December 16, 2017

Response to Elie Mystal’s ‘Libertarian Hero Meets The Justice Of The Streets (Err.. Suburbs)’

Rand_Paul,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress_alternateI read Elie Mystal’s article on Rand Paul’s assault, which suggests such violent encounters are the inevitable result of libertarianism in practice. He makes two errors. First, he contends Rand Paul ignores the rules of his HOA based on his libertarian philosophy. Second, he contends basing a legal framework on the libertarian non-aggression principle (NAP) is unworkable.

Regarding the first error, libertarianism is based on the sanctity of voluntary contracts. An HOA is a perfect example of what libertarians would replace zoning regulations with – an enforceable contract voluntarily entered into by every individual, instead of a set of rules imposed on the whole by a supposed majority. Mystal conflates voluntary contracts with regulations near the end of his piece, writing, “Rand Paul’s broken ribs are a goddamn case study in why we need regulations.” This begs the question, “Why do we need regulations, rather than just enforcement of the HOA?”

Neither Mystal nor I know the terms of Rand Paul’s HOA contract, but if they prohibit either pumpkin patches or compost heaps, then Rand Paul appears to be in violation of that contract. Libertarians would side with the HOA, not Rand Paul. However, the HOA contract also provides penalties for violation of the terms, which I’m fairly certain don’t include bum-rushing him and breaking his ribs.

This all assumes there is any truth to reports Senator Paul used his property in ways his neighbors found offensive, whether compliant with the letter of his HOA agreement or not. Several of his neighbors have come forward since Mystal’s piece was written to refute those reports.

Even in the absence of a written agreement, libertarians recognize longstanding local conditions as binding on new property owners. Thus, I cannot come into a quiet community and build an airport on my land, subjecting my neighbors to the noise and other inconveniences of having an airport border their land. By the same token, I cannot buy the land next to an existing airport and then demand the airport stop making noise or doing the other things an airport must do to conduct its business. This principle extends to all sorts of questions, including air pollution, zoning, etc. Murray Rothbard wrote about this concept many times. Here is an example.

Second, Mystal’s article includes this passage:

“You can do what you want and I can do what I want and, so long as we’re not hurting anybody, the government can do nothing.” It’s… cute, as theories of social interactions go. It’s not a workable basis for law and governance.”

I would refer the writer to this passage from Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural address:

“With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens — a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities. [emphasis added]

In fact, Jefferson reiterated the NAP as the basis for law and governance many times over the course of his life. Examples include this, this and this.

Rather than a “cute theory of social interaction,” the NAP was the guiding principle of American liberty for well over a century, until Woodrow Wilson specifically called it out as no longer adequate for what he considered too complex a society for the NAP to govern. Libertarians disagree with Wilson. Mystal may not. But it would be a much more valuable discussion if libertarianism would at least be represented correctly when criticized, rather than presented in the cartoonish fashion our sound bite media so often resorts to.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

It’s Time to Repeal and Replace the Republican Party

Gop slash 2President Trump attempted Friday to put a smiley face on the defeat of the American Health Care Act (ACHA), known to its opponents as “Obamacare Light.” From his perspective, the failure to secure enough Republican votes to pass the AHCA will lead to a “better bill” in the long run, because that future bill will have bipartisan support. The president did not elaborate on how the bill he envisions would be better or what about this bill, which he virtually threatened members of his own party to vote against, he didn’t like.

Opponents of the AHCA opposed it because it was too much like The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) itself. Trump’s comments beg the question for anyone hoping for less government in health care, rather than more: How exactly will participation by the Democratic Party make the next bill better?

It’s fair to say Trump is far from a typical Republican, especially on health care. He’s supported single payer government health insurance in the past, even as recently as his 2016 campaign. But what about the rest of the GOP? If the House of Representatives is any indication, merely tweaking and renaming Obamacare was a viable solution to what they have denounced for seven years as the first step down the slippery slope to socialism.

