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Americans Starting to Lose Faith in Centralized Power

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use by Alice Salles Comments are off

Americans Starting to Lose Faith in Centralized Power

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

If you are mostly accustomed to getting your news from established TV and news sources, you might not know that a new poll suggests that most Americans have lost faith in how the media covers politics in the country. But if you have been paying attention, you probably agree with them.

PeopleA poll carried out by Suffolk University and the USA Today asked individuals “who do you think the media, including major newspapers and TV stations, would like to see elected president: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?” While the question itself could have been presented differently, taking into consideration the fact that, traditionally, the job of the news reporter is to be unbiased and faithful to facts, the fact 75.9 percent of respondents said they believe the established media wants to see the Democratic candidate win proves they know that cronyism has taken over.

According to the poll, most of those who responded believe that the media is overwhelmingly in favor of one presidential candidate, discarding not only the choice of the second most established party, but also both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party candidates.

That brings us to the realization that, as individuals begin to notice the subjects playing a role in the U.S. presidential elections are also partly responsible for influencing our decisions, they also realize that our central government is filled with individuals who have made their way to the top under far from ideal circumstances.

Instead of living by principles and the idea that they represent those who have elected them, these politicians only hold promises to those who have bankrolled their campaigns.

The “pay to play” scheme, after all, is not only a reality among clusters of politicians who are being eviscerated by those paying attention. It’s also a reality wherever a centralized form of government is in place.

Centralization of power is, at the end of the day, the right environment for corruption to thrive.

In Human Action, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises writes that “there is no such thing as a just and fair method of exercising the tremendous power that interventionism puts into the hands of the legislature and the executive,” explaining that, in “many fields of the administration of interventionist measures, favoritism simply cannot be avoided.”

As interventionism remains an innate part of governing, what we, libertarians, can take away from this recent poll is that the access to information provided by an open wide web of ideas, such as the Internet, has helped us understand these powerful alliances, seeing their result right before our eyes on a regular basis.

People are no longer going along quietly. And that’s why we should be celebrating.

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

in Education, Elections and Politics, First Amendment, Freedom On Campus, Liberator Online by Chloe Anagnos Comments are off

Fear Shouldn’t Dictate Action

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In the last year, dozens of student protests on college campuses have called for everything from supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement to demanding that school administrators address microaggressions on campus. From Mizzou to Yale University and Occidental College, these
demands have garnered national attention.

ClevelandBut one of the most recent incidents that happened on a college campus? A “safe space” that was provided by Case Western Reserve University in order to “assist those psychologically or physically traumatized by the prospect of Republicans being in Cleveland and giving speeches,” that hardly anyone utilized.

Located a few miles from where the Republican National Convention was held, the university made a statement in The Daily, that the private school’s Social Justice Institute “will host a ‘safe space’” in the basement of Crawford Hall for the duration of the convention.

“After extensive consultation among our leadership team and discussions in last week’s open forums, we have decided that the university will reduce its on-campus operations significantly from Monday, July 18, through the close of the convention Thursday, July 21,” the statement explained.

Classes were cancelled or moved off campus. Essentially, faculty, staff, and students were told to take the week off. The statement also reminded students that University Counseling Services would “continue to offer walk-in services for students who want to talk with someone about their concerns related to recent events and/or the upcoming convention.”

According to The College Fix, Case Western closed down most of that week because it allowed hundreds of police officers to stay in their residence halls for the duration of the RNC. (And that made a few groups very unhappy.)

“Recent events” in the university’s statement must have referred to the number of altercations between police officers and civilians this summer. The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and officers in Baton Rouge and Dallas have had this country on edge. Protests leading up to and during the Republican National Convention were expected to be large and violent, but according to The Washington Post, they were small and uneventful.

It’s understandable that the university wanted to look out for the safety of faculty, staff, and students. But as an institution of higher education, isn’t it important to teach young people that fear should never win or dictate action?

Instead of using current events as a teachable moment, the “better safe than sorry” mentality only succeeded in drawing attention away from what was really important for students – their education.

