There Is No Such Thing As A “Libertarian Democrat”

Over at Cato, Kos is making one of the most ridiculous arguments ever: “The Case for the Libertarian Democrat.

“(T)here’s a whole swath of Americans who are uncomfortable with Republican/conservative efforts to erode our civil liberties while intruding into our bedrooms and churches; they don’t like unaccountable corporations invading their privacy, holding undue control over their economic fortunes, and despoiling our natural surroundings; yet they also don’t appreciate the nanny state, the over-regulation of small businesses, the knee-jerk distrust of the free market, or the meddlesome intrusions into mundane personal matters.

Like me, these were people who didn’t instinctively reject the ability of government to protect our personal liberties, who saw government as a good, not an evil, but didn’t necessarily see the government as the source of first resort when seeking solutions to problems facing our country. They also saw the markets as a good, not an evil, but didn’t necessarily see an unregulated market run amok as a positive thing. Some of these were reluctant Republicans, seeking an excuse to abandon a party that has failed them. Others were reluctant Democrats, looking for a reason to fully embrace their party. And still others were stuck in the middle, despairing at their options—despondent at a two-party system in which both parties were committed to Big Government principles.”

The problem with the idea of a “Libertarian Democrat” is that philosophically, Democrats and Libertarians could not be farther apart. Libertarians believe in having a weak federal government and minimal government interference in people’s lives. That’s just the antithesis of what the Democrat Party has stood for over the last 70 years.

The Democratic Party supports a powerful, centralized form of government that regulates, spends, and taxes with absolute abandon. States rights? They give a little lip service to them if the state is doing something they like. Nothing more. The free market? The Democratic Party views corporations as evil, cash cows that are to be milked of their money to use for social programs.

Of course, that’s not to say that Libertarians and Democrats have no similarities. They do, but the philosophical underpinnings are different.

On civil liberties, Republicans are more concerned about them than Democrats, but sometimes that doesn’t show because both parties have different priorities. Republicans get worried about serial killers and rapists. Democrats get worried about people protesting abortion. Republicans get worried about terrorists flying planes into our buildings. Democrats worry about law abiding citizens who have guns. It’s just hard to paint the Party of paging through the FBI files of political opponents, the Fairness Doctrine, and gun control laws, as a party akin to Libertarians on civil liberties issues. The truth is that the Democrats have few qualms about curbing civil liberties, they’re just on the same side as Libertarians on some issues because #1) Democrats aren’t serious about protecting us from terrorists #2) There are Republicans in office and Democrats tend to disagree with them on everything for no other reason than because they’re Republicans.

Then there are social issues like abortion, gay marriage, and drug laws, where Libertarians and Democrats do find some common ground. But again, look to the philosophy. Libertarians oppose these laws because they believe that the government shouldn’t be involved in them. Democrats have no problem with getting the government involved; they’re just pro-abortion, pro-drug use, and pro-gay marriage.

That’s not to say that Republicans align perfectly with Libertarians either. But, philosophically at least, conservatives and Libertarians are on the same page with regard to the size and power of the government and spending even if, in practice, it doesn’t always work out that way.

In any case, the point is that “Libertarian Republicans” of the Ron Paul or Dick Armey persuasion may not be that common, but the moniker “Libertarian Democrats” is an oxymoron.

Correction: The original article blamed the Democrats for Ruby Ridge. While the Ruby Ridge trial occured during the Clinton administration, the actual event occurred while Bush Sr. was in office. So, since that was the case, the reference to Ruby Ridge was removed.

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