Libertarians for Bernie: A Dangerous Delusion

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

The Daily Beast recently ran a post asking, “Is There a Libertarian Case for Bernie Sanders?”

The answer is “no, of course not,” and anyone who tells you different is selling some potent snake oil. Socialism is the deadly and implacable enemy of liberty, which is what libertarians are supposed to care about. The notion that a raving statist loon who thinks the national debt should be doubled again could be embraced by libertarians threatens to unravel libertarianism as an utter fraud. It also says something unpleasant about Americans’ diminished lust for liberty and responsibility, the characteristics that once defined us.

The Daily Beast article by Andrew Kirell begins by hurling bricks at all of the Republican presidential candidates, which is fair enough, but most of it consists of social-value sneering.  

For example: “Marco Rubio’s combination of heavy-handed social conservatism and nostalgia for Bush-era war policy is an obvious turnoff,” “Ben Carson is Ben Carson, complete with bizarro right-wing opinions,” and a whole paragraph pummeling Ted Cruz as a “wannabe televangelist” with “un-libertarian, nativist” views on immigration, not to mention his “sheer hostility” to gay marriage.

Too much of libertarianism has become obsessed with social liberalism – a running theme throughout Obama-era op-eds proposing a libertarian-liberal alliance. This attitude sacrifices intellectual consistency for fashionable posturing, and ignores what has actually been happening over the past few decades. “Social liberalism” turns out to involve a lot of jackbooted stomping upon the individual liberty of dissenters, and that’s a feature, not a bug. Coercive liberalism is sold to the masses as a punitive ideology, eager to punish class and social enemies. Such punishment requires exertions of collective power, both from the government and freelance political-correctness vigilantes.  

The more comfortable people become with mob actions, the more comfortable they become with handing collectivist power over to the State. Libertarians should understand that the habits of liberty help a society remain free. When we instead adopt the habits of collectivism, we are numbed to the loss of our individuality. Many of us come to see individuality as an unacceptably heavy burden.  

The coming generation of campus safe-space activists and trigger-word hysterics will be very comfortable with the expansion of government power, to grant them protection from uncomfortable ideas, and give them material benefits they feel “entitled” too. That’s the reason leftists cultivated the crybully movement… and all of it was perpetrated in the name of the “social liberalism” modern libertarians are told to embrace, instead of actual liberty. There isn’t a wannabe televangelist to be found among the P.C. thugs. It’s not Bible-thumpers who made it impossible for people with unacceptable social views to run bakeries and pizzerias in peace.

Movement libertarians have been sneering at social conservatives for ages, but they never get around to telling us what the incipient theocracy plans to do. They never lay out a compulsive so-con program we should brace ourselves to resist. The biggest fish social conservatives are looking to land is the repeal of Roe v. Wade – an awful decision that should have long ago been discarded on its poor legal merits – but that would lead to state-by-state legislative battles over abortion. Shouldn’t a proper libertarian want such a clearly contentious issue settled that way, confident that dissenters can exert the ultimate prerogative of traveling or relocating to jurisdictions they agree with?

Meanwhile, the Left spends vast amounts of public money, racks up titanic amounts of debt, creates a maze of regulations, and engages in social engineering… all of which are exercises of compulsive force that libertarians should have manned the ramparts to resist, long ago.

Taxes are obviously coercive, but so are subsidies. How much “freedom” does a man or woman have, how much “independence” can they boast of, when their political choices and daily activities are constrained by their fear of losing subsidies they depend upon for survival? How “free” is someone who believes everyone who speaks of liberty is a con artist, out to steal their subsides at the behest of shadowy One Percenter predators?

Deficit spending layers compulsion atop compulsion, because that debt invariable curdles into taxation and economic control. Tomorrow’s taxpayers will be told they have no choice but to pay the debts today’s deficit spenders deferred. The government spends a great deal of that deficit money expanding its power and personnel, making the challenge for future libertarians even more difficult. The Left has always understood the raw power of warm bodies with government money in their hands. How easy it was for them to fool libertarians into letting them accumulate that kind of power, while distracting them with cheap shots at social conservatives!

