Monday, January 3, 2011

What if a Reason magazine explainer on non-libertarians unfolded like so?

"Non-libertarianism gets caricatured as the responsible, mainstream, expert consensus supporting branch of American political philosophy. Yet so much of what it advocates is at odds with the country’s founding. Of course, the slaveholders that wrote the Constitution without giving women the right to vote weren’t exactly libertarians either, even if they did limit the federal government in various ways. In fact, non-libertarians have enjoyed uninterrupted power in the United States for the whole of its history, non-libertarians were particularly instrumental in the political beliefs of the slave-holding Confederacy, and for all the disastrous foreign wars, violations of civil liberties, and fiscal nightmares created by non-libertarians during their uninterrupted domination of all three branches of government, voters still prefer them."

-- Conor Friedersdorf, writing a clever parody of that stupid NY Mag article about libertarianism.

The parody is clever, but here's the serious part:

And as I survey the biggest policy disasters in recent American history – the push liberals made in California to vest public employees with obviously unsustainable pension deals, the conservative approach to the Iraq War, the non-libertarian, bipartisan consensus that we ought to continue waging a War on Drugs in scores of countries despite the utter implausibility of victory in that struggle – I cannot help but conclude that it is the serial refusal of non-libertarians to grapple with the world as it is that causes our country the vast majority of its avoidable trouble.

What about a voter who wants to grapple with the world as it is? I think he or she ought to conclude that libertarians hold very little power in this country (as Beam points out), that a Congressional majority that would implement their least mainstream ideas – returning to the gold standard, for example – is utterly implausible, and that electing more libertarians like Ron Paul is far more likely to advance the most popular libertarian policies, like an end to marijuana prohibition, smart cuts to the Pentagon budget, and rolling back the nanny state. Instead, non-libertarian pundits delight in focusing on the least likely libertarian ideas to be implemented, and pointing out real flaws in theoretical libertarianism – the Civil Rights Act dustup, for example – that have little bearing on actual political questions that face America. In this sense, it is non-libertarians who are making the ideal the enemy of the practical, and I wish they'd stop it.

Aside from some serious reservations about the Ron Paul part, I wholeheartedly agree.

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