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Just Not Fringe Enough

Many prominent libertarians have been scratching their heads at the utter failure of Rand Paul to gain traction in the 2016 Republican primary. Just two years ago, the New York Times ran a piece by Robert Draper detailing the rise of the libertarian movement. In it, he observed:

Libertarians, who long have relished their role as acerbic sideline critics of American political theater, now find themselves and their movement thrust into the middle of it. For decades their ideas have had serious backing financially (most prominently by the Koch brothers, one of whom, David H., ran as vice president on the 1980 Libertarian Party ticket), intellectually (by way of policy shops like the Cato Institute and C.E.I.) and in the media (through platforms like Reason and, as of last year, “The Independents”). But today, for perhaps the first time, the libertarian movement appears to have genuine political momentum on its side.

 …

Hence the excitement about Rand Paul. It’s hardly surprising that Paul, in Ekins’s recent survey of millennial voters, came out ahead of all other potential Republican presidential candidates; on issues including same-sex marriage, surveillance and military intervention, his positions more closely mirror those of young voters than those of the G.O.P. establishment.

So where did the excitement (and support) for Rand Paul evaporate to? If the political demographics and cultural shifts mentioned by Draper exist, why is the most libertarian candidate from the movement’s only family dynasty failing to gather even a fraction of his father’s support?

The answer is that Rand is another casualty of Donald Trump, but, unlike Scott Walker, who simply wanted to be the straight talking outsider and was outflanked by Trump, Paul’s failure says much about political movements beyond the mainstream.

A common argument is that Rand Paul simply isn’t libertarian enough. Sarah McCammon, writing for NPR, interviewed a former staffer for Ron Paul named Kesley Kurtinis. The activist argued that Rand was too cozy with Mitch McConnell, and had rubbed conservatives the wrong way by opposing military spending. But isn’t that what made his father popular in the first place?

In the Washington Examiner, James Antle III notes that Rand is competing with many libertarian-lite candidates and has had difficulty with the movement’s base since his 2010 campaign:

Insufficient libertarian activist enthusiasm may be a bigger factor in the lack of fundraising success, though the jury it still out on what Ed Crane and Matt Kibbe will be able to do for Paul. But there were libertarians, especially anarcho-capitalists, not sold on Paul as far back as when I wrote my 2010 Reason profile of him before he won Kentucky’s Republican senatorial primary.

The argument that Paul is failing to capitalize on the “libertarian moment” because he is not sufficiently libertarian ideologically feels like the lies my old commie comrades told themselves at each political and organizational failure. If we only had a real socialist candidate, our aims would have been realized! Mainstream politicians are just sell-outs, and we need someone who can come in and speak the truth!

While politicians are almost always compromisers and deceivers by design, seeing idealism and ideological purity as the ticket to success fails to explain just why a candidate like Trump has come and taken longstanding Paul supporters.

Trump says things the party establishment does not want to hear, and produces a conversation not befitting an establishment political candidate. Ron Paul did the same thing in his previous two presidential campaigns, forcing the largely neoconservative stage to defend military intervention, surveillance, and pentagon budgets.

The two men have played similar roles in the primary debates, but the logic behind Trump’s usurping of Paul’s supporters is more visceral. I wrote a number of pieces a few years back detailing the reasons why Ron Paul’s popularity with segments of the population are a result of his fringe views and willingness to play with grand conspiracies, not in spite of them. It isn’t that Rand Paul has lost his father’s supporters because he is less libertarian, but that he is less likely to play with marginal political figures and concepts. Indeed, Trump’s most ardent defenders are figures on the neo-reactionary right that were once in Ron Paul’s camp.

A couple of the folks at The Right Stuff (the originators of the “cuckservative” meme), have mentioned their previous alignment with Ron Paul before red pilling and coming out as Trump supporters. Matt Parrott at Alternative Right made the following comments:

All of the other candidates, including Rand Paul, are stand-ins for the interests of the oligarchs who operate American politics. Even when they have their own ideas, as the Paul Dynasty surely does, the American political system runs on big money, money that the Paul family simply doesn’t have. The Ron Paul Revolution has soared all the way up from its humble beginnings in the backwaters of American fringe politics, only to finally slam into a ceiling on libertarian ideology in America; the fact that actual rich people don’t subscribe to richpeopleism.

While the Paul dynasty may be the ultimate standard-bearers of the theory that the people with the gold should make the rules, Donald Trump stands before America in practice as that man with the gold who makes the rules. The libertarian vision of lowering taxes, regulations, and restrictions in the pursuit of wealth arrives at its apex in the personage of Donald Trump. Shred your silly Constitution and set aside your abstract ideologies. Behold the messianic arrival of America in human form: shamelessly greedy, beholden to no man, lacking in self-restraint, bursting with animal vitality, and invading and conquering you as an act of love. Vote Trump!

The “libertarian moment” appears to be ending, in other words, with libertarians, or at least some of them, endorsing the closest thing to a fascist American politics has had for some time.

Assuming Trump doesn’t win the nomination (I still find it unlikely), he will likely fade into memory and his current supporters will look for another standard-bearer to carry their cause forward in the next election. But if pundits wish to make broad pronouncements about these voter’s ideological bearing, they should look no further than the defections from Paul to Trump. Sometimes, just sticking a finger in the eye of the establishment is enough.

(Image: “Trumpinati,” Composited by the Author from Wikicommons Images)


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Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education. He spent his formative years in radical left wing politics, but now prefers the company of contrarians of all political stripes (assuming they aren't teetotalers). He is a regular contributor at Harry's Place and Ordinary Times.

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196 thoughts on “Just Not Fringe Enough

  1. This article needs a disclaimer. Something along the lines of

    No actual libertarians were harmed in the making of this post.

    You wrote an article about libertarianism and the only supposed libertarian you bothered quoting is someone from the alt-right? And think about this bit for a moment:

    The argument that Paul is failing to capitalize on the “libertarian moment” because he is not sufficiently libertarian ideologically feels like the lies my old commie comrades told themselves at each political and organizational failure.

    More than a straw man, this argument is built on its own contradiction. It only makes sense if you equate the “libertarian moment” with the viability of Rand Paul as a candidate, which is something that the argument admits is not the case.

    Here is a counter argument: the libertarian movement is less about electoral politics and more about advancing a particular set of policies and perspectives; things like: ending the Drug War and civil forfeiture, auditing the surveillance state, questioning foreign interventionism, school choice, heterodox monetary policies, so on and so forth.

    When you look at the success or viability of libertarian policies, certainly some have taken a beating, but there’s a lot more where the mainstream political dialogue has caught up to things that libertarians have been talking about for some time.

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      • I’m blushing!

        It seems to me that there are several goals of libertarianism that can themselves be measured.

        1. Electoral success.
        As measured, they are not particularly good at this. If I may use the vernacular, they suck at it.

        2. Changing the subject to stuff and being loud enough about it that both Democrats and Republicans feel like they should chime in and while, a lot of the time, both the Democrats and Republicans agree wholeheartedly, sometimes the two “real” parties will disagree and disagree enough to where it becomes an election issue in its own right. The goal is less about winning on these topics but about getting the two “real” parties to differentiate on these topics.
        This one is a little more tough to measure but the favorite topics of Libertarians (the gay marriage, the marijuana, the police, the economy) are topics where you used to have very little daylight between the two big parties and, now, there is more daylight. Movement has been made on these issues and it’s due in no small part (though certainly not due entirely) to Libertarians yelling like a bunch of crazy people on stuff that nobody agrees with them on.

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          • The attitude that the government shouldn’t inject itself into monogamish romantic/sexual relationships between consenting adults differentiated Libertarians from the two real parties not so very long ago.

            (Plus the whole thing about how, when cornered, those same libertarians tended to concede that ssm was better than the status quo of the government staying in the marriage business without recognizing ssms.)

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            • The gov doesn’t get in the middle of monogamish sexy time relationships. Contracts, however, are something the gov has to have laws about, enforce in court and decide when in dispute.

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              • Yes, Greg. You raise a good point. The hypocritical libertarians who were not “smash the state” anarcho-capitalists supported stuff like “maybe we should let gays get married because the government shouldn’t be discriminating against these people just because they’re gay”.

                Like even way back when Hillary and Obama were firm supporters of so-called “traditional marriage”.

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                  • Silly by what standards?

                    In the era before SSM was a viable option, the position of get the government out of sanctioning certain partnerships and let people form their own arrangements via private contracts is entirely more humane than keep marriage a special state-sanctioned relationship and keep it solely defined as between a man and a woman.

                    This is especially true when you remember that the SSM issue began not as some sort of big group hug to show how much we care about the gays, but about much more prosaic concerns, like visitation and inheritance rights.

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                    • Contracts….that is what the legal part of marriage is, a contract. How the hell do you get government out of contracts??? Our marriage laws are a standardized contract but people can , through pre nups, alter that standard contract. SSM allows same sex couple to use that standard contract and have it enforced. But private or standardized contract, that still needs laws to define them and a court to decide conflicts.

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                      • The answer to your question is right there in my previous comment. I cannot tell if you really don’t understand what I’m saying or just don’t want to accept it.

                        By that, I mean there is marriage, a specific contract with a specific arrangement, and there are other forms of contract that could have accomplished what marriage does without being marriage.

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                        • I completely understand what i’m saying and deal with people who are ending their marriage everyday in the court i work at. Whether the contract is a standard one that covers all the basic issues or a unique one doesn’t change the fact that the gov, through the courts and the law, will always be involved in contracts.

                          The legal, cultural and religious meanings of marriage were melded together a long time ago. People have been fine with that and it has worked fine. People who don’t’ like SSM aren’t thrilled with that now. But adding SSM retains all the old features and lest SS couples share the love, so to speak. The current arrangement is the most conservative change possible.

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                      • greg,
                        A contract need not be legal to be enforceable, if by extralegal means, including mediation.

                        “What do you mean you signed a contract revoking your right to vote?”
                        “only in local elections…”

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                        • There must be mandatory judicial process. Civil society is impossible without it; dispute resolution cannot even theoretically be completely privatized.