How can libertarians have been so easily blinded to the simple truth that liberty shrinks as government grows? Every single thing the State does comes at the cost of individual liberty.  

Of course the statists always make their demands in the name of the “greater good,” and halfway through the Twentieth Century, they mastered the art of making statist demands in the name of freedom. Once they convinced Americans to forget that every kilowatt of government power requires a shovel full of liberty to be burned, it was easy for them to begin presenting coercive “freedom from need” as the only important “liberty.”  

It was the greatest ideological bait-and-switch in history, and it’s still working, long after the point where its dishonesty – and toxic effect on the people liberals ostensibly want to help – have become comically obvious.

The “Libertarians for Bernie” case, as presented at the Daily Beast, boils down to isolationist foreign policy, legalized pot, and criminal justice reform. That’s like a caricature of libertarians as lazy bullshit artists who just want to smoke weed without getting hassled by the police.  

If you’re willing to support a Marxist statist because you think he’ll let a lot of people out of prison, you’re not a libertarian – you’re a totalitarian who prefers fines to imprisonment.

The unserious nature of this latest libertarian pose is made clear by Rand Paul donor Jeff Yass, who mourns in the Daily Beast article that only “hawks” are left in the GOP field now that Paul is gone, so he thinks Sanders is “our best hope to stay out of war”… while conceding that “on the other hand, he would shut my business down.”

The latter consequence is far more serious than the former, especially since this nonsense about anti-war liberal isolationism should have been permanently buried by the Obama presidency. Some libertarians made a similar weaksauce argument for Obama as less hawkish than John McCain in 2008… and we ended up with wars and drone strikes all over the place, including a disastrous unilateral cowboy intervention in Libya that was everything doves falsely remember the Iraq War as being.

“Bernie will destroy my business, but that’s okay, because he might keep us out of wars.” That’s literally saying your freedom isn’t worth fighting for. What kind of serious “libertarian” thinks that way?  

Bernie Sanders is an idiot on foreign policy, not a dedicated isolationist peacenik. What he doesn’t know about the world would fill a library. He wants to defund the military to splurge on his socialist schemes. That’s provocative to aggressors. They’re not going to politely allow America to sit out the rest of the 21st Century because Bernie wants to blow all of America’s military budget on “free” flat-screen TVs for the poor. War would come to him, as it has to everyone who thought they could achieve peace by melting down their national defenses, and he would not be ready.

Hasn’t everyone learned the harsh lesson about the folly of isolationism taught by the Syrian refugee crisis and the chaos in Europe? Write off the rest of the world if you want, but it will still march right across your borders, bringing all of its pathologies with it.

Nothing about libertarian ideals requires the nation to be defenseless, or surrender its integrity by dissolving its borders. Quite the reverse, actually. In a world where liberty is held cheap, and even most of the West prices it far below the value of cash benefits or the “security” of speech control, the great bastion of liberty has a duty to protect its ideals and hold them high. America should be a beacon of freedom to the world, inspiring other nations to adopt our ideals. We can’t do that if we’re overrun by the rest of the world and bankrupted.

There isn’t a whole lot of “Libertarians for Bernie” sentiment out there, but there shouldn’t be any. The GOP often – heck, let’s be brutally frank and say “usually” – provides a shaky vessel for libertarianism, but the sickness creeping through the Democrat Party is the mortal enemy of those ideals. Socialism is actively seeking to subdue and destroy all that remains of American independence, and any libertarian who doesn’t take up the fight against it, with every ounce of his energy, is passively submitting to his own destruction. Is that really worth one last round of cheap shots at Christian conservatives?  

Remember, libertarians, when you’ve helped the Left finish off the last of social-con resistance to their collective will, they’ll immediately turn on you as the extremists who need to be subjugated next. The out-and-proud socialists won’t be gentle about it, no matter how much you think aging hippies are mellow dudes who love their Mary Jane.


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