Thursday, February 2, 2012

Liberalism vs. Libertarianism: Ron Paul, We Democrats & the Libertarian Ideology

It's been A Hard Day's Night
for this Unabashed Lefty.
I've been on this earth for 55, count 'em, FIFTY FIVE YEARS,
without one groupie yet.
All Ron Paul has to do is mention the Fed
and he's got college students going mad for him!

Liberalism vs. Libertarianism: Ron Paul, We Democrats & the Libertarian Ideology
Here’s an unabashed stab at two definitions forya:
Liberalism:  A political and social orientation based on the principles of humanitarianism, pacifism and individual rights.
Libertarianism: A political orientation which sets an ideal of minimum government just short of that which would result in intolerable anarchy.
When he was a card-carrying member and presidential candidate within the formal structure of the U.S. Libertarian party, the party itself and Ron Paul epitomize the tenets of Libertarianism at the present time. We can write off Rand Paul as a wannabe, in a family of MD’s, an intern, really being schooled by Dad Ron in the fine art of Libertarianism.
I don’t find myself falling in lockstep with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews all too often, he being less liberal than my tastes tend to prefer, but I found myself laughing out loud at the TV screen the other day at an extremely perceptive commentary by Matthews. I can’t pull the direct quote up, but the gist of Matthew’s talking points the night of the Florida primary was that he felt that Congressman Paul has “the best job in the world.” He gets to say what he wants and no matter what he says his audiences go wild. If he talks about pulling out of Afghanistan and slashing the Defense Department he gets raucous applause. When he talks about cutting taxes and social programs his crowd goes wild. Matthews astutely pointed out that Paul is probably the only politician in history to cause masses of young college students to give him uncontrolled standing ovations for comments about the Federal Reserve Board! When Mr. Paul denounces the Fed college coeds and guys go almost as berserk as if they were at a concert by their favorite rock star! Good point Chris! Whodathunkit! College students in a fervor over a 70+ ex-obstetrician talking fiscal, monetary and banking policy. Of course I LOL’ed. I admit that I envy Ron Paul his audiences, every wannabe aging would-be rock-star would have to!
I submit that it most definitely is not his specific message about the federal banking system which has his college-age audience in a tizzy, but far more so the anti-authority message implicit in those comments. Questioning the Fed is questioning authority. Questioning the Department of Defense is also questioning authority. Questioning the entire federal government and government in general is also a ‘questioning authority’ theme which appeals to the young.
When I was their age 1974 was happening. Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia was winding down, the Civil Rights Act had been passed but implementation was slow and awkward. ERA was still on the agenda.  My first Prez candidate of choice was Arizona Congressman Morris Udall, the liberal alternative to Jimmy Who in 1976. Questioning authority then meant slashing defense, stopping our overseas conflicts and entanglements militarily, legalizing marijuana, cutting the powers of the FBI and police in general, and forcing Nixon out of office. I despised institutions such as the Joint Chiefs, the Defense Department generally, the FBI, the CIA, state Militias (in light of the massacre at Kent State) and the courts. Right wingers in the day stereotyped us as anti-government, ‘communist,’ radical, ‘socialist,’ or anarchists. My crowd actually was anything but ‘anti-government!’ I loved my scholarships and student loans, for example. I was a big fan of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. I supported funding for tons of things from public housing to public medicine. I liked the Peace Corps and relished government equalizing opportunities for previously disadvantaged minorities.
I really don't get it.
I was Born in the USA.
Kissinger and Nixon tried their hardest
"put a rifle in my hand to go and kill the yellow man."
I have no clue why EVERYONE isn't a liberal. NONE.
My feeling is that today’s youth, particularly those enamored of the Ron Paul campaign still feel very much the same as I did back then, but that they have no place to go where they would be recognized as challenging ‘the system’ as we were simply by being part of the liberal wing of the Democratic party back in my day. Supporting the Democratic party, Barack Obama, just doesn’t have the ‘anti-authority’ feel that supporting Ron Paul does, even though their views are likely far more consistent with the liberal wing of the Democratic party than those of the Libertarians and Ron Paul.
Breaking down the practical aspects of Liberalism in 2012 and Libertarianism, what would be ideal policy prescriptions from each set of views?
Libertarians as a breed, including Ron Paul, would like to see government’s role reduced in ALL areas. Defense should basically revert to COAST Guard, and not involve foreign occupations, military aggression, bases all over the world and so forth.
Libertarians would like to see civil liberties expanded to include the freedom to smoke marijuana or not without government interference (many would like to see other street drugs legalized as well). They would oppose laws such as mandatory seat belts, or limitations on sales of alcohol according to religious tradition, or limiting what times bars can open or close, for example. In other words, they would support ending prohibitions by government against any activities except those strictly necessary for the maintenance of society basically. Paul, his supporters and the Libertarian party generally also support strict 2nd

