SocraticGadfly: The Libertarian Lady is not for turning

May 27, 2020

The Libertarian Lady is not for turning

See multiple footnoted sidebars at bottom and note also that this original post has been expanded. Note also that primarily due to exchange of comments, I've got two sidebar blog posts that I'm spinning off this. They'll be linked when they go up.

And here you are on part 1 and part 2.

Libertarians nominated Jo Jorgensen for president, a long-ago VP candidate and NOT an ex-Republican, on the fourth ballot. Libertarians did a virtual convention for president and veep ONLY; the original plan for an all-virtual convention was derailed when some legalistic LPer cited bylaws, so they'll meet in person for other quadrennial business. (Does this surprise you?)

Just because she's their first woman nominee doesn't make her anything but the typical hardcore Libertarian, per a Reason interview. (Don't ever, EVER forget Maggie Thatcher, per the header.) *

(That said, the "not for turning" is sincere, especially with many Greens, including many older, by both age and GP years of involvement, individuals salivating over political opportunist Jesse Ventura. Now, back to the thread.)

She makes the No True Scotsman claim that healthcare needs free markets to actually work. Actually, a good socialist like me knows that insurers are but lightly regulated. Pretty free market. And abusive. But, doctors and hospitals, ordering unnecessary tests out of a mix of capitalist grifting and fear of L/libertarian type lawsuits, are also part of the problem.

(Big picture: "True Scotsman" true capitalism for many Libertarians, I think, is what was covered nearly 400 years ago by Thomas Hobbes.)

As ProPublica has written in detail? Capitalism in American health care is part of why poor black folks with diabetes gets amputations at a rate far higher than whites.

Beyond that, capital L's, many small-l libertarians back national health care. Like Hayek! Boom. (Though, unlike me, I am sure no libertarian of small or capital l's backs a National Health System here in America.) And, while some small l's support national health care, I have NEVER met a capital-L political candidate who does. This is surely another reason why Europeans who call themselves libertarians stare at American libertarians as though they were three-headed goats or something.

She blames governments for air pollution. (More below.) She kind of admits global warming is real while saying "I don't want to talk about how we got here." Why not, pray tell? Are you a secret defender of the scientific reality of anthropogenic climate change and afraid to drive away some Libertarians? The reality is that, the reason why we got here is generally related to how bad you think it is, and then in turn to how serious of a response you deem to be needed.

As for nukes helping climate change? No, free markets won't help there; no power company wants to build a nuke plant without even more federal guarantees. Seriously, LPers in general are like Vermin Supreme's ponies in believing that a truly free market would solve all sorts of verschnizzle it wouldn't. More seriously, do any of you talk to the actual business world? Beyond that, there's some good scientific articles about how supply restrictions on various metals in reactor construction means that, while nukes could maybe replace what's left of the world's current coal-fired electricity, they realistically can't go beyond that.

(IMO, they're also in denial about the wind-up-the-world-like-a-clock Deist deity that lies behind Adam Smith's invisible hand and has been refuted by quantum mechanics. They're also in denial about how Enlightenment-era ideas of human rationality have been refuted by modern psychology, and scientifically refuted by behavioral psychology. [And no, an average of all wandering paths on this doesn't produce a species-wide averaged-out Homo economics rationalis, it just produces a species-wide naturally irrational critter.])**

Her platform also has an outright lie about most pollution being in developing countries. The US is the King of Trash. So, no, it's not governments, per above; no, it's not developing countries; it's the most rampant types of capitalism that are the problem. If she means air or water pollution? Well, it's the regulatory state that's addressed that, NOT unfettered capitalism. We all know that big business in the U.S. has fought any, every, and all regulatory measure to control air and water pollution over 50-plus years.

She has an outright lie of another sort on poverty. She notes that from 1959-69 the US cut poverty rates in half. THAT is true. This is not:
However, after the war on poverty was fully implemented in the early seventies, progress stopped.
Other than Nixon's Earned Income Tax Credit, most of the War on Poverty was stopped after LBJ left office. Some of it was slowed by LBJ even before leaving because of Vietnam. The ProPublica piece above details some of Nixon's budget cutting on health care. Whether the "War on Poverty" really could have been won or not, we'll never know, because it was never fully tried, never "fully implemented."

