LP Abandons Libertarianism, Constitution

The Libertarian Party has issued a press release calling for “increased coordination and communication between federal and state law enforcement agencies in order to help to apprehend and convict child predators and those who engage in child pornography.”

While child abuse is obviously evil and unlibertarian, it is still bizarre that the LP would issue this release. To specifically call for the national police force to work more with state and local police is not just something radical libertarians would have trouble with. It is also unconstitutional. Under the Tenth Amendment, criminal justice questions–-including murder, rape, arson, theft, child abuse, violence against women, drug policy, gun laws and the like–are to be handled by state and local governments, not the federal government.

There is some gossip that this release was a stupid inner-party power play, to make radicals, including believers in decentralist law enforcement, feel uncomfortable in the party. By forcing this issue over the very emotionally charged issue of child porn, some people in charge of the party are trying to force anarchists and other radicals to admit they do not think the federal government should be involved in such questions. Specifically, they are attacking one presidential candidate, Mary Ruwart, over this and using it as an excuse to alienate radicals.Ruwart–who spent 19 years as a pharmaceutical research scientist for Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and holds a PhD in biophysics–says she has been unfairly attacked and her words have been misrepresented in a smear attempt. Apparently the sell-outs and compromisers are trying to destroy her career.

In any case, why should a presidential election even have anything to do with this? The 1996 and 2000 LP presidential candidate, Harry Browne, used to point out that “The Constitution recognizes only three federal crimes — treason, piracy, and counterfeiting. The federal government has no Constitutional authority to deal with any other crimes.” He convincingly argued that this was a reason even pro-life libertarians should oppose federal abortion laws. (And Ron Paul would argue that pro-Choice libertarians, for similar decentralist, Constitutional reasons, might oppose Roe v. Wade.) (See Browne on prohibition and drugs; Browne on abortion.)

Would Harry Browne feel left out of what the Libertarian Party has become?

David Nolan, the minarchist founder of the Libertarian Party, was outraged by the press release. He wrote:

“The question is, how does society best protect its members from these bad things? And the LIBERTARIAN answer is ‘rarely, if ever, by giving more power to governments, especially at the Federal level.’ I am appalled at the national HQ staff putting out a press release that implicitly disowns one of our candidates over such a relatively minor issue. First, because that’s not a proper role for paid staffers to assume, and second because several other candidates have taken overtly anti-Libertarian stances on a number of issues, and none of them have been shot at by the national staff for doing so. This whole fiasco just reeks of cronyism and witch-hunting.”

This is why I hate political activism and electoral politics. The desperate attempts to seem respectable, the constant disingenuous smearing of more principled opponents as racists or pro-pedophiles, the selling out of even Constitutional government to hysterical federal wars on terrorism and child porn, and under-the-belt punches. It’s all very disgusting.


2:30 pm on April 28, 2008