Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Case for Libertarianism – Part Two “The Big Tent”

Over the past eight years our Republican brothers and sisters have managed, at the national level, to alienate a considerable percentage of their constituency. In an effort to rebuild their party after the "meltdown" of 2008, there has been considerable discussion surrounding the need to rebuild the "Big Tent."

The "Big Tent" refers to the attempt of a political party to be inclusive of many different viewpoints, something with which the Republican Party has always struggled. The stance they have taken on issues such as abortion, and gay marriage, to name but a few, have pushed many away. Now the emphasis to remake the party has become almost an obsession, the "Big Tent" is falling down and must be repaired.

Does the Libertarian Party need to also expand its tent? How do we fair on these "wedge" issues? Our National platform states:

1.4 Abortion - Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.

1.3 Personal Relationships - Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government, such as in current marriage, child custody, adoption, immigration or military service laws. Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships. Government does not have the authority to define, license or restrict personal relationships.

This last issue is particularly illustrative of the general attitude Libertarians hold regarding that which is often been termed, for lack of a better phrase, "Gay Rights". Within the Republican Party and the Democratic Party, there are the Log Cabin Republicans and the Stonewall Democrats, who seek to further acceptance of their views and opinions within the framework of their two respective parties, albeit with little or no success. The Libertarian Party does have the Outright Libertarians and this excerpt from their FAQ explains the relationship between the Libertarian Party and their organization:

Does Outright's positions on "gay issues" differ from the Libertarian Party?

In substance, no. Currently, every one of our positions are consistent with libertarian principle and the Libertarian Party Platform (Neither Log Cabin Republicans nor even Stonewall Democrats can say this). However, we and the LP do sometimes disagree on the approach.

For example: The LP takes a hard line on Hate Crimes Legislation, as legalized discrimination against the victims of some violent crimes in favor of others. Outright opposes Hate Crimes Legislation but understands, sometimes first hand, why it is so popular and seeks to show GLBT people that the legislation is not only discriminatory but flawed even when it actually includes us! The LP's approach is often hard hitting and direct to the central issue. Outright's approach is more understanding, we are more willing to explain the failings of government solutions and to show how some things that look good for us on the surface may actually work against us. But one thing to keep in mind: the national LP has never taken a negative stance on the inclusion of GLBT individuals in any legislation that secures equal rights for GLBT people, whether marriage, military service, taxation, etc.

So I ask again, does the Libertarian Party need to expand its tent? No. In fact we don't even need a tent. There is room enough under the sun for all who cherish Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.


Patriot Paul said...

I believe the abortion question is inherent inherent in the 'unalienable right to life'. For a political party to simply ignore the issue by stating it is a personal issue undercuts the Life issue. If it is self-evident that that we are endowed by our Creator, then who are we to restrict and abort the life of others coming into this world. It is very disingenuous for the LP to avoid the subject. Without Life, there is no liberty and the pursuit.
Secondly, on 1.3 regarding same-sex marriage, again the LP dodges the issue. Look at California whose constitution cam be amended in a limited way without 2/3 of the legislature voting. The majority may vote in a referendum and reaffirm the meaning of 'marriage' and virtually ban gay marriage. Yet, the people have spoken, basically in a direct democracy which is their right to do.
Basically, the government is already involved in these issues by consent of the governed. Failure of the LP to address them instead of ignoring them solves nothing and adds nothing to the conversation. thoughts?

Ed Angleton said...


While I respect your right to your opinion I must perforce disagree. For me, the issue of abortion is a personal, medical issue. I am a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and I find that the stance the Party takes on abortion is very similar to that of my church. Quoting from the church's website

Abortion Issues

Presbyterians have struggled with the issue of abortion for more than 30 years, beginning in 1970 when the General Assembly, the national governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declared that, “the artificial or induced termination of a pregnancy is a matter of careful ethical decision of the patient…and therefore should not be restricted by law…”(1) In the years that followed this action, the General Assembly has adopted policy and taken positions on the subject of abortion.

In 2006 the 217th General Assembly approved language that clarified the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) position on problem pregnancies.

When an individual woman faces the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy, the issue is intensely personal, and may manifest itself in ways that do not reflect public rhetoric, or do not fit neatly into medical, legal, or policy guidelines. Humans are empowered by the spirit prayerfully to make significant moral choices, including the choice to continue or end a pregnancy. Human choices should not be made in a moral vacuum, but must be based on Scripture, faith, and Christian ethics. For any choice, we are accountable to God; however, even when we err, God offers to forgive us.(2)

The 217th General Assembly (2006) reiterated the role of the church in individual and families lives as they face problem pregnancy issues.

The church has a responsibility to provide public witness and to offer guidance, counsel, and support to those who make or interpret laws and public policies about abortion and problem pregnancies. Pastors have a duty to counsel with and pray for those who face decisions about problem pregnancies. Congregations have a duty to pray for and support those who face these choices, to offer support for women and families to help make unwanted pregnancies less likely to occur, and to provide practical support for those facing the birth of a child with medical anomalies, birth after rape or incest, or those who face health, economic, or other stresses.(3)

The church also affirms the value of children and the importance of nurturing, protecting, and advocating their well-being. The church, therefore, appreciates the challenge each woman and family face when issues of personal well-being arise in the later stages of a pregnancy.(4)

“In life and death, we belong to God.” Life is a gift from God. We may not know exactly when human life begins, and have but an imperfect understanding of God as the giver of life and of our own human existence, yet we recognize that life is precious to God, and we should preserve and protect it. We derive our understanding of human life from Scripture and the Reformed Tradition in light of science, human experience, and reason guided by the Holy Spirit. Because we are made in the image of God, human beings are moral agents, endowed by the Creator with the capacity to make choices. Our Reformed Tradition recognizes that people do not always make moral choices, and forgiveness is central to our faith. In the Reformed Tradition, we affirm that God is the only Lord of conscience-not the state or the church. As a community, the church challenges the faithful to exercise their moral agency responsibly.(5)

I'll agree that it does conflict with the inalienable rights as put forth by John Locke, but there are no easy answers when matters of spirituality collide with policital theory.

I'll take up the marriage issue at a later date.

Patriot Paul said...

Ed, with all due respect, relegating the Life issue to strictly personal thought is against the Declaration of Independence. Government has already inserted itself into the Life issue in this very document by citing the 'Creator' who endowed us. If you believe it is religious or personal only, then you should be objecting to the outcome of Roe v. Wade for government entering into the Life issue and granting abortion on demand. It gives blanket acceptance to 4400 abortions a day, nearly 50 million slaughtered since the decision. Why aren't you objecting to the interference of government with it's culture of death instead of Life. It is really a cop-out to cite your religious creed as an excuse to stay unengaged when the government permits this genocide. If you want the government to stay out of out lives, where is your objection to it's interference? Either you should be protesting the government's interference in giving carte blanc authority for making slaughter the law of the land, or you should be yelling the government's subsidation of abortions is great and we should have more and protesting the Declaration of Independence when it enteres the religious sphere in citing the Creator who it claims endowed us with the 'unalienable' right to life. Again, if you believe the government has already overstepped it's boundaries, where is your protest. The silence of the LP is deafening while the slaughter continues. If you accept the Dec.Of Indep. core statement of Life, then you must take a stand for or against the government's behavior into our lives. The American people deserve a position; not a silent treatment.

Ed Angleton said...


Are you saying that I don't have the right to believe as I believe, to worship as I desire?

I believe in the 1st Amendment, do you?

Oh, and BTW, at exactly what point does Life begin, since you reject a religious definition, please provide a scientific one with references.