Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians
May 1st 2005
Statue of Liberty
The ascension of Republicans and conservatives to power
and popularity have given both an irresistible lust for power and
popularity. Whereas both earned public support with criticisms of the
increasing size and consistent record of incompetence of government, they
are now dedicated to the premises that, "deficits donít matter," and the
purity of their intentions are the assurance that their power grabs are only
benevolent and benign.
Consequently, mainstream political debate in America has
been reduced to demonization of either Republicans or Democrats depending on
an individualís partisan affiliation. In the evaluation of this contest, it
can be said that Republicans have an edge over the Democrats only because
they are winning more elections. Democrats, on the other hand, have been put
off balance because, even though they are losing PR battles, their
big-government agenda is getting accomplished on almost every level.
Out of this political environment that is breeding
mindless slogans, baseless acrimony, and government sprawl without end,
Libertarians are establishing a reputation of being innovative and
challenging political and social thinkers. They provide a tremendous service
to the country through the fact that their disavowal of the two party system
enables them to criticize both poles of it with verifiable credibility.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in libertarian reviews
of history. Abraham Lincoln has been for several years the subject of
aggressive libertarian criticism over his conduct of the War of Northern
Aggression, or more popularly called the Civil War. Lincolnís war has been
cited as the cause of the modern centralization of power that is driving
American government and politics today. Libertarian historians support their
positions with sufficient references to statements from Americaís founders
that declare their new born union of states to be voluntary in keeping with
the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.
More recently Woodrow Wilson has been the victim of
libertarian intellectual assaults. Wilsonís quest to make the world safe for
democracy in W.W.I did little more, say libertarians, than extend the horror
of that war, force a stupid Treaty of Versailles upon Germany, establish the
social and economic conditions that brought Adolph Hitler upon the world
scene, and make Eastern Europe safe for Stalinist and Soviet Communist
oppression. Wilson has drawn attention because much of his rhetoric is very
similar to that of the current president who appeals to his supporters with
utopian visions of a world delivered from the threat of terrorism by
democratic governments within every border.
For all their contributions to the current political
culture, however, libertarians are flawed in that many of their commentaries
seem to give too much credit to institutions for the troubles or blessings
of the world. Governments are not to be trusted. Free markets offer the best
economic foundation for fair and equitable distribution of resources.
Political parties lead to factionalism that confuses citizens and leads to
an erosion of justice.
Many of the great libertarian commentators and thinkers
frequently fail to connect the failure or success of institutions to the
flaws or strengths of the humans that direct them. When the officials of
constitutionally defined governments violate their oaths and expand the
reach of government beyond its boundaries, blame need be placed on the
reprobate office holders. When markets produce wealth but those who capture
a large share of that wealth seek to influence laws to their favor, it
proves that markets are only as reliable as the people profit from them.
This oversight of libertarians is no small matter. It can
guide them to be unreasonably cynical of those institutions they disdain and
uncritical of those they favor. If, however, they measured the activities in
those institutions by individual restraint against the temptation to abuse
their wealth and power, then their critiques will ascend to even greater
heights that will be far beyond the visions of any liberal or conservative
partisan that currently corrupt our government, politics, and economy.
By Bob Strodtbeck
Bob Strodtbeck has been writing editorial
commentaries since 1993. He has professional experiences in
pharmaceuticals, radio, and education. He has also served as a church
elder in an Orlando congregation where he has made his home since 1986.