federal Reserve Board itself would be eliminated, leaving each individual Federal Reserve Bank free to set its own regulatory framework, thereby competing with each other and competing with the Treasury Department for members. And yes, banks would have the option of choosing no regulation at all, though I doubt any would, all of them needing some seal of approval to conduct business internationally. Any bailouts would have to come from the Federal Reserve Banks out of their own balance sheets, created by agreement with the member banks themselves.
If you believe – after considering all the evidence and advice available to us – that you should wear a mask, keep socially distanced, wash your hands, and get vaccinated, then you should. But just because we are in the midst of a pandemic, and we are, that doesn’t mean the United States Constitution has been suspended, it doesn’t mean the government has the right to shut down our economy, take away your right to earn a living, or to go to church or anywhere else. It doesn’t mean the government has the right to tell you what to wear, what not to wear, who to be with or in what size groups.
I don’t like it when the government infringes on my rights, and neither should you, whether that be the result of authoritarian city ordinances, a condescending federal government, or a rogue police officer. Now there is a movement within our government to require you to carry a vaccine passport. This ultimately means deepening the divisions between us, between people who have complied with our overseers and those who have not. Just one more vehicle used by our government to intrude into our everyday lives.
If you’re looking for a fresh new approach to protecting your liberty, your right to an equal shot in a growing economy, and an equal shot at justice, you’re not just a Libertarian, you’re a part of this campaign.
Our government should no longer be in the business of criminalizing the behavior of consenting adults. Nor should our government be sentencing our family members to prison terms five times longer than those in the rest of the world.
The state’s heavy-handed approach to controlling us has driven a wedge between communities and police. Backing off the nanny-state attitude would allow people to solve real problems like drug addiction and community violence.
We must demand that when our municipalities negotiate with police unions, they negotiate for what we care about, not defunding, but greater accountability, more transparency, more ability to fire officers as well as the right to offer incentives for excellence, and more citizen involvement in both recruiting and training police officers. And we must put an end to the practice of police employers hiding behind the doctrine of qualified immunity. All of this would make police contracts more responsive to markets, and to citizens.
If you are no longer satisfied with Democratic politicians protecting bad laws and Republican politicians protecting bad cops, you might be a Libertarian. If you’re looking for a fresh new approach to protecting your liberty, an equal shot in a growing economy, and an equal shot at justice, you’re not just a Libertarian, you’re a part of this campaign.
Reform Will Be a Great Challenge