Prepare to Meet the New Republican Leaders; Same as the Old Republican Leaders

in Conservatism, Elections and Politics, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In an unexpected move, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, announced on Friday that he would resign his post and leave Congress at the end of October. His resignation came at a time when conservative members of the lower chamber were waging an internal battle to strip funding for Planned Parenthood, a women’s healthcare provider that performs abortions, which could’ve resulted in a government shutdown.

Boehner has long been a target of conservatives in the Republican Party who feel that he is disconnected from or doesn’t care about the concerns of the base. In January, at the start of the new Congress, 25 Republicans cast protest votes against Boehner, nearly throwing the election of the Speaker into a second round of voting.

“My mission every day is to fight for a smaller, less costly, and more accountable government. Over the last five years, our majority has advanced conservative reforms that will help our children and their children. I am proud of what we have accomplished,” Boehner said on Friday. “The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love. It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House.”

“It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30,” he added.

Jockeying for position in the House Republican Conference began before Boehner resigned. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., had introduced a resolution to vacate the Office of the Speaker before the August recess. Although the resolution wasn’t expected to get even a hearing, a motion from the floor could’ve been raised at any time and a vote would’ve been required. It was unclear if Boehner would’ve survived without Democratic support.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., was thought to be Boehner’s heir apparent before the resignation, and not much has changed. Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., the former Speaker of the Florida House, has announced that he’ll run as a conservative alternative, but no one believes he’ll mount a serious challenge.

The real race will be to replace McCarthy as Majority Leader. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., announced his bid for the top partisan post, as has House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga. Both are typically viewed as more conservative members of the House Republican Conference, but Price is likely to attract the most support from that wing of the party.

Still, don’t expect much to change with the new leadership team. Unless there is a serious about face on spending, civil liberties, and other big government policies that contradict the Republican Party’s supposedly limited government platform, the new House leadership will be the same as the old: Stale and weak.

Lawsuit Challenging the Exclusion of Qualified Candidates from Presidential Debates is Filed in Washington, DC

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Brett Bittner Comments are off

Lawsuit Challenging the Exclusion of Qualified Candidates from Presidential Debates is Filed in Washington, DC

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

2012 presidential candidates Gov. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, along with the Libertarian and Green parties and their vice-presidential candidates, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, DC, today charging that the exclusion of qualified candidates from the general election presidential debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) violates federal anti-trust laws.

The lawsuit is funded by the Our America Initiative, a not-for-profit advocacy organization, through their Fair Debates project, https://www.fairdebates.com. It was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Our America Initiative’s attorney Bruce Fein, who served as Associate Deputy Attorney General and General Counsel to the Federal Communications Commission under the Reagan Administration.

presidential debatesThe legal challenge maintains that the Commission on Presidential Debates, a private 501©(3) organization created in 1987 by the Republican and Democratic national parties, intentionally limits participation in the nationally-televised debates to the Democrat and Republican nominees – placing other national party nominees at an unfair disadvantage. According to the complaint, other candidates are excluded by imposing arbitrary polling criteria, and the possibility of additional nationally-televised debates being sponsored by anyone other than the CPD is eliminated by agreements among the CPD and the two major party nominees forbidding participation in other debates or joint appearances.

The proposed remedy is that the debates include all candidates who are legally qualified to serve and whose names appear on enough states’ ballots to potentially secure a majority in the Electoral College.  In 2012, that threshold would have allowed participation, in addition to President Obama and Mitt Romney, by the Libertarian nominee Gov. Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, as well as the two parties’ vice-presidential nominees.

Announcing the filing of the complaint, Our America Initiative Senior Advisor Ron Nielson stated, “A majority of Americans today do not believe that either the Republican or Democratic parties represents them. Yet, through the Commission on Presidential Debates, the two major parties have seized and maintained control over the televised debates voters see every four years, and have gone to great lengths to insure that no candidates other than their own have the opportunity to appear on the debate stage. This lawsuit seeks to change that, and give the American people a chance to see that there are other real choices.”

