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Hot-Tub Libertarians
Real Clear Politics & Yahoo ^ | May 16, 2006 | Ryan Sager

Posted on 05/16/2006 1:20:13 PM PDT by freepatriot32

As the Republican Party abandons its commitment to small government, how politically impotent are libertarians? Let me count the ballots.

Specifically, let me count the ballots from 2004. Exit polls (along with, well, all polls) tend to ignore libertarians as a group, so one has to approach such questions from the side, as opposed to head on. But here's one measure of how libertarian-leaning voters voted in the last presidential election: While George W. Bush gained 10 points between 2000 and 2004 among voters who thought government should "do more," he stayed essentially even among voters who felt government should not do more or should "do less."

In other words, despite No Child Left Behind, campaign-finance regulation, steel tariffs, the Medicare prescription-drug bill and exploding government spending generally, libertarians stood by their man. (I should know. I did, too.)

That's no way for an organized voting bloc to behave. If no amount of sticking your finger in a constituency's eye will make them vote against you, you're going to poke through until you hit brain. But, of course, no one ever said that libertarians were organized -- or that, when it comes to politics, they have much in the way of brains.

But what if they did? How powerful a voting bloc could they be?

It's a tough question, and one libertarians have spent far too little time effort researching, but there's a quick and dirty answer: somewhere between 9 percent and 20 percent of the electorate.

The 20 percent figure comes from Gallup, which labels as libertarian voters who say they oppose the use of government either to "promote traditional values" or to "do too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses." Gallup finds an equal number of populists (people who want more government intervention in both the economy and the culture). And it finds that 27 percent of Americans are conservative and 24 percent are liberal.

The 9 percent figure comes by way of a recent analysis done by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. Last month, Pew released an analysis, based on a survey of 2,000 people, which was aimed at finding the ideologues among the American voting public -- those voters who held consistent ideological views on a sampling of subjects, such as health care, gay marriage and Social Security reform.

Libertarians were the smallest group, as defined by Pew, followed by conservatives (15 percent), populists (16 percent) and liberals (18 percent). A full 42 percent of voters held no identifiable ideology (these are presumably the people who vote for whomever's tallest).

Perhaps the most interesting fact in the Pew survey, however, was that less than 6 in 10 libertarians voted for Bush in 2004. While few libertarians seem to have deserted the president between 2000 and 2004, they are split roughly evenly between the two parties. The Pew survey finds 50 percent of libertarians identifying as Republicans, 41 percent as Democrats.

Given that libertarians' traditional home has been in the conservative base of the Republican Party for about five decades, as part of a strained partnership with social conservatives, their almost 50-50 split between the two parties today is big news.

According to Pew's "political typology," libertarians used to be one of three groups that made up the Republican Party, along with social conservatives and economic conservatives. But, since 1994, they've been replaced by a group of voters Pew has called Populists, but most recently renamed Pro-Government Conservatives. In essence, it would seem, these Pro-Government Conservatives -- about 10 percent of the electorate, largely female and southern, and equally at ease with universal health care and banning controversial books from libraries -- are squeezing libertarians further and further toward the fringes of the GOP.

Is there any way to reverse the tide?

That, of course, gets to the question of whether a bunch of individualists can ever be organized. A man who should know a little about that, the Cato Institute's executive vice president, David Boaz, tells two stories. In one, a man wouldn't come to a rally for 1980 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Ed Clark because he had to look at his sister-in-law's car. In another, a man skipped a rally at the 1984 Democratic convention in San Francisco because he had a more pressing engagement ... in a hot tub.

"I think libertarians are looking at their sister-in-law's car, instead of going to political meetings," Boaz says. "And there are also libertarians who are in hot tubs in Sausalito." These may seem like small things, Boaz argues, but the cumulative effect is that people who don't care much for government are the hardest to convince to care about changing it.