                          Let’s say that you and I sign a contract whereby we agree that any dispute that arises between us will be referred to mediation and not litigated. At some later point, you claim that I have failed to fulfill my contractual duties to you. You send me a demand to mediate.

                          I respond by telling you to take a hike. I refuse to mediate. You hire a mediator and schedule a session but I refuse to attend. (Let’s leave aside the dispute about the fact that I stated my willingness to mediate when we formed the contract. I no longer am willing to mediate.) What do you do then? If you can’t force me to the mediation table, your only option is to walk away. (Or resort to violence or some other form of self-help, which is illegitimate.)

                          Perhaps you would allow for minimal judicial process by which I am somehow compelled to mediate despite the fact that I am no longer willing to do so. Perhaps you would even permit a sufficiently powerful judicial process that I am faced with a choice of physical violence or loss of freedom should I not mediate. So I could show up, pay half of the mediator’s fee (or not) and sit at the mediation refusing to compromise. “I should prevail in this dispute completely,” I say. “Anything less than that is unacceptable and I do not agree.”

                          In such a case, can you say that I have failed to mediate? Can you even necessarily say that I have failed to mediate in good faith (what if, objectively, I really am right, although subjectively you don’t see it that way)? But without a next step of some further mandatory process, you are left with the choices of capitulating, leaving the dispute unresolved, or resorting to self-help.

                          Some people use the word “mediation” when what they really mean is “arbitration.” (I’m not saying that’s you, .) So let’s say there’s a mandatory arbitration clause in our contract rather than a mediation clause. I refuse to arbitrate our dispute. You must again resort to a mandatory process to compel me to arbitrate. The arbitration at that point stops being a voluntary dispute resolution process and becomes a privatized but still compulsory court.

                          The arch-libertarian notes that this is all ultimately backed up by violence, even if that violence is only several layers away from ever becoming manifest, and acts as though she has prevailed in demonstrating something that is not close to self-evident or possessed of moral significance. But others, including less doctrinaire libertarians, concede that at some point, yes, there must be compulsory process and that at least a minimal degree of legitimacy can be afforded to this, if only because without it, we necessarily revert to the state of nature.

                          There must be mandatory judicial process.

                          Must there similarly necessarily be state involvement with marriage? It seems so to me, for two reasons. First, marriages have a tendency to produce children. Not in all cases, to be sure, but a lot of them. Children are incapable of caring for themselves and require adult training to achieve socialization and education. Parents are the natural source of this adult caretaking. Parents don’t always stay together or agree on how this caretaking should occur; some form of dispute resolution is necessary for when there are disputes about how children are raised. And second, people engage in transactions affecting property both before and after marriage. While the law doesn’t necessarily need to presume the existence of a marital estate or that individual transactions are done for the benefit of such a marital estate, our culture is such that this is a rather strong presumption. Any time there is joint ownership of property, some kind of dispute resolution is going to be needed in some cases, because a fraction of people who at one time agreed to something later disagree about that same thing, for any number of reasons both good and bad.

                          We can privatize these things to a substantial degree, more than we do now. If we were to choose to do so as a matter of culture and politics. But we can’t ever get all the way there.

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                          • Bounty Hunters, originally, seemed to do a decent job of aiding bondsmen in keeping their books clear of people who’d run.

                            I’d be well willing to hear economic arguments that courts are more efficient/better than using guns.

                            But guns do work, at the end of the day. (As does shunning (if you aren’t a good sport about the contract, we’re not going to write you another ever ever again), and the whole “we will RUIN YOUR LIFE” shtick that the Republicans (no, not you) have perfected).

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                              • Bounty hunters weren’t state sanctioned. (and in soon to be germany, there wasn’t really a state to sanction much of anything…)

                                Was this exactly the wisest plan? No, but it did work.
                                (Does the Mossad method of dispute resolution actually count under state sanctioned violence?)

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                    • Silly because a contract is between two people, while the existence of a marriage affects third parties who never contracted anything with the first two parties. Two people cannot devise a contract that means one of us can inherit from the other with no taxes being owed, or that a hospital will grant them visitation rights, or that one cannot be forced to testify against the other. That happens only because marriage is a legally recognize status.

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                      • Essentially what I’m talking about are some form of civil union. You can argue that civil unions are less desirable than full-fledged SSM, but in the era before SSM was ever a real possibility, civil unions would have been a marked improvement from the status quo.

                        So, what is it about civil unions that is so silly?

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                        • Civil Unions isn’t a terrible silly idea, although it is certain flawed. What it most certainly is not, however, is a policy that gets government out of people’s intimate relationships.

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                        • If by “get the government out of marriage” you mean “have the government create a status extremely similar but not identical to marriage, determine the rules for entering and exiting that status, be the sole path for doing both of those, and adjust many, many laws that currently say ‘marriage’ to say ‘marriage or civil union’, then yes, I agree completely.

                          I’ve always heard “get the government out of marriage” as “make marriage a purely private and/or religion decision to which the government is as indifferent as membership in the Kiwanis”.

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                          • If by “get the government out of marriage” you mean …

                            OK, we’re officially through the rabbit hole, because I never said “get the government out of marriage.” You did. So, basically you’re having an argument with your own characterization of what you think the libertarian position is.

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                        • “what is it about civil unions that is so silly?”

                          Nothing that wasn’t equally silly about separate lunch counters for black people and white people.

                          Civil Unions, at the time same-sex marriage bans were getting passed, were seen as “separate but equal” for homosexual couples. What people wanted was to GET MARRIED, and BE MARRIED. The idea of “a legal status which confers all the benefits of marriage but is not formally listed as one in government records” was considered insulting.

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                          • The idea of “a legal status which confers all the benefits of marriage but is not formally listed as one in government records” was considered insulting.

                            And was not a compromise being offered . Many same-sex marriage bans also banned other legal statuses conferring the same rights as marriage.

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                          • What people wanted was to GET MARRIED, and BE MARRIED. The idea of “a legal status which confers all the benefits of marriage but is not formally listed as one in government records” was considered insulting.

                            What people wanted was the ability to visit loved ones in the hospital or pass on survivorship benefits to their long term romantic partners. And the libertarian solution would have allowed for that well before the idea of actual SSM was even a remote possibility.

                            But if it makes you feel superior to pretend that libertarians are proponents of Jim Crow, go right ahead.

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                  • Well, the argument that I always gave was a fairly nuanced one that made hella distinctions between “Marriage in the Eyes of God” and “Marriage in the Eyes of the State” and I said then, and I say now, I do not believe that the government has the competence to judge whether two people are Married in the Eyes of God.

                    And I say that as someone who sat across a bureaucrat sitting at a metal desk who judged my marriage with Maribou. (We passed.)

                    When it comes to Marriage in the Eyes of the State, I argued, we were talking about something else entirely. “Manila Folder Stuff”, I believe was the term I used.

                    That talked about forms and hospital visitations and inheritance rights and whatnot.

                    I made this distinction because I knew that when people talked about “marriage”, people were using the same word to mean two very different things in the same paragraph, sentence, or even breath… and argue against another person as if the other person meant the one even when they really meant the other.

                    As such, the argument that the government shouldn’t be involved in marriage makes a lot of sense to me. As does the argument that the government should, of course, be involved in marriage.

                    But I’m using “marriage” to refer to two different things in those two different propositions despite using the same word.

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                    • (playing out this doubly very OT discussion:)

                      I said then, and I say now, I do not believe that the government has the competence to judge whether two people are Married in the Eyes of God.

                      Yet, as you say, that is a “belief.”

                      So, everyone on all sides takes the position, because it is inescapable, that “government” should be constituted (or be prevented from constitution), in a way that reflects their fundamental “beliefs.”

                      Even and especially the anarchist considers the question of government to be intimately tied to the question of belief. The more mainstream view, second nature for most participants in the same sex marriage discussion on either side, is that recognition in the law equates with moral validation, and to real social effects. So, Edie Windsor wanted the “magic” of being called “married,” and could not consider or know that the spell had been completed until the rite had also been put in legal language.

                      There would be no such “magic” in “civil union.” In fact, the substitution of a novel, abstract term, meant to refer potentially to all of the same practical effects (hospital visits, adoption, etc.), destroys the spell – as anyone who knows anything about magic would expect: You have to say the magic words, and not any other words.

                      Tracing this digression back to the main topic might require some intellectual leap-froggery. I’ll just say I think that some self-identified libertarians seem to encounter contradictions on this issue, as do more subtly some of their allies on it on the liberal left, to the extent their reflexes on other matters are defined by insensitivity to the “magic” – the aura of holy salvific validation by the Collective Popular Sovereign, embodied but not exhausted in its instrument the Administrative State, under the sign of Patriotism – as applied to other issues. To put the matter in the extreme form: If government is the Devil, then it makes no sense for a Holy Liberty Warrior to seek its blessing.

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                      • Well, at that point, the question then becomes “under what circumstances do you feel it is appropriate to call the police?”

                        A guy is trying to visit another guy in the hospital. They both want the meeting to take place (there is no suspicion of physical violence, domestic or otherwise, in this relationship). Do you feel that it is appropriate to call the police to prevent this meeting from taking place?

                        If so, are you prepared to deal with the social repercussions from preventing this meeting from taking place with credible threats of calling the police?

                        Because not sprinkling the magical dust of official sanction resulted in stuff like petty bureaucrats acting petty to exceptionally sympathetic people who were *VERY* photogenic.

                        If the issue of “get rid of petty bureaucrats” is not on the table (and, apparently, it’s not), we’re now discussing whether these petty bureaucrats ought to be Officially Forbidden from calling the cops when they encounter two lifepartners from visiting in the hospital.

                        Or, in the case of Obergfell, not putting something as small and silly as a name in the “surviving spouse” line on a death certificate.

                        The question was not “whether we, as a society, should recognize these marriages” but “look at the actions of these people who did not recognize these marriages. We should stop from doing that sort of thing.”

                        And, much like with the OP, you may with to talk about this topic… but the topic changed.

