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Libertarians' Awkward Bedfellows


Last week, Conservative pundit Ann Coulter told me and a thousand young libertarians that we libertarians are puss- — well, she used slang for a female body part.

We were in Washington, D.C., at the Students for Liberty conference, taping my TV show, and she didn't like my questions about her opposition to gay marriage and drug legalization.

"We're living in a country that is 70 percent socialist," she says. "The government takes 60 percent of your money. They take care of your health care, your pensions ... who you can hire ... and you (libertarians) want to suck up to your little liberal friends and say, oh, we want to legalize pot? ... If you were a little more manly, you'd tell liberals what your position on employment discrimination is."

We do, actually. We say employers ought to get to choose whom they hire. They created the business, so they should be allowed to discriminate against stutterers, TV hosts, old people — anyone they don't want.

But Coulter has a point.

Government rarely makes a dent in people's drug use or their ability to partner with people of their own gender.

"Seventy percent socialism" does much more harm. It kills opportunity and wrecks lives.

But Coulter doesn't just want to downplay "liberal" parts of the libertarian agenda. She opposes them.

When I asked why gays can't marry, she said, "They can — they have to marry a member of the opposite sex."

I see why the students were annoyed by Coulter's shtick.

If Republicans were smart, they'd listen to that rising generation of young people who want government to stay not just out of the economy, but out of our personal lives, too.

Fortunately, some Republicans are onboard with that. Another of my guests was Justin Amash, congressman from Michigan.

The young libertarians admire him, in much the same way they admire Republicans like Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Jeff Flake; Gov. Gary Johnson; and new Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie.

Amash focuses on government spending. He has pictures of libertarian economists like Murray Rothbard in his office, and he warns that big government — including military spending — will bankrupt America. He's not afraid to call for cuts in popular programs like Medicare, Head Start and food stamps.

After Amash's complaints about government spending, establishment Republicans in Congress kicked him off the budget committee.

One said it was because of the "a—hole factor ... inability to work with other members."

I asked Amash about that.

"It might be because I wanted to balance the budget," says Amash. "The level of government spending is so insane."

It is. Even if the sequester cuts happen — cuts the left calls "brutal" — in eight years the feds will still spend $5.3 trillion annually ... just a little less than the $5.4 trillion they will spend if no cuts are made.

The "brutal" sequester is anything but. Even the much-feared Paul Ryan budget plan would only reduce the federal debt in 2021 from the $26 trillion President Obama projects to ... $23 trillion.

So with our economic house in such disarray, Coulter is right to avoid getting bogged down in fights over drugs and homosexuality. But I prefer the way Amash handled the libertarian-conservative conflict.

Michelle Montalvo of Temple University asked him to "comment on your faith and how you reconcile that with your libertarian beliefs? There are stereotypes about libertarian students, that we're Republicans who love to do drugs, (but) we're not all godless."

Amash answered, "I'm an Orthodox Christian ... and I believe that the government is a hindrance, a lot of times, to our religious liberty." But he doesn't want government to promote Christianity. "Get government out of the way, allow people to make choices. We can't legislate morality and force everyone to agree with us."

The young people at the conference worry about the economy. They worry less about drug use and gay sex — most have come to see those as socially acceptable.

Instead of insulting libertarians or kicking them off congressional committees, it's time for Coulter — and other Republicans — to stop suggesting that those who want the government out of their personal lives are morally suspect.

Then we can concentrate on the important things.

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at <a href="" <>></a>. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at




6 Comments | Post Comment
Spelled R-E-S-P-E-C-T-
The libertarians do spell.
A few do make it to D.C.,
And party big wigs make life hell.
The very thought that someone would
Come to big gov to make it small,
Freaks out the D.C. neighborhood,
Must minimize such a screwball.
Party big wigs have made their bed.
We the People are on the floor,
The only bed fellows, instead,
Are spend, spend, spend buddies galore.

Libertarians want respect,
A thing in D.C. that's suspect.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ima Ryma
Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:34 PM
Anne Coulter pretty much points out what we know about both major political parties; they are not about individual freedom but about control. As an example, Democrats want to control guns, health care and employment. Republicans want to control drugs, marriage and abortion. Without "control", neither party would have their zealots nor much reason to exist. If there was one phrase that summed up my philosophy best, it would be what Ted Nugent told Piers Morgan recently on the topic of gun control; "just leave us the hell alone!". Works for me!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Aardvark
Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:59 AM
I think that that libertarians and paleo-conservatives are working at cross purposes. If libertarians want to do something constructive and not just appear as some kind of hip, socially acceptable conservative in order to gain political advantage, they could provide some leadership for (a) school vouchers and (b) relegating these culture war issues to the states and get them out of D.C. politics. A federal government big enough to guarantee the right to abortions and to wear a shirt profaning another's religious beliefs is a government big enough to decide that all rights need to be revised. By siding with progressives in certain ways, libertarians unwittingly(?) support a federal government that won't leave societies free to govern themselves; using tyranny in the large to "protect" us against the bugbear of tyranny in the small. Without a solid stand on the 10th Amendment, libertarians end up selling themselves as "in touch" conservatives or fiscally responsible progressives, and it DOES come across as pandering. Worse, it looks like they're trying to out-"sell out" the neocons. Give Middle America real control over who is teaching their kids and what they're being taught. Give us academic choice. Give us a real remedy against judicial activism. Expose the indoctrination. Help give us our culture back. Otherwise, libertarians are just "all the coerced social change without the free stuff."
Comment: #3
Posted by: Darth Thotz
Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:22 AM
Stossel has lost his strong philosophical focus this once. He doesn't want to be labeled as suspect morally on one hand while stating that the libertarians have accepted gay marriage and drug use on the other. To many of us, these are important moral issues! When the libertarians don't care about redefining marriage we are right to question their moralality.
Obama won on morals. His party wants freedom to do what they believe is acceptable--gay marriage, abortion, etc.
In the end the public trusts people who show some moral backbone, even liberal moral backbone. The Republicans made the economy the issue and lost. Americans know instinctively that money should not govern our choice--no integrity in that. Republicans will have to rediscover a moral backbone to find support again.
Comment: #4
Posted by: carol ann rowland
Fri Mar 1, 2013 5:32 AM
Re: AardvarkWho's going to leave the baby about to be aborted the hell alone?
Comment: #5
Posted by: Monte Matheson
Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:09 PM
Mr Stossel,

