One more time down this rabbit hole

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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69 Responses

  1. “I think the real obstacle to a libertarian-left alliance is the labor movement. “

    I won’t dispute this but I continue to believe it will all come down to personal freedoms. While liberals are okay with personal freedoms like sexual preference, drug usage, etc they aren’t okay with personal freedoms like sodas in public vending machines or salt in our food (I realize this is a gross generalization, but you get my point I hope). So… I this becomes a deal-breaker for libertarians.Report

    • Travis in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, no, I don’t get your point.

      No Democrat is proposing a law banning soda pop. No Democrat is proposing to make it a felony to sell salty food.

      Meanwhile, the Republicans are actively opposing attempts to provide equal marriage rights and are actually proposing to throw gays and lesbians in prison. (c.f. Republican platforms in Montana and Texas.)

      There simply isn’t any equivalency between active Republican efforts to legally keep gays and lesbians second-class citizens, and a few scattered places where Democrats are making it a smidge more difficult to find overpriced sugar water.Report

      • @Travis, No problem. Let’s take it past ‘sugar water’.

        How about Guantanamo?

        How about Kelo v. City of New London?

        How about the Federal Assault Weapons Ban ?

        How about disenfrachisement of felons?

        Let’s not pretend that Democrats are friends of civil liberties. They believe in them when it suits their needs and they abandon them when they don’t.Report

        • Travis in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          @Mike at The Big Stick, “Democrats” != “liberals.”

          There are plenty of liberals, myself included, who believe in re-enfranchising felons and who are appalled at Obama’s failure to do anything to reverse the Bush abuses. Have you checked Daily Kos lately to see how happy liberals are(n’t) with Obama’s presidency so far?

          I’m also with Howard Dean on Kelo: horrible decision that empowers corporate America at the expense of private citizens.Report

          • @Travis, And I know plenty of conservatives (myself included) who are opposed to the drug war and cases like Kelo. So then, with the existence of both of these dissidents groups within the Right and Left (people who oppose some of their side’s positions in favor of libertarian-friendly stances) who do libertarians choose to ally with?Report

            • Travis in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

              @Mike at The Big Stick, the same question could be asked from the liberal side. We’ve been betrayed over and over again by the Democratic Party — but the alternative is even worse. Nader flopping Bush v. Gore will not be soon forgotten.

              What we really need is structural electoral reform, such as proportional representation.Report

        • JosephFM in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          @Mike at The Big Stick,

          How about them? I don’t see your point, like, at all. With the soda thing I did (ironic that that came from one of the most gay-friendly politicians in the whole country, actually…), though I thought it was an inane one (local government tends to be silly no matter what party is in charge).

          The problem right now is that the Obama campaign in 2008 used, and then papered over but didn’t get rid of some very very real divides.

          Almost no Democrats I know of approve of or agree with any of the policies you cite. (That last one wouldn’t even make sense, as ex-felons usually vote Democrat…) However, they are still in place. The question is why? Freddie was getting at this a little in his interview. There are too many oldline 1970s Democrats and not yet enough 21st century progressives in leadership, and if there were – believe me, coming of age in the Bush era, we’d be behind libertarians on civil liberties 100%.Report

          • JosephFM in reply to JosephFM says:


            Of course, the real problem is that civil liberties are an electoral loser. The American people seem to want blood and vengeance, not fairness and law.Report

          • @JosephFM, But the absence of action seems to end up being the status quo (as Freddie also mentioned). At what point do libertarians hold liberals accountable for their lack of follow-through? The curent administration put big-government programs at he top of their priority list, meanwhile Guantanamo is still open, the drug war continues, we’re still fighting these wars, etc. Nothing that would appeal to libertarians has really been done. And would it ever? Won’t some other issue always take priority?Report

        • Travis in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

          @Mike at The Big Stick, as for the “assault weapons” ban, that expired in 2004. I don’t see any serious effort among liberals or the Democratic Party to re-enact it.Report

    • Travis in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick, this is not to say I even necessarily agree with Gavin Newsom’s initiative to ban soda selling in government buildings. I think it’s kind of nonsensical and isn’t really going to accomplish much.

      But there’s this libertarian tendency to point at stuff like that and say “See, liberals hate freedom! We can’t work with them!”

