Libertarianism vs. Statism
Hat tip: Hornberger’s Blog
Monday, May 4, 2009
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Pity the poor Republicans. Having suffered massive losses in the political process, they are now in search of a “new message” that they hope will restore them to political power. Their problem, however, is that given their unwavering commitment to socialist, interventionist, and imperial programs, the likelihood is that voters will see through the charade of a “new message.”
Consider, for example, Republicans’ post-Bush era return to their tried-and-true mantra favoring “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” Doesn’t that mantra ring hollow given the fact that Republicans are just as fiercely committed to socialistic and interventionist programs as Democrats are?
Indeed, when one considers all the federal socialist and interventionist programs that have come into existence during the past several decades, how many do Republicans oppose? Answer: None. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, the drug war, subsidies, education grants, bailouts, SBA loans, and on and on, not to mention the multitudes of federal welfare-state, regulatory departments and agencies. The Departments of Labor, Agriculture, Energy, Education, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, DEA, SEC, ICE, IRS, and on and on.
Republicans support and embrace every one of them. At most, they’ll call for “reform” or for getting rid of “waste, fraud, and abuse.” But with the exception of Ron Paul, a Republican who is actually libertarian by philosophy, hardly ever will you see a Republican calling for the repeal or abolition of any of those federal programs, departments, or agencies.
Of course, it used to work. Voters would focus on the free-enterprise mantra and forget that Republicans favored the socialistic and interventionist programs that violated the mantra.
Not anymore, however. Because now there are the libertarians to contend with. Libertarians not only preach the “free enterprise, private property, limited government” mantra, they also call for the abolition and repeal, not the improvement or reform, of all those socialistic and interventionist programs favored by both Republicans and Democrats. Libertarians are the real deal.
In the foreign-policy arena, what do Republicans have to offer, especially given that President Obama has co-opted their occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and their war-on-terrorism infringements on civil liberties? Republicans, like Democrats, continue to support the existence of a U.S. Empire, continue to deny that the Empire’s presence and actions abroad produce the threat of terrorist blowback, continue to support the international drug war, and continue to call for ever-increasing infringements on civil liberties. Moreover, they continue to deny that U.S. personnel torture while, at the same time, continue defending torture because they say it works. And they continue defending the alternative kangaroo judicial system for trying accused terrorists that the Pentagon set up to compete against the constitutional system established by the Framers.
Meanwhile, federal spending continues unabated, with Obama likely to end up spending more federal money than even Bush and the Republicans did. Of course, now that Obama, rather than Bush, is doing the borrowing, taxing, spending, and inflating, Republicans are railing against it all, which they never did during the 8 years of the Bush era.
Yet, when you ask Republicans how federal spending can be reduced while, at the same time, maintaining the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the entire U.S. Empire abroad (troops in more than 100 countries) and all the socialistic and interventionist programs here at home, Republicans just get angry, frustrated, and silent.
That’s one reason they are so uncomfortable with libertarians. We remind them of what they aren’t — consistent defenders of moral principles, free markets, private property, the Constitution, and a limited-government republic.
In difficult times, people tend to look to scapegoats, and Republicans and Democrats are no exceptions. While Republicans rail against illegal aliens, drug dealers, terrorists, and Muslims, Democrats rail against speculators, greedy people, the rich, and businessmen. Neither Republicans nor Democrats have the courage or fortitude to confront the truth and accept responsibility for it — that it is they and their socialist, interventionist, and imperial programs, not the scapegoats, that are responsible for the morass in which our nation finds itself.
While Republicans and Democrats wage wars against their scapegoats, the real war is between libertarianism and statism. Despite the massive control that Republicans and Democrats still have on the mindsets, lives, and fortunes of the American people, I’m still putting my money on libertarianism to prevail. For if people decide they want morality, prosperity, harmony, and freedom, then there is only one way to go — libertarianism. That, of course, necessitates a rejection of the statism embraced by those pitiful Republicans and, well, for that matter, those pitiful Democrats as well.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation, publisher of Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax by Sheldon Richman.
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