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Outlook: The Rise of Ron Paul

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Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch
Reason Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Columnist/Associate Editor
Tuesday, November 27, 2007; 12:00 PM

"How to make sense of the Ron Paul revolution? ... Paul set a one-day GOP record by raising $4.3 million on the Internet from 38,000 donors on Nov. 5 - Guy Fawkes Day, the commemoration of a British anarchist who plotted to blow up Parliament and kill King James I in 1605. ... When a fierce Republican foe of the wars on drugs and terrorism is able, without really trying, to pull in a record haul of campaign cash on a day dedicated to an attempted regicide, it's clear that a new and potentially transformative force is growing in American politics."

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Editor-in-chief Nick Gillespie and columnist and associate editor Matt Welch of Reason Magazine were online Tuesday, Nov. 27 at noon ET to examine the apparent reinvigoration of the Libertarian movement and its potential impact on the 2008 presidential election and beyond.

The transcript follows.

Archive: Transcripts of discussions with Outlook article authors

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Nick Gillespie: Good afternoon (or late morning) to you all. I'm Nick Gillespie of Reason. Thanks for coming out. My colleague Matt Welch and I are looking forward a to refreshingly foul-mouthed discussion of Ron Paul, libertarianism, and how they're effecting (affecting?) American culture and politics...

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Matt Welch: Is this mic on? Hello, washingtonpost.com readers!

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Washington: Nick and Matt, I'm a devoted reader of Reason and a big fan of both of you. On a related question to Ron Paul's success, I was wondering if either of you had any thoughts about Bryan Caplan's recent post. Why did so many libertarians (or maybe "libertarians") support the Iraq War in 2003? I know Matt's written a lot about warbloggers and posted 10 question to pro-war libertarians in 2005, and wonder if he's come to any conclusions since then.

Matt Welch: Notice how a compliment gets you to the front of the line? Watch and learn, people! (Insert smiley-glyph here.) As to your question, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that people who self-identify as libertarian just don't have a unified sense of foreign policy, much as that perturbs many keepers of the flame. I think, too, that many people had grown accustomed to more limited wars in places like the former Yugoslavia that seemed to turn out much better than expected, and so felt the same would happen here.

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Nashua, N.H.: How has the Internet influenced the Ron Paul phenomenon in particular and the resurgence of libertarianism in general?

Nick Gillespie: I think the Internet in general has greatly facilitated decentralization in virtually every aspect of American life: It allows more people further apart to communicate, transact business, share information, you name it.

That has been central to Ron Paul's fundraising success (as it was to Howard Dean's a few years back); and it allows for work-arounds around traditional gatekeeper institutions in the media and elsewhere.

More fundamentally, the decentralization of knowledge, information, and more made possible by the Internet has made libertarianism a reality regardless of ideology. We're all living much individualized lives thanks to it.

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Williamsburg, Va.: Some journalists and bloggers have complained about the amount of angry responses they get when they print something negative about Ron Paul. I think this may be because up to now, he has gotten so little coverage that his supporters are very protective of whatever coverage he does get. With little coverage, a negative story can be especially hurtful. What is your take on this strong protective reaction to bad press?

Matt Welch: Well, journalists complaining about anything re: reader response strikes me as rich, but ... let's just say Ron Paul's biggest fans are passionate and know how to use the InterTubes thing. In all cases, I believe, people overestimate the power of the Evil MSM one way or another, and the more Paul rises (assuming he still does) the more the flame-warriors will maybe begin to relax a bit.

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Houston: Why do Gillespie and Matt Welch equate a non-interventionist foreign policy with libertarianism? Goldwater founded the libertarian movement. He was pro-Defense. How can de facto support for Islamo-Fascism be considered "libertarian" in any way? After all, Radical Muslims want to force women to wear the burqa, outlaw free speech especially for newspapers, throw gay people in jail and crack down on all political dissent. How is that consistent with being a libertarian?

Nick Gillespie: Libertarianism is very much a political philosophy that believes in military intervention as a last resort -- and justified as an act of self-defense. There are some libertarians who supported invading Iraq (most supported invading Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to turn over bin Laden), so there's a range of acceptable difference of opinion among libs. But all agree on the idea that an adventurous foreign policy is a really bad idea.

