Saturday, October 19, 2019

Carlson & Graham: libertarians run Washington

The bizarre fiction of libertarians' control of Washington - Bonnie Kristian, The Week:

October 9, 2019 - "It is with great pleasure that I announce to my fellow libertarians: We have won.

"We thought ourselves the acolytes of a largely ignored vision for American governance. We saw a $22 trillion national debt ... while both major parties bailed out big business, using tax dollars to paper over the consequences of bad policy calls. We watched the rise of the post-9/11 security state — mass digital surveillance, the terror watchlist, the TSA.... We wondered if these numerous and apparently permanent wars, with their deplorable carelessness about civilian casualties, war crimes, and due process, would ever end. We objected to the brutality and militarization of American law enforcement.... We talked about abolishing the Federal Reserve, ending the drug war, eliminating entire federal departments, and more, all with relatively little reason to believe our goals would ever be realized on any mass scale....

"But we were wrong! We didn't realize it, but we controlled Washington this whole time. This is big news for us, and I think we owe Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a huge thanks for letting us know.

"Carlson was the first to give us an inkling of our true power. 'The leadership class is resolutely libertarian,' he revealed in early June, bemoaning Washington's plentiful 'libertarian zealot[s] controlled by the banks, yammering on about entrepreneurship and how we need to cut entitlements.' Later that month, he indicated this dynamic exists because the Koch brothers are 'libertarian ideologues, passionate and inflexible' who 'run the Republican Party,' dictating the GOP platform on key issues including immigration, drug and prison policy, and free speech.

"You may find this surprising — I know I did! — as it seems to bear little resemblance to the actual state of Republican policymaking in 2019. On immigration, for example, the bulk of the GOP has followed Trump into calls for strict border security and limited refugee and immigrant admissions ... but the Koch brothers' perspective Carlson decries includes support for DACA and liberalized immigration policy more generally.... Carlson correctly noted Koch support for the First Step Act, but libertarians like yours truly deemed it a limited achievement. Is backing it anyway what it means to be ideologically 'inflexible'?.... And as for free speech, we do tend to be passionate about the First Amendment.... Rising GOP stars like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), by contrast, back proposals that would, as National Review's David French put it, 'invite an enormous amount of bureaucratic meddling online'....

"Even more surprising for me was Graham's disclosure this week that we libertarians also control America's foreign policy. 'The Obama-libertarian foreign policy does not make America safe,' the hawkish senator tweeted Monday in response to Trump's reshuffling of U.S. troops in Syria. 'If ignoring radical Islam made America safe, there would NOT have been a 9/11.'

"I never would have guessed libertarians dictated U.S. foreign affairs not only from 2008 to 2016 but also in the run-up to 9/11. I thought we were very angry about American foreign policy in those years, always complaining about the blowback, the drone strikes, the unconstitutional executive war-making, the attacks on innocent civilians, the costly and incompetent nation-building efforts, and so on. I thought we were always raising objections to former President Barack Obama's foreign policy on pretty much every possible basis.... Little did we know we were Obama's puppet masters all along!...

"I jest, obviously, but only because it is enormously bizarre to find oneself attacked in wildly inaccurate effigy. The most plausible explanation I can muster for this fiction of libertarian power is that libertarianism is in broad strokes the opposite of the Trumpian GOP's ... current mood of state-enforced social conservatism and what Carlson has dubbed 'economic patriotism,' which we would call protectionism, corporatism, and rank profligacy....

"Libertarians may sometimes punch above our weight in national debate, but when it comes to effectively wielding power in Washington, we're weaklings. I wish Carlson and Graham were right about us running the country. The reality is they're wrong."

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