Why Don’t Libertarians Care About Ron Paul’s Bigoted Newsletters?

From The New Republic:

Ultimately, Paul’s following is closely linked with the peculiar attractions of the libertarian creed that he promotes. Libertarianism is an ideology rather than a philosophy of government—its main selling point is not its pragmatic usefulness, but its inviolable consistency. In that way, Paul’s indulgence of bigotry—he says he did not write the newsletters but rather allowed others to do so in his name—isn’t an incidental departure from his libertarianism, but a tidy expression of its priorities: First principles of market economics gain credence over all considerations of social empathy and historical acuity. His fans are guilty of donning the same ideological blinders, giving their support to a political candidate on account of the theories he declaims, rather than the judgment he shows in applying those theories, or the character he has evinced in living them. Voters for Ron Paul are privileging logical consistency at the expense of moral fitness.

But it’s not simply that Paul’s supporters are ignoring the manifest evidence of his moral failings. More fundamentally, their very awareness of such failings is crowded out by the atmosphere of outright fervor that pervades Paul’s candidacy. This is not the fervor of a healthy body politic—this is a less savory type of political devotion, one that escapes the bounds of sober reasoning. Indeed, Paul’s absolutist notion of libertarian rigor has always been coupled with an attraction to fantasies of political apocalypse.


  1. In other words, Libertarians believe in doing whatever you want and keeping the government out of your life so if you’re racist then go ahead and be racist. Also, people who like Ron Paul are too fanatical and/or paranoid to believe what they hear about him. Is the correct? That’s what I was thinking when I read the headline anyway.

    Expecting to be carried into the Presidency with the mentally ill vote is a unique strategy but it’s not going to work.

      1. Uhm, that’s true of Ron Paul. That doesn’t mean it’s true of a broad range of people whose political views are generally summed up by the word “libertarian.” See, e.g., Gary Johnson, most contributors to Reason magazine, and Ayn Rand.

    1. …and keeping the government out of your life…

      Except Paul’s plans would let the states do all sorts of unconstitutional things in the name of “States Rights.” Sure, he might not be able to do anything about federal employers not being allowed to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, sex, creed, etc., but he’d sure love to let the states freely disenfranchise whole boatloads of people.

      What he calls “liberty” is often “removing the laws that finally kept the white guys from saying who can’t vote, get married, or go to a school.”

      1. Indeed, this is the fundamental contradiction in the basic libertarian concept of “liberty.” There are two kinds of liberty: liberty from and liberty to. A synonym for the former is “Negative Liberty” – freedom from interference. A synonym for the latter is “Positive Liberty” – freedom to pursue one’s own goals.

        Libertarians are only concerned with the first kind of liberty, which involves removing as many government obstacles as possible from individual exercise of liberty.

        However, they fail to understand or recognize the second kind of liberty, which requires and indeed cannot function without government checks to the first type of liberty. If people enjoy unqualified negative liberty than at some point there will always be incommensurable conflicts of interest as some try to exert liberty that impinges on another. That is why it must be balanced by the second type of liberty–which a government can ably do by having legal limits to the first, in order to foster and balance it by the second.

  2. Somehow I missed the part where libertarian = Ron Paul voter.

    On a related note, I’m looking forward to the upcoming “Why Don’t Liberals Care About Obama’s Disregard for the Bill of Rights?”

Comments are closed.