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
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
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
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
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
He has given a big black eye to the mainstream media.
He is vocally supportive of the decentralization
He has questioned the entire climate change
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.