This is by no means an isolated incident in the GOP’s history. Despite running on reducing the size and influence of the federal government, Republican presidents and Congresses have consistently presided over more significant expansions than the Democrats. A look at historical data on federal outlays reveals that federal spending increases far more when a Republican is in the White House than under a Democrat, regardless of which party controls Congress.

Beginning with Nixon, federal spending has virtually doubled during the administrations of all three two-term Republican presidents. Even Eisenhower increased it fifty percent, despite two year-over-year cuts in 1954 and 1955, respectively, equaling the percentage increase under LBJ’s “Great Society” (although the latter was accomplished in one term). Spending increased far less under Democratic Presidents Clinton and Obama than under any post-war Republican president who served two terms. It seems unlikely that trend will change under President Trump, who has proposed $60 billion in increases to military and Homeland Security spending.

Republican rhetoric also typically includes “slashing” regulations on economic activity, but the reality rarely bears any resemblance to the rhetoric. Like many of his Republican predecessors, Eisenhower created an entire new department, Health, Education and Welfare, which paved the way for LBJ’s medical entitlements. Nixon created the EPA, which alone is responsible for some of the most stifling regulation on business. Reagan is widely credited for massive deregulation, but most of the meaningful deregulation was passed while Carter was president. George W. Bush’s only two meaningful economic policies were the economically destructive Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the TARP bailout.

Over the entire sixty-four years since 1953, voters truly interested in reducing the size and influence of the federal government have decried what have recently come to be called, “RINOs,” (Republicans-in-Name-Only). This is a term popularized during the Tea Party era to describe Republican politicians who run on shrinking the federal government, but who govern more like liberal Democrats once in office. If only a real Republican could be elected, say the grass roots, then the federal government would finally be brought back within its constitutional limits.

But when have these “real Republicans” ever existed? Once upon a time? If one goes back to its founding in 1854, the Republican Party was the big government party. By 1860, the platform included all the familiar big government planks from its predecessors, the Whigs and the Federalists. And spend big they did, particularly on railroads and other infrastructure, in addition to raising protectionist tariffs.

It wasn’t until Woodrow Wilson and the new Democratic Party leapfrogged the Republicans in terms of big government that Republicans even campaigned on shrinking the federal government, which wasn’t exactly a radical idea following the spending and regulation ramp-up during the largest war in human history to that point. Evidently, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge are the only “real Republicans” to have ever occupied the White House. And let’s not forget that both merely returned policy to that of their 19th century Republican predecessors. Harding and Coolidge praised Alexander Hamilton’s economic policies and governed accordingly.

Considering the present Republican administration, there has never been a better time for those truly interested in smaller government to confront reality: the ninety percent of Republican Congressman who would have voted for the AHCA are the real Republicans. They represent what the Republican Party has been about for the entire 163 years of its existence: big government conservatism.

It’s time to repeal the GOP and replace it with a party truly committed to less government, free markets and a peaceful foreign policy. While the numbers associated with third parties are not encouraging, one cannot ignore the vast potential represented by that half of the electorate who don’t vote at all. Together with the large number of Republican and Democratic voters who “hold their noses” and vote for the lesser of two evils, a new party formed from the Libertarian, Constitutional and Reform Parties, marketed to disaffected non-voters, could represent a viable alternative.

At this point, what could those seeking smaller, less intrusive government possibly have to lose?

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Earth to Bill Weld: Trump’s foreign policy is more libertarian than Clinton’s

william_weld_by_gage_skidmoreLibertarian Vice-Presidential Nominee Bill Weld has a legitimate beef with the media. On Tuesday, the Boston Globe reported Weld “plans to focus exclusively on blasting Donald Trump over the next five weeks.” Weld denied that claim in an interview with Reason, adding, “No, somebody’s making that up,” in reference to a further claim by the Globe that Weld would henceforth be focusing exclusively on red states.

