politics

America needs to get back to religion, no matter what libertarians say

Here’s a quick lesson for young, self-styled libertarians: Nick Gillespie’s punk-rock stylings and irreverent attitude are not a formula for success.

Admittedly, few in the budding millennial libertarian “generation” will believe me. They are busy celebrating pot freedom and the right to marry whoever they want. Clearly, somewhere along the line between Leonard Read and the New York Times-dubbed “libertarian moment,” freedom turned into blissful sodomy and getting stoned. Should the trend continue, libertarianism will wither, and rightly so.

Gillespie, who is a thought leader in the trendy libertine-leaning freedom movement, is championing the decline. From his soapbox at Reason magazine, he preaches the principles of free association and non-aggression. Much of his work is laudable; his wittiness is a great tool showing how foolish the warmongers in Congress are. But even the wisest jokester is not immune to stupidity. Gillespie’s attitude, anti-authoritarian as it is, is a road map of the perilous direction that libertarianism is trending.

In a recent diatribe, the black jacketed sermonizer attempts to correct Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal on a topic of high importance: God and America. The governor, who is a convert to Catholicism, recently told a group of Christians and Jewish leaders the country has drifted away from God. This path is dangerous for America, he averred. As a possible 2016 presidential candidate looking to court social conservatives, Jindal was unambiguous about his warning, telling the crowd, “We have tried everything and now it is time to turn back to God.”

This is all wrong according to Gillespie. Issues of public policy, spending and debt, entitlement programs, civil liberties, and militarization are not matters of spiritual conviction. When it comes to politics, he maintains, “God has nothing to do with any of that.”

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You don’t win converts by being rude

“I’m going to be 100% honest with you,” her email started. “I want you there but I don’t want [her] there.” That’s the excuse I was given for why I was not invited to a friend’s engagement party. As an ardent anarcho-libertarian, she didn’t want my girlfriend in attendance. My expected guest committed the gravest of sins: she “honestly believed Romney would be a good president.” That belief might as well be the same as robbing starving children of their last scraps of food. My girlfriend also had the audacity of criticizing libertarians for both being too purist and not casting a ballot for Governor Romney when it mattered. In the libertarian world, this accusation is the equivalent of first degree murder. So she must be shunned.

When I first received the email, I stared at it for a minute before clicking off and hitting the “trash” button. At first I smirked about the declined invitation. I used to be a militant defender of libertarian non-politics. I avoided company with government workers, preferring to withhold my presence from those awful “thieves and murderers.” I understood where the disinvitation was coming from. But even still, I was hurt by the sentiment. I was being kept out of gathering of friends because of my girlfriend’s political beliefs. She’s not some bullhorn Republican, aggressively deriding everyone who doesn’t vote straight R. She’s as amicable around liberals as she is around conservatives and libertarians. This was strictly politics.

The liberal press loves to fret about the current polarization in politics facing America. Tea Party Republicans are painted as intolerant of compromise. President Obama’s aloof stance toward the loyal opposition is seen as a necessary undertaking if he is ever to get anything done. Washington, we’re told, is a town divided on ideological lines that is as cynical as it is inept. There’s a lot of truth in these caricatures. But the American polity isn’t all that venomous or divided as it was two centuries ago. In the contentious campaign between then-President John Adams and then-Vice President Thomas Jefferson, sycophants from both sides called the candidates everything from “a hideous hermaphroditical character” to a “gross hypocrite.” If anything, political discourse has cooled down to a level of respectful civility.

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