The challenge, then -- for those who don't want to see the Republican Party succumb once and for all to big-government conservatism and who don't want to see it become overrun with populists lacking in respect for taxpayers' money and individuals' right to be left alone -- is either to organize existing libertarians more effectively to vote and contribute time and money as a bloc or to identify new constituencies with an overriding interest in remaking the time bomb we call the New Deal (everyone under 40 comes to mind).

So, libertarians: It's time to get out of that hot tub! Put down that wrench! And start thinking about how you're going to reclaim your rightful place in the conservative coalition.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: gop; gwb2004; hottub; libertarians; libertarianvote
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To: billbears; Jim Robinson
I've been following your discussion with interest. In this political struggle, I'd think the long term winning strategy is where the effort should be placed. After all, any given politician must, regardless of party, more or less, vote constrained by the populace in his/her district. Thus, changing the minds of the people, via education, via challenging their common assumptions, making them defend the positions of the MSM, via websites like FR etc... HAS to result in positive gain over the long term. We are clearly seeing the younger generation(s) getting more Conservative/Libertarian over time. IMO, This should be the measure of our success. How the Libertarians vote or what the Libertarian party, or any other third party orgs do in a particular cycle is, it seems to me, somewhat of a secondary concern. However, speaking of which, in the short term, an organization that has recently greatly helped our cause, IMO, is the Club For Growth, which has given Conservatives/Libertarians a resource to elect politicians (like Tom Coburn) who don't try to 'triangulate' and ‘stay in power’, as it seems to me much of the establishment GOP is geared to do, but instead galvanize the blogosphere and the new Conservative/Libertarian media by leading, rather than being lead, which equals more long term gain. When politicians see that being Conservative/Libertarian results in them staying in power, then we can sit back and watch them fall over each other in their eagerness to reform (reduce) government and restore Constitutionality. :)
41 posted on 05/16/2006 11:43:59 PM PDT by traviskicks (
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To: traviskicks
Well, like I said, the very best thing we can possibly do for the long term is to make sure we continue replacing liberal activist judges with constitutionalists. Judges are forever.
42 posted on 05/16/2006 11:51:51 PM PDT by Jim Robinson
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To: traviskicks
I'm mostly a CFG fan myself. But here in IL we have a really serious problem with the State GOP. Our last Republican governor is currently awaiting sentencing on a veritable laundry list of corruption charges.

He was a nasty RINO sort. I'll admit I voted for the pro-gun pro-life Dem (yes there are some. Glen Poshard is his name.) over the pro-abortion, anti-2nd, tax raising Republican. Poshard came within a whisker of defeating Ryan in the General election largely due to his pro-gun and low tax position.

Apparently the IL GOP has learned absolutely nothing from the Ryan debacle and has nominated as their candidate another pro-abortion, anti-2nd, tax raising, pro-illegal candidate. Judy Barr Topinka actually served in Ryans corrupt regime but claims 'no knowledge' of the laundry list of crimes committed during his tenure.

IL conservatives are a long suffering lot, but this is something up with which I will not put. In my district it's an easy choice for the House. Pete Roskam is running for Hydes seat and has his endorsement.

Unfortunately I'm stuck with Durban and Obama as Senators, once again largely due to the complete ineptitude of the IL GOP. I won't have a chance to vote for a Senator for another 2 years, sadly.

What I won't do under any circumstances is vote for a RINO for the US Senate. We've seen in the last few days what havoc even a couple of those beasts can wreak, so I won't be contributing in that regard.

Hopefully the IL GOP will purge itself of the RINOs running the Central Committee in the interim and find a real honest to God conservative to run against Durbin. I'm not sanguine about the possibility, but I suppose there's always hope.


43 posted on 05/17/2006 12:08:26 AM PDT by Lurker (Insanity is repeating the same action again and again yet expecting different results.)
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To: sheepsclothing
"The she-witch has the 'Rat nomination in an iron-clad lockbox"

No way, they want a chance to win and they aren't that stupid.

