Kris Morgan September 17, 2017
Liberals believe in big government at home, whereas conservatives support an interventionist foreign policy. The two combined have given us a welfare/warfare state that cannot last. The United States has accumulated over 20 trillion dollars in debt, over 127 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities, killed innocent people abroad, and jailed millions of peaceful people. In spite of this, the Federal Government shows no signs of slowing down. How is it that the “freest nation in the world” manages to imprison more of its citizens than North Korea, a communist dictatorship? Ironically, these evils exist because our debates revolve around attempts at gaining the moral upper-hand rather than an unhindered search for truth.
Since politics is always a question of when it becomes morally acceptable to use force, our views reflect our sense of justice. We assume ourselves good and just upon entering political debates. As a result, we define opposing ideas as unjust. Any admission on our part that our beliefs are flawed inherently implies the other person is more just and morally superior. These biases cause our conversations to get out of hand.
For example, many believe that the United States did not provoke Osama Bin Laden to carry out the 9/11 attacks. Some lash out when presented with a review of US interventions in the Middle East, including sanctions in the 1990s that lead to half-a-million children dying, and our Secretary of State affirming their deaths were acceptable. They often label the messenger as part of the “blame-America-first” crowd and ignore the facts.
Conservatives who push for interventionism abroad are frequently combative to those who highlight US aggression. They dismiss the opposition with cliches about how the world is an unfriendly place, or claim the dissenter hates America. Admitting the US is a hostile nation contradicts their view that America is the greatest country on the planet. To backtrack on that base belief would make them appear weak and discredit their moral authority, so they often react with a critique of their own without acknowledging yours. This method is not restricted to conservatives.
Liberals voice support for civil liberties, yet favor central economic controls. When an opponent points out that economic controls are violations of our freedom, they claim their foe is uncaring to those in need. Their inconsistency goes unrecognized as they focus on attacking their opponents. It is easier to blindly accuse adversaries of being sexists, racists, or wanting the needy to starve than face their contradiction.
Democrats and Republicans alike listen to their own bases. If their supporters are not willing to admit discrepancies in their platforms, then politicians will continue to roam free. The welfare/warfare state will endure until there is no wealth left to tax and the currency hyper-inflates. Making excuses, creating strawmen, deflecting legitimate critiques, and ignoring new information has allowed our government to grow completely out of control. It is an unsustainable model for political discourse.
One can argue that libertarians are not exempt from taking part in this manner of conversation, and there may be some valid critiques. However, libertarians have a ‘north star’ with which to follow. While Republicans and Democrats have only their own sense of moral superiority to guide them, libertarians have the Non-Aggression Principle. This keeps our personal virtues away from our politics. For instance, a libertarian may wish for society to build a sound safety net. Nevertheless, progressive taxation is the initiation of force and is accordingly rejected by libertarians. Libertarians do not use morality to justify coercion.
We are being taken advantage of by a system that knows people have a desire to appear morally strong, so much so that they will defend politicians in order to protect themselves. The best way to smash this system is to set aside our own egos, admit when we are wrong, develop consistent ideologies, and hold our rulers accountable. We have to make this change if we are ever going to claim our rightful place as the dominant party in our relationship with our power structure.
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The author’s views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the entire Ask A Libertarian Team or its followers.