Monday, December 15, 2008

The Libertarian Party Shuns the Right.

There has been something on my mind for the last few weeks and I felt like today would be a good day to discuss it, it has to do with my evolution from dyed-in-the-wool Conservative, to right-leaning Libertarian. It has happened at a measured pace over the last 10 years or so... In High School I fought passionately for the causes of the Young Republicans, in college I began to transition to Constitutional Conservative but realized that my beliefs on the Constitution sometimes slammed up against my Republicaness! In my early professional years as I have met more diverse groups of people, I have begun to realize that many of the "truths" I have long held dear can be misused by others of the same political mindset (for example; anti-welfare = racism, anti-gay adoption = homophobia, etc., etc.). I am not attempting to imply that this is the case for everyone (as I myself am still anti-welfare and it has nothing to do with the color of your skin), but that there are elements of both parties that hold certain beliefs (that may be right) for the wrong reasons.
This progression (or you may see it as a digression) has led me to where I am today. A right-leaning Libertarian. I am still pro-life because of my belief that life begins at conception and that all of the rights of man should be given to the weakest of us. I truly believe that is the ultimate measure of a society, how it treats those who are its most helpless. I generally lean right on most other issues because the Left just annoys me so much...(is that vindictive?)...I am a Christian but against faith-based government initiatives because government involvement with any religion is worrisome. I am against the war on drugs because it just hasn't worked. I am on the fence over gay marriage and gay adoption...but suspect I am on the fence only because the pro-gay groups seem so hateful and scary. I am for civil unions and am for a much easier adoption process in America. I am for (almost) anything that broadens and protects our individual civil liberties, and am against (most) things that would limit our rights for the greater good. I believe that the greater good is better served by protecting our individuality. My general belief of government; spend less, tax less, fight less, do less...
All of this said I have run into a problem. I thought that with what I saw as mostly Libertarian Orthodox beliefs, I would quickly be accepted into their ranks...not so. As I have said about the only thing I disagree with the Libertarian Party on is abortion (and maybe anarchy), which is why I voted for Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party (who I personally believe is more of a Libertarian than Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party was). I read strike-the-root.com, lewrockwell.com, and reason.com as well as several other libertarian sites daily...and the more I read the more I realize that because I lean right...they don't really like me. The more I get into Libertarian issues and discussions the more I realize...they don't want me around.

Just a couple of examples:
http://polycentricorder.blogspot.com/2008/12/left-libertarian-vs-right-libertarian.html
http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2008/12/angela-keaton-resigning-from-lnc/
http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/024323.html
http://lastfreevoice.wordpress.com/2008/12/04/bob-barr-asks-for-a-bailout-for-bob-barr/
http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/024335.html
And these are the mild examples. Surf over to the left-leaning Libertarian pages or the anarchist pages and the vitriol and disdain are almost perverse!

I recently discussed this with another Libertarian-right friend of mine, and here was his response:
"I agree with you there. My experience with the LP (Libertarian Party) has been mixed, yet mostly I felt shunned. I got to know the state party chairman of Florida, yet he was the only one who accepted me as part of the party. I tried to get involved with the Broward Party, but they knew I was a conservative coming over from the GOP, and didn't quite welcome me with open arms. They looked at themselves as the only "true believers". I argued that they will never be able to grow the party at any level, let alone be successful with that attitude, which they basically said they would rather be pure than be diluted with "outsiders". So I am now a man without a party, yet may go back to the GOP and work with the GOP Liberty Caucus. I won't just support any GOP nominee for President (hint no Palin), but I am happy that Jeb is considering running for senate in 2010. The CP (Constitution Party) here in FLA is extremely weak, considering their nominee is from Florida."

I completely agree with his assessment. The Libertarian Party should take note of us and accept us because we right-leaning Libertarians can help. Perhaps it is time you stop shunning us.

2 comments:

JojobaJunebug said...

I think you need to understand that that the Libertarian party is subject to the same propensity toward paranoia that any minority group can easily succumb to. Those of us who have been in it since the early days are particularly paranoid about losing the right to be called the party of principle. There is fear of anything perceived as dilution of principle.

Abortion poses special problems because at a personal level it is not a libertarian issue. As you stated most people oppose abortion because they believe that human life begins at conception, or at least some time well before birth. But this is by no means a universally held belief. It is something that a person comes to believe because of concepts which lie outside the sphere of political philosophy. For this reason alone I believe that whatever your personal beliefs are about the morality of abortion the only acceptable political position consistent with libertarianism is to allow all individuals to follow their own conscience just as we allow them to do in all other religious matters.

By all means, those who find abortion to be morally wrong should fight to discourage women from choosing abortion, and libertarians should always oppose the use of stolen money (taxes) to finance them, but to legally forbid it is I believe a violation of a libertarian principle akin to freedom of religion.

Also, remember that if a woman is forced to carry a fetus against her will she had been made the slave, or at least the indentured servant, of the fetus for 9 months. Slavery is an equally emotionally charged issue and while most women do not discuss abortion this way, believe me, they feel it in their gut. Women will always see attempts to restrict the legality of abortion as a very personal attack.

I have no problem working with those who oppose abortion. I'm a big fan of Ron Paul for example. But though I'm now well beyond the age of reproduction, my hackles get raised when I hear people trying to compel rather than persuade me to a particular course of moral action.

Just as Libertarians have problems communicating with people outside the movement because we really haven't taken a walk in their shoes, we need to recognize that we have the same problem within the movement on issues like abortion which move beyond pure politics. I hope that if you keep this thought in mind you, and those like me on the other side of the issue, can continue to work together on putting the brakes on a run-away government.

In short, don't get discouraged. Just try to understand that you are dealing with emotions rather than reason in some cases.

The Rambler said...

Jojoba, I am so thankful for your addition to the discussion! I completely agree with you that abortion is not a political issue. And my concern with the Lp is not based on that, I understand that the Party in general does not agree with me. My problem lies in other areas...I feel like those of us with a generally fonder sentiment of the right than the left do not fit. That the gut reaction of many in the LP whether or not they disagree is to be anti- anything that is percieved as "to the right".
I also want to take exception to two things you have written (though in no way is this meant to be harsh...you just seem to be the kind of person one can easily strike up conversation with);
You said, "the only acceptable political position consistent with libertarianism is to allow all individuals to follow their own conscience just as we allow them to do in all other religious matters."
However, just as I do not view abortion as a political issue I do not view it as a religious issue but as a legal issue. If I believe life begins at conception than I must believe that life must be defended (just as I would if the child were in pre-school and someone were threatening them). I understand that their is debate over when life begins but once a person has made the decision that a child in the mother's womb is indeed a child, are they not forced into action?
I also would take exception to your slavery statement;
"Also, remember that if a woman is forced to carry a fetus against her will she had been made the slave, or at least the indentured servant, of the fetus for 9 months."
If the woman is raped or forced to have her egg fertilized I might agree. However because 99% of abortions are issues of convenience and not rape/incest related, I must disagree with your analogy. The mother in 99% of the cases of unwanted pregnancy has chosen to engage in sexual conduct that could create a child. At that point the child, in fact, becomes dependent on the mother.

Again, I don't blame other Libertarians for disagreeing with me on abortion...the LP chose it's side on that debate long ago. I am just sensitive to other areas that the LP seems to quick to dismiss because it could be deemed as "on the right". I believe that traditional conservatism it much closer to Libertarianism than anything on the "left" today. In fact, I would argue that for all the talk...the Left is where the true danger to our civil liberties really lies.

I am so pleased to have had you comment on this blog. I understand that some may disagree, and welcome the conversation here!!
Thanks so much!