The Good and the Bad of Donald Trump’s White Paper on Guns

in Elections and Politics, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

The Good and the Bad of Donald Trump’s White Paper on Guns

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has shifted away from his previous support of some gun control policies, including longer waiting periods and a ban on “assault weapons.” Although his campaign is general devoid of any meaningful or specifics on policy, Trump released a white paper last week that offers support for the Second Amendment.

AK47

The white paper opposes restrictions on firearms, such as “assault weapons,” that are usually targeted by the anti-gun left. But this is a departure for Trump, who, in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, expressed support for a ban on this type of firearm.

“The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions,” Trump wrote. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” (Emphasis added.) Trump was, at the time, considering a bid for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination.

Today, Trump, as he does on many different issues, sings a different tune. “Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons’, ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans,” Trump’s white paper states. “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”

He opposes expanded background checks and supports allowing the military to carry weapons on base and at recruiting centers. In the months after the Newtown tragedy, conservatives resisted a failed attempt to expand background checks, which wouldn’t have stopped that particular incident from occurring, and, after the recent shooting at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, have expressed support for allowing recruiters to carry weapons on the job.

One particular policy proposed by Trump is likely to strongly appeal to conservatives. He supports “national right to carry,” which would make concealed carry permits valid in every state and the District of Columbia, much like a driver’s license. “A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state,” Trump says. “If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”

While this policy is attractive and worth of support – and at least three pieces of legislation have been introduced in the current Congress to achieve that goal – one aspect of Trump’s white paper is particularly troubling. He expresses support for a little known federal program, known as “Project Exile,” that existed in Richmond, Virginia in the 1990s.

“Several years ago there was a tremendous program in Richmond, Virginia called Project Exile. It said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, you will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years – no parole or early release. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, called that a ‘cookie cutter’ program. That’s ridiculous. I call that program a success,” the white paper states. “Murders committed with guns in Richmond decreased by over 60% when Project Exile was in place – in the first two years of the program alone, 350 armed felons were taken off the street.”

From 1993 to 2010, violent crime fell across the United States. The Pew Research Center found that the gun homicide rate fell by 49 percent from its peak level in 1993 and the victimization rate for other violent crimes committed with firearms, including rape, dropped by 75 percent.

“Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s,” Pew noted, “the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. “ Theories on what caused the decline in crime rates vary, but economist Steven Levitt, known for the best-selling book, Freakonomics, has written that changes in policing strategies and gun control didn’t have much of an impact.

Project Exile was a federal program created in 1997 that targeted felons in possession of firearms. It brought these cases to federal court, where offenders faced a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Trump’s praise of Project Exile may be misguided. A 2003 study called into question its effectiveness as a deterrent to violent crime. “Despite this widespread acclaim, some skeptics have questioned the effectiveness of Project Exile, pointing out that homicides increased in Richmond in the last ten months of 1997 following the program’s announcement,” the authors explained. “In fact, the Richmond homicide rate increased by 40 percent between 1996 and 1997.”

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who represents part of Richmond and the surrounding area, blasted Project Exile in a speech on the House floor in April 2000. “The mandatory minimums associated with Project Exile show no better results. The proponents suggest that the violent crime rate has gone down 39 percent in the city of Richmond under Project Exile,” Scott said. “At the same time it went down 43 percent in Norfolk, 58 percent in Virginia Beach and 81 percent in Chesapeake without Project Exile.”

Trump’s white paper may offer a good idea, national right to carry, combined with fluff in contradiction to his previous statements, but programs like Project Exile are bad policy that are better handled under state law. What’s more, it defies logic. Violent crime is at its lowest point in the last couple decades. Unfortunately, the politics of fear are politicians need to succeed to win support from people who simply don’t know better.

The Religious Test Clause and Muslims

in Conservatism, Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

The Religious Test Clause and Muslims

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Ben Carson raised more than a few eyebrows on Sunday when he said that a Muslim should never be considered for the presidency. The retired neurosurgeon and Republican presidential hopeful was responding to a question from Meet the Press host Chuck Todd when he made the Islamophobic comment.

“Should a president’s faith matter? Should your faith matter to voters?” Todd asked Carson.

