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Libertarians and Obama:

Quite a few libertarians voted for Obama because he campaigned as a liberal on foreign policy and a moderate on economic policy, and they preferred that combination to what they deemed McCain's conservative foreign and marginally more conservative economic policy. For libertarians who lean "left" on foreign policy, Obama's rhetoric gave them hope that as president he would fundamentally reassess American foreign policy in the direction of nonintervention, and reverse various national security policies that they felt threatened individual liberty.

As Karl Rove points out, however, Obama has thus far turned out to be very liberal (statist would be a better adjective--bailouts of large corporations, political interference with bankruptcy law on behalf of special interests, going back on pledges to rein in earmarks, and so forth, can hardly be deemed "liberal" either philosophically or in their redistributive consequences) on economic policy, and not much different than the Republicans on a variety of national security and foreign policy issues. In other words, libertarian Obama supporters got the opposite of what they hoped for: a moderate on foreign and national security policy, and someone fundamentally reassessing American economic policy in the direction of bigger government.

I wonder how many libertarian fans Obama has left?

(As is becoming my standard practice, comments will be open for a limited time.)

Commentor (mail):
Obama didn't campaign to the situation he inherited.
5.21.2009 9:20am
rosetta's stones:
So some libertarians filled the empty vessel, then voted for it?

Raise your hands, please.

In fact, raise your hands if you voted for either of the 2 chumps running last time.
5.21.2009 9:20am
hugh:
I got a lot of "I want to participate in a historic election."

I'm not sure this is the kind of "historic" they had in mind.
5.21.2009 9:24am
Bold:
As a libertarian, I'm feeling less embarrassed for voting for McCain. McCain probably would have made things worse but at a slower pace. What a standard.
5.21.2009 9:36am
Aultimer:
I am a libertarian primarily concerned about domestic policy/individual rights. Obama was the clear favorite there, notwithstanding his shortcomings on the 2A. There wasn't a serious candidate that promised anything like fiscal restraint. McCain mentioned the concept, but the details of everything else looked a lot like Rovian statism.

Foreign policy (apart from the spending it entails) is a very minor concern to my libertarian sensibilites. So far, it's exactly what I expected, although the crashing economy has delayed the ineviable repeal of DADT and decriminalization of MJ.
5.21.2009 9:37am
Patrick from OZ (mail):
It should be a form of natural self-selection, anyone dumb enough to have voted for Obama as a libertarian candidate should stop calling themselves libertarian.
5.21.2009 9:38am
Desiderius:
Given the current intellectual climate, from the bottom to the top, for-profit and non-profit, Obama may be the best we can do for a while. At least he understands libertarian arguments, even if on some issues he disagrees.

This is a generation that remembers neither Communism nor Carter. They may need to learn those lessons for themselves.
5.21.2009 9:50am
Just Dropping By (mail):
While I'm not pleased with Obama's course, I do know that by almost every relevant metric McCain would have been even worse, so I'm still not regretting my vote. The threat posed by McCain was too great not to vote against him.
5.21.2009 9:53am
I have no idea:
Ah, yes, Karl Rove the objective outsider. Come on. This is the most trite commentary I've seen on this issue. The path to big bail-outs was laid by the previous president. While Obama is playing into the democrat stereotype as a "big spender" that doesn't mean that McCain could (or would) have done anything different.
5.21.2009 10:02am
James Eaves-Johnson (mail) (www):
I am a libertarian and I will still stand by my vote. I am not convinced that either Obama or McCain would have done anything substantially different in the last few months. I am generally not convinced that employing libertarian principles in a general election is useful. I voted for Obama simply because I think his personality sedates activists for social "justice" and foreign leaders interested in closing doors to Americans. It is only on this derivative basis that I can justify my vote on libertarian principles ... and I did not delude myself otherwise before the election.
5.21.2009 10:02am
Mikecampbelly2k (mail):
Obama is a Libertarian? What kool-aid are you drinking? He is pure Socialist/statist! Please list ANY libertarian position he has taken, let alone implemented. Has the Libertarian brand become corrupted too? Would Mises, Hayek, Rothbard,etc.,etc. endorse any of BHO's programs? Could they intellectually defend them? Please enlighten me.....
5.21.2009 10:03am
finman:
Patrick is right. I never understood why an informed libertarian would ever support Obama. McCain was a seriously flawed candidate, but clearly less so than Obama.
5.21.2009 10:03am
dmv (www):

So far, it's exactly what I expected, although the crashing economy has delayed the ineviable repeal of DADT and decriminalization of MJ.