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                        • My dear OG Jaybird – the point is that even a constitutional amendment establishing that in all practical ways and at every level, from death certificates to kindergarten primers to administrative rules to public accommodations, the words “civil union” and “marriage” and grammatical variants and dependent terms (“civilly united” and “married,” “partner” and “spouse”) would henceforward be treated as interchangeable, vs fines, loss of employment or rights to trade, or even imprisonment, would remain completely inadequate, as long as breeders got to keep the magic word for themselves. The very construction of the novel category, the strenuous definition of supposed marriage equivalents, would be (rightly) understood as an acknowledgment of difference, which acknowledgment, as we have exhaustively discussed before, always equates for today’s SSM-ists with derogation, or, as they like to say, an “insult,” one that can derive only from bigotry and hatred, and is prima facie evil, not to mention repugnant, not merely justifying but requiring condemnation from all good people.

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                          • I got the operation at age 25 so I don’t know nothing about breeding no babies, but I would say that with the advent of The Pill (and in the aftermath of its destructive power), marriage changed from being something for breeders and started being something for lovers.

                            I mean, like, for modular people who fell in love with each other. Not just the samely sexed.

                            So, within this definition of marriage, we had two marriages. One for them what bred, one for them what wanted a child accessory when the time was right for a pet with one’s own DNA. (Or those who chose to adopt furry pets. REPRESENT COLORADO!!!!!!!)

                            It was this latter form of marriage, already established and having achieved a socially acceptable level of stability that SSM wanted a piece of.

                            And the question is whether we should prevent people from calling the cops on said SSMers. (Remember: photogenic.)

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                            • That’s not the question at all, OGJB. With or without Obergefell, everyone had a hallowed right to refer to their relationships as “marriages,” “civil unions,” “partnerships,” or “Fritos,” and no one had a right to call the cops over it. What changed was the requirement that the state cannot administer the already existing institution called “marriage” (in English) in a way that excludes same-sex couples. The cops are called only when someone substitutes the declared obsolete definition for the new one in any way that has a practical effect, but, as before, every someone is still free, as an individual, to use any word at all. I can still call your marriage “marriage” or I can call it “Verheiratung” or I can call it “Sadie,” and I can choose to do so on whatever basis I like, but the cops don’t get called until and unless I act on the designated wrong basis in any area of interest to the state – which, as we know, sometimes seems to be every real existing space at all, though that’s another topic.

                              Otherwise, I’m not inclined to recycle previous discussion on the procreative concept of marriage. The notion of a non-prejudicial conversation on the topic – in other words of a conversation that does not begin with the presumption of one and only one correct conclusion – is taboo at this site. So, I’d recommend we try talking about Trump and Paul and Paul and libertarians and fascists.

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                              • That’s not the question at all, OGJB. With or without Obergefell, everyone had a hallowed right to refer to their relationships as “marriages,” “civil unions,” “partnerships,” or “Fritos,” and no one had a right to call the cops over it. What changed was the requirement that the state cannot administer the already existing institution called “marriage” (in English) in a way that excludes same-sex couples.

                                Yeah, exactly.

                                And what happened? Some little Eichmann sitting at a desk got a death certificate for a guy and, in the surviving spouse line, saw the name for another guy.

                                He tossed it aside and said “that’s no good here”.

                                And *THAT* was the assassination of the Archduke for marriage created in the tinder of the redefinition of marriage that had been ongoing since the introduction of the pill.

                                But, for the record, I’m pretty sure that no one is denying you your right to explain that any number of sets of two people are not, in fact, engaged in “marriages,” “civil unions,” “partnerships,” or “Fritos.”

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                      • Exactly. The point of same-sex marriage was never about visitation rights or inheritance or tax status; those were ex post facto justifications. The point was to be able to get an Official Government Paper saying “Adam And Steve Are Married Now”, something that made it completely clear that society Officially Sanctioned Your Relationship, so screw you Dad, we’re married now.

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            • The attitude that the government shouldn’t inject itself into monogamish romantic/sexual relationships between consenting adults differentiated Libertarians from the two real parties not so very long ago.

              If by “not so very long ago,” you mean “prior to the birth of a goodly number of LoOG commentors (and some authors),” then yes.

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          • Your recall of what? And that’s a serious question.

            I know a lot of libertarians and the split between those fully supportive of legal marriage equality and those holding to the get the government out of it has been fairly even. Which side is in the majority depends almost entirely on where you place the boundaries, but I would say more than half of the libertarians I know on FB either had positive statuses or full out changed their picture to the rainbow thing after the SCOTUS decision.

            ps – trying to use the SSM debate to gig libertarians is pretty silly since almost no one, right, left or center, supported SSM marriage before very recently. The best that progressives can hope to do on this is to claim that their side flipped five minutes earlier, which is something… I guess.

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            • My recall of people who call themselves libertarians talking about SSM on the intertubes. I don’t know many people in real life who call themselves that. And I meant pre-Obergefell, of course: JB was taking about cases where the libertarian agenda influenced the mainstream, not vice versa.

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          • FWIW Mike I’ve argued SSM on the internets for around a decadeor so now (closer to 13 years probably) and you could generally rely on libertarians to say that the existing anti-SSM policy was unjust when pretty much noone else would.
            Now granted many of them endorsed the libertarians quixiotic solution (no government involvement in marriage) which I’ve thumped plenty in my time but you could often (more than half the time) rely on them to endorse SSM ultimately as preferable to the status quos once you got them to acknowledge that the libertarian ideal was impossible.

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            • Getting government out of marriage always seemed to be the homophobic having your cake and eating it to solution for same sex marriage, especially for religious conservatives. Sure, heterosexuals would be denied the legal protections of marriage but they could still have their religious ceremonies and that is what’s important to many of them. For same sex couples, the legal rights conferred by marriage were important as the symbolic ceremony. They might be able to have the ceremony but they would be deprived of any rights.

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              • One can assume bad faith, sure, but most religious conservatives would crap themselves at the idea of losing civil marriage. With even a modicum of assumption of good faith the libertarian no civil marriage position was consistent and coherent, just generally impossible and thus of only marginal salience to the question of SSM.

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              • Like I said, 13 some years of arguing it on the internet. Persistent.. or maybe dogmatic. I used to argue SSM on Marriagedebate.com with Maggie Gallagher moderating the comment threads. Holy fish that was a depressingly long time ago and an exhilaratingly long distance ago.

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            • Now granted many of them endorsed the libertarians quixiotic solution (no government involvement in marriage) which I’ve thumped plenty in my time but you could often (more than half the time) rely on them to endorse SSM ultimately as preferable to the status quos once you got them to acknowledge that the libertarian ideal was impossible.

              No. Libertarians always were arguing in bad faith. If libertarians *honestly* were coming at the issue, the libertarians would have been saying ‘Right X is only available in marriage, and we should change that’.

              Instead, they presented it as ‘getting the government out of marriage’?

              First, plenty of those marriage rights are *from* the government, so obviously the government would still be involved. It doesn’t matter if me and some other person got married and bought a house, or if me and some other person signed a contract to set up joint ownership of a house (somehow, need a new law for that also), the government is *still* involved if that falls apart.

              Second, plenty of those rights are actually ‘impositions’ on other people, so the government has to *make a law* saying that hospitals have to allow ‘Person who signed a contract’ to let people in, and then *enforce* that with police power. (That’s some interesting libertarianism they’ve got going on there.)

              Are people supposed to carry these contracts around with them all the time, or will they get some sort of *certificate* that says ‘Person X can visit me in the hospital’? Are nurses supposed to be *lawyers* now? Or are we going to use a default, government-written contract?

              Third, in contract law there are *plenty* of default contractual situations that the government (Or, rather, common law.) have set up, and it seems odd to somehow object to this one. Why shouldn’t the government provide a *template* for people to join together?

              But, wait, if the idea is to break marriage apart into a hundred different rights and whatnot, okay, wouldn’t we logically want to be able to just sign *one thing* and get the entire bundle that marriage currently is…and wouldn’t we *call* that marriage? Wouldn’t we invent a single marriage form out of *convenience*? (It seems akin to registering every part of my car.)

              And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that marriage *crosses jurisdictions*. Now you’ve got someone in California trying to sell joint property created under Alabama’s ‘marriage template’ and located in Nebraska.

              What is, *exactly*, the idea here? How you do you get ‘the government out of marriage’ via their idea? You can turn into into a hundred different contracts…which the government will enforce at gunpoint, and will be a huge hassle to maintain, and probably just devolve to a single marriage certificate when people see how much work it is, and…what are we doing again? How is this *less* government?

              You start drilling down on the ‘get the government out of marriage’ libertarian idea, and you get *nothing*. The entire premise was invented as a way to *keep from* answering the SSM question. Nothing more, nothing less.

              (The joke is that I don’t think disconnecting all these various rights from marriage is a *bad* idea. I’d be for it if libertarians were systematically going those those and making it where people could *additionally* get that right outside of marriage via contract, or even *void* those rights inside a marriage via contract. However, I must point out that since SSM stopped being an issue, libertarians have, suspiciously, completely given up on this idea, pretending it was ever a real idea to start with.)

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              • No. Libertarians always were arguing in bad faith. If libertarians *honestly* were coming at the issue, the libertarians would have been saying ‘Right X is only available in marriage, and we should change that’… You start drilling down on the ‘get the government out of marriage’ libertarian idea, and you get *nothing*. The entire premise was invented as a way to *keep from* answering the SSM question. Nothing more, nothing less.

                Almost your entire comment is predicated upon you having knowledge that you can’t possibly have, which means that you are making a set of claims that instantly prove themselves false.

                That is quite an accomplishment. Even people who believe in Area 51 or who think that the moon landing was faked have some slim chance of being right.

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                • Almost your entire comment is predicated upon you having knowledge that you can’t possibly have, which means that you are making a set of claims that instantly prove themselves false.

                  Ah, yes.

                  Let’s make sure I got this straight: has no problem with my dissection of how completely stupid and nonsensical the ‘get the government out of marriage’ common libertarian position was, and just takes issue with the idea it was created with the purpose of dodging the SSM question.

                  Well, I am chastised. There are, indeed, other reasons such a thing could be created. Allow me to change my position:

                  ‘Getting the government out of marriage’ was *either* created as a dodge of the SSM question, *or* because some libertarians are…completely stupid and think ‘Get the government out of X’ is *always* a good policy position, and so don’t bother to even slightly think through their policy positions before proposing them?

