Friday, September 21, 2007

Here is the problem with "Libertarian" politicians.

Libertarianism means some rather specific things. Libertarian politicians, or those who use that label, however, want votes and office so they compromise the values which they purport to believe in. In the end the public sees individuals who are clearly unlibertarian, or even anti-libertarian, on some issues presenting themselves as libertarians to the public.

A recent case in point is the so-called Libertarian Movement Party in Costa Rica. These people presented themselves as principled libertarians. Power, however, has set in and they seem drifting far away from libertarian values. That is what happens when people get elected and taste power.

The LMP sponsored legislation making it illegal to "an individual or pair, in which one or both people have shown a sexual orientation toward people of the same sex." To put it bluntly. This is blatantly antiLibertarian and these assholes should be drummed out respectable libertarian circles -- if there are any left.

But we have all sorts of politicians who pretend to be libertarian making bigoted statements. We have a so-called libertarian congressman who has, himself, voted to restrict legal immigration, and voted to make gay adoption illegal in the District of Columbia, where Congress can override local law. He also refused to raise his hand at the Republican debate when anyone who thought gay people should have the right to serve in the military openly, were asked to raise their hands in support. Twice they were asked and he just looked off in the distance hands firmly held to the side. Now you have this shameful action from Costa Rica.

I understand that once the Party started winning seats in the parliament that non-libertarians flooded the party seeking nomination. And they got it. Many of the real libertarians left the party, which this measure shows they should have done.

Supposedly the Party has been dropping the word libertarian from their jargon and adopting "liberal" instead. Odd choice since they are clearly aren't liberal either since a basic principle of liberalism is equality before the law. They are conservatives. That means like all conservatives they want to use state power to achieve their goals.

The hallmark of conservatism is the use of power to achieve social ends. The British author Oliver Brett explained that in his book A Defense of Liberty published in 1922. It is the reason that Brett said that socialism was inherently conservative, it was a power driven movement. And that is the problem for libertarians seeking office. They are seeking power and in seeking power they are putting themselves into a position where they end up betraying the values they originally embraced. In my view the case against a libertarian party gets stronger every day.

UPDATE: A MLP member says that the press report on which this is based is inaccurate. He says the legislation was not sponsored by the party but that one of their congressmen was involved with it and supported it. This raises an important question. How did they get a candidate like this? What is the criteria for being a candidate for Congress there that people who do things like get the nomination? He has sent a ream of email exchanges between the top party officials. I have forwarded that to our resident translator for Spanish material to look over and asked him to report on it, if he can. And I will present that.

I have minimal skills in the translation department but some of what I saw was troubling indeed while others were not so bad. One long one included misquoting literature ont he topic and even using the discredited Paul Cameron "research".

That this happened at all is problematic and indicative of the tendency of political parties to grab on to the use of power. That there is opposition within the party is expected, that it allegedly won out on this issue is good. But clearly something is wrong if this was allowed to happen in the first place.

The correspondence I received basically shows the issue was debated. So far the only press reports, including out of Costa Rica, still have the MLP congressman supporting this legislation. More and more outlets are picking up the story and I have yet to see a statement by the MLP condemning the legislation. The MLP individual who contested our statements, in our comments board, has not responded to questions sent to him directly by email and posted here. I still want to know how a Congressman like this was nominated by the MLP to hold office. And I want to know why this statist policy is even a matter to debate. Surely it is a no-brainer for libertarians. If it isn't a no-brainer then is the person really a libertarian? I await the answer.