Don't hold your breath on the latter point.

Michael Jordan has a long way to go before he's decriminalized at last.
5.21.2009 10:07am
Slocum (mail):
It should be a form of natural self-selection, anyone dumb enough to have voted for Obama as a libertarian candidate should stop calling themselves libertarian.

I don't think any libertarians voted for Obama as a 'libertarian candidate' but rather as the lesser of two evils. Since my state was a lock for Obama, I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate as a protest vote (even though I think the L party is kind of a joke), so I sidestepped the lesser evil choice, and I'm not sure what I would have done if I *had* to vote for either Obama or McCain.

So far, though, the relatively faint libertarian hopes I had for Obama are not panning out. He's little or no better on a variety of issues (the war on drugs, domestic surveillance, gay marriage) and clearly much worse on statist economic policies and grabbing even more power for Washington and the chief executive.

But you really have to compare that to what you think McCain would have done -- and I don't have much confidence in being able to predict that (guy's a loose cannon). But I will say that divided government would probably be an improvement at this point -- although, even there, I wouldn't have been very surprised if a president McCain had 'gone native' with the Democrats in Washington as Arnold did in Calif.
5.21.2009 10:09am
pdxbob:
According to Kubler-Ross, the five stages of grief are:
* Denial
* Anger
* Bargaining
* Depression
* Acceptance

Left-libertarians are in Denial
Right-libertarians are in Anger
Conservatives are in Depression
Not sure I can make it to Acceptance.
5.21.2009 10:10am
John Thacker (mail):
While I'm not pleased with Obama's course, I do know that by almost every relevant metric McCain would have been even worse, so I'm still not regretting my vote. The threat posed by McCain was too great not to vote against him.


Ah, so agricultural subsidies, energy subsidies, ethanol, health insurance (McCain's proposal of replacing the employer deduction with an individual tax credit was far too libertarian wonkish for the voting populace), free trade, "Buy American," etc. aren't relevant to libertarians? So many things on domestic policy that libertarians hated about Bush-- prescription drug benefit, energy bills, agricultural bills-- McCain voted against while Bush was in office (and Obama voted for the ones that he was in the Senate for), but those aren't important? McCain's votes both before the election and since can be completely discounted on your gut feeling of what he'd do as President?

It's certainly possible to think that Obama would be better in some areas, and I think it's reasonable to be disappointed because even in the areas where Obama is better than Bush, he's doing almost exactly what McCain proposed in tweaking various policies.

It's reasonable to say that both would have run towards the middle, and that the differences would be relatively small. Though on certain issues-- ag subsidies, energy, ethanol, free trade-- McCain has such a long and completely sterling record that some change would be expected.

It's completely absurd to say that McCain would be "the same or worse in all areas," as some deeply ignorant libertarians pretend to themselves for self-justification.
5.21.2009 10:11am
Sunshine is good:
I think the one thing we are forgetting here (and I voted for Obama) is that the Democrat exec is working with a majority Dem House and Senate... McCain would be veto-crazy right now, which might not have been a bad thing. I can't speculate as to how he would try to fix the economic crisis, but he would be much better at forcing the veto-line votes in the Congress.
5.21.2009 10:15am
rosetta's stones:

It's completely absurd to say that McCain would be "the same or worse in all areas," as some deeply ignorant libertarians pretend to themselves for self-justification.


How so? In the moment, in the arena, as the issues crashed down along with our economy last Fall, McCain got bum-rushed right alongside Bush and Obama, and there's no denying that. He bought off on all this madness.