                  I apologize for attributing to malice what could be explained by stupidity.

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                  • – North has already said it better than I can, but as a libertarianish person, your description rings false to me as well.

                    I’m another one of those people that thinks the government having that kind of authority is a bad idea – that it’s an authority that has existed since forever and has accrued all kinds of legal cruft makes it no less so.

                    I also, as North said, realize that to “get there from here” would be exceedingly-difficult – so SSM as it is implemented, is definitely a huge improvement over the prior status quo.

                    However, I must point out that since SSM stopped being an issue, libertarians have, suspiciously, completely given up on this idea, pretending it was ever a real idea to start with

                    The implementation of SSM has understandably caused the conversation volume to die down for now, as other topics take center stage; but the libertarians I am familiar with – in re: people scaremongering “after SSM, polygamy could be next!” – have mostly said some version of “So? Bring that slippery slope ON!”

                    I know for a fact that Damon has; I have as well.

                    SSM is a step in the right direction, but it was also the only step that could be easily-taken from where we are, and does not change the underlying fact that giving the govt. this unfettered authority, which has caused the institution to be structured in such conceptually-restrictive ways, disenfranchises a whole chunk of historical cross-cultural humanity for whom 2 people forever is not the maximum ideal marriage and family-structure configuration.

                    “It will be exceedingly-difficult to implement” is a description of the effort required (and may drive political prioritization), not a judgement of the rightness of the effort. Lots of things that are exceedingly-difficult are still the right thing to do, even if they fall down the priority list due to other considerations like difficulty / visibility / lack of resources / cultural or political climate / bang-for-buck.

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                    • The implementation of SSM has understandably caused the conversation volume to die down for now, as other topics take center stage; but the libertarians I am familiar with – in re: people scaremongering “after SSM, polygamy could be next!” – have mostly said some version of “So? Bring that slippery slope ON!”

                      See, you’re talking about libertarians *now*, who do not have an actual problem with SSM. In fact, supporting SSM might well be one of the reasons they consider themselves libertarians instead of Republicans.

                      And, as I said, allowing all these rights from marriage to exist outside of marriage *actually is* a libertarian position. The libertarians can own that idea, as far as I’m in charge of who owns what idea. And I will also add it’s a damn good idea, and I support it. (Especially with Millennial living arrangements being what they are, where a lot more people are ‘roommating’ for a lot longer.)

                      But we’re not really talking about now, where all libertarians are basically on the SSM bandwagon.

                      This whole conversation started out as a flashback to ‘arguing with libertarians about SSM’, which if North’s time is correct, I’ve been doing *even longer* than he has. (Ah, the summer between season 4 and 5 of Buffy, when the bigots arrived.) Let’s call it 15 years.

                      And back then, there really were a lot of libertarians, or at least people calling themselves libertarians, arguing that ‘the government should get out of the marriage business’, and…that was it. That was the entirety of their position. There was no ‘But we clearly can’t do that, so SSM should be legal’.

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                  • Well, to run with what Glyph has said, I can easily see this topic coming up again when Polygamy becomes a real topic being discussed by real people instead of merely weirdos on the internet.

                    And some people will say that the solution will be found in saying that the government should “get out of marriage” insofar as it shouldn’t arrest people who claim to have two wives (or husbands or more or whatever) but when we start talking about stuff like inheritance issues for these relationships and get into stuff like “Social Security Issues” that are complicated by plural marriage, we can make fun of the “we should keep the government out of marriage” people again and then publicly wonder where in the heck they went a year or so after the supreme court figures out how to split that particular baby.

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                • You know, aside from the mind-reading bits toward the beginning and end, I think David’s analysis of the difficulties around the idea of getting the government out of a marriage is worth engaging with. And I’m curious to see your response to that portion, JR, because you’re one of the folks around here who’s given me a lot of respect for libertarian positions due to your analyses of such things in the past. Especially since I’m both pro-SSM and simultaneously think the basic idea of getting the government out of marriage seems like a philosophically good one (even though I’d admit I have no idea how that’d work in practice, which is why I thought David’s comment was worth engaging with).

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                  • If you dislike the tax benefits accorded married people, the additional benefits on other fronts (like adoption!), then it makes a lot of sense to want gov’t out of marriage.

                    Of course, we could always go with the “You’re Defacto Married” game, where if you call yourself husband and wife for long enough, it doesn’t matter if the gov’t said you were or not, you’re legally married. (see common law marriage).

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              • David,
                I’m not the most libertarian person on this board, but I didn’t find the whole “get gov’t out of the marriage” business to be done in bad faith.

                There are tons of tax consequences, and other reasons to get gov’t out of marriage, other than SSM. (Although I hardly think ANYONE saying get gov’t out of marriage wants to get rid of the protected speech thingy).

                It may sound a bit squishy to you, but I think it’s an honest description of Senator Tester’s values when he says “I think we should get the gov’t out of marriage, but if we can’t do that…”

                I mean, really, that’s not something he HAD to say, and it’s mostly a value signal, as probably at least 88 Senators don’t feel that way…

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              • Davidtc
                I disagree. Saying “get government out of marriage” is pretty much the same as saying “‘Right X is only available in marriage, and we should change that”. If you eliminate marriage then right X either is unavailable or becomes available to all.
                No doubt many a libertarian who found gays icky found solace in the knowledge that the odds of convincing society to get government out of marriage was as likely as convincing people to cut off their own thumbs en masse and thus were arguing in bad faith but to assert that all libertarians thought this way requires an omniscience that neither of us possess and is itself probably a bad faith assertion. Also it does not fit with my own personal experience over my lifetime and I’ve paddled in the SSM waters for a very long time.

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                • No doubt many a libertarian who found gays icky found solace in the knowledge that the odds of convincing society to get government out of marriage was as likely as convincing people to cut off their own thumbs en masse and thus were arguing in bad faith but to assert that all libertarians thought this way requires an omniscience that neither of us possess and is itself probably a bad faith assertion.

                  All libertarians didn’t think that way, obviously. Some of them looked at the problem, realized ‘Hey, here’s a totally optional thing the government lets pairs of people sign up for, and the libertarian thing is clearly to let pairs of men and women sign up for it. The government shouldn’t be regulating the genders of people in marriage.’, and, tada, came down firmly on the side of SSM. (And wondering if the government should be regulating the *number* of people.)

                  Another percentage did as Sen Tester was mentioned as doing above, and said, ‘Well marriage is bit stupid, and the best thing to do would be to get rid of it, but since that won’t happen, the next best thing is SSM’, and, contrary to what Kim thinks, I have no beef with those people, either. That is a perfectly fine way to present a political opinion. ‘As a libertarian, I’d rather do X, but that’s clearly not going to happen, so Y it is.’

                  I am talking about the people who presented the libertarian position as ‘The government should get out of marriage’ and…that was it. That was their conclusion on gay marriage. All those gay people? They should, uh, wait until marriage just mysteriously disappears. (Which no one at all was making any effort to do.)

                  That was not argued in good faith, it was argued solely to keep from having to take a position on gay marriage. Because the entire premise of ‘replacing marriage with contracts’ is actually pretty ludicrous, especially for a libertarian position, as I point out in my original post. At least with marriage, there is *one point* that government interference hinges off of, and it’s either true, or not. With contracts, uh, everyone now has to be a lawyer to figure things out, and it’s *still* backed up by force via the exact same government. That’s some nice libertarianing there.

                  Please note that ‘trying to keep from taking a position on gay marriage’ is, frankly, not some sort of horrible offense, especially in the 90s. I’m not standing here calling them homophobes or saying they were horrible people. I’m saying that their political philosophy lead clearly to a position that was fringe at the time, and a bit uncomfortable for some people, so they saw a kinda dumb escape hatch and took it. (And, of course, I’m sure there were a few dumbish libertarians who thought it was *actually* a good idea.)

                  If you eliminate marriage then right X either is unavailable or becomes available to all.

                  Wait wait wait. There is a difference between ‘Getting the government out of marriage’ and *eliminating* marriage.

                  *Eliminating* marriage, by itself, is something that doesn’t really present any policy problems at all. (Well, assuming you didn’t try to do it retroactively.) But it’s also sure as hell not the entirety of what libertarians were suggesting, at least not the ones I was hanging around at the time.

                  They were suggesting ‘eliminating marriage’, yes, but that was supposed to be part of the process where people who would have gotten ‘married’ would instead agree to a bunch of private agreements which would replicate marriage, including a bunch of things it wasn’t currently possible to do.

                  Now, obviously, it wouldn’t *exactly* match current marriage, but the implication was that people could create, using contracts, something that was maybe 80%-90% the same.

                  And let’s note during this time the pro-SSM people were running around pointing out how many rights marriage included, and how many *currently* couldn’t be replicated by contract, so it’s not like libertarians could pretend like they *didn’t know* they’d have to do something about hospital visitation and other things.

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              • Libertarians always were arguing in bad faith.

                always a good sign that someone knows what the fish they are talking about and also that they are interested in presenting it honestly.

                If libertarians *honestly* were coming at the issue, the libertarians would have been saying ‘Right X is only available in marriage, and we should change that’.

                Or perhaps they have been *honestly* thinking that Rights X, Y and Z have always been rights of citizens and enumerating them in their political platforms since before the Disco Era ended? But you’re not interested in that I guess. Hint: libertarians don’t believe anybody should be forced to testify against anyone.

                First, plenty of those marriage rights are *from* the government, so obviously the government would still be involved.

                If you can find ANY* libertarian claiming that ANY rights derive from the government, I’ll eat my hat**

                * nobody who first heard the word “libertarian” from Glenn Beck is eligible
                ** my hat is made of emu jerky

                Second, plenty of those rights are actually ‘impositions’ on other people, so the government has to *make a law* saying that hospitals have to allow ‘Person who signed a contract’ to let people in, and then *enforce* that with police power. (That’s some interesting libertarianism they’ve got going on there.)

                Ah yes, the classic denunciation of “libertarians are infringing on my right to own slaves!” or “Those hypocritical libertarians won’t allow me to murder people!” Good times.

                or if me and some other person signed a contract to set up joint ownership of a house (somehow, need a new law for that also),

                You can’t seriously be claiming that joint ownership of real property is a novel area of law, are you?

