I Being Unfair to the Republican Liberty Caucus?
by Laurence M. Vance: The
Twenty-Year War in Iraq
At the end
of December, I received a postcard in the mail from the Republican
Liberty Caucus of Florida advertising their upcoming convention
in Kissimmee, Florida. Because I thought it was too kind to the
Republican Party, I blogged about the postcard on January 3 in a
post titled "The
Liberty Wing of the GOP?"
My post caught
the eye of Dave Nalle, the chairman of the national
RLC, Aaron Biterman, the vice chair of the national RLC, Will
Pitts, the state chairman of the Florida RLC, and Philip Blumel,
another member of the Florida RLC. They all wrote to me about how
unfair I was to the RLC. I was even asked to remove my post. Some
Florida RLC members saw things differently, including one that invited
me to speak to a regional RLC group.
I’m glad that
members of the RLC read LRC. After reading and rereading the comments
I received, corresponding with some members of the RLC, and taking
a closer look at the mission and principles of the RLC, I considered
updating my post. But because I wanted to clarify and expand what
I had written, I thought it best to do so in an article.
Here is the
text of the postcard I received from the Florida RLC:
OF FLORIDA, 2011 CONVENTION, 1 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 15,
Ramada Celebration Resort & Conference Center, 6375 West Irlo
Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL 34747
we will be building the RLC within an ascendant Republican Party
that won big on libertarian themes on Nov. 2. It’s our time!
"The RLC has to be in ship shape to represent the liberty
wing of the GOP and hold party leaders to the message that elected
them. Help us choose new RLC leadership in the elections, pick
our top issues for 2011, plan this year’s grassroots lobbying
effort – and visit with friends, old and new. The banquet speaker
is incoming Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos,
who will discuss the prospects of getting a TABOR-style spending
cap – a signature RLC issue since 2006 – passed in the 2011 session.
$20 / Banquet $40 – Register now at www.rlcfl.org
I was primarily
attacking the worthless and evil GOP and only secondarily criticizing
the RLC for the dishonest postcard. My first criticism was: "It
says that the Republican Party ‘won big on libertarian themes’ in
the recent election. That’s funny, I don’t remember any libertarian
themes in the Republican ‘Pledge to America,’ just empty promises."
My second criticism was: "The RLC postcard also mentions ‘the
liberty wing of the GOP.’ There is a liberty wing of the Republican
Party, but it only has one member: Ron Paul. The RLC must be referring
to the fake liberty wing of the GOP that rears its hypocritical
head when a Republican is trying to get elected, reelected, or convince
the gullible that he is less evil than a Democrat."
So, did the
Republican Party win big on "libertarian themes" in the
First of all,
the Republican Party victories in the last election were in a great
measure because of voter discontent with the Democratic Party. Just
like the Democratic Party victories in the previous election were
in a great measure because of voter discontent with the Republican
the Republican Party won on libertarian themes then I wonder which
libertarian themes those were. It certainly wasn’t on the libertarian
themes of end the war on drugs, no more foreign wars, stop stationing
U.S. troops all over the world, abolish the welfare state (including
Social Security), dismantle the national security apparatus (including
repealing the PATRIOT ACT), end all foreign aid and farm subsidizes,
and eliminate most federal departments and agencies.
Republicans did campaign on repealing the health care bill, which
is certainly a libertarian thing to do. However, there are two problems
with the Republicans when it comes to health care. One, they want
to replace Obamacare with Republicare. And two, they don’t support
the libertarian theme of medical freedom. I recently
pointed out both of these inconsistencies when I mentioned how
Eric Cantor, the new Republican House Majority Leader, expressed
support for two of the worst provisions of Obamacare. See also my
Care Hypocrisy" and "Republican
Hypocrisy on Obamacare."
Republicans, as we read in their "Promise to America"
and saw in their election campaigns, talked about more liberty,
less government, the free market, and following the Constitution.
These are broad libertarian themes, but so broad that Democrats
could say the same things. The problem is that the Republicans,
like the Democrats, actually believe in more liberty only for themselves
and those who agree with them, less government of the other party
and more government of their own party, the free market in certain
areas with government regulation of the rest, and following the
Constitution when it suits them. I have documented this in The
Revolution that Wasn’t.
the Republicans actually campaigned on some decidedly unlibertarian
themes like supporting the war on terror, saving Social Security,
and restoring Obamacare’s "cuts" to Medicare.
I think it
is a great overstatement to say that the Republicans "won big
on libertarian themes" in the last election.
The other question
is this: Is there a liberty wing of the Republican Party?
When I said
that the liberty wing of the Republican Party had only one member,
Ron Paul, I was referring to Republican officeholders and politicians
– the very people I mentioned in the next sentence in my original
post. I did not mean to imply that no one in the entire Republican
Party was a libertarian except for Congressman Paul. The homepage
of the national RLC says: "Welcome to the Republican Liberty
Caucus, the small government, liberty-loving wing of the Republican
Party." This wing is actually much bigger than the RLC. In
fact, on the grass-roots level, I’m sure there are many people still
in the Republican Party who, although not members of the RLC, are
liberty minded, libertarian leaning, or even hardcore libertarians.
Party leaders and candidates may sometimes use libertarian rhetoric,
but I suspect that anyone in the Republican Party with any libertarian
inclinations whatsoever only votes Republican because he thinks
he is voting for the lesser of two evils, not because he believes
what comes out of the mouth of lying Republican politicians.
