Liberal Bloggers and Libertarianism

Nick Gillespie reviews The Argument for The New York Times and in the process sheds some light upon another upcoming book. I’ve discussed Markos Moulitsas’ writings on libertarianism in the past, noting, as Gillespie does that Kos might come off as an intellectual lightweight. Still, I find value in Kos’ desire to push the Democrats in a more libertarian direction. Gillespie is not very optimistic about his upcoming book on The Libertarian Democrat.

Moulitsas, the Prince Hal of the left-liberal blogosphere, comes off as an intellectual lightweight, boasting to Bai that his next book will be called “The Libertarian Democrat” but admitting that he has never read Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist and social theorist, who is arguably most responsible for the contemporary libertarian movement.

As Gillespie concludes, “The lack of depth among the Democrats may not hurt them in the 2008 elections — the Republicans, whose would-be presidential candidates have mostly publicly rejected evolution, are not exactly bursting with new ideas either. But it remains profoundly disappointing.” While many of us voted Democratic in recent elections in protest over the authoritarian direction the Republicans were moving, an amazing number of liberals back John Edwards, who shows neither any more respect for individual liberty or more signs of intelligence than George Bush.

Even though Kos has clearly failed to do his homework for his upcoming book, it is still preferable to see his work which is sympathetic to libertarianism in contrast to comments such as this by Nicholas Beaudrot writing at Ezra Klein:

In addition, I’d much rather the GOP turn into the party of “Sam’s Club Republicanism”—socially conservative, economically moderate or even liberal on occasion— than become the quasi-libertarian party (lower taxes and less regulation of sex), or the War Party.

Of all the factions within the Republican Party, the libertarians are by far the group I’d prefer to control the party. A group which is socially liberal is far superior to a group which is socially conservative regardless of other views. There is also some value to having a libertarian opposition. While libertarians sometimes go overboard in rejecting all government programs on principle and ignore any evidence which contradicts their philosophy, it remains beneficial to having obstacles to any new government programs. It wouldn’t be such a bad thing if all Democratic proposals were placed under scrutiny on libertarian grounds, placing the burden of proof on the Democrats that the need for the program out weights any potential restrictions upon liberty.

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