By Ali Hassan Massoud
In the days of the French Revolution the ruling body called the Assemblee Nationale would meet at the Louis XIV Opera House to do it's governing, scheming, and plotting. The leaders of the two main factions sat in one of the two upper balconies where they could throw messages, shout orders, instructions, boo, hiss, and heckle from. The Radicals sat on the left balcony. The more moderate, conservative, and bourgeois parties sat in the right side balcony of the opera house. The journalists of the day called the Radicals the "left-wingers", and the moderates, conservatives, monarchists, and the rest of the counter-revolutionaries the "right-wingers", and in western culture and journalism these terms persist to this day.
This brief excursion into political history is meant to illustrate how pointless and devoid of meaning modern American political terminology is today. As with most political references in modern American politics, they don’t provide any real distinction or differentiation of policies, and that is because there aren’t any.
"We only have one political party in the US," says Gore Vidal, "and that is the property party, which essentially is corporate America, which has two right wings, one called Republican and one called Democrat." Vidal’s cynical observation does convey a feeling of verisimilitude, but is it true? I think that it is and here is why.
The so-called "liberals", "conservatives", Republicans, and Democrats make up the entire American political spectrum. There are others of course, but realistically third parties such as the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, and the rest are very marginal players at best. Efforts such as the Reform Party are really simply cult-of-personality constructs for the ego-trips of political outsiders with delusions of grandeur, and seldom last once the cult figure (such as Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, and Jesse Ventura to name but a few) exit them.
If you fancy yourself a "liberal" (not to be confused with a classical liberal or a liberal democrat), you must as a matter of course accept and advocate for various forms of state and societal interference and infringements upon your life.
It is exactly the same if you are a conservative or a Republican. The only difference is the types of policies you would have the government impose or refrain from. Conservatives and Republicans believe that it is fully proper for example to impose laws that tell adults who they can marry, or make love to, or what form that love should take.
Democrats and "liberals" think that the income you make is their money first, and that they should be able to take as much of it as they need so as to able sprinkle it like pixie dust on favored people and groups, in order to "redistribute" societal problems to extinction via tax money. The point to remember is this: Neither right nor left object to using the state’s repression apparatus to force their ideologies on people. The only distinction between them is which ideologies.
In what I consider a classic essay on modern libertarian ideological evolution titled Liberty and the Right, R.W. Bradford the publisher of Liberty, wrote that, "As enthusiastic and committed opponents to the growth of government power, libertarians naturally opposed those who were engineering and managing the growth of the state. Despite the fact that Republicans controlled the presidency during most of the last half of the 20th century, and were ideologically conservative for most of the century's final two decades, the fact remained that the nation's power structure — including the media, the intellectual community, and both houses of Congress — remained firmly in the control of the Left. That is part of the reason why even a president as committed to smaller government as was Ronald Reagan failed to halt the growth of governmental power. State power grew and grew and grew, and those advancing state power were almost all leftists."
Which I feel explains very nicely why many Libertarians start out as very conservative Republicans. They noticed that for the last half of the 20th century particularly in the 1930’s under FDR and the 1960’s under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations the American political establishment distanced itself from, and then abandoned the principled positions of Liberal Democracy and minimalist government in favor of an ever more expensive and intrusive nanny state.
The only opposition to this abandonment were "right-wing" politicians who were mainly (but not exclusively) Republicans. The social engineers of the think-tanks, foundations, Hollywood, intellectuals, and academia all were inclined to the view that the folks out there in the American hinterlands were no doubt good at heart, but in practice were lazy, stupid, brutal, ignorant, racist, know-nothings who needed their expert and learned guidence to reach their and America’s full potential. Most of the people who are a part of those institutions and groups are "liberal" Democrats or their sympathizers.
Beginning with the election of Republican congressional majorities in 1994 and the subsequent election of President George W. Bush in 2000, and culminating with the September 11th, 2001 attacks, so- called "big government conservatives" heretofore an oxymoronic term in the culture of American politics came to the fore.
Justin Raimondo wrote a hyperbolic (but accurate) description of how those three key events, caused an abrupt swing in the Republican Party and their guiding ideologues. You could almost hear Robert A. Taft and Barry Goldwater spinning in their graves. What Raimondo was surprised by was how the libertarians went right along with them in this slide into authoritarianism. Raimondo’s essay Go Left, Young Man declares that the de facto alliance between libertarians and conservatives is at an end.
"Okay, so let's see if I get this straight:" said Raimondo of this shift, "it's okay, as far as the "libertarians" over at Cato are concerned, for the cops to "monitor" the local peace group, infiltrate its meetings, take down license plate numbers, and gather personal and political information on the membership, as long as we're talking about "public" information – right? They presumably also want to pay public employees to surf the internet, trolling for "subversion" – so Ms. Gavora and/or members of her entourage are free to Google themselves to their hearts' content – at taxpayers' expense. I knew the word "libertarian" was in danger of losing its meaning when people like Jesse Ventura, William Weld, and Bill Maher started laying claim to it, but little did I suspect that it had degenerated down to the level of "libertarians" defending outright authoritarianism."
The only "differences" today is which party (Dem or Rep) and which end of the conventional political continuum ("liberal" or conservative) can run up the biggest deficits, debase the currency the fastest, destroy what is left of the manufacturing sector, and kill or injure the most little brown people all over the world.
On the home front, the Democrats/"liberals" promise us that when they take away our civil liberties, why they’ll be respectful and sensitive about how they go about it. (Wide screen TV’s with premium cable packages for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay maybe?) The only "choice" the two party system and the totalitarianism they foster today is perhaps our choice of color for the cattle cars they’ll use to ship us off to the camps they no-doubt have in mind for some of us.
So there we are. The libertarians and the Libertarian Party members have no real possibility left of making serious alliances or attempting to influence the two major parties on the need to return to Liberal Democratic principles, non-intervention in foreign lands, and a serious rethinking of the desirability of the modern welfare state. That is all gone with the wind.
* A phrase attributed to Alabama Governor George C. Wallace the American Independent Party candidate for president in 1968. He carried five states.
"Wallace talked of running for president in 1964 as a neo-Dixiecrat candidate. However, he backed off when the Republican nominee, Sen. Barry Goldwater of Arizona, came out against the bill that later became the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Goldwater's move undercut Wallace's trademark assertion that ‘there's not a dime's worth of difference’ between the two main parties on race."
Ali Massoud is a father, compulsive blogger , apostate Muslim, small business owner, college graduate, crack rifle marksman, cat lover, shrewd investor, US Army veteran, and currently single. He lives in Michigan.