The truth is that economic inequality (which Libertarian ideas would increase) reduces national economic growth. I'll give a kudo to both capital and small l's for in some ways being more serious about racism than many Democrats, who often have a simplistic Joe Biden take. But they lose that kudo when they don't address classism nor acknowledge how class and race are intertwined. (Some leftists lose half a kudo when they try to always reduce race to class, at the same time.)

And a third lie. No, the Department of Education hasn't failed. What's failed is colleges making themselves into Big Biz and the government not actually funding more of the costs of a collegiate education. Add in "credentialism" and voila.

All of this is why, when Greens talk about making an "alliance" with Libertarians, I strictly insist that that would only be on a case-by-case basis, and would almost certainly just boil down to selected civil liberties areas. And, contra many Greens, re the horseshoe theory of politics on COVID et al, my "selective" would be more selective than theirs. (Note: I may officially declare myself an independent leftist later this year over a variety of issues. The SPUSA would be my next stop. Within the GP, I am definitely a "watermelon Green.")

Also, as for Greens hankering for such an alliance? Libertarians rarely play up this idea. Besides, who would want to ally with a party even more disorganized than Greens? (I refer to Libertarian delegates not being pledged. Contra this piece, since Green delegates ARE pledged, non-duopoly parties can do exactly that. And, no, this isn't a coronavirus issue; Libertarian delegates have been unpledged in the past.)

And, beyond that, the LP lived up to its old nutbar roots by nominating Vermin Supreme acolyte Spike Cohen as its Veep. NY Mag has more.

Let's add a "disorganized" note here. Jorgensen and Cohen are both from South Carolina. THAT's constitutional. BUT, should the LP slate win any states South Carolina, electors from that state can, per the Constitution, vote for only one or the other. (Corrected from the original; see comment by Winger and my response below.)

"Congrats" to Libertarian delegates, who like to shout "unconstitutional" all the time, for their constitutional ignorance. Per back-and-forth in comments, nobody raised this issue at the LP convention, while 2000 Republicans, and the person of Dick Cheney, had plenty of time to address it in advance.

This is expanded over my original post. It's been a while since I've gone in depth like this. Probably one-third of the reason I did so is suggested in the paragraphs about the thought processes of some Greens.


* Sidebar 1: Jorgensen was NOT the favorite of Libertarian delegates at the start, not even a plurality favorite, nor of voters in any states with Libertarian primaries, nor other states with Libertarian caucuses or conventions. (That said, using IRV-oriented polling, she was the favorite, it appears, after you get through IRV elimination rounds.)

But, because the LP not only has unpledged delegates, but does old-fashioned bottom-candidate elimination rather than some version of instant runoff voting, she got the "bump" when candidates below her fell by the wayside through the first three ballots. That, in turn, may be an additional factor in how well — or how poorly — she does this year, besides the pandemic issues. In essence, she seems to have gotten the nomination because she's "not Mr. X." Jacob Hornberger never seriously bumped above his first-round numbers.

Seriously, Libertarians? Why go through the motions of electing delegates even on a preference basis? Why not just have each state, as assessed by LP national, appoint a bunch of Rando Libertarians out of the air to meet its delegate total and go from there?

As far as the Veepness, as Richard and I go back and forth in comments, Jorgensen wanted to go a more serious direction, with fellow prez candidate John Monds, but Spike nosed him out. Had this happened, Root might have gone apoplectic if Monds' African-American ethnicity had been trumpeted by the LP. And, per my second response to Richard, the 2016 convention honored Gary Johnson's choice of Bill Weld. (That said, as Wiki summarizes, Jorgensen didn't officially endorse Monds, either.)

I still would disagree with Libertarians. But, riffing on Ed Kilgore, I wouldn't think them a joke if they hadn't chosen Cohen as Veep, and if, in the big picture, they didn't have unpledged delegates.

OTOH, maybe to some Libertarianians, maybe the lack of pledging of delegates is part of the party's performance art.