McCain has a few anti-libertarian skeletons in his closet, too, as you well know.

Same or worse? I can make that claim every bit as much as you make yours.
5.21.2009 10:20am
Kelly64 (mail):
In the comments Libertarians defending Obama's economic policy and standing by their vote? McCain would have made the economy just as bad (at a slower pace!) although he had no clear economic policy? I do know for sure he was against pork, that was fairly clear. Pretty sure we wouldn't have a 2 trillion dollar spending bill, probably would have had a much, much smaller stimulus if any at all. I'm pretty sure McCain wouldn't be handing Chrysler over to the unions. Yes, I can certainly see why Libertarians stand by their Obama vote, well, I can see it in a dimension where the meaning of Libertarian has the exact opposite meaning that it does in this dimension.
5.21.2009 10:20am
Sunshine is good:
That should have driven all libertarians towards McCain - the desire of minimal govt influence is readily achieved by gridlock between the executive and the Congress... Look what Clinton managed to do with that gridlock vs Gingrich?! We got a budget surplus for once...
5.21.2009 10:21am
theobromophile (www):
Even if McCain would have been similar in many areas (a contention that is hardly credible), he would have been the better choice when Congress is controlled by the Democrats.
5.21.2009 10:26am
DSM:
I suspect that few Obama-friendly libertarians will indeed change their minds, regardless of what Obama does. It's much easier to quietly modify your memories of why you made the decisions you did -- giving more weight to the known evils of McCain than to the potential evils of Obama -- than it is to admit that people you hold in mild contempt (such as middle-class populist conservatives hollering that Obama was a dangerous socialist) were right.

That reality is keeping Obama somewhat more reasonable than his supporters may want on national security issues helps their case considerably -- even though the final verdict is still out -- as some had correctly predicted this would happen, and suggested that conservatives were overstating the danger.

This isn't just a libertarian problem, of course. Iowahawk's "I Must Say I Do Quite Like the Cut of this Obama Fellow's Jib" parody perfectly describes a certain strand of Obama-friendly conservatives. I'd even argue that the Obamacons were engaged in far more doublethink than Obamatarians (sp?); at least libertarians for whom abortion rights and a less activist foreign policy mattered most had a case.
5.21.2009 10:26am
texasfox82:
choosing between the lesser of two evils still involves choosing evil. if you are libertarian and voted for anyone who wasn't a libertarian candidate then you've no right to complain or call yourself a libertarian. I think after a certain point it was obvious obama was going to win, so people should have just voted the libertarian candidate if that's what they claim they are or written in someone who could have done a better job.

What amazes me is how anyone expects anything else from politicians. Politicians are the same as addicts who promise to be different or better, but lo and behold things continue to stay the same.
5.21.2009 10:27am
BN (mail) (www):
As a Democrat I have written off the votes of people who read Karl Rove's articles. To these people I say, Good Luck with the Republicans.
5.21.2009 10:35am
Vox:
I voted third party. (A "luxury" of living in a non-competitive state where one party's candidate always gets more than 50% of the vote.)

Libertarians certainly have reason to be disillusioned with the Obama presidency. Not necessarily in comparison to McCain, as some have suggested, but because of the disparity between President Obama and Candidate Obama.
5.21.2009 10:38am
Cardozo'd (www):
For future reference, when a post begins with "As Karl Rove points out" intelligence people should move on to a more reasonable post by Eugene or Orin.

I also wish to point out I posted exactly that thought earlier and it was deleted. Which is utterly pathetic and probably goes against any libertarian leanings...as censorship. It's not particularly volatile and certainly isn't lewd or offensive. It's a perfectly fine criticism of Karl Rove's incessant wrongness and Davids undeniable partisanship. To delete that comment was a sign of a very defensive person...and frankly, if you can't handle that, a very slight criticism, perhaps you need stop blogging on a major legal blog...or don't allow comments at any point.