It is simply wrong to equate criticism of the Iraq War -- a classic FUBAR situation -- with "de facto support for Islamo-Fascism." Should the U.S. invade everywhere and always any place that's screwed up? Better to help transform the world via trade and cultural interactions (something Paul supports) -- and opening our borders to anyone who wants to come here.

Barry Goldwater is important to libertarians, but he is not the father of the movement. Look to Milton Friedman or F.A. Hayek for that role. Goldwater was a Cold War hawk on Vietnam (though he always opposed the draft) and he became much less militant throughout his career.

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Ossining, N.Y.: If we are indeed witnessing a rebirth of libertarianism, then do you gentlemen see it continuing beyond the 2008 elections?

Matt Welch: Sure. Whether it's organized in any meaningful way is another question altogether; I've seen enough third-partyish spasms of enthusiasm to know that moments based on political candidates rarely last. But the overall pool of people who describe themselves as fiscally conservative, socially liberal and politically unsatisfied/unaffiliated, will, I believe, continue to grow. Mostly because their thirst will most likely go unslaked in this election.

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Maple Valley, Wash.: Thank you for not calling us neo-Nazis, white supremacists or anti-Semites. That is so weak and tiresome. I do think that the college segment of the Ron Paul movement is a small section of his base and is being overblown by the media. I have attended a number of functions and the people look like me: married, 41, father of three. Why not dig deeper into who the support base really is? College-age students did not put the more than $16 million in his coffers this year. I am a Reagan Republican who left the party in 2000 and have registered as an independent since.

Matt Welch: I can't speak precisely for who supports him the most, etc. (though our reporters have said he gets some of his most enthusiastic and large crowds on college campuses), but I can say without a doubt that many Paul supporters are claiming their own narrow patch of philosophical beliefs with the rEVOLution. Which I think is interesting, and speaks a bit to what happens when you have a live-and-let-live phenomenon...

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Los Angeles: Hi, libertarians. What would actually happen if Dr. Congressman Ron Paul became the president? Would he lead a Reagan-style administration that dramatically would repeal whatever's left of the New Deal protections for the vast majority of working Americans, or would he just be a lonely man in the White House totally ignored by the D.C./K Street bureaucracy? Basically, I'm wondering if the Pentagon would figure out a semi-legal way to assassinate Dr. Paul, and how the nine or ten people in America who pay attention to such things might respond to such murder. Thanks.

Matt Welch: Hello L.A.! I think one key thing to remember with President Dr. Congressman Paul is that he would most likely be totally handcuffed from doing anything he really wants, because his agenda is deeply unpopular with both parties. I do not believe that he would ever be able to go back to the gold standard, for instance. He might even unify Congress to fight against the crazy Dr. No in the White House. That would be fun...

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Atlanta: My brother is a student with special needs enrolled in a public high school here in Atlanta. I'm honestly terrified that a libertarian president would weed out programs and institutions that my brother has benefited from in the past and will depend on in the future. If Ron Paul had his way, would he privatize the public school system? In what ways would that harm and possibly help people like my brother? Thanks for your time.

Nick Gillespie: Education is one of the few last redoubts in contemporary America that has resisted the move toward greater consumer autonomy. That's because virtually all students going to publicly financed schools -- where dollars spent per student have gone up something like 300 percent in inflation-adjusted terms with basically nothing to show for it in terms of test scores, etc.

A President Paul likely would gut the federal Department of Education, which would not be as big a deal as you might think, as the vast majority of school spending is generated at the local and state level.

In any case, if we had something like a true market for education -- possibly the voucher system envisioned in 1955 by Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman, in which each student would be given the same amount of money to use as they see fit -- you would see a flowering of educational opportunities that would benefit poor and underserved students most of all. They're the ones trapped in a horrible, nonresponsive system that helps screw them for life. And that same sort of voucher system (plus, I'm sure, private charity) would really benefit special needs children more than the current system.

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Santa Fe, N.M.: Ron Paul and his followers claim that he is a libertarian. However, Paul favors government control over women's bodies by making abortion illegal. The media, including the article in Sunday's Washington Post, skip over this little detail when touting his libertarian credentials. Keep adding those little qualifications, and pretty soon you've got a Republican, not a libertarian.

Matt Welch: As far as I understand Paul is personally opposed to abortion, and/but (as we mention in the piece) wants to kick it back to the state level instead of having a single federal policy. But you bring up an excellent point -- there are several aspects of his beliefs that many people disagree with and/or consider unlibertarian. I, for one, do not share his fear of the Amero....

