The Tea Party’s Mad Hatters
Actually, many of the Tea Party candidates, including
businessman Ron Johnson, the newly anointed Republican unknown running against
Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold, are strongly libertarian, embracing a political
philosophy that has existed since the 1700s.
And there are very good reasons why the Libertarian
Party has always been a minority party.
Some people describe libertarians as conservatives
who have moved so far to the right they bump into the left.
A much simpler definition that always made sense to
me is that libertarians are conservatives who like to smoke dope.
That’s what makes them far more honest and less
hypocritical than most of those in the Republican Party who call themselves
conservatives. There is absolutely nothing conservative about Republicans who
want to control the governments of other countries through warfare and control
people in our own country through laws that intrude into their personal lives.
As I’ve written, the truly conservative position on
gay marriage should be to insist upon it. Why would conservatives want gay people
to go around having sex willy-nilly without being married?
The libertarians’ absolute belief in preserving our
civil liberties against unnecessary government control in our personal lives is
something folks across the political spectrum can agree upon.
But libertarians are political proof you can
advocate too much of a good thing. Many of them make the enormous leap from
opposing unnecessary government action in our lives to opposing absolutely any
government action at all.
Business Trumps All
That is why libertarianism is so attractive to
millionaire businessmen such as Johnson. Johnson refers to libertarian Ayn
Rand’s 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, as
his “foundational book.” It was
pretty thick. You could stack lots of books on top of it.
What businessmen particularly like about
libertarianism, though, is the idea that government shouldn’t have any power at
all to tell business what to do.
So nice libertarians who worry about protecting
individuals from abuse by totalitarian governments end up opposing any
government action to protect individuals from abuse by totalitarian
Anyone living through the recent financial collapse
and even more recent epic destruction of jobs and the natural environment in
the Gulf of Mexico knows which unchecked
source of power—corporate or government—presents a greater threat to our
Yet, true libertarians follow their esoteric
political philosophy right out the window by opposing all regulation of Wall
Street and the oil companies and even such long-accepted curbs on corporate
abuse as child labor laws and worker safety regulations.
Rand Paul, the Tea Party Republican candidate for
the U.S. Senate in Kentucky,
did not say anything unusual for a libertarian when he declared that President
Barack Obama’s blasting of British Petroleum for the still unchecked
environmental disaster in the Gulf “sounds really un-American in his criticism
The same goes for Paul’s incendiary racial remarks
that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went too far when it banned private
businesses from turning away African Americans from lunch counters or hotels.
Actually, Paul’s ridiculous statements in television
appearances before he was pulled off the air by Republicans and put under wraps
are just the tip of a very bizarre iceberg.
Paul also is one of those conspiracy theorists who
believe there is a secret Democratic plan to wipe out both the Mexican and
Canadian borders and turn North America into a
“borderless, mass continent” connected by a 10-lane superhighway running north
and south. That’s what he said in 2008.
But you’d never guess what Paul’s most controversial
views are among libertarians. The Kentucky Libertarian Party actually is
considering running its own candidate against Paul, an ophthalmologist whose Texas congressman
father, Ron Paul, was the party’s national presidential candidate in 1988.
Among libertarians, the worse things Rand Paul said
were when he started backing away from libertarian principles to repair the
political damage and try to become more acceptable to mainstream voters. So
they didn’t particularly like it when Paul insisted he wasn’t racist and
ultimately would have supported a ban on blacks being chased away from
restaurants with ax handles.
Libertarians also object that Paul, in wooing
Republican votes, has abandoned some of the party’s bedrock principles that
appeal to the left, including support for a woman’s right to choose and
marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
The Tea Party rallies greased the way for previously
“fringe” libertarians whose views are decidedly not mainstream to win major
These anti-government candidates in Wisconsin, including
Johnson and several congressional candidates, are virtually unknown, having
never held public office.
That’s why it’s imperative for the media to
thoroughly examine the political views of these candidates on basic American
rights and government responsibilities.
Prepare to be shocked.