Who is "they"? Hillary wants to be president. Period. Some other 'Rats might be thinking that she is not the best horse to bet on, but what is their other option? Hillary has the money, she has the skills, and she has the key allies in the various state 'Rat organizations. Who can touch this? Some think that there are 'Rat elders somewhere that will somehow direct the primary process to produce that which is best for the party. Nonsense. It is every person for themself, and Hillary has all of the beans.

44 posted on 05/17/2006 2:18:19 AM PDT by rogue yam
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To: Jim Robinson
"..the very best thing we can possibly do for the long term is to make sure we continue replacing liberal activist judges with constitutionalists. Judges are forever."

Your premise is based on a false assumption. The assumption you are making is that the Republic of the United States will last forever or as long as its judges. This contradicts what the Founders and many other wise people have said. All democracies end in bankruptcy or hyperinflation whenever the people learn to vote themselves benefits. Gokhale and Smetters tell us that the net present value of the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare are roughly equal to the entire estimated total private net worth of the United States and that the economy has never grown in a single year at a rate that would be required in each and every year in order to amortize these liabilities. It is Social Security and Medicare that are never ending problems that cannot be solved and that spell the end of the United States. There is no long term for the United States unless Social Security and Medicare are completely abandoned.

Returning to the Constitution is the only solution to this otherwise unsolvable problem. Nothing that has ever been tried in your lifetime has even remotely reversed the law or the trend in place of expanding and growing socialism. You have recently been presented a plan that is easily executed once it is implemented. There are no better proposals and none that I have ever seen that even come close to matching the potential of this effort. You, Jim Robinson, have the ability to initiate the effort needed that might get this plan launched. The biggest barrier and hurdle to the success of the plan, is actually getting it started.

Listen to your own words: "What is our mission? Free Republic is dedicated to reversing the trend of unconstitutional government expansion and is advocating a complete restoration of our constitutional republic"..."In our continuing fight for freedom, for America and our constitution and against totalitarianism, socialism, tyranny, terrorism, etc., Free Republic stands firmly on the side of right, i.e., the conservative side. Believing that the best defense is a strong offense, we (myself and those whom I'm trying to attract to FR) support the strategy of taking the fight to the enemy..."

These are wonderful words and ideas. They are worth fighting for and yes, even worth dieing for. The plan you are being asked to initiate is not asking anybody to take to arms or risk death. All it asks is that you use your keyboard and this forum to engage in a debate in the arena of ideas to either implement our plan, improve our plan or find a better one and implement it.

The boomers will start becoming eligible for Medicare in the fall of 2012. By 2016, it will not be possible to hide the magnitude of the problem from anybody. Government has never solved a single problem of any kind. Governments magnify problems and multiply them. Medicare represents the single largest financial crisis that has ever faced mankind let alone the United States. The combined unfundable liabilities of Social Security and Medicare exceed the combined costs of all wars fought by the United States including the Revolutionary War and the Cold War. I haven't done the math, but would hazard a guess that the unfundable liabilities exceed the combined total federal budgets since the inception of the Republic. That was not Samuel Adams' view of freedom, "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." And if your own words still have meaning to you, it isn't your view of freedom either.

The United States will be a footnote in history before federal judges address this problem. And can you show me any problem ever fixed by a federal judge or one fixed by any federal official of any kind? Problems are solved by the people. And if WE the people don't solve this one before the unfunded liabilities of Medicare become perceived as genuine obligations of the US Treasury, there won't be any federal judges to address the problem anyway.

Ronald Reagan made a difference. He bought us more time to solve the problem, but he personally was not able to turn back the clock. Republicans have controlled the legislative agenda for more than decade and contolled the government for half that time. Republicans have acted exactly like Democrats. When faced with losing power, Republicans tried to buy votes with prescription drugs and made the problem worse, not better. Republicans knew campaign finance reform was unconstitutional, but they passed it, signed it, and made it law. The judges you hope will turn the clock back, said Campaign Finance Reform is constitutional after all. CFR added immensely to the burden of defeating incumbents, something that has to happen if you believe elected officials are going to solve this problem. Like you, Republicans have talked about the problem, but they fired the man who wanted to know the honest truth about the magnitude of the problem, and they buried the report itself. The report only saw the light of day because the men who did the study had the courage to quit the government and publish their results elsewhere in the hopes that men like you would see the light and start looking for a genuine solution before it's too late. The ball is in your court Jim, are you going to run with it or punt?

