By Tom Rhodes
Vice-Chair Libertarian Party of Citrus County
Chairman LPF Platform Committee
Today’s editorial by WND editor has the same title as my blog entry, The Trouble with Libertarians. Economically, philosophically, and morally, libertarian ideas have been proven to be what is best for the vast majority of people, but the implementation of libertarian ideas by Libertarians have made the Libertarian Party unpalatable for the majority of Americans.
There is a paradigm shift in this country happening, it’s not Republican/Democrat or Left/Right, or Conservative/Liberal. The people are realizing that there is now a war between those who love liberty and all it entails and statists who want to control everything. The Libertarian Party should take advantage of this paradigm shift, but as our 40 year history has shown, we once again we shoot ourselves in the foot. We have again furthered our image of Amoral Atheistic Anarchists. This unfortunately accurate combination of descriptors will insure that the American people will only rarely elect Libertarian candidates. Ron Paul, arguably the most successful candidate wearing the libertarian moniker, is not a member of the Libertarian Party. Because he has realized that to win elections and have a positive affect for liberty for all Americans, he had to abandon the LP. Americans will not elect Amoral Atheistic Anarchists.
Last week’s press release by LP Chairman, Mark Hinkle, unnecessarily alienated over half the US population and hypocritically compromised libertarian principles. By saying that, "Permitting couples to marry when they are of the same gender is a step in the direction of equality before the law” he said the LP is willing to compromise its principles, and willing to alienate the majority of the population which hold the more than 5000 year old belief that marriage is between a man and a woman; thus supporting the idea that a small minority can use the force of government to change the very definition accepted for thousands of years, and force not only tolerance but acceptance of their beliefs and silence the majority. This at its core is contrary the Principles of Liberty.
Hinkle was quite right when he said that "the idea that someone's legal rights should depend on whether they've entered a government-approved relationship ought to be repugnant to all of us." The Christian principle of Equality under the Law, properly adopted by both our founding fathers and the Libertarian Party, should make the idea of providing any special privileges or punishments to anybody repugnant. Saying that expanding the special privileges of some to include a few more only strengthens the idea that unequal treatment under the law is acceptable, and undermines Libertarians calling themselves “The Party of Principle.”
Most Americans firmly believe that all people should be free to do as they wish so long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of others. That means that most Americans tolerate but do not condone, approve, or even accept the amoral behavior of others, only that they accept that with liberty and freedom one must tolerate socially abhorrent behavior if it doesn’t infringe upon the rights of another. Thus to protect the free speech of everybody, we tolerate the racist bigoted hateful speech of both the KKK and Black Panthers. Toleration of such speech does not mean Americans condone it.
The LP could have taken a far more principled stand, and opened the LP up to both the LBGT community, and the majority of Americans who tolerate but don’t condone homosexuality. People are free to voluntarily enter into binding contracts, and the government’s duty is to justly honor and protect those contracts through the judicial system, but in no way should any person be given any special privileges or punishments based upon the voluntary private contracts that they enter. The LP’s sole position on marriage should be that it is not the job of the government to sanction marriage, the government’s purpose is to protect the rights of all people equally. To further that end our judicial system was created to justly administer criminal law and civil contracts.
From a moral or philosophical perspective how can justifying or supporting unequal treatment of singles or couples who choose not to enter legal contracts, over those who choose to be in contractual partnerships, be construed as a libertarian principle? The very idea, that expanding unequal treatment to include another sub-group is acceptable, is hypocritical pandering that makes the LP look no better or different than the Democrats or Republicans, and further hurts the reputation and image of the LP in the eyes of Americans. What Libertarian Principle justifies laws that treat some people different than others?
Today’s WND editorial, will reach more people than all the Libertarian press releases, blogs, and other stories combined. WND has more libertarian commentators than almost any other source, and regularly supports libertarian principles. At WND you can regularly find the writings of Wayne Allen Root, Walter E. Williams, John Stossel, Thomas Sowell, VoxDay, Lew Rockwell, and virtually every other credible libertarian of note. WND reflects the position of most Americans, who support libertarian ideology but reject the Libertarian Party.
Other libertarian organizations quite purposefully do not associate themselves with the LP. The reason they don’t is because they realize that their credibility with the American public is suspect if they do. The biggest ground swell in American politics in the last have century is the TEA Party movement. It’s a true grass roots movement made of many small organizations with no central control or authority. Any attempt by some to claim leadership is quite obviously a lie, as the many grass root TEA Parties throughout the country get very upset at some distant person they didn’t choose and not affiliated to their group claiming to be their leader. The TEA Party clearly embraces the Philosophy of Liberty and more than half the country associated itself with the TEA Party movement. The reason the American people have gravitated to it and not the LP, which should be their natural home, is because of the LP image.
Columnist Dick Morris, wrote in the National Review about libertarianism and the TEA party, "The libertarian strain in the American electorate has long been neglected by the mainstream media. But, through the tea party, it has gained ascendancy on the right. Those who want the government to stay out of both boardrooms and bedrooms have come to dominate the [Republican] party and its nominating process." He totally ignored the LP, because he believes it is irrelevant.
The Libertarian Party (LP) has remained virtually the same small portion of the electorate for decades. We can open ourselves up to a far larger segment of the population not only small special interest groups like the LBGT community, but also the far larger majority of the US population which still holds to Christian principles. Libertarian ideology is rooted in the same principles that were used to form our constitution. Whether we want to admit it or not those are Judeo-Christian principles. Christ’s example was to tolerate, help, and pray for sinners, he never condoned sinful behavior, but did recognize the free will God gave all men, and never advocated force to gain acceptance. If we continue to alienate over half the population by compromising our principles in order to trash Judeo-Christian beliefs, we will continue to have the same results, and remain a very small group, and virtually powerless except as a foil or joke for political pundits. Libertarian principles and values are main stream but Libertarians aren’t.
To be successful the LP must quit shooting ourselves in the foot. LP Chairman, Mark Hinkle’s last press release did nothing to help the LP, and only confirmed the image most Americans have of the LP, an image the people have consistently said with their vote is not compatible who they want to lead our country. Our party is insane to think that we can continue to embrace our Amoral Atheistic Anarchist image, and have any different acceptance by the American people. The LP is almost powerless because not only do we have to deal with all the inherent inequalities that being a third party entails, we have embraced an image the American people have rejected. The LP must stand by its principles; but to be effective in American politics we must also shed our Amoral Atheistic Anarchist image. I believe we can do both, but our leadership must recognize that we have an image problem and address it.