      Well, OK… then keep working with mainstream conservatives, who:

      * Support the drug war and prison expansion

      * Want more “faith-based” entanglement

      * Believe that Team America: World Police is a documentary

      * Spend trillions of dollars on blowing stuff up in Middle Eastern countries, rebuilding it, then blowing it up again

      * Would overturn Lawrence v. Texas if they could

      * Think it’s just swell to have secret prisons and warrantless wiretapping, because if you’re innocent, you have nothing to hide, right?

      This is where liberal frustration with libertarians arises. If they can’t work with us because we support OSHA, that’s fine. But then when they join up with the GOP because, well, FLAT TAX FLAT TAX FLAT TAX, the movement loses any claim to ideological coherency.Report

    • Koz in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

      @Mike at The Big Stick,

      I think Erik is right to emphasize the labor movement, for two reasons. 1. As things stand at the moment, public sector unions are the very core of the Democratic party. 2. They are the very foam in our frothy excess of public spending. Among others, Rich Lowry has written some good stuff on this.

      The backlash against Democrats in 1994 was famously attributed to “God, guns, and gays.” Obama has, for the most part, avoided stoking opposition around that hot-button triad, yet he faces a backlash almost indistinguishable in feel and intensity. Why?

      “Because big government became a cultural issue. The level of spending, the bailouts, and the intervention in the economy contemplated in health-care reform and cap-and-trade all created the fear that something elemental was changing in the country — quickly, irrevocably, and without notice. Obama has run up against the country’s cultural conservatism as surely as Clinton did. But Obama is encountering its fiscal expression, the sense that America has always been defined by a more stringently limited government than other advanced countries. It’s an “American exceptionalism” backlash.”

  2. Here’s the thing, though: for me at least, it’s not about electoral coalitions, at least not from a normative point of view. Instead, it’s about asking the question of where libertarianism has gone wrong, reevaluating what libertarianism’s priorities ought to be, what battles are worth fighting, and how those battles ought to be fought.

    The fact is that in order to get anything accomplished on a policy level, you have to work with one of the two “sides” in American politics on that issue. There is not a terribly large amount of cooperation with the Left on many issues; there is, however, plenty of cooperation with the Right on a host of issues. There are issues that get pushed (e.g., affirmative action) that ought to be of – at most – minimal practical importance to any cause of limited government and are even arguably irrelevant to limited government. There are other issues that get pushed only minimally or, to the extent they are pushed, are pushed under the pretense that liberals are just as bad on those issues as conservatives.

    My point is, in essence, that by accepting right-wing framing of issues and of liberalism, we wind up being institutionally unable to really work with liberals much even on those issues where we agree with liberals.

    For me, it’s primarily about building up a dialogue with the Left to make that kind of cooperation possible, and – perhaps most importantly – striving to recognize what I view as libertarian blind spots.

    In terms of electoral coalitions, my actual ideal – and I’ve expressed this numerous times before – is that libertarians would become a “swing vote” of political free agents to which both parties need to pander.Report

    • @Mark Thompson, I often think that much of the reason for the alliances with the Right come from the clout that certain libertarians have within the larger group. I see much more of the gun-toting, pickup driving, stay out of my life Uncle Same variety than middle class suburban personal liberties crowd. I think for the first group, an alliance with the Right seems to have a better chance of making them happy. Is this incorrect?Report

      • @Mike at The Big Stick, I think there’s probably a certain amount of truth to that Mike. It’s also possible that that flavor of (essentially Western) libertarianism has always been the more numerous (and thus the more influential). And, since there’s not a lot of true-blue liberals in those areas of the country, they’re probably especially susceptible to the kind of framing I’m bemoaning. Still, what I’m really concerned about is overcoming that framing in order to collaborate better with liberals on issues of mutual importance or where liberal and libertarian goals are consistent with the other’s preferred manes.Report

        • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

          @Mark Thompson,

          I’m really not getting why the framing changes anything. If there’s is some overlap of commonality between libertarians and liberals (or conservatives for that matter) about the drug war or homosexuality or whatever lack of overall affinity shouldn’t stop anything.

          The difference between the Left and the Right from the libertarian pov is that the mainstream Right is actually very interested in the theoretical edifice of libertarians even if we disagree with significant parts of it. Whereas the liberals are completely indifferent to it. (They’re more or less indifferent to their own theoretical edifice why would they care about yours?)Report

          • Mark Thompson in reply to Koz says:

            “The difference between the Left and the Right from the libertarian pov is that the mainstream Right is actually very interested in the theoretical edifice of libertarians even if we disagree with significant parts of it. Whereas the liberals are completely indifferent to it. (They’re more or less indifferent to their own theoretical edifice why would they care about yours?)”