45 posted on 05/17/2006 5:40:56 AM PDT by HopefulPatriot (Freedom means making your own choices instead of government making the choice for you.)
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To: freepatriot32
If Jim Robinson and FreeRepublic can recruit Rush to this effort, WE the people can start taking our country back one elected office at a time. Once our victories start, at some point they will begin to snowball. Libertarians, other third parties, and Republicans will not only want to get on our band wagon, current incumbents will also not want to be on our targeted list. Addicted to office, some incumbents will actually become part of the solution just to stay another term or two. But without Jim Robinson's and FreeRepublic's help, the best plan ever devised to restore the Constitution may never see the light of day or rise to Rush's attention.
46 posted on 05/17/2006 5:54:18 AM PDT by HopefulPatriot (Freedom means making your own choices instead of government making the choice for you.)
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To: dr_who_2

Frankly, I can take being called nutty, piggy, self-centered, disgusting, evil, godless, obnoxious, cynical, apathetic for not voting RINO. LOL

47 posted on 05/17/2006 7:03:32 AM PDT by Liberal Classic (No better friend, no worse enemy. Semper Fi.)
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To: MNJohnnie
Screaming for 100% of what you want and demanding ZERO of what you don't want is the behavior of spoiled petulant children, NOT adults. "Organized voting blocks" who demand 100% ideological purity end up being completely politically irreverent. Why? Well suppose the losertarians form a block. Suddenly issue A comes along. Give their knee jerk 100%erism, anyone who has a different view on issue A will suddenly decide they have to "Stand on principal" and abandon the party. Pretty soon you have 40 Losertarian parties each thumping their chest and screaming about how "pure" they are. Meanwhile they get ZERO accomplished in politics.

IMHO, you have written a pretty good description of ANY extremist group. This includes some "unappeasables" here on FR. The pragmatic approach is to support the electable candidate whose views most closely match your own and then attempt to influence the person you helped elect on issues where you disagree. Not perfect, but better than turning power over to people you can't stand and then carping about how bad they are.

48 posted on 05/17/2006 7:11:58 AM PDT by RebelBanker (If you can't do something smart, do something right.)
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To: Smokin' Joe
When a meeting of libertarian-leaners can only draw six people in a city of a million, voting has very little impact.

Here in New Hampshire, after about two and a half years of the Free State Project, we have people holding elective office in towns, candidates for State Rep, a defeat of a smoking ban, and twenty people showing up at the drop of a hat to help a new family move in, and routine meetings and social events of 20-60 people nearly every week of the month.

Come to the Porcupine Fest in Lancaster, NH at the end of June to learn more, if you're interested.

49 posted on 05/17/2006 7:15:54 AM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: MNJohnnie

"Organized voting blocks" who demand 100% ideological purity end up being completely politically irreverent.

You nailed it. Libertarians don't understand politics. They don't understand, or can't accept, that political power is ALWAYS -- did I say ALWAYS? -- gained and held by one part principle, one part compromise, artfully mixed.

The Republican Party is simply a coalition of the center-right in America. It's not gathering of pure-souled libertarians, conservatives, pro-lifers, whatever: it's a political party. It's function is to KEEP POWER AWAY FROM THE OTHER GUYS.

Participating in politics is A TACTICAL ACT, not a religious devotion to be accomplished with utmost purity. In every vote, make the choice most likely to lead to the best outcome (which is not necessarily the same as voting for the person you like the best). The concept of a protest vote is the intellectual equivalent of the buddhist monk who burned himself in front of the embassy: interesting exercise, but no practical outcome in this universe.

50 posted on 05/17/2006 7:27:11 AM PDT by Taliesan
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To: freepatriot32
Get behind RLC candidates in the Primaries. Hold current office holders accountable for their actions in office.