“Well, I guess it depends on what that faith is. If it’s inconsistent with the values and principles of America, then of course it should matter,” Carson replied. “But if it fits within the realm of America and consistent with the Constitution, no problem.”

Todd followed up by asking Carson if he believes Islam is consistent with the Constitution. Carson didn’t hesitate. “No, I do not,” he said. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” He did say, however, that he would consider voting for a Muslim for Congress, which he said is a “different story,” if he agreed with their policies.

Carson is among the presidential candidates who have made railing against Islam a frequent theme of their campaigns. This rhetoric may appeal a part of the Republican Party’s ultra-conservative base, but it’s disappointing to hear coming from anyone with a large following.

Of course Carson is free to set his own criteria for voting for a candidate. Every voter has that right, and some did against the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon. But let’s be clear here, Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution states: “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” (Emphasis added.)

The framers of the Constitution had their reasons for adding the language. “First, various Christian sects feared that, if any test were permitted, one might be designed to their disadvantage. No single sect could hope to dominate national councils. But any sect could imagine itself the victim of a combination of the others,” Gerard Bradley explains. “More importantly, the Framers sought a structure that would not exclude some of the best minds and the least parochial personalities to serve the national government.”

Any suggestion that a candidate for federal office should be subjected to a religious test should is itself inconsistent with the Constitution. And, no, “but Sharia law” isn’t a valid response. It’s a half-cocked conspiracy theory, but that’s what passes for political and policy discussion today in the United States, at least in some circles.

Really, Almost Most Everyone in Congress Should be Thrown Out of Office

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

Really, Almost Most Everyone in Congress Should be Thrown Out of Office

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

On Tuesday, surprisingly, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., filed a resolution to declare the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives vacant, which, he said, is meant to serve an expression of dissatisfaction with Republican leadership in the lower chamber.

Congress“It’s really more about trying to have a conversation about making this place work,” Meadows said, “where everybody’s voice matters, where it’s not a punitive culture.”

H. Res. 385, which is non-privileged, has absolutely no chance of passage in the normal legislative process. It would never get out of committee, for example. Republican leaders would never allow that to happen. Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, against whom the resolution is directed, dismissed the tactic at a press conference on Wednesday.

There is another way, however. Meadows or any other member of the House could make a privileged motion from the floor, however, which would require a vote within 48 hours. Considering that 29 Republicans voted against Boehner in the election for Speaker in January, it’s quite possible that a few defections, provided the original group sticks together, could throw House Republicans in turmoil.

H. Res. 385 is a strongly worded condemnation of Boehner’s tenure as Speaker, which began in January 2011, listening several infractions that necessitate removal. “Whereas the Speaker has, through inaction, caused the power of Congress to atrophy, thereby making Congress subservient to the executive and judicial branches, diminishing the voice of the American people,” the resolution states. “Whereas the Speaker uses the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker.”

“Whereas the Speaker uses the legislative calendar to create crises for the American people, in order to compel Members to vote for legislation,” the resolution continues. “Whereas the Speaker does not comply with the spirit of the rules of the House of Representatives, which provide that Members shall have three days to review legislation before voting,” it adds before declaring the office of the Speaker vacant.

Still, the resolution, whatever Meadows meant by it, does make one think. Boehner’s lack of respect for process or the strong-arming of members may bother the North Carolina Republican, but let’s go further. Most on Capitol Hill, regardless of party, have little regard for the rules and limitations on the federal government defined in the Constitution or the individual liberties protected by the Bill of Rights.

Really, why stop at Boehner? That’s not a knock against Meadows. His complaints are about the process by which the House is run, and they are entirely valid and worthy of discussion.

Looking at the bigger picture, there may be a handful of members who’ve stayed true to their oaths of office. Others have passed laws to spy on Americans, expand government to impose mandates on states and the American people, created a fourth branch of government – the regulatory state – that promulgated rules that were never approved by lawmakers, and plunged the nation further and further into debt by doling out money for programs that are blatantly unconstitutional.

For too long, Americans have allowed politicians to scare us with crises – including the Great Depression, World War II, and the War on Terror. “Don’t just stand there, do something!” we cry, while the great document that protects or liberties from government is erased word by word. We’ve signed our liberties away in favor of purported economic and national security.

