The Libertarian Party: Bringing Good Ideas to America Since 1971

“‘Abolish ICE!’ is the new rallying cry for progressive Democrats,” reports NBC News’s Alex Seitz-Wald. It’s “a radical idea and one that was confined to the fringes just months ago,” but one that “left-wing insurgents can use to differentiate themselves from more established rivals in Democratic primaries.”

Good idea. So good, in fact, that I wrote a column advocating exactly that three months ago. Welcome to the right side, Democrats.

Like most Libertarians, I’m amused when our ideological opponents see a parade forming around one of our ideas and try to hustle their way to the front to “lead” it.

Unlike some Libertarians, I don’t follow up amusement with getting down in the mouth about being “co-opted.” I’m just happy to see good ideas gain steam from any source.

The Libertarian Party has supported same-sex marriage rights since its founding in 1971. Hillary Clinton finally joined us on that one in 2013. Better late than never.

It’s not just the Democrats we’re a leading indicator for. We began calling for elimination of the federal income tax decades before the (even worse) “Fair Tax” idea embedded itself in the Republican Party as an alternative (unfortunately that terrible proposal — a 30% national sales tax coupled with a monthly cradle-to-grave welfare check for every man, woman, and child in America — has fooled some Libertarians as well).

Marijuana legalization? That was us too, fighting both old party establishments to get medical, then recreational, cannabis off the list of victimless “crimes” from the early 1970s on. Glad we’re getting there.

We’re not always quite so far ahead of the older parties. We beat the Democrats to putting abolition of the death penalty in our platform by mere weeks in 2016. It should have been there since 1971.

The perceived gold standard for a political party’s success is winning elections, and I wish that Libertarians won more of them. But a better standard is successfully pushing our values, our ideas, and our proposals into the public conversation and seeing them adopted. I’d like to see that happen more often as well, but I’m glad when it happens at least occasionally.

Unlike the old parties, the Libertarian Party holds its national convention every two years instead of every four. Ours starts on the last day of June and ends on July 3 in New Orleans. Drop by, or tune in on C-SPAN, to see our next batch of great ideas for America.

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


Taxed Enough Already, You Say? Trump Disagrees.

Hundreds (RGBStock)

On June 14, the Trump administration announced that it’s raising your taxes by $12.5 billion. On June 18, President Trump followed that announcement up with the threat of another $20 billion tax hike.

Trump didn’t put it that way, of course. Instead, he described both the actual and threatened tax increases as “tariffs” on “Chinese imports.”

Don’t be fooled. No matter how he gussies them up as correctives for “unfair competition” and “trade imbalances,” tariffs are taxes on American consumers, and that’s all they are. They aren’t paid by Chinese manufacturers. They’re paid by you, at the cash register, in the form of higher prices on the goods you shop for.

You can’t avoid the effects of those taxes by “buying American,” either. One of the main effects of tariffs — in fact, one of the primary PURPOSES of tariffs — is to let domestic producers jack up their own prices without worrying that foreign competitors might undersell them.

Nor is China the only front in Donald Trump’s war on your wallet. MarketWatch reports that Trump’s 20% tariff on Canadian lumber is beginning to hit the American housing market with rising lumber costs surpassing labor costs as the biggest pricing problem. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the near future, prepare to pay more for it than you should have had to.

For reasons I’ve never understood, protectionism almost always successfully disguises itself as “populism.” Foreigners, we’re told, are screwing us by selling us stuff cheap instead of charging us extra. American workers shouldn’t have to compete with foreign workers who accept lower wages. Trump, man of the people, is doing us a favor by making everything we buy more expensive.

In fact, tariffs and other protectionist policies are the very essence of elitism and the very opposite of populism. They benefit the stockholders of politically connected corporations at the expense of ordinary Americans. A few American workers may get (or keep) jobs in the affected industries, but as consumers those workers (and the rest of us)  take it in the shorts to buy new yachts for the beautiful people with friends in Washington.

Some characterize Trump’s ascendance as a comeback victory for the “Tea Party” movement that briefly flourished during Barack Obama’s administration before establishment Republicans co-opted it and returned to business as usual.

One acronym powering that movement was TEA: Taxed Enough Already.  True then, true now. Perhaps someone should remind Donald Trump.

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


Child Abductions: A Conversation It’s Hard to Believe We’re Even Having Prison Photo

We shouldn’t need Cardinal Timothy Dolan to tell us this:

“If they want to take a baby from the arms of his mother and separate the two, that’s wrong. I don’t care where you’re at, what time and condition, that just goes against — you don’t have to read the Bible for that. That goes against human decency. That goes against human dignity. It goes against what’s most sacred in the human person.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad he said it, as I’m far from sure I could have said it nearly as well. But I’m just completely floored by the idea that, in this day and age, Americans need the Archbishop of New York to remind us of something as obvious as the fact that it’s wrong to abduct children.

According to the Associated Press, it happened nearly 2,000 times between mid-April and the end of May, with no end in sight.

US law enforcement agencies aren’t trying to track down the kidnappers and bring them to justice. US law enforcement agencies ARE the kidnappers, and US Attorney General Jeff Sessions pretends, quoting the Bible, no less, that this IS justice.

As jaded as we’ve become since 9/11 — as accustomed to the government’s violations of our own rights and the rights of those abroad, whether it’s TSA thugs groping Americans at airports or the CIA torturing foreigners at foreign “black sites”  — surely we can all agree that this time Washington has finally gone too far, right?

Well, no. The President of the United States, his chief of staff, the Attorney General, and even some members of Congress are actively defending the abduction of children. Not as an emergency measure for kids in immediate danger, but as policy for the purpose of punishing  parents who cross an imaginary line on the ground without politicians’ permission.

It’s an evil policy. Officials who order it are loathsome creatures whose appeals to God in its defense are nothing short of blasphemy. They and those who enforce it are criminals. Both deserve short trials and long sentences.

Hint to Republicans: When your best defense of a policy is that you’re just escalating a practice that occurred under Democrats as well, you’ve got no defense at all.

Sessions quoted the Bible. Cardinal Dolan retorts. So does Thomas Jefferson:

“Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”

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