It was not
my intention to be unfair to the RLC, and I don’t think that I was.
the Republican Liberty Caucus. Its membership is probably full of
great people, many of whom are hardcore libertarians. I disagree
that "the most effective way to advance libertarianism is within
the Republican Party," as the RLC chairman told me, but am
glad for the work they do in introducing Republicans to libertarian
principles. I personally think the most effective way to advance
libertarianism is through the work of LRC and the Mises Institute.
I have no faith in electoral politics. Okay, fine, so we differ
But as I wrote
to the RLC national chairman, vice chairman, and, I think, someone
else, the RLC is a mixed bag. Although the RLC has some good advisors,
some of whom I know personally or at least know of, one of the advisors
is fairtaxer Neal
Boortz, who also loves the airport porno scanners and is a Patriot
Act apologist. I hope the RLC doesn’t take any advice from him.
The RLC endorsed
Jeff Flake (R-AZ) for Congress in the recent election. While he
is certainly better than most Republicans, he did favor extending
the Patriot Act – something very unlibertarian. The RLC endorsed
war hawk Mike Pence for Senate in the 2008 election. The RLC statement
of principles is weak in some areas. For example, drugs:
the harm that drug abuse causes, but also that the "drug
war" has been ineffective and has led to terrible abuses
of personal liberty. We favor flexible alternatives at the state
and community level to combat the harmful aspects of drug use.
This is evasive.
Does the RLC favor the full legalization of all drugs or not? If
not, then it is not libertarian. Which is fine, but don’t expect
to not be criticized by libertarians for being inconsistent.
And then there
is the chairman of the national RLC, Dave Nalle. He is a monetarist
gold and defends the FED. He wrote a defense
of John McCain. He defended Bush’s
ridiculous "pro-American" statement about the 9/11
attackers hating our freedoms. And he recently had some
very unkind words about LRC and its writers:
and Southern Nationalist Thomas DiLorenzo has made a career of
writing books with the objective of redefining the causes of the
Civil War and rewriting the history of the Lincoln presidency.
While he has been scoffed at by mainstream historians, he has
gathered a following among deluded quasi-libertarians through
his association with the Von Mises Institute and Lew Rockwell’s
peculiar brand of post-libertarian, anti-government extremism.
Put me down
as one of those deluded quasi-libertarians who counts among his
friends Tom DiLorenzo and Lew Rockwell.
the RLC of Florida. As I have heard from those in and outside of
Florida, the Florida RLC does not march in lockstep with the national
RLC, just as the regional chapters don’t always mirror the state
organization. The same is no doubt true of the national, state,
and local Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian Parties. There
are some hardcore libertarians in the Florida RLC organization.
I know because some of them have recently written to me. The Florida
RLC supported Ron Paul in his bid for the presidency and did not
endorse conservative darling Marco Rubio in his recent Florida Senate
campaign. Aside from the postcard, my criticisms of the Florida
RLC are minor.
banquet speaker, Mike Haridopolos, the new Florida Senate president,
seems like a decent guy for a Republican politician. However, he
is neither a libertarian nor a member of the RLC. I did note on
that he is a big supporter of public education and that he has "been
proud to support" the Florida Forever program, of which he
says: "Our state is blessed with abundant natural resources
and since the program’s inception in 2001, our state has purchased
and protected over 500,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land
at a cost of almost $2 billion to Florida taxpayers." As a
Florida taxpayer, I object to the state of Florida buying up land
with my tax dollars.
RLC website is very out of date.
about the historical roots of the Republican Party are not accurate.
Under "upcoming events" on the website homepage we read:
election cycle will be one of the most important in our country’s
history, and the Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida is sure
to have a profound impact. Join us at our biennial convention
to learn more about our organization and how you can play a role
in getting the Republican Party back to it’s core values of Constitutionally
limited government, fiscal conservatism and free enterprise.
we read this under "About
the Republican Liberty Caucus":
Liberty Caucus (RLC) works from within the Republican Party to
return the party to its Jeffersonian roots. The RLC seeks to restore
liberty, not restrict it; shrink government, not expand it; reduce
taxes, not raise them; abolish programs, not create them; promote
the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference
of government in their lives; and observe the limited, enumerated
powers of the United States Constitution.
It is just
not true, as Tom DiLorenzo, Tom Woods, Clyde Wilson, Anthony Gregory,
Lew Rockwell, and other LRC writers, including myself, have shown,
that the Republican Party’s core values are "Constitutionally
limited government, fiscal conservatism and free enterprise,"
and that it has "Jeffersonian roots." Historically, it
is the party of Lincoln, not of liberty. Libertarians may want to
make it into a party of liberty, and I hope they succeed, but the
Republican Party will not go down that road without a fight. As
it stands now, it is no friend of liberty. The Republican Party
of Florida even purged
some Florida RLC members from its ranks, including some who held
And as I replied
to someone from the RLC: The Republican Party is hopelessly corrupt,
evil, statist, and pro-war, but I applaud every individual Republican
who is not. And I applaud the work of the RLC when it is consistently
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State and The
Revolution that Wasn't. His newest book is Rethinking
the Good War. Visit his
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
Best of Laurence M. Vance