[EDITOR: I deleted it because it was an utterly stupid (the idea that nothing Karl Rove says could possibly have any value) and insulting (only Orin and Eugene have reasonble posts) comment that contributed exactly nothing to the discussion. I'm going to delete it again after you've had a chance to read this, though I'll make an exception if you will reveal your identity. But if you post such asinine things under a pseudonym, you will be deleted.]
5.21.2009 10:38am
CJColucci:
If you're going to put a short time limit on comments, you should at least tell us what it is.
5.21.2009 10:40am
Vox:

As a Democrat I have written off the votes of people who read Karl Rove's articles. To these people I say, Good Luck with the Republicans.


Geez, what ever happened to diverse consumption, deliberation, awareness of opposing arguments, etc.?
5.21.2009 10:46am
green-grizzly (mail):
Is it any wonder the Republicans choose to rely on social conservatives rather than libertarians?
5.21.2009 10:54am
Assistant Village Idiot (mail) (www):
With few exceptions, the Obama defenders have resorted to their feelings and impressions of what McCain would have done. Well that's persuasive.

I don't get why people reject an argument by Karl Rove on general principles, either. If you are trying to convince me that you're just too intelligent to even consider the thoughts of such a one, you are having the opposite effect.
5.21.2009 10:56am
Anderson (mail):
bailouts of large corporations

Like the liberal/statist George W. Bush did, for instance.

Whether McCain or Obama, the next president was going to be a politician, who could not afford to let GM (say) collapse on its own and let the free market fall where it may.

Libertarians prefer a fantasy world "beyond" politics -- hence for instance their admiration of the moronic Ayn Rand -- so it's not surprising they want presidents who aren't politicians.

At other times and places, the yearning for an "apolitical" leader has led to dictatorship. Which I would think would be anti-libertarian, but then, I would have thought that about torture and wiretapping, too.
5.21.2009 10:58am
BN (mail) (www):
Geez, what ever happened to diverse consumption, deliberation, awareness of opposing arguments, etc.?


If you can't understand why a Democrat would stop taking your concerns seriously the moment you mentioned Karl Rove's opinion then I don't think I can explain it to you.
5.21.2009 10:59am
KFAT (mail) (www):
No principled libertarian in the sense of someone who has read Hayek, Rand, Friedman, etc. (aka not just ones who want decrim of MJ) would have seriously considered voting for this president. His clear and unabashed anti-Individual rhetoric, his decades of kow-towing to the Religious Left, his embrace of reflexive anti-American bigotry. All of this disqualifies the current occupant from serious consideration. McCain was certainly a disappointment in terms of his understanding of economics, but I there may have been some check on the true creatures of destruction: Congress.
5.21.2009 10:59am
Tony Tutins (mail):
I simply cannot remember any Obama pledge to "rein in" earmarks. I remember he wanted to make them visible, so that citizens could see where the money went, but I don't remember any pledge of abstinence.
5.21.2009 11:01am
cubanbob (mail):
"BN (mail) (www):
As a Democrat I have written off the votes of people who read Karl Rove's articles. To these people I say, Good Luck with the Republicans.
5.21.2009 10:35am"

A year from now when the house goes solidly republican get back to us.
5.21.2009 11:01am
BN (mail) (www):
A year from now when the house goes solidly republican get back to us.


Three years from now when the House Republicans ignore all your libertarian concerns get back to me.
5.21.2009 11:03am
Peter Twieg (mail):
There seems to be some understandable confusion as to what counterfactual case we should be weighing Obama against - should we be comparing him to what a President Rothbard would do? Or what McCain would do with a Democratic Congress? Or what McCain would do with a Republican congress?

Assuming we're talking about McCain with a Democratic Congress, the results with regard to fiscal policy might have been better, but I don't see the current fiscal stimulus as irrevocably ratcheting up government spending. The results with regard to social and international policy would almost surely have been worse, plus the whole "Vice President Palin" concept is pretty much a dealbreaker in my book. My main concern with BHO is the plans for middle-class entitlement expansion, but I can still see nothing coming of these.
5.21.2009 11:16am
Bold:

if you are libertarian and voted for anyone who wasn't a libertarian candidate then you've no right to complain or call yourself a libertarian.


