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In this Ask Me Anything segment, I talk about the weekend, being awesome, Free Trade, and religion.
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This is the second straight week that you and I got together three times, and I want to thank you for that.1 Hopefully, it’s been okay.
With the weekend upon us, we can take in its awesomeness. It’s just Saturday and Sunday mashed together, and we call it one thing – The Weekend. You can’t have brunch on a Tuesday unless you’re on vacation, but on the weekend, baby, you can have back-to-back days of chicken and waffles or a burger.2
Anonymous and I recently had drinks with our friends Mike and Lisa at a time a little past brunch on a Saturday. Both are long-time subscribers.3 As with any conversations with me over the past three years, we got into the recent topics on Okay History.
Lisa chimed in with the doozy, our question for this edition of Ask Me Anything.
“I have a question for you. What is a Libertarian?”
Nothing gets me triggered like being asked my opinion about Libertarianism. Can you imagine if Alexander Hamilton was a Libertarian? Holy moly, my head would explode. Then your head would explode, and then brunch would be ruined.
There are numerous definitions of what a Libertarian is, but I will focus on the American political version for our purposes.
We have heads to protect.
He became a supporter of the Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater of Arizona in the 1964 election. After losing to President Johnson by 7 billion electoral votes to 2, Goldwater quipped that the Republicans needed to go hunting for where the ducks are4, which meant dropping all pretenses of recruiting Black Americans to the Republican cause they helped shape almost 100 years earlier.
That didn’t bother Nolan. However, he quit the Republican Party in 1971 after President Nixon did something that Nolan disagreed with,5 and formed a political party where the Government was less and less a thing in your life.6
He ran for office twice and lost each time. No one else in the party seemed to be capable of winning either. Instead, Libertarians focused on crafting policy. There are several Libertarian think tanks, and I wrote about one that helped push an amendment down in the rankings.
Murray Rothbard, along with Charles Koch, founded one predominant think tank, the magnificent Cato Institute7, which held the position that it was Government overreach to enforce that parents care for and feed their children. Now it drew the line at, say, beating them, but children could starve because it’s not the Government’s job to feed poor kids.
You’d be surprised to learn that Liberty is the root of ideology for the Libertarians. Liberty, of course, is the state of being free, much like a second burger once you buy a first burger at Johnny Rockets,8 for instance.
Why should we allow the Grill to oppress burgers when they should be free toward their eating destiny?
Besides Liberty Burgers, Libertarians love Free Trade, which means there are no tariffs on exports or imports. Tariffs are essential because they generate revenue if needed and protect domestic products. Tariffs are also used to negotiate economic policy between countries.
Libertarians believe the only foreign policy the government should have is military protection. They also believe you can have your own personal arsenal in case you need to attack that military protection.
They desire a weak and meaningless federal government and rely more on an individual’s ability to be awesome. I think I’m awesome and also want people who can’t afford food9 to have access to SNAP benefits.
Free Trade is a great idea. Remember the North American Free Trade Agreement? Signed in 1993 by President Clinton, NAFTA saw a decrease in manufacturing in the United States and, therefore, an increase in poor white people, who got pissed off and decided to attach their financial future to rich people.10
Libertarians appear to be everywhere. They have parties in 47 states and the District.11
However, there are currently…let me check my notes here... yes, there are presently zero Libertarian Party members in the Senate and the House. Joe Biden and Kalama Harris are not Libertarians, so no go there.
Oh, there are zero Libertarians in the states’ upper AND lower chambers. Heck, even the territories don’t elect Libertarians.
No one wants a free second burger, I guess.
So how can they be everywhere and not be seen? Easy.
Libertarians hide themselves inside the Republican party. One way to spot them in the political wild is when they vote for tax cuts for the wealthy. They also despise regulations, which are requirements to implement after Congress passes laws.
Libertarians elected as members of the GOP seek to thwart the power of Congress by flooding the judicial system from top to bottom with judges determined to weaken the federal government. Add to the fact that state legislatures are passing laws that wind up in front of the Supreme Court, where it can reshape election laws which would allow more weak federal government people to get elected.