Most importantly, NEVER miss an opportunity to "take down", poltically speaking, a liberal. Do not shrink from the fact that said liberal could have an (R) next to their name instead of the more standard (D).

51 posted on 05/17/2006 7:32:14 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: Taliesan

Right now, the GOP has "compromised" so much to the Left that they sound like Democrats did 20 years ago. How "artful" is that?

52 posted on 05/17/2006 7:33:13 AM PDT by Dead Corpse (I believe that all government is evil, and that trying to improve it is largely a waste of time.)
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To: mvpel
Thanks for the invite, but I'll be working on this oil well we're drilling in Eastern Montana.

Things are pretty free out here yet; I live in North Dakota.

I think I'll stick around here and see if I can make a difference right here at home.

53 posted on 05/17/2006 7:36:19 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: Lurker

dang, sounds like a tough spot ya'll are in there. In that case you might be better off voting for the libertarian candidate or a third party, if there's any running locally. Ya know, Eugene Debs, the socialist, ran 4 times for pres and I think garned some 8% of the population at some point. FDR certainly had to make sure he didn't get too much, and adjusted policy (unfortunately in this case) accordingly.

54 posted on 05/17/2006 7:53:46 AM PDT by traviskicks (
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To: Jim Robinson
the very best thing we can possibly do for the long term is to make sure we continue replacing liberal activist judges with constitutionalists. Judges are forever.

Yeah but that can also be the problem. judges are forever even ones appointed by republicans. Souter and O conner where appointed by republican presidents and because of those two we no longer actually own any of our property. Under the kelo decision we are just temporarily allowed to pay 100,000 and up for a house and the government will alow us to squat on it until such time as a developer wants us to leave so he can put up a strip mall or grocery store or Pfizer offices

What the republicans need to do now that they have the majority is push for a constitutional amendment stating that any federal or supreme court judge that uses foreign laws or enumerations an penumbras to decide a case at the federal level and not the USA constitution is to be removed from office at the end of the day. That would be the only way to ensure that liberal activist judges don't last forever on the bench

55 posted on 05/17/2006 11:32:51 AM PDT by freepatriot32 (Holding you head high & voting Libertarian is better then holding your nose and voting republican)
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To: freepatriot32
Looks like GWB is doing a pretty good job in the judicial appointment department. A hell of a lot better than we could expect from Gore, Kerry, Hillary, et al. I have absolutely no problem choosing which party I'd rather have nominating or confirming our judges. Thank you very much.
56 posted on 05/17/2006 11:41:46 AM PDT by Jim Robinson
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To: freepatriot32
BTW, if we're gonna push for a constitutional amendment, I'd push for repealing the 17th. I think that would cure a lot of our ills.
57 posted on 05/17/2006 11:44:35 AM PDT by Jim Robinson
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To: JohnnyZ
There's a reason about half of libertarians vote Democrat -- because they're pro-abortion, pro-gay, and anti-religious.

I'm a small-l libertarian and I am opposed to abortion, attend church on a weekly basis, and am for the most part ambivilant about homos.

58 posted on 05/17/2006 11:56:48 AM PDT by jmc813 (The best mathematical equation I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails= 4 given.)
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To: dr_who_2
Libertarians are godless

I'm a small-l libertarian who is a devout Christian.


I've served in the military, have never been arrested, and have a great relationship with my family.


I'd be happy to compare tax returns with you. I can almost assure you that my contributions to the National Bone Marrow Registry top all of your charitable contributions last year.


Can't argue with you there, but there is good nutty and bad nutty. I'm good nutty.


Nice of you to label me before you've even met me. Did you know that Ronald Reagan called libertarianism "the heart and soul of conservatism"?

59 posted on 05/17/2006 12:09:36 PM PDT by jmc813 (The best mathematical equation I have ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails= 4 given.)
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To: jmc813

No, but thanks for telling me, you godless, evil, self-centered small-l libertarian devout Christian.

60 posted on 05/17/2006 6:49:26 PM PDT by dr_who_2
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