                And that doesn’t even touch on the fact that marriage *crosses jurisdictions*. Now you’ve got someone in California trying to sell joint property created under Alabama’s ‘marriage template’ and located in Nebraska.

                Which is exactly why all contracts are void once you cross state lines and there are only a couple of corporations located in Delaware. >.>

                How is this *less* government?

                The big one? Removing government prohibitions about who can enter the contract in the first place. The libertarian position has the additional advantage of of avoiding the obvious FYIGM of those who support SSM but not polyamorous marriage.

                You start drilling down on the ‘get the government out of marriage’ libertarian idea, and you get *nothing*. The entire premise was invented as a way to *keep from* answering the SSM question. Nothing more, nothing less.

                I’d take this a lot more seriously if you’d demonstrated even an inkling about what you were bloviating about. The fact that the LP answered the question of “should SSM be legal” as YES in their fishing presidential platform four fishing decades before the Democratic Party did might be an indication that your statement “invented as a way to *keep from* answering the SSM question. ” is a complete pile of fetid dingo’s kidneys. Only much less honest.

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                • Or perhaps they have been *honestly* thinking that Rights X, Y and Z have always been rights of citizens and enumerating them in their political platforms since before the Disco Era ended? But you’re not interested in that I guess. Hint: libertarians don’t believe anybody should be forced to testify against anyone.

                  *rolls eyes*

                  Yes, there’s a lot of things that marriage law has that libertarians don’t even like the concept of, like if you were to ask them if same-sex couples should be allowed to file taxes jointly, they’ll say ‘They shouldn’t have to file taxes’.

                  But do they believe that anyone should be able to make medical decisions for anyone else?

                  This, incidentally, makes the ‘We’ll do everything by contract’ even *more* hard to pass, because it’s now including things like ‘repealing income tax’ and ‘removed forced testimony’ that are mostly unrelated to marriage, and is a completely insane libertarian pipe dream.

                  Which makes it even *more* obvious that my claim ‘get the government out of marriage’ can’t possible have been a good faith proposal is true.

                  As an aside, while I’m not a libertarian, not requiring *testimony* is a new one on me, and rather disturbing conceptually. Googling it, it appear this is not actually a libertarian consensus.

                  If you can find ANY* libertarian claiming that ANY rights derive from the government, I’ll eat my hat**

                  Read what I actually said, not random phrases in the middle of sentences that you take out of context.

                  The government has the power to dissolve legal partnerships (From personal ones like marriage or even unofficial roommate situations where there’s joint property, to business partnerships, or legal incorporation of fictional people) that go badly. This is, in fact, one of the reasons we have a court system.

                  Turning a marriage into a bunch of different contracts means that divorce, a fairly standardized procedure, is now infinitely more complicated and time consuming for the courts. And it isn’t, in any way, ‘getting the government out’ of it!

                  Ah yes, the classic denunciation of “libertarians are infringing on my right to own slaves!” or “Those hypocritical libertarians won’t allow me to murder people!” Good times.

                  What? Following this analogy, you seem to think that people *shouldn’t* be able to force hospitals to let them see their spouse?

                  I mean, I can *see* how that could be a libertarian thought, but this is some sort of…extreme libertarianism I’ve never actually run across in the wild, and I’m hesitant to assume it’s an actual libertarian position without an explicit confirmation.

                  You can’t seriously be claiming that joint ownership of real property is a novel area of law, are you?

                  *sigh*

                  This is extremely complicated. In some state, joint tenancies with full rights of survivorship (The way people would want to actually do this.) *can’t be dissolved* without the consent of both parties, because that basically includes a ‘life estate’.

                  This just happened in Michigan: http://www.varnumlaw.com/blogs/varnum-etc/partition-me-unmarried-joint-tenants-with-full-rights-of-survivorship-fail/

                  The result: An estate that, legally, both of ‘ex-spouses’ have access to until they die. (They could, of course, sell their access, but who would buy property where someone else is allowed to live, and their rights terminate when yet another person dies?)

                  Yes, in many states, people can get *exactly* the sort of joint property that marriage has, with all the rules of it. (Usually called ‘Joint Tenancy with Surviorship’) But in other states, they *can’t*. (Because their ‘Joint Tenancy with Surviorship’ is slightly different, and their marriage form is ‘Tenants by the Entirety’, which only married people get.)

                  Which is exactly why all contracts are void once you cross state lines and there are only a couple of corporations located in Delaware. >.>

                  …I didn’t say they were void. In fact, the problem was that they weren’t. Reread what I said.

                  I pointed out that, right now, family law courts in Georgia only need to understand *Georgia* marriage law, because that law applies to all marriages in Georgia, regardless of origin.

                  But let’s say that there is no marriage law, and instead Georgia passes a bunch of laws that allows people to mostly replicate marriage using contracts. And Georgia lawyers will write contracts using those laws.

                  Those laws only apply in Georgia. Alabama will have different laws designed to replicate marriage, and possibly even slightly different things that can be accessed. (For example, in Alabama, maybe you’re allowed to pick one person ad you can’t testify against each other, whereas in Georgia you can’t do that.)

                  But people who had their contracts written in Georgia *don’t have that in them*. So, sucks to be them, I guess.

                  More importantly, when it comes to *dissolving* the partnership, now the courts have to deal with tons of different contracts, which are going to be written in different ways for different states. Moreover, they might involve property in yet a *third* state.

                  And let’s not even get into community property, for people who wish to replicate that. Community property *in each individual state that does that* is extremely complicated.

                  I’d take this a lot more seriously if you’d demonstrated even an inkling about what you were bloviating about. The fact that the LP answered the question of “should SSM be legal” as YES

                  I have not, in any manner at all, said that libertarians did not generally support SSM, or argued that they didn’t support it *before* the Dems. They did.

                  This discussion is about the *subset* of libertarians back in the 90s, 00s, and maybe a tiny fringe extending to almost the present, whose answer to ‘Should SSM be legal?’ was solely ‘Get the government out of the marriage business.’

                  I have not, at any point, asserted that this was all, or even a majority, of libertarians. It *was*, however, a pretty common species of libertarian (At least, people *calling* themselves libertarians) back on the early internet in the 90s when the idea of gay marriage first entered the public consciousness.

                  From what I understand about the Libertarian *Party*, they’ve argued for marriage equality literally from their founding, something they should be commended for.(1)

                  You know, I’ve gotten a lot of flak for stating the *motives* of those people from libertarians, which is mildly ironic, because, those people clearly were LINOs. I’m pretty certain they were that certain species of young Republicans who are pro-drugs, pro-sex, and anti-taxes, who decided that meant they were libertarians, and argued quite loudly about it on the internet. (And had at least enough knowledge to know they couldn’t *oppose* SSM, but sure as hell didn’t want to support it.)

                  I’m not quite sure why we’ve somehow ended up with libertarians defending a pretty crappy non-libertarian position that really *wasn’t* ever argued by any actual libertarian, just because I said it wasn’t argued in ‘good faith’. But it’s very hard to see any way it *could* be good faith.

                  1) Looking back, the Democratic party has a pretty crappy record on supporting various minorities, and it’s pretty noticeable that they’re *never* in front of the curve of their party members, and in fact often a decade behind. Same as Republicans. The only reason the Dems are better than the Republicans on that is that their *party members* are farther ahead.

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          • I recall a lot more libertarians saying “get government out of the marriage business” than favoring SSM per se.

            Well, I wasn’t one of them and most of the libertarians that I have contact with off this site were sharply critical towards that position for the obvious reasons.

            Too many libertarians took that position (one is too many as far as I’m concerned) but whether or not that was a majority I can’t say other than to say that in my corner of the world, it wasn’t.

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        • Electoral success is hard to measure for any ideological perspective, for the simple reason that it is largely a crap shoot as to what the ultimate results are.

          For example, in 2008 the American electorate put anti-war, anti-surveillance state candidate Barack Obama in the White House and we ended up with President Barack Obama, whose policies were largely a continuation of the thing that the electorate had supposedly rejected.

          Is that success, a defeat, something else? Were the people claiming to against the abuses of state power in 2008 really against those abuses or only against abuses carried out by people with the wrong letter after their name? There are lots of corresponding examples from the right sight of the aisle. And I have a hard time coming up with an answer to these questions that differs significantly from “who knows?”

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          • To be blunt, a very small amount of people voted for Obama because he was anti-war and anti-surveillance state and even then, Obama said he was against “stupid wars.”

            I mean, I had leftie friends pissed when he surged in Afghanistan when that was part of his campaign from day one. You can think it’s bad policy, but you can’t act like the guy lied to you when it was on his website.

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            • There were important ways that Obama differed from Bush that *weren’t* lies.

              For example, he stopped the torture, which, frankly, would have been worth it all by itself. He also hasn’t started any stupid wars. (He’s done a lot of stupid *bombing*, though.)

              The way I generally think about is that the national security aperture exists independent of the president. The top of that appears to be entirely infested by fascist violence-addled lunatics, all of which should be dropped naked in whatever country they decided to attack with their every action tattooed on their body.

              The president can only behave in a way to make it *better*, or *worse*.

              Bush made it worse.

              Obama…well, to be honest, Obama mostly kept it the same. We thought he was going to make it better, but he did not.

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              • Bush fired TONS of sane conservatives out of the national security business (shouldn’t surprise ANYONE that conservatives gravitate to national security jobs). If there’s a problem with people being excessively “loyal”, we can blame him.

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              • As another possibility, I think there’s a chance that the intelligence apparatus has some eyes-only stuff – some of which will only appear heavily retracted fifty years from now, and some of which will be stored next to the Ark of the Covenant – which changes the game entirely on the new POTUS’s first security briefing.

                This is also part of why they age so much in office – there are some real grim things they aren’t allowed to let on about.

                N.B. I’m not married to the idea, since it’s quite tinfoil-hattish, but it does explain some things.

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                • As another possibility, I think there’s a chance that the intelligence apparatus has some eyes-only stuff – some of which will only appear heavily retracted fifty years from now, and some of which will be stored next to the Ark of the Covenant – which changes the game entirely on the new POTUS’s first security briefing.