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New Kent, Va.: If Ron Paul chooses after the primary to run for the White House as an independent, do you believe he would pull more votes away from the Republicans or from the Democrats? Is it possible he could exceed Perot's 19 percent in 1992, and by doing so actually create a long-term third party with a platform, as opposed to a strictly short-term anti-establishment party?

Nick Gillespie: I try to avoid prognosticating about partisan politics. Whenever I think of the actual choices out there, I'm always reminded of the South Park episode where the kids have to choose between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich for class president.

Paul has strongly suggested he would not run as an independent.

As Matt and I noted in our Sunday piece, Pew Research suggests that there's about 10 percent of voters who go for socially tolerant and fiscally conservative policies -- these are, very roughly speaking, libertarian voters. The candidates who sway them will be the victors on Election Day.

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Queenstown, Md.: Ron Paul is considered a right-libertarian, more of the Rothbard-Rockwell wing of the libertarian movement. Are left-libertarians, the more permissive wing of the libertarian movement, as supportive of Ron Paul?

Nick Gillespie: Ron Paul channels a populist streak, which plays well with left-libertarians. His consistent and principled antiwar position is the single most important dimension of his appeal to all voters, I think.

There's a hunger for a candidate with actual principles. Paul's foreign policy is consistent. He's not the type of guy who will say "the U.S. has to be out of Iraq so we can invade Darfur."

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Arlington, Va.: What country in the world today has a system most like that envisioned by libertarian thinking? Thanks.

Matt Welch: The U S and A! Seriously, there are many things we take for granted (Bill of Rights, etc.) that, even while being systematically watered down by successive administrations, still contain in their DNA some radical libertarian ideas that have served us all well (check out Brian Doherty's "Radicals for Capitalism" book for more). Otherwise, you find bits here and there. New Zealand has done some admirable things with unilaterally dismantling its agricultural subsidies (which has, among other positive aspects, had terrific environmental consequences). I've always thought Switzerland had many surface libertarian aspects, but that really breaks down on cross-examination...

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Arlington, Va.: I love hearing Paul talk about monetary policy and the money supply. One gets the feeling he would like us all bartering with chickens and goats or at least with gold coin (fine by me). Why hasn't this pretty fundamental aspect of our economy been more of an issue in general?

Nick Gillespie: I believe that chickens are undervalued and that goat currency is being deliberately inflated by Big Goat interests.

I'm sticking with good old fiat currency, at least through the Christmas shopping season.

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Astoria, Ore.: How much money do you think Ron Paul will raise on Dec. 16, when his supporters celebrate the Anniversary of the Boston Tea Party?

Matt Welch: Gillespie says "$8 million," though it's unclear whether it will be in gold-backed coins. I vote for $11.2 million.

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Arlington, Va.: Why do Ron Paul supporters love comment spamming? Why are so many of their comments of the sort that are deranged to the point of hurting Paul's reputation?

Matt Welch: Because it works! As long as you spell the name right, etc.

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Arlington, Va.: Hi. I was wondering if you could tell me the libertarian take on global warming? Has Ron Paul opined on this at all?

Nick Gillespie: I'm not sure where Ron Paul is on global warming.

As regards global warming generally, I think the smartest course of action is to look at remediation of effects of weather changes. South Florida and Bangladesh have similar weather patterns. The reason why Bangladeshis die every year from massive storms is because they are poorer. The best way to deal with global warming is developing lower-pollution fuels (best done in a market setting) but generally making poor people rich enough to afford better living conditions.

Many of the global warming solutions would have the effect of condemning the developing world to substandard living for decades to come.

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Nashville, Tenn.: Why in your opinion have Paul's positions on limited government, restrained spending, lower taxes and non-intervention in foreign policy become so out-of-the-mainstream in the Republican Party?

Nick Gillespie: Very briefly: Because the GOP took control of the federal government at all levels. Once they got to dish the dough in very big ways, all that talk of returning power (and money) to the people became less interesting than rewarding their connections.

The impulse in government is always to spend other people's money.

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West Bloomfield, Mich.: How comfortable are you with Ron Paul assuming the mantle of libertarianism? He has -- how to put it mildly -- rather unenlightened views about the immigration issue. He favors a tough-borders approach rather than more open policies. His commitment to free trade is partial at best. His opposition to the Iraq war stems not from a non-interventionist foreign policy, but an isolationist world view in which he would be quite comfortable with an America fortified with walls on all sides that keeps those damn furhners out. In short, there is a major streak of Texas populism in him. Won't any prospects of a libertarian resurgence be hurt -- rather than helped -- by an association with him?