            This is precisely why the framing changes everything. If one accepts this framing, then one will have little reason to even attempt to work with liberals. My whole point is that this framing is wrong.Report

            • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Forgive me I might be a little dense but I’m not seeing as how the framing changes anything at all. Was there ever a circumstance where the liberals wanted to decriminalize drugs or privatize the Post Office but couldn’t get the libertarians on board?

              I can’t think of a case. From what I can see libertarians are perfectly willing to work with liberals where there is common interest. The problem is from their team. On the areas of supposedly common interest, the liberals are either indifferent or outright opposed.Report

            • @Mark Thompson, If you’re referring to libertarian votes, then the answer is “no.” But I’m referring to coordination on the activist level, the prioritization of issues, and that sort of thing. I’m loathe to make specific accusations against specific groups that I generally admire. I will, however, point out that libertarian opposition to the Iraq War, torture, and warrantless wiretapping was generally poorly organized and, outside of Ron Paul and the Rockwellians, fairly muted; to the extent it was organized at all, there was also seemingly little coordination with the Left.Report

            • Koz in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              Now I get it a little more. You’re talking about being able to preserve the status quo in opposition where that’s the side you’re on, right?

              Even so, the libertarians should have done much better than they did in opposition to the health care bill. And the reason they didn’t was because that would put them next to the Tea Parties. And that would have offended their SWPL sensibilities.Report

            • Bob in reply to Mark Thompson says:

              @Mark Thompson,

              It didn’t help that Liberaltarians like Brink Lindsay were actually FOR the Iraq War. Kind of hard to have an anti-war coalition when you had quite a few libertarians who supported the war.

              And as far as the national security/civil liberties it seems like both the left and libertarians were unorganized since most politicians voted for the Patriot Act and generally Americans were for it at the time.

              Libertarians aren’t big enough to really hold power in any opposition group so if there isn’t one or in the case or Iraq, your divided, than how can a Liberaltarian alliance work.

              It’s why Libertarians got digusted with conservatives to vote Dems in 2006/08 since conservatives weren’t willing to hold opposition to increased spending and than also were still pro war.Report

            • @Bob,
              “It didn’t help that Liberaltarians like Brink Lindsay were actually FOR the Iraq War.”

              Agreed – although that’s also part of what I’m getting at here, to wit: the acceptance of conservative frames even where the conservative frames are contrary to basic libertarian tenets. Even so, there were certainly a sizable number of libertarian activists who opposed the Iraq War from the get-go, but it did not appear (maybe I’m wrong) that they worked very closely to support the more numerous and vocal opposition emanating from the Left.

              Agreed that there was no organized opposition to the Patriot Act when it was first passed, but as the years went on, I think liberals became quite organized and even effective in their attacks thereon. But they were largely going it alone.Report

        • @Mark Thompson, Mark – you might want to read this article:

          It’s about the man that was the driving force behind Prohibition. He made an art form out of using powerful minorities to swing elections and force politicians to adopt positions he wanted them to take. I found it fascinating to read about. What they accomplished is nothing short of miraculous. Maybe there are some tips there for a libertarian minority that would like to participate in coalition governing.Report

      • Travis in reply to Mike at The Big Stick says:

        @Mike at The Big Stick, except a lot of those “gun-toting, pickup driving, stay out of my life Uncle Sam” folks are the same folks who would be perfectly happy if Uncle Sam threw gays and lesbians in prison.Report

  3. Travis says:

    The crux of the issue is, in the eyes of many if not most liberals, libertarians are consistently more willing to dismiss conservative breaches of their ideals than they are liberal breaches of their ideals.

    The fact that we’re even arguing about this, when the last eight years of Republican rule saw the most heavy-handed abuses of government power since Richard Nixon, is Exhibit A.

    Yes, conservatives are (in general) closer to libertarians on economic issues. Liberals are (in general) closer to libertarians on social issues. It truly is a third way. That would suggest a movement which should not hew toward either left or right on the current party spectrum, but which should exhaustively advocate its issues and work to get its representatives elected.

    But that’s not what happens. Instead, libertarians sycophantically ally with conservatives so they get their FLAT TAX FLAT TAX FLAT TAX, while blithely dismissing or simply ignoring the zillion ways in which conservative governments in this country have violated libertarian ideals and rejected its policy ideas.

