Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Why Do Democrats Hate Libertarians?

Tristero has me wondering whether there is any room for libertarianism in the Democratic Party:

Tristero seems to suggest that Democrats should woo libertarian votes, but only as a cynical ploy:

“If this kind of relabeling helps attract more voters, I'm all for it. Nevertheless, actual libertarianism - with its radical emphasis on the elimination of government regulation, coupled with a frankly naive attitude towards the obvious potential for such policies when implemented to create a profoundly illiberal society - remains a political philosophy which most liberal Democrats will find rather unhelpful. "

Some of the statements of the commentariat in this post and the previous post Tristero refers to make me think that libertarians are decidedly unwelcome in the Democratic Party. I was taken aback by the depth of the contempt and the complete misapprehension of libertarian ideas. This commenter, for example, equates libertarianism with authoritarianism in a series of logical gyrations that would not be out of place in the Cirque du Soleil:

"A libertarian is often someone who wants the power we now delegate to "government" to be concentrated in his own self. And it really is a power issue. But watch out. Once that libertarian actually has the power of government, s/he is likely to turn into quite the little authoritarian/totalitarian. The other thing is that to many libertarians, the "underlying problems" we seek to address through government (AA and SS as examples) are NOT problems that need addressing. Those underlying problems are "features not bugs." So of course government is interfering in the little libertarian shit's power trip, and that's a no-no.

Libertarianism relies on the fact that some people never outgrow adolescence. But most people do outgrow it, which is why libertarianism is always a radical fringe ideology at best.

Libertarianism relies on a deep misunderstanding of -- and contempt of -- democratic self-government. One reason why Democrats have been unable to mount a clearheaded opposition to the Bush regime is that they believe in the ultimate goodness of governmental institutions as constituted through our forms of democratic self government. So in that idealistic way of looking at things, Bushevism is a phase that will pass, not a fundamentally subversive seizure of power that's undermining the very foundations of democratic self-rule.

A libertarian has no faith in governmental institutions to begin with, so the obvious subversion being carried out by the Busheviks is neither surprising nor particularly worrysome to the libertarian, at least not until the tipping point into totalitarianism is reached. That is where we may be now, and that is why some Libertarians are taking a second look at the Democrats as potential allies in reversing the slide toward totalitarianism, just as they might have looked to Republicans as allies when Roosevelt was thought to be dragging the nation to Dictatorship.”

Here’s another cynic that would treat libertarians the way the GOP treats the religious right:

“While the progressive movement can benefit from the votes of libertarians, it cannot benefit from libertarianism because the two positions have antithetical starting points. In libertarianism, negative rights are king, whereas progressives recognize the necessity of government intrusion and reorganization. Progressives = Rawls. Libertarians = Nozick.”

Here’s someone who thinks libertarians hate freedom:

“Actually, many or most libertarians despise freedom; they think privileged ndividuals should be allowed to deny others freedom of access to land and other
natural resources, without any mitigating compensation.”

I don’t know what to make of this one. Don’t libertarians reproduce?

“I've never met a libertarian whose political convictions survived the birth of his or her first child.”

This guy hates him some libertarians:

Every Libertarian I've ever met fell into one of two categories.Weak, spineless republican that wanted to pretend they were something else, usually for a good reason.


Just plain selfish. Self-centered people who felt that neither party served them because the only rule of law should be whatever they liked and to hell with the rest.I flirted with the libs as a kid. An interesting idea conceptually but in practice, it's really just another version of "gimme mine now".

This guy gets out his DSM to diagnose libertarians:

“The libertarians I've met all struck me as borderline sociopaths. They have no sense of community or altrusism. They remind me of spoiled babies who constantly cry to get their own way. As such libertarians will always be Republicans because they party, too, lacks a sense of community and altrusism”.

I learn from this guy that I also hate the earth:

“They are a self-destructive lot, seeking to exploit and destroy habitat and species with wild abandon in the name of personal "liberty" and absolute private property worship, damn the consequences.”