Amendment interpretations, granting full freedom to amass individual arsenals and wishing to constrain government’s ability to limit private gun ownership. They strictly oppose both legislative and court efforts to limit handguns and weapon ownership generally.

A true Libertarian would oppose anti-abortion laws, in that the individual woman‘s right to choose would be paramount in their mind (Paul’s moralism has him confused on this one and inconsistent with his generally consistent Libertarian stances) Their opposition to the Fed stems from this guttural hatred of government involvement in ‘private’ affairs, including personal finance and banking. It’s a philosophical and ideological opposition, far more so than a practical prescription based on sound economics, or on any economic principles at all.
At the same time Libertarians, Paul included, want to end government funding of public education as much as humanly possible, to end Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all forms of government involvement in human services including housing and urban affairs. They would like to see the government play far less of a role in equalizing opportunities for  historically disadvantaged ethnic groups, and to have the federal government end all aid to foreign governments and people in poorer nations. They would see little purpose for political and military involvements overseas generally.
A liberal Democrat.
Liberals in 2012 would not want to see government cut down to size simply for the sake of some ideological principle that smaller is better. But there are many policy commonalities, I think, which instinctively appeal to a liberal and Democrats between us and those with the Libertarian ideological perspective.  Certainly once the Afghan fiasco is finally drawn to a close, all Liberals and Democrats should be united in their desire, along with the Libertarians, to see the United States halt all its foreign military aggression and violent misadventures. Indeed to enhance the world’s quality of life, to protect our precious teens and tweens who fight wars for us, and for great fiscal reasons, slashing the Department of Defense radically is appealing in the extreme. Indeed, reverting to COAST Guard, nuclear disarmament, and peace are two of the strongest commonalities between the fans of Ron Paul and we Democrats and opponents of war-mongering Tea Baggin’ Military Industrial Complexed types!
On civil liberties in general I know that my instinct as a liberal is to side with the individual liberty against government intrusion, barring a very strong counter-argument.  I do not like seat belt laws, in that I believe they give the police yet one more ‘probable cause’ to pull over motorists, and tilts the scale a bit too much in their favor in this regard, and also kowtows to the insurance industry over what should be an individual preference. I’m opposed to government deciding how a woman should treat her body and oppose anti-abortion legislation.
Many liberals such as your unabashed pundit believe that the prohibition against marijuana is a continuing failure, and renders criminals out of far too significant a proportion of the population than should be the case and is, in fact, a prime cause of the crime problem in the nation. We are also sympathetic to the notion of decriminalizing drug laws generally, if not outright legalization, very similar to our Libertarian friends.
A civil rights leader.
In the area of civil liberties, it is our dedication to our pacifist tendencies and our strong desire for disarmament at all levels and our hatred of physical violence in all its forms that causes us to part company with the Libertarians on 2nd Amendment issues altogether. This is understandable, although as a liberal, I can sympathize with the Libertarian’s desire to constrain the powers of the government in all areas of civil liberties, this one included. But also from a practical standpoint, we are a tragically violent society and way too many guns, especially handguns, are in the hands both legally and illegally are in the hands of Americans and their possession, manufacture and sale need to be outlawed.
And like who are true defenders of individual liberties, we Liberals and true Democrats, in order to have logical consistency, must support a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion.
Congressman Paul and his ideological Libertarian purist friends differ with me, Liberals in general and Democrats in their stubborn opposition to recognizing that the government has a key role to play in economic and social justice. His absurd extremism in calling for an end to the Education Department, their opposition to public education, to Social Security and Medicare, to the economic safety net generally, and the role of government in ensuring that Injustice when it occurs be rectified, and to prevent it from happening is the one key and huge differentiating factor between him, his Libertarian party and we Liberals and Democrats.
My own personal guess is that a huge number of Paul supporters, and actual members of the Libertarian party are relatively soft on these differences between our world views. Indeed, I submit that his young supporters, those avid college kids who garner all the media attention for his campaign and are the key reason for his financial support and for the limited success he’s achieved at the polls, this year in particular, actually, in their heart-of-hearts, are genuinely supporters of social safety-net issues and of matters of economic and social justice.
If Ron Paul supporters, young and old, were to stop and consider, once the Congressman loses the Republithief nomination to greedster Willard Romney, they would think about the Democratic alternative and how similar their true views are to ours, except for the most extreme Paul and Libertarian quirks. In the end, we stand together on the biggest issues of war and peace: civil liberties and foreign aggression by the United States.  And if his young supporters, his college enthusiasts, want to think outside the box and truly oppose the system, they’ll recognize that we are Occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and that we stand the chance to make some real systemic changes in the years to come if we prevent more Dubya lookalikes from retaking that White House. I’m a college ‘radical’ just 5 decades older, but with just as much rage against the machine and opposition to the authority which tried to put a “rifle in my hand, and send me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man!”
Ron Paul WILL not be the Republican nominee. Where are the Ron Paul supporters gonna go? I suggest to you that if you have any sense at all, that you’ll join forces with those of us who are much closer to you than you may realize. We liberals just ain’t that bad a lot. I promise you. Ron Paul runs as a Republican, even though he IS an avowed Libertarian, because he believes the Republicans have a reputation as the “less government” party. The Republican view of “less government” means $Trillion a year military budgets and far-flung undeclared wars in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and yes, Laos and Cambodia. It means the government deciding whether you should be able to have an abortion or even whether you should use contraception. “Republicanism” means a government so intrusive that only Nixons and Dubyas routinely wiretap our own citizens.
Ron Paul supporters and Libertarians who recognize that compromise IS an essential, practical and desirable part of politics, should take a close look at the Democratic Party and the candidacy for re-election of our incumbent President Barack Obama!
A civil rights leader, a Liberal, and a Democrat.
And yes, as a Democrat and as a Liberal, I’m here to tell you I think the Federal Reserve Board stinx, has way too much power and needs to be scrapped. If you join the fold, within the wide open tent of the Democratic Party we can change that policy and possibly see to it that Ben Bernanke is the last Federal Reserve Board Chairman.
So, do I get a standing ovation???    : )


