A gentleman by the name of Jake Witmer added a fairly lengthy comment to an abandoned thread on Tom Delay on the Liberal Avenger website:
CLASSICAL LIBERALS AND FELLOW AMERICANS TAKE NOTICE!
Howdy folks. I strongly agree with the comment here that Delay is a â€œmouth breathing cockroachâ€. Heâ€™s so anti-freedom that he wonâ€™t support the Libertarian candidate, â€œcutting off his nose to spite his faceâ€ for a nothing chance write-in campaign. Bob Smither is a Libertarian who is benefitting in this race by having the â€œRepublicanâ€ ballot access restrictions finally blow up in their face. (I was roughly Â¼ of the effort in 2003 to gather over 80,000 (gross) signatures that were necessary to place the libertarians on the ballot in TX, so Iâ€™m very familiar with Republican challenges to free and open elections, in TX.)
If any of you actually want to vote for a voice in favor of limited government and the Bill of Rights, and against â€œThe War on Drugsâ€, â€œThe War on Terrorâ€, â€œThe War on (poverty, gangs, guns, whateverâ€¦)â€ etc., then you should vote for Bob Smither.
As it happens, the GOP, which had thought that Tom DeLay’s old seat in the 22nd congressional district was simply lost, suddenly sees a bit of light at the end of teh tunnel. Because of the way in which ballot access laws in Texas work, Mr DeLay cannot get off the ballot in the district, even though he requested such many months ago. The Democrats, as interested as they always have been in insuring that the people have a free and clear democratic choice (as in their efforts to replace disgraced Senator Robert Torricelli with Frank Lautenberg less than 51 days before the 2002 election, in clear violation of New Jersey state law; the New Jersey courts simply overrode the law, and put Mr Lautenberg on the ballotÂ¹), filed suit to keep Mr Delay on the ballot and prohibit the GOP from replacing him there. The Lost Kos was ecstatic.
A fine lady named Shelly Sekula-Gibbs became the Republican choice for the seat, but she is being required to run as a write-in candidate. Because of the length and uncommon spelling of her name, the problem becomes even more difficult for the GOP. Even with that, Red State notes that Mrs Sekula-Gibbs all of a sudden seems to have a real chance! The Democratic nominee is Nick Lampson, and he’s still the favorite, since he’s the only major party candidate on the ballot.
I won’t venture into prognostication on this race; I just plain don’t know that much about it. But Mr Witmer’s comment on LA’s site does raise (at least for me) the interesting question: can today’s liberals support libertarians, or more precisely, Libertarians? (The website behind Mr Witmer’s name on LA’s site is that of the Libertarian Party.)
I’m certain that most of my liberal friends who frequent LA wouldn’t have much problem with many Libertarian positions on drugs, constitutional rights (though I’d note here that the emergence of campus speech codes were not the products of conservative thinking), immigration, and abortion. But one wonders how they would see the party’s position on gun rights, on taxes, on welfare, and a host of other issues.
If there is one great value to the Libertarian Party, it is that they understand that freedom and the nanny state are incompatible: if the government is going to take care of you, then the government has to have some say, a lot of say, in how you live your life. The Libertarians wouldn’t care if you smoked or ate a lot of fatty foods or used currently illegal drugs. But they also wouldn’t pay to care for you when you got sick or fat or FUBARed on drugs.
My friend Gordo wrote about Obesity in the US.
Just after I put up tonightâ€™s links, I noticed some obesity-related links over at Pepperâ€™s blog. You really should check out the link to the powerpoint presentation on the spread of obesity across the US since 1985. Itâ€™s really shocking.
Pepperâ€™s pal suggests that this may be due to the availability of cheap oils and starches. Iâ€™d also include cheap sugar, in the form of corn syrup.
We could probably do wonders for our nationâ€™s health by subsidizing fruit and vegetables, instead of meat, milk, and grain.
He also commented:
This is the problem with making policy based on the notion that people are completely free, independent, and rational agents: they simply arenâ€™t. A good marketing campaign will lead to greater consumption. A tendency to serve and package larger portions leads to overeating. This has been demonstrated again and again, and pretending that there is no cause and effect is not going to lead to sound policy.
Gordo’s a good guy, but his point is that people are not “completely free, independent, and rational agents.” If that is his operating assumption, then he cannot (rationally) be a libertarian; he must support some form of the nanny state, some form of government taking care of us. Trouble is, whether we are or are not “completely free, independent, and rational agents,” we do take free and independent choices, and there are, in the nanny state, public consequences of those choices. If we get fat, and it negatively affects our health, if the government is paying for health care, then the government (that means bureaucrats) has the right and the obligation to limit our choices, to prevent us from becoming fat, to keep costs down.
Think that’s far fetched? Have you looked at the action government has taken against smoking? Philadelphia has just joined a list of other cities where the government is taking active steps to criminalize smoking, banning it in almost all public venues. And as I noted in my article on Intellectual Conservative, referenced above, one private company has banned smoking among all of its employees, even at home, on penalty of losing their jobs, because smoking increases health care costs. How soon will various governments, city, state and federal, take the same step, given that they have to pay for their employees’ health care costs, and smokers, as a group, have higher health care costs?
This is the problem our liberal friends face: while they certainly support freedom and liberty as concepts, and as hammers to use against the Bush Administration when it comes to policy disagreements on things such as the Patriot Act and the conduct of the war against the Islamic fascists, were they to regain governing power, the programs that they would favor would be completely at odds with freedom and liberty, because those programs require the coersion of the public by governmental power to achieve what our Democratic friends see as a greater good.
Would universal health care be a good thing? I’d say that’s debatable, though our Democratic friends certainly seem to favor it. But to have universal health care, they must compel people to participate in it, whether a particular individual wishes to or not. (The 1993 Clinton health care abomination actually proposed criminal penalties for anyone trying to get around the system.)
Gordo blamed (at least in part) government subsidies for meat, milk, and grain for our obesity problem, and suggested that if, instead, we subsidized fruits and vegetables we might do wonders for our nation’s health. The Libertarians would agree that we shouldn’t subsidize meat, milk, and grain, but they’d also say we shouldn’t subsidize fruits or vegetables or anything else.
One suspects that Mr Witmer’s appeal to the readers of the Liberal Avenger would never have gained any traction there; they are most concerned with electing Democrats to unseat Republicans, and are highly unlikely to support a Libertarian candidate against a Democrat. But in a very real sense the Democrats can never support a Libertarian candidate; despite some convergence of views when it comes to abortion and the war in Iraq, and at least some sympathy for Libertarian views when it comes to recreational pharmaceuticals, the Libertarian philosophy of maximum freedom for the individual runs completely counter to our liberal friends’ preferences for big government programs to Do Good Things for Americans. In the end, liberalism is fundamentally at odds with liberty and personal freedom.
Â¹ – The New Jersey Supreme Court said that the election laws should be “liberally construed” to provide a “full and fair ballot choice for the voters of New Jersey.”
Cross posted on Red State.