A Question for “Libertarian” Republicans

Anarchy for Rich PeopleI have a question for conservatives. I don’t mean the social conservatives, because I think they actually get pretty good value from the Republican Party. I mean the ones who think of themselves as leaning libertarian. These are the ones who think of themselves as caring about concepts like “freedom.” My question is simple: why do you continue to vote Republican when the party doesn’t actually increase your freedom?

When it comes to economics, the Republican Party is not at all concerned about your freedom. They are only concerned in a kind of freedom that is theoretical for all but the richest people. Every time the Republicans have lowered taxes, they’ve focused almost exclusively on the taxes of the rich. As I wrote earlier this year, Reagan’s Legacy: Tax Cuts for Rich, Tax Hikes for the Rest. That isn’t theoretical. The middle class ended up paying a higher percentage of their income to the federal government when Reagan left office than when he came in.

So sure: if you are rich, you should vote Republican! But if you aren’t, what is it you think you’re doing? All the “tough on crime” legislation over the past three decades: it’s mostly been a Republican push. But it hasn’t made you safer. It has however, militarized our police departments. It has made abusive police practices more common. It has given prosecutors almost dictatorial powers in our courts. All of this is very much the opposite of freedom. And this is all pushed primarily by Republicans with Democrats following along, because, well, you know Democrats.

So sure: if you are a cop or a prosecutor, you should vote Republican! But if you aren’t, what is it you think you’re doing? And when it comes to social issues, well, it just gets ridiculous. Stopping same sex couples from marrying doesn’t make different sex couples any more free; but it sure keeps same sex couples from being more free. And only crazy people think the birth control pill kills a citizen. So the push (and it is major and it will continue) to make birth control pills illegal makes everyone—men and women—less free.

So sure: if you are some religious fanatic who gets their science from some preacher, you should vote Republican! But we’ve already established that you aren’t a religious fanatic, because if you were, “freedom” wouldn’t be your top priority. If you are rich, I don’t know why you’d be reading this blog. And the chances are really good that you aren’t a cop or prosecutor. So why is it that you are voting Republican? I don’t get it. From a freedom standpoint, the two parties are at best a tossup. But as far as I’m concerned, when it comes to real, practical freedoms for the middle and lower classes, the Democrats are better. Or you could just vote for the Libertarian Party. (Although it has many of the same problems as the Republican Party: vote “libertarian”; get “conservative.”)

But why would you vote Republican? It makes no sense to me.


I fear that you vote Republican because of their rhetoric. But you really need to get beyond that. I like the sound of Republican rhetoric too—at least the stuff about freedom. But their policies show the lie to their rhetoric.

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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.

4 thoughts on “A Question for “Libertarian” Republicans

  1. Yesterday, I attended a rural fair-festival thing, where old folks showed off the tractors, steam engines, and ancient printing presses they’ve lovably maintained for decades. The work put into keeping these machines functional was really impressive.

    On the way out, my S.O.’s niece, a 13-year-old with a good amount of melanin to her skin tone, saw a bumper sticker featuring Calvin, of the defunct comic strip, urinating on Obama. The 13-year old wasn’t offended, just perplexed. And so was I, so I had no means of explaining it.

    Um, if you’re rural culture, you have to hate Democrats because . . . farm subsidies? Social Security? Medicare? These things, without which rural culture in this country would not exist, are Republican?

    How do you tell a 13-year-old that our politics are completely symbolic; that voting one way or the other is more about brand loyalty than it has to do with actual, deciding-policy democracy?

    Normally I’m very tolerant about these things. But I was mad about the kid seeing the bumper sticker, then when I scanned the car radio looking for the Twins game I came across a polka station and completely lost it. I had just utterly been hicked out. I’m closer, in spirit and income, to old folks rehabbing tractors than I am to urban hipsters taking in six figures for being "social media designers" or some such. And yet I was going all George Bailey, "It’s A Wonderful Life" on returning to the Twin Cities. Hello, skyscrapers! Hello, freeways! Hello, non-Anglo people, I missed you most of all!

    There IS a divide between adherents of rural culture and those who adore urban culture; and, in both cases, people are adulating an ideal which reality does not justify.

  2. @JMF – It is sad that most of politics on both sides is just about cultural signifiers. I would only note that the people on the right have a party that has gone totally crazy. Of course, I have been arguing for years that the [i]reason[/i] they have gone totally crazy is because the Democrats moved so far to the right.

    Let me just say that I really don’t like those Calvin silhouettes. It misrepresents the character. I love the character the way I love the minions in [i]Despicable Me[/i]. Regardless, to use it to pee on Obama is offensive. Is there an equivalence here? Did liberals do this to Bush? I really don’t know. I know we hated him, but I don’t recall people doing such… childish things. But I’m open to being wrong.

  3. Well, criticizing a Republican president is treason. Crticizing a Democrat president is patriotic. So has it been, so shall it permanently be.

    I can’t imagine a Calvin peeing on anyone that fits the character. He wouldn’t pee on people; he’d be peed on, and say something angry/smart about that.

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