Speaking of conservatives who lie to themselves and the world, Ed Kilgore brought my attention to something, even if he didn’t note the irony, The Buses of Doom. It has to do with Bob Barr who is running for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s 11th District congressional seat. “What?” you say. “Wasn’t he the Libertarian Party Presidential candidate in 2008?” Why yes he was. I always find it interesting that libertarians always bounce around from the Libertarian Party to the Republican Party. That’s what Ron Paul did, after all. Yet if you talk to a libertarian, they’ll tell you that they dislike both the Republican and Democratic parties. They’re both evil in their own way!
Well, yes, theoretically, they are both evil in their own way. When it comes to police powers, civil rights, drugs, war, reproductive rights, and a whole lot more, the Democratic Party is far more libertarian than the Republican Party. On the other hand, when it comes to taxes (really only on the rich), the Republican Party is far more libertarian than the Democratic Party. Given this, you would think that when libertarians decide they wanted to be a part of the two-party system, they would go to the Democratic Party far more often than the Republican Party. But that isn’t the case. In fact, I don’t know of a Libertarian Party politician ever moving to the Democratic Party. And I think that tells you about all you need to know: lower taxes on the rich don’t just outweigh everything else, when you put them on a scale, the taxes issue causes all the other issues to fly into the stratosphere.
But that wasn’t even the irony I was talking about. Now that Bob Barr is a good Republican, he is freaking out about all them Latinos coming over the border. He even has a conspiracy, “As tens of thousands of illegals continue streaming across our southern border, citizens of Georgia are increasingly concerned that the Obama Administration is planning to surreptitiously ship many to locations in our state…” But he admits he could be wrong; it could be that the Obama administration has already done it in sneaky ways only Kenyans know about. This is ironic, because libertarians are supposedly for open borders. This is a big part of the Libertarian Party platform. Or at least it was when I was a fellow traveler. Regardless, the Libertarian Party is very pro-immigration and very anti-human trafficking, which is what this is all about anyway.
I don’t think any of this speaks badly of the Republican Party. It has its own problems, mostly focusing on being crazy, stupid, ignorant, shortsighted, hateful, and greedy. But I think this speaks terribly of the Libertarian Party. The long-time slog of the Libertarian Party is, “The Party of Principle.” But the truth is that they’ll allow anyone to run as a libertarian. When I was a libertarian, the party platform was pro-choice, but they nominated Ron Paul who was not just anti-choice, but rabidly so. Even though I normally voted straight Libertarian at that time, I did not vote for him.
Now we see that the 2008 Libertarian Party candidate is anti-immigrant. But it’s not just that. Bob Barr was a big sponsor of the Defense of Marriage Act, although he did apologize for that in 2008 when he was running as a libertarian. He voted for the USA Patriot Act, which again he claimed to regret when he was running as a libertarian. He was a strong supporter of the War on Drugs—until he was running as a libertarian. He so believed in religious freedom that he tried to “ban the practice of Wicca” at the Pentagon. That last one not only shows intolerance, but a strange interest in a tiny religious belief. Oh, one other thing: he is fanatically anti-choice. Now admittedly, he reversed his positions on the ones I mentioned. But he only did so right before running as a libertarian, and generally only after officially becoming a libertarian.
But none of that matters because Bob Barr is for repealing the 16th Amendment—you know: the income tax. And do you know why conservatives hate the income tax most of all? Because it is the one tax in the United States that is fairly progressive. And that’s the one thing that the Libertarian Party really believes in: reducing taxes in a way that shifts more of the burden onto the poor. And quelle surprise, that is exactly what the Republican Party stands for.
So the question for the Libertarian Party is: why do you exist? You might be the party of principle in theory, but in practice, you’re just the Republican Party. I know there are little things like unnecessary wars and constant surveillance and homophobia and a lot of other stuff that you don’t like about the Republicans. But that’s but a fly buzzing around the elephant of tax cuts that you do agree about. Stop pretending. I don’t like SPAM™, but that doesn’t stop me from shopping at the grocery store where they sell SPAM™. Or you could start walking the walk. But it’s been almost 43 years and you’re still a joke—a group of Rush Limbaugh listeners who consider yourselves iconoclasts. You’re wasting everyone’s time and money. A third party should stand for something other than a very minor variation of one of the major parties. The Peace and Freedom Party isn’t the Democratic Party Lite. When the Libertarian Party nominates established Republicans like Ron Paul and Bob Barr and Gary Johnson (Republican until 2011!) to run for President, they just show that they are a joke.
I don’t mean to cast too wide a net here. I do think that about 5% of people who call themselves libertarians are serious about it. I think they are misguided, but they are honest brokers. And I was pleased that when I took the Libertarian Party ideology test, it not only correctly labeled me a “Left (Liberal)”; it also provided what I think is a pretty objective description of that ideology:
Here is their slightly less objective description of “Right (Conservative)”:
I’m not sure exactly who the “Statist (Big Government)” people are. Other than being for high taxes, they sound kind of like the Republican Party. But this description is okay:
Of course, where the test is least objective is in its description of “Libertarian”:
It is simply not true that, “Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters.” What is true is that, “Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters as far as the government is concerned.” Their definition of coercion is so narrow that virtually nothing fits in it. Suppose you were born to a family without property and every employment opportunity only allowed you a subsistence level of existence. By libertarian standards, there would be no coercion even though you had literally no choice. Also: there is absolutely nothing about libertarianism that implies the promotion of private charity; Ayn Rand was apoplectic on that issue; this is just a way for libertarians to pretend that they aren’t jerks. So even at it’s best, libertarianism is a silly ideology developed by people who would benefit from it without regard to its effects on society in general.
 Of the ten presidential candidates the Libertarian Party has offered, four of them have been explicitly Republicans. To be fair, Harry Browne ran twice and I generally think he is an honest libertarian. But even Michael Badnarik, who is not explicitly a Republican, is anti-choice in that he thinks that the states ought to have the right to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies. Well, sometimes. It really depends upon when you ask him. On the issue of abortion, what you see is the early candidates were pro-choice and the later candidates were anti-choice. That’s interesting because in the early days of the Libertarian Party, Republicans were generally pro-choice. So the evolution on abortion in the Libertarian Party has been the same as in the Republican Party. Regardless, in eleven elections, 36% of the Libertarian Party candidates have been explicitly Republican Party members.