But libertarian talk show host Kennedy wasn’t entirely satisfied with Weld’s explanations, and with good reason. For while the Boston Globe and other media may have exaggerated or even distorted Weld’s statements, they didn’t just make all of this up out of thin air. Weld himself admits he has been less antagonistic towards the campaign of Hillary Clinton, a personal friend, since accepting the nomination.

Weld says he does not want to see Trump gain the White House because his “proposals in the foreign policy area are so wrongheaded that they’re in a class by themselves.” Bill Kristol and other neoconservatives may agree with him, but virtually no libertarians would. On the contrary, many libertarians ignore Trump’s many odious positions and support him precisely because his foreign policy is so much less hawkish than Clinton’s.

Even Weld’s running mate recognizes this. He’s said on numerous occasions, including during an interview with this writer, that he considers Clinton “a major architect of the conflict going on around the world.” He also said during that interview he agrees with Trump that the next U.S. president should sit down and negotiate with Russia, and went as far as to say he is willing to go “all the way down that road” regarding withdrawing troops from Europe, Japan, and Korea.

Weld has on occasion muddied the water on what “foreign policy proposals” consist of, lumping trade policy in with military intervention, possibly to justify his preference for Clinton. But that dog won’t hunt, either, as Clinton is as protectionist as Trump at the end of the day, with only superficial differences in emphasis and rhetoric. The real difference in foreign policy between Clinton and Trump is on military intervention and Trump’s stance most closely aligns with Johnson/Weld’s. If foreign policy is the chief measuring stick, Clinton is the worse of two bad choices for libertarians, not Trump.

To say Libertarians were skeptical of Weld at the party’s convention in May would be an understatement. Presidential runner-up Austin Petersen endorsed Gary Johnson during his concession speech, but refused to endorse Weld, who failed to gain the nomination on the first ballot. Kennedy’s openly hostile interview of Weld crystalized the accumulated frustration with Weld’s many disappointing statements (from a libertarian perspective) since then. Her charge that Weld was merely using the Libertarian Party for personal advancement may have been unfair. To his credit, Weld handled it well.

What is more concerning for libertarians is that Weld may truly believe his positions are libertarian, rather than merely “centrist” or “moderate Republican.” Contrary to Johnson/Weld rhetoric, libertarianism is not merely “fiscally conservative and socially accepting.” It certainly is not a combination of the “best from both sides” of the Democrat/Republican divide. It is a self-contained political philosophy with its own first principles, most of which depart completely from conservatism and progressive liberalism.

Neither Johnson nor Weld have demonstrated a firm grasp of those principles during the course of their campaign, leading them to positions most libertarians outright oppose. And while there is still a strong case for libertarians to support the ticket, Weld needs to come up with a more believable argument on why he’s #NeverTrump, rather than #NeverHillary. His foreign policy argument for Clinton makes no sense at all.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

What Gary Johnson Should Have Said About Legalizing Heroin

maureen-morella-cnnIn one of the more predictable moments from last night’s CNN Libertarian Town Hall, Gary Johnson was confronted by the mother of a young man who ingested a single line of heroin and was disabled for life. Jacob Sullum has already weighed in on what Johnson should have said from a libertarian perspective, but his thoughtful and informed piece is still too verbose for a political campaign.

Libertarians like to make fun of “sound bites” and slogans, but if they ever want to win an election for dog catcher, much less President of the United States, they need to face the reality that people stop listening and stop reading when the answer is long and developed. Here is how Gary Johnson should have answered:

“Ms. Morella, I am very sorry to hear about what happened to your son. It’s a tragedy. But I have to tell you the truth, even though it’s not what you came here to hear. What happened to your son may not have happened if heroin were legal. Here’s why:

When drugs are illegal, they’re sold by criminals who have no business address. You can’t sue them if they’re negligent or prosecute them when they willfully defraud you.

Reactions like your son’s usually occur with what’s called a “hot load,” meaning there was another substance mixed with the heroin. If the heroin he ingested were sold by a legitimate business in the light of day, there would be an immediate investigation. If the product had dangerous ingredients in it or otherwise wasn’t what the package said it was, the owner would be sued. If it were discovered he did it intentionally, he’d be prosecuted.