Matt Welch: I guess I don't live and die with the political successes and failures of an enumerated libertarianism, is the way I'd answer that. Libertarianism contains multitudes (as does any political philosophy), and considering the intensity with which many people self-identify with various aspects to it, I think it's inevitable that a self-proclaimed libertarian will hold at least one or three beliefs I'll violently disagree with (including Texas populism). Considering that Paul's supporters themselves disagree with one another on many fundamental issues, I doubt that the "brand" of libertarianism will be indelibly stamped one way or another based on the results of Paul's campaign.

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Waldorf, Md.: Comment: Ron Paul has one thing going for him that none of the other likely candidates of either party have: credibility. He walks his talk -- or more specifically, he votes consistent with his beliefs and his message. That is why his movement is growing so rapidly -- not because of "libertarianism" or some other label folks would like to tag him with, but simply because you know that he will keep his word. If you want a title or label for him,it is this: Statesman. As Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines it: "one who exercises political leadership wisely and without narrow partisanship."

Nick Gillespie: There seems to be little doubt, especially among younger supporters, that voters are responding to a candidate with a clear set of principles that he actually uses in deciding his positions.

Arguably the most amazing thing about Ron Paul is that he (with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich) is clear and forthright and consistent in his statements.

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Greenville, S.C.: I've heard a podcaster (the very smart Dan Carlin) speculate that what is happening here is a co-opting of the Republican Party. This is why I'm glad Paul is running on the Republican ticket. He compared this (speculatively, of course) to the shift in the Democratic Party when the baby boomers really came to their own political age. If true, this would seem to mitigate your prior statement about what the major parties want. What do you think?

Matt Welch: Co-opting of the GOP by renegade Limited Government types? That's kind of a funny concept, in all sorts of ways. I think it is true that a significant chunk of Paul enthusiasts come from the left (though how much I have no freaking idea). But in numbers large enough to "co-opt" the Republican Party? I doubt it. As we said in the piece, he's speaking in part to what remains of principled limited-governmentism within the GOP. Whether it's a last gasp or a renewal of sorts ... we'll see.

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Alexandria, Va.: Excellent piece Sunday -- thanks. To what extent do you think Ron Paul will have coattails? Not as the GOP nominee, but rather during the primaries. Will he and his message empower like-minded individuals to victory in races lower on the ballot -- say in the House of Representatives, or at the state level? Is this his true goal and his greater effect?

Matt Welch: To a very, very little extent. (Though I was on WBAL yesterday, and a caller said he was a "Ron Paul Republican" running for Congress, so there you go.)

Coattails are an elusive concept even with presidents who win pretty big; and certainly with long-shots who want to abolish the income tax. As for state and local-level politics, that is perhaps the most *un*-libertarian level of government out there, with the exception of the White House itself. Local politicians are exhorted to Do Something at all hours, and do not come to power by promising to Do Less.

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Baltimore: Can anyone tell me why it is, in their perception, that voters of the two major parties seem unwilling to shift away from them? Are they just bleating, mindless sheep, or is it really that the major parties are seen as delivering the goods? Also, is the massive "money machine" of the two incumbent parties too massive to be overcome?

Nick Gillespie: I think the premise of this question is wrong. Back around 1970, 49 percent of Americans identified with the Democrats (not registered, but identified; see Harris Poll numbers on party affiliation). Nowadays the number is down in the mid to low 30s. The GOP never really has cracked the 33 percent barrier with any regularity.

So in the past 30 or 40 years, we've seen a massive weakening of party affiliation -- precisely because voters don't feel served by the Crest and Colgate parties.

Having said that, most voters do like the status quo. They get their home-mortgage interest deduction and other middle-class-oriented frills and just want to spend more of other people's money in various ways. In that sense, the government is doing what most people want. The tragicomedy of American politics is that we generally get the government we want.

Which really sucks, especially if you care about immigration, drug legalization, educational choice, gay marriage, and a host of other issues that impact unpopular minority populations.

