June 11, 2014

A Follow-Up to the Rand Piece

By In Blogs, C.Jay Engel

Earlier this week I posted a consideration on Rand Paul that many do not consider: that on macro-political strategy, as opposed political theory, one needs to be aware of the bigger picture.

I think I should also reiterate my position on those members of the conservative libertarian movement who are not libertarian purists.  Who are not perfect in their voting record but who are decent enough.  My position is not that one has to agree with us on everything in order to be supported.  We can still cheer for one politician over the other –without admitting that they are great.  Case in point: Murray Rothbard supported Pat Buchanan in the early 1990s.  Why?  Because Pat is opposed to ruthless neocon foreign interventionism.  Pat is a more traditional conservative who holds to some seriously bad positions on things like protective tariffs.  But Rothbard realized that Pat was far less bad than Bush and most other Republicans.

Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, and Rand Paul –the three I mentioned as inconsistent in their libertarianism (I think only Amash claims the label) — while not purists, are good for expanding the pro-liberty message.  In fact, they are better than anything the liberty-movement had in the ’90s. Politics is always about collaboration and coalition.  This does not mean that one should vote to increase government as a compromise.  Rather, it means that one can work together with people on agreeable issues.  On military intervention, it is better for Ron Paul to work with Dennis Kucinich than John McCain.  On tax cuts, Ron can work with a conservative instead of Kucinich.  You get the point.

I think it is healthy to praise the Amashes, the Massies, and the Rand Pauls for their overall efforts and then, if they deserve it, vocalize disagreement (like on war, the Fed, the existence of various federal agencies, the income tax).  Libertarianism is a deductive political theory and thus, it is consistent and pure.  But politics is not.  Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the decent.  And in all things, we ought to accept that there is no hope in Washington.  The solution to our political trouble isn’t necessarily to “vote the bums out” (there is always another bum to replace the current).  But we can still praise those who want less government than currently exists, so long as we constantly remind them of the ideal and the logic of our principles.

It is better to secede and nullify, nullify, nullify.

Written by C.Jay Engel

Editor and creator of The Reformed Libertarian. Living in Northern California with his wife, he writes on everything from politics to theology and from culture to economic theory. You can send an email to reformedlibertarian@gmail.com