Ms. Morella, no one in America is concerned that when they buy a bottle of gin, there is going to be foreign substances in it that are going to kill them. But they used to be. Know when that was? When alcohol was prohibited. They called it “bath tub gin” and tragedies like your son’s occurred all the time when only criminals could sell alcohol.

There is absolutely no difference between alcohol prohibition then and drug prohibition today. Your son’s tragedy is the 2016 equivalent of what happened to people drinking bath tub gin.

Prohibiting alcohol also led to the rise of heavily armed, violent gangs like Al Capone’s. You don’t see sellers of alcohol today behaving like Capone. Do you know why? Because that’s not how business is conducted in the absence of prohibition.

You said, “Can you people in positions of power please get rid of the drugs?” I’m the only politician who is going to tell you the truth. No. We’ve had a war on drugs for decades and there are more drugs now than ever. It’s a little like the government war on terrorism. Is there less terrorism today than fifteen years ago or more?

What we can do is stop subsidizing criminal drug dealers by taking away their legitimate competition. If you want someone to tell you what you want to hear about drugs, I’m sure Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be happy to do so. Their parties have told you they’ll get rid of drugs for fifty years. If you want the truth, the only way to make America safer is to end prohibition and allow all drugs to be sold like alcohol.”

The answer above is chock full of sound bites. Sound bites become headlines. That’s how you get your message out to 315 million people.

It also answers the woman’s question, something Johnson’s rambling answer failed to do.

This is the way Gary Johnson has to start answering questions if he’s going to take any advantage of the opportunity the Libertarian Party is being presented with during this election. Hopefully, his debate coach is listening.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

An Anarcho-Capitalist’s Case for Gary Johnson 2016

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In the strangest presidential election year ever, the surprises keep on coming. Some of them are pleasant, though, including the huge surge in attention being paid the Libertarian Party.

Four years ago, a little over 20 press passes were issued to cover its national convention. This past weekend, over 250 journalists joined a record number of delegates at a convention that made the 2012 RNC seem like “the dance of the living dead,” as Rodney Dangerfield would put it.

But just as the Republican and Democratic Parties are deeply divided this year, so, too is the Libertarian Party, for relatively the same reasons. The Party’s winning presidential ticket, Gary Johnson/William Weld, aren’t viewed as true libertarians by almost half of the party’s delegates. The cybersphere is replete with comments and blogs from hardcore libertarians saying the Libertarian Party no longer represents them, that it’s nothing more than Republican Party Lite, etc.

I believe they’re wrong.

For the record, I am an anarcho-capitalist, which I believe is the only way to be 100% libertarian. Since just before Lew Rockwell outed me in 2011, I have believed the only way the human race will ever really free itself is to reject the state completely, along with all its works, and all its empty promises. And I believe we will get there. Someday, people will consider government itself as much a barbaric anachronism as we consider state religions today.

But getting rid of state religions took 5,000 years. Libertarianism has only been around a little over 300. Anarcho-capitalism is even younger. This is going to take time and, in the meantime, the political process is one of many avenues to try to advance liberty within the present framework. Voting is a 15-minute commitment. It doesn’t cost anything in terms of time or money and doesn’t stop one from pursuing liberty in any other way, including agorism, civil disobedience (but I repeat myself), homeschooling, etc.

The Libertarian Party has nominated some of the greatest voices of liberty in the past half century, including Ron Paul, Harry Browne and Michael Badnarik. Neither Johnson nor Weld are nearly as purely libertarian as any of these giants, but they’re going to get far more votes. Dissatisfaction with Trump and HIllary is certainly one reason. But it’s not the only one.

Libertarians don’t want to hear the other reason, but I’ll say it anyway. Contrary to libertarian-ish (in rhetoric only) icon Ronald Reagan, government is not the problem. The electorate is. As a social media friend remarked, “If you want to find out how interested your neighbors are in individual liberty, just go to your local planning board meeting.”