    It’s become crystal clear that most libertarians are far more interested in cutting taxes and drilling for oil than they are in letting gays marry or establishing a non-interventionist foreign policy.

    As long as that situation exists, liberals will continue to view the libertarian movement as an ideologically incoherent, quasi-Randroid fringe attached at the hip to the Republican Party.

    Want to be taken seriously? Start by treating both parties with equal disdain.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Travis says:

      @Travis, how are the Dems doing on when it comes to such things as letting gays marry or establishing a non-interventionist foreign policy?

      Have the Libertarians been getting in the way of the Democrats?Report

      • Travis in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, once again… liberals != “Democratic Party.”

        The Democratic Party is center-left. Liberals are actively trying to leverage it further to the left.

        The Republican Party is right-wing. Conservatives are actively trying to leverage it further to the right.

        Libertarians… well, instead of really trying to make their own party work, are glomming onto the Republican Party because it’s quasi-right on economic issues… but are not managing to push it even a smidge to the left on civil liberties. If anything, the GOP has gone even further to the right in that sector.

        How’s this for what should be a ridiculously uncontroversial move? Obama is *finally* (if excruciatingly slowly) moving toward allowing gays and lesbians to serve with honor in our nation’s defense. Where were libertarians on that issue during the 8 years of Bush II?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Travis says:

          @Travis, you can certainly *TRY* to assert that libertarians hate gay marriage and are married to the Republican Party while, at the same time, making distinctions between liberals and the Democratic Party but please don’t expect me to believe that bullshit with sugar sprinkled on top is, in fact, candy.Report

          • Travis in reply to Jaybird says:

            @Jaybird, I didn’t say libertarians hate gay marriage.

            What I said is they don’t care about it nearly as much as FLAT TAX FLAT TAX FLAT TAX. That’s obvious from their choice to support the GOP.Report

      • Dan Miller in reply to Jaybird says:

        @Jaybird, Actually, with regards to gay marriage, I’d say we’re doing pretty OK. Liberals have successfully passed it in Washington DC, defended it in Massachusetts and Iowa, and came damn close in California (where we’ll probably get it in the next couple election cycles). Other states I’m less informed on, but overall I’d say that the trend on gay marriage is towards success, and that’s a result of efforts by (primarily) liberal groups.Report

        • Dan Miller in reply to Dan Miller says:

          @Dan Miller, And, importantly, the votes came from Dem politicians overwhelmingly.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Dan Miller says:

          @Dan Miller, really?

          I was under the impression that the vast majority of “gay marriage victories” were done despite popular votes banning it and judges were the reason that such votes were overturned.

          And, interestingly, democrats have been walking back from “judicial activism”. The elected ones, anyway.Report

          • Bob Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

            @Jaybird, Attaboy, JB….I do think you’re right, ‘the people’ don’t want any part of this particular perversion, though the democrats embrace it…which is why you’re probably going to see a lot less of them come November.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, given that the straight/narrow road is pretty sparsely populated, I’d not brag about the number of companions one finds on the road one is on.

              My support for gay marriage is not predicated on “I think it’s cool” but “this is not for me to judge”.

              Heck, my support for folks to have Liberty is not predicated on “I think it’s cool” but “this is not for me to judge”.

              And by “judge”, I mean “pass laws and/or kill people”.Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, The question then is, at what point in the conversation are we to ‘judge?’ Never?
              Or, perhaps the point is to discern evil, then judge?
              And, at what point in the conversation do we do that?
              I might suggest that existence is in large measure, judgment, developed as a result of
              experiencing consciousness as both the site and the “sensorium of participation in the divine ground.”
              If we have perverted or derailed this particularly human attribute then our ability to apply an analysis, discernment, differentiation of those intriguing questions of ethics-morality become problematic.
              The culture is in decline, homosexual ‘marriage’ is merely a symptom of that decline…but that’s a judgment.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, I tend to run around with the whole idea of “consenting adults”… and the idea that it would be more evil for me to thwart the will of two consenting adults by use of force than what evil would be likely for them to come up with left to their own devices.

              Remember all of those Revelation movies? “Thief In The Night”?

              There were police going around and rounding up post-Rapture Christians for the guillotines.

              A question for you:

              Should the police have had the right to do this, given that the society had determined that Christianity was a crime punishable by death?

