Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Libertarian Nightmare

Not to be confused with the Nigerian Nightmare. No football in this post.

Your friend and mine, Jim aka Pops, is a limited government man. Currently that means either the Libertarian Party or the Constitution Party, as both advocate that sort of line. Jim has bemoaned the direction of the GOP away from limited government and sung the praises, ad nauseum I might add, of Ron Paul.

Those of you not from Maryland might not be aware of the state of disarray that the GOP largely finds itself since the Ehrlich loss of the gubenetorial race in 2006. As a result, there's really not any organized opposition to the Democrats in the House of Representatives races (the Democrats hold 6 of the 8 seats). This year that meant that the opponents for those 6 Democratic incumbents are pretty much whoever signed up to be the Republican. Reading the brief summary of the races in The Sun of October 26, I noticed a common theme amongst them.

In District 2, opposing Dutch Ruppersberger was Richard Matthews, a self declared adherent of libertarian principles. In District 3, John Sarbanes's opponent was Thomas E "Pinkston" Harris who ran because he was concerned that America was being overtaken by socialism. District 4's Donna Edwards was opposed by Peter James, who was district captain for Ron Paul's presidential run. Steny Hoyer of District 5 faced Collins A Bailey, who advocated restoring "the constitutional heritage our founding fathers blessed us with." District 7 saw Elijah Cummings up against Michael Hargadon, who described himelf as a "constitutionalist and supporter of free enterprise." Finally, Chris Van Hollen in District 8 ran against Steven J Hudson who proposed "streamlining the government".

In sum, then, I'd have to say that all 6 of the GOP candidates represented the kind of principles Ron Paul champions and which Jim thinks is the best course for America. Jim has often said those views don't get a run at the offices of power, so it would seem this was an opportunity to get those views out there. Of course, the lack of an organized GOP didn't help any of these guys, but the results of the vote seem a strong indication that in Maryland, at least, the Libertarian view is not the view the voters want to see in office.

Here's what we had happen. In District 2, Matthews got 25% of the vote. In District 3, Harris got 30%. In District 4 James got 14%. Bailey reached 25% in District 5. Hargadon hit 19% in District 7. Hudson had a whopping 22% in District 8. The most any one of these limited government advocates reached was 30%.

What does it mean? To me, it means that the Libertarian view has little realistic chance of influencing policy in the US. Aside from Ron Paul's own seat, I don't know of any other members of Congress who are Libertarians. Sure, Paul is a Republican, but he's not a Bush or McCain Republican. He's a Libertarian in Republican clothing.

Now, this isn't a substantive criticism of the Libertarian point of view. I'll leave that discussion for another day and a give and take with Jim. My point is simply that if Jim and Ron Paul want to have an influence, there needs to be a substantial change in the population's outlook. I don't see that happening. Not any time soon. It's not as though the Libertarian view is unknown to people. I think people just don't want what's being sold.


  1. Regardless of Thomm wanting to label me I'm not a Libertarian, but I believe in more States rights and less centralized Federal government.

    The "failure" of these candidates does not show a failure of the message, but a lack of funding.

    Maryland has been a notoriously one party state fro decades and the prior Governor was an anomaly.

    Given a real campaign chest I think they might have a shot, but nationwide we scream to elect Obama because his campaign is based on change, but locally we elect the same bastards over and over and over again.

  2. Jeff Flake of Arizona is far more libertarian than Ron Paul. And Tom McClintock just got elected to Congress from California. The US House thus has at least two solid libertarian Republicans, Flake and McClintock. But also Rohrabacher is quite libertarian.