The truth is most Americans in 2016 aren’t ready for an ideologically pure libertarian message. This is an electorate that is angry with Washington, D.C. for not doing more, not for meddling too much. Grassroots conservatives complain Obama has gutted the military and (gasp!) negotiated with Iran. Grassroots liberals believe markets are too free and corporations “run rampant.”

Thanks to Trump and Hillary, millions of these Americans are going to find the Libertarian Party for the very first time. If the first thing they hear is “abolish the police,” “close all public schools” or “disband the army,” (all positions this writer would support), they’re going to stop listening immediately, never to be seen or heard from again.

Johnson/Weld has the potential to attract millions of new members to the Libertarian Party where they will be exposed to the far more libertarian views of most of its members. And no, this will not destroy the party or libertarianism as a philosophy, just as electing centrist Bill Clinton did not destroy the Democratic Party or the progressive philosophy. On the contrary, Clinton strengthened the party, paving the way for the far more progressive Barack Obama and the overtly socialist Bernie Sanders.

Perhaps a musical analogy would help. In the 1950s, white kids were discouraged from or forbidden to listen to black artists playing what was disparaged as “jungle music,” a.k.a. “rock ‘n roll.” Then, along came Pat Boone with a sexless, rather cringeworthy version of Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti.”

Despite Little Richard’s hilarious rant in Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll! about Pat Boone stealing his song, he admitted in a quieter moment that Boone’s whitewashed cover actually helped him, by introducing millions of white listeners to a style of music they may never have otherwise heard, at least at that time. Posterity reveres Little Richard as a founding father of rock ‘n roll. Pat Boone may be remembered for other things, but not that.

Gary Johnson might just be the Pat Boone of libertarianism for an American public subconsciously yearning for the real thing, but not yet ready to hear it.

Let there be no mistake. I disagree with Johnson on all of the same grounds as the hardest core libertarians. He’s wrong on bake the cake, in my opinion. I agree with Darryl Perry he’s wrong on the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And let’s be clear about what Perry and I disagree with: only Titles II and VII, which deny freedom of association to private individuals. Perry and I are both glad the federal government came in and crushed Jim Crow laws, “states’ rights” be damned.

Anyone who’s read my latest book knows I agree with Tom Woods: libertarianism is not “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” It is a philosophy unto itself, with its own first principles. Woods and I disagree on the strategic value of a Johnson/Weld Libertarian Party Presidential ticket.

But let’s get some perspective here. If these are the worst of Johnson’s heresies against libertarianism, then I have to ask many of my fellow libertarians why they aren’t applying the same measuring stick to Donald Trump, whose only libertarian position is his noninterventionist foreign policy. Because of this alone, they’re willing to excuse Trump’s full-throated endorsement of NSA spying on American citizens, shutting down the internet, protectionist tariffs and promises to expand the military, if not to use it as often. Johnson is far more libertarian on all of these issues than Trump.

Even on foreign policy, Johnson is better. For, while both men agree the interventionist policy must change, both questioning NATO and the overseas military empire, Trump still promises yet another war, against ISIS. Johnson has made no such indication. Johnson told this writer he is willing to go “all the way” down the road of bringing U.S. troops home from overseas deployments, adding “something drastic needs to be done” with U.S. foreign policy.

The purest libertarians don’t believe there is any legitimate role for government, as Darryl Perry also pointed out in last weekend’s debate. Any involvement in politics at all evokes the old joke about the prostitute (Would you sleep with me for a million dollars? Sure! Would you sleep with me for $25? No, what do you think I am, a hooker? We’ve already established that. Now, we’re just bickering about price.)

If we’re going to pursue liberty through the political process at all, the only way to do so is to have a reasonable shot at winning. Even Ron Paul said that. That doesn’t mean selling out our principles. That nominating Gary Johnson is doing so is as hysterical an overstatement as the typical, neocon “Insert-Dictator-Name-Here is Hitler” meme.