Where do these folks get these impressions of libertarians? I know for a fact that we’re no more likely to be assholes than folks of other political bents. In fact, I reckon that we are less likely to be jerks because we aim to live and let live. It's time to fire the PR department.


Steve Scott said...

These quotes did come from Democrats, n'est ce pas? Quite revealing, isn't it? Several of these quotes equate self-government not with self-government but with state government. I once engaged a liberal friend of mine as to why she favored such heavy taxation and regulation of those "who have" and her heated response was telling: "Well, if I can't have it, then nobody else should, either!" Talk about never outgrowing adolescence.

iceberg said...

"Libertarianism relies on the fact that some people never outgrow adolescence"

It's kind of funny coming from a statist, because its usually the mature adults who factor in the costs of every transaction into their policy and decision making, whereas children and pro-government welfare types are those whom believe that money/wealth grows on trees, and will therefore entertain all sorts of erratic fantasies which have no bearing to either economic feasibility, reality or morality.

Titanium Girl said...

Wow. I bet they have never even met many libertarians. The sociopath quote, actually all of them could not be further from the truth. Obviously, these folks were talking about themselves.

It seems that sometimes people will hate you just because you are good. This seems the best way to sum up their attitudes.

Anonymous said...

My god, these people are idiots. Let me briefly make a parody of these remarks.

Liberals fall into two catagories

1: idiots who think that they are better than everyone else because they love minorities and poor people

2: Smart people with no spines to stand up for facts, and use the guise of community and altruism to protect themselves from the "lower classes"

Anonymous said...

Yes. Liberals dislike libertarians. Here are some of the reasons:
Libertarians practice a kind of social darwinism. If you make a bad decision, you should accept the consequences, they believe. They do not believe that people make mistakes, or that the government should protect people.
Furthermore, Libertarians believe in the market as a kind of religion. They don't understand that all of the great achievements of the US have been driven by the government. Libertarians loathe the government.
The trouble is, is that most Libertarians are well educated people, who would be the ones to do fine if government were to simply abrogate any kind of responsibility. It's basically heartless and selfish of Libertarians to think the way they do.
Most liberals, who believe in giving people a leg up, disdain Libertarians for this anti-community way of thinking. They think it's self serving of libertarians.

Anonymous said...

I am a Big Government Liberal and proud of it and passionately hate Libertarianism. First of all, Libertarians are way too absolutist, they seem to think that you're either with Adam Smith or Joseph Stalin, and that there is no in between. Secondly, they have never read "The Jungle". Thirdly, my father used to work 50 hours a week in construction and overtime pay meant a couple hundred of extra dollars in every pay check. That really helped out my family. But my dad's employers did not volontarily agree to give him overtime pay. They were forced to when that Evil Socialist FDR passed the "Fair Labor Standards Act" in 1938. Big business does not voluntarily do anything that's not in their self interest, and that's why everything from the FDA, to seat bealts, to the EPA, to the 40 hour work week (all things which the vast majority of people support) came about through State power. I trust State Power more than the power of Private Enterprise because State Power was elected by The People. And that is why America will never accept Libertarianism.

andy seredy said...

While I am a proud Libertarian, I can not condemn an entire political party for the comments of a few ignorant and emotional members. I believe that I am above that. I work in the visual effects and animation industry, and I am surrounded by liberals, with the same concentration a fish finds itself around water. They are good people and well-meaning. I would still proudly call them friends, and I would defend their individual rights with the same fervor I defend my own. If that somehow makes me selfish, then so be it.

I would like to pose a question to the community at large: Is it selfish to think you are correct and everyone should heed your word, or is it selfish to say that no one could ever have the same understanding you have? (In all fairness I could also have posed this question to make both parties seem more altruistic.)

Personally, I find no difference. Liberals can be as self-centered as Libertarians, and they can be as altruistic. There is no difference. They're both fine choices, but I choose libertarian.

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