Of course, no member of Congress is going to thrown his or herself out of office, but we do have a serious problem in the United States. It doesn’t begin or end with Boehner. Ultimately, it begins with “We the People.” It’s truly a sad state of affairs.

#TRUMPED

in Elections and Politics, From Me To You, Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

#TRUMPED

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

He leads the polls among Republicans seeking the 2016 Presidential nomination.

He insulted a previous Republican nominee for that office and refused to apologize.

He even gave out another candidate’s personal cell phone number at a rally in that candidate’s home state.

To whom am I referring?

Donald TrumpDonald Trump. A businessman, a real estate mogul, a television personality, and, right now, the man who is DOMINATING the political news with his “boisterous personality.”

He made inflammatory statements about our southern neighbors and Mexican immigrants. He flaunted his immense wealth in a complaint about financial reporting. One national news outlet publicly relegated their coverage of him to the Entertainment section, rather than Politics.

His campaign style can only be described as a brash, insulting spectacle.

Trump is also a political enigma that stymies the traditional candidates, as they ponder whether to rush to be more like him to get their faces on television or to distance themselves from him.

Regardless of these things and his political positions (or lack thereof), Trump captivates the American public today.

He does that on style alone.

In an era where word choice, tone, and even tie color are polled and run by focus groups, he is the opposite. He is a candidate that seems to have no filter.

Americans are DESPERATE for something different from the traditionally bland selection of Governors, Senators, and Congressmen that seek the Presidency. Take a look at the campaigns of Herman Cain (2012), Dr. Ben Carson (2016), and Carly Fiorina (2016), none of whom brought with them any prior political experience in elected office.

Today, voters get that with Donald Trump. They also get flamboyance, cash, and a penchant for saying things that others would never dare say. Couple that with the desperation for something DIFFERENT, and he easily pushed to the front of a crowded field of Republicans.

Does he talk about meaningful issues? Or are people just enamored by his celebrity, his insults, and his ability to grab their attention?

Is he really a part of the debate? Or is the spectacle just something to watch?

What happens when people take a closer look? I think we all remember the media scrutiny with the also-rans in 2012 after their moment in the sun.

Do the voters really want another wealthy elite, albeit from the beneficiary side of Big Government, in charge? Maybe a better question is, will Trump’s still undefined political positions resonate with voters once the shine of his splashy entrance dulls and fades?

Maybe one of these days, someone who isn’t part of “the club” will get a chance to talk about the real issues we face and how freedom, rather that Big Government, is the catalyst to our return to peace, prosperity, and the republic the Founders envisioned.

I look forward to that day.

New Poll Shows Libertarians Represent One-Fifth of Voters

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

New Poll Shows Libertarians Represent One-Fifth of Voters

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

In August, The New York Times ran a piece proclaiming that the United States’ political landscape was in the in the midst of a “libertarian moment.” The narrative may have focused some on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and his strong libertarian leanings, but the story told was much deeper and, perhaps, a sign of a generational shift in American politics.

Still, some view the “libertarian moment” as a blip on radar. Old narratives, such as the stale left-right political paradigm, are repeated on television and talk radio shows by the pundit class, who are ignorant to changing attitudes and growing discontent with increasingly irrelevant political institutions.

Poll

Over the last several years, polling firms have tried to make sense of the rise of libertarians. In 2006, David Boaz and David Kirby of the Cato Institute analyzed polling data and found that 9 percent to 14 percent of the voting public held libertarian views. These voters, the authors suggested, were fiercely independent, and frustrated by the growth of government under President George W. Bush.

Boaz and Kirby released follow-ups to their 2006 report in 2010 and 2012, with occasional analyses of polling data mixed in between. Kirby and Emily Ekins of the Reason Foundation also released a thoughtful look at the roots of the Tea Party movement in 2012, finding a strong libertarian streak.

Although there is no looming libertarian takeover of the United States, subscribers to the philosophy find themselves gaining more influence, according to a recently released Reuters survey. In particular, the data show millennials – those between the ages of 18 and 29 – more likely to label themselves as libertarians.

