Conservatives, Liberals, and Liberty


Readers of this blog know that I lean pretty heavily libertarian (while rolling my eyes at the Libertarian Party.  Really, “bake the cake” Johnson and “ban the guns” Weld as the party chosen ticket in 2016, and don’t get me started on their insane foreign policy positions).

And while Goldwaters “The Conscience of a Conservative” is close to my political bible, modern “Conservatism” (or at least the Republican Party, which many consider to be the “Conservative” one) gives little heed to the principles Goldwater (or at least his ghostwriter) expounded in that volume.

That does not mean that “liberals” are any better, despite the origin of the word and what it used to mean (late enough that Milton Friedman apparently thought he could rehabilitate the term in works like “Free to Choose” and “Capitalism and Freedom” but that’s another tale), the party styling itself as “liberal” (i.e. the Democrats) has little to do with actually fostering liberty.  “Freedom” does not mean “free stuff.”

So we get Democrats passing ever more restrictive laws.  What we’re allowed to do.  What we’re allowed to say.  How we may see to our family’s protection.  What personal transportation we may have.  Who we may do business with.  How we might conduct that business.  And on and on and on.  Rules and regulations and laws in such volume that nobody can possibly know a tenth of what the law requires of him virtually guaranteeing that each and every one of us breaks multiple laws, often carrying felony penalties, every day.

Then we have Republicans.  They’re a bit better (although not as much as they would have you believe) on the passing more and endless laws restricting individual liberty, they tend to cover different areas.  Things Democrats are willing to leave to the individual, Republicans are quick to restrict.

Both parties, when out of power, are quick to point out how “evil”, or at best mistaken, the other party is in its various new restrictions and other liberties.  As quick as they are to condemn, they are equally slow to repeal when they are the party in power.  Democrats pass a gun restriction?  The same Republicans who got up and told how wrong it was become silent on the matter the next time they have a majority.  Republicans pass sweeping surveillance legislation.  The same Democrats that talked about how much of a violation of civil rights it was quietly renew it when they are in power.

The exceptions to this practice are notable for their scarcity.

The end result is that restrictions on individual liberty ratchet up over and over.  Freedom is lost regularly and rarely regained.  The best we generally can hope for is that one party (the slightly more conservative leaning Republican Party) is somewhat slower in restricting individual liberty than the other.  But neither seems terribly interested in increasing liberty.

And their supporters can often be no better.  While democrats often pride themselves on their “compassion” when they vote some new program to take from one what he has earned and give it to someone who has not earned it, Republicans are often equally proud of their support for the agents of the state tasked with enforcing these various infringements on individual liberty.  “They don’t make the laws.  They just enforce them.”

Yeah, they are just following orders.

And this is where the Libertarians scream at me that this is why I should instead vote Libertarian.

Well, I might if I thought that the Libertarian Party was actually a political party.  It’s not.  It’s performance art at best.  As a party they do not seem to be serious about attempting to build a base, win support, and actually win elections.  You find a few in local and State elections but…not many.  Instead, they keep trying to go straight for the top.  And they tend to be so caught up on “principle”, completely unbending in the slightest.  What TV Tropes called “knights templar” (not to be confused with the real world Knights Templar).  They are far more interested in priding themselves on being “uncompromising” and making themselves feel good about that than in actually making deals that might get them some, or even most of what they want.

And then they turn around and pick Gary Johnson who agrees that a Christian baker should be forced to bake a custom wedding cake for something that he finds morally objectionable.  And his running mate, Weld?  The guy who would ban a host of guns.  How are either of these “libertarian”?

It’s enough to make you snatch off your hat, throw it on the ground, and stomp on it.

5 thoughts on “Conservatives, Liberals, and Liberty”

  1. All that I’ll say is that I vote Republican because that’s the best (currently) way to prevent the Democrats from getting absolute power.

    IMO The Libertarian Party is a Joke but for the reasons you mentioned and others.

    None of the Parties are “perfect” but only a fool expects “perfect” in this imperfect world.


    1. Grumble Grumble

      That should be “The Libertarian Party is a Joke both for the reasons you mentioned and others”.


  2. I was a registered Libertarian, until:
    1) They went off into foreign policy lala land following 9/11
    2) They have this stalker like obsession that spoiling elections for the Republicans will make them like them
    3) It’s more than a little hipsterish- “I belong to a political party you’ve probably never heard of”
    4) In my home state, primaries are restricted to the party you are registered in. Best if I can actually have a say in who runs for the general election.
    5) It’s pretty obvious that most of the zero charisma never was people the Libertarians run actually like being the biggest fish in the puddle, and much of their circus is just them pretending to be Important

    I can go on. It would be better for them to actually work on changing existing parties over crowing about how they got enough votes to be officially put on a state ballot. Which, considering what they’re supposed to be about seems kind of against what the whole thing is about.


    1. IMHO, the Libertarian Party are more like Roberts going “squishy”. There’s not much clout in being part of a 6-3 majority; there’s a shit-pot of clout in being a decisive 5th vote. The Libertarians seem to delight in being able to pull enough votes to cause Republicans to lose.

      Not that I’m always fond of Republican policies; but most of the time they’re the “least bad” option.


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