If you think Bob Barr was a good libertarian candidate, and one without any shred of "evil" as you put it, then do some research on his actual record as a Republican and reconsider your statement.
5.21.2009 11:18am
rosetta's stones:

Whether McCain or Obama, the next president was going to be a politician, who could not afford to let GM (say) collapse on its own and let the free market fall where it may.


Agreed.



Libertarians prefer a fantasy world "beyond" politics --


Actually, the fantasy seems to be yours. Your statement above, which I agree with of course, indicates an absence of politics. I'd guess most libertarians would prefer that we actually have some politics, rather than your fantasy preference, which is to have none... to be "beyond politics" as you say.
5.21.2009 11:24am
Terrivus:
Reading these comments makes me recall Berke Breathed's apt description of libertarians: "tax-dodging professional whiners."
5.21.2009 11:31am
Anderson (mail):
plus the whole "Vice President Palin" concept is pretty much a dealbreaker in my book

Common sense -- a non-partisan value.

Your statement above, which I agree with of course, indicates an absence of politics.

Has someone got a Rosetta Stone for me to use in deciphering Rosetta's Stones?
5.21.2009 11:43am
scwinger:

It is absurd to say that weighing the horrible alternative in McCain/Palin should not be a factor in determining a rational decision to vote for Obama. The prospect of President Palin really must be in any conversation about the rationality of voting Obama.

Look, I have significant objections to the debt and bailouts, but see the alternative as letting most of the industrial and financial sectors of the economy collapse. To say that a "Libertarian" president would not let that happen is counterfactual wankery in the extreme. McCain - while alive - probably would have done much the same, but possibly also started a war over Abkhazia in Georgia, per rhetoric, limited my medical decisions, my sexual decisions, my religious decisions.

And while I think the NRA and gun rights activists are making a grave strategic mistake by claiming a Federal right (with concommitant Federal restrictions) to arms, there really is no movement even to raise taxes on guns, despite bloviations of many.

So consider me one who lines up as "Libertarian" in most charts, I certainly do not regret my vote at this time.
5.21.2009 11:52am
David Welker (www):

political interference with bankruptcy law


Seriously? It is the job of Congress and the President to make and change the law. That isn't called interference.

I could understand it when someone calls judicial activism that is motivated by political ideas, like Lochner, "political interference" by the judicial branch with the decisions of the political branches.

But, it is the job of Congress and the President to make and change bankruptcy law and other Federal law.

Let's do a little sanity check here. Would you call it "interference" if Congress and the President changed bankruptcy law in a way that you approved of, or is this new fangled idea that when Congress changes the law "political interference" with the law apply only when you disagree with the change? Or, alternatively, is what you object to is any change in the law whatsoever? Is it "political interference" any time the law changes?

As for the concern that changes in the law is driven by "special interests," last time I checked that Constitution was written to accommodate "factions," because trying to eliminate them would entail a greater cost in the curtailment of liberty than whatever benefit would arise.

Do you consider all changes to the tax code each year to be "political interference" because such changes could, quite reasonably, be said to be driven in part by "special interests"?

I am not saying that I agree with you that special interests are driving changes in bankruptcy law. However, even if I were to concede that, it would not justify characterizing the actions of Congress or the President in changing the law as "political interference" precisely because it is the job of Congress and the President to change the law.
5.21.2009 11:55am
Matthew in Austin:
McCain/Palin represented far more obstruction of civil liberties by continuance of Bush's torture and detention policies, and by advancing the Christian Right's agendas regarding abortion, homosexuality, war-on-drugs, etc. It seems Obama is the far stronger Libtertarian candidate with regard to advancing personal freedom on those types of causes. And Republicans had become just as likely to over-spend as Democrats, so I am unconvinced you have any logical ground to stand on at all.

I was a Republican/Libertarian for all my adult life until I realized that we were actively torturing people. How can any Libertarians still support that kind of behavior? Until the Republican party publicly apologizes for its "advanced interrogation techniques", I don't see how any moral Libertarians can rally to their cause.