As much as I abhor the left’s agenda, I am realistic about one thing: they’ve played it smart. The 20th century was as overwhelming a victory for progressivism as one could imagine. They didn’t achieve that by dogmatically refusing to support any candidate who parted with them on one or two issues. On the contrary, they got behind anyone who supported any of their positions, regardless of how ideologically impure the candidate may have been from their perspective.

It’s time for the Libertarian Party to play it smart, like the left has, albeit for different ends. The real world isn’t a think tank. Get behind Johnson/Weld and seize the opportunity pounding on your door. You have nothing to lose but your irrelevance.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Final Presidential Debate: 2016 Libertarian Party National Convention

convention debate8:00 PM EST – The atmosphere is electric, much like Ron Paul’s event in 2012 just days before the RNC – the latter resembling what Rodney Dangerfield would call “the dance of the living dead.”

8:27 PM EST – “I’d like to build a wall around Donald Trump and make Bernie Sanders pay for it.” – Austin Petersen

8:31 PM EST – “The rights you are born with don’t change depending upon which side of an imaginary line you’re born on.” – Marc Allen Feldman.

8:35 PM EST – “There is an offensive word in your question and that is ‘taxpayer.” – John McAfee

8:36 PM EST – “When it comes to the federal role in education, abolish the Department of Education.” – Gary Johnson

8:41 PM EST: “We’d have voluntary mutual aid societies like we did before the government took over social security.”

8:44 PM EST: “None of us are going to pass a drowning child, even if we are dressed in a tuxedo, going to a wedding. You jump in and save the child. Libertarianism is not heartlessness.” – John McAfee

*8:45 PM EST: First boos for Gary Johnson for remarks about global warming and that “free market bankrupted coal.”

8:49 PM EST: “Why can’t we have a lottery? A lottery is just a tax on people who are bad at math.” – Austin Petersen

8:49 PM EST: “This government survived for 120 years without an income tax. How was that possible? We had a government that was reasonable.” – John McAfee

8:52 PM EST: “The minimum wage is always zero, as one knows who is out of a job.” – Marc Allan Feldman

8:54 PM EST: “The minimum wage was originally devised to stop black workers from competing with white labor.” – Austin Petersen

9:01 PM EST: “When you talk about a 35% tariff on foreign goods, who ends up paying them? Well, we do.” – Gary Johnson

9:04 PM EST: “I have a barber and we have a free trade agreement. I give him money and he gives me haircuts. He never gives me money.” – Marc Allan Feldman

9:05 PM EST: “Money is not a creation of government. It is a creation of the marketplace.” – Austin Petersen

9:05 PM EST: “End the Fed! End the Fed! End the Fed!” – the delegates

9:16 PM EST: “Radical Islam is a threat. Congress needs to get involved. They have abdicated their responsibilities to the president. There needs to be an open discussion and that hasn’t happened.” – Gary Johnson

9:18 PM EST: “The most dangerous religion in the world is statism.” – Austin Petersen

9:23 PM EST: “We used to manufacture weapons to support our war efforts. Now, we manufacture war efforts to support our weapons industries.” – Marc Allan Feldman.

9:27 PM EST: “I kind of like the United Nations because it really doesn’t do much.” – Marc Allan Feldman

9:29 PM EST: “Calling me an isolationist because I don’t want to invade Poland is like calling me a hermit because I don’t want to rob my neighbor’s fridge. Switzerland has the greatest foreign policy. Have you ever had Swiss cheese, Swiss chocolate or a Swiss Army knife?” – Darryl Perry

9:32 PM EST: “What we are dealing with are two machines. They have no heart; they have no soul. They eat everything.” – John McAfee [on the two major parties]

9:36 PM EST: “I believe in gun control. I believe people should control their guns.” – Marc Allan Feldman

9:45 PM EST: “I have traveled extensively and in most Third World countries, you can use the bathroom in the street, in front of everyone. Having seen that, I don’t understand how anyone could care.” – John McAfee

9:49 PM EST: “As far as the nomination of justices, I want to support the firm right of Congress to do nothing. It’s the only thing they do well.” – Marc Allan Feldman

9:50 PM EST – An appearance by Jesus.

