The 1980 Libertarian Platform Today

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders (or more likely one of his staff members) decided to take a look at the platform of the Libertarian Party back in 1980. Why? Because David Koch ran that year as the vice-presidential candidate. And the platform is typically loony: we’ll only except everything! They want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare—those old people have it too good! They want to get rid of the EPA—we need more rivers on fire! They want to get rid of the Department of Transportation—we don’t need no stinking interstate highway system!

But some of the platform is kind of surprising. They are against compulsory health insurance, but apparently not auto insurance. And they make a point of saying that health insurance that covers abortion is double plus bad. They say that they are for the eventual repeal of all taxes, but right now they want an end to all income and corporate taxes. Get it? Taxes that hurt the rich must go now, but taxes that hurt the poor can wait. I’ve been long saying this, Libertarians Just Don’t Like the Poor. And that is only too clear if you look at the whole platform.

Nothing Can Be DoneMost surprising was this line, “We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence.” I share their concern for government surveillance, but the Postal Service ain’t what we got to fear! However, notice what a radical suggestion this is. Libertarians normally talk about the Constitution as though it were a holy document. But here they don’t seem to understand that the postal service is in the Constitution and would require an amendment.

It continues, “Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.” This is delicious. Conservatives always look at the post office and see it’s one special privilege: its monopoly. But they never mention its responsibility: it is required to provide mail service to everyone. UPS and Federal Express want to take away the profitable parts of the USPS but not its unprofitable parts. What’s more, these conservatives never mention all the limitations put on the post office. If allowed, the USPS could put all those bottom-feeding payday lenders out of business.

What’s most distressing with the libertarian platform is the basis for my initial disenchantment with the movement. None of the good things that would actually increase personal liberty have moved ahead. But all the pro-corporate and pro-rich policies have made remarkable progress. As I always say: vote for libertarian rhetoric, get conservative policy. But the best example of a 1980 libertarian wet dream has made remarkable progress, “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”

What’s interesting in this regard, is that the decimation of campaign finance reform has not been done with legislation. That might have upset the people. It was done by the courts. And if the conservative movement has been good at anything (and they have been good at many things), they have been good at getting people to accept “law and order” judges who were actually put in place because they were anti-individual and pro-corporate. Welcome to your new libertarian dystopia, America!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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