Libertarian chic: It’s easy to be a libertarian when you’re powerless
Belief in a smaller government is not really a “conservative” belief. Conservatism is supposed to be mindset more than an ideology or a systematic series of beliefs. Libertarianism, however, is an ideology and one with a belief in absolute freedom short of total anarchy. Yet from Ayn Rand’s first novel to heavily libertarian influenced Conscience of a Conservative from Barry Goldwater, libertarianism helped to change the basic conservative mindset into an ideology where freedom became a part of the doctrine. Even Ronald Reagan admitted as such.
But libertarianism influence doesn’t stop there. The cultural upheavals of the 1960s saw lifestyle libertarianism begin to influence American liberalism, starting from the civil rights movement, women’s lib, homosexual rights, abortion to legalizing marijuana.
So here we have a train of thought which has had a great deal of influence upon the big ideologies which shape U.S. politics today in the major party system. It has influence over what politicians campaign for and say during an election. Yet libertarian influenced candidates rarely win elections or get nominated by said parties. And the attempt to create a political party out of this ideology hasn’t been very productive either.
Why is this? Because it seems, libertarianism is useful for the party out of power and useless for the party in power.
We’ve seen many recent examples of this. The Democrats who protested the Bush II Security State of secret renditions, the Guantanamo Bay prison, torture, spying on Americans by the nation’s bloated and wasteful intelligence apparatus, largely kept the same edifice in tact after running Congress for two sessions and control of the White House for two years.
Meanwhile, the Republicans who ran against the huge deficits and big spending Obama Administration recently showed how much they really cared about the deficit by agreeing to a tax deal with President Obama which will increase the deficit by $900 billion. And haven’t mentioned all the earmarks they’ve but in spending resolutions or increased budgets for their leadership’s office staff. You can go back even further to the GOP’s support of No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D for more examples of their big spending tendencies whenever they have control of something. And as for being Constitutional? Well, again it depends on which branch of the government they run.
Politics for most is about the exercise of power for their own interests. Outside of a principled few, you won’t see many politicians spend so much money to get elected only give such power away once they get it. Like Sauron’s ring, power or the illusion thereof attracts the ring-bearer to it. It could very well be human nature but that’s not the point. Why deceive the voters with such subterfuge about your intentions with no desire to carry them out? Why campaign like libertarians when you have no desire to govern like them?
Because for the party out of power, libertarian chic works politically. It masks such desires for raw power and makes the out-party look like the defenders of freedom while the in-party is portrayed as tyrannical and dictatorial. The War on Terror helped the Dems posture as liberty’s stalwarts when they are nothing of the sort while the healthcare debate was perfect for the Republicans to once again regain credibility as the party of smaller government which is a false image of what they are about. And given the bad economic times and endless wars the U.S. is mired in, voters nowadays seem to be predisposed against politician or party holding office. It means libertarian chic is her to stay for a while. For true libertarians, watching all the imitators may well be flattering but it has to also be frustrating no one has to sincerity or even the guts to follow through.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”