The Cheap Thrill of Libertarianism

Rand Paul, by Carl Bork.

Today’s Washington Post has an in-depth article on how libertarian scion Rand Paul, with the support of Sarah Palin and the Teabaggers, is leading the race for the Republican nomination for Senate in Kentucky.

There’s something for everybody in today’s libertarianism. Everytime something shouldn’t be “somebody else’s business,” whether it’s an unfair parking ticket, the hassle of getting a building permit for that bathroom upgrade, medical marijuana, or the income tax. Libertariansim today is NIMBY-ism made literal. You stake your flag — or your teabag or whatever — and it ain’t nobody’s business but your own.

But in the end, libertarianism is a cheap out, and joining forces with the teabaggers will be the political death knell for both movements. “He who governs best governs least” is brilliant rhetoric, but less than stellar logic. Are you really willing to have no recourse when your neighbor starts raising goats, the kids down the block are having an all-night party, and the local policeman is just the local bully with an arsenal and no rules? Haul your own trash down to the river-side and personally negotiate with the local mafia before dumping it in? Educate your own children, sure, but do you really want to do your own research on which brand of ibprofen or interferon is manufactured to clinical standards? Lug a wheelbarrow of bullion and your gun down to the corner to bargain for bread? Withdraw all troops from all overseas engagements, disband the CIA and the FAA? Don’t worry — if the plane stays in the air at all, we’ll just ‘roll’ on them ‘trr’sts.’ Get real.

This is all just a sideshow to the difficult task of self-governing that our American system tasks us with — a cop out. Rhetoric’s easy; governing’s hard — isn’t that one of the standard criticisms leveled at the current administration? And the Obama administration answers it honestly: ‘yep, it’s hard — are you going to join us in trying?’ Or just scream bloody murder for a term or two in Congress, and then go piss off to your guest appearance on Dancing with the Stars?

Grow up folks: you want to live in the ‘liberteabag’ paradise about as much as you want to become a Tibetan monk. It may be an attractive fantasy on a day when the hassles of real life seem insurmountable. But it’s no answer for a real country with real problems and a broad population that deserves serious politics, a serious polity, and a serious society.

One response to “The Cheap Thrill of Libertarianism

  1. Libertarians are Conservatives who want to smoke pot.

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