“One in five Americans consider themselves libertarian, with younger adults being the most likely to adopt the label,” Reuters noted. “Among adults aged 18 to 29, 32 percent consider themselves libertarian. Just 12 percent of Americans age 60 or older consider themselves libertarian.”

Surprisingly, 22 percent of self-identified libertarians are Democrats to only 19 percent are Republicans, while 25 percent are politically independent.

It may be too early to draw any conclusions about what the data suggest, but it’s becoming clear that libertarians are becoming a subset of the body politic that is difficult for the political class to ignore. Those who do may be doing so at their own peril.

For libertarians, it’s crucial not to misread this growing trend. Influencing policy debates through responsible activism and well-messaged education are the best courses of action, at least for now.

The Libertarian Vote: How Big Is It?

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Activist Ammunition section in Volume 20, No. 14 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Now that Rand Paul has officially announced he is seeking the presidency, attention is being focused on the libertarian voting bloc. Just how big is it? How many libertarian-minded voters are out there?

The answer may surprise you.

First, it’s important to note that “libertarian voter” doesn’t necessarily mean a voter who meets the stricter definition of a libertarian, i.e., someone who consistently opposes the initiation of force. Rather, it refers to someone who would be inclined to vote for a libertarian candidate in an election. Someone who is more supportive of libertarian ideas than liberal, conservative, statist or centrist ideas.

Different organizations have used different methods to determine the size of this libertarian bloc. And they’ve come up with some pretty consistent estimates.

* For 20 years Gallup’s annual Governance Survey has divided voters into liberal, conservative, libertarian, or populist, based on their answers to two questions:

  1. “Some people think the government is trying to do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses. Others think that government should do more to solve our country’s problems. Which comes closer to your own view?”
  2. “Some people think the government should promote traditional values in our society. Others think the government should not favor any particular set of values. Which comes closer to your own view?”


In their 2014 survey Gallup classified 24% of respondents as libertarian (with 27% conservative, 21% liberal, and 18% populist). This is hardly a rigorous political litmus test, but it may well help single out voters who might be sympathetic to libertarianism.

  • The Cato Institute’s David Boaz has done a lot of work on this over the years, including an important 2012 book (with David Kirby Emily Ekins) that summarizes numerous polls by Cato and others on the topic: The Libertarian Vote: Swing Voters, Tea Parties, and the Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal Center.
    They conclude that, depending on the criteria used, roughly 15-18% of voters can be classified as “libertarian voters.”
  • A 2006 Zogby poll, commissioned by Cato, found surprising results. Zogby asked half of a group of 1,012 people who had voted in the 2006 election: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal?” Fully 59% of the respondents said “yes.”
    Zogby asked the other half a more challenging question: “Would you describe yourself as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian?” A surprising 44% of respondents — representing 100 million Americans — answered “yes” to that question, thus self-identifying as libertarians. This is obviously higher than the number of true libertarians in America, but certainly it at least indicates that millions of people are open to these ideas and this label.
  • Finally, here’s an often-overlooked but remarkable finding — based on the Advocates’ World’s Smallest Political Quiz. In August 2000 Rasmussen gave the World’s Smallest Political Quiz to nearly 1,000 representative American voters. The Quiz is a far more rigorous test of one’s libertarian leanings than “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” or other looser definitions used by polling firms. Yet fully 16% scored in the libertarian sector then — a figure closely matching to the other estimates we’ve cited.

What can we conclude? While the numbers and the criteria in these studies vary, at the very least there is broad agreement on a figure between 15% to 20%. That’s 30 to 40 million voters — a huge, and growing, voting bloc that could easily swing an election.

Add to this the additional millions on the left, right, and center who may vote for a libertarian-leaning candidate who stresses issues of great importance to them — such as a more peaceful foreign policy, marijuana re-legalization, slashing taxes, and reforming the out-of-control surveillance state.