Look at the ruling from the Supreme Court from last June in West Virginia vs. The Environmental Protection Agency. In a 6-3 vote, the Court said Congress couldn’t give the EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions causing climate change. They did the same thing when they jerked power away from OSHA and their mandates on COVID-19 workplace prevention. The reversal in Congress’s authority is bonkers.
The Court ruled in the 19th century that Congress has the power of discretion when it comes to regulating and protecting people’s lives so they can enjoy second burgers and other liberties. But now we are seeing challenges to regulations on nuclear waste, corporate disclosures, monopolies, and plenty of other stuff that affect us all. Awesome.
Speaking of the past, this type of governing is like the one we had under the Articles of Confederation. Remember how that turned out when the federal government had to seek permission from the states to do anything - like collect taxes? Remember when guys ran around behind the Articles back, had affairs, then we birthed the Constitution? That was way more awesome.
Libertarians would just shrug at my points. They would prefer us to figure out who will collect our trash or let the market work out how to build safe cars. Their point is that the Government needs to stay out of our beeswax.
Religion is another place Libertarians like to hide. I know a former Anglican Pastor who is also a small businessman who always told me he was a Libertarian.12
He has a Ph.D., so the guy is supposed to be way more intelligent than I am. But I never engaged him; when he turned away, I would secretly roll my eyes like a proper Christian.
Jesus Christ was no political fanatic. He rocked his own awesome divine deal. There are certainly places where Christianity easily falls into the two dominant political colors, but I fail to see the third lane for Libertarianism. It’s most likely because they are going the wrong way.
The United States of America was founded on the belief that God gave us this country.13 He told us to go west as it was our destiny. But God also told us to look out for one another.14 To protect children15 and pay our taxes16. To put it simply, be more like Cesar Chavez.
There’s a difference between liberty/second burgers and unfettered freedom, which Libertarians seek. God-ordained institutions like the federal government need to have their authority respected.
I’m reading the book Desire, Darkness, and Hope as part of my monthly prayer group.17 It’s a collection of essays from Constance FitzGerald, a Catholic nun. She notes that our current societal struggles are too focused on individualism and not so much on the community.
We humans serve our interests, we hoard resources…we scapegoat…
We continue to privilege our personal autonomy and are unable to make the transition from radical individualism to a genuine synergetic community even though we know intellectually we are inseparably and physically connected to every living being in the universe.
The Government should expect to provide that liberty reasonably. Libertarians need to stop making Liberty their idol.
What is a Libertarian? An Individual who loves individualism above all else.
So Lisa, hope that helps. Enjoy the weekend. Brought to you by Labor Unions, the most anti-Libertarians out there!
Okay, if you like this latest edition, please do me a favor and hit the like button below. I have excellent open and view rates but need that extra boost of confidence that I’m not ashamed to ask for.
Also, if you happen to be a self-described Libertarian, I am open to hearing why everything I have written is not okay.
I’m back on Monday with Maundy Newsletter. Until then, enjoy the last whole week of April 2023.
It will soon be history.
I discovered footnotes. Prepare yourselves accordingly.
At some point, I’ll share a homily I heard a few years back that spoke of the ills of thinking about Saturday and Sunday as the weekend, but that’s for another time.
And have the cutest red-headed daughter in the world.
The man voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and decided, Whelp; I guess black people don’t like me. Better strategize to get more racists.
Who the heck cares what it was about.
I’m not sure what this means, exactly. How much do you think about the Government in your life? Do you wake up in the morning, and the Government is there ready to make you chicken and waffles?
a. I have to stop writing in the morning because I want chicken and waffles.
It’s not magnificent.
No one, let alone seniors, should eat at Johnny Rockets.
Because they work at Johnny Rockets.
The US went from 16.8 million manufacturing jobs in 1993 to 12.1 million in 2016, when we elected President Last Ranked.
The parties in New Mexico, Virginia, and Massachusetts closed up shop because they obviously didn’t like the control of their leaders.
I love reading or listening to white guys explain to me how libertarian they are.
I’m their leader.
I overdid the footnotes. I think we can agree on that. Still way under 2,000 words, even with them!