Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The Libertarian Argument for ..."


As is usual in a presidential election year, I'm seeing quite a few of those pieces. Somewhere out there, I'm relatively certain, there's a libertarian (I won't challenge hir credentials) who would make "a libertarian argument for" an Enver Hoxha / Idi Amin ticket if asked to do so. And I guess that's okay, if you're one of those "minarchist" / "limited government" libertarians who still buys into the idea that electoral politics might somehow be manipulated into delivering the goods.

But let's not get silly about it.

I received an email today -- forwarded from a group that I don't belong to, so I'm going to be a bit cagey about revealing the author except to say that it's a prominent Beltway libertarian -- which included a particular claim that's also become nearly boilerplate in recent election cycles:

[T]he future of the country as even potentially libertarian in the future will hinge on the outcome of this election. ... ONLY the Republicans offer a fighting chance to move the ball in a libertarian direction.

Well ... BULLSHIT. This is not only not the most momentous presidential election in US history, it's not even the most momentous presidential election of the last two. Frankly, it's a snoozer, no matter how much of a ratings-seeking snit Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews manage to work themselves into.

And, let's be clear here, neither major party candidacy for the presidency of the United States offers an opportunity to "move the ball in a libertarian direction." For that matter, none of the "third party" candidacies do either.

The US superstate is long past the point of any kind of "rollback." Its momentum and inertia are well over the runaway threshold. It is not going to be turned more than a degree or two off its present course, and certainly not in the opposite direction, nor is it likely to be significantly slowed in its speed along that course by any plausible electoral development. It will stop when it crashes and explodes in flame and not a minute before.

The only worthwhile "libertarian argument" for Romney/Ryan is one of those quasi-Hegelian "accelerate the collapse of the thing beneath the weight of its own contradictions" thingamajabbers.

Each successive president lately tends to adopt the excesses of his predecessor and add a few new ones of his own. So a Romney presidency might bring the final collapse (and the attendant expanded opportunity to rebuild social relations in possibly better form) a little closer, a little faster than would an Obama re-election (especially one, as seems likely, close enough popular vote-wise that Obama won't be able to claim anything like a "mandate" ratification of his first term's actions).

But I wouldn't even take that argument to the bank. The reality is that it just doesn't matter very much at all whether Barack Obama serves George Bush's fourth term or Mitt Romney serves Barack Obama's second term.

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