Sunday, April 16, 2017

Republican libertarians' newly-won political clout

Jack Hunter: Libertarians are flexing their political muscle - My Statesman:

March 27, 2017 - "Before Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns spawned a 'liberty movement' of activists and political leaders, the influence of which is still being felt to this day (just ask Barack Obama or Donald Trump), you would have had a hard time finding libertarians in Congress period, with the exception of Ron Paul.

"But today, and for some time, libertarian Republicans have actually had measurable political clout. This has certainly been true on the foreign policy and civil liberties fronts, where, in 2013, it was Rep. [Justin] Amash who spearheaded the effort to reign in the NSA’s controversial mass surveillance practices with a bill that was unsuccessful by only 12 votes. Some could argue that Sen. [Rand] Paul has been instrumental in shaping President Trump’s state and defense cabinet with his denunciations of prominent neoconservatives whose names were floated.

"In the House, Rand Paul’s father Ron Paul would often be the sole 'no' vote based on his strict constitutionalist principles. Sen. Paul has been known to be the sole 'no' vote in the senate — among Republicans or among everyone — where his single vote can sometimes be more effective than a representative’s would be.... Paul held up the Balkan nation of Montenegro’s entrance into NATO all by his lonesome, causing the hawkish John McCain to accuse Paul of working for Vladimir Putin.

"In 2008, McCain dismissed Ron Paul during presidential debates as an 'isolationist,' and most Republicans probably agreed with McCain in that still very hawkish post-George W. Bush GOP environment. In 2017, the son of Ron Paul is mucking up McCain’s ability to put America on the hook militarily for yet another foreign country, and while Paul doesn’t have much Senate support, he does have it elsewhere in conservative and libertarian circles.

"Things have changed, and libertarians have benefitted....

“'This time, instead of merely standing against something, the Freedom Caucus is standing for what the Republican Party repeatedly promised constituents: a full repeal of Obamacare,' Boland notes. 'It also helps that Paul, a physician from Kentucky, has another replacement bill in the Senate that could actually lower the cost of insurance by eliminating government mandates, giving people the freedom to purchase insurance across state lines, allowing customers to join voluntary larger insurance pools and a host of other free-market reforms.'

"Libertarians favor less government, individual choice and free markets in most things, including healthcare. Most conservative Republicans pretend to favor these things too, or at least when Democrats are in control....

"But when Republicans are in control, these one-time small government advocates behave little differently than Democrats in their zeal to 'do something.' That’s precisely what Paul Ryan and others have been doing, in their rush to jam through a health care bill that retains the individual mandate Republicans used to say was the worst part of Obamacare.

"If not for libertarian Republicans, I wouldn’t want much to do with the GOP." They are the best Republicans precisely because they are the most principled. Thankfully, they also have political muscle now too, as this week reminds us."

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