Battlepanda: What's the matter with libertarians?


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's the matter with libertarians?

Some libertarians, most notably the Reason ilk, have been extending something of an olive branch to the Democratic party. It seems to this commentator that if the olive branch had come when it might have mattered, say 2000, or 2004, it would have been graciously accepted. As it is, not only did the libertarians choose to observe one and a half terms of a disasterous presidency mutely before declaring their switch, they only enthusiastically rolled out the 'liberaltarian' label after it becomes obvious that the Republicans have imploded. Really, what can Brink Lindsey expect for his progressive manifesto but a cold, hard, rebuff, which was exactly what he got, and how, from Rob. Libertarians, present company excluded of course, have carried water for the the conservatives for far, far, far too long to expect the progressives to recieve them with open arms. Their road to damascus experience about how the Republicans are mean ol' daddies who lied about being fiscally responsible and are now coming after your civil rights came right after the Democrats regained both houses of congress? What a wonderful coincidence. [Just so that we're triple-dog clear, I'm talking about the Catoids, the Reasonites, OK? I'm sure that most of the libertarians on my blogroll, if they vote at all, would not have voted Republican for years and years.]

Snark aside though. I disagree somewhat with Rob post, fun as it was to read. I think that any time any constituency anywhere comes to you with their votes in hand, our party should take it, as long as it is clear that we're forging and alliance built on shared goals and that the newcomers are not in a position to dictate sweeping changes. I think that Brink Lindsey is right in that, historical factors and allegiances aside, a sober look at what both parties stand for at this point in time would probably cause most people under the nebulous yet divisive libertarian umbrella to pitch blue. In the comment thread to Rob's post, commenter 'Mona', who took exception to Rob's broad brush excoriation of libertarians, was ridiculed by 'Atrios' thusly: " I'll never understand people whose voting preferences seem to depend on whether random bloggers are nice to them or not." Actually, I don't really know what's there not to understand. If people percieve you as being hostile to them, they won't vote for your side. It's as simple as that. I mean, didn't Thomas Frank write a whole book on that?

In his post, Rob has basically labelled all libertarians as Glenn Reynoldses and Barry Goldwaters when in fact they are incredibly diverse. To me, that's putting a big "return to sender: Republican party" stamp on a group that has build up a political identity that's been very useful for the Republican party in appealing to voters that would have been utterly turned off by its social conservatism. Think "South Park republicans". If for no other reason than to prevent the Republicans from continuing to profit undeservedly from the libertarian brand, Democrats should be cautiously rolling out the welcome mat for libertarians instead of dismissing them out of pique.