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Maricopa County Libertarian Party

Have We Learned Nothing?

September 14, 2009
 by Kimberly Ruff

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Coalition building is oftentimes a necessary part of politics, but as Kim Ruff discusses, the union of Libertarians with Republicans in the Tea Party protests may not be the best solution when advancing our agenda.



On Saturday, September 12, 2009, I attended the 9.12 Tea Party Rally at the Arizona State Capitol. Although the Tea Parties originally began as a libertarian effort in protest to the rash of economic stimulus packages, bank and auto industry bailouts, and the accompanying burden on taxpayers, they have quickly devolved into a conservative-led circus. Illustrative of this fact was the kick off of events with a prayer, the wild protest from the crowd when the Pledge of Allegiance was delivered absent the phrase, “Under God” (a byproduct of the Red Scare), and the harping on the same tired issues of abortion, gay marriage, and immigration. What began as a loosely confederated coalition of disenchanted citizens unified in their mutual dissatisfaction, concluded with separate, fiercely defensive groups at an ideological impasse.

While I have no doubt in my mind that for Republicans, the issues of gay marriage, abortion, and immigration are deeply important issues worth fighting for and over, they serve as political red herrings. Rather than focus on the immediate concerns of the economic impact of the health care proposals being kicked around in both chambers of Congress, our twin wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the ramifications of our hastily passed economy-saving measures, we quibble over differences on issues not currently on the table. All the while, our democratically-led legislative and executive branches continue relatively unencumbered.

Politics, as we all know, make strange bedfellows. During the last administration, the Libertarian Party loosely aligned with Democrats in protest to the policies of the Bush Administration. Now, eight months into the first term of a new President, we're turning to our Republican neighbors for support and validation.  While we bear similarities to both parties in terms of policy, we are not the same with respect to philosophy. This fact presents a conundrum for libertarians.

Neither of the two major political parties values liberty wholly. Republicans argue for relatively unrestrained business, but fret over the decision-making capabilities of the individual. Democrats, on the other hand, argue for relatively unrestrained individuals, but frequently restrain business oftentimes to the point of rendering it ineffectual. Despite their differences in means, the end is always the same: more government and less liberty.

Yet when one is in power, the other bemoans the loss of liberty, tossing a knowing glance the way of the libertarian. Liberty, when uttered by one who would replace one form of statism with another, is empty and meaningless, but we buy into it because we believe there's strength in numbers. In the case of the current incarnation of the Tea Party, however, the only group that is truly benefitting from our presence is the Republicans. If someone at one of the rallies does something politically foolish (i.e. show up with an AR-15 strapped to their back), they can pass the buck onto us. If, however, someone does something politically wise, then it illustrates what a formidable threat the Republicans will be to the Democrats come the midterm elections. The fact of the matter is that we're being played.

If we really want to capitalize on the growing dissatisfaction with big government and gain political ground, we need to work diligently to cobble together a legitimate coalition of liberty-minded organizations. Rather than bite the bullet and water our message down to get Republicans or Democrats on board, we need to appeal to those that would truly stand beside us. This means working with groups like NORML, gay rights organizations, Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (JPFO), Gun Owners of America (GOA), International Society for Individual Liberty (ISIL), Students for Liberty, and the Campaign for Liberty, among others. If we do this, we will not only be able to change the names in office next November, we will be able to change the game.



Related Content:

The Libertarian Problem - Austin Raynor
Gun Rights as a Defense against Tyranny - Austin Raynor
The Right to Bear Arms: a Fundamental Liberty - Austin Raynor


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The Democrats did try, only the Republicans didn't. Not to be partisan here, but that is prieescly what happened.To convice the Republicans to pass the debt ceiling, President Obama came up with a budget plan that cut $4 trillion from the budget and added $1 trillion in revenue (a 1% increase in taxes on the uber-rich), and made cuts to Social Security and Medicare but did not get rid of either.The Democrats in Congress came up with a plan that cut $3 trillion from the budget, did absolutely no tax hikes, and left Medicare and Social Security alone.The Republicans came up with a plan that cut $1.5 trillion from the budget ($2.5 trillion less than Obama's plan, $1.5 trillion less than the Democrat plan, and $500 billion less than the plan that eventually passed Congress), did no tax hikes, and got rid of Social Security and Medicare entirely.If Republicans had been serious about cutting spending to pass the debt ceiling, they would have jumped at Obama's plan, which lowered the deficit by $5 trillion. Even the ones against tax hikes would have jumped at the Democrat plan, which cut twice as much as the Republican plan and did it with no tax hikes.Republicans were out for two things to get rid of Social Security and Medicare, and to deny President Obama a possible victory even at the cost of the American economy we are now seeing the economic effects of their efforts to defeat Obama. The Republicans wanted to keep the support of the TEA Party, and they sacrificed America to do it._______________Edit:Sorry, Neil, but it was Obama who had that plan, NOT the Republicans. The Republicans blocked the plan that cut $4 trillion not because it did tax hikes but because it did not get rid of Social Security and Medicare and because it would allow Obama to take some credit for saving America.References :


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