In the aftermath of this US presidential campaign season, I would like to take a few moments to reflect on this topic of libertarians and this election. In many ways, I feel a review of this is premature – in the case of Trump, it would be nice to give him some time in office to see how he blossoms; let’s see some fruit before judging the tree. On the other hand, there are many concrete, real examples of change that are worth recognizing.
I will begin with the most pure libertarian position: “I am a libertarian who does not vote; more than that, I think it is wrong to even hold a rooting interest in which slave owner wins. Even more, to even discuss the topic gives the slave owner credibility.”
I can easily accept this position, it is perfectly consistent with libertarian theory; it isn’t the only position that I believe fits this bill, but it certainly does. Of course, we don’t live in theory – and libertarianism isn’t going to win the day merely by chanting “NAP, NAP, NAP” all day long.
What of the libertarian with the rooting interest? After all, I have seen (or could see) a case made for any of at least four candidates by those libertarians in this camp. Some in this camp enjoy the spectacle of politics; others suggest that fewer beatings are better than more beatings; even others see the Libertarian Party banner as a credible endorsement; some even suggest rooting for the most evil candidate in the hopes that the world comes crumbling down sooner (and on his or her watch).
So, now I have painted a picture of two, broadly defined camps. In the first, the purists; in the second, those with a rooting (and for many, a voting) interest. From here on, I will explore this second camp; all subsequent comments should be read in this context.
I can comment on four candidates – I do not know others well enough to comment:
Jill Stein: she had one thing going for her – at least one thing of which I am aware. She seemed to be the most anti-war and anti-foreign interventionism. Being that I see this issue as the single most important libertarian issue, I can understand libertarian support for this candidate.
Gary Johnson: he was the Libertarian Party candidate for goodness sakes. He held several reasonably good libertarian positions; he vetoed many bills as governor of New Mexico. I can understand libertarian support for this candidate.
Hillary Clinton: the only argument I saw for this candidate was that she would bring the system crashing down on itself the soonest. I suppose some libertarians might also support her because she would use government force to ensure that anyone is free to live any lifestyle they choose and the rest of us will be forced to accept this – you know, bake them cakes and take their pictures; this latter point might appeal to the libertine libertarians.
Donald Trump: this one really caused controversy, in many ways rather understandable. I will first get those “understandable” ways out of the way – not in detail, but as a whole.
We can take each of the four candidates on my list and identify dozens or hundreds of positions they have held that are in direct violation of the NAP. I have never been very interested in examining these; the general direction of government in the US (and most places) has been toward further violations of the NAP (regardless of the efforts of beltway libertarian think-tanks and policy shops).
So, that Trump or Clinton or Johnson or Stein might move us faster or slower along this path is interesting to me, but not very important. I am more interested in where one or more of these candidates might derail this train. And in this, of these four candidates, Trump stood head and shoulders above the rest.
I can hear the screams: “No, you fool, it was Johnson. He held, overall, a more libertarian leaning.” I say…maybe. Except for one thing: Johnson does not have the in-your-face, defiant personality necessary to sustain this war – and it is and will be a war. He doesn’t demonstrate that he has the b@!!s.
Stein? Her after-election activities made clear her inconsistency toward any anti-war principle she might have held.
Clinton? She was part of the machine. My biggest concern? Tell me where, with Clinton, the US would stop pushing Russia. Clinton, would walked hand in hand with Victoria Nuland. Cheer all you want about how Clinton will bring the system crashing down on itself faster; with Clinton the possibility was growing to a probability that Russia would be faced with an existential threat – and respond in every way necessary to defend itself.
To cheer for Clinton was to cheer for a race: calamity within the US machine vs. calamity with Russia. Not a bet I am willing to take.
This leaves Trump. It is so easy to focus on the bad with Trump – he makes it easy, almost every time he opens his mouth (or types a tweet).
But look at what he has brought to the table – every one of which being an item that supports libertarianism and the decentralization that is the practical application of the NAP.
First: if there is one thing he has been consistent on – and it may be the only thing – he says he will talk with Putin. I could end my list here and this would be enough for me. But there is so much more.
· He has questioned NATO.
· He has questioned the Fed.
· He questions trade deals. I understand the dilemma that this presents for libertarians and free market types, but we can’t have it both ways: we know that the so-called “free trade” foisted on us isn’t free trade, it is government management crony trade.
· He has nominated for secretary of state an individual who has made a career out of successfully negotiating peaceful deals with every sort of nefarious character in the world.
· He has nominated for head of the department of education someone who at least questions the public school system.
· He has had at least two meetings with Judge Andrew Napolitano.
· He has given a big black eye to the mainstream media.
· He is vocally supportive of the decentralization of Europe.
· He has questioned the entire climate change narrative.
· He has exposed the true divide: not democrats vs. republicans, not black vs. white. It is subjects vs. rulers, mainstream vs. the rest of us, neocons vs. the world.
· Perhaps most important of all (after the Russia thing): he has made it acceptable to question everything about the narrative that has been jammed down our throats over the last seventy years. In order to tear down the state, one must expose the lies.
I am sure I am missing a dozen other such points where Trump has turned the table or changed the conversation.
Am I suggesting that Trump is a libertarian? Not a chance. But go back and look at the list; tell me who else has accomplished so much good for the possibility of destroying the myth of the state and supporting decentralization. I will save you the trouble: no one. Trump is riding on the wave set in motion by Ron Paul. However, Trump has ridden the wave infinitely farther (and, sadly, not in exactly the same direction) than did Ron.
Now, some might say that Trump is a tool of the elite. Maybe, maybe not. I heard many say the same thing about Ron Paul (laughable). We certainly cannot know this about Trump today.
However, of this I am certain: the elite are not a unified camp, the deep state is not a unified camp. It is clear to me that some subset of these two powerful groups were behind Trump. It is also clear to me – given the reaction to Trump by the mainstream warmongers and mainstream media – that the faction behind Trump is not the mainstream.
But what if I am wrong about this? What if Trump is a tool of the wrong side? Go back and read my list above, especially the part about questioning everything about the narrative. This doesn’t go away (just like Ron Paul’s campaign issues didn’t go away), no matter whose pocket Trump is or isn’t in.
And after global nuclear war, this is the next most important point for libertarians who claim that they want to dismantle the state. You can’t dismantle the state if the narratives are believed and supported. Destroying those narratives is a necessary (but not only) precondition.
For this, Trump has earned my rooting interest.