Reason’s Challenge to “Libertarian Democrats”

Earlier today I had a post on Glenn Greenwald’s article in Salon on Democrats and libertarian-minded voters. Reason’s Hit and Run blog makes a couple of excellent points for Democrats who really seek votes from libertarians (even if very small-l libertarians):

Welcome as their talk on libertarian Democrats may be, I doubt Greenwald or Kos is going to waste any political capital to raise objections if, for example, Hillary wins the nomination, and includes in her platform promises to expand the FCC’s indecency jurisdiction to cable TV, imposing a federal ban on advertising sugary foods to children, or on alcohol advertising at college sporting events — to name just a few examples.

I can’t speak for other bloggers, but my posts on Hillary Clinton haven’t exactly been supportive of her, especially in light of her previous health care proposals. Of course my concern is for principles and not necessarily victory for a particular party, while many liberal bloggers do see themselves as supporters of the party itself. I supported Democrats in this election, but so did Reason. If a real life Arnold Vinick was the Republican’s nominee there is an excellent chance I’d vote for him over the Democrat. Should Rudy Giuliani run against Clinton I’d have to take a closer look at both before deciding. At the moment I’d probably lean towards Giuliani (for the reasons many Republicans oppose him) if not for his speech at the GOP Hate-Fest in 2004 and if not for a preference for having a Democrat pick the next Supreme Court Justices.

The more important objections from Reason involve issues, as they correctly note that “there’s more to the personal freedom side of libertarianism than gay rights and abortion.” Here’s their challenge to liberals:

What I’d really like to see from the libertarian Democrat crowd is some offense. Instead of promising not to do any more damage to personal liberty, why not try to win some back? How about cutting off funding for the DEA’s jack-booted marches into California’s medical marijuana clinics? While you’re at it, snip the purse strings for the agency’s persecution of pain specialists, too. And remove the federal ban on scientific research into the possible health benefits of marijuana. Revoke the Internet gambling ban, or — even better — legalize online wagering to eliminate any ambiguity. Repeal federal asset forfeiture laws. Repeal the federal minimum drinking age and the national .08 blood-alcohol standard. De-fund the FCC’s war on dirty words, and the DOJ’s war on dirty pictures. I could go on.

No problem with most. I’ve already been with them on these issues. I’ve had posts here opposing the drug wars. When David Friedman suggested Democrats support legalization of medicinal marijuana I posted in support. I would have qualms about repealing the minimum drinking age, but I’ll just defer on that unless it should actual come on the table politically. One problem with libertarianism is that it works much better among rational adults. I’ve even seen libertarian writers note the problem with extending their positions to children. Besides, the point isn’t that liberal Democrats are libertarians, but whether they have more to offer libertarians than the Republicans many have supported in the past.

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  1. 1
    James Landrith says:


    I’ve been a libertarian for years. I’m running for School Board in Fairfax County, Virginia – seeking the endorsement of the local Dems.

    I believe the local Democratic Machine will find they and I have more in common than I would with the Republicans.

    It will be an experiment – in the very least – to see if the local Dems are open-minded enough to endorse a civil libertarian with fiscally responsible positions who can appeal to swing voters, LP members who have no candidate and disaffected GOPers.

    At the very least, I’m gonna give it a shot. I can respectfully disagree on fiscal issues, while working hard in concert with Democrats on the plethora of other issues in which we are in agreement.

    My campaign website is at:

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    There would be problems with a hard core libertarian who objected to government financed schools, but for most issues which would go before a school board I could see a libertarian beling much closer than a Republican to Democratic positions.

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