** Sidebar 2: Riffing on the last graf of my expanded original post, this is of course paralleled by a fair minority of Greens who think all you have to do is mention the word "nature" all the time, throw in some New Agey thoughts, and we'll all be good.

And, no, Anthony Dlugos, first commenter, I don't claim that governments are more rational, economically or otherwise, than individuals. That said, governments can provide a check on irrational individuals, and per Kahnemann and Tversky, members of a government, working together, can hit the "pause" button and engage in Stage 2 thinking more readily than CEOs, etc.


*** Sidebar 3: The Greens in 2016 and the SPUSA this year showed themselves to be "clowns" and ... "constitutionally ignorant or uncaring," in another sense. I'm talking about constitutionally unqualified Elijah Manley being on the 2016 GP and 2020 SPUSA ballots, at least in some states. He should have been tossed. For that matter, the Federal Election Commission should automatically toss applications like his while we're at it.


Anthony Dlugos said...

"They're also in denial about how Enlightenment-era ideas of human rationality have been refuted by modern psychology, and scientifically refuted by behavioral psychology."

And how does the state solve the problems discovered by modern psychology and behavioral psychology?

Are rulers the only rational ones?

Gadfly said...

I never said that rulers were more rational than anybody else. My point was that the standard Libertarian claim of "Homo economicus rationalis" is bullshit, and since much of the whole Libertarian mindset is predicated on that ....

richardwinger said...

S.G. writes, "But, should the LP slate (of presidential electors) win any states, electors from that state can, her the Constitution, vote for only one or the other." Actually, it is only the South Carolina Libertarian electors who are affected by the 12th amendment. The 12th amendment says,, "The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves." So Libertarian electors from Georgia would be free to vote for both Jo and Spike even if both of them were still living in South Carolina in mid-December. Furthermore,, S.G. fails to note that if Jo and Spike carried South Carolina in November, one of them would be free to move to another state before mid-December. Libertarians are not ignorant of the 12th amendment.

Gadfly said...

You're correct on the exact details, Richard. I should have made that clear rather than saying "any state." Corrected.

Nonetheless, since it DOES apply to SC, I still take it as ignorance of some sort under the rubric of what if they theoretically won 271 electoral votes, etc. ... you as well as I know that Dick Cheney changed his address well in advance of the 2000 general election.

richardwinger said...

Dick Cheney changed his residence in June 2000.

Gadfly said...

And, June 2000 was, at the same time, two months before the Republican National Convention made his nomination official, Richard.

Assuming that Jo isn't moving, let me know when/if Spike does.

This is arguably also more fallout from not having pledged delegates. And from not having a presidential nominee being given the latitude to name their own Veep nominee. (I know Jorgensen wanted Monds.)

richardwinger said...

For most of U.S. history, the delegates to national major party conventions weren't "pledged" in advance, and I tend to think those unpledged delegates did a fairly good job of deciding whom to nominate, although there are obvious failures. For the Libertarian Party, except during this virus year, the delegates get a chance to meet the various candidates, listen to them debate, and therefore make an informed decision. Also it makes the Libertarian conventions more dramatic and newsworthy than a convention where it is obvious in advance who is going to be nominated.

Gadfly said...

@Richard, comment 3: Well, there is that way of looking at what colloquially were called "smoke-filled rooms" in the past. Pre-1900 or so national conventions of the duopoly didn't have primaries of any sort, whether city and state "bosses" were involved, with or without smoke-filled rooms.

That said, Richard, as I pointed out, Libertarian delegates were unpledged in 2016, and IIRC, before that as well. And, in this year as in years past, unlike the "smoke filled rooms" era, as you note, delegates had a chance to meet candidates before either state primaries or conventions. Multiple times, this year in person as well as online. Indeed, Wiki lists eight in-person debates before the rise of COVID concerns and six online ones afterward but before the convention.

"More dramatic and newsworthy" might be a way of saying "performance art" per my one new update. But, "necessary" after 15 debates? I highly doubt it.

Besides, per my suggestion of just picking "rando Libertarians"? You could skip those pre-convention debates entirely and save a bunch of Libertarian money!!!