Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Libertarians Rising: The 2007 Annual Report of the Libertarian Party

I received the annual report of the Libertarian Party in the mail a few weeks ago and read it. It is entitled Libertarians Rising: The 2007 Annual Report of the Libertarian Party. The report starts:

"Never before has the mood of the American electorate been so negative to the two-party system..."

As well, it points out that President Bush's approval rating is among the lowest in history, and Congress's is worse.

Interestingly, Bob Barr, the Republican Congressman who was involved in the Clinton impeachment about ten years ago, is now the Region 4 Representative of the Libertarian Party. Barr reports that Privacy International ranks the United States along with China, Russia, Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia and the UK as "endemic surveillance societies".

I don't really see privacy as a crucial issue. Much of the increase in surveillance is probably targeted at terrorism suspects. The report omits that consideration. The report also omits any plan or coherent strategy for dealing with terrorism. Why bother with reality when you get 2% of the vote? It's more fun to talk about the grave risk due to training firefighters as spies than it is to think carefully about how to fight terrorism.

The report terms the war in Iraq a "disaster". It states:

"There is no doubt that a free and stable Iraq is something from which the world would benefit. However, as Libertarians we believe there are other ways to achieve this goal...So we continue to lose America's finest young men and women in a war that should never have been started..."

I would have preferred to hear a coherent anti-terrorism strategy that is consistent with Libertarian principles. The Libertarians oppose surveillance and oppose the War in Iraq but do not suggest how to eliminate further terrorist attacks, which have not occurred on US soil in seven years. From the 1990s to 2001 there were several terrorist attacks, namely, the World Trade Center I, the Cole, the African Embassy, 9/11. Since 2003 there have been no attacks. The Libertarians not only do not ponder this. They do not discuss any approach to dealing with terrorism.

I do, however, like the LP's position on the national debt. The report notes that:

"2007 saw the national debt reach an all-time record of $9 was reached during a time when the Republican Party, the party that used to at least pay lip service to fiscal conservatism, was in power. As William Redpath, National Chairman of the Libertarian Party put it: The fact that the national debt has risen by more than 800 percent in an era dominated by Republican presidents will be the obituary of fiscal conservatism in the Republican Party."

I happen to agree with Mr. Redpath. I think that the Republican Party has repudiated fiscal conservatism. Unless it does a 180 degree turn and reverse the spending it has initiated in the past 27 years, it has to be known as the biggest government party, although when compared to the Democrats they are "biggest" in the same sense as the McDonald's specialr special: the Republicans are the biggest spenders and the Democrats are the supersized biggest spenders.

The report notes that Congress has illegalized the incandescent light bulb by 2014. The replacements, compact flourescent bulbs, cost six times as much. I agree that this is an inappropriate incursion into private decision making.

The LP notes that its membership has increased 28 percent in 2007. Given the Republican Party's abandonment of limited government rhetoric, this is not surprising. However, there is always the prospect of either of the current Democratic candidates' being elected. What a pleasant thought.

The report ponts out that "59 percent of Americans describe themselves as fiscally conservative and socially liberal." The LP might ask itself why, given this percentage, its vote count is usually around 2%. Perhaps an ounce of reality is worth an additional percentage point of the vote, and a pound might put them in the running.

The report is optimistic. They will be on the ballot in 2008 in at least 48 states. In Texas, 210 Libertarian candidates are running. The LP will hold its convention in Denver in May 2008.

But I won't be there. I attended the 1980 LP convention in Los Angeles when I lived there. I support much that the LP has to say, but they lack realistic defense, counter-terrorism and foreign policies. Also, the LP's cliquishness is a turn-off. I have been told that many of the rank and file believe that the US government was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. This sort of fringe, crackpot element has a loud voice in the LP. They need to focus on a few issues and leave group-think to academics and theology to pastors, priests and rabbis.

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