Libertarians for Obama: Time for Hindsight
By Bryan Caplan
The penultimate post of the Libertarians for Obama blog (it packed up on November 9, 2008), sure sounds naive in retrospect. After the author writes, “I encourage my fellow libertarians, no matter who they supported, to join me in the following,” there’s narry a mention of impending Obamacare, “economic stimulus,” or continued bail-outs. Instead we’re asked to:
Support the libertarian parts of Obama’s agenda.
the war, closing Guantanamo Bay and rolling back George Bush’s curbs on
civil liberties won’t be easy. The same Republicans who called Obama a
coward or a terrorist during the campaign will redouble their efforts
when he starts to wind down the warfare state. He’ll need all of the
libertarian allies that he can get.
Stand up to him when he backslides.
has made some bold pledges, including his promises to seek out and
eliminate wasteful government spending and put caps on farm subsidies.
Libertarians who supported him shouldn’t let him get away with shying
away from these promises.
Push him in a libertarian direction.
several issues, Obama takes a liberal position that I don’t think he
passionately believes in. Consider gun control. Obama is in favor of
some gun control, but it’s never been a central part of his political
philosophy. Now that he’s done with a campaign in which he’s seen the
passion of the pro-gun community, maybe he can be convinced to move in
our direction. Call me a starry-eyed optimist, but I believe that he’s
changeable on guns, military aid to Columbia, school vouchers and other
issues. Let’s help the change candidate do a little position changing.
Fight him on the issues where we disagree.
believes in card check. I don’t. I’m going to join with the Republicans
on this one and fight him as hard as I can. Same for the Fairness
Doctrine (though I doubt Obama will even try to bring that up).
Spread the word to other libertarians.
is not our enemy. He’s a smart man who believes in classical liberal
values like tolerance, separation of church and state and the rights of
the accused. He understands and appreciates the Constitution. Don’t
throw away a chance at a productive relationship by believing this crap about him being a communist or a dictator in waiting…
While I never believed that Obama was a communist or a dictator in waiting, I don’t see that there was ever “a chance at a productive relationship.” Well before his election I worried that Obama would be another FDR. It could have been worse, but another FDR is roughly what we got. I can understand why a libertarian might have voted for Obama as a lesser evil, or to hold Republicans accountable for their outrages. But to look upon Obama with optimism and respect? Baffling.
Update: In the comments, Lori writes:
Whatever President Obama is, he is emphatically not another FDR. He and
other leading Democrats specifically excluded single-payer advocates
from the health care ‘debate’ at the outset. New Dealers and other
left-populists are as angry at Obama as are right-libertarians…I would
describe him as basically another Bill Clinton; someone who is trying
to be all things to all people and isn’t strongly committed to any set
Lori, I’d say that by your standards, FDR himself wasn’t an FDR. He insisted, for example, that Social Security be limited to people who made some contribution, instead of backing the far-left proposal to immediately start cutting checks to anyone over 65.
So what makes an FDR? Roughly speaking, a president who is more leftist than 90% of the Congressmen who held office immediately prior to his first election. I think FDR and Obama both qualify. Clinton, in contrast, was probably no more leftist than 65%. It’s a pretty big difference.