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What the GOP Offers the Libertarian Kids on the Lawn

6 min read

Chicago, March 21st 2013 – Senator John McCain’s characterization of Senator Rand Paul’s 13 hour filibuster, was as a stunt to get young “impressionable libertarian kids” riled up. Lindsay “when they say ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, “Shut up. You don’t get a lawyer’” Graham, concurred. However, many of Senator McCain’s fellow Republicans and conservative commentators from Mike Huckabee, George Will to Rush Limbaugh see the libertarian kids as necessary to the future of the GOP-from an actuarial basis this is tough to deny. But who needs who more?

If the liberty kids are the future of the GOP, then they will have to change it to make it consistent with a liberty minded platform because many parts of the GOP’s platform, in its current iteration, are not consistent with liberty. Repackaging a tired platform, as Sen. Paul suggested at CPAC, will not work—nor by the way will repackaging slightly warmed over old ideas merely by having them articulated by the closest available ethnic speaker. Tokenism does not make your tent bigger, it looks transparently so.

Ideas formed more by opposition to liberal ones than an internally consistent value system will be exposed as Sen. Paul suggested by a “’Facebook generation’ [that] can detect falseness and hypocrisy a mile away.” Many liberals love to label the GOP the Party of Stupid because they find it easy to mock an ideology that is heard expressing itself more often in terms of the hatred of ‘sluts’, the discussion of legitimate rape, naked Islamaphobia, birthers, vagina probes, and a distrust of higher education and science that smacks of crude, bumper-sticker ideology more than it resembles the higher aspirations of a kinder, gentler society-completely leave aside bringing a thousand points of light into the matter. And while CPAC speakers like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman and Donald Trump are admirable people -you might be in trouble if they constitute your party’s intellectual brain center.



In its barest form, the liberty party is perfectly consistent with its own intellectual content. By contrast, the GOP is internally inconsistent, often substituting ideology for a thought out philosophy and in the process left without an overwhelming amount of intellectual content. Some of its dearest policies are inconsistent with liberty.

 Another part of our debt woes is the trillions of dollars we spend fighting decade-long wars and sending foreign aid all over the world. America must always maintain a strong national defense, but young people can imagine a world in which the United States doesn’t have to be involved in every part of it.” Rand Paul

Big wars are big government. The Wall Street Journal last Friday pointed out the real cost of the Iraq War (estimated at between $1.7-$3 trillion) is actually $6 trillion. The Neoconservatives are Trotskyites-they suffer from the Communist delusion that regime change (think George W. Bush’s freedom agenda) leads to the triumph of an ideology-in the Neocon case, democracy. The lack of proof for this hypothesis, the unpardonable selective isolation of variables to try and assert it, the ignorance of all known history which contradicts it, culture, economic costs and lives lost, did not stop the identical blind ambition of the Communists either. Big war that leads to expenses that dwarf all others builds bigger and bigger government. A thoughtful foreign policy that harkens back to that of the Republican presidents before George W. Bush and his Neocon advisors is not isolationalism-it was Realism. The GOP now believes that anything other than hair-trigger intervention is pacifism. It is as if the GOP has recast history to make it seem like the Cold War never happened and deterrence and containment were effective policies we never undertook.

Despite the boondoggles in Afghanistan and Iraq, the GOP’s foreign policy death march continues. For example, the Menendez-Graham Resolution seeks to have the United States commit to go to war with Iran if Israel should decide to attack Iran. This is outsourcing American foreign policy to the whim of another country and it is unconscionable. During Rick Santorum’s primary run in 2012, he campaigned for war in Iran to prevent a war in Iran-if this sounds illogical, it is because it is impossible. Lindsay Graham of course wants more boots on the ground in general this week it happens to be in Syria.

The GOP cannot logically claim to care about government spending when its spending on Iraq is a large portion of the deficit. If you do not think $6 trillion is a lot of money, consider what else it could have done here in America as pointed out in this article,

As taxpayers, we’re all on the hook for that estimated $6-trillion tab. That’s nearly half the current national debt.

We spent about $550 billion on Medicare last year. Six trillion bucks would fund our healthcare coverage for seniors and disabled people for roughly a decade.

Federal spending for Medicaid, the healthcare program for low-income people, ran about $250 billion last year. So $6 trillion represents nearly 20 years of funding.

The federal government spends an estimated $524 billion on public elementary and secondary school systems annually. With $6 trillion, you’re looking at a massive infusion of cash into our cash-strapped schools over a number of years.

The Environmental Protection Agency had a budget of about $9 billion last year. With $6 trillion, you could run the agency that protects Mother Earth for more than 600 years.

It is more than just an optics problem but an issue of intellectual flim flammery to claim to simultaneously stand for fiscal responsibility by demanding tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans, subsidies for oil companies, corporate tax entitlements, cutting education and welfare—all while incurring obligations greater than it costs to run all government agencies for several years by demanding an unlimited budget for bloody ideological crusades.

Most Americans, and especially young people, worry about our country’s $16 trillion debt. This deficit is a burden that is guaranteed to grow more as time passes, and as Washington continues with its reckless spending. The number one contributor to our debt — entitlements — is something most young people simply don’t expect to see

Many in the GOP that complain about government spending voted for the bailouts. Among those that campaign against government handouts, like Paul Ryan, asked for them-more here.

If I had one message for the young libertarian kids it would be to make the most of not having the baggage of either the Democrats of the Republicans. The liberty party does not have an Iraq War. The liberty party does not have the baggage of bailouts, class warfare against millionaires and billionaires, it is not beholden to big labor, AIPAC, the trial lawyers lobby, a Freedom Agenda, big-pharma, or a legacy of bi-partisan corporate welfare and crony capitalism.

The internally consistent appeal of letting people live their lives more with less government intrusion, not engaging in budget bursting ideology fueled unnecessary wars, examining drug laws and sentencing requirements are not only vastly appealing, they are deficit busting. Neither party at present really wants to cut spending in a serious manner-just the spending for the other party’s recipients of government largesse.

As importantly, the liberty platform does not have to alienate large portions of the electorate on wedge issues-be they social engineering via the tax code or demanding access to people’s bedrooms and living rooms. The key to casting a broad appeal is to assume the mantle of compassionate conservatism and classical liberalism, which is close to the idea of conservatism than parts of the current GOP platform. Leave the Socons and Neocons to fend for themselves. In looking ahead, a liberty party with a modest platform and selective agenda, may have the broadest appeal of all-it just does not realize it yet. In terms of who needs who, the liberty party does not realize that behind its adolescent pigtails and glasses, it could rapidly transform into the most classically beautiful femme fatale.

IMG_1241R. Tamara de Silva is a litigator specializing in Constitutional law in the federal courts. Ms. de Silva is also a professional securities trader. She writes a blog about the law, the financial markets and politics, which can be found