Which brings us back to Rand Paul’s presidential run announcement. Rand Paul doesn’t claim to be a libertarian. He has described himself as “libertarian-ish” and in 2013 told Sean Hannity “I use the term constitutional conservative, but I also use the term libertarian conservative. … I accept all of those terms if they mean they believe in limited government and more individual liberty.”

But he is certainly the most libertarian-inclined presidential candidate — outside the Libertarian Party — in memory. Cato’s Boaz notes in TIME what may well be the most important thing to come out of a Rand Paul campaign:

“One result of his campaign will be to help those tens of millions of libertarian-leaning Americans to discover that their political attitudes have a name, which will make for a stronger and more influential political faction. … Libertarianism is the framework for a future of freedom, growth, and progress, and it may be on the verge of a political breakout.”

Libertarian Candidates Pledge: Abolish the Income Tax

in Drugs, Economic Liberty, Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarian Party, Libertarian Stances on Issues, Libertarianism, Military, Taxes by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Scores of Libertarian Party candidates for federal office have pledged to downsize the Abolish The IRSbloated federal government — in these big and specific ways:

  • Eliminate the federal income tax
  • End the War on Drugs
  • Abolish the NSA
  • Cut military spending by 60%

We’ll be examining those pledges in detail below and in the next few issues, because they show that these bold-sounding proposals are not only possible, but practical and beneficial. (Of course, you can jump ahead and read about all four positions right now.)

First, eliminating the hated federal income tax. The candidates pledge: “If elected, I will sponsor legislation to eliminate the federal income tax, cut federal spending to the 1998 level ($1.65 trillion), and get the IRS off the backs of taxpayers.”

(Yes, that’s right: government has grown so rapidly in recent times that if you cut spending to 1998 levels — the Clinton era of huge government — you could eliminate the federal income tax.)

Here are the benefits of eliminating the income tax, according to the Libertarians:

  • Immediately balances the budget — without raising taxes.
  • Gives back, on average, $11,525 to each American family — every year — that they can invest, save, spend, or give away as they see fit.
  • Pours $1.4 trillion into the productive, private-sector economy, stimulating massive investment in small businesses and creating tens of millions of new private-sector jobs.
  • Stops the devaluation of the dollar and stabilizes prices, preserving American wealth.
  • Forces politicians to eliminate destructive federal programs, regulations, and bureaucracies that do more harm than good. Examples include: stifling business regulations, the prohibition of marijuana, unnecessary foreign wars, and thousands of frivolous projects best left to the private sector (e.g., promoting the Hawaiian Chocolate Festival).
  • Creates a boom in charitable giving. Trillions of dollars back in the hands of American taxpayers enables them to take care of others in need through their churches and private charities, and by giving directly to help friends, family, and community members in need.
  • Eliminates wasteful bookkeeping needed to comply with IRS tax filings and audits, saving Americans 6 billion hours of their precious time and up to $378 billion in accounting costs — every year.
  • Aborts the Democrats’ and Republicans’ plan to add another $5 trillion over the next eight years to the already perilously high $17 trillion federal government debt, sparing future generations from footing a bill they played no part in creating.
  • Frees up billions of dollars for Americans to spend on music, entertainment, crafts, and the arts, enabling talented individuals — now unemployed or working in jobs they don’t like — to do what they love for a living.
  • Forces politicians to eliminate government waste.
  • Stops the growth in the interest due on the federal debt, now at $237 billion per year. This will help minimize this expense if interest rates ever rise, which is likely.
  • Restores America’s reputation as the envy of the world, demonstrating that the American experiment of free, unfettered trade creates prosperity and alleviates poverty. This sets an example for poor countries, helping them rise from hardship to abundance.

 

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Joe Biden: Impeach the President If He Goes to War Without Congressional Approval

in Elections and Politics, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, War by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 15 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Joe BidenIn a bold move, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has declared it would be unconstitutional for the president to go to war without consulting Congress.

Further, Biden has pledged to demand the president’s impeachment should he do so.

Said Biden: “I want to make it clear and I made it clear to the president, if he takes this nation to war… without congressional approval — I will make it my business to impeach him.”