                  I’ve entertained that possibility, but I can’t figure out what it is.

                  The simple fact is, if this country were facing the sort of *high level* threat that we are pretending we faced, we’d be facing a hell of a lot of low level stuff and a bunch would be bound to slip through the cracks.

                  We might not hear about the time the dirty bomb was stopped at the Super Bowl (Although why not?), but we would wake up every other morning to hear that a smallish bomb went off in a security checkpoint at an airport or something.

                  Instead, we seem to foil a lot of low level stuff that, frankly, half the time is the FBI entrapping someone (Oh, sorry, getting their paid informant to entrap someone, which is apparently totally legal.), and the other half the time is poorly thought out nonsense that wouldn’t work.

                  I guess it’s possible that it’s some *entirely different* threat, like we’re in the middle of an secret alien invasion and all this anti-terrorism stuff is just a cover, but at that point we’re just getting silly.

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                  • I guess it’s possible that it’s some *entirely different* threat, like we’re in the middle of an secret alien invasion and all this anti-terrorism stuff is just a cover, but at that point we’re just getting silly.

                    THAT’S WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO THINK WAKE UP SHEEPLE

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            • All that is completely tangential to my comment. I wasn’t trying to debate Obama or any policy. My comment was about the difficulty in assessing whether or not a block of anti-war voters can ever claim to be successful or not.

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        • This one is a little more tough to measure but the favorite topics of Libertarians (the gay marriage, the marijuana, the police, the economy) are topics where you used to have very little daylight between the two big parties and, now, there is more daylight.

          Woah, woah, woah. There’s a lot of base stealing here. I am sympathetic to libertarians (and a former reason subscriber), but to say that libertarians had anything to do with the conversation on gay marriage is like the guy in the Dr. Pepper commercial claiming that he came up with the college playoff system. That was pushed by traditional gay activists, liberal and conservative, that were not at all libertarian. Libertarian publications and thinkers were at most quietly supportive, but to say they made any noise about the issue when it was still outside the Overton window is a vast overstatement. Also, I would note that libertarians have not had much of an impact on the conversation on policing, as that has been pushed by traditional black liberal activists. Libertarians can chalk up wins on mj and economic policies.

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          • Radley Balko has done a hell of a lot on policing. He’s a lynchpin event in his own right.

            When it comes to stuff like ssm, are libertarian takes on, for example, Prop 8 relevant or not?

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            • I don’ disagree that Radley has done a lot on policing and he’s a national treasure. However, BLM type activists did more in one year than Radley has done in a decade for awareness and shifting the dialogue on the issue. SSM has been a tier 3 issue for libertarians, where they were generally supportive*, but did not go to the mat for it and definitely didn’t do anything to change the conversation around it. Andrew Sullivan published an article in TNR pushing for gay marriage in 1989.

              * Though a significant minority opposed it because it would grant benefits to more people.

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              • The problem with the “libertarians were leading the way on…” narrative is that it’s generally promoted by people who primarily read either libertarians or mainstream liberal/conservative voices, and therefore don’t really have any sense of who else might have been talking about these things. There were, for example, anti-police violence and prison reform groups around the country, consisting mostly of (non-white, definitely non-libertarian) activists since before anyone had ever heard of Balko, but Balko’s the sort of person libertarians are more likely to pay attention to, for a variety of reasons.

                Perhaps what’s most interesting to me is that neither those groups nor Balko were able to get much in the way of real-world results until people who may not have ever protested before became so angry and fed up that they showed up in the streets of Ferguson, and the St. Louis area authorities responded to them with violence on live television. I mean, most of the people who were reading Balko and writing blog posts about how libertarians were way ahead of the game on police violence are still doing little more than reading Balko and writing blog posts about how libertarians were way ahead of the game on police violence, but the people who were tear-gassed in Ferguson, and then in Baltimore, and the people they inspired to protest wherever they are, have actually had an impact. Just ask the former chief of police in Chicago, or the cops on trial in Baltimore. Granted, we still have a long way to go, as I’m sure the families of John Crawford and Tamir Rice can tell you, but for the first time in a long time, the status quo has been lightly shifted off its foundation.

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                • The argument that I am making is not some variant of “LIBERTARIANS ARE LEADING THE WAY!!!!”

                  It’s, instead, Libertarians are raising questions that the Republicans and Democrats agree upon and, sometimes, the Republicans and Democrats find usefulness in starting to disagree on the topic in order to differentiate themselves and *THEN* there is movement from the two real parties.

                  “Leading the way”, this ain’t.

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                  • It’s not just not leading the way, it’s playing no role whatsoever. It’s being irrelevant, much as most groups outside of the Rep-Dem mainstream. But it’s worse than being irrelevant, it’s being irrelevant with no interest in being relevant, for the most part. Granted, there are some libertarian activists, and I’m sure they’re doing good work, if not particularly impactful work, as folks like We Charge Genocide/Chicago Cop Watch have been doing, but for the most part what I see from libertarians (and I don’t mean to single you out here) is an insistence that they’re on the side of the angels because they’ve been talking like angels amongst themselves since forever.

                    Now, I don’t expect everyone to be an activist, and I don’t think being in the street is the only way have influence, but from libertarians, “We’ve been saying this online since the the days of usenet!” seems pretty hollow.

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                    • If the only thing that libertarians do is have well-forged arguments that have seen counter-argument after counter-argument and thus allowed these arguments to develop counter-counter-arguments (and so on and so forth) and then have these robust arguments ready for one of the two main parties to appropriate when the day comes that the two main parties finally feel like differentiating themselves on this issue, that’s the best kind of irrelevant and hollow.

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                        • On the left? I’d say issues of police militarization and the larger drug war in general (not just pot, though pot is where they’ve been actually successful).

                          On the right, I’d say that the arguments about the economy and the stuff co-opted by the “neoliberals” has libertarianish roots.

                          We can sit and wait and see if any of their arguments on such things as gun control, immigration, health care, internet privacy, so on, will go on to have purchase.

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                          • Hmm… I wonder whether Dems, to the extent that they’re using anti-cop violence, prison reform, and anti-drug war arguments, got them from their left or from libertarians. I suppose it doesn’t matter in the end, and Balko, Greenwald, etc., are pretty visible even among Dems who read blogs, but I wonder how much influence they’ve had on how those Dems, and the Dems who don’t read blogs but occasionally chat with ones who do.

                            Neoliberals have done a fine job of using economic arguments, which are inherently neoliberal for the most part (except when they’re inherently libertarian, in which case they’re probably not going to be used by those making neoliberal arguments, but by libertarians). There’s a lot of overlap, of course, but that’s because they’re both mostly using mainstream economic arguments.

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                            • Balko is great but he is pretty much indistinguishable from liberal/lefties i used to read in MJ or the Nation or other left rags 25 years ago. He is still doing great work and it is nice that he is getting some attention but he isn’t breaking new ground here. The issues he has talked about are finally bubbling up slowly from the leftie fringe, where people didn’t need to acknowledge it, and from POC communities where people didn’t care.

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                              • Exactly what I was thinking. Before I’d ever heard of Balko, I was hearing lefties talk about the police state, militarization, prison reform, and even legalization. And those positions arose largely out of the radical left in the 60s. I’m almost tempted to say that libertarians borrowed the ideas from the left, except I know too well how dismissive libertarians are of the left.

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                                  • Well, “statist” is pretty meaningless in this context (as it is in most contexts). I mean, most of the people I’m talking about have pretty radical ideas about the state, if they’re not anarchists. Dems, including “progressives,” may have become more “statist” (but have they, really?), but they weren’t the ones talking about the police state 40 years ago, or even 15 years ago.

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                                    • I’d disagree. As you said, ” And those positions arose largely out of the radical left in the 60s” And I’m saying that a lot of those people now are coopted and are comfortable with the status quo. Where’s the mass of protests and political action that all these people were doing in the 60s now for legalization, BLM, etc. Nary a peep. Nah, they’re “comfortable” and aren’t rocking the boat.


                                      Actually, statist identifies an individual who presumes that the use of gov’t to “fix things” wrong with society is the preferred option. It distinguishes between those who believe such nonsense and those who don’t-ie libertarians and anarchists, and fits both left and right sides of the spectrum because both sides agree in the use of the state, but just in different ways.

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                                  • Statist is a meaningless concept that gives more heat than light. Besides anarchists, there were always parts of the Left that was basically fine with a large government. One variety of classic socialism argued that the government should own and control the means of production for the benefit of everybody rather than the few.

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                                      • Roland,

                                        Re: statism: I like this way of thinking about isms, one which strikes me as being very close to my own views but also because it probably applies to almost everyone:

                                        I use the term liberal to describe myself when it is the relevant descriptor. I am a capitalist, thereforeI am a liberal. I like personal freedoms, so I am a social liberal. I believe in instituting change in a slow, non-disruptive way, so I am conservative. However, I also believe that change can and should be guided by the government, where appropriate, in a way that leads to better standards of living for as many people as possible. In that I am progressive. However, I also believe that change should be done in as non-coercive a way as suffices to get the job done. That’s libertarian in that it is anti-authoritarian.

                                        That was written by a dude named Kropadope and I quote it in full, even tho I’d make some slight changes, cuz I wanna give credit where due. I think the majority of these isms-wars (and ism identities) arise when people place an arbitrary emphasis on particular syllables as a way to carve out absolute theoretical distinctions where in practice none really exist.

                                        Btw, in case you hadn’t heard, you were quoted glowingly in a blog-post by Rod Dreher.

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                                        • Interesting and good quote. Nice.

                                          Darn that Dreher link is just the most Dreher thing ever. He can be eloquent and insightful and then in the next paragraph he wildly misinterprets and you wonder how he can type with those nails in his hands.

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                                • I imagine Balko gets a bit more serious attention in the MSM because he isn’t just some srubby leftie saying those things. He is a serious Libertarian so he is someone to be attended to, not one of those people.

                                  Which again isnt’ to diminish the good work he has done.

