Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Unthinkable Libertarian-Progressive Connection.

In the election of 2000 American Progressives were forced to make a painful choice, a choice to support one of two candidates for the US Presidency.

The mainstream candidate, Democratic Party nominee Al Gore represented Bill Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council, a Neo-liberal vision for the Democratic Party. Clinton’s Neo-liberal vision consisted of the worse aspects of the Democratic Party, a vision of government intervention in market capitalism, and of a tax and spend government. For Progressives Al Gore did not represent the idealism and values of Roosevelt’s New Deal, but destroyed them as a candidate who supported government intervention in foreign entities and government support for multinational corporations instead of We the People.

The outside candidate, Green Party nominee Ralph Nader represented a vision that Progressives could be proud of. A candidate who had supported and fought for We the People against dangerous multinational corporations, and supported ending government intrusion in the private lives of the American People, from our draconian drug laws to inspections of our bedrooms.

The choice was a self-defeating one, as the vote of Progressives were split, allowing the rise of the Bush Presidency, bringing a nightmare scenario for Progressives of all shades. The irony is that another interest, the Libertarians were left out in the cold with this new administration as well.

The Libertarian Party, under the leadership of Harry Browne, rose to be one of the strongest third parties in the United States during the 1990’s. Under the Gingrich House many Libertarians had been forced to the margins of the Republican Party. The New Right, along with the Neo-conservatives worked to develop a Republican Party controlled by religious doctrine, with the desire to have government intervention in our daily lives, such as the continuation of the Drug War, and for massive support of the various government agencies which they supported.

Similarly, Libertarians were also forced to make a decision, a self-defeating one, to support Republican candidates that no longer supported their interests, now that they controlled the purse strings of Congress, or to support a third party candidate who did not have the ability to win at the federal level.

If Progressives and Libertarians must be forced to the margins in order to vote their values, then the only choice is to support one of the two major parties to best represent their interests. It has long been assumed by many Libertarians that the GOP is the best party to support their viewpoints. That viewpoint is flawed. This may initially sound absurd, but I have to ask, what do progressives have in common with Libertarians? As it turns out, more than you might think.

In the past Progressives have been seen to be the poplar opposites of Libertarians, as Progressives have supported government regulation and spending to protect the populace, while Libertarians have supported the idea that the free market is the best way to serve the public. This difference is largely an illusion, as it misses the forest for the trees.


Libertarians have been happy to see numerous tax cuts in the Bush administration. They shouldn’t be. The Neo-conservative Republican party has brought forth a new paradigm. In the past Libertarians and Republicans alike have criticized, often times correctly, against the tax-and-spend polities of the Democrats. The new paradigm is a Republican party who can cut taxes, but can do nothing but spend taxpayer money at alarming rates. Without curbing spending a tax cut is meaningless. To continue to inflate the deficient and the national debt the Republican party has turned it’s tax cuts into nothing but high-interest government loans, in which you must accept the loan whether you want to or not. It is estimated that a tax rebate of $300 must later be repaid sometime down the road to the tune of $1200.

Furthermore, the Neo-conservative Republican party has continued to interfere with the free market. Dick Cheney’s energy task force led directly to government interference in energy companies such as Enron. It gave Enron preferential treatment and allowed them to stray away from the discipline of free market competition. This preferential treatment ended with the demise of the energy giant. Neo-conservatives have cut some federal spending on social programs, but without removing the regulation necessary for the free market to take over for the loss of such programs. The result is that state governments have been compelled to step in, which has resulted in nothing more than higher taxes on the local level.

Government Intrusion In Our Daily Lives

Both Libertarians and Progressives wish to live in a society that if free from government intrusion in their daily lives. Neo-conservatives, despite their rhetoric, have a different idea in mind. Because of 9-11 Neo-conservatives wish to control our society using the mantra to “protection.” This includes everything from having government officials searching the hard drive on your computer, to intercepting e-mails, to confiscating business records, to looking at your library record, all without a warrant and forcing a gag order that prevents the citizenry from talking about those activities when they take place. Neo-conservatives wish for the state to tell us who we can marry, whether or not we wish to have children, and what we wish to put into our bodies. This goes against the core of Libertarian and Progressive values.


One of the strongest values Libertarians have is the belief that one of the key roles of government is to protect the American people with a strong national defense. And rightfully so. At this the Neo-conservatives have repeatedly failed time and again.

The Nixon administration took over the reigns of the Vietnam War from Lyndon Johnson. The result was that Nixon expanded the war into Cambodia, and used a military strategy that would eventually spell the first military defeat in the history of the United States. Nixon eventually had to pull out of Vietnam, leaving the south to be overthrown by the communists.

The George H.W. Bush administration fought a war in Iraq that was largely successful, however ended with ordering ground troops to end the fighting, leaving Saddam Hussein in power. Hussein was left in place to continue to threaten the region, forcing us to impose the harshest weapons inspection operation in the history of man just to stabilize the region.

And the George W. Bush administration has managed to lead us into a quagmire in Iraq that may very well lead to a Shi’ite controlled Iraq that is a close ally of Iran. The Bush administration has managed to nearly double the Pentagon budget, yet failed to keep the American people safe on 9/11.

Progressives on the other hand has succeeded in defending our homeland time and time again. Both World Wars were won by the Democratic Wilson and Roosevelt administrations. Harry Truman succeeded where Nixon failed, in preventing a communist expansion in Asia during the Korean War. The Truman administration also managed to prevent a communist takeover of Iran by supporting the anti-communist Mossedegh government which opposed the creation of an Iranian-Soviet oil company, and regularly went after members of the Iranian communist party, The Tudeh.

Despite Clinton getting much flack for cutting the Defense Department, he still managed to fight wars or military operations in Somalia, Haiti, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Balkans with relative ease, seeing almost zero casualties and coming out victorious on each occasion. The Clinton administration managed to make our Defenses more lean and efficient, allowing those easy victories while saving taxpayer dollars.

Government Spending

There is a stark difference in the view of government spending between the Progressives and Libertarians and Neo-conservatives. Progressives and Libertarians wish to have responsible government spending. Neo-conservatives on the other hand, have another thing in mind. Republicans of the past have rightly fought to control government spending, but that is no longer the case. Since 2000 the Bush administration has followed a policy of drastically increasing government spending. Our national debt has now reached 7 and a half trillion dollars and 322 billion dollars is being spent just to pay down the interest on our debt.

The Clinton administration saw the need to trim down the government and to make it leaner and more efficient. Vice President Al Gore was given the job of “reinventing government” to streamline the activities of the Fed. The Clinton administration also took the bold move of virtually eliminating a massive government entitlement with welfare reform.

On the other hand, in the last four years alone the Bush administration has created two entirely new government bureaucracies, both of which have been heavily funded with tax payer dollars. One of those bureaucracies, the Department of Homeland Security, performs virtually the same function that the FBI has traditionally done.

As the GOP continues down the path that the Bush administration has taken it, neither Libertarians or Progressives can look at the once grand party of Lincoln and see much that reflects their values. The alternatives are few. One option is to throw away your vote to a third party that cannot win at the federal level or to support the party that more accurately reflects Libertarian and Progressive values.


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