              For the record, I don’t want the government to have enough power to come into my home and drag me out for thoughtcrime.

              How much power do you want the government to have, Bob?Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, Dude, you’re such an eloquent interlocutor I’m a bit shocked by your effort to take my strictly existential disquisition on the question of ‘judgment’ that you’d so eruditely raised and through some hocus-pocus transform my position into one that supports a central regime, in its efforts to prohibit homosexuals from doing the nasty.
              However, you’ve raised a delightful question in asking “How much power do you want the government to have, Bob?” And, I figure you know that in asking the question you are casting doughball before carp..or a carp, and he is existentially obligated to hit the lure.
              As an Eighteenth century republican I happily share your position that “I don’t want the government to have enough power to come into my home and drag me out for thoughtcrime.”
              Frankly, I don’t care what homosexuals or anyone else do in terms of your “consenting adults” format but I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that we were discussing homosexual ‘marriage?’ And marriage has all sorts of traditional and ethical and moral symbols all intricately woven into the fabric of the tension of existence. To include a homosexual relationship (marriage) in that negates the idea of “nous” as a function of moral judgment and to participate in the continuing perversion of society and consequently I’m not in favor, as you are, of empowering gummint to the point where it legalizes, blesses, and provides its nihil obscat to a perverse sexual relationship…that’s way to much power to give gummint, don’t you think?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, Bob, I *SPECIFICALLY* said, here let me cut and paste it: And by “judge”, I mean “pass laws and/or kill people”.

              If we are talking about something as banal as holding an opinion *OF COURSE I FULLY SUPPORT YOUR RIGHT TO DO SO*.

              If you want to argue that homosexuals are going to Hell, *MORE POWER TO YOU*. If you want to merely argue that Homosexuality is a sin that people will someday stand before God and weep as they apologize, then great. Go for that too.

              It’s all good.

              My problem is when we give people the power to deny hospital visitation, or inheritance preferences as written in wills, or any number of civil infringements against two consenting adults in the name of “morality”.

              You want to say that the two consenting adults are sinners? Great. Wonderful. Knock yourself out.

              When we start talking about passing laws (which means police enforcing laws which means them drawing guns when it comes to people breaking laws which means shooting them if they don’t, in fact, lie down on the floor) then, I’ve gotta say, I’d rather be on this side of the guillotine than the one you’re on.Report

            • Travis in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, replace “homosexual” with “interracial” in your statement and this could be 1967 all over again, rearguing Loving v. Virginia.

              “Tradition” meant slavery. “Tradition” meant only those with land could vote. “Tradition” meant women were property.

              Pardon me if I don’t mind taking some “traditions” and smashing them to pieces.Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks,
              I’m having trouble with this:
              “My problem is when we give people the power to deny hospital visitation, or inheritance preferences as written in wills, or any number of civil infringements against two consenting adults in the name of “morality”.”
              This seems wrong. Can you site where this denying hospital visitation, and prohibiting people from being mentioned in another’s will and “other civil infringements” has occurred? It just doesn’t seem correct…a canard, and I don’t have any problem with the above legally or morally, and why would you think I do?Report

            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, Travis, you always want to be careful what traditions you destroy. Destroy enough of ’em and you’ll end up on The Road.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, hospital visitation was at least an issue as recently as 2007.


              This is not something that happened back in 1955 that people are still complaining about. This is something that happened recently and got a lot of play because the partner died.

              As for inheritance, parents or siblings can do stuff like “challenge a will” saying that their dearly departed shouldn’t be able to leave stuff to the life partner as he’s not a real relative and his stuff ought to go to family.

              While it’s certainly true that this can happen to a spouse, on a legal level, there is significant leverage given to spouses that is not granted to “life partners”.

              “I don’t have any problem with the above legally or morally, and why would you think I do?”

              Because the fact that Homosexuals will be spending an eternity in Torment is not enough for you. You also want to make sure that they be denied the civil protections that marriage affords.Report

            • Travis in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, sure can, Bob. Gay and lesbian couples have been routinely denied hospital access or the ability to make family decisions because, without civil marriage, in the eyes of the law they’re not families.


            • Travis in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks, oooo, scary, “The Road.” To where, might I ask?