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Paint Rock, Tenn.: Not much has been made of the unofficial contributions to the Revolution. Most Ron Paul supporters I know not only contribute to the official campaign, but buy signs, stickers, and pamphlets from other non-official RP08 Internet sources. I don't sense the other candidates have this type of support. Do you know of any attempt to quantify this support? My guess is it is at least 50 percent of his official contributions.

Matt Welch: I took a scientific poll (by driving to Las Vegas from Los Angeles), and Paul banners outnumbered the rest of the field combined by roughly six to zero. So yes, you're totally right. I haven't seen any competing studies, though.

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New York: Has anyone proven there actually is a "Ron Paul revolution" that actually would translate into votes? The Paulites seem to be a smart, well-connected, very fervent but relatively small group in terms of actual national numbers. Five million people can make a huge difference on the Internet, but they're still just 1.6 percent of the population -- nothing in terms of votes. We've seen libertarians make a lot of noise before (remember moving to New Hampshire?) but they never seem to turn it into numbers. How is this different?

Nick Gillespie: The real impact of Ron Paul's bid won't be measured in votes. As Matt and I suggested, it's actually an indicator of broader cultural and pre-partisan political yearnings- - for what we at Reason dub "Free Minds and Free Markets." That is, social tolerance and fiscal conservativism.

The most interesting and cutting-edge aspects of America rarely or never happen in the political arena. Libertarianism will continue to grow as a cultural phenomenon regardless of the vote counts in the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire primary. It's about having the means, motive, and opportunity to live life on your own terms. And it's happening thanks to technology and increased wealth. And in spite of government.

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Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.: Why is it the same thing every cycle? Somebody that actually has common sense raises millions of dollars (Howard Dean) and the press go bonkers. Ron Paul will never get past the primary stage -- he's too suited for the office to actually win it.

Matt Welch: Howard Dean has common sense? Who knew! I kid.

One interesting thing about Howard Dean -- one that will be worth tracking with Paul -- is that his politics tangibly changed as a direct result of that Dean Craze. He was a pretty centrist-y New Democrat up their in Vermont (pro-guns, supported four out of the last five interventions), but the Internet hippies yanked him to the Left, by his own admission. I wonder what direction Paul might be moved, if any?

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Lyme, Conn.: Has there been any polling on the following question: what percent of Paul supporters are libertarian, what percent are anti-Iraq war, and what percent are both libertarian and anti-Iraq war?

Matt Welch: Not that I'm aware of.

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Princeton, N.J.: "Arguably the most amazing thing about Ron Paul is that he (with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich) is clear and forthright and consistent in his statements." The same could probably be said of Attila the Hun or Benito Mussolini or ... (to use your favorite punctuation symbol). What's important is what they say.

Nick Gillespie: In fact, Mussolini started as a communist and then became a fascist (best understood as a nationalist variation on communism; hence National Socialism in Germany).

More to the point is Paul's basic message: Unlike the other candidates, he doesn't want to run your life for you. As he told a Tonight Show audience, he wouldn't be good at it. That simple message, backed up by his positions, is pretty attractive to an America confronted with war-happy candidates and nanny-staters in both parties.

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Bloomington, Ind.: Do you think that a Paul-like candidate ever will emerge on the Democratic ticket? Perhaps someone more socially liberal regarding abortion and immigration? It seems that with libertarianism becoming more popular, it could emerge on the Democratic side as well, although in a different form.

Matt Welch: Not this year, no. After the primary fight I think Dems will be focused like a laser beam on Restoration (much like the GOP was in 1999-2000). Rebel candidates in that atmosphere are as doomed as Buchanan was in 2000. Probably what passed for the Great Libertarian Hope among Dems was Bill Richardson, with his gun-lovin', budget-balancin' Western ways. But he's gone Texas-populist on stuff like free trade (where before he was a big champion), and at any rate doesn't seem to be gaining any traction.

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Lake Carmel, N.Y.: But if the Newt Gingrich Republicans abandoned their principles and succumbed to their greed for power, why should we assume that a Paul administration wouldn't do the same? Isn't the whole thing a bit naive?

Matt Welch: Well, because there aren't any Paul Republicans, at least not more than would fit into a phone booth.

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Denver: How do you guys feel about Dr. Paul's position of wanting to end the federal War on Drugs?

Nick Gillespie: That alone would be make him the bestest president ever!

Whatever your views on drug use, any credible cost-benefit analysis of the drug war shows that prohibition generates far more problems than it helps. And that's not even factoring in the idea that it's my body to begin with and that I have a right to eat, smoke, etc. what I want as long as I'm not pushing the cost on to you.