Karl Rove calling Obama some nasty names in insufficient to diminish the great work he is doing rehabilitating the soul of our country.
5.21.2009 11:59am
David Welker (www):
Query:

Was it "political interference" when Congress changed bankruptcy law to make it so that certain debtors making more than the median income could no longer file straight Chapter 7? After all, there were "special interests," like the credit card companies, pushing for those changes.
5.21.2009 12:06pm
Patrick from OZ (mail):

Libertarians certainly have reason to be disillusioned with the Obama presidency. Not necessarily in comparison to McCain, as some have suggested, but because of the disparity between President Obama and Candidate Obama.


Actually, I think self-selection should kick in here too. I nearly died the first time someone tried to tell me that Obama was the more libertarian candidate because, well, you know, he's really smart, and, uh, he means all that stuff, you know, that stuff,

The only consistent substantiated record he had, despite anything he might have said, was of consistently avoiding 'hard' records (above his pay grade? present?) and doing whatever it took to get where he wanted (throwing people under buses? Saying what the audience wants to hear?). He was also patently in thrall to unions and lawyers, hardly libertarian-friendly groups.

Whereas McCain, despite anything he might have said, had a record of supporting free trade, opposing pork, and generally being about as small-government as any legitimate political contender in the country that I could see at the time. He was about as patently not in thrall to unions and lawyers, or even 'big defense' à la Murtha, as anyone else I could see.
5.21.2009 12:10pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
There's a distinction between changing the bankruptcy laws to affect future transactions and political interference with the enforcement of current laws favoring secured creditors.
5.21.2009 12:16pm
rosetta's stones:

Has someone got a Rosetta Stone for me to use in deciphering Rosetta's Stones?


OK, I earned that!

Anderson, I agree with the premise of your statement, that McCain and Obama would be doing the same thing right now ... bankrupting the country. They both clearly demonstrated their support for this... and did so during the election, when those statements mattered, and could be judged for what they were. They agreed here.

Thus, there was no politics involved in that election, on the issues you mention. If anything, there was a voidof politics.

No doubt, libertarians would prefer there to have been some politics over these issues, but you seem to prefer the void, and further, you've accused libertarians of being the ones preferring a void, the very void that your statements acknowledge exists, and whose outcome you seem to celebrate.

You're accusing libertarians of seeking a world "beyond politics", even as you comment favorably on an election which was held "beyond politics". Neat trick, that.

Personally, I would have preferred if McCain had gone to the mattresses last Fall, over these bailouts and spending expansions. THEN we could have had some politics. Don't know who would have won, and don't really care, but the country would have been the better for it. And I'd dare say that's how most libertarians would shake out on this... not buying into your preference for a void.
5.21.2009 12:21pm
Nunzio:
Let's face it folks. Obama is a bad President. He's well on his way to being as bad as W. He has no idea how to deal with Pakistan, is being ignored by the Iran and North Korea, and is getting no cooperation from Europe on Gitmo and Afghanistan.

His fiscal policies are a joke and his Treasury Department is undermanned.

But, by Jove, the man can give a speech.
5.21.2009 12:22pm
Justin (mail):
My only comment is that it appears that almost everyone in this thread disillusioned with Obama or ready to judge his Presidency a failure seems to be people who didn't vote for him anyway, and wished he would have lost - from Bernstein on down. Take from that what you will, but it certainly seems to count against Bernstein's original premise.
5.21.2009 12:26pm
Bob from Ohio (mail):

Conservatives are in Depression


Not me. I'm pleased.

O has sown so many landmines that when they blow up, the swing back will be sharper and more long lasting than one could have expected back in November.
5.21.2009 12:28pm
trad and anon (mail):
I second all those who have mocked Bernstein's complaints about "political interference" with bankruptcy law, as though the bankruptcy code had previously been some ethereal realm of pure policy untouched by politics.
5.21.2009 12:48pm
Overgetter:
Remember, even though David Bernstein approvingly cites Karl Rove as a persuasive source, in no fundamental respect is DB conservative.
5.21.2009 12:49pm
David Drake:
I'd say the GOP is in "Acceptance"--we were in Depression, at the latest, last fall.

