Alarming News

March 15, 2005

To clarify

Julian Sanchez, libertarian extraordinaire, IMs that he is ‘wounded’ by my comment in Julia Gorin’s article that libertarians are just Republicans that have not admitted it yet. His take on the piece is here.

It’s true that there certainly are libertarians who are not, and will never be, Republicans, and will remain libertarians for their entire lives, hating both the Republican and Democrat parties with equal passion.

But, I can only speak from what I know and what I know is that in NY, libertarians and Republicans are part of the same clique. Julian admits there is some truth to this because ‘NY is so lefty, they need to huddle for warmth. Whereas we [libertarians in DC] mostly see Republicans in positions of power.’

Furthermore, while in other parts of the country people become Republicans because they may have been raised socially conservative and Republicans best represent those positions, most New Yorkers tend to focus more on the fiscal conservative philosophy that Republicans advocate (even when they don’t act on it), and, these days, terrorism. People my age (27, for the record) spent their formative years living in a dangerous, decrepit New York City and a bankrupt, failing New York State, both under Democratic leadership. It’s natural for your political philosophy, and more specifically your voting, to reflect the reality of that situation. Maybe if we lived elsewhere we may be libertarians who don’t vote, or vote third party (which we still may do sometimes out of frustration with NY Republicans), but we know that doing that leads us back to Dinkins/Cuomo days, so no thanks.

Update: A little story I always tell about the libertarian step to becoming a Republican concerns my good friend SMVP. A Democrat who used to disrupt my registering of Republicans by giving them his pro-Democrat argument (his major beef always concerned what he felt was the forcing of religion onto the public) had a change of heart after 9/11. To be fair, I never really bought SMVP as a Democrat. He’s a fan of business and Capitalism and isn’t much into the nanny state. He’s also quite hawkish. Not ready to become a Republican, he declared himself a libertarian. This seemed about right until a trip to DC where he met real libertarians Gary Leff and his lovely girlfriend Shanna. They’re both brilliant but they lost SMVP right around their argument about no government funding of anything, including defense, and their proposal of community militias that will be self-funded and not part of a larger defense strategy for the country. SMVP now identifies himself as a Republican.

Posted by Karol at 01:06 PM |

while it is true that most of the fun people in new york have unfortunate political ties being dumb, i’d cut my nuts off before bothering with the republicans. even ny republicans, who tend to be more like centrist liberals than anything else.

Posted by: dhex at March 15, 2005 at 2:05 pm

I find the anarcho-capitalist branch of libertarianism to be romantic and out of touch with reality.
Personally, I happen to like a strong military and not having to pay tolls on every road or for services such as firefighting and law enforcement.

Posted by: Shawn at March 15, 2005 at 2:10 pm

Well, Sanchez certainly evinces a better understanding of “libertarian” when he writes “(You know you’re a serious libertarian wonk if you laugh at the old joke about two Chicago School economists who spot a $10 bill on the sidewalk: One bends to pick it up, and the other warns: ‘Wait, don’t bother

Posted by: Dave at March 15, 2005 at 2:28 pm

Couple of comments from a NY libertarian-leaning Democrat.
First, I object to the characterization of NY as “dangerous, decrepit.” Can we finally drop the fiction that NY is in any way dangerous? Last I heard, it’s somewhere in the bottom quartile as far as violent crimes per capita. If you are 27 years old, New York has not been remotely dangerous, or, I’d say, decrepit, in your adult life. DC, Richmond, Atlanta, hell, Little Rock are all more worthy of the characterization.
I have never voted Republican for president, though I admit to having some distaste for the “nanny state,” as did your friend and also consider myself fairly hawkish. But if it’s true that I’m just not ready to declare Republican yet, the Republican party is going to have to do a hell of a lot more work to win me over. For starters, they show no signs whatsoever of being interested in “making government smaller;” since I see no difference between the two parties on this score, and given a (poor) choice I’d rather my tax money go to people welfare than corporate welfare, there’s no reason for me to change my allegiance there.
And on terrorism, as I said I am somewhat hawkish, but the alarming incompetence with which the administration has pursued their goals has also not been able to budge me from my traditional party.
Add to this the seemingly knee-jerk urge to legislate what I do behind my closed doors that Republicans seem to have (and why is this not also characterized as nanny-state-ism?), I doubt I’ll be switching sides anytime soon.
Finally, can we have done with the childish labeling of the Democratic Party as the “Democrat Party?” Generally, political parties are allowed to name themselves, so I’m not sure why rightys are perpetually changing the name to suit themselves. In any case, I’d say it’s disrespectful, somewhat like insisting on calling somebody William when they’ve made it clear that they prefer Bill. It surprises me that the more infantile of the Democrats have not yet taken to referring to the “Republikan” party in their press releases in retaliation.

