Tag Archives: Ted Cruz

Libertarians versus National Isolation

English: A peace march through Balboa Park, Sa...
English: A peace march through Balboa Park, San Diego, California, 2003 to protest the Iraq War seven days before it began. Photograph by Patty Mooney, Crystal Pyramid Productions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On April 1, Fox Business Network’s John Stossel hosted a debate featuring three candidates — Gary Johnson, John McAfee and Austin Petersen — for the Libertarian Party’s 2016 presidential nomination (a fourth, more radical libertarian, Darryl W. Perry was unfortunately excluded). Those seeking an alternative to America’s failed political system, in which one party masquerades as two and the range of respectable political opinion covers perhaps five degrees of a 360-degree circle, might do well to consider voting Libertarian this November.

One common accusation leveled against libertarians — those affiliated with the Libertarian Party and those who hang with other parties or eschew political activity altogether — is that we’re “isolationists” because we oppose US intervention in foreign conflicts.

The standard libertarian retort to that criticism is that we support, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “friendship and commerce with all nations, entangling alliances with none,” where real isolationists have historically opposed not just foreign wars but foreign commerce, calling for protectionist trade and immigration policies (which libertarians oppose) to “protect American jobs.”

All three candidates had good responses to foreign policy questions, but I was particularly intrigued by John McAfee’s take on the “i-word.”

“I think isolationism,” McAfee says, “is taking on the role of world policeman, making us a separate entity from the rest of the world. We’re the policemen and you guys are the people that we police. … Dropping bombs on families where mothers and fathers are killed, or brothers and sisters. I would be angry too. You would be angry too. So it is not isolationism to say that we need to bring our troops home, or that we need to stop interfering in the affairs of foreign nations. It is reality and practicality.”

Kind of refreshing, isn’t it? After 25 years of continuous war in the Middle East, the “major” parties continue to mainly offer up candidates who supported the US invasion of Iraq (Hillary Clinton), who want to know if sand glows in the dark (Ted Cruz), or who admit the Iraq war was a mistake but don’t seem to have learned anything from that mistake (Donald Trump).

Those candidates, with their Caligula-style approach to foreign policy — “let them hate us so long as they fear us” — are the real isolationists.

Libertarians, on the other hand, want to make America once again a peaceful member of the community of nations — a leader rather than a menace. Let’s take them up on it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Obama Visits Havana: Cuba Libre For Real?

"fight against which is impossible and wi...
“Fight against the impossible and win” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

US President Barack Obama’s late March visit to Cuba, continuing his initiative to re-establish friendly relations between the two countries, arouses opposition on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

The Republican complaints, of course, are to be expected. If Obama walked across the Florida Strait without wetting the hems of his trousers, Ted Cruz would ask why the president can’t swim.

But some Democrats also oppose breaking the ice with Havana. “It is totally unacceptable for the president of the United States to reward a dictatorial regime,” says US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “The president is again prioritizing short-term economic interests over long-term American values.”

Let’s be honest here: Cruz, Menendez and their ilk have done as much to prop up Fidel Castro’s regime as Castro’s own secret police agents or neighborhood “Committees for the Defense of the Revolution” ever could, if not more. Half a century and change of sanctions and embargo have strengthened, not weakened, popular support for the island nation’s Communist rulers.

National isolation is the desire of every dictator: If his subjects never see what a freer society looks like or have the opportunity to avail themselves of its goods and services, they have no standard against which to measure his rule and find it wanting.

If a powerful, threatening external enemy actively aids him in achieving that isolation, so much the better: For now even if his subjects DO get a glimpse of higher living standards and relative freedom to travel, speak and worship, he can just blame that external enemy for denying them such things.

This is the dynamic which has kept the mullahs in charge in Tehran since 1979 and the Communist Party in charge in Havana since 1959. It is this dynamic which Obama hopes, by way of burnishing his presidential legacy, to interrupt with his Jeffersonian (“friendship and commerce with all nations”) overtures to Cuba.

The beneficiaries of the US embargo on Cuba have been the Castro regime, the US military industrial complex, the US sugar industry, and a few professional “opposition exiles” living on CIA funds and hoping to one day ride into Havana on American tanks. Its victims are legion and include the entire populations of Cuba the United States.

Just as it was a myth that “only Nixon could go to China,” any president could have gone to Havana. One finally has. And we’re all better off for it.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Election 2016: Finally a Real Third Way?

Libertarian Party Logo
Libertarian Party Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this column, the polls haven’t yet opened for “Super Tuesday.” By the time you read it, polling predicts that Donald Trump will have carried at least 12 of the 13 Republican primary and caucus states, the possible exception being Texas (which may go for Ted Cruz), and that Hillary Clinton will have won 10 of 12 Democratic contests (Bernie Sanders is expected to carry Vermont and Colorado).

If the polls are right, Trump and Clinton are, at this point, essentially unstoppable in pursuit of their parties’ presidential nominations.

Over the years I’ve become desensitized to the constant talk about how this or that election is “the most consequential of our lifetimes.” It’s usually just not true, because the “major party” candidates are usually as alike as peas in a pod.

But it may be true this year, precisely because the two candidates are as alike as Juan and Evita Peron.

Over the years I’ve also become desensitized to the constant talk about this being the year a “third party” finally breaks out, because as much as I’d like to believe that (I’m a long-time Libertarian Party activist), it’s also usually just not true.

But it may be true this year, because we seem to have hit bottom in our long slide into banana republicanism — the culmination of, among other things, George W. Bush’s “unitary executive” claims and Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” posturing.

The first step, as Alcoholics Anonymous points out, is admitting you have a problem. There’s certainly no denying that at this point. We seem to be at the point where America has two choices: Up, or out. We can pull ourselves up from our authoritarian funk, or we can finally tip ourselves over into the dustbin of history.

I’m not placing any bets on which way things will go in the here and now, although my money is on the dustbin option for the long term (I always bet with the odds).

It seems to me, however, that if there is ever going to be a libertarian moment in American politics, it has to come soon, and that this year is its best chance.

Since 1972, the Libertarian Party has consistently offered American voters their best shot at national resurgence and a new birth of freedom. We’ve been right on economics. We’ve been right on foreign policy. We’ve been right on immigration. We’ve been right on all the burning social issues.

But being right has never been enough. While hundreds of Libertarians have served and continue to serve in public office, we’ve never worked our way higher up the elective political ladder than state legislative seats. It’s always been easier for voters to just go with the flow, kick the can down the road, etc.

So, how’s that working out for you? The polls say not so well. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton? If that’s not the bottom of the barrel, the barrel has no bottom.

Time to vote Libertarian. Or to quit pretending you care about your country.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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