Bob from Ohio--I concur with that. The current administration policy is economically incoherent. The war policy is the same as Pres. Bush's, with the names changed to keep from looking like the same and with distractions like the "torture memos." (Not that that is a bad thing). His attitude toward Iran and N. Korea seems to be to carry on the ineffective policies of all his predecessors.

I did not vote for Pres. Obama but I did have some vague hopes for him based on the number of economic heavy hitters in his camp. I am pleased he sold the Lefties out on the War but upset that he has apparently delegated detailed economic policy making to the the likes of Pelosi, Waxman, Frank, et. al.
5.21.2009 12:51pm
Jim Hu:
Um, I read "the political interference with bankruptcy law" not to be about changing the law, but rather to be about trying to bully the creditors in the Chrysler situation. Which I think is a legit complaint.

McCain-Feingold made it really hard to vote for McCain. But I did because I thought O would be worse, esp. with a Dem Congress. The thing about history is, that we can't do the control.
5.21.2009 12:55pm
rrr (mail):

I am a libertarian and I will still stand by my vote.


This and similar comments above are why I've given up on and scoff at the hypocrisy,willful ignorance, or naiveté (take your pick) that stands for contemporary libertarianism. Sure, the state running Chrysler and Wall Street, that's a libertarian value if I ever saw one. Your vote has guaranteed that your children will not be able to live to the standard of your grandparents. But, hey, when the state deems to see them, they'll get free healthcare!

Why is any of this acceptable to a libertarian?
5.21.2009 12:55pm
jim (mail):
Obama is the worst embodiment of corrupt leftist scum this country has ever seen.
5.21.2009 12:59pm
John C. K. (mail):
"McCain/Palin represented far more obstruction of civil liberties by continuance of Bush's torture and detention policies, and by advancing the Christian Right's agendas regarding abortion, homosexuality, war-on-drugs, etc."

This is tedious, but sometimes the truth is tedious: McCain opposed Bush's torture and detention policies, and the policies of McCain and Obama are more or less equivalent with respect to homosexuality and drugs. And the abortion issue really has nothing to do with libertarianism at all, it has to do with the question of whether there really are rights that every human being has. Being a libertarian doesn't commit one to thinking killing other humans should be legal because making it illegal would limit people's liberty...
5.21.2009 1:01pm
Federal Dog:
"But, by Jove, the man can give a speech."

Well, he can read a teleprompter. Beyond that, he has pointedly limited skills, oratorical or otherwise.
5.21.2009 1:04pm
NaG (mail):
The best libertarian argument for McCain was that he and Congress would keep each other in check.

The best libertarian argument for Obama was that there needed to be a strong rebuke of Bush's presidency and policies.

Very few libertarians actually tried to parse out whether McCain was "more libertarian" than Obama, or vice-versa. That is a fool's errand. Neither is anything close to being a libertarian.
5.21.2009 1:11pm
Careless:
What NaG wrote
5.21.2009 1:16pm
ShelbyC:
trad and anon:

I second all those who have mocked Bernstein's complaints about "political interference" with bankruptcy law, as though the bankruptcy code had previously been some ethereal realm of pure policy untouched by politics.


I'm not familiar with the history of bankruptcy law, but have there been many cases where the executive has meddled in a particular bankruptcy to favor a campain donor before?
5.21.2009 1:29pm
BN (mail) (www):
I forgot, however (but the comments reminded me), that to some liberal readers citing Karl Rove is like waiving a red hanky in front of a bull, no matter what the context. Of course, he's not the only one. I think the best therapy for this is total immersion, so here goes:


First rule of communication: Know your audience

I wouldn't believe Karl Rove if he told me the Yankees sucked. There are many people who think as I do. If you want to have a discussion with us about Libertarian policies then maybe you should use a Karl Rove article to anchor your blog post? If you want people like me to dismiss you concerns then keep on keeping on with the Rove articles.
5.21.2009 1:36pm
ShelbyC:
@BN, maybe he didn't realize you would be reading today.
5.21.2009 1:43pm
Whadonna More:

Peter Twieg (mail):
There seems to be some understandable confusion as to what counterfactual case we should be weighing Obama against - should we be comparing him to what a President Rothbard would do? Or what McCain would do with a Democratic Congress? Or what McCain would do with a Republican congress?

