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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Against Falsehood and Inconsistency re: Joe Kennedy

So the front page should link to a site whose front page contains neither the word "Libertarian" nor a link to JK's site doesn't even hide "libertarian" in its meta keywords list.

Tom, I didn't mean to suggest that Kennedy was trying to stop the media from identifying him as libertarian. I merely suggested that he could and should do more to identify with the L/libertarian brand. I'm curious whether you agree.

I'm also curious how Dr. Phillies defines a "Real Libertarian", a phrase he uses as a mantra to describe Kennedy. For example, what is the Real Libertarian position on education? Joe Kennedy's position is simply federalism: let "state and local governments" control "that money" that the federal Education Department currently spends. Tom Knapp and George Phillies have vilified Libertarians like Bob Barr and Wayne Root who have staked out federalism as their position on various issues, but Kennedy apparently gets a pass on education.

Ditto for marijuana, on which JK says nothing about legalizing even this most innocuous of drugs, and instead would merely "remove the Federal Government from what should be a State issue".  Here's what Phillies says about Wayne Root's drug stance:  Root does talk about ending prohibition. For most libertarians, that is a truly fine issue. Drug prohibition wastes tens and tens of billions of dollars a year, and has blighted the lives of millions of young men and women. Medical marijuana prohibition is a consummate anti-libertarian doctrine. Root instead goes on - entirely justly - about gambling prohibition, especially internet gambling. Drug prohibition…not so much.  Nevertheless, Phillies says Root "substantially eliminates any suspicion that he is a libertarian", while JK is a "Real Libertarian".

Phillies also complained that Root's book doesn't mention Afghanistan.  By contrast, JK's site mentions it, saying: "After the tragic events of 9/11 we all understood that we had to attack Afghanistan and go after Osama Bin Laden".  Afghanistan was barely mentioned on, but we do read that "finding Mr. Bin Laden is a job for spies, not a job for tank divisions."  Apparently one can be a "Real Libertarian" and still have advocated that our tax-financed military take down the Taliban for harboring al Qaeda.  I applaud this ray of ecumenicism.

I would try to score JK on my 20-question quiz, but I haven't seen any information on his site that tells how free he thinks we should be:
  • From government censorship
  • From government monitoring
  • From government religiousness
  • To donate for any political ad
  • To risk your own body
  • To choose whether to procreate
  • To pay for adult entertainment
  • To use drugs if you're an adult
  • To invest your own retirement savings
  • To control your child's tuition dollars
  • To accept any currency or interest rate
  • To take a job at any wage
(Endorsing the LP platform would be a handy way to answer all these questions.)

George says the word "Libertarian" won't fit on JK's yard signs because they have his name, office sought, and URL.  But last year George had what I still consider to be a great proposal for standardizing Libertarian yard signs:

I think Kennedy is a very attractive Libertarian candidate and (what Steve Jobs would call) an insurmountable opportunity for the LP.  That's why it would be all the more tragic for his campaign to not try to reinforce the L/libertarian brand as the only electoral choice that is neither Left nor Right, neither liberal nor conservative.

That is how I judge a libertarian campaign in a race that we won't be winning.  It's not enough to advocate a good mix of conservative economic policies and liberal social policies. Unless you actually have a good shot at winning, you need to tie that mix to the L/libertarian brand, so you move the ball forward for future libertarian-branded candidates.  It doesn't much help the cause of freedom when a losing candidate picks up a few extra votes that policy makers can dismiss as coming from his name or his looks instead of his libertarian advocacy.

To the discourteous and uncivil Mr. Milnes: the only opponent I've taken on here is inconsistency and falsehood.  For example, Tom suggests @31 that JK isn't on's candidate listings, when in fact he is, and probably has been for a while.  I've been noticing lately that these days has a lot of per-state information on LP candidates, office-holders, and campus groups.