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                                  • Definitely. Though even Balko is mostly the dude people in power mention having read, and little more. If anyone’s repeating his arguments now, it’s largely because he’s the only anti-police violence person they’ve ever heard of (’cause the left is a dark, scary place) and they needed something quick. Eventually they’ll work it out for themselves, or hope that it goes away.

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                                    • While Balko isn’t breaking into new ground, he has done some valuable research and investigative journalism on the subject because he has more resources at his disposal to do so. People might have been aware of police misbehavior before Balko but could not get the exact facts because of lack of resources.

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                          • I would say there should be some demarcation between activism and disenfranchisement. Activism is active, disenfranchisement can be pursuant or closed to activity. I think it matters how people arrive at libertarianism, and the environment they are swimming in.

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                          • That’s a good example, not only because of Friedman’s work, but because it shows something I’ve been hinting at: libertarian ends, outside of economics, gain the most traction when they’re simultaneously championed on the left.

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                            • I’ve been hinting at: libertarian ends, outside of economics, gain the most traction when they’re simultaneously championed on the left.

                              I agree 100%. I’m not sure if the motives are quite the same, but I don’t think that matters all that much.

                              Consider what happened almost ten years ago to the day: the New York Times published its article about President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. If I recall, it was universally condemned by liberals and, with a few exceptions, libertarians as well. Of course there were liberals, especially the civil libertarian types (Greenwald) that were raising genuine constitutional concerns, but I witnessed my fair share of attacks motivated purely by partisanship.

                              Truth be told, I had no problem with it. The President was acting outside the law and the conservative chicken hawks were so pathetic in defending him (not only with that but with the post 9/11 constitutional role of the “Commander in Chief” – bad faith…all of it) that any kind of ideological purity took a back seat. It’s stayed there since.

                              I was reminded of those days recently when I read the post here on Syrian refugees and some of the comments talking about “legitimate concerns of citizens” or some BS like that. It was the same shit the chicken hawks were throwing at me in 2005-2006 only in a different flavor. I stayed out of that conversation for my own sanity. At least we know the chicken hawks still have their apologists, right? (eyeroll) ;)

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                              • Right, the motivations almost have to be different. For example, with the draft, Friedman was arguing, in essence, that a volunteer army would be a better army, on principle, with some arguments about personal freedom in there as well. The left was coming at it from an anti-war position (e.g., Mike Gravel among Democrats, but as with Friedman, it preceded the Nixon administration and their congressional maneuvering, and started outside of the Democratic Party).

                                Libertarians can, occasionally, catch the ear of some mainstream Republicans, and the American left can, occasionally, exert some influence on some mainstream Democrats. When both happen, there’s a chance they may actually achieve something. It’s rare, though. For the most part, when there is movement on the ends that libertarians and the left share, it’s going to be because activists are on the ground getting their hands dirty.

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                                • And if I remember correctly, that was in some ways the case with the draft. Nixon wanted to undercut the anti-war movement, and he thought he could do that by eliminating the draft and therefore remove the reason college kids cared about the war in the first place: fear of having to fight it. Friendman and the others were brought on to come up with an ideological and empirical case to sell to Congress/the public (which is what Jaybird said the libertarian role is), and then when they tried to delay it, they ran up against the anti-war folks who wanted to end it now.

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              • Mo: . However, BLM type activists did more in one year than Radley has done in a decade for awareness and shifting the dialogue on the issue.

                greginak: Balko is great but he is pretty much indistinguishable from liberal/lefties i used to read in MJ or the Nation or other left rags 25 years ago. He is still doing great work and it is nice that he is getting some attention but he isn’t breaking new ground here.

                Balkos’s core strength, his essential function, was and is to get police malpractice issues into the frontal lobes of young white people that hung around in the center-right and right wing ideological ecosystem. Many of those people aren’t as young as they used to be, but are partially inoculated against become the bog-standard middle aged law and order types of their parent’s generation.

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                • K,

                  Exactly. And personally, I’m quite happy to credit his libertarianism for performing that function. Before he became Famous I used to go to his site and see a catalogue of abuses that never captured the public’s attention, but when particularly egregious events finally did make it to the headlines being able to recognize that those behaviors aren’t isolated one-offs is, and continues to be, very important. Refraining from giving him credit because he’s a libertarian doesn’t seem like death-worthy hill.

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            • Well yeah. As i said above some place, marriage is many things; legal, cultural, religious. Legal marriage is a contract. That is a government thing which nobody seems to argue with up until they argue with some part of it. Let the gods sort out spirits and the courts/laws will deal with contracts. So we ain’t ever getting the eviill gubmint out of contracts, nor should we.

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      • Hmm… Two great powers… One led by a rabble-rouser with bad hair uniting followers with emotion-driven rhetoric about how removing the influence of a religious/ethnic minority will return the State to greatness… One led by an authoritarian man’s man who, despite balding, is often pictured with his shirt off and the world swoons at his virility – and is desperate to shore up the cracks in a fading empire before its ability to project power dissolves completely…

        This can only end well.

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      • On reading this, it occurred to me that Trump a) is telling the masses what they want to hear, and b) is a salesman. Maybe there’s some connection there. I think all “serious” politicians do the first to some extent, but their ability to do this is limited somewhat by their desire to appeal to the elite. Is Trump intentionally turning the pandering up to eleven, or does he really believe this stuff?

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  2. Most of the Libertarian Moment was a delusion. Rand is and was a Republican. One with occasional Libertarian sympathies but he is a Republican. Even some of his libertarian issues he made contradictory statements on which his supporters wanted to ignore. A lot of what binds Libertarians and Republicans in a loose coalition is shared use of terms, tropes and bogeymen. Say you are afraid of encroaching gov and PC and both L’s and R’s will nod, but their visions are often very different of the way things should be. Of course part of the apparent connection between R’s and L’s is that many people who call themselves Libertarian are far more plain old conservatives that are either embarrassed by the R’s or just a bit to libertine to fit in well. Lets also forget Alex Jones identifies as a Libertarian. Fringe movements, even good ones, attract very fringe (read as, crazy) characters.

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    • Most of the Libertarian Moment was a delusion.

      This. A combination of people who noticed that all their Facebook friends were libertarian and came to the wrong conclusion from this, and journalists looking for an angle: any angle!

      The sight of people moving from Ron/Rand Paul to Trump shows that these people aren’t libertarians in any ideologically coherent way. They are contrarians. Trump is the #slatepitch of current politics, so that is where these people go.

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    • The admittedly very mean joke definition that liberals use for libertarians is a Republican that likes to smoke pot on occasion. Most of the libertarians on the sight or some of the more mainstream libertarian sights like Reason come from the more socially liberal school of libertarianism. They were generally late Baby Boomers or younger and are basically fine with a lot of the social changes that occurred with the 1960s. There is still a rather strong conservative-libertarian school that is much more concerned with free markets and minimal government than other aspects of libertarianism and is inherited Murray Rothbard’s hostility towards the Civil Rights movement because of Cold War politics.

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      • Exactly. Since the libertarian version of the Southern Strategy took place, most of the old left-libertarians of my era (admittedly, I’m one of the youngest of the era, first voted in ’84) don’t feel comfortable using only the white courtesy phone, and have left the now-smaller tent. I haven’t changed my opinions that much (since the end of the Cold War changed the defense paradigm), I just don’t use the term anymore. Nor do a bunch of others who were perfectly comfortable with it, even up to 2000 or so.

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      • My (half) joke definition of leftism is that it’s what you get when you play the fortune cookie game with libertarianism. As long as it’s non-coercive, you should be free to do whatever you want…in bed.

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    • Most of the Libertarian Moment was a delusion…

      What moment?

      Kidding aside, I never saw anything that looked like a moment and I figured that the younger Paul was as full of shit as the older Paul only in different ways. I was never a huge Ron Paul fan to begin with, but when the Jamie Kirchik article was published in early 2008 in the New Republic (he did the world a favor with that one), that pretty much did it for me with respect to both Paul and any sympathy with the broader right-libertarian side.

      Exactly. Since the libertarian version of the Southern Strategy took place…

      Are you referring to the “fusionism” between paleolibertarians and the disaffected white conservatives cast aside to the fringe? Was that Rothbard and Buchanan?

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      • Well that was my point. There wasn’t a moment, but some people and some press outlets tried to spin it that way. They really did. This election was the time the Libertarian wing of the R’s was going to make their voice heard.

        Daddy Paul was always pretty cranky and came off as much paleo con as Lib. The younger Paul has a good press agent and some beltway cred. And of course sub 1% polling.

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        • Agreed there wasn’t a real moment. What there was were an absolute horde of conservatives with their jacket and coats caked in excrement at the end of the Bush admin in 2008 who needed a new coat and jacket… and there hanging on the right wing hook was the libertarian hat and jacket. Suddenly everyone on the right was running around in a libertarian hat and jacket and the media was like “ahh the libertarian moment has arrived” but of course under the surface the people were the same as they ever were.

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                • They like money and they like fossil fuels, but they also don’t like hating gay people, and the drug war and the surveillance state.

                  Now the fact that many of their contributions indirectly help those that like hating gay people and like the drug war and the surveilance state is problematic, but it doesn’t make them less libertarian. It just makes them ineffective libertarians.

                  (and they like all science except for that related to climate change and transportation planning)

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                  • Deliberately corrupting the government isn’t exactly what libertarians ought to say is on their side.
                    And wanting their own personal surveillance state is a little different than what most people mean by “I hate the government’s surveillance state”.

                    [I do know someone who used to work for them… so, I would say I’m not in any way shape or form unbiased here.]

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      • I think there were a lot of unholy marriages going on. I hadn’t heard the term “dog whistle” at the time (it might not even have been coined yet, not yet being necessary) but I was becoming less and less comfortable over time with both the tone and the message. It wasn’t exactly groupthink (you can’t get libertarians to do group anything, except maybe sex), but there was a self-reinforcing cycle: attract disaffected white guys, market more explicitly to disaffected white guys, attract more disaffected white guys…

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  3. As much as I like Rand, and I like him more than none at all, I think that his best role for the country is to be the perpetual Presidential Candidate, like Teddy Kennedy, and just be the guy who we know is going to run for President, be cranky during the debate, then come in 5th.

    I’d like him to do that for the next 40 years, please.

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      • Rand hasn’t bowed out yet.

