David Frum has been writing some excellent articles about the fact that our founders were NOT libertarians. He has a grasp on what this country is.
“…Although political stability had thickened in Britain by the 1770s, the Founders had a vivid example of a stateless world before their eyes: the world of the American Frontier. That was a world of violence, not a world of freedom. They had seen in the 1780s a real possibility of the breakup of the Colonies into distinct and then warring sovereignties like those of Europe. The Constitution represented a rejection of both those futures. The Founders were state-builders, very much in the model of the British statesmen of the 18th century. And if the government they built has become too big and too expensive, if the libertarian impulse summons us to take action to contain and constrain that government, very well let us take up the task. But we can do that task without duping ourselves with a false history that denies the reality of the past and – ironically – belittles the Founders’ actual achievements by measuring them against standards they would surely have rejected, if they had ever understood them….”
“…The fact is that the concept of the “state” as presented in some modern libertarian writing owes much more to 19th century German ideas than to the 18th century Anglo-American legacy. In 18th century Britain, the question of whether ministers owed obedience to the king or to Parliament was a blurry and uncertain one. In 19th century Germany and Austro-Hungary, the question was clear: ministers obeyed the monarch. Period. “The state” as experienced by Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek was something outside civil society, something that society could not reliably control, and therefore had to be contained. A John Adams might think of the king of England that way, but that’s not how he’d think of the legislature of the commonwealth of Massachusetts…”
David Frum has a wonderful column about why the Founding Fathers were NOT libertarian. He shreds Glenn Beck:
One of the most reputable sources for taking out libertarians is the Frum Forum. John Vecchione wrote the following:
“…In fact, this assertion confuses constitutionalists with libertarians. George Washington belonged to the Established Church (Episcopalian) of the State of Virginia; he also was the chief vindicator of national power in the new republic. Thomas Jefferson determined to wage war by simply denying foreigners the right to trade with the U.S. So did Madison. What libertarian has ever thought the government could cut off trade between free individuals? Further, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine supported the French Revolution. That revolution denied there was anything the state could not do in the name of the people. Jefferson never repudiated his support for that tyranny and Thomas Paine was only slightly more dismissive even after it nearly killed him. Of all the Founders, Patrick Henry is closest to the libertarian beau ideal. He was against the king, against the Constitution and against the French Revolution all of which he saw as an assault on traditional liberties. But for all of the Virginians, I leave aside the issue of slavery entirely. Similarly, libertarians have only a vague relationship to the “second founding” of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. On the plus side, by their lights, it got rid of slavery; on the negative side it gave the federal government the power to enforce such elimination and concomitant political and social rights….”
Who are libertarians?
One in ten – 10% – not 20%, 25%, 50%, 60%, 75% or 100% – JUST ONE IN TEN
That is a very small minority – not enough for them to be getting as much attention as they are, nor to attempt to control the country and the conversation.
“…About one in ten Americans self-identifies as libertarian, and even fewer consider themselves “movement” libertarians. Most of them don’t subscribe to Reason or attend conferences at the Cato Institute, the libertarian think tank funded in part by the infamous brothers Charles and David Koch. But many are libertarians without knowing it. That is, they identify as economically conservative and socially liberal. That number may be growing. In a 2009 Gallup poll, 23 percent of Americans responded to questions about the role of government in a way that categorizes them as libertarian—up from 18 percent in 2000. A survey conducted by Zogby for the Cato Institute has put the libertarian vote at around 15 percent. Loosen the wording, and the pool expands. When the Zogby survey asked voters if they would describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal, also known as libertarian,” the number rose to 44 percent. When it simply asked if they were “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” a full 59 percent responded yes. Not bad for a bunch of trench-coat-wearing dungeon masters.
Libertarianism is far from synonymous with the tea party, but the tea party is the closest thing to a mass libertarian movement in recent memory. Tea-partyers surveyed by Cato split down the middle between social conservatives and social liberals, making half of them traditional Republicans and half libertarians. But the fact that the tea party organizes around fiscal issues alone—smaller government, lower taxes—gives the movement libertarian cred. Its members speak the language, too, waving Gadsden flags, quoting Hayek, and carrying signs that say WHO IS JOHN GALT?—a reference to the hero of the Ayn Rand book Atlas Shrugged…”
From the Frum Forum comes Kenneth Silber’s take on Libertarians. The Pink Flamingo did a screen shot because it is so excellent.