              Would you like to go back and live 100 years ago, Bob? I’m sure 1910 was a much more traditional time, what with women not able to vote, blacks lynched on a whim, gays and lesbians thrown in prison or mental hospitals, workers dying from unsafe equipment…

              If that’s what “tradition” means, Bob, tradition can go fuck itself.Report

            • @Bob Cheeks, Travis – I would caution you to link Loving and gay marriage. They aren’t the same. I think David Schaengold wrote the most compelling piece I’ve read refuting that logic.


            • Bob Cheeks in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Bob Cheeks,
              “Because the fact that Homosexuals will be spending an eternity in Torment is not enough for you. You also want to make sure that they be denied the civil protections that marriage affords.”
              Dude, I ain’t the judge of things, God is. Actually, my prayer is for mercy.
              And, where may I ask did I say I’d deny homosexuals civil rights or have the police knock down their doors or shoot them. I’m beginning to think thou doth protest too much.

              Travis: dude, how are you on the freedom of association?Report

            • Travis in reply to Bob Cheeks says:

              @Mike at The Big Stick, the fact is, the government is denying two consenting adults the ability to marry each other for no comprehensible reason other than a traditional animus against such partnerships.

              The two situations are analogous, and the post you linked fails to convince me otherwise.Report

  4. Bo says:

    To understand why libertarianism is the way it is, you need to keep in mind one thing: Almost every single libertarian think-tank, research institute, PAC and non-profit you’ve ever heard of are primarily sponsored by one group: The Koch Family Foundation, which is the charitable arm of Koch Industries, the US’s largest privately held company. One of Koch Industries’s main businesses is oil and gas refinery, and they were briefly infamous in the early 00’s for covering up numerous safety violations and spilling millions of gallons of aviation fuel and oil into the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico.

    Because the libertarian movement encompasses so few people compared to the liberal and conservative movements, the millions of dollars that KFF feeds into these various charities has an outsize effect on libertarianism’s political affiliations, and, needless to say, the KFF definitely leans toward the libertarian-conservative side.Report

  5. Simon K says:

    The UK comparison is interesting. I think it might be under-appreciated how tenuous the coalition government actually is. The Lib Dems were created through the merger of the Social Democratic Party, which was created from the old right-wing of the Labour Party when Labour lurched left in the early 19808s, and the Liberals who were the party of free trade once upon a time. Until very recently the Social Democrats completely dominated the party. And Cameron was taking a punt anyway with all his kinder gentler conservative stuff, and he’s taken an even bigger punt by teaming up with with the Lib Dems – its an amazing coincidence in essence that both parties are led by people from their relatively libertarian factions just when they had a chance to govern together. But the leadership of both parties is basically in a minority within their own parties – they’re holding on just now because, well, power is attractive. Not only will the ancestry of the Social Democrats show up when things get tough, but the swivel eyes loonies hiding in the conservative party will eventually reappear.

    When that happens I’m afraid the coalition’s liberalism is going to disappear, probably along with the coalition itself. Don’t get me wrong – this is my long-wished-for fantasy government and almost makes me want to move back, but I’m afraid the British aren’t really any more tolerant of libertarian ideas than Americans are.Report

  6. AxelDC says:

    You completely ignore the Evangelical-Reactionary Catholic alliance dominating the Republican Party today. The Supreme Court has 4 of its members from that alliance. They are theocrats, which is by nature authoritarian.

    The real enemy to libertarianism is theocracy. It’s one thing to tell a dictator to “no”. It’s another thing to tell a Prophet-King that.Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    And… comment awaits moderation.

    Stupid NYT.Report

  8. @Travis,

    I think you aren’t persuaded because you’re looking beyond the legalities towards some moral sense of injustice. But since you are referencing a legal case I think you have to look at the argument for gay marriage from a strictly legal perspective. If you’re willing to do that, reconsider this quote from David:

    “Laws banning interracial marriage explicitly banned interracial marriage. Those who sought to overturn these bans were seeking formal equality: not the expansion of law to include them, but the subtraction of laws designed to exclude them. What they wanted was for race not to be mentioned in the law at all. By contrast, what proponents of same-sex marriage seek is a subjective, substantive equality. They want the law to say that homosexuals should get to marry the kind of people they are permanently oriented to desire. This claim might be right and just, but you will note that the law does not currently say “only heterosexuals get to marry the kind of people they are permanently oriented to desire.” Of course this is what the law actually entails, but nobody is formally excluded in current law.”

    It all hinges on whether or not sexual orientation forms a protected class, like race. So far we aren’t there yet. Maybe we will be but legally speaking your analogy hits a dead end there.Report