9:56 PM EST – “The drug users remain constant whether it’s criminalized or decriminalized.”

10:00 PM EST – Darryl Perry loses his shit over drug laws.

10:06 PM EST – “As many of you know, my wife is black. I can assure you that discrimination was not ended by any legislation.” – John McAfee

10:10 PM EST – “I want you to help me help you make the Libertarian Party libertarian again.” – Darryl Perry

10:11 PM EST – “This is not a campaign about one man. It is about a revolution of We the People.” – Austin Petersen

10:14 PM EST – Marc Allan Feldman tears the place up. Wait for the footage.

10:16 PM EST – The crowd goes wild.

Is Libertarian Kevin McCormick a More Likable Alternative to Trump or Clinton?

kevin mccormickWith unfavorability ratings at record highs for the candidates of both major parties, polls show Americans are more likely than ever to consider voting for a third party. That’s inspired more excitement than usual at the Libertarian Party National Convention in Orlando, where delegates from all 50 states have gathered to choose the party’s candidates for President and Vice President of the United States.

I had a chance to sit down with Kevin McCormick, one of the candidates seeking the party’s nomination (video below). More information on McCormick’s campaign can be found at www.kevinmccormick2016.com.

Watch the video interview at The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen Speaking/Book Signing Event Feb. 17, 2016 Buffalo, NY

Click on image to enlargeBook signing flyer 20160217 Daily Planet

Rand Paul’s Campaign Proved Libertarianism and Conservatism Are Antithetical to Each Other

1024px-Rand_Paul_by_Gage_Skidmore_7Google Rand Paul today and you’ll find stories about him suspending his presidential campaign under “Breaking News.” In one way it is; in another it isn’t. It’s really an old story, but those who don’t know history have been doomed (again) to repeat it.

Since William F. Buckley started National Review in the 1950s, libertarianism has been viewed as a subset of conservatism. Reagan affirmed this view in the 1970s, before rising to the presidency selling that same theory.

But what caused Reagan to fail to shrink the federal government (it doubled in size during his presidency) is the same problem that doomed Rand Paul’s presidential campaign. Libertarianism and conservatism are antithetical philosophies and any attempt to combine them will fail.

It is important to understand the philosophical differences here, because they do indeed dictate political positions today. I’ve written an entire book about this, but the crucial difference between libertarians and conservatives is this: true conservatives don’t believe man keeps his natural rights when he enters society. Understood properly, they don’t even believe they exist in nature at all.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

There is nothing new about the neoconservatives

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Robert Eno of Conservative Review named Rand Paul the “standout of the night” after the December 15 Republican Presidential Debate on CNN. Eno laments that the mainstream media, including “conservative media pundits,” will proclaim Rubio the winner. Eno implies these pundits aren’t true conservatives, referring to a species of unicorn sought by millions of self-identified conservative voters.

Rand Paul himself has called out Rubio and other proponents of the U.S. military empire as failing to adhere to authentic conservative principles. The self-named “neoconservatives,” we’re told, are really progressives in Republican clothing, failing to promote the true conservative principles of small government, free markets and a noninterventionist foreign policy.

Rand is right about nonintervention, but he’s wrong about conservatism. There is nothing new about the neoconservatives. The essence of conservativism itself is belief in the need for an all-powerful government that regulates every area of life domestically and dominates every other nation in the world. This has been the conservative worldview for thousands of years. It has never changed.

Conservatives see the world as Thomas Hobbes did. Human nature is so depraved that the government must be powerful enough to “keep them in awe.” Like other enlightenment philosophers, Hobbes saw the relationship of nations to one another as virtually identical to the relationship between individual people. They are all in a de facto state of war unless one nation dominates the rest.

