Should the Libertarian Party be Over?

Ilya  Somin, Julian Sanchez, and others seem to be in agreement with Bruce Bartlett’s thesis that the Libertarian Party does more harm than good for the cause of actually enacting libertarian policies.

I’ve been a member of the Libertarian Party for many years, and I’ve often voted for Libertarian candidates. I appreciate having an avenue for expressing my political preferences at the ballot box more clearly than I could with a vote for either major party candidate. I have certainly been dissappointed by many of the candidates and policies of the Libertarian Party, but I guess I never really expected brilliant competence, or quick major electoral victories. I always thought the political landscape to be better with the LP than without, if for no other reason than many people might learn of the libertarian alternative to traditional left or right alliances. Also, there’s always been the hope that the LP would help to cause many libertarian policies to be adopted by major parties (as has been said of the Socialist Party). A major shift towards libertarianism will not happen until there’s a major cultural shift that embraces the ideas of individual liberty more consistently.

It’s certainly true that some of the resources used to promote the Libertarian Party would otherwise be used to promote liberty via the two major parties. But, overall, I’m not so sure that the cause of libertarian policy would be better off without the LP.

One interesting idea from Bartlett is this:

In place of the LP, there should arise a new libertarian interest group organized like the National Rifle Association or the various pro- and anti-abortion groups. This new group, whatever it is called, would hire lobbyists, run advertisements and make political contributions to candidates supporting libertarian ideas. It will work with both major parties. It can magnify its influence by creating temporary coalitions on particular issues and being willing to work with elected officials who may hold libertarian positions on only one or a handful of issues. They need not hold libertarian views on every single issue, as the LP now demands of those it supports.

The Club For Growth seems to be off to a good start at this idea; at least in the economic-liberty arena. Are there other libertarian-leaning organizations like this?

Contract

I had to sign some HR documents today. One of them, a non-disclosure agreement, ended with this line:

I have read this agreement before signing it, and I acknowledge receipt of a signed copy.

How can I acknowledge receipt of a signed copy? I haven’t signed it yet! If I sign it, I’ll be lying won’t I?

Well, I thought it was kind of funny. But, so far, I’m the only one.

Still Here

Sorry I haven’t blogged much lately.

I’m still alive, and I still intend to blog. It’s just that I started a new job last week, and I’ve been focused on things related to that for the past few weeks.

Hopefully things will settle down soon, and I’ll have more to blog about.

So, keep checking in.

Who Supports Civil Liberties?

Rep. Charles Rangel, the congressional buffoon from New York, has said he will once again try to reinstate the military draft in this country.

His argument, as I understand it, is that we need the draft to bolster strained troop levels, and also to make it less likely that we’ll use troops because the draft will make it more likely that decision-makers will have a stronger emotional attachment to individual soldiers. And that, somehow, this will improve their decisions and this mass enslavement will bolster social justice.

This is stupid in too many ways to bother listing. But, it doesn’t bode well for the quality of initiatives we can expect from the Democrats.

What’s ironic is that this comes at the same time as the death of Milton Friedman, who was influential in ending the draft in the 70s.

One anecdote I like is this one:

Milton Friedman was very persuasive. One of Meckling’s favorite stories, which his widow, Becky, recalled in a recent interview, was of an exchange between Mr. Friedman and General William Westmoreland, then commander of all U.S. troops in Vietnam. In his testimony before the commission, Mr. Westmoreland said he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Mr. Friedman interrupted, “General, would you rather command an army of slaves?” Mr. Westmoreland replied, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.” Mr. Friedman then retorted, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher.”

While many Democrats oppose reinstating the draft now, many still favor some kind of imposed national service. What they approve of, and what Friedman opposed, is the notion that it’s proper to treat people as slaves of the state; that the majority can commandeer the lives of others, and that such a thing is noble rather than an obnoxious affront to the most basic notion of civil liberty.

I realize that there are Republicans who support the draft and national service, too. But, I’m tired of hearing people argue that the Democratic Party is the party of civil libertarians, and that they will protect our basic freedoms from those nasty Republicans.

And, this is nothing new. This paper recounts an important conference on the draft at the University of Chicago in 1966. One of the invited anti-draft congressmen was Donald Rumsfeld (R-Illinois), and the pro-draft senator was Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).