August 25, 2016

Can a libertarian be pro life?

TAMPA, May 20, 2012 – Thanks to Ron Paul’s extraordinary presidential campaign, libertarianism is arguably getting its best hearing in decades. It’s catching on, especially with young people. While baby boomers prepare to retire and devour Social Security and Medicare to the bone, the generations succeeding them realize that they will be stuck with the bill for these financially insolvent social programs, along with an unsustainable foreign policy.

Proceeding from its central tenet of non-aggression, libertarianism sees government the way Thomas Paine did. “Even in its best state, [it] is but a necessary evil.” Some libertarians think Paine was only half right. Either way, a libertarian government would do far less and cost far less than the one we have now.

Ron Paul has presented one of the purest libertarian platforms of any presidential candidate in U.S. history. Paul absolutely refuses to consider preemptive war and wants to “march right out” of the Middle East, Germany, Japan and Korea. He doesn’t just want to reform Social Security and Medicare; he wants to let younger workers opt completely out.

He wants to end the drug war and pardon all non-violent drug offenders. He wants to repeal the Patriot Act and subsequent “war on terror” legislation.

Paul doesn’t pitch a watered down version of libertarianism to avoid ruffling feathers within his party. When asked about a federal prohibition on gay marriage, Paul responds that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether, even at the state level, except for enforcing marriage agreements like any other contract.

However, there are a few issues where Paul’s libertarianism has been questioned. The most consequential in terms of political impact is his stance on abortion. Paul is staunchly pro-life.

Some have said this violates the basic tenets of libertarianism. The government cannot be allowed to dictate what an individual does regarding her own body. All libertarian theory is rooted in property rights and the most basic, fundamental property right is self-ownership. This precedes modern libertarianism. John Locke, the philosopher that inspired Thomas Jefferson, established this principle before the right to any other kind of property.

“Though the earth, and all inferior creatures, be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. The labour of his body, and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his.”

The progressive pro-choice argument rests firmly upon this foundation. A woman owns her body and has sole dominion over what occurs within it. While progressives generally go on to violate this principle with their support for government regulation of virtually every other decision one makes with one’s body, they are very libertarian on this issue.

Or are they?

While libertarian theory is built upon property rights, it also recognizes a natural limit to the exercise thereof. That limit is what Locke called, “the law of nature,” which is that “no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

Based upon this limit, the woman’s rights would seem to end before she can bring harm to the fetus. Yet, libertarians recognize that everyone has a right to forcibly remove an unwanted person from his or her property. What is the libertarian answer?

Continue at Washington Times Communities…

Gary Johnson is not a libertarian

TAMPA, April 12, 2012 — While the media continue to ignore compelling evidence that the Republican primary race is much closer than they are reporting, some Ron Paul supporters are nevertheless thinking about what they might do if Paul does not get the Republican nomination.

Throughout this election cycle, Gary Johnson’s name has been omnipresent as a libertarian alternative. There’s only one problem. Gary Johnson is not a libertarian.

This just seems to be occurring to some of the faithful after his disastrous interview with the Daily Caller. In it, Johnson proposes to cut the military budget by 43 percent. However, when pressed on one hypothetical military intervention after another, Johnson refuses to rule any out. He’d consider military intervention for humanitarian reasons. He believes that the United States should maintain a military presence in the Middle East. He would continue drone attacks in Pakistan. By the end of the interview, libertarians were likely waiting for Johnson to rip off a mask Scooby Doo villain-style, revealing he was really Dick Cheney in disguise.

From the moment that he announced his run for president as a Republican, Gary Johnson has stated that he believes that all government policies should be formulated using a “cost-benefit analysis” (about the 2:20 mark). What are we spending our money on and what arewe getting in return? (Libertarians would likely question him on just who “we” is and how it became “our money,” but I digress.) While that might be a lot better than what Washington is doing now – all cost and no discernible benefit – it’s not how libertarians make policy decisions.

There is no evidence that Gary Johnson is even aware of the philosophical basis of libertarianism. If he is aware of it, he’s obviously decided to reject it. That’s certainly his prerogative, but he shouldn’t be seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination.

The Libertarian Party has never garnered more than about 1% of the vote in a presidential election. Its chief benefit has always been that it nominated candidates that libertarians could actually believe in, even if they weren’t going to win. This was true as late as 2004, when the party nominated Michael Badnarik. However, it badly damaged itself by nominating Bob Barr in 2008. If it nominates Gary Johnson for president in 2012, it will completely lose all relevance, even among libertarians.

Ron Paul is not a perfect libertarian, but he does understand libertarian philosophy and he does form his positions based upon the non-aggression principle, as he confirmed in my own interview with him last year (about the 7:30 mark). That’s why he told Matt Lauer(about the 5:00 mark) that economic liberty, personal liberty and his non-interventionist foreign policy are all one package. Libertarians believe that initiating force is wrong, whether it is military force against another nation or a government bureau forcibly transferring money from one person or group to another.

{Note to reader: A portion of this article is missing here. This originally appeared in Washington Times Communities, but due to contractual issues all posts written during this period have been taken down from the Washington Times website. I retrieved  this from a blogger who reprinted most of this article, but there appears to have been a portion here that he did not reprint. If anyone can locate the article in its entirety, I would be grateful to have a copy.}

If the Libertarian Party wants to be practical in spreading the libertarian message, it should endorse Ron Paul as its candidate in 2012. He is more libertarian than any politician in U.S. history and he has more visibility than any candidate the party could field. If it wishes to put forth its own candidate, then it should nominate a true libertarian. It has several choices.

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.