Libertarians And The Abandoment of George Bush

John Fund of The Wall Street Journal reviews the new book Radicals for Capitalism on libertarians. I haven’t read the book yet and therefore can’t comment on the value of this as a review. There is one paragraph which I do find worth commenting on:

Today, pollsters find only 2% of people refer to themselves as libertarians, but some 15% of voters hold broadly libertarian views and can be a swing factor. In the photo-finish presidential race of 2000, some 72% of libertarian-minded voters supported George W. Bush. Last November, many of them abandoned the GOP, disillusioned by its profligate ways, and helped hand control of Congress to Democrats.

I certainly agree with the start of the paragraph. I have often discussed the growing importance of socially liberal and fiscally conservative voters who “hold broadly libertarian views.” The loss of such libertarian minded voters was one factor in Bush’s loss, but I suspect Fund is projecting the viewpoint of the Wall Street Journal in this interpretation. Bush’s spending was a factor, but there were so many other actions from Republicans which should be intolerable to anyone with libertarian leanings. These include the war, his record on civil liberties, increased government secrecy, his erosion of checks and balances on executive power, his erosion of separation of church and state, increased government intrusion in private matters as highlighted in the Terri Schiavo case, use of gay marriage as a wedge issue, and his opposition to abortion rights.

For years many libertarians have concentrated on economic issues ignoring Republican views on other issues, and failing to recognize that Republican corporate welfare is a perversion of capitalism. Many are finally beginning to realize that modern conservativism is an authoritarian movement which has nothing to offer libertarians.

Related Stories:

The Delusion of Republican Libertarians
David Friedman on Libertarians vs. Big Government Republicans
James Watson Calls Bush a “Piece of Shit”
Libertarian Ideas and Liberals
Libertarians vs. Liberals on Taxation and Entitlements
Liberaltarians: Liberals and Libertarians Uniting
Reason’s Challenge to “Libertarian Democrats”
The Effect of Libertarian Voters
Libertarians as Swing Voters
Libertarian Democrats or Liberalism Reborn
Republicans and Big Government
Liberals, Classical Liberals, and Libertarians
South Park Republicans Rebelling Against GOP
Victory in Suburbia
Monkey in the Middle

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  1. 1
    ME says:

    “modern conservativism is an authoritarian movement which has nothing to offer libertarians.”

    Damn straight. But there are a lot of faux libertarians, who use the title to claim “independence” from the republican party, all while carrying water for republican’s most liberty-infringing policies. I would put Neil Boortz in that group.

    The true libertarians that I’ve met tend to be less versed in political issues, and therefore side with Bush based on shallow observations. The ones who are knowledgable about the issues regarding civil liberties and the current administration (for example, that in regards to warrentless wiretapping, Democrats were arguing for the use of warrants, not to stop surveillance altogether) tend to understand how fundamentally authoritarian the right-wingis today.

  2. 2
    Eric Dondero says:

    You have a fundamental misunderstanding of us libertarians. Why do you assume that we are anti-War? Nothing could be further from the truth. We see the threat of Islamo-Fascism as the greatest threat to our individual liberties in our lifetimes.

    The Radical Muslims want to outlaw booze and gambling, stone loose women in our town squares, jail our marijuana smoking buddies for life, and cut off the genitals of our gay friends.

    Why would any Libertarian in their right mind support a policy that is soft on Islamo-Fascism? Look what they’re doing in Europe. Look at the murders of Theo van Gogh, and Pim Fortuyn. The riots in Paris and Copenhagen.

    Where do you get the idea that we Libertarians are anti-War? Lew Rockwell is an anonomyly in our movement.

    Real Libertarians include Pro-War on Islamo-Fascism supporters like: Dana Rohrabacher, Neal Boortz, Larry Elder, Tammy Bruce, PJ O’Rourke, Ted Nugent and Dennis Miller.

    You need to educate yourself more on the Libertarian movement before you start spouting off.

    Eric Dondero, CEO

    Former Senior Aide, US Congressman Ron Paul

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    I’ve often noted the problem with labels. Many diverse groups use the term libertarian. I would classify you as conservative and not a libertarian, and this is clealry not addressed towards conservatives such as yourself, regardless ofr the label you use. The Repubican Party might be a better fit for the conservative Republicans you mention. I do hope that a libertarian-leaning element does remain in the Republican Party which might ultimately turn around its big government, authoritarian tendencies.

    The war in Iraq is not about fighting Islamic extremists, although one consequence of the war has been to strengthn them and seriously cripple our ability to fight them.

    Besides true libertarians, who generally oppose the war, tihs is addressed to the large number of libertarian-leaning voters who are socially liberal, fiscally more conservative, and also opposed to the war.

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    By the way, I note that you ignored Ron Paul’s opposition to the war even when dropping his name.

  5. 5
    Brad says:

    People who are pro-war are not Libertarians. They are referred to as Neo-Cons and those that are socially liberal are Socially Liberal Neo-Cons or sometimes call themselves “Objectivists,” which is a cult around the books written by Ayn Rand.

    True Libertarians oppose the war. They’re also strongly against all government economic interference. That means opposition even to sacred programs like Social Security or Public Schools. The Democrats are going to need to abandon Socialized Medicine as an issue if they want to hold onto Libertarian support. How about repealing all the subsidies for businesses instead? Why should anybody have to pay taxes to finance Wal-Mart or Exxon-Mobil? We can finance them enough already by doing business with them.

    By the way, Ron Paul’s the most anti-war member of Congress. He’s a true Libertarian and the candidate I think most Libertarians would like to see running for the GOP.

    The late Murray Rothbard is probably turning over in his grave with all these so-called Libertarians running around that are watering down the movement he did so much to create.

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:


    Check some of the other items where Dondero commented. Not only does he cite a number of right wingers as libertarians, he even claims Rothbard was not a libertarian. He’s pushing for Guiliani, but also considers Brownback the second most libertarian candidate and is considering him for VP.

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