Saturday, January 7, 2017

Nicholas Sarwark Replies

The chairman of the Libertarian Party offered a reply to my comments on his interview with Marc Clair:

Nicholas Sarwark January 6, 2017 at 5:01 AM

If you would like further clarification on my position, it's available here.

Libertarianism preferences the individual rights over state control. When a government violates individual rights, the libertarian position is on the side of the individual. This remains the case whether the government is Federal, state, or local.

Dr. Paul's position on DOMA and the Marriage Protection Act sides with governments violating the individual rights of their citizens and is thus not libertarian.

I replied as follows:

Thank you for the link and comments. I will watch the video in the next day or so and offer further thoughts on this then.

In the meantime, your clarifying statement does not move me. Decentralization of political power means more choice; we don't get perfect in a world occupied by humans, so the next best thing is more political choice. There is nothing more libertarian than this when it comes to our political life.

As for Dr. Paul, in 2008 and 2012 he ran as a republican, not a libertarian; this point was ignored by both you and Marc in the interview. Had he run as a libertarian he would have received criticism from me for the handful of positions such as those you cite. However, even as a republican, he ran on a more libertarian position than did the recent Johnson / Weld ticket.

It is OK to say you are after votes; with this as the criteria you could get Bernie Sanders on the ticket in four years. It will be a gold mine.

Since then, I have listened to the interview.  (NB: Words in italics below are his; I do not have a transcript and do not want to take the time for verbatim quotes.)

Sarwark is not helping his case.  His negative statements regarding state’s rights has nothing to do with state’s rights – he is complaining about a specific law passed.  This is entirely its own issue – why mix it up with state’s rights. 

He recognizes the value for liberty of state’s rights – his entire experience with marijuana legalization in Colorado is offered.  So why say state’s rights is not libertarian?  The laws passed may or may not be libertarian, but at least there are 50 chances for gaining some freedom as opposed to one chance.  State’s rights is a tool, nothing more; it can be used for good or bad.  For sure, it always offers more choice.

It cannot be denied: more choice equals more possibilities for liberty – more liberty for the individual; more possibilities for finding community with those who hold similar values.  Ideally, we would have a world where every individual (I say family, but no need to get into this now) has choice regarding his political and social life (within the framework of the NAP).  State’s rights is a tool that offers nothing more than being one step closer to this ideal.  Prove this wrong, Nicholas.

For this reason, state’s rights is a libertarian issue.

When you are talking about using state’s rights to discriminate against people.

But this isn’t what you said in the interview with Marc Clair.  You said state’s rights is not a libertarian position.  By your own words, it depends how the power is used, not the source of the power.

Libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice.  There is no way around this.  State’s rights is decentralization in practice.  Ergo….


 Now, time for something new; talk about a whopper:

Libertarianism is about the platinum rule – treat others the way they want to be treated.

In the spirit of remaining polite, I will not say the first (or second, third, fourth or fifth) thing that comes to mind.  Let’s just say…positive rights and no private property is the result of this worldview.


  1. It's getting pretty hard to call myself a libertarian without conjuring mental images of the LP clown car.

  2. Wow. Just ... wow.

    "We have now sunk to a depth at which restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men." - George Orwell

  3. From Bogart:
    I can't get my head around the futile goal to get as many votes for President as possible. The issue is obvious: The number of votes one requires for President is completely dependent on where one gets those votes with two exceptions and those exceptions are from small states.

    So by their logic, Ron Paul and John Kasich both were more successful at running for President in the General Election than the Libertarian Candidates AND THEY WERE NOT RUNNING.

  4. Almost through the third day and no response from Sarwark. My guess is he won't respond, but I'll keep checking. On the specific claim that state's rights is non-libertarian, I'd like to see him engage debate. Only because as the LP Chair, I think his coming to terms with decentralization as good can work to change the LP platform, even if he doesn't agree with the idea of state's rights per se.