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Richmond, Va.: I've tried to reach the Virginia organization but they've never bothered answering my e-mail. I think that pretty much sums up their potential.

Nick Gillespie: It may also say something about your drive, too! Have that second cup of coffee in the morning.

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Laurel, Md.: Can we get a bit of historical perspective on periods of shrinking government (in the U.S.)? Most of the history I learned in school had to do with societal problems that were solved by government intervention. When has truly shrinking the government (not just shrinking domestic programs while growing the military) ever been a national electoral priority?

Nick Gillespie: Never. But hope, like opium poppies in U.S. occupied Afghanistan, springs eternal, and freedom -- the ability to live on your own terms -- proceeds apace. I hope.

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Boston: How is it possible that a candidate draws the support of prostitutes and pro-lifers at the same time?

Matt Welch: But what about the pro-life prostitutes?

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Houston: How would he accomplish any of his legislative goals without any support in either the Senate or House?

Matt Welch: Mostly through the veto pen, I reckon.

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Jacksonville, Fla.: I see many posts on various supporter forums declaring that individuals either are getting involved in the primary process for the first time or have changed their party affiliation in order to support Ron Paul. To what degree do you believe this might be hiding the "revolution" in the polls, as such individuals might not be considered as "likely Republican primary voters"?

Matt Welch: To a small, but measurable, extent. Though again, I'm just guessing here.

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Bowie, Md.: From what I've read, almost all libertarians are white men. Although Mr. Paul is a Republican, how many libertarian-leaners used to be moderate-to-liberal Democrats, who got turned off by demographic-based politics that makes the ordinary white male some kind of enemy?

Matt Welch: It's not just almost all libertarians that trend white, it's Greens, too (plus most op-ed writers, political fixers, and so on). For a variety of reasons, heavy duty political activism and commentary has been a pretty white male enclave since forever.

To answer the meat of your question, I honestly don't think that many libertarians are Dems mugged by Identity Politics or whatever; I think those guys tend to end up as Jacksonian Republicans. But I'm just guessing wildly.

Nick Gillespie: Historically and sociologically, libertarians have done a weak job of reaching out to minorities, especially urban African Americans. Which is a shame all the way around, as few groups would be as liberated by things such as ending the drug war (which pushes crime and police into inner cities) and school choice (which would allow urban kids especially to escape a school system that has proven incapable of or unwilling to change).

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Carrboro, N.C.: How do the Republicans honestly think that they can win an election next year on a foreign policy of staying in Iraq? Aren't they dooming themselves to four to eight years of a Democrat in power, when polls say that most Republicans are against the war in Iraq and would like an exit ASAP?

Nick Gillespie: How do Democrats figure they can win? The presidential candidates all remain hawks to some degree or another. That out-of-touch dimension is one reason why Ron Paul is gaining a following.

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Houston: How can you say Barry Goldwater is not the Founder of the libertarian movement? If it were not for him, there would be no libertarian movement. Hess and Rohrabacher came out of the Goldwater era. Rohrabacher went on to found the modern libertarian political movement through Young America's Foundation in the late 1960s, in which the Libertarian Party was birthed. Do I sense a little whitewashing of libertarian movement history going on here? Maybe the non-interventionists do not wish to acknowledge that the libertarian movement was founded by pro-Defense libertarians?

Matt Welch: There's a difference between a movement of ideas and a movement of politics, is the main thing. I don't think there's any effort at all to limit Goldwater's importance.

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Matt Welch: Thanks, everyone! And a final "thought":

Though we're having a good time here BSing about the 2008 election here, the real action, and the real areas of interest, will continue to be (IMO, ROTFLOL, etc.) outside the momentary enthusiasms of this or that Muppet look-alike. This is not in any way to minimize the importance and interest of the Dr. Congressman Moment -- hence our Outlook piece, after all -- but to recognize that there's more to life, libertarianism and the Pursuit than presidential politics (or Cadillac commercials, for that matter).

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Nick Gillespie: Thanks, all. And remember as we go into that dark night that is the American election season that you can't abort a fetus with nuclear arms; that real winners do use drugs; and that Christian rock is neither.

More important, as Melville said of Hawthorne (or did Zager say it of Evans?), it's always right and proper to say "No, in thunder!" to the status quo and create the world you want to live in, as long as it's peaceful.

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