Posted by: Brian at March 15, 2005 at 2:46 pm i did this very thing yesterday. I saw a parking spot in front of my building, but figured something had to be wrong with it, or else someone else would have taken it. “(You know you’re a serious libertarian wonk if you laugh at the old joke about two Chicago School economists who spot a $10 bill on the sidewalk: One bends to pick it up, and the other warns: ‘Wait, don’t bother

Posted by: Dawn Summers at March 15, 2005 at 2:51 pm

Brian, I grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. I remember the Bowery with hookers on that island in the middle of the street. I saw crack before I was 10. I remember Williamsburg as an industrial ghetto instead of a hipster ‘hood. I remember it was only crazy people who took the train at night.
NY isn’t dangerous, but it sure was pre-Giuliani. It’s not something that can be argued. We’ve come a long way as a city, and it was his leadership that brought us to being the safest big city in America. If you really think Little Rock was scarier than NYC in the 80’s, you obviously weren’t here.
As for my labeling of the Democratic party as the Democrat party, it’s sloppiness and quick typing while I do a million other things at the same time. I’ve got no issue with calling the Democratic party just that.

Posted by: Karol at March 15, 2005 at 3:04 pm

Aww, c’mon, K, that’s not fair. Gary’s fantastic, but his views are out there even by libertarian standards. If I thought “libertarian” meant advocating community militias and “no government funding of anything, including defense,” I wouldn’t be one either.

Posted by: Julian Sanchez at March 15, 2005 at 3:17 pm

I saw crack before I was 10.
But not since. Of course not ;)

Posted by: Steve at March 15, 2005 at 3:23 pm

Uhh, Little Rock is way scarier than NYC in the 80s. You can’t get a good bagel or sushi in Little Rock (shudder…)

Posted by: Dave at March 15, 2005 at 3:25 pm

I don’t see Libertarians flocking to the GOP any time soon. Besides social issues, there are major barriers on international affairs, security, and, yes, big government which the current administration seems enamored of. That’s not to say there is not common ground. But international and social issues were what re-elected Bush, not economic ones (too bad the president did not get that since he seems to have thrown away his victory by his social security plan which he simply does not have the votes for). While libertarians can hang out with NY Republicans, I suspect that in the heartland, where Republicans actually matter, it may be a different story. And I don’t think you can call Rudy G. a libertarian on crime or Pataki a libertarian on taxes, government, spending and so on (well maybe Rudy is a libertine if not a libertarian). I just don’t see it. Big government “conservatism” is in the saddle for now.

Posted by: Von Bek at March 15, 2005 at 3:33 pm

Whatevs. The only thing I get out of this is that the piece – and I know it wasn’t supposed to be serious political analysis and I’m not a libertarian (I don’t think) so I’m not saying this because I was offended or anything – was cliched and unclever.
There is a certain recognizable narrative that Karol describes, where someone calls themself a libertarian for awhile because it seems cooler than saying you’re a conservative or a Republican (and for the love of God I realize there’s a difference, Von Bek or whoever is going to scream about that), but it’s a shame that that quote was put in the service of such an insulting little article.
Anyway Julian I really don’t dig the kind of views ascribed to Gary Leff here (anarcho-capitalist I guess they’re called?) but people who think like that seem to make up a significant portion of the commenters at the publication you work for so they can’t be that far out of the libertarian mainstream can they?
There. Something to piss off everybody.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 15, 2005 at 3:54 pm

I’m with Julian on this one. Most libertarians believe in public policing and national defense. Some (like me) even favor an aggressive foreign policy, and often vote for Republicans for strategic reasons. None of that detracts from my being a libertarian.
I hope this column doesn’t reflect on Julia Gorin’s critical-thinking skills, or her comedy skills for that matter. :(

Posted by: Yaron at March 15, 2005 at 3:56 pm

I’m with Julian on this one. Most libertarians believe in public policing and national defense. Some (like me) even favor an aggressive foreign policy, and often vote for Republicans for strategic reasons. None of that detracts from my being a libertarian.
See, I used to think like you, used to even call myself a libertarian from time to time, but then I read a lot of Reason magazine in late 2002 through mid 2003, and it was nothing but anti-war, isolationist stuff, anti-Israel stuff, ranting about the nefarious “neocons” etc. I know that Virginia Postrel, a previous editor, says that there is no foreign policy philosophy that necessarily flows from being a libertarian, but that wasn’t the impression I got from the current crew.

Posted by: Eric Deamer at March 15, 2005 at 4:10 pm

Yeah, I know; I used to actually be a member of the Libertarian Party, but left for basically those reasons.
But I won’t change my classification just because of some idiots who claim to speak for the movement.
Let me quote Ayn Rand herself on the subject of foreign policy, from a Playboy Magazine interview:

PLAYBOY: What about force in foreign policy? You have said that any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany during World War II…
RAND: Certainly.
PLAYBOY: …And that any free nation today has the moral right – though not the duty – to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba, or any other “slave pen.” Correct?
RAND: Correct. A dictatorship – a country that violates the rights of its own citizens – is an outlaw and can claim no rights.

She was no softy.