If only it had been McCain/Ridge and a Dem Congress, we might be making progress on liberty while dealing with the economic issues in a measured way. Thanks for nothing religious right. Sigh.
5.21.2009 1:43pm
Justin (mail):
65+ comments and still not a single liberterian in the thread who feels betrayed by Obama and regrets his vote.
5.21.2009 1:59pm
David Welker (www):

There's a distinction between changing the bankruptcy laws to affect future transactions and political interference with the enforcement of current laws favoring secured creditors.


If X incurs debt before changes in the bankruptcy law that could be discharged in Chapter 7 when that debt was incurred, but a change in the law makes it so that it cannot be discharged, then this shifts risk from X's creditors onto X. In other words, this interferes with the enforcement of current laws favoring debtors like X.

I think that pretty much any significant change in bankruptcy law is going to "interfere" with a status quo that was once more favorable to someone else.

I don't think it is proper to call this "political interference" as if there was something especially improper about it. That the law changes in a way that you or I happen to disagree with doesn't make it "interference." The debtor who once thought he could discharge his debt under Chapter 7 and took a calculated risk with that fact in mind when he incurred the debt now finds that if things get bad he cannot. The secured creditor who thought that his interests would be favored in bankruptcy finds out this isn't true in exactly the same way as before.

In general, it would be foolish to have any sort of absolute reliance on the bankruptcy law remaining constant for either debtor or creditor. By definition, bankruptcy is an unfortunate event that interferes with existing contractual relationships. Indeed, just as a creditor would prefer that the debtor not go bankrupt at all (and the debtor would prefer the same thing) the creditor prefers a more secured place in those proceedings. But, just there is no absolute certainty that a debtor will not file for bankruptcy in the first place, there is no absolute certainty regarding one's treatment when bankruptcy does occur because Congress has the power to make and change bankruptcy law (and in any case, there are ambiguities in interpretation, as with all areas of law.) There is a probability or risk that bankruptcy law will change, either favorably or unfavorably and whether you are a debtor or creditor you should take that into account.

Sometimes, when Congress changes the law, there are winners and there are losers. Sounds pretty universal to me. The same is true with the tax code. This isn't the Congress engaging in "political interference." This is Congress doing its job.

Anyway, we may agree to disagree about whether it is proper for Congress to interfere with existing contractual relationships. Maybe you think that everyone is entitled to precisely the bankruptcy law that was in existence when the debt was incurred while I think that such an idea is largely impractical and not worth whatever theoretical benefits you believe might arise. But, there is no denying that the change in the bankruptcy law that Todd Zywicki so loudly praised where some debtors are no longer able to file Chapter 7 even though they would have been when the debt was incurred. By your principles, is this not also "political interference" with existing arrangements?
5.21.2009 2:02pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Hey, BN, do you deny that Obama has governed more to the left on economic policy, and more to the right on foreign/nat'l security policy, than would have been expected from the campaign. If not, what difference does it make to you whether it's Karl Rove or Stanley Greenberg who points this out?
5.21.2009 2:03pm
24AheadDotCom (mail) (www):
Quite a few libertarians voted for Obama

Libertarianism means never having to say "I think", so it's not surprising that he might have picked up a few of the hundred thousand or so L votes. It was very clear to me - if few others - that BHO had been "vetted" early on.
5.21.2009 2:05pm
ShelbyC:

political interference with the enforcement of current laws favoring secured creditors.


Congress isn't changing anything, here. Maybe "political interference with bancruptcy law" was an inexact way of phrasing the situation, but every commenter knows we are talking about the president meddeling in a particular bankruptcy proceeding, not with congress changing the law.
5.21.2009 2:11pm

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