My First Instinct as a Libertarian Is an All-Consuming Contempt for Politics

Posted: October 17th, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

The Agitator

Tunku Varadarajan:

My first instinct as a libertarian is, of course, for Republican victories everywhere…

Of course?

No. I can see cheering for divided government on Election Night. I can see hoping for a GOP Congress to counter Obama’s historic expansion of the federal government. But there’s no reason a libertarian’s “first instinct” should be to root for Republicans (or Democrats, for that matter). And it’s certainly not obvious enough to merit an of course.

Varadarajan then writes:

The big-government Bush Republicans have already been punished; now it’s time to get rid of the big-government Democrats—i.e., all of them.

I’m fine with everything after the semicolon. The problem is that to “get rid of the big-government Democrats” inevitably means replacing them with Republicans. The label “big-government Bush Republicans” implies that there’s an alternative sort of Republican. Time and again, they’ve proven there isn’t. The Republican Party was and is filled with big-government Republicans, before, during, and after the eight years that Bush was president. There are some genuinely limited government Republicans, just as there aresome Democrats who give a damn and are willing to fight for civil liberties. But they aren’t in the leadership, and they won’t be calling the shots in a new GOP-led Congress. Even now, in the minority, with public sentiment pretty solidly against Obama, all but assured of big gains this November, the GOP figureheads still don’t have the guts to name specific federal programs they’d target for spending cuts.

Varadarajan’s full column is about why he can’t support some of the crazier GOP candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Carl Paladino. I actually disagree there, too. And hell, in the spirit of bipartisanship I’ll go ahead and endorse Alvin Greene in addition to Paladino and O’Donnell. Politics is a ridiculous profession populated by ridiculous people. Maybe if we elect increasingly clownish candidates, the public will eventually come to realize this, and finally realize that it’s probably not a good idea to put larger and larger portions of our lives and livelihoods in the hands of people who have achieved success in a field that rewards character traits you spend your entire tenure as a parent trying to teach out of your kids.

I’m kidding about endorsing Greene, O’Donnell, and Paladino, but only because their election would give them actual power. But I see no particular reason to root for their opponents, either.  And I see no reason to instinctively cheer for Republicans over Democrats. Or vice versa. At least electing transparently crazy people will make us more cautious about how they use their power.

Me, I’m cheering for elections to matter less, and for politicians to have less impact on my life. I dream of waking up to find the results of the November 2 election on page A-10 of my November 3rd newspaper—because no one cared, because very little was at stake, because we stopped pinning our hopes and dreams on the results of a perverse process dominated by generally horrible people who have made a career of accumulating power for the sake of accumulating power.

Incidentally, this is also how you “get money out of politics.” You make politics and political outcomes less important. I’m amused by people who are surprised that as the power, scope, and influence of government grows, interest groups are correspondingly willing to spend increasingly more money to purchase a piece of that influence. I actually once heard a prominent lefty journalist express this very sentiment. They’re shocked by this!

It’s even cuter that they think they can continue to expand the size, scope, and influence government and prevent the government from being corrupted . . . by giving the same government yet more power, in this case to prevent itself from being corrupted. Inevitably, these new powers then manifest as new restrictions on our ability and freedom to criticize politicians. Because that’s the solution to the corruption of our politicians: Less criticism of politicians!

Anyway, I’m rambling a bit. So I’ll stop. But more, somewhat better organized rambling on these themes to come.


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