Posted by: Yaron at March 15, 2005 at 4:34 pm

Karol–As I said, New York has not been dangerous in your adult life. Giuliani took office in 1994, when you were 16(?), and your adult life obviously doesn’t include when you were 10, so I don’t think you offered any contradiction to my statement. I assume you just overlooked the word “adult.”
On the other hand, I suspect I misread your original statement as referring to New York in general as “dangerous, decrepit,” when you were actually only applying those words to your childhood. Fair enough–let’s call it a wash.
FWIW, I realize you weren’t imputing any libertarian views to Giuliani, but he’s certainly a great example of why no NY libertarian is going to be easily swayed into the Republican camp. Rudy’s as authoritarian as they come. Sure, I give him loads of credit for his leadership during the early days of the drop in crime, but the act started to get real old when he tried clamping down on jaywalkers.
Oh, and sorry for hitting too hard on the Democrat typo. Pet peeve, and I lost my head.

Posted by: Brian at March 15, 2005 at 5:56 pm

Libertarians could be at home in the Republican party of Ronald Reagan, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Barry Goldwater.
But George Bush? Nanny-state George Bush who is a complete prude and is trying to ban porn and sex-toys and all mention of gay people? The Geroge Bush of 15% increases per year in spending. The George Bush of the medicare debacle? I don’t know many Libertarians who can tolerate that kind of interference in their life.

Posted by: Downtown Lad at March 15, 2005 at 11:31 pm

“First, I object to the characterization of NY as “dangerous, decrepit.” Can we finally drop the fiction that NY is in any way dangerous? Last I heard, it’s somewhere in the bottom quartile as far as violent crimes per capita.”
Karol was talking about 20 years ago. I used to visit NYC in the late 80s and it was even more horrible than Karol described. It is completely different now. The streets are much cleaner. Even the homeless on the subway are much less sick, smelly, scary, or numerous. The very vibes are different. It used to FEEL scary at night. You didn’t want to walk alone. Now it just feels different.

Posted by: Yehudit at March 16, 2005 at 7:52 am

I used to be an anarcho-capitalist, then I grew up.
I agree with basic libertarian principles, filtered through the reality about running a complex society. These days the libertarians are very isolationist, which is totally unrealistic, but there used to be more debate on that issue.
These days in NYC, Republicans overalp my principles better than Democrats, but that’s because most Republicans here aren’t so doctrinaire about social issues. Every time I want to be reminded of true social conservatives I go to Redstate or Dawn Patrol.

Posted by: Yehudit at March 16, 2005 at 7:56 am

I think a lot of people call themselves libertarians who really aren’t. People who call themselves libertarians but like Bush’s foreign policies and are not bothered by his spending policies are not really libertarian. At least, they are not libertarian in any traditional sense of the word.

Posted by: Dan at March 16, 2005 at 5:22 pm

It seems that most of the people here can’t even imagine a society that doesn’t have a Government. I wonder why you ask for more government when it’s not needed. We all agree that Monopolies are bad, what makes the government any different? It’s a Monopolist over Law and Order, Defence, Roads, Parks, Forests, Power (in the case of the West Coast that is PG&E Regulated Monopoly) and Taxation. We all know that once monopolies are formed they are inefficient, reckless, and doesn’t care about the consumer (or in the case of the state the taxpayer, goods that would be higher quality and cheaper with competition are not with a monopoly).
Growing up is asking for more government? It’s not grown up to know that Social Security is a disaster? Growing up means more welfare to keep people on the streets and not find a job because they are better cared for then the nanny state? Growing up is asking for the government to keep on regulating the drug industry, keeping drugs that could save us off the market for a bribe is growing up? I’m sorry but I’d rather be a kid then accept that the government is actually helping us.
Last Question How do you define Capitalism?

Posted by: Kyle at March 16, 2005 at 9:03 pm

Look, I think i’m I lLbertarian, but I voted for Bush in 04 and like his foreign policy. I don’t like his Medicare overhaul from a Libertarian standpoint at all. I guess I excused it because of the W.O.T. and his hardassing about tax cuts, which seemed instrumental in keeping the econ afloat.
Repubs love to imagine we’re all potheads and orgyists (jealous?) and Liberals assume we’re just another wing of the fascist-right, but whatevs.
Y’know, I kind of relish the thought of being unpopular, it seems like my inner reaction to most of my peers’ political outlooks through converstaions is ‘oh please…’ with eye-rollage internalized.
I’m sure you all can help me think of some other name for ‘folks like me’ than Libertarian. I like blogs and indian food, too. Mostly orgyism though.

Posted by: John at March 16, 2005 at 9:25 pm

Some of us former Libertarians shifted to the GOP with the onset of parenthood (and it taking full root in our lives).

Posted by: krm at March 18, 2005 at 4:18 pm

[...] for themselves instead of forming something altogether new. It reminded me of young Republicans who struggle with the R word and so call themselves “libertarians.” But hey, it worked, so what do I [...]

Posted by: Where are we going? at September 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm
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