Anonymous said...

I really liked this …. ! You put a lot of thoughts I share within this article, and i thank you for that!!!!!!

Unabashed Left said...

Well thank you Anonymous! I REALLY appreciate that comment. Nice that you took the time to write it. Meams a lot. I think lots of liberals relate to the sentiments contained herein, AND lots of Paul supporters. :) TY so much!

edbac333 said...

Great essay, Steve,(I believe it falls into that catagory more than article). It is very well thought out and written and is not only true but shows an extemely admirable desire to reach out to work together with people who may not agree with you on some issues but do on others. I commend your desire to work with all whose heart is filled with good intent.
As you know I had looked very closely at Ron Paul myself in my search to find a candidate not bought and paid for by Big Power and Big Money. It looks like the best bet for our Country is looking in the same direction as you are.

Unabashed Left said...

Thanx Ed, you give much thought to every comment you make,and I wish every person who cast a ballot would consider their opportunity as carefully as you do. You also write well and I would like it if you'd consider writing a guest blog detailing the process of deciding whom to vote for this November to occupy 1600 PA Ave for the coming 4 years. Don't dismiss my notion out of hand, I think your open-mindedness is a good thing and your ability to disagree agreeably something most political types, including my readers, could benefit from. I know I already do. Thanks friend. :) Peace... Steve

Marylou Przybylinski said...

Your ability to write well is most impressive. I would enjoy sharing coffee or yoga someday. Toodles,

Unabashed Left said...

Marylou, such would be a delite, my contact info is on my Facebook profile. Email @ any time. :)

edbac333 said...

Thank you Steve, I am humbled by what you said. I am shy about stuff like that but willing to think about it. This election ia one of the most important ever and contributing to it would be an honor.

Unabashed Left said...

Thanks Ed, you have much to contribute - the honor would be mine and my readers if you would pen a piece. I'll be in direct touch soon. Much appreciated. :)

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