This explains the otherwise puzzling compulsion by generations of U.S. politicians to interfere in the affairs of destitute Third World countries thousands of miles away. Just as individual liberty within society is a threat to the commonwealth, self-determination by any individual nation is a threat to the world order. The “domino theory” offered as justification for the Korean and Viet Nam Wars was firmly rooted in Hobbesian conservatism. So was the British Empire.

Many conservatives would object and point to Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk as representing the true tenets of conservatism. There’s only one problem: Burke and Kirk agree with Hobbes on just about everything.

Hobbes, Burke and Kirk all deny the existence of natural, inalienable rights. Like Hobbes, Burke says that man in the state of nature “has a right to everything,” meaning there can be no rights to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Rather than “to secure these rights,” according to Burke, governments exist so “the inclinations of men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, and their passions brought into subjection.”

The only disagreement between Hobbesian “centralizers” and Burkean “constitutionalists” is on how government power should be distributed. The Hobbesians believe the sovereign power can never be safely divided. It must reside in one place, preferably in one man. Hobbesians in American history include Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and George W. Bush.

The Burkeans believe the opposite. As the politicians have the same dark nature, they must be thwarted, too. Burkean conservatives in American history include John Adams, Robert Taft and Barry Goldwater.

Here’s the rub. While Burkean constitutional conservatives want power divided, they still believe 100% of the power resides somewhere in the government. If the federal government isn’t going to regulate a particular area of life, then the state or municipal government should. Or the town government. Or your local school board. No area of life remains unregulated.

Similarly, the two conservative camps have disagreements on foreign policy, but not on principle. “Old Right” conservatives like Robert Taft may have argued against war, but Taft’s chief argument against participation in NATO was his fear it would concentrate too much power in the executive, although he hints at the non-aggression principle in passing:

“Under the Monroe Doctrine we could change our policy at any time. We could judge whether perhaps one of the countries had given cause for the attack. Only Congress could declare a war in pursuance of the doctrine. Under the new pact the President can take us into war without Congress.”

Contrary to the beliefs of a lot of well-meaning people, individual liberty, limited government and free markets are the antithesis of conservatism and always have been. Mercantilism is the economic system of conservatism; empire its natural foreign policy.

The American Revolution was very much a libertarian revolution against a Hobbesian, mercantilist and militarist empire. The ensuing struggle between Federalists and Jeffersonians was likewise a struggle between conservatism and libertarianism, respectively.

As inconsistent as he sometimes was in practice, Jefferson’s thinking and writing remained consistent on this point throughout his life. He repeatedly cited the libertarian principle that government should “restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free” in describing the limits of government power.

His foreign policy was mostly libertarian as well. Unlike President Obama, he really gutted the military, cutting its budget by over 90% and largely dismantling the navy (the army was already disbanded when he took office). His stated purpose was to make the navy a purely defensive force, incapable of foreign adventures.

Like millions of self-identified conservatives, Rand Paul is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. He’s trying to see libertarianism as a subset of conservativism, just as Reagan did. It isn’t. It’s no surprise that even his attempt to portray himself as an authentic, Old Right conservative has failed. Trying to blend conservatism and libertarianism leads one into all sorts of self-contradictory positions.

It’s no coincidence that enthusiasm has peaked at those moments when Paul has taken the purely libertarian positions of his father, as he did filibustering drone strikes on American citizens or the Patriot Act. The marketplace of ideas is telling him something.

There is an intuitive libertarian instinct in everyone. The desire to live and let live and use force only in response to aggression is quite literally the “law of nature,” as Locke wrote over three hundred years ago. There are millions of Americans who believe it, but have it philosophically jumbled with the antithetical tenets of conservatism.

Rand Paul may be one of them. Or, he may believe the only way to make America more libertarian is by appealing to conservatives within the political process. Either way, he’s wrong.

Americans are starving for something besides conservatism or liberalism (as it’s defined today). A lot of them just don’t know it. Rand Paul could do the most good by taking his father’s ideas a step farther and rejecting conservatism altogether. It’s a dead end for the liberty movement, just as it always has been.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.