12/26/2016 by Dylan James Harper
Although they’d never admit it, libertarians got everything they wanted when Trump won the presidency in November, at least everything they realistically wanted. A Gary Johnson presidency was an impossibility, and a Clinton presidency would make the flaws in libertarianism all the more glaring. A Trump presidency, however, puts the outer, faux radical wing of the Republican party exactly where they want to be. The weakness for libertarians has always been social issues. Their main method of enticement is to repeat over and over again the rhetoric that places them as the party of both fiscal and social freedom. They claim to want to let individuals do what they will with their money, and in their personal lives. Even a cursory examination of their praxis however paints a very different picture.
Libertarians talk a big game on the broad topic of social issues, but when it comes down to it, they care about two things: foreign policy (which itself is sort of a social issue/fiscal issue hybrid), and the drug war. These aren’t irrelevant topics, and they tend to generally have the right idea on both issues. The United States should demilitarized and stop invading other countries, and the US should end it’s deadly drug war that, in every measurable way, does more harm than good. The failings of the libertarian party, however, become clear in the details of how they champion these causes.
In regards to the drug war, it is near impossible to find a libertarian really to include the major factor of race in anti-drug war rhetoric. Despite it being impossible to separate the two things, most mainstream libertarians, and certainly all their presidential candidates, will hardly give race a vague mention when talking about the drug war. When they do mention it, it’s usually used as a shield against an accusation of racism. A common exchange that’s easy to find in arguments between libertarians and people on the left is someone on the left to discuss the racist implication of removing various racially based civil rights regulations, only to bet met with the claim that the only real way to deal with racism is by ending the drug war.
Exchanges on foreign policy are almost identical. Foreign policy is used as a means to dismiss domestic issues, particularly social issues that impact marginalized communities. Discussions of trans bathroom laws, what should be, based on libertarian ideology, an issue in which they come down firmly on the left en masse, often cites deaths caused by the United States’ drone program as proof that issues like trans bathroom laws aren’t worth dealing with.
This rhetorical silence when it comes to social issues is telling. The next four years at least will be filled with libertarians broadly criticizing Trump’s foreign policy (many influential libertarians won’t even have the guts to criticize Trump, as much of their audience adores him, instead broadly calling it “US foreign policy” or blaming President Obama for doubling down on many of the Bush era increases in executive power in this context), while quietly ignoring the devastating impact a Trump presidency will have on marginalized communities. This is par for the course for libertarians, and until they decide to take social issues seriously, their complete lack of credibility remains entirely warranted.
Dylan James Harper is the Chief Political Editor for CSuiteMusic
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