The vice president — who has taught constitutional law at the university level — elaborated on his views in this statement: “It is precisely because the consequences of war — intended or otherwise — can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

“The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to war… without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

“I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

“I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first. ”

The only problem… those remarks were made in 2007 and 2008. When Biden was running for president. Before he was elected vice president of the U.S.

For that matter, then-Senator Barack Obama agreed with him. In 2008 Obama told the Boston Globe: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

Funny how being in the White House changes things.

(Hat tip to Andrew Kaczynski, BuzzFeed.com)

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Libertarian Party Voter Registration Increases 11% As Republicans, Democrats Wane

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarian Party by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 7 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Voter registration in the Republican and Democratic parties has decreased significantly in recent years.

Libertarian Party LogoHowever, according to American’s leading ballot access expert Richard Winger, Libertarian Party voter registration in the U.S. is growing — by a whopping 11.4% since late 2012.

According to Winger, the most recent figures available from state governments show 368,561 registered Libertarians in March of 2014, compared to 330,811 in November of 2012.

That’s from the 30 states that, along with the District of Columbia, allow voters to include a party affiliation with their voter registration.

Libertarian Party Chair Geoffrey Neale was, naturally enough, pleased. “I think it’s great that Libertarian registration is increasing throughout America, while the Democrats and Republicans have been shrinking,” he said in a media release. “Maybe it’s our across-the-board message of ‘more freedom, less government.’”

The states with the largest percent increases were Idaho (161% increase), Wyoming (68% increase), Nebraska (55% increase), and Louisiana (33% increase).

The surge comes after the 2012 election season in which Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson won a record 1.276 million votes, double the 2008 vote. In total, 2012 Libertarian Party candidates received nearly 16 million votes nationwide, and set new records in several categories.

Campaign Expert: A Libertarian President — Sooner Than You Think

in Elections and Politics, Liberator Online, Libertarianism by James W. Harris Comments are off

(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 19, No. 4 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Good news! Libertarianism is spreading fast, especially among the young. As a result, we may see a libertarian president — a lot sooner than we might think.

That’s the startling but fact-based opinion of highly-respected Democratic presidential campaign expert Joe Trippi. Trippi has long been a leading figure in Democratic presidential politics, He was manager of the innovative, Internet-savvy 2004 presidential campaign of Vermont governor Howard Dean, and he has worked on the campaigns of Edward Kennedy, Walter Mondale, Gary Hart, Dick Gephardt, Jerry Brown and most recently John Edwards. He has also worked on numerous other campaigns both in America and abroad.

Trippi made his startling prediction in an interview with Reason TV’s Todd Krainin.

“The younger generation is probably the most libertarian and sort of tolerant, and has more libertarian values, I’d say, than any generation in American history,” Trippi told Reason TV.

Trippi notes that libertarians are strongly aligned with young voters on issues that liberals and conservatives in the major parties won’t address — such as legalizing marijuana and other drugs, and opposing NSA spying, drone killings, and other constitutionally-questionable policies.

This creates a golden opportunity for a savvy libertarian. Trippi thinks a candidate such as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) could run — and win — the Republican Party nomination, in a move that could revolutionize the GOP’s ideological identify.

“[Rand Paul] is so far the likely embodiment of who’s going to raise the flag and take the hill,” says Trippi. “And I think [he] has a real shot at taking [the GOP nomination].”

Winning the general election as a libertarian Republican would be difficult, Trippi acknowledges, though not impossible. However, there is another newly-viable route. Trippi says it is virtually inevitable that we will soon see a candidate running as an independent, outside the party system entirely, with a significant chance to win.

Independent campaigns have more potential power for success than ever before, he says. The Internet, Trippi notes, is increasingly making political parties and traditional fundraising methods obsolete. Further, surveys indicate that voters are disgusted with both parties.

Libertarians are poised more than any other political group to take advantage of this new post-party political world, and by running as an independent such a candidate could appeal to voters of both parties who might prefer libertarian ideas to those being offered by Establishment Democrats and Republicans. He also predicts we will soon see more independent candidates in Congress.

Read Reason’s summary of their interview with Trippi here. At that same site you can see a video of the entire 22-minute interview with Trippi.