Monday, March 03, 2008

Man Bites Dog: CEO Supports Democrat!

That was my suggested headline but the editor thought it was one joke too many, apparently. In case you want to (and you should) read the Mickadeit column, it's here. My column (newspaper version here) was linked to a Tibor Machan column telling you to vote for the (unnamed) libertarian in November if there is one on your ballot. We’ve thus come to the crux of the matter; libertarianism is a political philosophy without any people involved, politics without the polis. What could possibly go wrong?

East Valley Tribune, Mar. 2, 2008

Independent “content” contractors like yours truly don’t get much access to our Orange County Editorial Overlords. Once a year or so, Prof. Tibor Machan, the home team’s “libertarian advisor,” descends from his ivory tower at Chapman University, the Harvard of the 92866 ZIP Code, and propounds the libertarian “less should be more” philosophy to us locals.

The Tribune’s Perspective section also participates in the Freedom Communications annual salute to R.C. Hoiles, the founder of the family-dominated corporation that owned this newsprint before selling it to you. It’s in November; you’ll want to buy those Ayn Rand books you’re considering for holiday gifts before demand soars in response.

But stuck here in the Arizona boonies, we lesser minions in the Freedom food chain missed the big corporate event last week,
as described by Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit. Freedom Communications sponsored the “Freedom Presidential Debate” between Prof. Machan and Freedom CEO Scott Flanders at Corporate HQ (in an Irvine office park; think Chandler, but with less convenient parking.)

Mickadeit figured a debate between Machan and Flanders over which libertarian to support for president in 2008 (of course there’s more than one libertarian running, it goes with the territory) wouldn’t be very interesting, but hey, a free sandwich and soda counts as a perk to a print journalist. And the first part of the debate was pretty run-of-the-John-Stuart-Mill, an abstract discussion of the practical versus philosophical approaches to politics.

Machan urged the audience to vote for the Libertarian Party candidate. While that candidate has roughly the same chance of winning as does Ralph Nader (assuming that Ralph Nader isn’t the Libertarian candidate; when you’re a vanity candidate, any platform will suffice), Machan thought it would be good to get libertarian ideas a wider hearing, to prepare for serious reforms, “maybe even a revolution.” (Since when is going back two centuries considered a revolution?)

Flanders took the other side of the argument, that it would be better to vote for the major-party candidate who would accomplish more for personal freedom -- in other words advancing libertarianism without Libertarians. Our CEO then announced that in 2008, the top issue for him is “who will get us out of Iraq.”

This is not news; as part of last year’s Hoiles hoopla, all the Freedom papers had editorials
applying Our Founder’s philosophy to current issues, and guess what? The war in Iraq was a mistake, and we should bring the troops home: “Terrorists may ‘hate us for our freedom,’ but they are able to recruit people to attack us because we are in ‘their’ countries, trying to run them.”

So if your top issue is getting out of Iraq, for whom do you vote? Flanders risked the whole Hoiles legacy, not to mention his membership in the CEO Club, by saying he was going to vote for Barack Obama, even though he really does know that Obama is a Democrat.


It’s not just the war; Flanders said Obama also would do the best job on three other top libertarian concerns, namely restoring the separation of church and state; reducing state exuberance in prosecuting victimless crimes; and cutting back the Patriot Act. Just ending the war, much less those additional issues, mattered to Flanders far more than whether taxes get (temporarily) raised or lowered.

Freedom doesn’t endorse candidates, so the fact that the CEO supports Obama tells you only that the CEO supports Obama. But it’s worth noting that neither the CEO nor the house philosopher thinks you should vote for the Republican.

This should not be surprising, because a political party that supports misguided and expensive (
$3 trillion and counting!) wars, which wants to tear down barriers between religion and the state, and which thinks government knows best about everything but money, really isn’t a congenial home for libertarians.

If you like what Bush has done and what McCain promises to keep doing, fine -- but don’t call yourself a libertarian. Taxophobic, yes, but not a libertarian.


Tibor said...

The ideas of the American Founders were revolutionary back then and, sadly, still are, considering how entrenched is the governmental habit even among Americans. But I doubt that such considerations bother someone who sees much of this as more of a game, an occasion for snide remarks about folks who are really involved.

Sam said...

"Folks who are really involved" -- you're kidding, right? Or really that clueless?