        That said, the hoopla around him always was a bit fishy to me. He came out the gate marketing himself as a new formulae of libertarian, one who was acceptable to more mainstream GOP partisans. It seems to me like he picked a bad year to run as a libertarian who’s more amenable to the establishment. This is an antiestablishment year (on the right at least).

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        • That’s a good insight.

          Ironically, despite his four years of trying to make himself feasible to the Republican establishment in preparation for this run, his chances in this primary season might have been better if he were a more screw-em-all full-blown libertarian.

          The surprising strength of candidates like Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and Bernie Sanders suggests to me that we may be reaching that tipping point, where promising to burn the establishment to the ground is the foremost attribute voters are looking for.

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  4. I’d say it’s pretty early to be forcasting the end of the libertarian movement as a whole. It’s probably preliminary to even be predicting the end of libertarian lip-service by the GOP, it’s not like the conservatives have much in their ideological can beyond libertarianism.

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  5. The Ron Paul Revolution was never a libertarian movement. It was a bunch of low-information voters rallying around the most anti-establishment candidate without really understanding his agenda. And probably some single-issue anti-war voters.

    That’s not a knock on Ron Paul. He fought the good fight for decades in Congress, but that’s not why so many people supported him.

    This cycle, Trump and Sanders split the low-info anti-establishment voters along tribal lines, and Sanders gets the single-issue anti-war voters. The libertarian core is probably about the same electorally irrelevant size it’s always been.

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  6. Serious questions about the alt-right people at the end of the post:

    1. Who are they?

    2. Do they have a present and/or history of self-identifying as libertarians?

    In the larger picture, it seems to me that this post is trying to answer several questions at once. Separately, I would lay them out as:

    1. Why has Rand Paul not shown a serious ability to challenge for the Republican nomination?

    2. Why has Rand Paul not retained the support of many of Ron Paul’s supporters?

    3. Why have some Ron Paul supporters thrown their weight behind Trump?

    4. Why has Rand Paul not shown strong support among libertarians?

    The first is, I think, the least mysterious: since he emerged on the national stage as a Senate candidate, Rand has been a divisive figure among Republicans (as was his dad). You don’t win a nomination by being divisive.

    The second and third are pretty well answered by above. Trump is the new anti-establishment shiny, and Rand’s efforts to address problem #1 have only made him less likely to serve as the protest candidate du jour.

    The fourth is ultimately a result of Rand being a libertarian-leaning Republican rather than a Republican-leaning libertarian.

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    • To answer your question about these alt-right folks identifying as libertarians, the answer is yes. I mentioned the Right Stuff folks (a couple of guys who run that site) but didn’t link to the podcasts where they talk about it to avoid troll-bait. They, as well as some of the Alt Right and Counter Current writers have stated they developed out of the libertarian tendency towards Right Wing white nationalism.

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        • ?

          In Ron Paul’s case, it is clear he cultivated a lot of fringe elements that made up a core of his support. The whole “newsletter” episode being a rather glaring example.

          As for guilt by association, who am I smearing above? I thought I was pretty clear in saying that fringe portion of Ron Paul’s support just moved along to Trump when Rand Paul decided to go for a more mainstream audience.

          So I am not sure who you think i am guilting by association. Seems like Rand comes across pretty well having not caved into the conspiratorial elements of the Right.

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          • That doesn’t explain why you chose to frame this as a post about libertarianism as opposed to a post about the alt right’s flirtations with libertarianism.

            The idea that Ron and Rand Paul were eblamatic of some Libertarian Moment is itself the creation of a largely lazy political press, hungry for grand narratives to replace actual political reporting. Not tonsay that there weren’t Libertarians happy to capitalize.

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            • Seems to me I looked at the alt-right tendencies of the libertarian movement. Rather than “flirtations” as you mentioned, it seems a number of its followers were interested in things very different than flat taxes and weed legalization.

              Libertarians may not like the fact that the Paul family is linked so closely with their movement, but the reality is they are the most recognizable faces across of the philosophy in this country. You may dislike that and think the media should have focused on other elements of the “libertarian moment” but those leaders that galvanize people to go out and advocate for their causes do matter. Much less amorphous than some folks talking about libertarian politics on some forum.

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              • As a libertarian, I am somewhat thankful for the rise of the alt-right, or the neoreactionaries, or what have you.

                Not that I approve of their politics. Quite the opposite, in fact, and I’m just glad that they aren’t stinking up the tent anymore.

                They’ve dropped the libertarian label, which they never deserved anyway, and I recommend that you stop applying it to them as well.

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                • If they self-identify (or identified) as libertarian, surely it isn’t wrong to note said identity. I disagree with most of the socialists I know, but I also don’t think I can take their self-applied label away because they don’t share my brand of socialist thought.

                  This reminds me of another disagreement I had here about applying the “alt-right” description to these folks. Some complained that it is tarring the real alt-right by applying it to reactionaries. At the end of the day, I don’t see how it’s a problem to say “I am on the alternative Right, but I don’t agree with these lot who are in the broader ideological persuasion.” Since leaving the radical Left, I am less concerned with preserving the good name of some broad ideological idea. I’ll just let my words speak for themselves.

                  You appear to be affirming something that is clearly true: the reactionary right was a part of the libertarian movement. But you are also right to note that many of these folks no longer identify as such.

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                  • Actions speak louder than words. If some jackass wants to call himself a libertarian, and then actually be a reactionary, I’m not going to dignify him by ascribing any political beliefs to someone who is merely self-interested.

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                    • So if some reactionary said “I want the government to be abolished, and I want to build a white only community of self-advocating agents who will work together to build a functioning white state,” do they not count as libertarians? It seems to me that position is consistent with libertarianism, even if you don’t like the society they are building.

                      This conversation feels like the exact one I have all the time about people I know to be Spartacists or RevCom socialist types. They may suck, but they are still socialists, even if very far removed from Bernie Sanders.

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                      • No, they don’t (libertarians believe at least in enough of a military/police force…).

                        But enough about that, I happen to be talking about specific people (see my comment to Jason above) that I dislike a lot. Taking what I’m saying more generally is probably an overgeneralization.

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                      • “No true libertarian…”

                        The example touches upon a problem that turns up a lot in social science (especially polling): There will be, for instance, a small but somewhat consistent percentage of people in any reasonably large polling sample who will self-identify as “atheists,” but give answers to other questions that seem clearly to indicate belief in God, membership in a theistic religious community, and so on. The social scientist typically refuses to pass judgment on the authenticity of anyone’s “self-identification.” So, if I say that I believe Jesus Christ was the Son of God, died for our sins, and was resurrected into Eternal Life, and I’m a Buddhist, the pollster checks the Buddhist box. If I say I’m an atheist who believes in an all-powerful omniscient deity, then, for social scientific purposes I belong to that percentage of atheists who believe in God, a notion which seems absurd.

                        The problem is particularly salient for libertarianism due to seemingly irresolvable problems with the concept of “liberty” or “freedom.” I think most self-identified libertarians, and certainly as sophisticated a representative as Jason K, will have already put the question behind them in pursuit of a “practical-political libertarianism” or a viable libertarian praxis that from some ideal libertarian perspective will always and necessarily appear contradictory and compromised.

                        I’m not sure exactly how Jason negotiates the “at liberty to be a fascist-collectivist” problem that your example illustrates. In my view it’s not a trivial problem, however. It informs both the popular and higher level or theoretical critique of libertarianism, including all of the typical problems of either Paul.

                        There’s probably a (low circulation) book to be written on the other typical contradictions the quasi-libertarian or libertarianish Rand and Ron have both had to confront, and likely could never resolve, dealing with the less-libertarian right – establishment and alt – but I think it’s also worth noting that, though this discussion has for good reason mostly (apart from the SSM digression) focused on the problems of “right” libertarianism or pseudo-libertarianism, Draper’s “Libertarian Moment” was largely a moment of tentative left and libertarian convergence – which I think climaxed when ardent, mainly leftwing opponents of Obama security policy were cheering on Rand’s drone assassination filibuster, and which had first appeared on political radars when Bush security policy was falling apart politically, and, as recently noted at hearabouts in another context, led to the coinage of the term “liberaltarian.” I think, very indicatively, the ridicule and rejection of Rand’s attempt to reach out to African Americans pointed to the end.

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                        • #Panetta-Burns.
                          Not all polling agencies are as stupid as you think.
                          There are about 13% of people that will say yes even to the most idiotic thing, so long as it isn’t socially inappropriate (liking pedophiles, say…)

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                  • There remains a difference between “I think government should have much less power” and “You are unhappy because you are free.”

                    Just speaking for myself, but I’m inclined to think that that’s not a trivial distinction.

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                  • “If they self-identify (or identified) as libertarian, surely it isn’t wrong to note said identity.”

                    Is it important that Kim Davis was a registered Democrat when she went to jail for refusing to sign marriage certificates?

                    What does it say about Democrats in general?

                    If the answer is “nothing”, then why does it matter that someone horrible calls themself a libertarian?

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                    • In life, there are two great equalizers. Sheer force of Numbers and a huge pile of money.

                      When someone evil decides that they’re going to change what “libertarianism” means… That’s about when it matters.

                      [discl: of course I’m not an unbiased observer! see use of word evil above! ]

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  7. Pingback: Trump, Rand Paul,”Illuminati,” and Thanksgiving | in hope and darkness

  8. “All of the other candidates, including Rand Paul, are stand-ins for the interests of the oligarchs who operate American politics.”

    The fact that this sentence was uttered by someone who has chosen to support Donald Trump literally exploded my head.

    I’ll be cleaning up the mess now. See ya’ll later.

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  9. CK MacLeod:
    If I say I’m an atheist who believes in an all-powerful omniscient deity, then, for social scientific purposes I belong to that percentage of atheists who believe in God, a notion which seems absurd.

    It’s the limitation of having to partition a continuous space into discrete buckets. For example, me – I am somewhere between a deist and panentheist, so I generally identify as an atheist because I have no use for organized religion, but I can’t actually say from the heart that I reject the notion of Deity. Depending on how the question was phrased, I might have to answer it as an atheist who believes in God. Not particularly likely, but possible.

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