If you want to improve relations between classical liberals (now called conservatives) and libertarians, then you need to look at the rhetoric in BOTH houses.

I am wont to watch your show, and as such I have seen David Bowes on his program a number of times. While I do not agree with him on everything I have been impressed with some of his ideas. As a Republican who feels Republicans have not done enough to ensure liberty, I sympathize with him on many criticisms of my party.

However, on John Stossel's program Stossel, 11/8/2012 episode "Obama's reelection and what it means for liberty," I saw Mr Bowes dip into one of the greatest slanders today. I would like to think that he did so unwittingly, but I believe someone should bring it to his attention, and if he is not willing to correct it, then he will be a false defamer.

"And the Republicans for the past 70 years have told African Americans and women and gay people and immigrants that you don't really have a seat at the table, that you don't have all the rights and dignity that the rest of us do, and now they are paying the price. The Republicans wonder why they can't break into the black vote, why they can't close the gender gap. They should look back on seventy years of history of Conservatives resisting equal rights for each one of these groups."

What lazy history study produced this? In Civil Rights Act 1965, 80% plus of Republicans voted "eye" with just over 60% of Democrats. That was the FIRST time amongst many attempts throughout the fifties and early sixties that the Democrats had a majority voting for it. The Republicans ALWAYS had a majority voting for it. Among the less than 20% of Republicans who opposed it was Barry Goldwater, POTUS candidate of 64 who had helped establish the NAACP in AZ and helped end segregation in Arizona prior to Brown vs the Board. He opposed Civil Rights 65 because HE WAS A CULTURAL LIBERTARIAN, and did not believe the Federal Government should force private enterprise to allow people into their business, which is a position now hold almost SOLEY BY LIBERTARIANS. See Republican Conservatives will use any means necessary to reaffirm the BASIC human dignity of the individual as with Abolition, as with the Civil Rights and anti Jim Crowe laws, and as with abortion on demand. We will use force for that and nothing else, and that in principal is the only fundamental difference between us and libertarians.
If Mr Bowes wishes to say that Conservatives are the ones to blame, I would humbly submit that of all the segregationist democrats only one of note changed parties, Strom Thurmond. Senators Robert Byrd, William Fullbright, Sam Ervin, William George the whole lot DIED Democrats. George Wallace in 1976 endorsed JIMMY CARTER. Governor Orville Faubus and Senator Byrd were Bill Clinton's mentors, and all the others mentioned would only be palitable to libertarians in their opposition of Senator McCarthy (who by the way was another Republican champion of civil rights) and their opposition to the Vietnam War (particularly under Nixon when the US actually started winning it).
I respect the right of Libertarians to part company with those of us who agree with them on most policy issues, even if it is just to suck up to left wing socialists who only share their interest in legalizing pot and redefining the age old institution of marriage to suit LGBT agenda. You don't have to be our friends if you don't want to, but could you at least not join them in revisionist history and slander? I don't ask Mr Bowes to come to my way of thinking on gay marriage, drug legalization, and abortion, but if we are to be fair we must speak the truth. I don't go around claiming Libertarians are racist because of their stance on hiring discrimination. I disagree with it, but I understand why they're afraid of government involvement. Mr Bowes, as a man who admires your many other works, please apologize to the Stossel Audience and Republicans everywhere for this defamation. I hope and even believe that it was strictly born of ignorance and misinformation. The reality of the situation is, the Libertarian Party isn't collecting enough steam to do much in the next four years, and the Republican Party, while maybe not ideal to you, may at least be worth not slandering? After all, if the government nationalizes large percentages of industry, solidifies a one payer system for health care, confiscates personal firearms universally, and begins to confiscate personal wealth at a higher rate, marijuana legalization could be counted as but a consolation prize. But then again perhaps then we right wingers will finally come to see your way of thinking, though admittedly not in the libertarian doctrine that you wish us to understand! Everyone will just want some good stuff to smoke then!!!!!

-Monte Matheson
Comment: #6
Posted by: Monte Matheson
Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:12 PM
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