Where I live — in Orange County, California — most people lean toward being libertarian. They’re not fans of big government, they like the free market, they don’t like anyone telling them what to do — and they vote Republican.
But that doesn’t mean that they should vote for the Republican ticket in this presidential election.
Not, at least, not according to Alex Tabarrok, a professor of economics at George Mason University, who has written an eloquent brief in favor of libertarians voting for Democratic candidate Barack Obama.
The Republican Party, writes Tabarrok, “has become the party of war and thus the party of unlimited government.” Whatever the Republican Party once stood for, it has now become the party of “Big Brother” and “the antithesis of the libertarian philosophy.”
Tabarrok has impeccable credentials as a free market libertarian. He is Research Director for the libertarian think tank The Independent Institute, assistant editor of The Independent Review and editor of the books Entrepreneurial Economics: Bright Ideas from the Dismal Science (Oxford University Press), The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (University of Michigan Press), and Changing the Guard: Private Prisons and the Control of Crime (Independent Institute). His papers have appeared in the Journal of Law and Economics, Public Choice, Economic Inquiry, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Theoretical Politics, and The American Law and Economics Review.
Here is the beginning of Tabarrok’s argument:
“First, war. War is the antithesis of the libertarian philosophy of consent, voluntarism and trade. With every war in American history Leviathan has grown larger and our liberties have withered. War is the health of the state. And now, fulfilling the dreams of Big Brother, we are in a perpetual war.”
“A country cannot long combine unlimited government abroad and limited government at home. The Republican party has become the party of war and thus the party of unlimited government.”
“With war has come FEAR, magnified many times over by the governing party. Fear is pulling Americans into the arms of the state. If only we were better at resisting. Alas, we Americans say that we love liberty but we are fair-weather lovers. Liberty will flourish only with peace.”
You can read the rest of Tabarrok’s essay, Why Libertarians Should Vote for Obama, by clicking on the link.
Tabarrok isn’t the only prominent libertarian to endorse Barack Obama. Scott Flanders, the President and CEO of Freedom Communications, Inc., which owns more than 30 newspapers, including the Orange County Register (as libertarian a daily newspaper as anyone is likely to find) has also endorsed Obama.
Flanders “reasoned that Obama is the best candidate to work on four top libertarian reforms: 1) Iraq withdrawal, 2) restoring the separation of church and state; 3) easing off victimless crimes such as drug use; 4) curtailing the Patriot Act.”
Sounds like four pretty good reasons to me.