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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

An Open Letter to the Libertarian Party

You would think that a party that has "libertarian" in its name would focus on the really important libertarian issues of our time. Not so. All they seem to care about are to defend abortions and to maximize illegal immigration. 

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Dear Libertarian Party,

I am a libertarian at heart. My journey to this ideology was long and a bit arduous, but I am happy I made it. I was raised as a socialist - what else could you expect in Sweden in the 1970s? - but I began doubting that way of life when I started traveling Europe. I found more prosperity, better working societies and more thriving economies in countries like conservative West Germany, very conservative Switzerland, and Thatcherist Britain. 

A summer spent traveling Communist Eastern Europe made a very deep impression on me. It added to the impressions from a trip in my early teens to the Soviet Union. (Yes, my socialist parents really believed that Soviet Russia was the place to be inspired by...) I began reading, trying to understand what my anti-socialist friends had formulated in not-so-coherent words, namely that there was value and virtue in liberty.

I found Robert Nozick and other libertarian thinkers. 

I was home. 

I had somewhat similar hopes and aspirations when I first started looking into the Libertarian Party. Frustrated with a Republican party that - to reference Michael Tanner - had become Leviathan on the Right, I had great expectations that this little party could become a meaningful alternative in American politics. 

Sadly, today I have to conclude that this is not going to happen. Yes, the LP has great positions on some issues, including a nice principled position on the proper role of government:
The only proper role of government in the economic realm [sic] is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, and improper in a free society.
They also call for the termination of "all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution".  However, when it comes to action items on the issues, they stop very short of proposing reforms that are consistent with this bold platform statement. On health care, for example, they only propose tort reform, "Right to Try" for experimental medicine and free-market testing of pharmaceutical products. 

Medicine is less than ten percent of total health expenditures. The Libertarian Party would make a much bigger difference if it focused on systemic reforms to our health insurance and health care markets. 

Their lack of ideas on the health policy front is not their only omission. They are entirely at loss for ideas on how to actually reform away other components of the welfare state, such as Social Security or government-provided income security.

Omissions like these reveal a lack of focus. I would have been happy to help the LP build strength in these areas, and I would have done it despite the fact that the LP is pro-choice on abortions (I believe all life is sacrosanct). However, when their anti-life position on abortions is combined with their increasingly ill-informed views on immigration, I have to put my foot down.

Today I got this letter from the party's executive director, Dan Fishman. to be clear, I am not revealing any private correspondence - it is basically the same text that they put up on their website:
I'm getting ready to go out to the desert in New Mexico and welcome legal immigrants seeking asylum into the United States. On Aug. 24–25, the Libertarian Party of New Mexico, the City of Deming, N.M., and Colores United, with assistance from the Libertarian Party, are hosting a two-day radiothon broadcast by the LP’s own Pat Ford. This event will be a celebration and fundraiser for the Deming Refugee Center, located 30 miles north of our southern border in South Central New Mexico — an extremely remote location. Since Mother’s Day, this center, staffed predominantly by volunteers, has welcomed upwards of 400 legal immigrants per day and provided them with food, water, shelter, medicine, clothing, sanitation, bedding, communication, and transportation after they were processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents as legal asylum seekers and subsequently dumped without any further support in the middle of Deming. At all hours of the day and night, hours by vehicle from any major transportation center, these volunteers make a real, practical difference in the lives of people who desperately need help. Going on four months now, the citizens of Deming have united to embody the Libertarian spirit of voluntaryism and humanitarianism by professionally and graciously welcoming, caring for, and expediting the refugees on the final leg of their journey to their sponsors’ homes. As a highlight of this weekend’s event in Deming, each immigrant departing the center for their final stop will receive a Statue of Liberty lapel pin as a welcoming gift from the Libertarian Party, a historic symbol of freedom and welcome for the world’s refugees. These pins can become items that immigrant will treasure for a lifetime after they wear them proudly on the final leg of their extremely difficult journeys to freedom. The Libertarian Party has secured a limited number of pins for this event. We need more. They come at significant cost, yet also come with significant short and long term value. We ask you to assist us with this project by donating as much as you can now for this part of the event, and potentially making it a continuing project for other Refugee Centers and State LP Chapters around the country. Can you please donate:
Yes, I can, but I won't. In fact, I won't support the Libertarian Party at all from hereon. It is not worth it. They have gotten their priorities totally wrong. We have a federal budget that is about to explode and a Democrat party hell bent on turning this country into Greece.

In the face of this existential threat to this the most free, most prosperous nation on Earth, the Libertarian Party chooses to defend the "rights" of illegal immigrants.

Yes, illegal immigrants. A person who is seeking asylum is not a legal immigrant. He is an asylum seeker. Only when his asylum application has been approved can he become any kind of lawful resident of this country. If his asylum application is denied, he either goes back to where he came from or becomes an illegal immigrant.

And before I get any comments about how oppressive borders are, let me make one thing clear. I am a legal immigrant. I went through the entire process, from arriving in America with two suitcases and a Ph.D. diploma, to eventually becoming a proud United States citizen. In between I went out of my way to always have legal status, even if it meant economic ruin for me. Which it did, on two occasions. I paid my taxes, never took a dime from government, always went out of my way not to break any laws. I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and government fees and lost at least as much in forfeited income because my progress through the immigration labyrinth was too slow. But I did it, and I don't regret any of it.

If I could do it legally, so can everybody else.

Again: I am a staunch libertarian - read my books, articles and blogs if you doubt me - and I would have enjoyed working with the Libertarian Party to fight the behemoth that is our welfare state. But the LP has clearly lost focus on the important issues in our time. Their positions on immigration and abortions, taken together, are more than I can stomach. I am once and for all severing my ties with that party.

Farewell.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your well written article. I agree 100%.

    ReplyDelete

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